Christmas 2018 & TV Binge: Nailed It! Holiday! (Mini-series, 2018)

You can see reviews for the main seasons here:

Season 1
Season 2

Nailed It! Holiday! (2018)

nailed it holiday

Host: Nicole Byer & Jacques Torres

There are shows that talk about refined baking competitions and such but there is also a great joy in watching amateurs bake because its a learning curve and everyone has to start somewhere. Nailed It! has taken that concept and really excelled with it. Sure, Season 2 had its odd moments where it forgot what it was trying to do but overall, it still brought a lot of joy and laughter to some of the odd baking things that came out of some of these episodes. With that said, I was excited to see that Nailed It Holiday is now a thing. It keeps the same format, very much like the first one which focuses its first round on Baker’s Choice and its making smaller baking things like cookies, cake pops and cupcakes while its second round is the money maker, literally, because you can win $10,000 with  making a cake creation. This time we also see a hint of what might be potential new extension or a new direction for the show in the 7th episode as it escapes the baking realm and jumps into the DIY crafts realm. I’ll talk about that a little later as a final wrap-up discussion point.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It! Holiday! definitely did do exactly that. Its hilarious and a ton of fun. It themes itself around the different holidays during this winter season from a good few Christmas to simply winter themes to Hanukkah and takes us straight to a countdown to New Year’s. I’m guessing if you do watch this one or two episodes a week, you might actually reach New Year’s Eve to watch the countdown. The creations themselves are super nice. Its still very much difficulty but its always the how the choice of candidates in the competition that brings a lot of fun because of just how ridiculous some times these things turn out to be. At the same time, they add on a different special button in each one episode themed also around the holidays from unwrapping presents or untangling lights which also makes it fair because if they finish it during the 3 minutes, they can get back to their baking right away. Its a nice twist to the freeze button in the second round.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It has always seemed to want to divert away from its baking competition formula. And doing the DIY crafts route is a good one for sure. It might eventually also run out of topics at some point but it has its potential also. The one episode we had was definitely just a taste or maybe a market test in their own right to see how well received it is. I thought it was a fairly fun episode. I like to do DIY crafts as well so this was right up my alley. Crafts have the potential to go horribly wrong and they can also be pretty entertaining to watch as well. I would be down to see if they do a season of this especially of Nicole Byer continues to host.

Talking about that, the reason that Nailed It works despite whatever content they have is in part all the good creative things they do and finding the right type of participants and having a good angle, like this Holiday theme mini series. But the biggest reason is Nicole Byer. She is just the heart and life of this show. While Jacques Torres is a fun match for her, the crafts episode proves that she really can have the same dynamic with another host as well. Its her personality that makes it so fun to watch. Nailed It Holiday is a really fun season and I hope that they continue with this show, whether it be in baking (which I probably would prefer as it works well) or even if they expand to crafts.

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Christmas 2018: The Princess Switch (2018)

The Princess Switch (2018)

The Princess Switch

Director: Mike Rohl

Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, Nick Sagar, Alexa Adeosun, Suanne Braun, Mark Fleischmann, Sara Stewart, Robin Soans

A Chicago baker (V.Hudgens) is competing in a Christmas baking competition in Belgravia. There she bumps into the prince’s fiancee. They look alike and switch for 2 days. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – IMDB

If we talk about something along the calibre of last year’s A Christmas Prince (review) for this year, I would say that I’m not sure any movie in the Hallmark by Netflix category going to beat out this one. A Princess Switch is pretty much the familiar formula of Parent Trap and It Takes Two and movies of that sort except this time, we don’t have teenagers but rather young adults or in their 30s or mid20s or something like that. You know, marriage and romance age sort of story. It has a good bit of laughs and while some parts were kind of a little eye-rolling worthy, there is this charm to Vanessa Hudgens’ interpretation of both of these characters, whether it is Margaret or as Stacy that makes it so entertaining to watch. Plus, there is no doubt that this is a holiday film in the sense that it is set during Christmas and there is an overflowing amount of Christmas activities and endearing moments about the value of Christmas. Its a heartwarming and fun effort as a whole which makes it so much fun to watch especially as a guilty pleasure.

