When Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews announced the No True Scotsman Blogathon, there was a list of recommendations on the announcement post. On that list, the Disney Pixar film, Brave, was mentioned. At the time I signed up for the event, no other participant had chosen that movie to review. This surprised me, as Brave is a well-known title. Since I happen to own a copy of this film on DVD, I chose to write about it for the event. This DVD was given to my family as a gift several years ago. But until this blogathon, I never got around to watching it. Animated films are also not reviewed on my blog often. This is because I’ve already seen most of animation’s beloved titles. But there are times when there is that one movie that I skipped over on my journey as a movie blogger. Brave is one of those movies, so now it’s time to finally talk about it.
Things I liked about the film:
The animation: Disney Pixar has a reputation for framing their stories in impressive technology. Brave certainly carries that tradition, as the animation looks realistic! In one scene, a close-up of an archery target board is shown. The rough texture was captured through animated technology, making it easy to forget the board wasn’t real. Many scenes took place in a forest at different parts of the day. The natural greens and browns were appealing to the eye, adding depth to the world around the characters. Speaking of hues, I really liked the use of color in this movie! Merida’s hair is a perfect example! No matter where she went, her bright orange hair provided a great contrast. There was one scene where Merida was in a forest at night. Since black was the primary hue in the forest, Merida’s hair gave a pop of color to that scene.
The humor: I haven’t seen a Disney Pixar film in a while. But, from what I remember, humor is a consistent component among these types of projects. When it comes to Brave, the humor was spontaneous, the type of humor I’m a fan of. After a successful day of exploring, Merida is talking to her horse, Angus. Then, out of nowhere, Angus hits Merida with his tail in a silly way. Later in the film, Merida’s suitors are being introduced. The father from one of the clans appears to be talking about a very muscular young man. As the introduction continues, the audience learns the father’s son was hiding behind the muscular young man, actually being much smaller in size.
The writing’s cleverness: While watching this movie, I was able to pick up on the cleverness within the script. When the various clans arrive in Merida’s kingdom, Merida’s mother, Elinor, is making a speech. During that speech, Merida discovers a loop hole that she can use in her favor, as she doesn’t want to get married yet. While we’re talking about the clans, let’s talk about one of the suitor’s fathers. Throughout the story, this character was known as Macintosh. At first, this sounds like a typical Scottish name. However, Brave was dedicated to Steve Jobs, who passed away a year prior to the movie’s release. One of Apple’s products was a Macintosh computer, so naming one of the characters after something related to Steve’s company makes sense.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Inconsistent characters: At the beginning of the movie, Elinor is introduced as a caring, protective mother. During her interactions with her daughter, she didn’t come across as overbearing in her protectiveness. But as Merida grows up, Elinor’s personality becomes a “bait and switch”. While she states in the story how she means well, she is overbearing in her protectiveness. At times, Elinor’s change in personality felt over-the-top. Merida herself is another character I found inconsistent. There were times where her clever and critical thinking skills shined, showing how she is an intelligent explorer. However, there are also times when Merida acts like a stereotypical teenager. I understand Merida is a young character and is not meant to be “perfect”. To me, though, it seems like the writers couldn’t decide which aspects of this character they wanted to emphasize.
Things happening too quickly: There were parts of the story that, to me, happened too quickly. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Merida doesn’t want to get married yet. This causes a conflict between her and her mother. While I won’t spoil the movie, I will say the resolution for this conflict was reached with little build-up. The bridge from Point A to B wasn’t as strong as it could have been. In fact, so much time was spent with Elinor and Merida fighting or both of them working to resolve another conflict, that the marriage conflict was somewhat overshadowed.
Parts of the story that didn’t make sense: Toward the beginning of the film, Merida’s father, Fergus, lost one of his legs while attempting to fight an evil bear. While that part of the story is simple to understand, it’s what can be seen in his castle that didn’t make sense to me. At one point, at least one taxidermic bear is found standing against a wall. After going through such a traumatizing experience, why would Fergus want any association with the animal that severely injured him? While we’re on the subject of bears, there is a witch in the story who is a woodcarver, with her work resembling bears. It is never explained why she chooses bears as her artistic focus. Therefore, her emphasis on this specific type of animal kind of felt random.
My overall impression:
After sitting in a cabinet still wrapped in the manufacturing plastic, my DVD of Brave has finally gotten some use out of it. Now, you’re wondering what my opinion on the film is. Well, I thought it was just fine. There is good effort that was put into this project, as the animation itself shows. But I can think of other Disney/Disney Pixar titles that are stronger than Brave. While I liked the cleverness found in the script, there was more to be desired from the story. Structural issues, like weaker bridges from Point A to B, hurt the script. Also, it didn’t help how some parts of the story didn’t make sense. Despite all of this, Brave does bring something unique to the table. It’s also nice to see Scottish culture/heritage receive more recognition in the world of cinema.
Overall score: 7.2 out of 10
Have you seen Brave? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Tell me in the comment section!
Happy National Read a Book Day! I want to let you know there will be spoilers for both the book and movie in this review. If you want to check out this double feature’s introduction, you can visit this link:
I remember when Hallmark’s adaptation was announced four years ago. The biggest news associated with the project was the casting of Cameron Mathison and Andie MacDowell as Father Tim Kavanagh and Cynthia Coppersmith. This news made fans upset, due to the fact both Andie and Cameron were younger than their characters were described in the book. Their disapproval of the casting led the movie to be one of the lowest viewed films on Hallmark Channel that year, with 1.34 million viewers. I also remember the movie didn’t receive an encore presentation, as is customary for the majority of Hallmark productions. While I’m not sure if this information is accurate, I have heard Jan Karon, the author of the Mitford series, didn’t promote the film.
2. How did you acquire this movie’s respective source material?
Two years ago, I purchased a used copy of At Home in Mitford at a library book sale. I became interested in reading the series before the adaptation’s premiere, as I heard so many good things about it. Since I never got to read any of the books before the movie aired, I was curious to see how different the book was from the film. At the sale, they had the whole series available for purchase. But since I didn’t know if I would like the series, I just bought the first book.
3. Have you read Jan Karon‘s work before? What are thoughts on her writing?
Like I mentioned in the introduction, I have never read anything by Jan Karon before. So, I didn’t know what to expect from the book. Jan’s emphasis on detail was one of At Home in Mitford’s strengths! An example is when things are being listed off. In the book, Father Tim and Cynthia go to the movies. Within a paragraph, Jan takes the time to mention the snacks they purchased, saying “they went into the empty row with a box of popcorn, a Diet Sprite, a Coke, and a box of Milk Duds”. It’s details like these that make the characters and the story itself feel realistic.
Similar to Saint Maybe, At Home in Mitford is mostly a “slice of life” story. But there are a series of mysteries that are drawn out throughout the text. Because this book has elements of mystery, but is not a mystery novel, the overall sense of urgency was low. At times, it felt like there were too many characters and storylines. Mitford seemed like any other small town I’ve seen in Hallmark’s programming. While reading this book, I kept asking myself, “How is Mitford any different from Cedar Cove? Or Chesapeake Shores?” Maybe if I had read At Home in Mitford before watching any of those programs, I would think differently. But, at the end of the day, I thought this book was a fine, wholesome story.
