The Other Side of the Mirror (2016) Directed by Zach Hamer

This seems like one of those cheap and fast made movies made to cash in on the success of another big, upcoming Hollywood-release, in this case Tim Burton's "Alice Through the Looking Glass". But no, I can't even say that about this movie, since it doesn't even feel like a movie at all. It's more like a school-project, made by a bunch of high school students who's assignment was to create a movie based on the Lewis Carroll books, featuring their interpretations of the 'Alice themes', stories and metaphors used in them. The result is a jumbled mess, that can't be enjoyed or seen as even a real movie.

Things never flow well within this movie. mainly because it doesn't seem to follow a strong or even clear main story-line. It's basically just the one scene of the other and too often things don't feel connected at all. At times it's even as if someone put all of the scenes in the wrong order, causing the movie to feel messy and like an incredibly unpleasant one to have to watch.

Visaully the movie still looks OK enough (well, most of the time anyway) but it never manages to catch your attention with anything else. There is no good music, not good enough sound, flat acting, terrible characters and overall the movie both looks and feels far too empty. Empty with its themes and story as well as with its sets and settings. It's obvious that they had basically zero budget to spend, so the movie at all times is set in the most basic of locations, such as a forest and inside empty looking houses. There aren't any background props really and no good costumes or makeup. It's also a reason why this movie never really feels like a period piece, even though it's supposed to be set in 1905. Most of the clothing worn looks far too modern and it's silly to see a bunch of old cars driving around (they probably spend all of the movie its budget on renting those by the way) on modern day looking roads.

It's unclear to me what this movie was even trying to do and achieve. It isn't really bringing anything interesting or original to the table, compared to other Alice movies that are already out there. But also when viewed on its own, it really isn't doing anything thought-provoking, or perhaps I should rather say; it really isn't working out as such. The movie makes it incredibly hard for the viewers to ever connect to the story or any of its characters and it's never being entertaining to watch either. It's a weird, annoying, boring, meaningless movie that makes you want to watch the Tim Burton Alice movies instead. And I strongly dislike those movies...

Don't waste your time on this one.


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Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016) Directed by Don Michael Paul

What's the difference between Dolph Lundgren and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well, the one's Swedish and the other Austrian. Other than that, they both have had similar acting careers and have played similar type of roles, in which their physic is more important than the delivery of their lines. Both are therefore also indefinitely better playing action roles than any other type of roles really, including some more comedic type of work. It hadn't stopped Schwarzenegger from trying though and now it's Lundgren's turn to step into his shoes and appear in this late sequel to the 1990 Schwarzenegger original. A sequel that no one ever asked for though...

It sounds like an insanely stupid idea- and there's no way anyone could have ever thought that this movie was going to be a great one, not even those involved with making it. In that regard this movie really isn't half as bad or stupid as you would most likely expect it to be. It definitely is true that there are far worse comedies out there and this movie never feels like a cringy experience, with a ton load of cheap and lame recycled jokes, involving a bunch of young kids and a bulky, tough as nails, undercover cop. The movie as it is remains a watchable enough one but that's just about the biggest compliment I can give it.

The biggest problem with it is that it doesn't seem to know what audience it wants to appeal to. For adults the movie is a far too simplistic and childish one but for young kids it at the same time still remains a too complicated- and a not funny/cute enough one. kids aren't going to like the romance and cop-story-line, while the adults most likely won't like the childish humor and simplistic story approach of the movie. It's true that the story isn't very relevant at all for the movie but it of course still relies on developments happening in it and helps to move the movie and its characters forward. Never in a too interesting or surprising direction though of course.

Strangely enough none of it is Lundgrun's fault. He actually does a pretty decent job handling the comedy and his dialog. Nothing Oscar-worthy of course but he manages to play a likable enough character, that besides isn't as over-the-top as it so easily could have been. His accent still sticks out like a sore thumb but the movie has a solution to that; pick a villain with an even bigger accent. It's cheap, lame and ridicules but it's just one of those Hollywood things. You apparently can't have a movie in which the 'hero' has the biggest foreign accent of all, without fearing that audiences will disconnect themselves from him and loose sympathy.

