Word on the Street: Collider Movie Talk Closes Its Doors, Upcoming February Films for Hallmark Revealed

Who knew I’d be publishing a Word on the Street post this soon into the New Year? In this story, I’ll be talking about two pieces of movie news. The first is about the end of a long-running movie related show. The second story will discuss the new Hallmark films that will likely premiere in February. As I sometimes do, I’ll be sharing my opinion as well as report each piece of news. So, let the first Word on the Street story of 2020 begin!

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Two days ago, on January 2nd, the entertainment news company, Collider, made an announcement where they indicated big changes for their collection of content. One particular change that caught my attention was the discontinuation of the Youtube show, Collider Movie Talk. The company stated this decision was made to put more emphasis “towards expanding high-quality, scripted, unscripted, and celebrity-driven content”. Other Youtube shows that are also ending are Heroes, Jedi Council, and Collider Live. Personally, I’m not sad to see Collider Movie Talk go. I started watching the show in 2013, when it was known as AMC Movie Talk. For years, I appreciated the existence of a place where news related to movies was the number one priority. But, over time, I found other movie related Youtube channels that I ended up watching more than Collider Movie Talk. I also talk about movie news on 18 Cinema Lane. Some of these stories feature topics that would probably never get covered by Collider. It seems like competition is one of the reasons why Collider Movie Talk is closing their doors.

Sale, Happy Valentine Day lettering with bunch of balloons
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On the twitter amount, Hotline to Hallmark, the February line-up for both Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries were revealed. In two separate tweets, movies from both networks were listed with potential release dates. On the official websites for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, synopses and lead actors were featured on their own pages. Here is a list of these films and their premises.

 

February 1stA Valentine’s Match, starring Luke Macfarlane and Bethany Joy Lenz (“Fired from her job as a reality TV host, Natalie returns home for Valentine’s Day, only to find herself running the town festival’s auction with her ex-fiancé thanks to two scheming mothers”.)

 

February 8thMatching Hearts, starring Ryan Paevey and Taylor Cole (“As Valentine’s Day nears, a matchmaker is tasked by her mentor to find a match for an entrepreneur who believes staying single is the key to success”).

 

February 15thThe Secret Ingredient, starring Brendan Penny and Erin Cahill (“Small-town baker, Kelly, gets a big surprise when she is invited to compete on a Valentine’s Day baking show in New York City – and an even bigger surprise when she runs into her ex-fiance”).

 

February 16thDead Over Diamonds: Picture Perfect Mysteries, starring Carlos and Alexa PenaVega (“Photographer Allie and Detective Sam’s investigation into a priceless stolen necklace leads to danger and an unexpected death”).

 

February 22ndLove in Store, starring Jackee Harry, Robert Buckley and Alexandra Breckenridge (“Two rival home shopping hosts are forced together while competing for a promotion. Along the way they find their on-air chemistry kindles an off-air spark”).

 

February 23rdRiddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, starring Jesse Metcalfe and Sarah Lind (“Former detective Jeff Jackson teams up with Dr. Zee Madeiras to track down their friend’s missing emerald brooch, a thief, and also… a murderer”).

 

February 29thBad Date Chronicles, a PixL production from 2017, starring Justin Kelly and Merritt Patterson (“Leigh runs the website “Bad Date Chronicles,” which allows people to anonymously post horrible date experiences”).

 

Out of all the movies to premiere on Hallmark Channel, the two I find the most interesting are The Secret Ingredient and Love in Store. With the first movie, it’s the opposite of the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché. This could lend itself to a more creative story. For the second film, I’m wondering what exactly the movie is about. Is it about two real estate agents who have their own reality shows or about people who sell products on QVC or HSN style programs? I’ve noticed with the films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that both stories feature fine jewelry. I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or intentional. What disappoints me about this collection of films is that Hallmark doesn’t seem to be creating a Leap Year themed movie. From what I can recall, a movie from this network has never made a film featuring this once every four years celebration. Also, if Hallmark can make Christmas movies almost a year in advance, then why wouldn’t they plan ahead with a Leap Year movie?

 

How do you feel about these pieces of movie news? Are you sad to see Collider Movie Talk end? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

Sources for this article are the following:

  • https://collider.com/collider-video-changes/
  • The official websites of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (type the title into the search bar)
  • Hotline to Hallmark’s twitter account (type @HotlineHallmark into the search bar)

 

 

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020!

2020 is finally here! I am so excited to be embarking on my second year as a movie blogger! My movie blogging journey has, so far, been a good one. One reason for this is the support I have received from my readers and followers. Every like, visit, and comment is appreciated. It makes me feel like what I write about matters to someone. Like the previous year, 2019 was more successful than I ever expected! From receiving 100 followers to publishing 300 posts, 18 Cinema Lane grew and became a place that I’m proud of. Similar to last year, I will be sharing the stats of my blog and announce upcoming projects. This kind of post will be a new tradition for 18 Cinema Lane, as it allows my readers and followers to be informed about what’s happening on my blog.

