Double Feature: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) & The Lodge (2019)

A little of an early announcement that this the last double feature for August. Double Feature will resume in September however, don’t worry, movie reviews will be the main focus for the next two weeks. The double feature is wrapping up the rentals that I’ve been working through. One is an movie that released earlier this year as video game adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog and that is paired with independent horror movie, The Lodge.

Let’s check it out!

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Director: Jeff Fowler

Cast: Ben Schwartz (voice), James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell

After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help him defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on him. – IMDB

Video game adaptations seem to be more and more of late. Maybe its the surge of video game popularity or something but Sonic the Hedgehog is a fairly classic game and its one of my faves and because of this and the cast involved, it was one that I had on my radar. With the pandemic happening, it was something that just fell through until it circulated around on the rentals list. Sonic the Hedgehog has a similar tone to Pokemon Detective Pikachu and it has to do with aiming towards a younger audience for the most part and having the family/children’s live action with CG animated characters mesh.

With that said, Sonic the Hedgehog does manage to deliver on the children’s elements and a lot of the essence of the characters involved. There’s quite a bit of charm to each of them. Its a harmless and entertaining movie that aims to be an enjoyable experience and lands on its comedic points. For the older audience, it might be the charming element of Jim Carrey going back to his comedic roots like The Mask and Ace Venture: Pet Detective style with some jokes and movements really giving those vibes a lot as he portrays the villain Doctor Eggman.

Sonic is voiced by Ben Schwartz which is a fun character in general, both portraying the speedy blue hedgehog and as an actor himself. He is a good choice for the role and works it out really well. Sonic in CG animated form is pretty hilarious as well. Paired up with a rather dynamic performance by James Marsden, its a fun ride. There are some truly over the top moments but with the cast and material on hand, its rather expected.

The Lodge (2019)

Directors (and co-writers): Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place. – IMDB

The Lodge is a slow-paced atmospheric horror film. Its filmed in Montreal (where I am) which is why a lot of the road going up to the cabin looks incredibly familiar to myself which makes the isolated lodge in the familiar gloomy winter landscape feel even more unsettling. The Lodge builds on its quiet moments and its subtle sounds and creating this dark atmosphere. Whether its between the characters stuck in this lodge or dealing with the past and the events that happen, its all comes to spiral out of control even after the twist is revealed. It shows the dynamic and mentality between children and adults as well as the unsettled and unhinged mind. The setting creates a lot of the atmosphere to build up this story giving it the isolation and separation and even helplessness when things go bad.

At the same time, a lot of the movie is built up by its characters. The abrupt moments at the beginning and the simple-minded thoughts of children dealing with their soon-to-be stepmother and the nonacceptance of this new person in their lives followed by the dark past of said person all comes into play. Riley Keough delivers an outstanding performance as Grace, the soon to be stepmother who is trapped in this lodge with the two kids who are mostly ignoring her with the brother Aiden, played by Jaeden Martell being a big influence on the situation and having some unsettling moments of his own. Jaeden Martell made quite the performance in IT: Chapter One (review) previously and in The Lodge, its a different dynamic in his character.

The Lodge excels in its atmosphere and its characters and the surprise element that creeps along in the background until its final reveal. The way it concludes also takes a shocking path. This movie resides in knowing the least possible going in and experiencing its story so I won’t say any more. I do highly recommend it.

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

Double Feature: Maniac (1980) & Matilda (1996)

Taking a moment to get back to our alphabet double feature as we continue onto the M selections. The first is a 1980s slasher Maniac followed by 1996 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name Matilda. Let’s check it out!

Maniac (1980)

Maniac 1980

Director: William Lustig

Cast: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper

A psychotic man, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in New York City, kills young women and takes their scalps as his trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in a photographer, and end his killing spree? – IMDB

Maniac is an odd film. Its not a particularly long one and the premise itself is rather spine-chilling. There’s this appeal of the abrupt attacks that this serial killer deals with its victims. The aftermath of taking the scalps and the whole killer by himself is all fairly well-done psychologically especially in terms of its final act to the actual final moments that are actually the best part of the film in terms of delivering its final surprise.

