Double Feature: Christmas Evil (1980) & All The Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

DOUBLEFEATURE (82)

Welcome to the last holiday double feature for this year. Not double feature because that is staying, just before Christmas, no more holiday reviews. So we are ending with a nice change of pace to alternate Christmas horror found via Shudder: 1980’s Christmas Evil and 2018’s Christmas horror anthology All The Creatures Were Stirring.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil

Director (and writer): Lewis Jackson

Cast: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick, Marc Neville, Joe Jamrog

A toy factory worker, mentally scarred as a child upon learning Santa Claus is not real, suffers a nervous breakdown after being belittled at work, and embarks on a Yuletide killing spree. – IMDB

Christmas Evil is really a Christmas film as its not only set in Christmas but a horror story of a mentally unstable man who was scarred so deeply as a child that Santa Claus isn’t real that he chooses to make himself into Santa and takes revenge on all those who did him wrong. Being 1980 film, there is definitely that 80s slasher vibe that goes with it which actually is quite endearing to watch. However, the film does suffer from some issues of being rather slow in the first half of anything happening other than setting up all the bad things that happen to Harry and then his desire to become Santa.

Deal is, there is still this unsettling feeling with Christmas Evil especially in the second half when Harry loses it completely and from the moment that he commits to turning into Santa and starts all the actual killing spree parts, it gets rather fun to watch in an 80s horror way and as much as I don’t find them particularly scary, it has the entertainment element. This is pretty much where Christmas Evil fits in.

All The Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

All The Creatures Were Stirring

Director (and writer): David Ian McKendry & Rebekah McKendry

Cast: Graham Skipper, Ashley Clements, Constance Wu, Jonathan Kite, Jocelin Donahue, Mark Kelly, Matt Long, Amanda Fuller, Catherine Parker, Morgan Peter Brown, Michelle DeFraites, Stephanie Drake, Peter Cilella, Makeda Declet, Megan Duffy, Brea Grant, Matt Mercer, Diva Zappa

When an awkward date on Christmas Eve leads a couple into a strange theater, they’re treated to a bizarre and frightening collection of Christmas stories, featuring a wide ensemble of characters doing their best to avoid the horrors of the holidays. From boring office parties and last-minute shopping, to vengeful stalkers and immortal demons, there’s plenty out there to fear this holiday season. – IMDB

All The Creatures Were Stirring is a horror anthology with five horror stories set during Christmas and revolves around the central story of two people going on their first date on Christmas Eve to see a play where these five stories are being acted out. As with more horror anthologies, its a hit and miss deal with a lot of the stories. There’s an obvious indie low budget thing going on here as well which for some does add to the charm. If anything, its a lot more about some of the interesting creative elements added into the scenes than the stories as a whole which at times were downright odd or hard to get into while there were two that did stand out.

Dash Away All and In A Twinkling are the two that definitely were highlights of the anthology. Dash Away All is set in a parking lot where a man locks his keys in his car and ends up asking two girls to borrow a phone and ends up having this really fun twist. In A Twinkling is about a bunch of friends going to visit for a surprise Christmas party and the night takes a turn for a worse when they enter into a black and white loop from outer space. These two were a tad funny and had a hint of creepiness.

The Stocking Were Hung was okay with an Secret Santa party at work which turns into a Jigsaw killer sort of thing. There are some clever bits here but it feels a tad familiar (especially with Saw having so many movies in that franchise already). All Through The House is a horror Christmas Carol sort of deal which is pretty much the same sort of stuff but they did have one thing that I remembered kind of gave me a little jumpscare. It just feels a tad weird in its pacing. The last one to talk about is Arose Such A Clatter which really was the least appealing BUT it had the whole “killer” point of view going on that kind of made it a little more unique in the way they executed it.

The central story which is generally called To All A Good Night is what links these pieces together. It does capture the awkward element well but then it seems to lack some substance to it as it does try to have a twist ending and ends up leaving it as an open-ended deal which is a good and bad thing, leaving the mystery but then makes it feel incomplete especially since this being the piece that connects the stories together means the story itself isn’t fleshed out in between the stories. Some good, some decent and some meh stories here making this one that I might not want to revisit considering it took me a few sittings to get through it this time already.

That’s it for this holiday double feature!
Have you seen these two films before? Thoughts?
Are Alternate Christmas films part of your holiday viewing?