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2019

Total Blog Posts: 179

Total followers: 164

Total Comments: 599

Total Likes: 717

Awards: 8

Participated Blogathons: 34

Total Movie Reviews: 142

Total Word on the Street stories: 17

 

My 2nd Annual Blogathon

Once again, I will be hosting another blogathon in 2020! It will be movie themed and it will take place later in the year. So that announcement will come in either May or June.

 

Changes to the Gold Sally Awards

The Gold Sally Awards is another event that will be coming back! However, there will be some changes made to the awards. These changes are not major, but they will, hopefully, improve the voting experience for my readers, followers, and visitors. This announcement will be posted toward the end of January.

 

Yearly Double Feature

Every time I publish 100 posts, I coordinate a special double feature to celebrate the accomplishment. At the end of 2019, I published 300 posts. I decided to create my double feature reviews in January because I wanted to take my time and make the best articles I realistically could. This double feature will correlate with Movierob’s Genre Grandeur, as January’s theme is “Youth-Led Movies”. Those series of articles will be published in either the middle of or later in the month.

 

Filmathon Readathon

On rare occasions, I talk about books on my blog. But I try to make that an exception to the rule, as my primary focus is on film. When I discovered a readathon that was movie themed, I knew I had to participate! The readathon is called “Filmathon” and will take place from January 7th to the 14th. It was created on the Youtube channel, lookingforshaki. I will making at least one post about it sometime in January.

 

New Blog Banner

Last year, K, from K at the Movies, created the official logo for 18 Cinema Lane. I love how it turned out and K did a fantastic job with the image! They also made two additional logos that I also like. One of them will be used as the new banner of my blog! This will take place shortly around the time this article is published.

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Are you excited for these announcements? What are you looking forward to in 2020? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun in 2020!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019

Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody! Since I published my list of The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019 yesterday, it’s time for me to post my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019! Like I said before, I found 2019 has been a better year for movies. I saw a lot of good films, but only ten can be considered the best of the year. As I mentioned in my previous list, this article is based on my opinion and films that I personally watched. It’s also not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now that the introduction is over, let’s begin by bringing up the Honorable Mentions!

 

Christmas Bells are Ringing, Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas, Northern Lights of Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, Kim Possible (2019), Flip that Romance, Chronicle Mysteries: Vines that Bind, Just Add Romance, Boys Town, Men of Boys Town, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Last Bridesmaid, Toy Story 4, Return to Oz, I Remember Mama, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath, Merry and Bright, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love, Time for You to Come Home for Christmas, and The Christmas Club

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10. The Nine Lives of Christmas

Who knew I would like this movie as much as I did? As part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, I watched and reviewed this movie in an attempt to figure out if it was worth the hype it has received. Like I said in that post, I can now understand why so many people like the film so much! The humor within this movie is one of its highlights. Because of the quality of the script and the acting performances, The Nine Lives of Christmas was genuinely hilarious. While watching this movie, I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. Another part of this story that was well-written was the interactions among the characters. They were not only great to watch, but they also appeared natural on-screen. I’m glad I finally realize why this movie always makes an appearance in Hallmark’s yearly Christmas line-ups.

 

9. Holiday for Heroes

I will admit I had lower expectations for this film than I probably should have. But those lower expectations allowed the movie to surpass them and become the pleasant surprise it was. Holiday for Heroes was so good, that it reminded me of another movie I liked, Operation Christmas. With its genuine sincerity, the messages that were expressed in this story came across very well. I also liked how the formation of the protagonists’ relationship was more realistic than in something like The Christmas Card. Throughout this film, I could tell the creative team’s heart was always in the right place. It made it seem like they truly cared about the project they were working on.

 

8. Easter Under Wraps

In 2019, Hallmark finally created their first Easter themed movie! Even though it took so long to get to this point, I definitely think it was worth the wait. I really liked the writing within this film, as it created a story that was entertaining. Something I pointed out in my review is how conversations felt like they came from real-life. This helped me stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing throughout the film. Like in most movies from Hallmark Channel, Easter Under Wraps contained messages and themes that were relatable. Just one example is of personal growth. I’m not sure what Hallmark’s plans are for their “Spring Fever” line-up. I hope one of them includes a sequel to this film.

 

7. Ben-Hur (1959)

This is the first of two movies that I reviewed for a blog follower dedication review. At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled to share this movie with my readers and followers. That’s because I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Ben-Hur is a film that has acquired a lot of critical acclaim. As I said in my review, the hype surrounding it was well-earned. The script itself is one of the strongest elements of the project. Even though Ben-Hur is known as an “epic” picture, it is also a compelling story of faith and perseverance. From the acting performances to the cinematography, these things make this film the masterpiece it is. It’s no wonder Ben-Hur has been able to stand the test of time for so long.