Lundgren is just about the only really character in the movie though. The kids for instance are barely characters and basically just a bunch of walking, screaming and jumping stereotypes, who don't act like any real kids ever would. It's weird how the movie pretty much ignores the kid characters but at the same time it's also a good thing. After all, kids -especially very young ones- just aren't the best actors around. They so easily can ruin the flow and humor of a comedy but I'm thankful they didn't in this case.

All things considering, things could have been a lot worse for this movie. It's redundant and not particularly good either but it at least is a watchable one, that never annoys and manages to still bring some simple, lighthearted, entertainment.


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The Wannabe (2015) Directed by Nick Sandow

"The Wannabe" is not a bad go at the gangster genre but ultimately it does fall short because of some bad story decisions and lacking characters.

It starts off promising enough and I also was quite liking the movie at first, when it seemed like it was going to be all about a lowlife and wannabe gangster, with an unhealthy obsession for the mob culture and mob boss John Gotti in particular. A kind of sad and interesting character study, that however never goes deep with anything or truly explains the main character's motivations. Where does his obsession come from? Why does he want to be a gangster so bad? All questions the movie basically ignores entirely, which is a disappointing aspect but hardly the thing within its story I had the most problems with.

Like I said, there still isn't all that much wrong with the first half of the movie but it's it second half I have more problems with. Once John Gotti gets convicted (and common, that's not a spoiler!) the main character and his girlfriend/wife, played by Vincent Piazza and Patricia Arquette, go on a crime-spree and suddenly start to turn into a sort of Bonny and Clyde type of characters. Still sounds good and interesting maybe but it's also at this point that the movie turns into a more cliché and typical modern gangster flick and everything that made the first half of the movie interesting gets abandoned. The drama, the story-developments, it all seemed less interesting to me once the characters became truly despicable ones, without much redeeming qualities.

You could say that the movie problem is that the main characters are not engaging enough. All of the character changes would have been fine, as long as we all could have been able to feel for them and understand their motivations. I don't believe that the writing is at fault but it's more due to Nick Sandow's inexperience and inability as a director to tell an engaging story, with an effective build up and great character handling in it.

I can also see how Martin Scorsese came involved with this and why he must have liked the story, which also got written by Nick Sandow, who's still better known as an actor. It in essence remains a good gangster story about the rise and fall of a 'nobody', set in an interesting time period in the intriguing and dark world of organized crime. I doesn't mean all that much though that Scorsese;s name is attached to this. I mean, it's not like he was involved with the production of it or ever was around the on the set or anything. It's just a seal of approval and evidence he saw potential in it, or thought it was an important movie to get produced. Don't know how pleased he was with the end result though.

It's still far from a terrible movie though. It's a well paced one, with still plenty of interesting story ideas in it, that sometimes do work out well for the movie. It perhaps could have done some more with the dramatic and romantic angles of the story but overall the movie is still doing a good enough job with all of it. Good enough anyway to ensure that this movie never suffers too much from any its flaws and weaknesses.

It also has some pretty good acting in it. It's not exactly another "True Romance" like performance or role from Patricia Arquette but it's still pretty impressive to see how convincingly she plays a woman who is much younger her own age. And Vincent Piazza maybe doesn't look right for the part, he does still give a pretty good performance and does the best he could with his character. Maybe it's also true that the movie could have used some stronger supporting characters in it. It certainly seemed to have all of the right actors already in the movie for it.

Far from the most perfect or most memorable genre movie you'll ever see but as far as these low-budget, 'wannabe' gangster movies go, this one really isn't all that bad and definitely worth giving a go once.


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A Very Murray Christmas (2015) Directed by Sofia Coppola

Bill Murray bringing you some Christmas joy, to get you into the season's spirit? Sounds like the most perfect thing in the world and while the movie is far from the perfect, it has some moments of greatness in it, though it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea to watch.

It's not really a movie but more of a Christmas special and Netflix exclusive that's under an hour short, in which a bunch of celebrities show up, starring either as themselves or some unnamed characters, that aren't all that relevant to the 'story' or point of the movie though. It's not necessarily the characters are all redundant ones in this movie but more because it's not really following much of a story in the first place. This both is a good and a bad thing.

For the first half Bill Murray is mostly trying to avoid everything Christmas related, as a sort of grumpy old Scrooge (ironaicaly Murray already played a modern Scrooge character in the 1988 movie "Scrooged"), while in the second half he's constantly busy getting everybody, including some complete strangers for him, into the Christmas spirit. It isn't making much sense once you really start thinking about it but it's the perfect opportunity for Bill Murray to show two different sides of himself, that he both handles very well. Of course he's perfect as the grumpy and complaining celebrity, while later on he's also given the opportunity to show some of his other comedic talents when he's interacting some more with other actors and the movie isn't so much just the 'Bill Murray show' anymore.

It's obvious that for most part of the movie, especially its first half, all of the actors are ad-libbing, while still following certain plot-points. This is when Bill Murray is at his best and most fun to watch, while all of the other actors are also doing a pretty decent job with it. This also is when the movie is the best and most fun to watch, while certain of its plot-points feel forced and not needed at all. It's as if they gave the director and actors a few pages of script, telling them they should improvise everything else around it on the spot, while on set. This works well for its comedy at times but it's a bit of a killer for its flow and the fragile storyline that it's trying to follow. Both Bill Murray and director Sofia Coppola probably felt comfortably doing this, since they pretty much did the same thing before 12 years ago when making "Lost in Translation" but perhaps it's the sort of thing that simply just works better for a full length movie rather than a short because of the simple reason that in a full length movie you have far more time and room to play around and to improvise certain scenes, while still be able to follow a tight script at the very same time.

Thing I personally also wasn't too fond of were the many, many different songs. I mean, the singing-acting ratio in this movie has to be somewhere around 80%-20%. It's just a bit too much for my taste and it's even somewhat annoying how toward the end every song gets followed by 15 seconds of dialog before the next song kicks in again. Sure, it's all still fun and good at times and it will certainly put some people into the Christmas spirit but it's just that I was liking the movie so much better when it was just Bill Murray and friends, dialog, improvisation and fun random cameos.

It's all good and fun to watch if you're a fan of Bill Murray and like to see actors fool around and ad-lib together but is it a perfect comedy or the ultimate Christmas special that's going to put you into the holiday spirit and one that you can watch year, after year, after year? In my opinion it's really not. It's fun to watch once and it's definitely also a good short to watch but I doubt I'll be ever seeing it again, or will be singing any Christmas songs for the next fews days.

Ohh and for those worrying; Yes, Miley Cyrus is in the movie but she actually is one of the highlights in it, surprisingly enough!


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Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story (2015) Directed by James Moran

"Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story" aka Slender man the movie because lets face it, that's exactly what this movie is.

Even though its based on a web-series and the evil character in the movie gets called The Operator there is absolutely no denying or any doubt about it that Slender and The Operator are the same 'person'. I mean, just look at the cover of this movie! Even the creator of the web series admits it was inspired by the legend of Slender man so yes, there you have it!

And now that's out of the way, how's the movie? Well, it's a found-footage movie, so yeah...But to be fair, if there is any story that's perfectly suitable for a found-footage approach, then its the Slender man legend. The movie never makes any good use of its found- footage approach though and it never truly succeeds in building up a good atmosphere or create some good enough tension and mystery for the movie.

It's also unfortunate how this movie has all of the familiar found-footage clichés and weaknesses in it, without ever attempting to do anything new or creative with its concept. Really, if you're fed up with found-footage movies, like me, or if you have seen a bunch of them already, there is absolutely no reason why you should go watch this one as well, not even if you're into the whole Slender man thing.

When watching a found-footage movie you always know that you're not going to see anything until the very end of it and all that you're going to see and hear are a couple of knocks and a bunch of flashes of a figure, while the camera occasionally gets knocked over or starts to shake heavily because characters are in a frenzy and start to run with it. All clichés that truly become annoying and tiresome to see in movies once you have seen a bunch of them already. But the one cliché that perhaps is more annoying than this is the fact that the movies always feature a bunch of scenes in it that make no sense within the concept of a found-footage movie. Arguments get conveniently filmed and characters constantly show their flaws and weaknesses on cameras, all things that make no sense to get filmed, in the context of a found-footage movie. Is there really no other way around this? Please use some more thought and creativity when making these kind of movies!

There is a real lack of any good tension or mystery throughout the movie and the movie therefore also has no real shocking moments are any effective scare moments in it. This all has to do with the story and the way how it gets handled. For most part of the movie there is no real mystery and all that it's about is a group of people seeing a strange figure appear outside of their window once in awhile or on some of the videos they shoot. Who is the figure, why is he there and what does he want, are all answers that don't become much of on issue, until the movie its final 30 minutes or so. It's all far too late. The movie should had done a better job creating a good atmosphere and building up some good mystery during its first half in order for things to work out successfully but all it does is featuring all of the familiar clichés and jump scares, that all of us are tired off already and immune for by now.

It makes far too little use of its main concept and character. I mean, they got Doug Jones to play the 'creature' but they hardly do anything with his character at all. Why is Doug Jones even in this? His talent really goes to waste in this. It's also the main reason why this movie will most likely disappoint those who expect to finally see a good Slender man movie, that's delving into the story of the character and the whole mystery surrounding it. The movie does absolutely none of that, at least never in a very good or effective way. It really doesn't matter that Slender is the creature in this. He might as have been a giant Smurf instead, played by a completely unknown actor and the story and movie would have been exactly the same. Well, OK maybe in this case not entirely but you get my point.

I'll admit that it's far from the worst, most boring, or most ridicules genre movie that I have seen but it's far too formulaic and not effective enough as a found-footage or horror movie to ever recommend this movie to anyone.


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Cold Deck (2015) Directed by Zack Bernbaum

You wouldn't believe how many movies likes this I have seen already. Poker movies; it's like it's a genre of its own and each movie uses all of the same clichés and don't even bother to be original with anything.

No. I'm not a fan but I can't even imaging poker players being much impressed with- or into movies like this. Sure, it all revolves around a game of poker but in a way it at the same time also totally secondary to the story. This movie also could have been about a game of Monopoly and the story, including all of the clichés and characters, would all have been the same.

Having said that, this is not the worst genre example that I have ever seen. At least it's not as far fetched or convoluted as some of the other genre movies that I have seen but it still features a pretty stupid and formulaic story about a poker player who looses some serious money and then comes up with a stupid (with the emphasis on stupid) to get his money back. Sounds familiar? Well, like I said, all of these movies are the same and this story also definitely features no real surprises in it.

The movie isn't ever doing a very good job handling its characters and not even the main character, played by Stéfano Gallo, ever turns into a likable enough character. Lets face it, this is a movie about a bunch of criminals and addicts who treat a game of poker like it's the most important thing in the world. How are we ever supposed to care about any of these character? It's also funny how Paul Sorvino always keeps popping up in these kind of movies, always playing the same sort of characters. It used to be a good thing whenever Paul Sorvino showed up in a movie, nowadays it often means that the movie most likely is going to be a disappointing one to watch.

It's true that the movie tries to create some more depth at times, with both its story and characters but these actually are the moments that the movie becomes the least interesting to watch. Every little subplot that's in it is terrible and really doesn't add anything to the story. It's too much of a distraction instead and it makes the movie needlessly dramatic, when it should have focused some more on the thriller aspects instead.

As a a thriller it falls incredibly short. There is never an exciting or truly tense moment to be found in the movie and like I said, all of the 'suprises' never really come as much of a surprise at all, especially when you have seen one or two movies such as this already.

Playing a game of poker, online or offline, is more tens, exciting and entertaining than watching this thriller.


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Kill Game (2015) Directed by Robert Mearns

Surprise, surprise! Here's a modern, low-budget, horror/slasher movie that doesn't suck. As a matter of fact, I surprisingly liked it.

This movie basically is a good old-fashioned slasher, while still managing to feel like a very modern movie as well. It relies on all of the familiar old slasher clichés but in this case that's even a good thing to say, since most modern genre attempts deviate so much from what slashers used to be in the 'old' days that it actually feels like a breath of fresh air how this movie isn't relying on cheap scares, sleazy teen characters and gallons of blood, just for the shock value. It's more relying on its concept of having a serial killer walking around, killing a group of old classmates one by one, while being more of an old fashioned whodunit as well.

And you have to realize; this also is how slashers initially started off like during the '60's and early '70's, before directors such as John Carpenter and Wes Craven stepped in and reinvented the genre, with supernatural killers. Before that point slashers, most of the time, were still whodunits, in which the killer was human and who's identity always got revealed by the end. Without giving away too much about this movie and how it plays out, this is also mostly the path this movie follows, without ever feeling outdated or old fashioned in any kind of way.

It's a cheaply made movie and sure, this also shows at times but I can honestly say that for most of the time it's absolutely no distraction or issue at all, as often is the case with movies of this sort. It's a decent enough looking movie, that maybe is a bit too dark but the camera-work, editing, directing and practical effects all ensure that this simply is a pretty decent and definitely watchable, low-budget, straightforward slasher.

No, it clearly is not a perfect movie though and the characters for instance aren't the best written ones and for the lovers of slashers and gore there maybe aren't enough creative killings and gory moments in it but in all of its simplicity it still works out better and more pleasantly to watch than the average modern genre attempt, even (or perhaps I should say especially) the ones with a significantly bigger budget and more star-power behind it.


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The Lovers (2015) Directed by Roland Joffé

To be honest I do feel that just because this is a mainstream movie, directed by acclaimed director Roland Joffé and starring the likes of Josh Hartnett, people are more critical of it and harsh on it but having said that, this clearly is a movie with plenty of problems in it.

It first of all is definitely true that this movie comes about a decade too late. I genuinely do believe that when this movie got written and picked up it featured a pretty original story and concept in it but once it finally got made and was finished, after years and years of delay, a bunch of other movies, including some big successes, featuring a similar sort of concept, got made already, making this movie seem 'outdated', unoriginal and not at all all that interesting to watch.

It's the type of movie that crosses time and space, featuring multiple different story lines, featuring different characters, that are all somehow linked to each other. A romantic movie with a science-fiction like twist and angle. Wish I could say that the movie handles it well though, since it most definitely doesn't. It mostly feels like a very messy movie and not messy in a confusing kind of way but more in the sense that things never get told in an engaging, strong enough, way and things never feel connected to each other at all. It really doesn't seem to add anything at all to this movie that it's set during different time periods in the first place and it makes things needlessly complex, while the main plot-line itself remains a far too simplistic and standard one. It results in an incredibly uneven movie, that filled with plenty of potential and good intentions but the execution of it is far too lacking.

Maybe it all can be 'blamed' on the fact that this movie was a troubled production from the beginning. Money issues, actors dropping out of it. It took about 5 years before this movie to finally be finished and released. And that's also definitely how the movie comes across as; as if certain scenes were filmed months or years after the other. There is never a good flow to anything and things don't feel connected through its story, dialog and performances. Every scene feels like a thing of its own, that doesn't blend in with anything else.

It's also especially disappointing how this is a movie that seems to feature a bigger than life type of love-story in it but there actually is zero romance throughout the entire movie. There just isn't any chemistry between the characters, who seem to have nothing in common and we as the viewers never get to see- or understand why these people ever fall for each other. ironically enough co-stars Tamsin Egerton and Josh Hartnett have been a couple since 2012, the same time they were both working together on this movie and the two of them are also expecting their first child by now. So there most have been some chemistry between the two of them, there just wasn't any of that to be found on the screen as well. The same could be said about all of the other characters as well that the Josh Hartnett one is supposed to fall for throughout the movie. It never feels like anything natural or realistic.

Guess that the adventures and action moments work out pretty well for the movie. It at least makes things fun and exciting to watch at times but again, it's nothing too special or original to watch all. It's not even all that well made, which arguable mostly has to do with the bad flow and build up of the movie. There is never any good tension and suspense for instance, so when anything exciting occurs it's hard to feel anything for it. It just happens, it's good to watch but you couldn't care less about what happens to the characters or if they will end up together by the end of the movie.

It's a very flat movie, with no good emotions, no good romance and no good characters to ever care about, while the movie its main story and concept provided the movie with plenty of opportunities for this. A failed attempt that honestly isn't the worst movie you could watch but there at the same time is absolutely nothing in it that makes this movie worthwhile.


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Star Leaf (2015) Directed by Richard Cranor

Well, speaking about original...The most positive thing I can say about this movie is that it surprised, in the sense that it turned out to be something totally different from what I expected it to be. Was it a good and pleasant surprise? Mostly yes but the movie itself still remains a bit of a mixed bag.

At first sight this movie seems like just another cheap horror flick, in which a bunch of partying teens head into the woods, without their cell phones of course. And when it seemed that this was all that this movie was going to be, I was far from impressed by it. The production values were low, even amateur like and the acting was questionable. It looked and felt like one of those cheap horror movies made by a group of friends, without any real experience in the business, during their spare time.

I took the movie as a serious genre attempt but the movie then suddenly decided to make a turn. Instead of turning into a formulaic horror flick, it turned into a stoner-comedy instead, with some odd science-fiction and thriller elements in it. Sounds like an incredibly odd and random thing and yes, indeed it is. But the thing is that It actually worked out, in the sense that it made the movie an unique but above all things pleasant viewing experience. It was fun. Stupid fun but fun nevertheless! I even have to admit that it definitely took the movie up a few notches from me. From absolutely hating, I kind of started to like it.

However I just still can't call this movie a great or recommendable one as well. Problem with it is that the story isn't going anywhere and things just really don't add up in it. While the movie entertains in some way, it still remains a totally pointless- and ultimately also very forgettable one.

While its randomness at the same time remains the movie its biggest strength, the movie feels like a too simplistic one, in about every regard. Cheap production values, very few characters but worse; no real story to latch on to. Luckily the movie is a very short one, so it never becomes a too annoying or dragging one but needless to say that it doesn't exactly makes this movie a must-see either.


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Northpole: Open for Christmas (2015) Directed by Douglas Barr

Christmas and Hallmark channel movies. It's a combinations loved by some but hated by most others. The movies are cheerful and always have a positive holiday vibe to them but they rarely are very good or original movies to watch as well, which both can be said for this movie as well.

Well, it undeniably is a Hallmark movie, meaning that all of the characters are constantly cheerful and smiling and even the dramatic conflicts never feel too heavy or serious to bring the movie its mood down. It's sugar coated happiness that never feels very realistic and works out as forced and over-the-top. Some people like this and it helps to get them into the holiday spirit but the movie itself remains nothing special to watch really.

It's a very basic movie, with only a handful of different characters and no real subplots. Just the storyline of a hard working (yes, that cliché again) woman who inherits a hotel, that also gets used by Santa Claus himself as a magical gateway for him to use during Christmas eve. A very nonsensical plot of course, that can only work out well and convincing enough as long as the movie provides plenty of magical and fun moments. The movie does neither really. There just isn't enough happening in the movie, both story- and character-wise and at times the movie even begins to drag a little. It definitely feels like the movie goes on for 20 minutes too long and there just is not enough comedy, fun or magical charm present to keep things going and at all times good and fun to watch.

And it's a shame how the movie decides to keep everything as basic and simplistic as possible. There definitely were plenty of opportunities for the movie to do something more with its story and characters. It touches upon some, seemingly, interesting themes at times but it only glances it and it's almost as if one of the studio executives told the director to scrap and ignore every potential side-plot from the script and any other elements that could have given the movie some more depth, that could have made things more interesting.

The characters also just don't work out as the most realistic or interesting ones because of that. Character development is minimal, interactions and bonds between the different characters never interesting and story elements such as the romantic plot-line fall completely flat because of this.

Sure, it's not the most terrible movie that I have ever seen but that's mainly because the movie is doing very little, so therefor it's also doing very little wrong, at least not to an extend that the movie turns into an unwatchable one.


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A Christmas Star (2015) Directed by Richard Elson

This movie has its heart in the right place but it never quite manages to work out as a magical and captivating viewing experience as well.

This basically is a poor man's version of "The Odd Life of Timothy Green", which already was a far from perfect movie, with plenty of problems. It tries to be a magical and charming movie, without featuring the right type of story or characters. But yes, also story-wise this movie definitely shows similarities to the live action Disney movie "The Odd Life of Timothy Green", in which a child has magical powers and has to save her dad's factory from shutting down. So not the most original story imaginable but I feel that it's also the type of story that would have worked out better for a children's book for instance, that would have less trouble capturing a certain atmosphere and tell it's story in a more effective, magical way.

Because the movie gets told mostly from the perspective of the children, the movie also feels a tad bit too simplistic and childish at times. This approach also means that the movie for most part has to rely on the acting abilities of the young children. Generally speaking, most kids aren't very impressive actors though and that unfortunately goes for this movie as well. Both the humor and characters fall mostly flat because of that at times. Maybe it also would have been better for the movie if it featured 2 or 3 strong adult leads in it. Now all the adult characters feel like secondary ones, which is understandable and no doubt also intentional, seeing how this is a children's movie but it's not anything that works in the movie its own interest.

I also really don't know if young kids themselves would actually enjoy watching this movie. The story maybe is a bit too serious for that at parts and the movie also lacks some good comedy and magical or likable enough characters. Who knows, maybe in the hands of a better and more experienced director with children's movies it all still could have worked out. It definitely seemed to me that director Richard Elson was struggling at times to bring any magic to the screen and to tell the story in a both fun and compelling enough way.

And really, the elements and ingredients to turn this into a fun and charming little Christmas movie were all still there. It also means that the movie isn't the most terrible one to watch and it still has plenty of quality in it but it never quite makes use of all of its potential.

The lack of some good enough fun and the absence of some true magical charm prevent this movie from being a holiday must-see. No, not even Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson (who both have bit parts) can lift this movie up.


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A Christmas Eve Miracle (2015) Directed by R. Michael Givens

Ho, ho, ho, holy doodoo, is this movie terrible!

Normally the big problem that I have with Christmas is that they are far too sappy and over-sentimental movies to watch, with extremely exaggerated characters and emotions. This movie however is a whole different story! I have plenty of problems with it but its sappiness or over-sentimental elements aren't a part of it.

I just don't know what to make of this movie. Is it supposed to be a warm and cute family movie? A more serious dramatic movie perhaps? Or maybe just simply a holiday comedy? I think that it's trying to be a bit of everything, without ever turning into either a good warm, cute, dramatic or funny movie to watch. I seriously felt bored all throughout because there is absolutely nothing to the story and no real interesting dramatic or fun elements or any interesting dynamics between any of the characters.

Seriously, who are all these people? Apparently this movie is a sequel to a 2014 movie called "A Magic Christmas" but who has even heard of- let alone seen, that movie? This movie makes absolutely no effort to introduce any of the characters and let yourself familiarize with them. Perhaps it's my fault and should I first have done my homework but there also is nothing in the movie its title or about the actual movie itself that would suggest that this is a sequel to another movie.