Whenever we talk about these sort of romantic comedy style holiday films, I have to always talk about chemistry. While I maintain that a lot of the really good acting had to go to Vanessa Hudgens, she did have pretty good chemistry with both of the male leads. Both Sam Palladio and Nick Sagar are charming in their own ways that fit the type of man that they portray in this movie so it works out. At the same time, there are some pretty fun moments between  each of these pairs that seem fitting for their situation if not sometimes a tad over-exaggerated but in this genre of film, it is sometimes okay to be like that and still really emphasize the chemistry and some warm laughs with the characters.

As a side note though, I do love how the King and Queen, especially the Queen’s role here as they question the Duchess character making it feel more realistic as sometimes there is always these moments where the silliness things get looked over like everyone else is stupid. At the same time, the guard or whoever we call him ends up getting caught in figuring it out but also having these really hilarious moments of ending up in the most awkward situations like he’s a servant and not the higher ranking that he is supposed to be. Aside from the two assistants of sorts to the Duchess and the Prince who bring a lot of humor, we have the classic character who miraculously shows up everywhere as a magical element that strings together the character and the pieces. In some ways, it makes the movie on rails but it kind of pokes fun knowingly at itself that it works somehow.

Overall, I liked the Princess Switch a lot more than I expected I would. Vanessa Hudgens was on point with both her roles and the male leads were both very charming. There was a lot of heartwarming moments and fun moments and even some meaningful moments. Its really well put together for a holiday centered romantic comedy. It both had the romantic chemistry and holiday spirit in equal parts to make it feel enjoyable.

Christmas 2018: The Holiday Calendar (2018)

The Holiday Calendar (2018)

The Holiday Calendar

Director: Bradley Walsh

Cast: Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, Ron Cephas Jones, Genelle Williams, Ali Hassan, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll

A struggling but talented photographer inherits an antique holiday advent calendar, the contents of which seem to predict the future. Will this magical calendar lead her to love this holiday season? – IMDB

I’m going to be honest that I really only gave this one a chance because I really like Kat Graham in The Vampire Diaries. However, I wasn’t as much of a fan of her in Honey 2 so while I don’t know what The Holiday Calendar was about, I decided to take a chance anyways. I do want to say that on one side, I did work for what it was trying to deliver but if you really don’t have much tolerance for these kind of Hallmark films, then it might not be for you. I’m just going to lay it out so you don’t waste your time. I say this because The Holiday Calendar does nothing special. Everything you predict will probably happen right down to who she ends up being with in the end and even how she pieces together the “magic” calendar to the things she missed to leading her to the one. However, while being predictable isn’t particularly a good thing, there is enough fun bits here to make it enjoyable. Its heartwarming and talks about family and dreams and careers and taking chances and not just romance.

The Holiday Calendar

While the antique calendar itself has something of a spirit here in the background with a lot of presence because the film flows with what pops up in the window everyday, the movie does benefit a lot from Kat Graham who does a great job as Abby, a girl who is stuck at a day job that pays her bills but scared to live her own dreams. There’s this really fun element to her character and her friendship with Josh (Quincy Jones) has a lot of sweet moments to it also. Surprisingly, the parts that I liked the best are the ones where Abby talks to her grandfather because there is a lot of genuine and good bits to it all. The family moments and the picture moments and those bits also add to the experience.

The only thing I did feel about The Holiday Calendar is that there is this turning point moment in the middle which felt kind of awkward. It was this weird epiphany moment that kind of felt out of spot but it didn’t really last too long before things got back on track. If you like Hallmark holiday films, this one is pretty alright. Its pretty predictable but also has a nice heartwarming element and emphasizes on more than romance but also on family moments and a lot of Christmas-y moments.