However, Maniac has a lot of elements that didn’t quite work for it. It could be that the film didn’t really age too well from the 80s until now or its the general lack of appeal that I’ve had lately for 80s films. I feel like its more of a personal preference element. One thing that I truly didn’t appreciate though was how each scene of killing or hunting its victim was filled with this overlap of heavy breathing sounds that seemed like it was added in afterwards to make the scene more nerve-wrecking except it was more annoying and retracted from those scenes.

Its obvious that Maniac didn’t quite work for me (or my husband). The story itself has something there so I’m interested to see whether the 2012 remake will land a little better.

Matilda (1996)

matilda

Director: Danny DeVito

Cast: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris, Paul Reubens, Tracey Walter, Kiami Davael

Story of a wonderful little girl, who happens to be a genius, and her wonderful teacher vs. the worst parents ever and the worst school principal imaginable. – IMDB

Having read a few of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels when I was younger, Matilda has been one that I’ve never read before although I might have owned it at some point (or it might be in a box somewhere when I moved, I can’t remember). However, its been a movie on my radar for all the time that its been released since Mara Wilson in the child actor days was absolutely fantastic. Matilda is something of an odd movie but yet its one that’s a tad over the top in all the characters especially when it comes to the actions of the principal Trunchbull, played amazing by Pam Ferris. But then, children’s films tend to have these silly and ridiculous moments to give it that extra entertainment value.

Mara Wilson is definitely the charming element of this film. As well as her parents played by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman which was downright hilarious as they were simply ridiculous parents. They almost seem like the inspiration behind the parents in this year’s Netflix animated film, The Willoughbys (review). As she learns about her abilities, Matilda is so much fun to watch since she uses her powers essentially to payback the adults that have been mean to her. Sure, we’re not supposed to encourage the concept of revenge but its all about teaching a lesson to bullies who deserve it and standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, just like taking on this actual bond with her teacher, Miss Honey played by Embeth Davidtz.

Matilda is fun children’s movie. The premise is good and while I haven’t read the source material, its one that I would like to check out for fun. The cast is incredibly colorful and suitably over the top as it fits the genre.

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

Double Feature: A.M.I. (2019) & Albion: The Enchanted Stallion (2016)

Next Double Feature is here! Its been a while since I’ve gone on an alphabet double feature! This time, I’m going to try to work through both Netflix and Shudder titles for the pairing as much as possible. Its a decision that I made after the A selections though so here we are! A selection starts with 2019 horror film A.M.I. and then followed by 2016’s indie fantasy-adventure film Albion: The Enchanted Stallion. Let’s check it out!

A.M.I. (2019)

A.M.I.

Director (and co-writer): Rusty Nixon

Cast: Debs Howard, Philip Granger, Bonnie Hay, Sam Robert Muik, Veronica Hampson, Havana Guppy

A seventeen year old girl forms a co-dependent relationship with an artificial intelligence on her phone and goes on a murderous rampage. – IMDB

Movies based on AI and possibly corrupted or misused technology is definitely been on the rise. We did recently watch Child’s Play remake (review) and then there’s been a few short films screened at film festivals that had that sort of concept as well. A.M.I. plays with that concept where the AI becomes the mother figure anchor for Cassie, who loses her mother and can’t seem to see eye to eye with her father, grows distant with her friends (who aren’t all that great) and then a scumbag of a boyfriend. With all these factors, A.M.I. turns into her “person” and eventually becomes the manipulating force that drives her to start killing all those that have wronged her.

The story and premise, while not entirely fresh, has a decent foundation. The only issue is that the film is filled with really bad characters. Bad in the sense that they are truly bad people with some really warped sense of friendship, love, relationships, etc. As Cassie breaks down from seeing everyone’s true personality, her character is supposed to have some kind of pity, I suppose but then, the story never gives enough to make her feel that way and instead brings her straight into this rampage that she goes on. The characters here are built so incredibly thin and so unwelcoming that its hard to side with any of them and care about what happens to them either. A part of that might have to do with some overacting on all parts and some ridiculous dialogue.

