TV Binge: Stranger Things (Season 4, 2022)

Stranger Things (Season 4, 2022)

Creator: The Duffer Brothers

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Priah Ferguson, Matthew Modine, Maya Hawke, Joseph Quinn

When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief and his friends must confront terrifying supernatural forces in order to get him back. – IMDB

Its been a while for Stranger Things and now that the two parts of Season 4 are finally released, its time to give it an overall look. Season 4 of Stranger Things definitely takes things back up to the hype of its first season. Not only do the ending 2 episodes become incredibly long running at 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours respectively but the whole show in general shows off a lot of writing especially when referencing back to almost a circle effect as events from prior seasons all come together from looking at what happened exactly with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) at the Hawkins Lab that lead her to run away to the initial group being separate for various reasons but all coming together in their different places, showing off the extent of the Upside Down and the hive mind of the demogorgons and also what connects them all together. Its an elaborate story and one that truly elevates especially in terms of the script.

Since I never managed to get the TV binges for Season 2 and 3 out, its suitable to talk a little about my feelings towards it. The last 2 seasons were decent but never quite lived up to its first season, even though season 3 did end on quite the big change with a lot at stake in its big finale. Perhaps its how it felt a little been there done that with the same similar plot of the Upside Down and Eleven’s powers and Hawkins Lab and sealing the portals and such. There were some decent new characters as well, even if some didn’t last. The threat doesn’t seem to change even if the dynamic between the friends shifted a little and still had some fun moments.

What makes Season 4 work better even if some of the threats are familiar, is that there is more depth. There’s a lot of change and it justifies that a certain amount of time has moved on since how things ended in Season 3. It brings in topics of bullying and the 80s satanic panic along with new characters coming into play. The 80s theme is still very vibrant with the soundtrack, even surpassing that of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and Metallica’s Master of Puppets. It helps that the crew is all split up in different locations which adds some freshness as the adults are in Russia, the kids are split between Hawkins and California while Eleven needs to reconnect with her powers despite the people involved. There’s a lot to talk about just in terms of the many tangents of the plotline. The most direct would be the whole process of Russia where the adults come together with Joyce (Winona Ryder) working with Murray (Brett Gelman) to follow a message allegedly from Hopper (David Harbour) and they head off to save him. As much as the kids are a part of the story, the adults are also rather important as well. This side of the story as dangerous as it is actually packs a lot of comedic relief whether its the dialogue from Murray or Joyce and their very unplanned way of trying to save Hopper.

The whole dynamic between the friends shifts as they get older with different priorities like wanting to break away from being the Dungeons and Dragons nerds to being the popular jock. While Eleven in her new environment with Will (Noah Schnapp) experiences her powers gone after the last season’s events and has to deal with bullying. Despite all this, everyone tries to pretend everything is okay when it isn’t which is the main reason for some of the conflicts here afterwards. With new alliances, the main one being the new character Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) who is wrongly accused of a fellow classmate’s death in his trailer as well as Steve’s (Joe Keery) work buddy Robin (Maya Hawke). Its nice to see that as Lucas falls out of the group for a bit, his sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) steps up with a bigger role as she is a little body with a big attitude who is incredibly fun to watch. With a lot of the relationships and little other things put into the backdrop as they group together to fight against the new enemy Vecna, it all builds to a rather big thing with some serious aftermath affecting not only the Upside Down but also Hawkins as a whole. What deserves a big mention, other than Eleven’s side of the story as she’s always a big part, is that Max (Sadie Sink) gets a much bigger role in this season as what happened in the previous season haunts her to the point that makes her mentally weaker and giving the chance to be trapped into a deadly situation.