4. Was the movie different from its source material? If so, how?
Even though there were some similarities between the movie and the book, At Home in Mitford’s film adaptation contained more differences. Some characters were either omitted or changed from the text. One of these characters was Olivia Davenport. In the film, she was a parishioner who was seeking Tim’s guidance for her rocky marriage. Her presence in the movie was very limited, which is different from the book. In the novel, Olivia was a part of At Home in Mitford’s ensemble cast of characters. Her storyline was one of the most important, as she desperately needed a heart transplant. Olivia also helped Mitford’s doctor, Hoppy Harper, move forward from the loss of his deceased wife. As I said in answer number three, I, at times, felt like there were too many characters and storylines in the book. Therefore, I don’t fault Hallmark for leaving out certain parts of the source material. However, if the adaptation’s creative team knew they were going to include one of the book’s characters in their script, then they should have given Olivia a greater significance in the film.
Despite the film adaptation’s differences from the book, some of them had purpose. The novel and film featured a character named Marge Owen. While she became pregnant in both versions of the story, she was given a greater importance in the movie. The book never revealed her occupation, where the film shows Marge owning her own bookstore. She also provides friendship and guidance to Cynthia in the adaptation. As a way to overcome her writer’s block, Cynthia volunteers to restore the church’s paintings. In Jan Karon’s book, Cynthia wasn’t involved with the church. She does attend church services, but she doesn’t go the extra mile for the parish. The movie version of Cynthia tells Tim that she wants to give back. Cynthia’s decision not only gives her a stronger connection to the church, but it also shows how someone living their faith can come in different forms.
5. Do you think the movie was better than the book or was the book better than the movie?
When it comes to At Home in Mitford, I can’t give a yes or no answer. So, I’ll say it like this: As a movie, At Home in Mitford is a fine, run-of-the-mill Hallmark Channel production, with some of the film’s changes improving upon the book. But as an adaptation, it feels like the network was trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. The first book in Jar Karon’s series was published before Hallmark Channel came into existence. By the time the adaptation was filmed, Hallmark was already well versed in their formula. Because the adaptation’s creative team tried so hard to fit At Home in Mitford into Hallmark’s brand of film-making, the story was watered down. If Hallmark were serious about faithfully adapting At Home in Mitford, they should have adapted it into a television show, as that is how the book read to me. I also think Jan Karon herself should have been one of the movie’s screen-writers.
6. Saint Maybe and At Home in Mitford share some similarities, such as how both books are written by women. Are there any other similarities you can think of?
Like I said in answer number three, At Home in Mitford is mostly a “slice of life” story. While there are mysteries within the text, the mysteries themselves feel lower in stakes. In the book, Father Tim finds some stolen jewels in an urn. Even though these jewels were connected to an international crime, Jan finds a way to connect this crime directly to Mitford. Father Tim wonders if his antique shop owner friend, Andrew Gregory, may have imported the jewels by hiding them in antique furniture. However, the culprit was a man named George Gaynor, a criminal on-the-run who found solace in Father Tim’s religious wisdom. Though George was arrested for his crime, he received the opportunity to become baptized. Father Tim even kept in touch with George after he left Mitford.
Saint Maybe is also a “slice of life” story featuring several mysteries. Similar to At Home in Mitford, the stakes of these mysteries were lower. Back in my review of Saint Maybe’s film adaptation, I mentioned how Ian discovered the identity of Agatha and Thomas’ father. Because this information was discovered long after Ian agreed to help raise Agatha and Thomas, there wasn’t a strong sense of urgency to do anything about the situation. He doesn’t even tell his family what he found. In fact, after speaking with Agatha and Thomas’ maternal grandmother, the movie version of Ian says to himself, “Thank goodness I didn’t find this information sooner”.
7. Should Hallmark adapt Jan Karon‘s other work? If so, why?
If At Home in Mitford’s film adaptation had received better reception from the viewers, then I’d be curious to see Hallmark adapt the other books in the Mitford series. Because that didn’t happen, Hallmark would have difficulty adapting Jan Karon’s other work, as most of her books are Mitford related. But since Hallmark created a few animated films in the past, I could honestly see them adapting Miss Fannie’s Hat or Jeremy: The Tale of An Honest Bunny. Similar to properties like Hoops and Yo-yo, Hallmark could create merchandise related to these stories as well. I’ve never read Miss Fannie’s Hat or Jeremy: The Tale of An Honest Bunny. But as long as Jan herself is involved with the project, I’d be fine with Hallmark adapting these books.
8. Is there anything about At Home in Mitford you liked or didn’t like?
I’ve heard complaints from Mitford fans about how different Dooley is in the film compared to the book. While I do agree about Dooley being very different in the movie, I actually liked the movie version of his character. Dooley was sometimes the comic-relief in the story. His grandfather, Russell, even called him “a prankster”. My favorite scene was when Dooley removed the ‘Dog Found’ posters almost immediately after Father Tim posted them. Throughout the film, Father Tim actively sought out Barnabas’ former pet parent. He spreads the word about the dog’s current whereabouts by posting ‘Dog Found’ posters throughout Mitford. Since Dooley doesn’t want to see Barnabas go away, he removes these posters behind Father Tim’s back. This scene was hilarious because of its believability.
Compared to the book, At Home in Mitford’s film adaptation felt formulaic. Like I said in answer number five, the movie’s creative team tried so hard to fit At Home in Mitford into Hallmark’s brand of film-making. Instead, the story followed the same beats and tropes/cliches as other Hallmark titles. The film included an adaptation exclusive character named Jack Emery. Throughout the story, he embodied the “business person is a jerk and/or out of touch” cliché, with his sole purpose being the worse datable candidate compared to Father Tim. At Home in Mitford’s film adaptation was released in 2017, two years after All of My Heart. The 2015 movie was one of the network’s most notable films to challenge the aforementioned cliché. Therefore, it made At Home in Mitford kind of seem outdated by comparison.
9. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?
Similar to Saint Maybe, religion/faith was downplayed in At Home in Mitford’s film adaptation. Both Father Tim and Cynthia mentioned they were Episcopalian. In answer number four, I talked about how Cynthia volunteers to restore the church’s paintings. Even though several scenes took place inside the church, we don’t see any characters worshipping within its walls. The tail end of Father Tim’s sermon was shown as well. The book showed how religion/faith played a role in Father Tim’s everyday life. He quoted a Scripture passage to fit almost any situation, even using Scripture to discipline Barnabas. Father Tim also turned toward everyday life to find inspiration for his sermons. Because Hallmark gave us Signed, Sealed, Delivered and has incorporated faith into When Calls the Heart, I’m surprised the network chose to tone down the religion/faith in the At Home in Mitford movie. But, once again, it feels a missed opportunity.