A.M.I. has a lot of issues that hides the fact that the premise itself wasn’t a bad one and has some creepy parts but the tone it chooses and the characters it uses during this makes it actually a rather funny movie. Perhaps if it didn’t feel like it took itself that seriously, it would have been a fun little movie romp to have a good laugh at some of the ridiculous bits that happen.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion (2016)

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion

Director (and co-writer): Castille Landon

Cast: Avery Arendes, Stephen Dorff, Castille Landon, Daniel Sharman, John Cleese, Liam McIntyre, Jennifer Morrison

A twelve-year-old girl is transported by a magical black stallion to the mystical world of ALBION, where she discovers that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people. – IMDB

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion is a fun little fantasy adventure. There’s a lot of creativity here and introduces a new fantasy world that the young girl enters unknowingly on the back of a stallion that she tends to. In this world, she learns that its not all coincidence and yet has something linked to herself and it gives her the courage and bravery to do the right thing and help her newfound friends in saving the people in this magical world called Albion.

Albion is a world split between the good and bad. There are people fighting to regain the balance that once was despite its perils and challenges. Evie is brought into this world and almost doesn’t believe that things that she experiences and tries to find a way back. Its a fun world to say the least. Plus, each of the characters that she meets is rather entertaining as well. They run into their own dangers and while some of the characters could have a little more depth, this is something of a family film (although there are some rather disgusting bits), it satisfies the adventurous tale that it wants to tell. Everyone’s character whether good or bad has its own standout moments. Special mention to Jennifer Morrison who plays The Abbess and her part is absolutely awesome.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion has its little issues here and there but it executes itself pretty well and its a harmless little film that packs in a lot of fun dialogue and banter and also brings in some colorful characters. I’d definitely say that its something of a hidden gem and a pleasant surprise in the landscape of family fantasy adventure films.

That’s it for the A title double feature!
Have you seen these movies? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Black Panther (2018) & A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

Next Double Feature here! This time its multi-themed, I guess. Both 2018 movies and also part of the Disney movies so we have A Wrinkle in Time and paired with Marvel’s Black Panther. Not the same type of movies or directed to the same audience but I figured it was the best way to pair it together. Let’s check it out!

Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther

Director (and co-writer): Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past. – IMDB

Marvel movies are pretty much churning out non-stop at this point with multiple film releases in a year. Black Panther had a lot of buzz and praise. While we had already seen T’Challa show up in a previous Marvel movie, this one takes place after Captain America: Civil War where we did see T’Challa appear in (I think) and while not an origin story is somewhat of the story of Wakanda, their rituals and land as well as how the kingdom is run. It also shows the rise and fall from the kingdom for T’Challa as he finds his way back to the throne. Its not meant to be a bad comment but I actually felt a lot like I was watching the story of The Lion King.

As with the majority of Marvel movies, its the length that really bothers me and its also one of the reasons why its taken so long to catch up with Black Panther. While I still think the movie was a tad longer than it needed to be and dragged in some parts and its still a rather superhero formula type of movie, what stands out in Black Panther is the unique kingdom and clans that surround it and seeing the different characters fall apart or become allies. There’s a sense of true pride with the characters and Chadwick Boseman is really good as Black Panther.

In terms of villains, its somewhat of a two-fold villain where Andy Serkis plays one part of it and then Michael B. Jordan plans the second part of it. Villains are always one of the weaknesses of Marvel movies in my opinion as it has so much focus on the superhero coming out on top that it makes the villain less threatening because it just never has the time to build. In this case, its not exactly great but I’d say that Michael B. Jordan makes for a better villain and it might be simply because the reasoning behind what he does makes sense and has its own backstory that gets revealed and connects everything together.

Overall, Black Panther is decent. I can’t say that I’m running back to watch it mostly for its length. But, in terms of Marvel films, this one falls somewhere in the middle due it having some unique origin story elements, character development and Wakanda “world” building elements.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

A Wrinkle in Time

Director: Ava DuVernay

Cast: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena

After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him. – IMDB

Live action fantasy adventure films for family/children is always a little bit of hit and miss when it comes to Disney offerings. A Wrinkle in Time is based on a 1962 novel of the same name that I haven’t read so I have no comparison to source material and really just how it delivers as the movie. A Wrinkle in Time falls somewhere in the middle. Its feels a bit like pieces stuck together so always has that disjointed feeling but at the same time, the new world is fantastical and just like the three astral travelers, they all happen to be a little odd as well. Its really a search for a father who has gone missing as they chase down where he might have gone because of his research and how the planet needs their help in order to battle the darkness which leaks into their own planet and causes negative things to happen, like bullying and envy. With that said, the sentimental elements here are done pretty well in terms of a family film. Visually, the movie also delivers on all the fantasy and sci-fi elements which is where the story itself truly has a lot of fun.