Stranger Things Season 4 is definitely a step up from the previous 2 seasons. While it seems to jump around a lot, the difference in locations and the different groups of characters working together in one scenario to the next gives off parallel storylines that drive the story further. The writing also adds depth as it does pull a lot of the world that they’ve been building all these seasons together giving it a circle effect (which I have to admit is something I particularly love seeing in any sort of film or TV as it makes it feel very clever). The characters, new ones especially did such a great job, no matter if it was the bully or the jock or Eddie Munson who all delivered the necessary effects. It is nice to see Steve’s character have some other purpose than being the babysitter at the end while Eddie and Dustin does build a nice friendship as well. If there was one thing to criticize (and I’m sure there’s more especially some bits of the episodes working towards those 2 final ones) more strongly is its the whole cliffhanger ending, which from memory Stranger Things always did have the tendency to do to build up the anticipation for the next season. With that said, its not so bad since their final season is going to happen so hopefully we will see that released soon and see how the Duffer Brothers wrap up this whole world.

Uncharted (2022)

Uncharted (2022)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Steven Waddington

Street-smart Nathan Drake is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan, and lost 500 years ago by the House of Moncada. – IMDB

Based on the Uncharted video game franchise developed by Naughty Dog, the film is set with a young Nathan Drake on his first recruit with Sully for some treasure hunting action as they try to use their wits and Drake’s know-how to finish up what his brother Sam started before his disappearance while outrunning a Moncada heir and his highly paid team. There are two ways to look at this film: the first would be in the accuracy and efficacy of its adaptation to the games itself and the other way would be for the normal movie-goer who doesn’t have any or little knowledge of the game and treats this as a straight-forward action adventure treasure hunt film. Luckily, I fall a little in between these as the game follows one of the later games which I am not as familiar with but also have a decent knowledge of these main characters, Nathan Drake and Sully so I will try to touch on both of these angles.

Looking at this from its adaptation angle, perhaps the biggest discussion amongst gamers would be whether Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg are suitably as Nathan Drake and Sully respectively. In that sense, its the biggest issue with the film perhaps as this element works better on the star power for the normal movie goer than them feeling like these two characters from the video game. Whether from the idea of appearance, even if they put Drake in the game’s outfit, or the idea that their personalities match with that of the game, some dialogue does match up but it still lacks a little something that these characters’ bring in the game, giving them a very different feeling. If there was a character that felt very similar to its video game version, that would be Chloe Frazer portrayed by Sophia Ali and still, it lacks a bit of sass. However, the film does work with a very straight-forward plot, while this might be a let-down for something expecting more, it is pretty entertaining overall and adds in certain cinematic cues and cameo that links back to the game whether its the Naughty Dog sticker on the suitcase or a Nolan North cameo appearance along with the CGI camera pan through certain puzzle elements which bring in those game parallel.

With that said, looking at this from purely an action adventure film, there is no doubt that this feels generic from a plot angle but then the point remains on how much expectation was put into it based on the trailer versus the normal context of these types of films. Uncharted is an entertaining movie experience. It has some over the top CGI which is almost reminiscent of the Fast and Furious movies (and you probably already know what scene I’m referring to) but also has the element of the banter between Drake and Sully which can be fun at times even if it revolves mostly around how much trust they can put into each other. The villain here is a bit two fold as you have Antonio Banderas as Moncada but also Tati Gabrielle as Jo Braddock who is more dangerous as she is more than just a rich man with a bunch of minions. The action pieces are pretty fun and the adventure and puzzle element is done rather well also especially when you get into the big finale with a change in setting from the big city to the vast open seas.

Overall, Uncharted might not be quite the video game adaptation that people want especially from the angle of its main characters Drake and Sully mostly since they are missing a bit of the pizzazz these video game characters however if talking about the plot itself, while generic for an action-adventure film but it actually does match up to the game well enough. Movies like these truly depend on what you expect out of them. For myself, there are some flaws in terms of casting choices from the video gamer side however as a popcorn flick, the entertainment level is still a good time.