10. Would At Home in Mitford encourage viewers to read either its source material or any other book?
Because of how many differences are found in the adaptation, I think it might encourage some viewers to check the book out. I can only speak for myself, but this is what inspired me to read the first book in the Mitford series. When I started reading At Home in Mitford, I could immediately tell how different each story was. I said in answer number five that the book read more like a television show. This is because the story was abundant with characters and storylines, as well as storylines being drawn-out. If viewers find themselves watching more tv series than movies, then the book might be for them.
11. After watching this movie, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?
Because the stories in At Home in Mitford revolve around the citizens of a small town, I can see why Hallmark would want to adapt Jan Karon’s series. At the time of the film adaptation’s release, small towns were an exhausted backdrop in Hallmark’s productions, with most of their characters being former or current small-town residents. But it seems like the network was so eager to potentially start a new series, that they lost sight of who this project was intended for. Excluding Jan Karon from the creative process doesn’t help Hallmark’s case. Their inability to adapt pre-existing material, At Home in Mitford in this case, shows how creatively dependent they’ve become on the rom-com genre. In my honest opinion, this movie was made a decade or two too late. Since Hallmark spent so much time showing how every small town was special, Mitford wasn’t given the opportunity to stand out. This movie should have been released either as a Hallmark Hall of Fame production prior to 2010 or on Hallmark Channel between 2001 to 2007.
When I published my review for Teenage Rebel last December, it became my 225th movie review! Since then, I’ve been thinking about what kind of article I should write in honor of this milestone. A few days ago, I saw a video on Youtube titled ‘Top 6 AG Trends that need to *GO* this Decade’. This video focused on how American Girl could correct their mistakes from the 2010s. Created by pinksmartiesag, it inspired me to think about the ways Hallmark can improve in the 2020s. Like any company, Hallmark is not perfect. There are areas where they can grow and find success. During the first year of the 2020s, I have seen Hallmark’s mistakes from the past decade seep into 2020. In this list, I will talk about the missteps that Hallmark should leave behind in the 2010s to have a chance to make better choices in this new decade. Similar to the list-articles I’ve written in the past, everything I talk about is based on my opinion of the things I have noticed as a fan and consumer. The list is meant to be critical in a constructive way, not mean-spirited or negative. When I refer to Hallmark in this article, I am focusing on the entertainment division of Hallmark; which consists of the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama.
1. Hallmark Channel’s Over-Reliance on the Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) Genre
In the 2010s, when Rom-Coms made less appearances in the cinema than in previous decades, Hallmark made it their mission to save this genre from extinction. While Hallmark attempted to preserve Rom-Coms, they ended up putting almost all their eggs in one basket. Now, every movie on Hallmark Channel is a Rom-Com, telling the same types of stories over and over again. This decision has caused the films on this network to feel repetitive and predictable. When you look at a typical poster for a Hallmark Channel movie, you already know how the story will play out. Lately, I’ve been watching and reviewing past Hallmark films, which have much more interesting stories. It feels like those were the days when Hallmark would embrace originality and not shy away from taking creative risks. I would like to see Hallmark experiment with different genres and tell a variety of stories in the 2020s. Creativity and imagination should be the rule moving forward!
2. Continually Using the Same Tropes and Clichés
Because Hallmark Channel has focused on the Rom-Com genre, there are several genre related tropes and clichés that are continually used throughout Hallmark’s film library. In my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies, I talk about some clichés that have run their course. How many times can you tell a story where a woman from a big city goes back to her small hometown before you call it quits? The constant inclusion of these tropes and clichés cause a given film to be more predictable. Even though some creative teams have approached these story-telling concepts in new and interesting ways, it feels like that has been the exception to the rule. It’s time for Hallmark to either put a new twist on these clichés and tropes or abandon them altogether.
3. The Hypocrisy
Ever since 2019, I have noticed Hallmark’s blatant hypocrisy when it comes to certain areas of their entertainment division. For this point, I’ll provide two examples. In my editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I wrote about how, in 2019, Hallmark advertised they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. However, that statement turned into a broken promise, as there were some Saturdays where no new movies premiered. I also said in that editorial how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries kept their promises to air a Christmas movie every Thursday and Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. When it comes to subjects that Hallmark cares about, like Christmas, that becomes one of their top priorities. For everything else, it falls to the wayside.
While promoting Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups last year, George Zaralidis, Hallmark’s network program publicity vice president, claimed that “diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us”. But there are times when these words sound empty. The upcoming Hallmark Channel movie, Fit for a Prince, is a perfect example. Based on promotional material directly from the network’s website, we can see this is the same type of “royal” movie, starring the same types of actors in the same types of roles. Remind me how this is diverse? When it comes to story-telling, diversity is more than just a character’s appearance. It’s also about the perspectives, beliefs, and journeys those characters bring to the overall story. In my award post, The Sunshine Blogger Award and The Blogger Recognition Award: Two Awards for the Price of One, I said that I wanted to see Bai Ling join the main cast of When Calls the Heart as Hope Valley’s first female Mountie. One of the reasons why I want this is because it would be a beautiful opportunity for Hallmark to put their money where their mouth is. If diversity is that important to them, then they will take no issue in casting Bai on Hallmark Channel’s most popular scripted show.
4. Hallmark Making Promises They Know They Can’t Keep
As I just mentioned in point number three, Hallmark broke their promise to air a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. But that wasn’t the only promise the company broke in 2019. In my aforementioned editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I talk about several films that were mysteriously removed from Hallmark Channel’s and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ schedules after being promoted for weeks or months. If Hallmark had any thoughts about moving films out of their respective premiere dates, why would they spend so much time promoting them and setting dates? In the seventh season of When Calls the Heart, Clara and Jesse had entertained the idea of having an outdoor wedding. But when the wedding arrived, their ceremony ended up taking place indoors. According to Kami, from Hallmarkies Podcast, that episode was filmed in November. This begs the question; if the creative team behind the show knew it would be too cold to film any outdoor events, why would they mention the idea of an outdoor wedding in the first place? In the 2020s, it would be nice to see Hallmark stick to their word more often. Broken promises lead to broken trust with the viewers, which is not good for any business.
5. An Adoption Ever After Segment During the Seasonal Line-Up Preview Specials
When Larissa Wohl first joined Alison Sweeney in 2019’s “Valentine’s Day & Adoption Ever After Preview Special”, the program was used to not only promote Hallmark Channel’s Valentine themed movies, but also that year’s Cat Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and American Rescue Dog Show. At the time, the cross-promotion made sense. But as Larissa kept appearing in Hallmark’s other seasonal line-up preview specials, as well as the Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special, she ended up overstaying her welcome. Instead of promoting a worthy cause, it felt like she was interrupting the regularly scheduled program to host an infomercial about homeless pets. Most people can get behind the idea of raising awareness for shelter animals. However, using the same tactics over and over again gets repetitive and runs the risk of turning away potential supporters. I don’t know if Hallmark has any plans to air preview specials for the various seasonal line-ups in the 2020s. If they do, I hope they think twice before adding the Adoption Ever After segments to the specials.