DIY Crafts: Branch Wreath (Take #2)

Probably the last crafts post (although I am trying to squeeze in one more thing before Christmas comes around) for the holidays and its a Take 2 of Branch Wreath. We’ve been having some really crappy weather so its rather gloomy. To cheer up my in-laws, because I do that every once in a while when I have something fun to share, I decided to make them a new wreath, specifically a branch wreath (since that is apparently my new obsession).

This one is definitely more for my mother-in-law who likes angels (according to my husband) so we found the only angel decor and built the wreath around it.

Here’s our shopping haul at Michael’s:

20191207_195658.jpg

  • Gold Branch Wreath
  • 1 Mistletoe
  • 1 Fir and Pine Cones
  • 2 Angels
  • 2 Holly Leaves with Birds
  • 2 Eucalyptus and White Berries
  • 2 Snowy Branches (I don’t know how to describe them but its the long white ones)

After a lot of deliberation and moving things around and a floor full of gold sparkles and branches, this was the final result.

20191215_092501.jpg

In my opinion, I actually think this one beats my own (which I am not working on fluffing up a little to give it more volume). This is where this one has more of and works pretty well also. It feels more dimensional and has some depth with layers of different decors. I did hot glue the pieces into the wreath so that my in-laws can store it without anything breaking off.

Improvements to this one (because what crafting wouldn’t have that in my opinion):

  • I’d have added another angel to give it a row which would make it an obvious centerpiece.
  • Would have gotten some wire to tie down some of the stems that are embedded in the wreath as I had to twist it forcibly and then glue it to the wreath and hopefully it won’t come out

Other than that, I’m pretty happy with this one. It highlights the theme I’m going for and adds the greenery and the color scheme works pretty well. I like the symmetry but also the parts that stand out are the ones where its subtle changes with the mistletoe on one side and the fir and pine cones on the other, giving it subtle differences. Its an improvement in my opinion from the previous one because it adds some three dimensional feeling to it.

I’m not quite sure that I’d work with a gold wreath again though because its a very dominating sort of backdrop color palette that very few things seem to work with. Maybe I’ll try out the silver wreath next time (or maybe the red which is the remaining option, I think, but that might also be hard and not easy to decorate the house with).

Future wreath themes to think about: North Pole or Rustic Woodland

You can check out my previous wreath post HERE.

Double Feature: Super Monsters Save Christmas (2019) & My Little Pony: Best Gift Ever (2018)

The next double feature is a holiday themed children features! I don’t know when I started to get into the Super Monsters specials as I don’t watch the normal series anyways but they are a decent 20+ minute long. As for pairing it with My Little Pony, I actually do like My Little Pony, the old stuff and watched some of the newer specials as well so here we are (plus its pretty slim pickings for Christmas kids films that I haven’t reviewed on Netflix…).

Super Monsters Save Christmas (2019)

super monster save christmas

It’s Christmas Eve in Pitchfork Pines, and the Super Monsters are joining forces to deck the halls, find Santa’s missing reindeer and save the holiday. – IMDB

Super Monsters is honestly geared towards kids. Whether its the characters and their cutesy appearances to the dialogue that revolves around emphasizing the good values to have through the consequences what happens, its all about delivering a positive message (similar to a lot of other kids shows). Its a harmless movie this time about a neighbor (who we learned is related or friends with Santa Claus from last year’s special) who gets overzealous about his Christmas decorations and blows the power for everyone but of course, the Super Monsters try to fix it to soon realize after Santa finally stops by that someone has detached the reindeer and they run off to play hide and seek of all things. Of course, Super Monsters to the rescue again.

There is nothing essentially wrong with this one. It directs its attention solely to its intended audience. Its not quite the entertainment for parents perhaps but it does offer some nice lessons on Christmas and friendship and working together. It has a little bit of singing and music and stays pretty colorful and cheery with lots of Christmas-y things. I’m not a parent but for its length and its quick-paced plot points, it should grab a kids attention.

You can check out my review last year of Super Monsters and the Wish Star HERE.

My Little Pony: Best Gift Ever (2018)

my little pony best gift ever

Director: Denny Lu & Mike Myhre

Voice Cast: Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Ashleigh Ball, Cathy Weseluck, Tabitha St. Germain, John de Lancie

In this one-hour Christmas-themed special, the Mane Six and Spike are each hoping to find the best gift ever for Hearth’s Warming. – IMDB

While I’m not a huge supporter of this new My Little Pony designs with giant heads and such instead of the sleeker design when I was a kid, these My Little Pony movie specials are actually pretty. It does feel like perhaps its geared kids a little older than Super Monsters above.