*Uncharted is currently available on digital on April 26th and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on May 10th*

*Screener provided by TARO PR*

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022 Finale: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) by Drew’s Movie Reviews

Welcome back to Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022. After almost 2 weeks, we are winding down with our finale posts over today and tomorrow. The first of the two posts is from my awesome co-host Drew with his pick of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Drew is diving into Steven Spielberg’s films over the course of 2022 so you should definitely make sure to keep checking his blog out to make sure you don’t miss any of those reviews (and all his other reviews and weekly trailer round-ups).

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Synopsis 
When E.T., an alien visiting Earth, gets left behind when his ship quickly leaves, Elliott (Henry Thomas) helps him contact his home world.

Review 
When E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial released 40 years ago in 1982, no one, not even Steven Spielberg, predicted that it would be the phenomenon that it has become. After finally viewing it myself, I can see why this film has become a beloved classic. The movie tells a story about a boy befriending an alien while also examining the affect of divorce on children. It’s a very unique story combination that few filmmakers without Spielberg’s expertise could pull off. All of the relationships, Elliot’s relationship with E.T., Elliott’s relationship with his siblings, and Elliott’s and his siblings’ relationship with their mother, are all thoroughly developed and fleshed out. The score, created by Spielberg’s regular composer John Williams, excels at elevating the emotional undertones of every scene. One particular moment that stands out is the iconic moment when Elliott, with assistance from E.T., flies his bike in the air with the moon behind them. It’s already a fantastic scene but Williams’ score makes it even better. Even without the score, the script does a wonderful job of building emotion. By the end, you’ll no doubt have become attached to the characters, particularly the lovable E.T. himself, culminating in an emotional ending.

I thought E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was GOOD 🙂 Filled with heart and relatable characters, Steven Spielberg crafts an epic tale that everyone can enjoy and hold dear.

Trivia
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial holds the record for the longest ever theatrical run, staying in theaters for over one year after it’s release on June 11, 1982. (via IMDb)

Trailer 

Cast & Crew 
Steven Spielberg – Director
Melissa Mathison – Writer
John Williams – Composer

Henry Thomas – Elliott
Robert MacNaughton – Michael
Drew Barrymore – Gertie
Dee Wallace – Mary
Peter Coyote – Keys
KC Martel – Greg
Sean Frye – Steve
Tom Howell – Tyler
Pat Welsh – E.T. (voice)

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Check out the full list of blogathon entries for this year’s Ultimate Decades Blogathon HERE!

Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews tomorrow to check out my blogathon final pick!

Schemes in Antiques (古董局中局, 2021)

Schemes in Antiques (古董局中局, 2021)

Director: Derek Kwok

Cast: Jiayin Lei, Xian Li, Zhilei Xin, You Ge, Tao Guo, Mei Yong

Adapted from Ma Boyong’s novel of the same name, the film tells the story of a series of adventures that occurred when the descendants of the five veins made a wish to find out the truth about the Buddha head of Wu Zetian Mingtang in the Tang Dynasty. – IMDB

It’s always nice to have a film that delivers exactly what it says. Literally. Schemes in Antiques is exactly a plot revolving schemes in antiques. This Chinese film is a treasure hunt adventure which touches on a little bit of Chinese history and antiques. While the structure of the plot isn’t exactly novel, the approach using the Chinese antiques and following the characters to solve the puzzles to go to the next clue to find the elusive Buddha head that caused the main character’s family history to be tainted, leaving him in the undignified state that he lives in. There are secrets and twists and adventure plus a bit of family drama in the backstory that works well together.

Schemes in Antiques may seem like very straightforward just from its title alone and probably taking away a bit of the mystery itself. However, it has its own sort of fun elements. Its a plot which centers around a race to finding the truth behind this artifact that was supposed given to Japan but turns out to be fake. As two descendants go on this hunt, their different strengths lead them in different pacings on the trail. Both of these two characters have their own family legacies to fight for with the main character Xu Yuan having a much more direct motive: to find out the truth behind whether his ancestors did disgrace their family name.