6. Hallmark’s Excessive Obsession with Christmas
Hallmark loves Christmas; I get it. But is it really necessary for them to do the following?
Airing both Christmas line-ups for almost three months
Showing Christmas movies on three networks throughout the year
Creating over twenty movies between two channels
Devoting an entire month to Christmas in July
In my opinion, the answer is absolutely not, as there is a fine line between loving something and going overboard. Because of Hallmark’s excessive obsession with the holiday, they are actually doing more harm than good to their line-ups. In 2019 and 2020, the “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” line-ups received less viewership than in years prior. Hallmark’s decision to make more Christmas movies year after year prevents their films from becoming beloved classics. Movies like The Christmas Card, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and The Nine Lives of Christmas were able to achieve long term success because they premiered in years where Christmas line-ups were smaller, allowing these projects to stand out. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, Hallmark needs to pull back the reigns on their approach to Christmas. Give Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries ten movies each, as it would challenge each creative team to create something new and unexpected. Save Christmas films for a week in July and for a month and a half toward the end of the year. Once upon a time, Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups were anticipated events. Now, it has become run of the mill and one of the only things Hallmark cares about.
7. Movie Premiere Twitter Parties
For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Twitter parties take place for the premiere of new Hallmark programs and movies. Let’s use the upcoming movie Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con as an example. Before the film appears on television for the first time, someone directly connected with the project, either the director, producer, or stars, will encourage viewers to send tweets during the movie. There may even be pop up advertisements for the Twitter party while other films or shows are on T.V. When Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con airs on March 14th, viewers can tweet about their thoughts on the film, share their theories with other viewers, and have brief conversations with the stars. Personally, I never participated in these Twitter parties because I wanted to give my undivided attention to the film I was watching. The tweets from the Twitter parties are laced with spoilers, which means I have to avoid Twitter after a new movie or television show episode has premiered. From what I remember, Bill Abbott was a big advocate for this kind of interaction with the customers. But in 2020, Bill stepped down as President of Hallmark’s entertainment division. Also, Twitter isn’t as popular of a social media platform as it was five or ten years ago. With all these factors, it makes me wonder why Hallmark would still promote Twitter parties?
8. Giving Movies Unnecessary Hype
I haven’t seen this happen often on Hallmark networks. However, I have seen it happen enough to know that Hallmark needs to discontinue the practice. The two examples I’ll use for this point are 2014’s Northpole and 2019’s Bottled with Love. Before Northpole premiered, it seemed like news about the film was inescapable. Commercials would air constantly, reminding viewers of what they already knew. Even products directly associated with the film, like the North Pole Communicator, were sold at Hallmark stores. Even though the film received a large viewership number and a sequel, the movie has become forgotten. As the years go on, it is rarely featured in Hallmark’s Christmas schedules. As I mentioned in my review for Bottled with Love, Hallmark chose to overhype this film by proclaiming it was “the best movie you’ll see all year”. But when the movie premiered, it was only a “flash in the pan”. Its viewership numbers were fine, but nothing spectacular. I shared the same thoughts on the film itself. What Northpole and Bottled with Love have in common is how Hallmark overhyped these movies so much, they prevented them from being memorable in the long run. I’m hoping this was just a phase within Hallmark’s lifespan.
9. Launching Television Shows from Movies
Since Cedar Cove became Hallmark’s first scripted television show, Hallmark Channel has had three shows that originally started as a movie or a series of movies: When Calls the Heart, Good Witch, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered. But the only one that has found continued success is When Calls the Heart. While Good Witch has received more than five seasons, its overall quality has dropped since season three, as I’ve mentioned before on my blog. Meanwhile, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was converted into a movie series after the show’s first season and moved to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This isn’t a good track record for Hallmark. Instead, they should create shows based on new ideas or well-liked books that are overshadowed by more popular titles.
10. Hallmark’s Summer and Winter TCA Events
Twice a year, Hallmark partners with the Television Critics Association to host a special event where they announce upcoming media related projects. Back in 2018, I wrote a Word on the Street story about announcements made at Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event. Recently, it seems like Hallmark makes their more interesting announcements before or after these events. At each TCA event, announcements consist of projects most fans already knew about. Because of this and the fact that fewer social gatherings are taking place because of the Coronavirus, I question why Hallmark still hosts these events? I wish Hallmark would use those finances, time, and resources toward something more productive.
Have fun at the movies!
Here is a link to the article about George Zaralidis’ statement:
While I saw more good movies than bad this year, I wasn’t able to avoid some stinkers. Now that I’ve published my best movies of the year list, I can now discuss which movies were the worst ones I saw in 2020! I watch movies in the hopes of them being good. However, some stories turn out better than others. As I have stated before on my blog, my worst films of the year lists are not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are just ways for me express my opinion in an honest and informed way. Similar to my best movies of 2020 list, I will start this post with my dishonorable mentions and then move on to the official list!
Working Miracles, Her Deadly Reflections, The Cabin, Thicker Than Water, Touched by Romance, The Wrong Wedding Planner, Murder in the Vineyard, Jane Doe: Yes, I Remember It Well, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift, Is There a Killer on my Street?, and Stolen in Plain Sight
10. Angel on My Shoulder
When choosing which movie would end up in the tenth spot, it was between The Cabin and Angel on My Shoulder. Because I had higher expectations for the 1946 movie, that’s the one that was placed on this list. The overall film is painfully average, as I said in my review. Even though there is a clear conflict, it takes quite some time for that to be resolved. The personal journey of the protagonist, Eddie, is stunted. This is due to the character spending most of the story as an unchanged man. After watching Angel on My Shoulder, it makes me thankful that a story about a dog going to heaven was executed so well.
In 2020, I watched most of the movies from Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. Within the nine-film collection, the first chapter is certainly the worst. What makes a good mystery movie is a strong sense of excitement. This is a quality that Jane Doe: Vanishing Act was, sadly, devoid of. Everyone involved with this project looked like their hearts were not fully invested in what they doing. It was as if they wanted to get the film done and over with just to move on to something else. While I continued on with the series, it was in the hopes that the next film would be better than the introduction. If you plan on creating a series, this is not the way you get an audience invested in it.
8. My Husband’s Deadly Past
There are two kinds of Lifetime movies; those that are surprisingly good and those that are predictably unenjoyable. My Husband’s Deadly Past perfectly fits into the latter category. Even though I found the inclusion of psychology/hypnosis to be interesting, the story’s focus on ripping off the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, overshadows any of the film’s strengths. The protagonist in My Husband’s Deadly Past is the type of character that makes one poor decision after another. It also doesn’t help that the movie contains a few romantic moments that feel out of place within the overall tone. Two other films on this list make the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did. But, to avoid spoilers, I’ll talk about them more later.