The movie feels like an actual story with the ponies changing tradition and deciding to do a Secret Santa gift swap. They obviously call it something else but I never quite realized how fun all the ponies have and its not some dumb down dialogue but it does work pretty well even if they do play with some movie references like their take of meshing Sleeping Beauty’s fairies with The Christmas Carol or whatnot. That’s just one example. Its all about the value of gifts and of course the best gift ever is defined here. If you watched some other My Little Pony shows or movies then you might already know what it is because its a big focus all the time.

This one was surprisingly fun to watch and pretty entertaining. Its still not exactly geared towards parents but more to keep kids attention but this is not for young kids so it has more complete dialogue and the music is pretty catchy. I wouldn’t mind watching more My Little Pony movies if its like this one (but then maybe I’m a bit biased).

That’s it for this kids double feature for the holidays!
Have you (or your kids) seen these two? Share your thoughts in the comments below to give a more accurate kids perspective on this one. 

Double Feature: Shazam! (2019) & Klaus (2019)

The next double feature is here! While an unlikely pair (to those who haven’t seen Shazam!), its actually both films set at Christmas time. Imagine my surprise when I went to watch a superhero movie (in the last remaining hours of the rental, might I add) to find that I had opened one fitting to the current movie theme this month. Catching up to 2019 movies while watching some holiday films, here we go!

Shazam! (2019)

shazam!

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Meagan Goode, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Ian Chen, Ross Butler, Jovan Armand, D. J. Cotrona

A newly fostered young boy in search of his mother instead finds unexpected super powers and soon gains a powerful enemy. – IMDB

I don’t really know the different superheroes and I’ve already mentioned it before too much. Shazam is one that I’m actually not familiar at all and when I realized that it was from DC, I kind of got a little worried. So far, my favorite movie experience has been Wonder Woman as everything else is a little bit of a mixed bag. Shazam got some pretty good reviews when it was released in theatres so I had it on my list since then to check it out.

Shazam is something of a breath of fresh air. It has some nice moments that feel parallel to some of the Marvel film scenes but, it also has a really nice comedy element to it that works really well with the age of the actors here and just really nailing that age difference and superhero responsibilities and all that fun bits about family and whatnot. It embraces the whole being a child and wanting to be someone different, bigger or stronger or whatnot and somehow as Shazam gets thrown this responsibility out of nowhere, its all a bond with his new foster brother to figure out what is the best way to approach this and all the fame that he has gotten because of it and how to find the balance of his real life. Zachary Levi as Shazam definitely takes it on with so much style and fun. At the same time, his foster brother is played by Jack Dylan Grazer who does a great job (just like he did in IT Chapter 1 & Chapter 2).

Mark Strong plays the villain here which does work. Superhero movies always have the not too threatening villain and here as Black Adam, he does have quite a nice overall appearance and vibe although he never feels like his threats are present enough since its more the second half of the film that the two collide together and then fight it through until the end.

Shazam! does follow the superhero formula but probably because it has that comedic twist and the whole age change between reality and superhero form that it adds a little more charm to the whole experience. There is this innocence and simplicity to Shazam and that works its wonders here. Plus, I’m a sucker for movies set during Christmas, giving it a somewhat alternate Christmas movie vibe, which gives it extra points.

Klaus (2019)

Klaus

Director: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martinez Lopez

Voice Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons, Joan Cusack, Norm Macdonald, Will Sasso, Sergio Pablos, Neda Margrethe Labba

A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg’s new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions. – IMDB

Netflix has had its hit and misses but it really needs to get more of these Netflix Originals where its animated. So far, they have picked up some really nice projects with this one and of course, French-animation I Lost My Body (Review). I’m sure there are others but I still have a lot of Netflix Originals to catch up with other than you know, Super Monsters or something that I happen to keep watching during some kind of holiday. With that said, Klaus is a family animation which goes back to creating an original story of how the concept of Santa Claus started out in the middle of nowhere with a feud tradition between two families and a rich boy of the postal company getting sent to the middle of nowhere by  his father to find some worth. A scheme to boost the almost non-existent need and desire for the postal service  through the kids turns into something of a kind act leading to the quote and powers this movie: “A true selfless act always sparks another.”