The cast itself is pretty decent. The main character, Xu Yuan played by Jiayin Lei is pretty well-casted. While I haven’t seen this actor other than in variety shows, he does capture this role which floats between the constantly drunk electronic store owner with an exceptional antique knowledge living in the shadows of his disgraced family name from his grandfather and the neglect from his own father. However, his encounter with the daughter of one of the members of the antique society becomes an alliance that takes them for quite the dangerous adventure. In a film full of men, this character shines out played by Zhilei Xin who has her own motives to prove that a woman can also amount to purpose to break his father’s old-fashioned mindset. Their competition or opposition is played by Xian Li, the only cast here that I am familiar with especially after his burst of fame after Chinese TV drama series Go Go Squid! (one of my absolute favorite Chinese series as a side note) which has opened up the doors to a huge variety of roles in the past few years. He captures this role pretty well as his character straddles a line throughout as someone with ulterior motives but remains relatively mysterious right up to the end.

Overall, Hong Kong director and screenwriter Derek Kwok’s venture into the China market with this film is a pretty fun one. The runtime is a little wild at over 2 hours and at times feels a little lengthy but the adventure and action is pretty well done and adds in a little bit of comedy, which primarily is in the beginning. The film does build up a certain level of tension by the end and adds a decent twist to the plot in terms of character and the treasure hunt turnout for this antique. With a decent cast and a focus on the Chinese history and adventure based on some puzzle-oriented clues with some Chinese origins as well, it gives the film a unique angle to a fairly basic treasure hunt adventure film.

*Screener provided by Taro PR*

Double Feature: An Affair To Die For (2019) & Tears of Steel (2012)

Next double feature is here with two movies that were relatively spontaneous choices. The first being a thriller called An Affair to Die For and the second is a short film called Tears of Steel. Let’s check it out!

An Affair To Die For (2019)

Director: Victor Garcia

Cast: Claire Forlani, Jake Abel, Titus Welliver, Nathan Cooper, Melina Matthews

A secret rendezvous. A man cheats on his wife. A woman cheats on her husband. And then everything goes bad, quickly. – IMDB

It seems like January is the peak time when I successfully hunt down some really lackluster movies in the Netflix list. Honestly, I don’t even rememeber putting this movie on the list as this genre of film generally hasn’t bode well. With that said, An Affair to Die For was a fairly below average experience.

The deal with An Affair to Die For isn’t so much the plot. In fact, after some thought, it does land on that twist element to a certain extent but the execution and timing left the pacing feeling a little unbalanced to the ending. At a certain point, the body count really dies narrow down who else is left for the big “mastermind” at the end who pulls a Saw-like ending. The other part is the dialogue and the characters themselves. In this case, I do have to say that while I do think there’s some overacting, its how the main female actress Claire Forlani delivers her dialogue that bothers me. It feels almost like the combination of a flawed script and oddly constructed characters pulls this film down as well.

An Affair To Die For is really quite a lackluster experience overall. The movie starts off feeling like an erotic thriller and takes a turn into a much more focused thriller element is not a bad idea, its just that anything like that also takes some careful pacing and this one lacked in that department.

Tears of Steel (short 2012)

Director (and writer): Ian Hubert

Cast: Derek de Lint, Sergio Hasselbaink, Rogier Schippers, Vanja Rukavina, Denise Rebergen

He just wanted to be awesome in space. – IMDB

Running as a swift 12 minutes short, Tears of Steel is rather interesting in concept. It plays a little with time travel or time manipulation. The world is a future where its being dominated by robots because of what leads back to one interaction in the past between a boy and girl. The whole concept is done rather well especially with the world building. Even in the little bit of the time, the destruction and the state of the world is shown really well. The effects in particular definitely look polished.

For a short film, this one does stand out a lot and really has a great concept and world building and it would be interesting to see perhaps a full story on this world. Whether its the technology or the ability to change the past that is used or even how the world came to be seems like such a good angle to dive further into the content.