7. Out of the Woods
I can honestly say Out of the Woods is one of the most meandering films I’ve ever seen. It takes so long for the story to get to its intended point, that story points are either completely ignored or are not fully developed. One example is how a white wolf continuously crosses paths with the protagonist. No explanation is given as to what the purpose of this wolf was or whether it was real. Another disappointment is how Native American culture is glossed over. Native American stories are rarely found in Hallmark’s library, so it is a letdown when a film containing Native American culture doesn’t work out. If you want to watch an Ed Asner led Hallmark movie with similar ideas and themes, I’d recommend the 2008 movie, Generation Gap. It does a better job at telling a story of two people trying to understand each other.
6. Mystery Woman: At First Sight
Before there was Hailey Dean, there was Samantha Kinsey from Hallmark’s Mystery Woman series. This early collection from the network is one where I’ve seen most of its installments. Out of the movies I have watched, Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the one I disliked the most. Both of the overarching mysteries in this story are poorly written. They are also overshadowed by the drama within the plot. Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the seventh movie in this series, which is a shame because its previous chapters created an enjoyable cinematic run. I’m not sure how much directorial experience Kellie Martin had prior to working on this project. Even though I think it would be interesting to see her direct a Hailey Dean Mysteries movie, her effort on Mystery Woman: At First Sight was not her strongest.
5. Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama
It breaks my heart how this movie disappointed me so much. In fact, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama is the most disappointing movie I saw in 2020. It copied Pirates of the Caribbean’s homework without trying to understand what made that trilogy of films work. Also, for a movie called Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, Captain Sabertooth himself sat on the sidelines of his own story. Pinky was a likable character, but making him the protagonist made the title seem misleading. I just hope this film doesn’t dissuade other studios from creating their own pirate narratives.
Remember when I said there were two films that made the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did? Well, Anniversary Nightmare is one of them. Like My Husband’s Deadly Past, Anniversary Nightmare rips off The Fugitive. But this Lifetime title is so bad, it is, at times, laughable. Both the acting and writing are poor. All of the movie’s flashback scenes are terribly filmed, captured through heavy “shaky cam” and covered in a red film. These two factors made it difficult to see what was happening on screen when a flashback arrived. I haven’t seen a Lifetime movie this bad in quite some time. If you’re interested in participating in Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, Anniversary Nightmare might be an option.
3. I’m Not Ready for Christmas
I didn’t see as many Christmas movies this year as I did in 2019. But I can confidently say that 2015’s I’m Not Ready for Christmas is the worst Christmas film I saw in 2020. While it doesn’t rip off The Fugitive, the movie does place more emphasis on being a pointless, Christmas remake of Liar Liar, a well-known title from the ‘90s. Therefore, I’m Not Ready for Christmas also makes the same mistake A Cheerful Christmas did last year.There were parts of this story that didn’t make sense. Even the title, I’m Not Ready for Christmas, had nothing to do with the events in the plot. When you look past the typical Christmas aesthetic Hallmark can’t get enough of, you realize the story itself isn’t Christmas-y. If the creative team behind this project knew their script wasn’t exclusive to the Christmas season, they should have focused on the messages and themes of the holiday, like If You Believe did sixteen years prior. For their New Year’s Resolution, maybe Hallmark and Lifetime should move away from famous ‘90s films as their source of inspiration.
This movie was so bad, it honestly made me feel uncomfortable. That was because the film’s overarching view on marriage and divorce was so one-sided and skewed. I’ve been told Marriage on the Rocks was originally intended to be a satire. Sadly, that’s not the movie I ended up seeing. What I got instead was a comedy that I didn’t find very funny. The “comedy of errors” direction the screenwriter took just made the character’s situations more complicated, as most of the errors do not receive a satisfying resolution. It’s also a film that feels longer than its designated run-time. If you have never seen any of Frank Sinatra’s, Dean Martin’s, or Deborah Kerr’s movies before, please don’t let Marriage on the Rocks be your starting point.
For most of 2020, I thought Marriage on the Rocks would be the worst movie I saw this year. That was until Twentieth Century came along and proved me wrong. Where Marriage on the Rocks made me uncomfortable, Twentieth Century made me appalled. The fact Lily and Oscar’s relationship was so abusive in a movie classified as a “romantic comedy” serves as one example. Last time I checked, unhealthy relationships were not funny or romantic. To Marriage on the Rocks’ credit, the story featured characters that didn’t support the film’s narrative. Even though, more often than not, they were looked down upon, they always stood up for what they believed in and tried to help the main characters see the fault in their ways. With Twentieth Century, however, there were no “voices of reason”. None of the characters faced accountability whenever they did something wrong or made any attempt to change their ways. When I reflect on this movie, I question what the creative team was trying to tell its audience. But based on my reaction to the final product, maybe I don’t want to know.
2020 was a year that threw a huge wrench into a lot of movie-goers’ plans. As theaters shut their doors and new releases continuously changed dates, there were movie related content creators that had to either adapt as best they could or completely change their formula. Fortunately for 18 Cinema Lane, the impact of this year’s Coronavirus didn’t change the type of content published on the site. As with the previous two years, I saw more good movies than bad. This is honestly the first year where I had difficulty creating my top ten best movies list because of the quantity of enjoyable films that left a memorable impression on me. Since I published my worst movies of the year list first last year, I’ll post my best movies of the year list first this time around. As usual, I will begin the list with my honorable mentions and then move on to the official top ten list. Now let’s get this list started!
Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, Where There’s a Will, Generation Gap, A Beautiful Place to Die: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Sweet Surrender, Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamonds, Riddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder, House of the Long Shadows, Up in the Air, The Crow, Mystery Woman: Game Time, Fashionably Yours, Finding Forrester, Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), Expecting a Miracle, Time Share, Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), The Wife of Monte Cristo, Cry Wolf, Mystery Woman: Mystery Weekend, Perry Mason Returns, Perry Mason and the Notorious Nun, Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, The Terry Fox Story, Follow Your Heart, House of Wax, Funny Face, and The Christmas Bow
10. Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Looking back on the four film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ work I’ve reviewed, I realize how lucky I am to come across those I enjoyed. Despite having never read Nicholas Nickleby, this production was both understandable and engaging! With the 2002 version of this story, its balance of joy and despair is a staple of the world-famous author’s I recognize from his other stories like Oliver Twist. As I said in my review of Nicholas Nickleby, it can be easy to forget the beauty this world can offer, especially during a year like 2020. I don’t often come across a movie that is so good, it makes me want to seek out its original source material. For this film, however, I just found an exception!
This is an interesting entry from the Breen Code era. It’s a darker musical that is dark in nature for the sake of providing thought-provoking commentary. Like I said in my review, The Unfinished Dance does a good job exploring what happens when truth disappears from the world. All of the musical numbers in this film have a strong reason for being in the story, as opposed to typical musicals where the numbers feel more spontaneous than planned. Even though dance is emphasized more than the story, the quality of the routines themselves make this film worth a watch! The movie is a hidden gem that I wish more people knew about.