The cast itself is decent as well with a lot of star power behind it. The three astral travelers are played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling who each have a little personality that balances each other out and their own abilities. The older kids are played Storm Reid and Levi Miller who does a decent job as well. There are other performances by Michael Pena and Zach Galifianakis. All the characters are a tad quirky and there’s a little cryptic element as they go through this search towards helping save this planet from their dangers. The story is a little messy at times but there is a decent level of imagination in what it presents. To be fair, its not completely engrossing to watch but at the same time, its a pretty harmless family film. You get what you’d expect from a Disney family adventure film pretty much.

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

Christmas 2018: Stinky Santa by Otto Fishblanket

Stinky Santa
by: Otto Fishblanket

Stinky Santa

Jingle bells, Santa smells –
he smells of mouldy cheese.
He doesn’t wear any trousers
so you can see his knees.
A new work by renowned poet and part-time aeronautical escapologist, Otto Fishblanket, Stinky Santa is a book about a smelly Santa. It is illustrated by celebrity childen’s book illustrator, Gerald Hawksley. – IMDB

It seems like I’m taking a childish turn of events over here. Its not a bad thing at all. I was going through my Kindle and realized I had at some point gotten this Stinky Santa book for free. Its two short stories set in rhyming poetry about the holidays. The first is called Stinky Santa which talks about Santa who doesn’t like to shower and smells a lot but then gets all nice for Christmas to deliver the gifts and goes back sweaty and dirty and goes back to his usual routine. Its a little silly but somehow quite fun and satisfying to read. Plus, the drawings are done pretty cute as well. It fits into what I think kids will enjoy. Plus, the writing runs off the tongue well especially because it does rhyme well so never feels too forced.

The second story or poem (not sure what to call it yet) is what they say is a “surprise gift”. Its a nice little perk called Santa’s Grotty Grotto. Most people probably wouldn’t refer to Santa’s workshop as a grotto but here it works a little like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves or something where the place is usually empty and desolate and then it comes to life when it snows. Its a nice thought because even for myself, living in Canada, there is more Christmas spirit and holiday cheer when it snows outside and it just feels more suitable for the holiday season the way that I like it.

Both of these stories is just fun and entertaining. It has some funny bits and a lovely reading experience. Plus, its quick and quirky which also fits into something similar to Dr. Seuss. I mean, there is no comparison because Dr. Seuss is always a gem to read and irreplaceable but I had some similar vibes here and there with the creativity and the silly nature of the material. It is a nice break from the novels and romance and all that stuff that I’ve been reading and watching so the change of pace works for me.

TV Binge: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2, 2018)

It sure feels like a long time that I have been working on this TV Binge. A really long time! If you missed the Season 1 TV Binge post, you can find it HERE.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2, 2018)

a series of unfortunate events s2

Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman, Lucy Punch, Nathan Fillion, Sara Canning, Patrick Breen, Sara Rue

Stepping right off from Season 1, the Baudelaire Orphans now have gone through a bunch of odd guardians. Each one failing because of the horrible Count Olaf and his mischief or simply because they were some shady or clueless characters. Some cases even a mesh of the two components. It was filled with dark humor and a rather formulaic way of the Baudelaires always getting away. Entertaining as always but still the idea of the episodes always followed a same pattern. Unlike a lot of viewers, the first season took me a little while to get into. With where it left off in Season 1, this Netflix Original has established itself and its tone along with the characters so we should be in for a fun ride in Season 2.

Fortunately, we do get exactly that. Filled with more clever vocabulary lessons and random narration from Patrick Warburton in the oddest locations, the Baudelaires set off for a second season that is much more sinister and dangerous than the previous one. While the tone of the show hasn’t changed much, the events are more brutal. This is still a family show so the camera always cuts away from the potentially disgusting bits. Before we get ahead of ourselves too much, Season 2 covered Books 5 to 9 in the series: Austere Academy, Ersatz Elevator, Vile Village, Hostile Hospital and Carnivorous Carnival. Structured much like the first season, each book adaptation is separated into two parts. We get some new characters introduced (and in some cases, taken away). Honestly, I like this structure, it gives it a somewhat nice slice of moment. You can choose to binge watch the entire series if you want but you can also watch it like separate stories as the Baudelaires escape Count Olaf with less and less leeway leading to a nail-biting cliffhanger.