What does make me wonder a little more is that this short film on Netflix is set as a season where there’s the original movie and then a 2 hour loop and an 8 hour loop of the movie. I’m just thinking about who is sitting around looping this short film and where this desire to do this came from. Its just something I wouldn’t do so I find it rather curious.

Double Feature: Enola Holmes (2020) & Robin Hood (2018)

Next up for double feature is a pairing of Netflix film Enola Holmes and 2018’s live action retelling of Robin Hood. Two movies that I feel pair up rather well together. Let’s check it out!

Enola Holmes (2020)

Director: Harry Bradbeer

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Louis Partridge, Helena Bonham Carter, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma, Frances de la Tour

When Enola Holmes-Sherlock’s teen sister-discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord. – IMDB

*Originally published in Movies and Tea – Friday Film Club*

Based on the first book of the series of the same name by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes tells the story of the teenage sister of an already famous Sherlock Holmes who follows the clues to find her disappeared mother. Using her wits to be evade her older brothers’ tracking in order to put her into a finishing school, she escapes to end up helping a young Viscount Tewkesbury escape from a man sent searching for him with murder intentions. Despite having part ways in London initially, they end up meeting again when she realizes that she needs to help him being murdered and tracks him down.

Enola Holmes are originally set for a theatrical release however due to the pandemic, they sold the distribution rights to Netflix which is how this movie has graced it presence on the streaming circuit. This is one charming movie that boasts a brilliant cast with Millie Bobby Brown playing the young female detective Enola Holmes, Helena Bonham Carter player her disappeared mother and her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft being played by Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin respectively and finally, the young Viscount Tewkesbury is played by Louis Partridge and his murderer by Burn Gorman. Its a very full cast with many names that I haven’t even started mentioning yet. The cast are remarkable in each of their roles especially with Millie Bobby Brown who delivers her best role to date.

One of the best elements of Enola Holmes is due to a script that constantly breaks the fourth wall which makes it very engaging and fun as the character Enola would constantly be reacting at the camera even sometimes for one quick moment to show her true reactions. It makes it all the more charming and entertaining. At the same time, her whole chemistry with Louis Partridge’s Tewkesbury while inching towards a little young romance hints throughout did play very well off each other. Of course, Henry Cavill needs to get a mention especially since Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed by so many different actors at this point over the past decade and he definitely holds up the role fairly well especially as he is supposed to be an older Holmes who is starting to show his more emotional side which is a good different.

Overall, Enola Holmes blends the world of Sherlock Holmes with a young heroine detective story. It has a unique little twist and the execution of the film works in a fun and feel-good way that gives its a lot of charm and well worth a watch.

Robin Hood (2018)

Director: Otto Bathurst

Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin, Paul Anderson

A war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown. – IMDB

I’ve lost count of how much retellings and adaptations we’ve had of Robin Hood already whether its TV series or movies. I sometimes hop in and out of the TV and films and they all feel along the same line of thought, but then it all makes sense since its been a story that’s been around for a long time considering Disney’s animated classic was released in 1973. With that said, I was fairly indifferent about this one. On one hand, there’s a lot of familiar faces in cast such as Jamie Foxx, Taron Egerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Dornan, even though they all happen to actors that I’ve seen but never watch a lot their movies.

Robin Hood has some alright action sequences. The cast itself isn’t really the problem although the characters themselves are a little disjointed. I can’t say that after so many Robin Hood’s that Taron Egerton brought anything different especially since he still has more of a boyish feeling which doesn’t quite match the character of Robin of Loxley for this story. However, one of the bigger issues probably dials down to execution and pacing. Running at almost 2 hours long, the movie spends a lot of time in slow-paced segments that make this feel a little boring to be honest. It actually stretches out this familiar tale and adding some unnecessary changes that doesn’t seem to add too much.

Perhaps the biggest issue is that this film feels like its fairly forgettable. There’s nothing that makes it better than previous versions released. Taron Egerton’s Robin of Loxley feels fairly disjointed. Sure, Jamie Foxx’s character delivers a decent performance with some good dialogue. There’s definitely some issues with this latest version of Robin Hood and the similarities made me think about how other movies might have done it better.