 

6. Mystery 101: Words Can Kill

One of the newest mystery series that premiered in 2019, Mystery 101, has quickly become one of my favorites. I found the third movie in this series, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill, to be the strongest one. Unlike most of the films on Hallmark’s second network, this movie felt like it had higher stakes. This was caused by the female protagonist’s father being falsely accused on the crime and the male and female leads not being able to see eye-to-eye on the film’s main conflict. I also liked how the book festival was showcased in the movie for a satisfying amount of time. Like I’ll say about another movie on this list, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill shares some of the same positive qualities of its predecessors. It not only keeps up the series’ continuity, it makes me look forward to the future of Mystery 101.

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Jack Dawson from Titanic: “I’m the king of the world”!
Jake Sully from Avatar: “No, I’m the king of the world”.
Bucky Barnes from Avengers: Endgame: “Am I that much of a joke to you”?
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen

5. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy was one of my most anticipated Christmas movies of 2019. After enjoying the second film in the series, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, I was looking forward to seeing what was in store for the next chapter. This film did not disappoint! It felt like receiving a hug from a friend one hasn’t seen in a while. The third entry is one of the few Christmas films from Hallmark that tried to do different things with their story. One example is how the script explores the aftermath of the mystery. This is something that is hardly shown in Hallmark’s films, especially in their Hallmark Movies & Mysteries productions. After hearing other people’s positive responses to this movie, I’m hoping that a fourth one is in the cards.

 

4. Avengers: Endgame

After becoming the king (or queen) of the world, Avengers: Endgame will still be a movie that is remembered for years. Whether debating over the film’s time travel or discussing the highlights and flaws of the project, people are going to find an opportunity to talk about this movie. For me, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to this particular series of the MCU. Sure, there are things about it that I don’t like. But there is no such thing as a perfect film. Without spoiling the movie, I will say that several interesting decisions were made within this script. These decisions allowed the film to be engaging and, at times, thought-provoking. What also worked in the project’s favor was how it shared some of the same strengths as its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. This actually helped it maintain a sense of continuity.

 

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

For my blog follower dedication reviews, I try my best to talk about films that I feel good about sharing with my readers and followers. When I think about Kubo and the Two Strings, it makes me thankful that I chose to watch this movie! This is the first time an animated film has appeared on my best of the year list. I’m glad this movie was the one to make 18 Cinema Lane history because, to me, it deserves it. The story is enriching and beautifully written. It takes elements that we’ve seen before and crafts them in a way that feel like a breath of fresh air. It also helps that the animation is visually appealing. Even though this is the only Laika film I’ve seen, so far, I’d be more than willing to check out what this studio has to offer.

 

2. Rome in Love

This movie premiered while I was on an out-of-town trip, so I wasn’t able to review it. But when I did watch this film, it ended up being the best Hallmark movie I saw this year! Rome in Love does so many things right when it comes to cinematic story-telling. It went out of its way to use as few Hallmark movie clichés as possible. But when the film did adopt a tried-and-true cliché, it improved upon that cliché, which enhanced the overall story. At times, this film felt like a theatrical production. This is because of how well done the cinematography is. If I were introducing someone to Hallmark’s library of films, this is one of the movies I would choose to show them.

 

1. Swept from the Sea

When I look back on 2019, Swept from the Sea is the one film I can’t stop thinking about! As the biggest pleasant surprise of the year, it is definitely deserving of the number one spot. There are no such thing as “perfect” films. However, this movie is the only one I saw this year that comes pretty close to it. There is so much to love about this film. But, for me, the best part of the movie was Vincent Perez’s performance! He single-handedly stole the show, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate his acting abilities more than I expected. From the cinematography to the on-screen chemistry, the other elements of this film certainly added to my enjoyment of it. As I think about Swept from the Sea, I feel that this is a movie I wish more people were aware of.

Swept from the Sea poster
Swept from the Sea poster created TriStar Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, and Tapson Steel Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sftspost.jpg

What do you think of my list? Which is your favorite movie of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

 

The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019

Another year, another annual Top 10 article! In 2018, I published my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2018 first. This time around, I’ll be publishing my worst of the year list instead! For me, 2019 has been a better year for movies, as I saw far more good films than bad. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see any movies I wasn’t a fan of. Similar to last year’s post, this list will be based on movies that I personally saw, as well as my own opinion. Also, this list is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now, let’s begin by bringing up the Dishonorable Mentions!

