Because my review of Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was fairly successful (with 55 views and 5 likes), it made sense for me to continue reviewing mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The next film that the network released was Mystery 101. I was pretty excited to see this film because of Jill Wagner’s and Kristoffer Polaha’s involvement in the movie. One of my favorite Hallmark movies from last year was Pearl in Paradise, so I was looking forward to seeing Jill and Kristoffer lead another Hallmark production. However, I had low expectations for this film. This is because Mystery 101 appeared to have some of the same aspects of other mystery movies from this network. But, because I enjoy watching the mystery films on Hallmark’s second channel, I decided to give this movie a chance. Was this film as enjoyable as Pearl in Paradise? The only to solve this mystery is by reading my Mystery 101 review!
Things I liked about the film
- The acting: The cast in Mystery 101 was one of the best parts of this film! As I said in my introduction, Jill Wagner’s and Kristoffer Polaha’s involvement in this film was what excited me about the project. Their performances did not disappoint, as both of their talents appeared very natural and believable on-screen. I was also impressed by the acting performances of the supporting cast. I was pleasantly surprised to see Preston Vanderslice within this film. I’ve really enjoyed his performances in other Hallmark productions, like Cooking with Love. His portrayal of Amy’s teaching assistant, Bud, was very good. I also liked Andy Thompson’s portrayal as Eldon, the university maintenance employee. His performance was so memorable, I’m still thinking about it as I write this review.
- The on-screen chemistry: Because of their on-screen chemistry in Pearl in Paradise, I had a feeling that Jill Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha could also have on-screen chemistry in Mystery 101. Like their acting performances, Jill and Kristoffer’s on-screen chemistry did not disappoint either. Anytime Amy and Travis interacted with one another, it always came across realistically and convincingly. The banter between them was good to hear and the situations they were a part of were interesting to see. If this movie is the start of a new series, seeing Amy and Travis’ relationship grow will be something to look forward to.
- The mystery story: In most mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, there are one or two mystery stories within the overall film. In Mystery 101, there were four mysteries within this movie’s narrative. This was a creative and ambitious approach, trying to do something different from the other movies on the network. Having more than one mystery with the film’s story allows the audience to stay engaged in what is happening in the narrative. It also made for an interesting interactive experience.
What I didn’t like about the film:
- A slower pace: Throughout Mystery 101, the pace was on the slower side. It almost seemed like the film wanted to take its time with each mystery instead of being as suspenseful and fast-paced as possible. It didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the film, but it was something that I noticed.
- A delayed start of the mystery: As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, I feel that a film’s mystery should be introduced within the first few minutes of the movie. However, the mystery in Mystery 101 was introduced toward the end of the film’s first 20 minutes. I understand that this is a first movie to a potential new series, meaning that the film’s first few minutes are crucial to setting up the world of the overall series. But I still feel that this film’s mystery should have been introduced within the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film. This way, the story could have jumped right into the mystery and the audience could have started their mystery-solving journey a lot sooner.
- Some of the mysteries not connecting with other mysteries: I won’t spoil Mystery 101 if you haven’t seen it yet. But some of the mysteries within this narrative didn’t connect with the other mysteries in this movie. Out of the four mysteries that were introduced in this story, two of them were stand-alone mysteries. They kind of felt like they were there just for the sake of being there. If Mystery 101 becomes a new series and continues to include more than one mystery in their films, I hope these mysteries have some connectivity with each other.
My overall impression:
Like Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, Mystery 101 was a good start to this specific series. But, after watching Mystery 101, I liked this movie more than Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness. When comparing the two stories, I think that Mystery 101’s story had more creativity to it. The very idea of having more than two mysteries being explored within one movie is something that isn’t often seen on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. It’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for Mystery 101 in the future. Even though Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films, to a certain extent, seem to follow a formula, it looks like the network is putting in a good amount of effort to create movies and series that are unique and creative from each other. Hopefully, these efforts can continue as new series are welcomed and returning series come home.
Overall score: 7.5 out of 10
Have you seen Mystery 101? Would you like to see this series continue? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!