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City
By: Ryan Graudin

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible…

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister…

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out. – Goodreads

Based on the historical location in Hong Kong called the Kowloon Walled City that used to exist as a place with no control from the government where a lot of bad people would live and have very little daylight due to how the buildings piled on top of each other, Ryan Graudin has created a world of her own with this basis changing Hong Kong to Seng Ngoi and using simple Chinese names to easily remember these characters but still have the essence of an Asian territory to make it not a historical fiction but still managing to capture a lot of the essence of this location to bring it to life. The Walled City is an outstanding young adult “dystopian” thriller. In fact, its surprising why The Walled City isn’t used in more stories (whether books or movies) as a background story. Ryan Graudin takes this world and is able to show the gritty and darkness that hangs in its shadows portraying the location really well while also delivering a story about three youths that get entangled in the mess.

The novel is executed with each of the chapters moving between these three characters. Its easy to see the connection of two of the characters but it doesn’t really matter if that was meant to be a minor reveal at some point to make it all piece together. What’s important is that each of these characters represent one part of this closed society. The boy Dai is the only one that knows the countdown element and has motives to deliver some information before he can be free as he works for the kingpin as a runner who pairs up with the second character on a spontaneous run-in, a young girl disguised as a boy Jin looking for her sister who was sold to a brothel by her father for money but also trying to stay out of sight for the street gangs that are after her because she stole a pair of boots from them. Finally, the third character is Mei Yee, one of the brothel girls who wish to find a way out but is approached by Dai to help him find a way to steal the information that he needs in exchange to help her escape. All three of these characters represent their own helpless situation that bond together to try to get out of their own situations.

The Walled City is great because of its writing style. Its vivid writing brings the story to life. Especially with the amount of action and suspense going on, as the story gets deeper and dangerous for the three characters, it builds very well. There’s something really fascinating about bringing a location to life and its characters while exploring somewhere that I’ve always been fascinated about and would love to see more stories based on while also using a novel structure that I’m personally a big fan of. The Walled City ticks a lot of the boxes of a novel that I enjoy reading.

My September Adventures!

September has come to an end as Canada has officially announced the beginning of the second wave of COVID-19. We’re going through regional alert levels where with the past weekends leaps in increase of cases, Montreal (along with two other regions) will enter into maximum alert on October 1st meaning generally that other than shopping centres and retail businesses/personal care services, everything where social gathering can happen (theatres, libraries, bars, dine-in at restaurants, etc) are all closed for the next 4 weeks including all private gatherings. Just a little update on the currents of my whereabouts.

New Restaurants in Town

Perhaps my fave place so far to open would have to go to Shuyi Tealicious where I just love the Jasmine Tea or Oolong Tea with Grass Jelly. Its some delicious stuff in the simplest way. So good. Whereas the husband loves the milk tea with oats.

The first dine-in since COVID-19 and the only one for a while, I’d assume seeing the current state of situation. Either way, this new ramen place was pretty good. Its new so there was a line-up which if it wasn’t for my friend’s birthday, I wouldn’t have lined up for it or chosen to dine-in. Luckily the tables here were spread out pretty good.

With the new restrictions in place, we’re back to hibernating at home and cooking our own food or taking out or maybe trying out some delivery services if we want to try new food. The little joys in life, right?

Fantasia Film Festival Wrap-Up

Fantasia International Film Festival ended on September 3rd with a successful first ever virtual edition which had a very good platform for its movies and loved the mix of live screenings, Q&A as well as the on demand film selection. If only I didn’t have actual work, I’d have done a much more elaborate coverage of many more films. Still, I managed to do a bigger load of movies in a shorter timeframe so I’m rather proud of myself in general plus, I picked some solid choices with maybe only one or two that was a little disappointing. As a final wrap-up since I don’t want to do another post for it, here is my top 10 (which I’m thinking whether it would have been great if I did it in a Youtube video format or even podcast format, right?)