Our Christmas Love Song, My One and Only, Over the Moon in Love, Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Heart, A Very Country Wedding, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, Nightmare Best Friend, Last Vermont Christmas, Always and Forever Christmas (I only watched half of it before turning it off), and Christmas in Louisiana (I ended up watching less than half of it before changing the channel)

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Setting up 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-background_3590600.htm’>Designed by Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik. Image found at freepik.com.

10. After the Storm

Sadly, we start this list with an UP Network release. I was hoping any movie from this network didn’t have to end up on my list. But this movie is placed lower on the list than last year’s entry, Christmas on Holly Lane. So, I guess that’s a step in the right direction! Now, back to talking about After the Storm. What made me want to watch this movie is the discussion of natural disasters and their aftermath. In family-friendly, made-for-TV movies, this specific topic is rarely featured in the story. Unfortunately, this film’s narrative placed more emphasis on the romance than the titular storm and its aftermath. Another major issue I had with this movie was the questionable decisions the male and female protagonist make within the film. While these decisions were not necessarily bad, they were also given questionable explanations. I wasn’t able to stay invested in the protagonists and their relationship because of this creative decision.

9. A Feeling of Home

Texas is one of the states that isn’t always featured in a Hallmark movie. This part of the film made me want to give this project a chance. But, similar to After the Storm, the story placed more focus on the romance than in the conflict. There were some editing errors within this film that were painfully obvious. It also doesn’t help that the weakest acting performance came from the lead actress. Watching the female protagonist desperately trying to win over her father’s attention was, actually, quite sad. This made her appear weaker than the majority of female protagonists from Hallmark Channel. I have to ask: who greenlit this script when they knew it was this weak?

8. Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays

In 2018, I saw and really liked Christmas at Graceland. While I thought Wedding at Graceland was ok, it’s the third film in this trilogy that I find to be the worst out of the three. There were a number of plot points in this movie that didn’t make any sense. Why would the female protagonist give her nieces only one small snowglobe but the male protagonist’s children an elaborate and large advent calendar? Also, for a movie set in Graceland, the famous location ends up being a glorified extra by having less than three appearances on screen. Because of this, it makes the story feel like it didn’t need to take place in Graceland. The movie made me wish Christmas at Graceland had never received any sequels.

7. Christmas Scavenger Hunt

The idea of a Christmas themed scavenger hunt is something that had never been shown in a Hallmark production prior to 2019. So, I was somewhat optimistic about this particular movie. Sadly, the potential this film had was wasted on a poorly written script. All of the scavenger hunt clues were way too easy to solve. There was no sense of urgency throughout the film, as well as two separate moments where the male and female protagonist came across as selfish. Not only was the lead actress’s performance weak, but so was the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Like other films on this list, questions arose within the story that distracted me from enjoying the movie. One of these questions was why the female protagonist didn’t make her boyfriend take off his expensive tie before baking. All of these missteps added up to a movie that was less entertaining that it could have been.

6. Christmas Camp

When I first heard of this movie, I was excited to see a Christmas themed camp brought to life for the first time in a Hallmark film. I had reviewed this movie for Drew’s Movie Review’s Christmas in July Blogathon. Upon my first and only viewing of the film, I learned that the camp itself was nothing more than an afterthought. What this movie excels at is having a pointless plot and tradition shaming characters whose Christmas doesn’t look or sound “traditional”. Despite the fact this a Hallmark film, these things don’t make it feel like a Hallmark film. If anything, it makes me wonder why the network would greenlight this movie at all? Hallmark has been known for creating a variety of Christmas products to celebrate a multitude of Christmas traditions. With Christmas Camp, it makes the network seem inconsistent with their message.

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5. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Back in October, I gave this film a second chance for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Looking back on it, I realize that was probably a mistake. Unfunny humor is the movie’s biggest flaw. Yes, I know that comedy is a very subjective thing. But if a comedic film barely makes me laugh, then it hasn’t done its job well. Other problems in this movie include the run-time and a weak story. There were elements that could have enhanced the project, such as commentary about greed and the power of money. But these things were swept under the rug for the sake of hosting a popularity contest instead of a movie production.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This was the first movie I saw in 2019 and boy was it a disappointment. All of the humor was so forced, that I found myself not laughing at any of the jokes. The film’s plot was tedious, which made the movie itself feel longer than its run-time. I also found a few plot-holes within this film. One of them was so large and obvious, that it made me question the existence of the movie’s narrative. While I liked the acting performances and the special effects (both practical and CGI), there were more negatives to the film than positives. This could have been something quirky and fun. Unfortunately, the movie was missing those two important ingredients.