Overall, Season 2 is pretty strong. I got involved and immersed a lot quicker. It helps to see each of the characters grow more mature and smarter. The Baudelaires end up gaining a lot of coy and street smarts to pair with their natural intelligence. They each get their own spotlight, even little Sunny. The series remembers to be fair. As they get smarter, Count Olaf also devises much more intricate plans that give us surprises and each part as its own twists and turns that work to its advantage.

For things I loved/liked a lot in Season 2:

New Friends

A Series of Unfortunate Events

At the end of season 1, we stopped when we saw the Quagmires, now landing in the first six episode of this season. Quagmires and Baudelaires learn about their similarities and they are both brave and resourceful in their own ways. Call them the dynamic foursome if you will but the bonds they create in Austere Academy carries them to save these loyal friends for the next two stories in Ersatz Elevator and Vile Village. Its a nice change in pace to have them here. While most of the credit does go to following closely to the source materials pacing, it is nice to see these four work so well together. In these extreme situations, it is important to have allies.

New Villain

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lucy Punch joins the villainous Count Olaf troupe  as the wealthy woman who is the student of Count Olaf and his girlfriend, Esme Squalor. She is packed with all kinds of accents and characters. Honestly, she is a joy to watch on screen. I’ve only seen her do weird odd roles in other movies before so its quite the breather to see her really embrace this role and take it in a wonderfully entertaining and wicked direction, especially in Hostile Hospital. She adds just a little bit of extra wickedness to Count Olaf which changes the game a little from the silly henchmen & henchwomen in his ragtag troop.

New VFD Members

a series of unfortunate events

VFD and a mysterious sugar bowl, along with the reveal of the narrator’s identity all get a part in Season 2. It adds depth and context as well as some answers to the million of questions stirring in our minds that are left unanswered for both the viewers and the Baudelaires. Nathan Fillion adds his charming self as Jacques Snicket who ends up recruiting Olivia Calaban, a librarian who tries to help the children and is smart enough to be suspicious. Olivia Calaban is a wonderful character played by Sara Rue and is eventually recruited into VFD. She has some of the answers but being new, she is more passionate about the mission that Jacques Snicket teaches her. They are a great team and as we learn about the VFD, we see that its a chase to figure out how everything pieces together.

New Locations

a series of unfortunate events

A Series of Unfortunate Events has been very location-based so far. In the first season, we had some incredibly imaginative locations belonging to an array of odd characters. In Season 2, we continue on with this trend. We see the Austere Academy and the orphan’s shack. In Ersatz Elevator, we move to a wealthy penthouse location as well as the various fishy (literally) restaurants. Then we move on to the Vile Village where crows migrate from one location to the next at a set routine. Hostile Hospital is a incomplete half hospital with one of its wings still in construction limbo and of course, the most fascinating of all, is the rundown circus of Madame Lulu’s Caligari Carnival. The production design and tone and lighting all add to the environment of the series.

Overall…I kept it quite to the point in this one. I still love the young cast playing the Baudelaire Orphans. They are fantastic. Neil Patrick Harris is great as Count Olaf. The success of Season 2 despite its episode formula is the depth of the story. We learn more, the characters develop further and the situation gets more dire and dangerous. It has all the great points of the first season and adds a little more, just enough to keep us curious but still unveiling a bit more to give the story some context. With the fantastic ending and the brilliant pacing in Season 2, I can’t wait for Season 3 (which should be the final season if they follow the progression of the books).