  1. The Oak Room
  2. The Paper Tigers
  3. Sheep Without A Shepherd
  4. Detention
  5. A Mermaid in Paris
  6. A Witness Out of the Blue
  7. Chasing Dream
  8. The Mortuary Collection
  9. You Cannot Kill David Arquette
  10. Jumbo

Movies and Tea Podcast

The latest episode of Movies and Tea Podcast transferred to Youtube is here as Season 2 is in progress of being put up.

We’re in Season 5 David Fincher on the Movies and Tea blog. The latest podcast episode released was our After Hours special for You Cannot Kill David Arquette HERE.

Hiking: La Montée du Dragon

Parc National du Mont-Megantic

Nothing like a little hiking as we return to Mont-Megantic National Park earlier in September. You can check out the hiking recap HERE.

Announcement: Halloween Marathon Starts TOMORROW!!

October is around the corner (tomorrow) so its time for the annual Halloween Marathon! I’ve got quite a nice line-up as we tackle two different franchises. I was only suppose to be one and then I started watching the sequels of another one and finished it so kind of wrapped up another franchise as well. Its the Living Dead franchise (including the remakes) and Insidious sequels (since I already reviewed the first one before). I also have some random movies to slot in between so it should be fun. Living Dead franchise is a little hard to find some of the movies and I didn’t plan it better so I’m hoping that I will find some of them if not I might just skip over it depending on the situation. If you have any horror films that you’d like to recommend for me to watch, let me know and I’ll add it on to my list if I haven’t seen or reviewed it before.

That’s it for this September adventures!
What have you been up to during these crazy times?

The 5th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: The Land Before Time (1988)

The 5th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon is going on this weekend from August 21 to 23. You can see what this blogathon is all about HERE.

The Land Before Time (1988)

The Land Before Time

Director: Don Bluth

Voice Cast: Pat Hingle, Gabriel Damon, Candace Hutson, Will Ryan, Judith Barsi, Helen Shaver, Burke Byrnes, Bill Erwin

An orphaned brontosaurus teams up with other young dinosaurs in order to reunite with their families in a valley. – IMDB

The Land Before Time has run over 25 years with 13 direct to video musical sequels in its entire franchise, 1988’s The Land Before Time first movie that started it all is a strong beginning and one worth revisiting years later to see if it lives up to expectations while also, in the heart of the blogathon, discuss the music composed by James Horner.

The Land Before Time is a fun family friendly children’s movie set in the prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It focuses on a group of little dinos of different herds that end up together because they are separated by an earthquake. As an animated and children’s film, The Land Before Time is pretty good. The dinosaur designs are pretty cute from the color choice of each type of dinosaur and the design of how they show their characteristics when they hatch from an egg and their baby dino appearances to later on when the movie pulls them together on the adventure. Not to mention that each of them are very adorable and they balance each other in personality which makes it a lot of fun to watch.

The children movie elements does bring in a lot of good themes from teamwork and friendship being a big part to include family as well. A lot of the story is about the adventure they go on to get to the Great Valley and finding their way together from meeting the T-rex to getting lost on the way and facing difficulties together. The family element brings in the big scene of the bond of parents and child. All these elements work together to put together a great story. Not to mention the narration by Pat Hingle is really nice and how the story is laid out.

The music in The Land Before Time is also quite nice. The theme is very well-known from now on and fairly familiar. The music is used a lot during the adventure moments to boost the fun elements while having the quiet orchestral music to carry forward the more emotional scenes effectively. At the same time, there is some areas where its used as a subtle background music as well. Every bit of the music adds to the story and tone.

Overall, The Land Before Time remains a great animated family film. Its unique because of its adorable characters, its beautiful music as well as its fun adventurous story.