Klaus might not sound very special or different as it piles on some rather similar plot points together but no one has really done the origins of Santa Claus (at least from what I know) and that in itself is rather fun and the story itself becomes a heartwarming experience of finding purpose and bringing together the society that was previously filled with hate that had no other reasoning than to keep up a tradition. It is filled with a lot of positive messages and the animation itself is absolutely beautiful to watch with a lot of charming and/or cute characters. Plus, there is some really great voice acting with Klaus voiced by the talent J.K. Simmons and one of the opposing families is lead by Mrs. Krum who is voiced by Joan Cusack, who has been frequently seen in Netflix Originals and very talented as well.

Klaus is a charming little Christmas movie addition for sure that will make it onto my annual line-up in coming years because its so fun to watch. If nothing else charms you, the little girl Margu voiced by Neda Margrethe Labba and there is one scene that always makes me so happy. A surprisingly wonderful film that you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet.

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

What’s Up 2019: Week 50

Its Week 50 already! That is absolutely crazy! The end of the year is just around the corner and its been a lot of wrap-up and thinking more about the next year and of course, holiday stuff. There is also a bit of holiday fatigue and work rush before holidays factored in here, so things have slowed down or been a bit irregular. Anyways, lets see whats going on!

READING

love potions and other calamities

  • Love Potions & Other Calamities by Charlie Laidlaw

Currently reading: Legends of Exile

I am working on double speed to get things back on track on the reading front and took some extra time to finally finish Love Potions and Other Calamities. I literally just finished so the review is coming up this week. And then, its time to finish Legends of Exile to get these things done and next year a clean slate. I have accepted that I won’t on the books make the Goodreads challenge evem if I read 3 book packs at the beginning of the year that only counted as one entry. So, I guess I did… I’ll know when I do the final overview of 2019 😉

PLAYING

Roki

carrion

  • Roki Demo
  • Carrion Demo
  • Wooden Nickel Demo
  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale Demo

The Game Awards happened as well and of course, Game Warp did watch it and did a recap on the winners as well as the trailers and impressions. Some fun stuff. You can read it HERE. This is the first year for The Game Awards to work with Steam to have a 48 hour Steam Game Festival which is like most game festival concepts to play demos of upcoming games and that was most of my gaming as I tried to play as much as I could and ended up playing 4 demos (out of 8 or 10). It has made me anticipate both Roki and Carrion. Different gaming styles but both so fun in different ways. I did record the playthrough of those demos so it’ll be going up on the channel soon. Its in the process of revival.

WATCHING

Klaus

  • Hulk (2003)
  • Let It Snow (2019, Review)
  • Holiday Joy (2016, Review)
  • Shazam! (2019)
  • Klaus (2019)

Other than Hulk which was for Movies and Tea, its been a lot of holiday viewing. You can argue that Shazam isn’t but it is set during Christmas with snow and Christmas decorations everywhere so it counts even if I do admit it was simply added in because the rental was going to expire and I almost forgot about it. My fave goes to Klaus which is a new Netflix Original about the beginnings of Christmas and Santa Claus in an original story and has voice acting by J.K. Simmons and Joan Cusack.

BINGING

who's the murderer 5

  • Zumbo’s Just Desserts (rewatch, Review)

Currently binging: Who’s the Murderer 5, The Brightest Star in the Sky, Viva La Romance (Season 1)

I am watching VERY little TV right now as I am trying to read and catch on blog posts on all projects so I did rewatch Zumbo’s Just Desserts which is my go-to for rewatch and background when I work. Other than that, I am still rewatching The Brighest Star in the Sky on Huace Channel and wanted to finish Viva La Romance Season 1 before finishing Season 2 and 3. Its almost done but I do have to give mega props to Who’s The Murderer Season 5 which has really taken a lovely turn this season and become not only one that has some pretty good cases and mysteries but has been edited in a way that makes it somewhat have a better line of link to make educated guesses on the culprits.

That’s it for Week 50 recap!
Things are starting to get back on track! Yay!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

DIY Crafts: Marbled Ornaments

It seems crafts are definitely in the air as I tackle on something that I’ve seen around the Facebook feeds and Youtube front pages over the past year and while it was for some other things like car aesthetics and such, I decided to try to do it for ornaments as I did some research and some people do it as well.