Christmas 2018: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018)

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018)

A Christmas Prince The Royal Wedding

Director: John Schultz

Cast: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Sarah Douglas, Theo Devaney, John Guerrasio, Andy Lucas, Simon Dutton, Katarina Cas

A year after helping Richard get to the throne, Amber is about to become his wife. But is she really made to be queen? – IMDB

Following last year’s A Christmas Prince (review), its been a year for us as we watched Amber and Richard fall in love and be engaged. This time, we’re watching Amber get ready for the Royal Wedding while Richard struggles with the modernization of the country whose initiative has made the country bleed money affecting jobs and such. To be fair, the only thing Christmas-y about this one is really that its set during Christmas and they do a lot of Christmas things like getting a tree and baking and Christmas pageants and such. This story is a romantic comedy about Amber as she struggles with following protocol and getting caught up in the whirlwind of everyone but herself having a say on her own wedding and we know what’s going to happen after that. A Christmas Prince (even the first one) is those stories that are predictable romantic comedies however, it seems the second one here still has a few laughs but has lost a bit, scratch that, a lot of the chemistry and charm.

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

We can start with some of the good stuff. The Christmas decor was really nice. There was an overly exaggerated toboggan ride that I could get along with since it gave a link from the first to the second movie. There was a lot of Christmas activities which also worked since I am watching this for the holidays marathon so it matched the theme. It also emphasized family and friends a lot and that was fun. Some supporting characters like Mr. Zabala (Andy Lucas) adds a nice little twist to it. Then, I really like the little sister, Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey) who adds a good deal of sharp humor here. Amber’s time with her friends also was pretty fun since it was a lot more natural, be it out investigating in disguise or be it having her mini bachelorette party.

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Then, everything else falls apart. Most of you who have been around here know that I’m pretty lenient on rom-coms. Last year’s A Christmas Prince was a pretty alright one in the current state of romantic comedies, well as of last year. There were some nice moments and romantic chemistry and such. But this year, it wasn’t really about that anymore. Amber and Richard were rarely on screen and when they were, it was not exactly full of chemistry. I mean, I guess the ending kind of hinted that they could do a third one if this one is a success although after this one which was rather boring to watch for the most part and pretty predictable and let’s say, a little over the top especially with the Count Simon and her best friend moment that had so much cringe. Not to mention, they really wanted to add in the twist and smoke screen thing going on with why the kingdom was bleeding money and it was just so obvious who was behind it all.

I didn’t expect much from this one in the first place but A Christmas Prince: A Royal Wedding was a big disappointment from the first one. It does tick the Christmas holiday film bit but in the romantic comedy department, it no longer is that kind of category because the chemistry was pretty much not there since the two were not really on screen together much. It was more of a wedding planning movie. I guess I wasn’t too surprised since it panned out like I expected it would. I don’t hate it or like it, I’m kind of indifferent to be honest.  Although, I’d definitely hesitate on watching another sequel if they ever do one because there was something mentioned at the end in the movie that hints at maybe visiting this property again if this one works out.

Christmas 2018: Angela’s Christmas (2017)

December is finally here! That means that Christmas/Holiday marathon is here.

I’m a bit behind with watching holiday movies even if there was a solid plan on what to watch and even some Netflix films and such to be released before Christmas comes around so its all set. Finally, I got around to getting a short animated Netflix film this weekend. I went into this one completely blind but starting with animated films can’t go wrong, right?

Let’s check it out!

Angela’s Christmas (2018)

Angela's Christmas

Director (and co-writer): Damien O’Connor

Voice Cast: Lucy O’Connell, Ruth Negga

Set in Ireland in the 1910s, ‘Angela’s Christmas’ is a funny, heart-warming and poignant story about the power of family and the innocent desire of a child to ensure everyone is safe, warm and loved at Christmas time. –IMDB

Angela’s Christmas is a 30 minute short Christmas movie that takes us to the night before Christmas when a little girl takes the the Baby Jesus from her church manger with the best intentions of warming him up before returning him to the cold church. Family-friendly holiday films like these are the perfect dose of the holiday spirit filled with both a valuable lesson on family and childhood innocence. It delivers really fun and heartwarming moments.