3. A Cheerful Christmas

This is not only the worst Christmas movie I saw in 2019, it’s also the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2019. It doesn’t help when the lead actress ends up over-acting or when at least one of the actors clearly can’t carry a British accent. But it also doesn’t help when the story is poorly written. This movie made me ask more questions than I had planned to. One question was about the female protagonist’s ability to keep her job after all the business-related blunders she makes. I know that fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But this movie tried to make me suspend all my disbelief, making me feel uncheerful. While I appreciate the movie’s attempt to avoid a large number of “royal movie” clichés, it wasn’t enough to save the project. In my opinion, it felt like the film’s creative team put so much emphasis on making a pointless, family-friendly, Christmas remake of Pretty Woman, that they forgot how to make a good movie.

2. Ace of Hearts

I’m all for helping smaller, family-friendly films get the “standing ovation” they might deserve. However, for a movie to achieve a “standing ovation”, it needs to be good. Ace of Hearts, unfortunately, fails to meet that criteria. The majority of the acting performances are poor and the pacing is very slow. But the worst offense this movie commits is bad writing. This story had so many plot-holes and inconsistencies, that it was exhausting instead of enjoyable. When the protagonist’s daughter convinces her friend that the reason why her family’s dog is trying to get home is to get back at the film’s villain because it’s his “unfinished business” (she comes to this conclusion after seeing the title of a video game), that’s when you know you’ve come across a bad script. As if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is, apparently, based on a true story. If my true story were handled this poorly, I would be offended and embarrassed.

1. A Page of Madness

A Page of Madness is a silent film from Japan, for those of you who are not familiar with this title. I appreciate the director’s efforts to preserve this movie, especially since, according to Ben Mankiewicz from Turner Classic Movies, the majority of Japanese films created before 1945 are either partially or completely lost. I also understand what the director was trying to do with the project. But just because I’m a grateful and understanding movie blogger, that doesn’t mean I liked the final product. This movie has a plethora of problems that would make this list longer than it already is. So, I’ll share two reasons why A Page of Madness is the worst film I saw in 2019. The first is how it has no plot, narrative, or story. It just contains a premise that goes nowhere. The second is how, in reality, this movie is an artistic experiment masquerading as a film. Personally, I found this to be dishonest and manipulative. At two separate moments, I wanted to fall asleep and turn the movie off. This is one of those times where I wish I would have listened to my instincts.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster created by Casey Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:It%27s_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World_(1963)_theatrical_poster.jpg

What are your thoughts on my list? Which is your worst film of 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

Take 3: When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas Review

For my last movie review of 2019, I’m going to talk about the newest film in the When Calls the Heart series, When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas! Since I reviewed last year’s movie, When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing and since I re-cap the show, I thought it would be fitting to keep up the continuity. While I liked the previous movie, I had lower expectations for this year’s project. This was caused by how unappealing the film’s synopsis sounded to me. In a Word on the Street story last month, I discussed how I felt about the synopsis for this movie. To me, it seemed like the screenwriters were running out of ideas and not taking advantage of beautiful story-telling opportunities. It also seemed like they were repeating the same mistakes they made in the previous film. But, like I do for every movie I watch and/or review, I watched When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas with an open mind. I thought that, maybe, the movie could be better than the synopsis made it sound. Was I right or wrong in my guess? We’re about to find out in this review of When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas!

When Calls the Heart -- Home for Christmas poster
When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas poster created by Hallmark Channel and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=When+Calls+the+Heart+Home+for+Christmas.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like last year’s movie, the acting in When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas was one of the strongest elements of the project! Everyone in this cast was talented, bringing their characters to life with a sense of well-roundedness. From newer characters, like Nate’s niece, Allie, to veterans of the show, such as Bill Avery, it was a pleasure to see these characters come back on television. What works in this cast’s favor is how most of the cast members have appeared on the show for at least one season. This helps keep up the consistency of both the performances and the overall narrative. It also shows how comfortable these actors and actresses were in the roles they were given.

 

Learning about backstories through Christmas traditions: At several moments of the movie, the audience got the chance to receive more backstories from some the characters through the sharing of Christmas traditions. With the incorporation of Hope Valley’s Christmas Festival, we learn that one of Lucas’ favorite memories was visiting a German Christmas festival with his parents. Another example is Nate’s Christmas present for Allie. For Christmas, he gets her a charm bracelet. Nate’s sister and Allie’s mom used to have a charm bracelet and would receive a new charm every Christmas. This was an interesting way to learn about these characters. It not only expands the character development, but it also gives the audience story material before the start of the next season.

 

The character interactions: Similar to last year’s film, I liked seeing the character interactions in When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas! One of the reasons why is because of the on-screen chemistry between the actors within the cast. But the other reason why I enjoyed watching these interactions was because they felt genuine and thoughtful. A great example is the interaction between Florence and Fiona. In this scene, they give each other Christmas gifts that are telephone related: Florence receives a telephone necklace and Fiona receives an embroidered piece of art about keeping people connected. This was my favorite character interaction because it showed Florence and Fiona putting effort into these gifts as well as the growth of their friendship. It was not only well-acted, but also well-written!