This was a learning process so most of it was a failure BUT, I think I had one that turned out okay and the other ones, I’m going to redecorate so that they can be used for tree. As for why its a failure, I’ll talk about at the end. The process in general works but its more the execution…

Anyways..let’s check it out!

Craft accessories

Marbled Ornaments

  • Old nail polish
  • Clear baubles (mine are glass, but they do sell it in plastic..not sure how that would end up though)
  • Room temperature water
  • Old container (not reusable for any edible items)
  • Toothpicks
  • Cotton swabs

How to do it:

Marbled Ornaments

  1. Fill the container with room temperature water. Take the nail polish color(s) you want to use and drop it into the water. It should float and expand.
  2. Quickly, use the toothpick to make the patterns (if its multiple colors). I believe you can for single color also but I haven’t tried before.
  3. Use a glove if you want to cover the entire bauble or dip it half way to wrap it up. Remember to use a cotton swab to pick up any left over colors from the water before re-emerging the bauble from the water.

Marbled Ornament

Voila! That’s the final and most successful one (at the sixth try)!

But I’m not going to cheat all of you out of all my failures as well so here’s all six of them…

Marbled Ornaments

Look at it like how you’d do a C shape and that’s the order of how it was done.

  • The first was the result of not having a cotton swab to pick up the excess so it dragged all over it creating a huge thick smush. The colors aren’t bad but that blob doesn’t work with it.
  • Two and Five has the issues of mostly choosing bad colors so it just blended together into a whole lot of nothing.
  • Three and Five suffers a bit from the first issue I had but also had these issues of the toothpick dragging too late and it had already formed the film so the colors moved all into a bunch
  • Six is by far the best one both in marbled effects as well as the color combination

There you go! That’s the little DIY Marbled Ornaments that I did! Its really a lot harder than it looks. I wanted to try it to get rid of all the old nail polish that I can’t use anymore because its separated or whatnot. I wonder if using not so separated one would be better even if I did shake it to make it work. There is a big nail polish fumes emitting from the bauble though. So you will want to air them out a lot before using these DIY Ornaments.

Other than that, it is pretty fun to mix and match colors and work on this. Like I mentioned above, I will probably find some way to incorporate other old things and add some stuff to these failed ornaments so that they can be used one way or another to hide the issues on the surface. I’ll see what I can do. Maybe I’ll do an Instagram post on it or something when I’m done.

Have you tired marbled ornaments with nail polish?
If you have, please tell me whether you were successful and where you see my issues are. Any tips and suggestions will be highly appreciated!

Double Feature: Let It Snow (2019) & Holiday Joy (2016)

Christmas is less than two weeks away and we’re working hard on these holiday viewings.  Netflix does have a nice selection of new movies and some that aren’t as new but still new additions.

Here we go!

Let It Snow (2019)

Let it snow

Director: Luke Snellin

Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Matthew Noszka, Jacob Batalon, Miles Robbins, Joan Cusack, Anna Akana

In a small town on Christmas Eve, a snowstorm brings together a group of young people. – IMDB

Based on the novel of the same name with 3 stories by 3 authors (which I haven’t read), Let It Snow is a surprisingly fun little film intertwining the three stories together to make one movie. Its style is in the style of Love Actually. It doesn’t land quite as well as Love Actually does but the three stories depending on which one you like more works more or less in the context of the story. Its main groupings goes to the childhood friends Angie “The Duke” (Kiernan Shipka) and Tobin (Mitchell Hope) and JP (Matthew Noszka); Dorrie (Liv Hewson), her best friend Addie (Odeya Rush) and Dorrie’s crush Kerry (Anna Akana); and lastly, Julie (Isabela Merced, previously known as Isabela Moner) and Stuart (Shameik Moore). All of these characters eventually end up, along with some friends and other supporting characters end up because of being snowed in during Christmas Eve at this local restaurant called Waffle Town.

Let It Snow is rather basic and simple and yet with the snowscape background and its interesting characters and stories about different types of friendships and relationships and a variety of different issues, these characters all end up having a Christmas Eve that becomes rather memorable and changes some of their things in life as they figure out how to be honest to themselves about their feelings and their future. It has the rather feel good elements present that makes it a decent watch. Is it something that is spectacular or very stand-out as a holiday film? Probably not. But to satisfy a simple little holiday watch, this one does deserve a chance. And that’s coming from myself who isn’t really much of a John Green fan (which explain why his segment of relationship is the one I liked the least) whereas my fave with genuinely fun moments although a few wooden acting moments between Julie and Stuart however the story itself is fairly charming.