I’m glad I was given an opportunity to re-watch this film, as it was just as enjoyable as when I first saw it! The story moves away from the aesthetic that most Christmas movies adopt. Instead, it relies on the messages and themes associated with the Christmas holiday. This creative decision is a breath of fresh air, bringing a different kind of narrative that isn’t often found during that time of year. If You Believe is a film that does what it sets out to do. It also helps that it has stood the test of time.
This is the kind of Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I wish was made more often, one where unique concepts are explored and celebrated. Instead of following a plot, the story revolves around a debate. The subject matter was not only handled with reverence, but each perspective was shown in a respectful light. I’m not a fan of this film’s ending, but I respect Hallmark’s decision to include it in the script, as it respects the audience’s intelligence. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a title from this collection that can be used as an introduction to Hallmark Hall of Fame!
6. From Up on Poppy Hill
Studio Ghibli has a reputation for giving it their all when it comes to making movies. Besides their signature animation style, they also take the time to create fantastic worlds and memorable characters. While From Up on Poppy Hill doesn’t contain any of the magical elements that can sometimes be found in Studio Ghibli’s stories, the project doesn’t feel out of place in their collection. The plot is a simple one, but the inclusion of interesting characters and world-building is what makes it work. It also contains a great message about history that fits into the script very well.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is more than just a story about Batman. It’s a chance for audience members to see a side of this superhero that doesn’t often get presented in the world of film. The movie is a good example of how impressive 2-D animation can be. Even though the world has moved on to the wonders of 3-D and computer graphics, there will always be a place for older styles of animation. Despite having seen only a handful of Batman films, I can honestly say Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the better options! The story itself is just as interesting as the world of Gotham City.
Grace & Glorie contains Hallmark’s favorite cliché of featuring a woman from a big city moving to a small town. But what sets this story apart is how that cliché is not the main focus of the film. Instead, the plot revolves around the friendship of Grace and Gloria. Because the titular characters were portrayed by two strong actresses, it made the dynamic between Grace and Gloria interesting to watch. Similar to From Up on Poppy Hill, this Hallmark Hall of Fame title has a simpler plot that works in its favor. Grace & Glorie is a type of story that is rarely seen on Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The movie is also an underrated gem that I wish more Hallmark fans were aware of.
With the way the theatrical landscape was affected in 2020, it kind of feels weird that a film like Matinee would appear on a best movies of the year list for 2020. But instead of making me miss the cinema or feel jealous of the characters as they get to see a movie in a theater, this particular 1993 title reminded me of what I love about film. Because I have a special place in my heart for Phantom of the Megaplex, Matinee showed me that there is more than one story that could show people how movies can be fun. One of the messages of this narrative is that film can provide a much-needed break from the troubles of the real world. With the way 2020 turned out, Matinee seemed to come at the right place and time.
Every year, there is that one movie that catches me by surprise because of how good it is. The Boy Who Could Fly was definitely that film in 2020! I was pleasantly surprised by how well the overall story has aged. Given the subject material and the time it was released in, I can certainly say that my expectations were subverted. While The Boy Who Could Fly would be considered a “teen movie”, it doesn’t follow a lot of the patterns that most of these types of stories would contain. The themes of showing compassion for others, dealing with grief, and understanding people’s differences are given center stage.
Who knew a Frank Sinatra movie would become the best one I saw in 2020? When I look back on this film, I remember how much fun I had watching it! As I said in my review, I spent most of my time smiling and laughing, which shows how the film’s joyful nature can certainly help anyone improve their mood. Anchors Aweigh is a strong movie on so many different levels. The acting, story, and musical numbers alone showcase how much thought and effort went into the overall production. If I were to introduce someone to the Breen Code era or musicals in general, this is the film I’d show them. Anchors Aweigh was certainly a bright spot in a year like 2020.
When I reviewed The Crow back in May, I said in the comment section that I wanted to see Michael Wincott cast in a western, as I thought it would be a perfect casting choice. As the months have gone by, I discovered that Michael had starred in the 2015 western film, Forsaken! The Legends of Western Cinema Week is what reminded me of this wish. As a blogger of my word, I chose to review Forsaken as one of my two entries for this event! The western genre is one that isn’t often covered on my blog. While I do re-cap When Calls the Heart, this is an exception to the rule. The last western I reviewed was Little House: Bless All the Dear Children back in July, with the review before that being last year’s When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas. I figured the Legends of Western Cinema Week served as a good excuse to revisit the western genre for the first time in about a month!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: When I reviewed Caesar and Cleopatra last September, I said in the comment section how Vivien Leigh’s portrayal of Cleopatra felt like Scarlett O’Hara was playing dress-up. This is because I thoughtthe film’s creative team was attempting to take advantage of the popularity and success of Gone with the Wind. As Michael Wincott’s character, Gentleman Dave Turner, was first introduced with the film’s villains, I wondered if this portrayal was going to be a western genre version of Top Dollar from The Crow. Instead, Michael’s performance and the screenwriting presented a character that was his own person with his own story! A consistent aspect of Michael’s portrayal of Dave was the calmness he displayed. Even in the direst of situations, he always appeared to have control of his emotions. When I think of Kiefer Sutherland, I think of his portrayal of Jack Bauer from 24. Spending so much time on a show with a mix of drama and action seems to have paid off for Kiefer, as he was able to display a wide range of emotions! In one scene, Keifer’s character, John Henry, is recalling a fateful decision from his past. As he reflects over the lives of the people he hurt, his demeanor slowly transitions from remorse to sorrowfully sobbing. I’ve seen very few projects from Donald Sutherland’s filmography. However, I did think his portrayal of Reverend Samuel was strong! In a scene where his character is having an argument with John Henry about faith, Donald’s character quickly goes from calm and collected to yelling with anger. His emotionality definitely added to his overall performance!
The scenery: According to IMDB, Forsakenwas filmed in Alberta, Canada. This particular landscape was captured very well throughout the film! Distant mountains paired with a blue sky were shown in establishing shots. These natural elements provided a great contrast to the lush, green fields also found in the movie. Forests were a part of the story as well, with sunlight giving this space a natural glow. The overall setting of Forsaken was picturesque and calming, which is different from the rough terrain that is a staple of westerns. This kind of scenery reminded me of shows like Little House of the Prairie and When Calls the Heart!
The on-screen chemistry: In Forsaken, John Henry reconnects with his former love interest, Mary Alice, who was portrayed by Demi Moore. Keifer and Demi had good on-screen chemistry, as their characters appeared to truly care about each other! Through these performances, John Henry and Mary Alice’s interactions came across as bittersweet. This drove the point home that the romantic nature of their relationship was left in the past. There was also good on-screen chemistry among the other actors! During the film, the tension between John Henry and Reverend Samuel could be felt. It helps that Keifer and Donald had the emotional intensity to deliver performances that a story like this requires.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The under-utilization of Michael Wincott: As I said in my introduction, the reason I chose to watch Forsaken is because I wanted to see Michael Wincott in a western. While I got what I wanted, I felt his talents were under-utilized. In this hour and thirty-minute film, Michael appeared in about five scenes. His character’s significance in the story was also not made clear. Gentleman Dave Turner can be seen spending his time with the movie’s villains. However, he claims to be John Henry’s friend and doesn’t condone the actions of his villainous cohorts. I found this part of film frustrating because Michael and his character had a purpose for being in this movie, but I couldn’t figure out what that purpose was.