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 7-9 by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events second season has hit Netflix and I realized that I was missing three books to catch up with the season. As I tried to read it before watching it, I ended up not be able to resist. At this point, I’m done the season and the TV Binge is coming up very soon, however, I did end up finishing to the book that catches up with the TV series. The last few times, I’ve bought them in 3 books collections and this time, I was working out the price and this one was still more economical. Hence, why these posts are structured this way. If you missed the review for the first 6 books, here are the links below:

Books 1-3 Reviews
Books 4-6 Reviews

Now for the reviews for the next 3 books! I apologize in advance if this post gets longer than usual.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 7-9
by: Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events

This electronic collection of volumes 7 through 9 in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is the e-equivalent of having three ghastly accidents right in a row. Contained here are such unpleasantries as kidnapping, disguise, murder, paperwork, another disguise, heart-shaped balloons, false allegations, stiletto heels, a shattered crystal ball, a cryptic map, an irritating song, and quite a few more disguises, all bundled together into a continuous barrage of horror and dismay. – Goodreads

Book 7: The Vile Village

After the Ersatz Elevator, the Baudelaire orphans are shipped off by Mr. Poe to try out a new program called “it takes a village.” They agree because they finally see the initials VFD again and follow the clue to maybe finding their kidnapped friends, the Quagmires. They soon realize that VFD stands for Village of Fowl Devotees and this town is infested by a lot of crows and even more rules than one could count. Theu are fostered with a scared guardian called Hector and sent to do the everyone’s chores. If the previous three books are in the right direction, this story sets off some more of the same like a new group of oblivious people but also creates more action and tension as the secret organization they are seeking is a bit more enlightened. Plus, there are some puzzle solving as they track down the Quagmires and some funny and tragic moments along with the staple puns and phrases to add in that extra bit for the children readers to be acquainted in this fun way to learn some new vocabulary while indulging in a new story.

Theres a lot to love about The Vile Village. The characters are very colorful for one and somehow the dilemmas or situations the Baudelaires get stuck in alwayd might end in one way or another in despair but this one ends with a victory or two or at least a little hope. With all the bad that has happened since the beginning even a little something going their way is a good thing.

Book 8: The Hostile Hospital

After the Baudelaires escape from VFD and now things are a little good since they did find the Quagmires, they find themselves in somewhat of a pickle as they are wrongly accused of murder leaving Count Olaf to be able to wander freely especially since he ia presumed dead but frames another. The Baudelaires meet the blissfully ignorant singing crew called VFD, Volunteers Fighting Diseases and end up at Heimlich Hospital. At the Hospital, they find another crucial and hopeful clue and this time do escape for the most part as they end up in a risky situation as well. Count Olaf and his crew are quite silly to say the least but they also are quite ruthless in their ways especially when their silly solutions are always believed by the clueless characters they encounter. It makes us wonder if it is a social commentary on the ignorance of society. Regardless of that, this one is a nailbiting story. The tensions ramps up as the orphans learn how to use Olaf’s tactics against him and start playing a little more smart to survive.

The Hostile Hospital ramps uo the danger but rewards the orphans with a little more hope. Perhaps for children, they will see these orphans and not see how they haven’t learned but part of growing up is learning to adapt and the speck of reality here is seeing the orphans each grow a little and sometimes make hard choices that question their morals to make it through a dire situation.

Book 9: The Carnivorous Carnival

The tension definitely gets higher as this episode starts with the Baudelaire orphans’ escape in the trunk of Count Olaf’s car and end up at this deserted and worn out carnival called Caligari Carnival. With their wits, they try to mimic Count Olaf and get into a disguise to hopefully figure out more about VFD as the carnival leader and resident fortune teller, Madame Lulu has the symbol there. As this story ends, the orphans have never been in more danger than before. Hard to imagine, but its true.

With that said, The Carnivorous Carnival is a lot of fun moments. There is a lot of great characters here especially with yet again more oblivious people particularly the House of Freaks, but then they are rejected normal people who are made to believe that they are freaks when in reality they aren’t and just being accepted somewhere makes them a little easily convinced into doing things to improve their life. It is one of the features that makes us cheer for the orphans as they are starting to have a few wins as they are learning more and meeting more people but still showing how each of their characters are developing. They should after 8 books before it and thrown into perilous situation after another and really only having each other to get out of these situations. The dark humor here works great. There’s a lot of love for this book that was another page turner. At this point, the story is pushed forward by how connected you are with these characters. Somehow, as much as these stories are linked, they never really need to know the previous book to keep reading which keeps it relatively self-contained. However, this is the first one that truly ends with a cliff-hanger.

Overall…

A Series of Unfortunate Events ramps up on the tension and danger elements for the Baudelaire orphans. It has some great danger elements and keeps with the vocabulary and popular phrase learning for the educational elements for the younger audience. As dark as the stories got, it still retained a bit of silliness in all its evil. Perhaps its the first time we start noticing the little social commentaries but it manages to constantly use a wide array of clueless characters which in all their useless and incompetence provides a level of entertainment but it accentuates how smart these children are and how they are adapting to their situations to try to escape from the grasp of Count Olaf. Its a fun collection to read and elevates the series for sure.