Kiernan Shipka has definitely found herself an actress with a few Netflix films at this point. She does have quite a nice fun element to her characters. At the same time, the start of this one that plays a rather funky character, the Tin Foil Woman and the narrator is Joan Cusack who while a little odd somehow has this glue effect to the three stories.

Holiday Joy (2016)

holiday joy

Director: Kirk D’Amico

Cast: Bailee Madison, Jennifer Robertson, Sandy Jobin-Bevans, French Stewart, Ethan Pugiotto, Luke Bilyk, Natalie Ganzhorn, Darren Eisnor, Kolton Stewart, Jeni Ross

A shy high school student’s Christmas wish comes true only it isn’t exactly as wonderful as she’d hoped. – IMDB

Take a little of changing identities and the holidays and we have this film Holiday Joy where Bailee Madison’s character Joy becomes a member of the next door neighbor’s  family, a wish that she has of breaking away from her lacking family. The grass is greener on the other side is definitely used here as comparison and literally but it also gives the valuable lesson that what you see on the surface of the beautiful appearances sometimes aren’t really as you expected. The whole reality vs. expectations is the main basis as everything that Joy believes is better all turns out to be very much the opposite. It also emphasizes on everyone’s part having a crucial effect despite her feeling of insignificance and such. Holiday Joy is more about the message it carries but has a rather lacking execution with some questionable acting and some plot points that might not make a ton of sense as with such plots that bring in the whole identity change and incoherent things that just leaves it one that shouldn’t really be questioned to begin with.

Holiday Joy is a rather simple sort of story. Its not exactly a Christmas story but is set during the holiday season. There’s some nice elements of using “change” as its main focus and then takes a fun little play on how the accident that makes Joy’s reality change also eventually finds her figuring out how to change it back but not really at the same time. Its a nice little change on the usual formula. Its not an outstanding movie but for people okay with some simple and straight-forward type of TV movie, its an alright choice. For myself, I do enjoy Baileee Madison (mostly when she was in younger roles) so it had an appeal for me but a lot of performances here left a little bit to be desired.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? What are your thoughts?

Double Feature: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019) & The Greatest Showman (2017)

Welcome to the next double feature! Half 2010s decade catch-up effort and half holidays viewings meshed together. I’m expecting that to be something of a trend for this month since I have a lot of movies to watch and don’t want to put the reviews on hold for too long in fear that I’ll just forget about what I watched in general. So here we are!

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019)

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

Director: John Schultz

Cast: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Kevin Shen, Momo Yeung, Sarah Douglas, Theo Devaney, Richard Ashton, Crystal Yu, Tahirah Sharif

It’s Christmastime in Aldovia, and a royal baby is on the way. Amber and Richard host royals from a distant kingdom to renew a sacred truce, but when the treaty vanishes, peace is jeopardized and an ancient curse threatens their family. – IMDB

You can find my reviews of the first two movies below:

A Christmas Prince
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Other than the first movie that was a rather fun little holiday romance story albeit all its formulaic tendencies, the follow-up last year was rather lackluster. It had some of those fun elements but felt like a lot of the chemistry in the first one fell apart. Third movie now and we’re talking about babies because that’s the obvious next step. I don’t have an issue with it going in this direction but rather, its a step into the whodunnit deal where they await the introduction of Penglia and even shows a map highlighting the ficitional universe that Netflix has created with mentions of Belgravia (aka The Princess Switch). Its very clever to pull it all together and I maintain that point however, the chemistry isn’t quite there. Everyone seems rather wooden and there’s a good deal of overacting.

It falls short but somehow comes up a little bit ahead of last year’s The Royal Wedding to me at least because it feels less about the romance and focuses on some fun elements, as improbably as it is for it to happen if a precious treaty had gone missing. There’s a ton of plot holes in this one but then, other than reviewers, I’m not exactly sure who goes into this one to just relax with a simple and uncomplicated movie is really looking for these things (as glaring as it all is).

Movies are to its audiences so unless you review these things for the holiday season, there is no reason to go into it if you believe that you dislike these films in the first place. That’s my warning for you. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby is the third movie in its franchise so you know what is coming and it doesn’t pull any funny tricks and is as formulaic as you’d expect it to be. If you like these films, you’ll enjoy this one and if you don’t, then don’t watch it to save yourself the misery.