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Christmas Tree with boxes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-tree-out-of-gift-boxes_1448089.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

Too many plots: There were about eight plots found in When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas. Because the film was only an hour and thirty minutes, there was not enough time for these plots to be fully developed. Instead of lending themselves to an engaging story, they ended up competing against each other to see which one could be the most memorable. What also didn’t help was how almost all of these plots were basic and surface-level. Most of them felt like they could have been featured on any episode of the show, as they seemed ordinary and mundane. The only plot that had any amount of intrigue was Carson and Faith’s story.

 

Under-utilized characters: When a movie or television show has a cast this large, there are bound to be characters that receive more screen-time than others. But in this movie, there are some characters that could have benefitted from having their own story. Henry Gowan is a perfect example of this. Since Henry doesn’t receive his own plot, this gives him very little to do in the movie. It also doesn’t give Martin Cummins, the actor who portrays Henry Gowan, much material to work with as an actor. Jesse and Clara are another good example. They got engaged at the end of season six, so we could have seen them get married during Christmas-time. Instead, Jesse and Clara’s story was reduced to them saving Lucas Bouchard’s reputation. I understand that the show’s creative team wants to save some story material for the upcoming season. But a Christmas wedding could have been an eventful way to end Hallmark Channel’s Christmas line-up.

 

Plot points that don’t make sense: Throughout this film, there were some plots that didn’t make sense. For this part of the review, I’ll give you two examples. The first involves a new character named Walter. He claims to be a struggling traveling salesman, selling his only coat for gas money and not having the funds for a new tire. If Walter is having that much trouble acquiring a steady income, then how he is able to afford a car? Vehicles require constant upkeep in order for them to run smoothly. For Walter to be able to maintain his car’s well-being, he would probably have to sell more belongings of his over a significant period of time. The second example involves Rosemary. After learning about a dilemma related to Hope Valley’s Christmas Festival, Rosemary complains to Lee about Lucas’ poor event planning skills. She then complains about how Lucas should have asked her for help. Ever since her introduction in season one, Rosemary has always been a determined and headstrong woman. No matter what happens, she finds a way to discover a solution to any problem. For Rosemary to not volunteer with any event planning and for her to expect to be asked for anything doesn’t make any sense with her character development.

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My overall impression:

In 2018, I gave a good review to When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing. While I had issues with the film, there were things about it that I liked. With When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas, however, I can’t give it a good review. But I can’t give it a bad review either. At best, I found the movie to be ok. It had its strengths, like the acting and Christmas traditions serving as opportunities for character development. At worst, this film was a rushed “filler” project that tried so hard to say so much, but ended up saying so little. It felt like the creative team behind this show just wanted to get this movie done and over with so they could move on to the next project. If anything, it was less of a movie and more of an extended episode. After watching this film, I’m kind of concerned for the next season. It doesn’t help when the only thing that was shown in the commercial for season seven was Elizabeth looking at both Nate and Lucas. I’m hoping it is better than this movie was, but I’m starting to wonder if the show’s creative team is still passionate about this story?

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

What did you think of this film? Are you looking forward to the next season of When Calls the Heart? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Romeo Must Die Review

Before I begin this review, I want to apologize for not publishing this article sooner. I’ve been busy not only preparing for Christmas, but also working on projects that are blog and non-blog related. But I finally found the time to post my review for December’s Genre Grandeur! For this round of the blogathon, the theme is “Shakespeare on Film Movies”. At first, I thought this was going to be a challenge. When I searched for possible titles on the internet, however, I realized that there were plenty of films for me to choose from. Out of all those choices, I picked Romeo Must Die! Over the years, I have discovered that Romeo and Juliet retellings can be hit or miss. While I thought Gnomeo & Juliet was cute, I was not a fan of Romeo + Juliet. When I discovered that Romeo Must Die was a modern adaptation of the famous William Shakespeare story featuring martial arts, it raised my interest in this film. For last month’s Genre Grandeur, I reviewed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If you read that review, you would remember that I enjoyed the film. One of the reasons why was the martial arts choreography. But just because there are martial arts in Romeo Must Die, does that mean I’ll enjoy it as much as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Thanks for joining me for this review, as we’re now about to answer that question!