Finding Dory (2017)

Baking Through Disney has hit quite the snag but I am working on catching up on some Pixar and Disney titles in the meantime. I needed a lighthearted movie and decided to give Finding Dory a go.

Lets check it out!

Finding Dory (2017)

Finding Dory

Director: Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane

Voice Cast:  Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory, begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way. – IMDB

Following the success of Finding Nemo, Pixar continues in this universe with Finding Dory. While it still features our favorite father and son clownfishes, this time’s star is Dory and her search for her parents and where she came from. Dory is a great supporting character in Finding Nemo but the question here is whether she can carry an entire movie by herself and that was also my hesitation. Other than the Toy Story trilogy, lets just say that I’ve been disappointed with Pixar sequels so this one had the same idea as making a movie out of the Minions from Despicable Me (which I haven’t seen but will soon since it just landed on Netflix) and Penguins from Madagascar (which I have seen and reviewed here). They turn out fun and a good time but never quite has the meaningful and memorable punch that some of the Pixar movies have been able to deliver.

Finding Dory

The good part is that Finding Dory delivered everything I expected it to be. It was fun and silly and had some hilarious characters and moments. Was it a necessary movie? Probably not. Its fairly easy to see where the story was going to go but it was a cute, especially the baby Dory was absolutely adorable. It had a nice message about family, just as Finding Nemo had but somehow, it felt like it still lacked a little bit more substance, maybe its because it felt so much like watching a Finding Nemo movie that it lacked some uniqueness. There’s been a lot of sequels for everything kind of movie in the last decade (maybe longer) so its hard to not hope that a sequel can deliver a little more.

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With all that said, Finding Dory excelled with some fun characters to match up the vibrantly forgetful Dory, voiced by the ever so talented Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen herself makes me happy so its hard to not love having an excuse to watch Dory’s origin story. Dory, Marlin and Nemo are exactly as fun as you would expect them to be. Of course, some of the new characters really did make it a lot of fun. Hank is a cranky octopus who wants to escape the aquarium and helps Dory only to get her ticket out of there. In the process, his many octopus abilities helps them out a lot while still realizing that a big scary octopus like him still has his fears. On the other hand, much nicer sea creatures here is Dory’s childhood friend, a whale shark called Destiny who they used to talk to via the aquarium pipes and Destiny’s aquarium neighbor, a Beluga whale who had a concussion and thinks he lost his sonar abilities. All of them together is absolutely a riot and its a ton of fun to watch.

Finding Dory

Overall, Finding Dory is a fun entertaining adventure and while there was some predictability in it, its still an enjoyable Pixar film. Pixar always comes with great animation and colorful palettes. The underwater aspect gives it this cool touch. While still the movies and has some level of imagination is a nice entry point for kids to know about different underwater creatures, I would imagine. Other parents who post about kids reaction to animated films probably would provide a better opinion on this. I loved marine animals (and still do) since I was a kid so whale sharks, beluga whales and colorful tropical fish, etc are all my favorite things so this movie really hit the spot for me on that level.

The Parent Trap (1998)

Fun fact about me: I’m a huge fan of Lindsay Lohan when she was a young actress even up to her teenage roles, probably ends around Mean Girls. I remember that I have no idea how I landed on watching The Parent Trap when I was young but it was long enough ago for me to not really remember too much of it. This was a pretty fresh watch. However, I’m big on these twin movies. I still love It Takes Two to absolute bits. After a month of horror, its high time for some more family fun sort of movies. I was saying that it was teen comedies but I think the correct term of it is family features mostly in November. Sometimes, we just gotta take it easy especially when my mind is in high panic phase or at least it will be soon if it hasn’t already.

Let’s check it out!