More emphasis on drama: When it comes to the western genre, a certain amount of action is to be expected. Not all westerns utilize action to its fullest extent, but enough action is incorporated into most westerns to keep the story interesting. In Forsaken, the majority of the plot focused on the drama between John Henry and Reverend Samuel’s strained relationship. This part of the story wasn’t bad, but it did overshadow the action. Throughout the film, there were moments where action could be seen. Most of the action took place in the climax, which happened during the last twenty minutes of the movie. This creative decision caused the action to be used sparingly.
An overshadowed conflict: The overarching conflict in Forsaken is how a group of villains are trying to take over a small town. To me, this was the most compelling part of the plot. Because the story placed more emphasis on the estranged relationship of John Henry and his father, the conflict wasn’t given as much attention as I expected. This conflict was addressed in the film from time to time. However, it didn’t feel like its placement was consistent. While the conflict does get revolved, it doesn’t happen until the film’s last twenty minutes.
My overall impression:
On 18 Cinema Lane, it seems like 2020 is the year when wishes come true. First, it was Words on Bathroom Walls receiving a distributor and a release date. Next, it was seeing and reviewing the film, The Wife of Monte Cristo. Now, it’s watching Michael Wincott in a western! As I said in my review, I got what I wanted. However, I feel there was more to be desired from Forsaken as a whole. The conflict involving the villains’ attempts to take over the town was the most compelling part of the movie. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the drama between John Henry and his father. Even though westerns do contain a certain amount of drama, the appeal of this genre is the action/adventure aspect of the world and its characters. This gives the audience the feeling of going on a journey with spirited men and women of the Wild West. Despite this movie being rated R, Forsaken could certainly be transformed into a Breen Code era film! The only two offenses I was able to find were the swearing and the amount of on-screen blood. While violence is expected for a western story, this aspect, along with the language, would need to meet Breen Code standards before production began.
Overall score: 6.1 out of 10
Have you see Forsaken? Are there any western films you’d like to see me review? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Before I start this blog follower dedication review, I’d like remind everyone that Thursday, March 12th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Actress of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The Best Actor poll will be posted on the 13th! Here is the link to the poll:
Last week, I received 185 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! To everyone that chose to follow my blog, thank you so much! Your belief in me, as a blogger, is what keeps this site going! Because of this achievement, it’s time for another blog follower dedication review! For this post, I’ll be talking about a film that was released in March of 2013. The only movie with a 2013 release date on my DVR was The Carpenter’s Miracle. Not only did it premiere in March of that year, but reviewing it now is very fitting. The Lenten season is upon us. This is a collection of days leading up to the Easter celebration. The events in The Carpenter’s Miracle revolve around the Easter holiday, making the film an appropriate choice for this time of year. Before watching this movie, I had seen Cameron Matheson’s acting work from Hallmark, as well as tin he Lifetime movie, The Wife He Met Online. Some of those projects have been better than others. However, Cameron always finds a way to bring the best of his acting abilities to the screen!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: As I said in the introduction, I’ve enjoyed watching Cameron Matheson’s performances in various Hallmark films. The believability he brings to his roles is what makes these performances so great to watch! Cameron’s portrayal of Joshua was no different, showcasing how broad his acting range is. In the film’s opening scene, Joshua can be seen trying to save a young boy’s life. This scene is a perfect example of how good Cameron’s acting abilities are. I also felt the same way when I saw Michelle Harrison’s performance! Like Cameron, Michelle has appeared in several Hallmark pictures, including the upcoming film, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek. When her character, Sarah, finds out her son had died, Michelle’s acting talents really shined through. Not only was her portrayal believable, but she was also allowed to show off her broad acting range! Another actress that has appeared in Hallmark’s movies is Sarah-Jane Redmond. What I liked about her performance was how she effectively used facial expressions and voice inflections in a variety of scenarios. These things helped her portrayal of Delia seem convincing! A great example is in the scene where her character meets Joshua for the first time.
The cinematography: The Carpenter’s Miracle had better cinematography than I expected! The way some of these scenes were presented was creative and appealing to the eye! In one scene, Joshua visits his mother, Helen, at a local nursing home. While there, they watch the rain-drops falling on the window. During this scene, the camera cuts between the characters and the window. This creative choice gives the audience a chance to view that scene from Joshua and Helen’s perspective. The movie’s first scene was presented in a gray hue, showing Joshua’s act of rescuing a young boy as a dire situation. Because of this scene’s presentation, it brought forth the feelings of fear and uncertainty.
How Christianity/faith was included in the story: References to Jesus and the Bible were made throughout the story. The events in the film also take place around the Easter holiday. However, these references never feel preachy or heavy-handed. Instead, any mention of Jesus and Biblical themes are naturally woven into the script. The way they were written felt like they contained a double meaning: one connected to the film’s events and the other toward Christian messages and themes. The narrative itself placed more emphasis on a story than on delivering a message. Any Christian messages that appeared in the movie organically grew from the situations the characters experienced.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The protagonist given little to do: In the Bible, Jesus performs many acts that impact a variety of people. Because Joshua is meant to be a Jesus-esque figure in The Carpenter’s Miracle, you’d think he would have a packed schedule within the story. But within an hour and twenty-seven minutes, Joshua isn’t given much to do. Yes, he does help others through the power of healing. However, he only creates three miracles in the movie. One of them is heavily prioritized, causing the story to focus on the aftermath of the event. For the majority of the film, Joshua is seen spending time with Sarah, visiting his mother, or performing small maintenance jobs.
Limited journalistic presence: The main plot of The Carpenter’s Miracle is about how Joshua saves a young boy’s life. This event causes Joshua to receive a lot of attention. If a situation like this happened in real life, it would likely be covered in the news for about a week. People would also be talking about it on social media, with an official hashtag possibly being created to commemorate the act. In The Carpenter’s Miracle, the presence of journalism was very limited. The aforementioned event was covered on only one local news station. This same event was addressed on a nationally aired news program weeks after it occurred. The journalistic presence in the movie not only felt unrealistic, but it also seemed like there was little to no sense of urgency.
Too many plot points: There were several plot points featured in The Carpenter’s Miracle. This caused some of them to be addressed more than others. One example revolves around Joshua’s mother, Helen. Throughout the movie, she deals with a serious medical condition. While this situation does get resolved, it feels like it gets taken care of as a result of the film’s run-time. Personally, I wish this film had fewer plot points than it did. That way, they could have all been equally explored.