Romeo Must Die poster
Romeo Must Die poster created by Silver Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/romeo-must-die/.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Last Halloween, I reviewed Queen of the Damned. Aaliyah’s portrayal of Queen Akasha is one of the things I liked about that film. I’m not sure how much acting experience she had prior to being cast in Romeo Must Die. But I was very impressed with her performance! The acting material Aaliyah was given allowed her portrayal of Trish to be versatile and well-rounded. In a scene where she shares a childhood memory involving her brother, I felt sympathy toward Trish and her situation. Before watching Romeo Must Die, I had never seen a movie starring Jet Li. However, I enjoyed seeing his performance in this film! One scene shows his character, Han, being informed of his brother’s death. In that scene, there was so much emotion in his facial expressions and body language, that those things were able to convey a message without the use of dialogue. This whole cast was very talented! Not only were they able to pull off a dramatic performance, some actors even delivered a comedic performance. A great example is Anthony Anderson’s portrayal of Maurice. While there were times when this character could be menacing, there were times when he was hilarious. One of the funniest scenes is when Maurice accidently destroys a CD display.

 

The martial arts choreography: The martial arts sequences in Romeo Must Die brought something special to the project! Because this is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it helps this version of the story stand out from other cinematic retellings. I wasn’t able to find out who choregraphed these sequences. But whoever they are, they deserve recognition for their hard work and effort! All of the martial arts sequences were choregraphed well. They were fast enough to keep up the film’s pace, but not fast enough to confuse audience members with what is happening on screen. Some of the martial arts were incorporated in very creative ways! One example was when it was used during a football game. Since I haven’t seen something like that before, I thought it was a new and exciting way to see martial arts in film!

 

The modernization of Romeo and Juliet: As I said in the introduction, I’ve seen other modern adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo Must Die’s take on this story was very interesting and made some improvements to the source material. In this movie, the division between the protagonists’ families is given a better and more clear explanation. Business and cultural/racial differences are what creates a separation for these characters. Also, the protagonists, Han and Trish, are aged up. Having them be of adult age actually helps them play a significant contribution to the narrative, allowing them to make an impact on their families and the conflict surrounding them. This is different from the titular characters in William Shakespeare’s story, where they aren’t given much to do because of their youth.

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Martial arts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/red”>Red vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

What I didn’t like about the film:

No romance for Trish and Han: Romance plays an important role in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In fact, the majority of that story revolves around the relationship of the titular characters. In Romeo Must Die, there was a relationship between the protagonists, Han and Trish. But this relationship was not romantic. This adaptation placed more focus on the division between the rivaling families. Han and Trish’s roles were to solve the mysteries between a series of murders. I understand that the creative team behind Romeo Must Die wanted to present the source material in a new way. But excluding romance takes away an essential part of Romeo and Juliet’s identity.

 

A limited use of martial arts: In my review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I shared that I didn’t like how the film’s martial arts sequences were featured for a limited amount of time on screen. Romeo Must Die has a similar flaw. The 2000 released project is classified as an action movie, so these sequences had a greater presence on film. But it felt like the martial arts were incorporated at select moments. Like I said in my Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon review, a 50/50 balance was not found. Because the story put more emphasis on the rivaling families’ division, there were more dialogue focused scenes.

 

The character of Roth and his business team: One of the story-points in Romeo Must Die involves the construction of a football stadium. This part of the story introduced the character of Vincent Roth and his business team. I think the actors who portrayed these characters did a good job with the acting material they were given. But the characters themselves were under-utilized. Compared to the other characters in the film, Roth and his team didn’t play as significant of a role as they could have. If anything, it felt like these characters were there for the sake of being there.

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Photo of Oakland, California city created by David Mark at pixabay.com. Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/12019-12019/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>David Mark</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>Pixabay</a&gt;. Image found at pixabay.com.

My overall impression:

To review or not to review, that is the question (yes, that Shakespeare reference was intentional). Sure, I’m not going to be the first movie blogger to make that reference. But I probably won’t be the last! Adaptations of William Shakespeare’s works have been around since the beginning of cinema. Whether these adaptations are classical or modern, they prove there are various different ways to approach the source material. Romeo Must Die is a great example of this. Because of the creative team’s perspective on the story, they were able to create a project that had its own identity and added some unique elements to the narrative. Because of this, I found the movie to be one of the better cinematic versions of this story! By making this an action movie and featuring a mystery within the script, it created a sense of intrigue and suspense for the project. It also helped me stay invested in the film. While this movie does have its flaws, it also has strong components that I liked about it. When I learned that Romeo Must Die was a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet with martial arts, I was hoping to, at least, get some enjoyment out of it. After watching it, I can now say this idea was well executed!