On a side note, I ended this movie and started thinking about where I can find that Christmas Tree game because that sounds like a fun party game perfect for Christmas.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey

Cast: Hugh Jackson, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eric Anderson

Celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of musical, The Greatest Showman was one of the first movies to add to the catch-up roster for the 2010s decade. Its one that had a lot of hype and a soundtrack that is well-known even without the context of the film. There’s a lot of grandeur and big production scenes and splendour in its set.

The Greatest Showman is a biopic and perhaps because of that, it has the burden of giving Hugh Jackman’s role as P.T. Barnum a more ambitious turn of events that highlights his thirst of success and to make something of himself to not be looked down by the others around him and being able to immerse himself in the upper class society where he forgets the most basic reason that he does all this: for love and his wife and turns it into a more selfish ordeal. This type of success story is actually rather familiar and frequently scene whether its as a biopic or in fictional stories about finding the way and seeing what’s important so on so forth.

Deal is, put those things aside and The Greatest Showman is a wonderful musical that stays true to its genre because while it has its drama, it is a great big show with a lot of musical pieces that comes in frequently. The singing is done well and some of the set and choreography are wonderful to look at like Zendaya and Zac Efron’s scene together or the whole This Is Me or The Greatest Show. There is one that is particularly sweet with Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams as they go through the years together which is a neat little way to move time forward quickly without having to add a lot of extra dialogue and content.

There’s a lot of technicalities that work in The Greatest Showman that makes it a fun musical to watch. For musical fans, it does fit the bill relatively well and its one that shows that a familiar story, even though its based on a real life story, with good execution of its elements can be very entertaining and engaging to watch.

 

Double Feature: Holiday in the Wild (2019) & The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

And we’re off! Officially in the Christmas double features phase with some holiday movies and such. The first one, Holiday in the Wild is more set passing through Christmas and is more about a literal holiday vacation instead of actual holiday but its paired with The Knight Before Christmas because the first movie is playing on TV in this one. Its a very Netflix movies promo experience in the second film with Holiday Calender also getting a scene playing as well.

Holiday in the Wild (2019)

Holiday in the Wild

Director: Ernie Barbarash

Cast: Kristin Davis, Rob Lowe, Fezile Mpela, John Owen Lowe, Colin Moss

Jilted by her husband on the eve of embarking on an African safari, a woman travels to the continent alone where she meets an elephant conservationist. – IMDB

Holiday in the Wild isn’t exactly a Christmas holiday movie but I thought it was so it ended up being part of the line-up. Luckily, it did have some overlapping Christmas scenes in Africa. These types of Hallmark style movies that Netflix is tackling in their originals usually is something of a hit and miss deal. Holiday in the Wild is a bit awkward to watch. Its definitely featuring an older couple and probably aiming to get the more mature audience than its normal audience. For that, its also a lot more serious and drama oriented with some jokes here and there. The script is a bit all over the place but with the right heart of focusing not only on romance between the characters Derek and Kate but also on the importance of the conservation work for elephants. Some people choose to bring awareness through documentaries (like Virunga) and they choose to deliver it this way. It works all the same and its the good intentions that matter.

The best parts of the film actually are with the elephant conservation and this whole location which is rarely used. I think the last time I saw anything about animals and Africa was maybe in the TV series Zoo and I can’t remember if that was Africa or not. Point being, the exotic location does this movie some wonders and it is delivering an honorable message which they take the effort to share some statistics at the end of the movie. There are a lot of flaws in the romance and some really bad dialogue but with what they had, Rob Lowe and Kristin Davis had some decent chemistry but its easy to feel like the movie wasn’t really about them and it wasn’t about family but more about Kate finding her way back to being herself and living the life that she wants.

The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

The Knight Before Christmas

Director: Monika Mitchell

Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Whitehouse, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Ella Kenion, Isabella Franca

A medieval English knight is magically transported to the present day where he falls for a high school science teacher who is disillusioned by love. – IMDB

The Knight Before Christmas is something of a fish out of water story and for anyone thats been here for a while, you know that I’m a sucker for those types of stories because they can bring in a ton of humor. Humor isn’t the same for everyone but for me, it works for me. The Knight Before Christmas actually surprised me quite a bit but that might be because I sometimes wonder about Vanessa Hudgens movies. I don’t know why I do it because a lot of stuff that I’ve seen her do has been pretty good.