Previous years of Remembering James Horner Blogathon
Once Upon A Forest (1993)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
The 33 (2015)
The Perfect Storm (2000)

Double Feature: The Net (1995) & The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Next up with the alphabet is the N double feature! Two rather random pairings as I did some last minute changes. The first is 1995’s thriller The Net starring one of my favorite actresses Sandra Bullock and the paired it with one of my Christmas in July Blogathon picks, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Let’s check it out!

The Net (1995)

the net

Director: Irwin Winkler

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northam, Dennis Miller, Diane Baker, Wendy Gazelle, Ken Howard, Ray McKinnon

A computer programmer stumbles upon a conspiracy, putting her life and the lives of those around her in great danger. – IMDB

Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since 1995 when this movie is set. With that said, The Net doesn’t age as well and suffers as a lot of the cyber and tech elements to a first watch right now with everyone being more tech savvy in general. There’s some bits that absolutely make very little sense. However, The Net still has some entertaining elements to it in terms of a thriller. Sandra Bullock’s character, Angela gets caught up when the game software she was analyzing ended up having a backdoor access to a much bigger scheme by a cyber-terrorist group which ends up taking her identity and turning her life into a dead end where she has to use her own systems analyst and hacking skills to fight back. The premise is an engaging one even if some plot points seem to not work too well.

However, Sandra Bullock is as she always is, just like her Speed days where its a good performance on her part since the movie really focuses heavily on her reactions and how she fights back and uses her wits and brains to figure out what these cyberterrorist have against her, what their goal is and how to turn things around. She’s a tough female lead in a very believable way. On the other hand, the leader of the group chasing her down for a floppy disk (you know this movie is old when we talk about floppy disks…) Jack Devlin, played Jeremy Northam puts in a decent performance as well. There’s some overacting at some points but overall, its a good interaction between the two.

The Net might not be Sandra Bullock’s best movie performance and it might not be a great thriller but it has a few elements from premise to characters and a good performance that makes it a fun watch. Sure, its a little out of the current times and technology but if anything, maybe those games she tests out has some level of nostalgia.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms movie poster

Director: Lasse Hallstrom, Joe Johnston

Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Macfadyen

A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice. – IMDB

*Originally posted on Drew’s Movie Reviews for Christmas in July Blogathon*

Disney picks up a lot of these live action children fantasy adventure movies at this point. It’s usually some harmless and visually appealing affair. That’s the best way to describe The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Set on Christmas Eve where Clara goes to a Christmas party and seeks out her godfather to the key to a puzzle that her mother had left her before she passed away takes her to an adventure in another realm through a passage from the mansion. Its quite a fun way to incorporate the elements of Christmas in the beginning and take the elements of a classic story like The Nutcracker and be able to reinterpret some of the characters especially the Mouse King the way that it did. The visuals paired with the score as well as the costumes are definitely the highlight of the film. The story itself is fairly predictable and even the villain which should be a twist is fairly easy to figure out. In the end, this is supposed to be a children’s movie for the most part so it’s not supposed to be complicated for an adult to watch this.

If you look at the cast, its quite a packed one with supporting roles from Morgan Freeman and Matthew Macfadyen. How many times has Matthew Macfadyen been in the same movie with Keira Knightley at this point, right? Keira Knightley takes on a much bigger role as the Sugar Plum Fairy with a high pitched voice and a rather entertaining role. To be honest, the younger roles here who play the lead like Mackenzie Foy as Clara or the Nutcracker Philip, played by Jayden Fowora-Knight are fairly okay. They are still young and have room for improvement for sure especially in some reactions and such but overall, it’s still decent.

There’s a lot of the expected and predictable elements here. For people who enjoy this type of movie, they will still find the joy in it. If you’ve never quite enjoyed these movies from Disney, then its probably not one to catch. It sounds like I didn’t say anything with that comment but this is along the lines of movies like A Wrinkle in Time or Alice in Wonderland where it has a certain level of entertainment and visuals but also a fair share of elements like plot that might feel more formulaic.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two movies? Thoughts?