Angela's Christmas

At the same time, this film also takes us for a little adventure through the streets as Angela encounters lots of fun little incidents. Be it with a policeman with a fun sleight of hand pulling coins and whatnot from ears or going to a more adult setting with a candy shop during the day that turns into a bar at night or even the little arguments between siblings and how everything comes together. There’s a lot to love in here. The animation is also done so nicely with each set piece drawn really well and the night colors working so well together to create some lovely scenes, just like a little creepy alley scene where Angela’s imagination takes her for a little scare as she imagines the tree branch shadows on the wall chases after her. Perhaps more poignant to myself because, I felt that way before eons ago when I went on a Snow White ride and went through the night escape with the trees doing the same thing.

Angela’s Christmas is the perfect length. It builds a nice simple story and delivers some nice lessons on the Christmas spirit and especially about the togetherness of family with a spark of imagination with everyone. Perfect to add to a Christmas marathon for the whole family.

Halloween Finale 2018: Green Room (2015)

Next up in the Halloween marathon and the official final film to wrap it up, we jump into a movie that I have heard a lot of great things but kept putting it off. Green Room packs quite a decent cast like Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin plus has an intriguing plot. Two things that made me want to watch this.

Lets check it out.

Green Room (2015)

green cloud

Director (and writer): Jeremy Saulnier

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson, Mark Webber, Macon Blair, Brent Werner, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart

A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar. – IMDB

Thrillers take the right mindset to watch and I have to admit that the two times that I sat down to watch this one was not in the right one. However, the good part is that it wasn’t hard to follow and the tension was definitely there. There are layers to this story as the story starts with a scene about picking their desert island bands and it highlights a little just who the different personalities in this band are. Then the plot starts quickly and moves forward as they try to figure out how to escape while negotiating and the neo-Nazi movement lead by Darcy (played by Patrick Stewart) has their own turnaround events and we get pieces of each side. Its executed really well on that level.

Green Room

Its a horror film so characters tend to get out of the picture fairly quickly and its good in a certain way. For one, there is a real thought to how these characters end up. Its a fairly bloody affair. At the same time, it keeps the story more contained leaving us with the bigger names in the film like Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots. And there is a lot to like about these characters. While Yelchin’s character plays more of an indecisive character, his character develops a lot as the situation hardens him in some ways. While Imogen Poots’ character was one not from the band, so carries a kind of mystery as to how much to trust her while she also gave a certain unhinged feeling so making it a little harder to truly believe her intentions. However, its also a toughness that this group trapped in the room looking to escape need.

Overall, Green Room is pretty fun and intense. It had a decent amount of thrills and was executed really well whether the pacing or the character development. There are twists and turns to the stories to create mystery and awe. It went by really quick and never felt like it dragged on anywhere and was an intriguing one to watch.

Halloween 2018: Lights Out (2016) – Rewatch

A bit of cheating today as I rewatched Lights Out with my husband who had not seen it in the first time. Main reason is that I’m under a mountain of work to finish a deadline for tomorrow so this will have to do for now as I couldn’t finish the movie I was watching after this rewatch. Review for that coming up soon though. 🙂

In this second viewing after two years, I still remember a lot of how I felt the first time and the scenes which is quite impressive to say about a film because I have a horrible memory. It may be a second viewing but I still enjoyed the tension and the use of lights and the whole premise of it. I still see some of the flaws that I mentioned in the original review but its easily ignored as it keeps a decent paced because of its controlled run time. It never lingers too long to be over dramatic and keeps its horror moments even some of their predictable jump scares to work in the realm of what they are doing.

Head over to the original review when I saw it at Fantasia to see my full thoughts. It really hasn’t changed that much.

Tranquil Dreams

The next movie in the Fantasia Festival Line-up before almost a week off before the next one is Lights Out. I haven’t been able to finish the trailer on this one and it hits a lot of my fears such as darkness. Its one I am excited, skeptical and incredibly nervous and frightened to go see. Lights Out is presented as a Montreal Special Screening and was a sold out show. It also presented me with one of the most engaging film watching experience. Please note the film watching and not film. It seemed to need that clarification on Twitter. Everyone screamed and laughed and emoted together. Maybe it will disturb a normal theatre experience but Fantasia is a different vibe because a ton of people there are film buffs if not horror film buffs which adds on to the fun.

Lights Out (2016) 

Lights Out

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Teresa…

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