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Romeo Must Die? Which adaptation of William Shakespeare’s stories do you like the most? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Dora and the Lost City of Gold Review

Originally, I was going to post my review for December’s Genre Grandeur. But, yesterday, I ended up watching Dora and the Lost City of Gold. So, I decided to review this movie instead. I’ll still publish my Genre Grander review, but it will appear on 18 Cinema Lane sometime this week. As I’ve said in two Word on the Street stories, Dora and the Lost City of Gold made Paramount, the film’s respective studio, lose money. One possible explanation lies in the movie’s less-than-stellar marketing campaign. Like a lot of people, I was not a fan of the film’s official trailer. To me, it felt like the studio didn’t understand the source material they were working with, similar to projects like Jem and the Holograms. This caused me not to see the movie in theaters. When I chose to rent it yesterday, I realized that the only theatrically released film from 2019 I reviewed was Avengers: Endgame. It became one of the reasons why I wanted to review Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Prior to watching this film, I have seen a few episodes of Dora the Explorer. But I don’t have fond memories of it like other people do. Let’s wrap this introduction up so we can go on a movie review adventure!

Dora and the Lost City of Gold poster
Dora and the Lost City of Gold poster created by Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Walden Media, Media Rights Capital, and Burr! Productions. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dora_and_the_Lost_City_of_Gold_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I was pleasantly surprised by the acting performances in this film! I was familiar with who Isabela Moner was, as an actress, prior to watching Dora and the Lost City of Gold. This is because I have heard she starred in the 2017 film, Transformers: The Last Knight. She did a fantastic job at bringing the iconic Nickelodeon character to life! With a cheerful personality and a sunny disposition, Isabela helped carry this film with a well-rounded performance. Another memorable performance came from Madeleine Madden! In this film, she portrayed Sammy, a fellow classmate of Dora’s. Madeleine brought versatility to her role, allowing her character’s transformation to feel believable. Madeleine’s on-screen interactions with her co-stars also helped this transformation, showing that those with leadership qualities can also be contributing team members. Speaking of team members, Eugenio Derbez gave a stand-out performance as Alejandro. While portraying this character, he provided a balance of comedic and dramatic acting. Incorporating these two different types of acting is not an easy thing to do. However, Eugenio flawlessly pulled this off in his performance!

 

The scenery: For most of the film, the jungle provided scenery for this project. It helped make scenes involving this location visually appealing. The natural beauty of the jungle is captured well on film, allowing for the foliage to stand out and even compliment the movie. Within the jungle, there were structures that represented long abandoned places. It’s likely that these were constructed sets for the movie, but they looked very authentic. One great example is when Dora and her group encounter an ancient aqueduct. Because this location was shown above water and was also immersed in it, it shows the audience the original purpose of this structure and its place in history. This shows that the film’s creative team tried to make their film showcase this location as more than just a pretty place.

 

The messages and themes: At the beginning of the film, Dora’s father tells her that she should strive to be an explorer, not a treasure hunter. This piece of advice is a new take on the saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination”. But it also opens the door to several important themes. The ideas of sharing a unique experience, friendship, and teamwork come directly from the aforementioned advice. These themes are shown through actions instead of just said through words. They also have a shareability among audience members of all ages. The film’s messages and themes were one of the strongest parts of the movie, as it was executed well throughout the script.

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Pink travel backpack image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/travel-lettering-with-watercolor-pink-backpack_2686676.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Some of the CGI: For the most part, the CGI in Dora and the Lost City of Gold looked really good. However, there were some instances when the CGI looked poor. One example is when Dora is petting a baby alligator. If you look closely, you can tell where the animation was inserted into the scene. To me, this appeared off-putting, like the image of the alligator didn’t blend with the rest of the shot. While the encounters with poor CGI were few, I still was not a fan of that.

 

The jokes dragging on for a little too long: I found some of the jokes in this movie to be genuinely funny. But other jokes went on for a little too long. Just one example is when Dora’s father is imitating the sounds of techno music. This joke had the potential to be hilarious, but the length of the joke’s time ruined it for me. Had a few seconds of this joke been cut, it would have helped it reach the punch-line a lot sooner.

 

A somewhat confusing climax: I won’t spoil Dora and the Lost City of Gold if you haven’t seen it. But I will say that I found the climax to be somewhat confusing. This is because of two reasons. The first one is how some things are shown and talked about without being given an explanation. The second is how other things aren’t referenced before and/or after the climax. This made it difficult for me to remain fully invested in what was happening on screen.

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Image of jungle/rainforest created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/tree”>Tree photo created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

In the introduction of this review, I speculated that Dora and the Lost City of Gold became a box office failure due to a less-than-stellar marketing campaign. I find this to be a shame because the movie is better than I expected. Unlike what the trailer made me believe, the studio not only cared about the source material, but it seems like they tried their best to elevate it as well. The movie also has more heart than any of the marketing let on, providing messages and themes that can be revisited long after the movie is over. Dora and the Lost City of Gold is not one of my favorite movies of the year, but it definitely is a memorable one. I kind of feel bad that I didn’t give this film a chance sooner. However, I’m glad that I gave it a chance at all.

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any theatrically released films from 2019? Has there ever a movie that you regretted not seeing in theaters? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen