For my first movie review of 2019, I decided to talk about a Hallmark movie. Since the last Hallmark movie I discussed was When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing and since Hallmark Channel’s “Winterfest” line-up just started, I figured this would be a good time to talk about Winter Castle. My primary reason for wanting to see this film was because of the ice hotel setting. This is the first time that an ice hotel has ever been featured in any kind of Hallmark movie, so I was really excited to see the creativity that this story had to offer. I was also looking forward to seeing Emilie Ullerup and Kevin McGarry’s performances in this film. Besides Chesapeake Shores, I have seen Emilie appear in some of the Signed, Sealed, Delivered films, as well as With Love, Christmas. When it comes to Kevin’s acting abilities, I have seen his performance in A Song for Christmas and Love at First Bark. This is also the first Hallmark movie where both Emilie and Kevin starred as the film’s leads. Did I think this movie was cool? Or did it make me feel bitter cold? Bundle up and grab some hot chocolate as I prepare to review Winter Castle!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I really liked all of the performances from this cast! The acting in Winter Castle was so good, it made the characters feel like they were real-life individuals. As I said in my introduction, I have seen Emilie and Kevin’s acting performances before. In this movie, I ended up being really impressed by both of their performances! In the scene where Jenny, Emilie’s character, was visiting the ice slide, the joy and excitement that she expressed in that scene looked and felt genuine. Kevin’s performance appeared genuine as well, making his portrayal of Craig as well-rounded as possible.
The setting: According to IMDB, Winter Castle was filmed at Hotel de Glace, a real-life ice hotel in Canada. I think this hotel and the areas surrounding it were captured very well on film! Everything about this hotel was so beautiful, it makes me understand why someone would want to get married there. All of the artwork on the walls was exquisite and magnificent, with the ice chandeliers being really cool to look at! From the snowy forests to the quaint little town, all of the settings look great in this movie and served the story well.
The relationships between the characters: As I just mentioned, I liked the acting performances from Winter Castle’s cast! Because of how good these acting abilities were, it helped make all of the relationships amongst every character feel very realistic. All of the on-screen couples in this film had good on-screen chemistry, each of them appearing like they truly cared about each other. The non-romantic relationships also appeared like the people involved in them really got along with each other. A good example of this is any scene where Jenny, Craig, and Sara were spending time together. The relationships that these three characters had with one another came across really believably.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The changing of locations: In Winter Castle, almost every member of the wedding party stayed at the ice hotel. However, they ate the majority of their meals in a restaurant that was separate from the hotel. I found this to be really confusing, especially since most hotels have restaurants within their facilities. Because this movie was filmed in a real-life hotel, I’m not sure if the change in locations was a hotel related or movie production related decision.
Very few strong conflicts: While there were some conflicts within Winter Castle’s narrative, I was only able to find one that I felt was strong. The subplot of Jenny writing a story based on her trip was my favorite, as her struggle to grow her career was the strongest conflict in the film. The other plots in the film were fine, but not as compelling as I had hoped. This didn’t make me like the movie any less, but it left more of this movie’s story-telling department to be desired.
The wedding subplot getting overshadowed: When I watched this movie, I noticed that the wedding subplot seemed to get overshadowed by the main plot of Jenny and Craig falling in love. It got to the point where I questioned why this movie needed a wedding subplot at all. This narrative could have simply been about the protagonist going on vacation with her family and it really wouldn’t have changed the story. Maybe I would have felt differently if the wedding subplot was a main plot instead.
My overall impression:
Winter Castle was not only a good start to the “Winterfest” line-up, it was also a good start for Hallmark Channel’s new year! While this movie had its flaws, I still thought it was a good film. As I’ve read the synopsis of the other films in the “Winterfest” line-up, I’ve noticed that Hallmark is starting to incorporate more creativity into their films. This makes me happy because, to me, Hallmark has what it takes to be as creative and imaginative as they want to be. Take Winter Castle for example, the setting itself was very creative and it made the movie that much more enjoyable for me. I really hope that Hallmark continues to incorporate more creativity into their films because there are so many more stories that I could see them sharing with their audience. If Hallmark keeps bringing imagination, creativity, and quality into their films, then I think they can continue to find success.
Overall score: 7.8 out of 10
Have you seen Winter Castle? Which “Winterfest” movie are you anticipating the most? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!