With that said, a lot of the normal holiday romance Hallmark-like films that Netflix has been getting on does have some of the normal trademarks that a lot of people don’t like which is cringe-worthy dialogue and fairly predictable and formulaic story. This movie definitely suffers from some rather subpar dialogue and its not hard to imagine where things end up but it has this positivity to the Christmas message that its trying to deliver and also it has some nice chemistry and romantic elements between Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse’s characters, Brooke and Cole.

There are some really nice Christmas sets here whether its the winter and snowy weather or the whole Christmas decor inside and outside the house along  with the Christmas village and the Christmas decorating and baking, etc. Its a movie that sets its Christmas setting very well and uses it in a nice way with two pretty decent performances from both Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse.

Plus, Netflix is taking this year’s holiday films to really cross-promote all its projects especially with this one as it shows movies playing on Netflix for the characters like last year’s The Holiday Calendar (review) and the movie we reviewed above, Holiday in the Wild. At the same time, it mentions A Christmas Prince’s kingdom, Aldovia and how the parents went to get ornament that they have there to tie in the universe together. Its pretty neat to see Netflix as such a giant that it can link its projects together like this. They just now need to remember to not mesh The Knight Before Christmas’s sequel if they have one to vacation in Belgravia where Vanessa Hudgens’ character is now Queen since the events of last year’s The Princess Switch (review).

On that note, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel for The Knight Before Christmas or maybe its already hinted at with how they did the post-credits scene..

That’s it for this first Christmas Double Feature!
Have you caught up with these new Netflix holiday movies?

DIY Crafts: Branch Wreath (1st attempt)

Signs of the early years of Tranquil Dreams is coming back into shape this December as I get through some housekeeping for the blog going on in the background, I’m having this sudden urge to get back into doing some DIY crafts and also some cooking and baking planned as well. Its going to be (hopefully) a fun little December that will get back on track on all the positive things that I’ve always liked doing as a crafty and creative outlet that is a very wonderful release for me when I manage to put together something nice.

First project to tackle is a branch wreath. I’ve put together all the wreaths at our current home and while it might not be as economical as a store-bought one, all of mine are unique to what I want on there and how I want it to look like. Feeling like a bit of a change, I went for a branch wreath at Michael’s during the Black Friday Sale and picked up a bunch of wreath decorations to see what I could do.

Here are all the supplies that I had bought:

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  • Branch Wreath
  • Wreath Decorations

There’s something very different from doing a branch wreath than doing a pine wreath. It has to do with the whole messy elements of trying to put all the elements in. Putting in the decorations is trying to find that spot to hold them in place while hiding the sticks holding them up also. I didn’t use any wire which you could get or go with using hot glue to keep them all in place. With that said, designing branch wreaths are more minimalist in some ways where less is more.

Here’s my first trial which didn’t quite look like how I wanted so it was quickly pulled apart to rethink and redo…

Branch Wreath

Back to zero, I did some research on Pinterest on how branch wreaths usually are structured and then thought about a new structure where I would go find some supplies that I had bought before but never used. There some gold hollies and berries that I had picked up a year or two ago at Michael’s at a previous sale but never found a way to implement in anything else.

The final branch wreath turned out like this:

Branch Wreath

The final one looks like this.

It is a very simple first attempt and I can see some places where I can improve at filling in the gaps and making it feel more full and giving it some more volume as well. Overall, I am fairly happy with it as it does have the fun little elements of Christmas that I like and its along the lines of what I wanted to do.

Branch wreaths are this very interesting element to discover because of the whole fitting the pieces into a more classy style and it also has this less is more element to it while giving it space for the branches to have its compliment to whats put on it. I’m definitely having some more ideas on what themed wreaths to do. But there’s still time to maybe spruce this one up as nothing there is set because I also like my wreaths to have the chance to change it up when I get tired of looking at it. This version doesn’t have any glued elements and just held from strategically placing them to hold in place by the branches under and some of the wired holders on the wreath decorations.

*As a side note, I am working on a second one as a gift so expect a post on the new one (along with an update if I do change something on this one). That one is looking a lot more refined than this first one in my opinion so far but the theme isn’t fitting in as well as I’d like it to so its still in the making. *