The fact that you don't get to know anything about the characters makes them uninteresting to follow but next to that, they also come across as terrible unappealing ones. It's a weird Christmas movie cliché that some often feature the premise of a hard working parent in it. In this case that's the mother, who doesn't seem to concerned about her family life but rather wants to make as much money as possible and spend it on traveling the world with her husband, fantasizing about how life would be like without their kids. Yes, that seriously is the main-plot for his 'family friendly' holiday movie. It feels so wrong and the movie absolutely never succeeds in making any of it work out as anything engaging. You'll start to hate the mother character instead, who besides also looks like she has taken a few too many botox injections as well, making her terribly unappealing to look at as well. It shouldn't be an issue but it did really bothered me in this case. The father isn't much better though. He's too much of a pushover and barely even a character. But really, basically the same could be said for literally every other character in the movie. A Bunch of different characters show up but I have idea who they are and why they are even there. For some odd reason it also features the voice of Jon Voight as the family's dog, as a sort of narrator but what's even more odd about it is that there is hardly any narration at all throughout the movie. At first it seems like the story is getting told through the eyes and from the perspective of the family's dog but it's as if they had to abandon this idea during production, when it suddenly became apparent to them that Jon Voight wasn't going to be available for more than 1 or 2 days.

There is very little to the story. Where is the big conflict? Where is the charm and warmth supposed to come from? I just don't get this movie. It's also especially annoying how certain scenes just seem to go on and on without leading up to anything. There is never a pleasant pace to the movie, which adds to the reasons why this is an incredibly tedious and pointless movie to watch.

Perhaps it still all would have been watchable enough if only the movie had some more and better comedy in it. There hardly is any of that present though, while the movie itself still gets told like a silly holiday comedy. Too bad they forgot all about the writing.

This truly is a movie you DON'T want to find underneath your Christmas tree, or ever catch on TV during the holidays.


Submerged (2015) Directed by Steven C. Miller

When a movie has an original concept it's already halfway there. This movie however tries to be a whole lot more than its concept allows, which works in its disadvantage.

This sounds like an interesting enough and very straightforward movie in which a limo hits the water and its passengers have to survive and find a way out. And really, I would have been fine with a movie that focused 90 minutes on this idea and concept alone but the movie soon turns into something totally different. The flashbacks seem like an interesting idea at first, until it starts to become obvious what it's all leading up to. In a way the flashback form a more important and prominent storyline that the actual main storyline of having a bunch of people trapped in a limousine in dangerous, cold, dark water. It's an approach that isn't working out too well for the suspense of the movie and rather than adding to the mystery it makes the movie more unrealistic and far fetched than anything else really.

And maybe that's the most disappointing thing about the movie; it at first sight seems like it will be a good, tense, mysterious, claustrophobic and original movie but it's neither of those things, at least not to a strong and good enough extent. There is never a good sense of danger or panic as the characters get trapped underwater water, while still being inside a limo. The characters never seem busy enough trying to survive or all that concerned about their safety. They have 'bigger' and more 'serious' things to worry about it seems but I really wasn't all that interested in it.

The movie needlessly makes things hard for itself by over complicating its story and by throwing 2 or 3 too many plot twists and surprises. Instead of making things more engaging, suspenseful and surprising it actually makes things less interesting or effective to watch. Like I said, it goes at the expense of its credibility, which all is a real shame, considering this movie its potential, when looking at its main concept.

It's also really due to the camera-work and fast paced editing of the movie that none of the suspenseful and claustrophobic moments of the movie ever work out very well. It works disorientating and the fast pace of the movie results in it that it can never build any of the tension or mystery up in an effective enough way.

The movie also goes on for a bit too long. It just doesn't feel right for the movie to be set outside of the limo as well, without giving away too many about the final few minutes. I really do feel and believe that this movie should have embraced its simple and straightforward main concept, rather than making things needlessly overcomplicated by adding in too many characters, flashbacks and therefore also too many side-plots and random twists.

It's nothing too terrible but there clearly are more suspenseful and overall effective thrillers to watch out there.


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