The Parent Trap (1998)

The Parent Trap

Director: Nancy Meyers

Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Elaine Hendrix, Lisa Ann Walter, Simon Kunz

Identical twins Annie and Hallie, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents later they discover each other for the first time at summer camp and make a plan to bring their wayward parents back together.- IMDB

The best way to start this write-up is to first say that I haven’t watched the original The Parent Trap so I’m taking this one as a standalone, which it should be, even if it is a remake. The Parent Trap is kind of your cliche family movie. In many ways, I prefer It Takes Two over it if we were to compare, especially since there are many similarities between the two and I like the Olsen twins a tad more than a double of Lindsay Lohan. However, she does do a great job especially realizing that at a young age, she could do the British accent and the normal, plus there was some pretty fun parts. The Parent Trap isn’t a long movie either and carries some pretty entertaining times.

The Parent Trap

First of all, the cast is pretty good. Playing the father is Dennis Quaid who I do enjoy watching from time to time. Oddly, most of them are family films, except for Vantage Point. However, the fun isn’t exactly with these two adults meeting again and rekindling their love in a few days and putting all differences aside. The over the top character of Meredith, makes for some funny moments especially when she reacts quite funnily and as annoying as this character would be in real life, it offers a comedic element. My favorite character, other than Lindsay Lohans, have to go to the characters Chessy and Martin (portrayed by Lisa Ann Walter and Simon Kunz respectively) because they play the father’s sister and the butler on the mom’s side and was the adults pulling the strings and they were just hilarious together.

Parent Trap

The Parent Trap does have some fun characters and that really elevate the movie quite a bit. The very young Lindsay Lohan is remarkable and cute. Probably one of the extremely shining moments of this rather cliche movie. In fact, having two Lindsay Lohans here shows the diversity of her acting. She doesn’t come off as bratty either. In fact, we actually can see the innocence of the two little girls here who really are hidden in the dark about having a twin and then not really understanding what made their parents fall apart but having that immense desire to put them back together since they are single still. Life (and love) is more complicated than that but the simplicity of Hallie and Annie does make for many fun moments.

The Parent Trap

Most family movies work with a formula, and The Parent Trap is no different. However, it is surprisingly entertaining and has lots of great moments. Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid, and the other cast are all having fun with their respective roles and giving us some cool characters. In that end, that is what matters, right? Lots of movies are formulaic, especially with the amount of sequels and remakes that we get in one year nowadays, but the feeling we get out of some of these family movies carry weight. The Parent Trap is a at many times not only fun but has its fair share of heartwarming moments as well.

Have you seen The Parent Trap? How about the original? How do they compare?

Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through Your Eyes

How does the world look through your eyes?

I’m guessing we all see something different based on where we live, what values we believe in and just what interests we have.  For me, the world through my eyes is hard to determine. This doesn’t define my world per se but it does reflect the area where I’m in! Some nice shots from different angles and different events!

Religion and beliefs in general! Beautiful architecture reflecting the endless possibilities of creativity that others bring into our world to brighten up our lives.  I may not be a church-goer but I do believe in some form of higher power up there watching over us.  I respect those with faith because its what gives us hope for a better tomorrow or simply motivation to live through every single day despite the things that have happened.

Eglise Notre-Dame

Eglise Notre-Dame

Art can be shown and presented anywhere! This used to be along an emergency exit stairs..until this building is now empty, I believe.

Back of a building in Chinatown!

Back of a building in Chinatown!

We see the beautiful world of loyalty in the eyes of our furry best friends! In this case, I saw it in the longing glare of my boyfriend’s sister’s father in law’s dog! She followed her owner everywhere and sat to wait for him patiently to come see her.

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Our world is also built by the youth that will one day be our future. They show us how to be naive and have fun with the most simple things in life.  They remind us that time is fast every single year that we watch them grow up.

From when they were little babies with their little dangling toys next to their baby carriage/basket (what do you call it? I’m not a mother yet, not sure of the term)…

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To their birthdays, year after year…

Growing older year by year!

Growing older year by year!

Till when we see them being innocent and happy as they aren’t afraid to show who they are and how they feel.

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The world through my eyes is complicated in the social context but at the same time, I choose to  remain hopeful and positive.  We can see the happiness that surrounds us with our family and friends.  We can remember to stay naive and sometimes nostalgic as we become kids with the children around us, as we laugh with them and smile when we see their eyes sparkle with joy!

We can find enjoyment in seeing the creativity, thought and passion involved in everything surrounding us.

This is my response to Weekly Photo Challenge theme, The World Through Your Eyes! Check HERE for more posts 🙂