My overall impression:
The Carpenter’s Miracle is not the first faith-based film I’ve reviewed, especially for a blog follower dedication review. Last January, when I received 60 followers, I reviewed the 1959 movie, Ben-Hur. Looking back on both pictures, I can honestly say that Ben-Hur is a stronger project than The Carpenter’s Miracle. The story of the latter film could have been given a stronger script. It wasn’t as impactful as I had hoped. Despite this, the movie did contain aspects that I liked. For one thing, I did like the inclusion of Christianity/faith. The Easter holiday highlights themes like putting the needs of others before one’s self. Ideas such as this one were expressed well within the story. Even though I thought The Carpenter’s Miracle was an ok film, it is an interesting film to watch during the Lenten season. I’ve seen other movies with as similar story, with Working Miracles being one example. However, I do think the 2013 Up Network film is a better project than the 2010 Hallmark movie.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Have you watched any of Up Network’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!
I’m not going to lie, my submission for the Out to Sea Blogathon required a good amount of thought. I consulted with the blogathon’s creator, Debbie from Moon in Gemini, to find an appropriate film to talk about. After searching my DVR, I ended up choosing a Hallmark film from 2011 called Honeymoon for One. While the ocean doesn’t play a role in this story, other bodies of water can be found. In this movie, there are several scenes that take place in a river, one where a waterfall is featured, and another where the protagonists sit next to what looks like a lake. As the days of the blogathon came closer, I realized that St. Patrick’s Day was two weeks after the event. Because Honeymoon for One takes place in Ireland, this film became a better choice for the blogathon than I expected! I’ve seen pieces of this movie before, but never in its entirety. This blogathon has given me the chance to finally see all of Honeymoon for One!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Back in 2016, I saw the Hallmark Channel film, All Yours. One of the reasons why I enjoyed that picture is because of the acting, including Nicollette Sheridan’s performance. Like that movie, I liked seeing her portrayal of the protagonist, Eve, in Honeymoon for One! The well-roundedness of her performance is what made it work, giving her an opportunity to express a variety of emotions for different situations. The scene where Eve spends her first night in Ireland is a perfect example of everything I just said. I also liked seeing Greg Wise’s portrayal of Sean! He did a fine job carrying an Irish accent and he was expressive in subtle ways. Greg’s interactions with the film’s other characters showcases these ideas well. Speaking of accents, Katie Bannon also did a fine job carrying an Irish accent! Her portrayal of Sean’s daughter, Kathleen, was so endearing. It also helps that her on-screen relationships felt genuine. One great example is when Kathleen is interacting with Sean and Eve at a local art fair.
The scenery: Filmed in Ireland, the scenery in Honeymoon for One definitely stole the show! The country’s natural beauty shined through in every scene that took place there. Eve visits the Irish countryside, which was gorgeous to look at. Various shades of green and even hues of brown and red could be seen in the foliage throughout the characters’ surroundings. The aforementioned locations featuring water were breathtaking, its video footage likely not doing them justice. Even the hotel and Sean and Kathleen’s house were impressive! The interior and exterior of these locations were visually appealing. Just one example is the hotel’s honeymoon suite, where its spacious layout and white décor looked fit for royalty. The country town that was occasionally shown in the film appeared quaint and inviting. The landscape alone provided one good argument why one should take a trip to Ireland!
Similarities between American and Irish culture: In movies like The Cabin, the incorporation of another country’s culture is meant to show how it is different or unique from that of the American protagonist(s). Honeymoon for One chooses to focus on the similarities between American and Irish culture instead. At various moments, Eve tries different outdoor activities, like horse-riding and fishing. These activities can be found in both countries, highlighting how they have a respective place in both cultures. While taking a day trip through the countryside, Sean explains to Eve why he doesn’t want a new golf course to be built, stating that he’d like to protect the landscape and its wildlife for Kathleen. Standing up for what you believe in and looking out for your family are values that both Americans and the Irish share. Even cuisine has its similarities! Burgers are brought up by some of the characters, with Eve and her Irish friends enjoying the treat. Honeymoon for One does a good job at showing how people from all over the world can, more often than not, find common ground!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A weak conflict: The main plot of Honeymoon for One revolves around the protagonist and the aftermath of her break-up. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this kind of story. However, because this is a Hallmark “rom-com”, you already have an idea of what’s going to happen. Smaller conflicts were sprinkled in the story, such as Sean’s efforts to preserve the Irish countryside. But these conflicts weren’t explored enough to infuse intrigue into the overall plot. In the end, this story was too predictable for my liking.
The “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché: In Honeymoon for One, Eve’s ex, Greg, shows up in Ireland unannounced. This part of the film ended up being drawn out for so long, that it felt like Greg overstayed his welcome. I understand Greg’s presence on Eve’s trip was meant to serve as the main plot’s conflict. But, as I already mentioned, this is a Hallmark “rom-com”. Sean appears as a better candidate to receive the protagonist’s love and Eve expresses little to no interest in getting back with Greg. These factors make this cliché’s inclusion in the story pointless.
The “it’s not what you think” cliché: At one point in the movie, Eve assumes that Sean is dating another woman after meeting her at his house. Kathleen’s persuasion is what causes Eve to hear the real story from Sean’s perspective. Like the aforementioned “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché, this cliché also felt pointlessly included in the story. Because of the nature of this film, we know that things are going to work out for the better. Also, an intelligent and hard-working businesswoman like Eve making assumptions that quickly and easily seems petty for her character. I know this was supposed to be a conflict for Eve and Sean’s relationship. I also understand that Eve went through a terrible break-up. But for protagonists who appear over the age of thirty-five, it would have more respectful toward their integrity show them dealing with this issue in a mature and civil way.
My overall impression:
It’s always exciting when Hallmark creates a movie that involves traveling to a new location! This gives the audience an excuse to see a part of the world that may be different from their own. But, at the end of the day, the most important part of any film is the story it visually tells. Personally, I think this story could have been stronger. The film’s main conflict was weak, which made the movie more predictable than it needed to be. There were other conflicts in the movie, but they didn’t receive enough attention. I also feel the uses of the “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché and the “it’s not what you think” cliché were unnecessary. However, the movie does have its merits. Like I said in this review, the scenery was the showstopper of this project! It brought visual interest to the film and it was great to look at. Even though I’m glad I picked this movie for the Out to Sea Blogathon, I think there are Hallmark films featuring the Irish backdrop that are better than this one.
Overall score: 6-6.1 out of 10
Have you ever been to Ireland? What movie featuring an ocean is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!
Because I wrote an editorial for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon, I decided to write a movie review for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon. The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a film I had never heard of until I researched titles for this event. Since it was released in early 2014, I knew it would be a good entry! While learning more about the film, it sounded like a mix between The Librarian trilogy and Sherlock Holmes. Because I enjoy both of those stories, I figured I might get some enjoyment out of this movie! As I’ve stated on countless occasions, I try to use my blog to give lesser-known films the “standing ovation” they might deserve. Talking about The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box definitely fits that goal of mine! But is this movie truly worthy of a “standing ovation”? Please join me on this journey as we’re about to find out in this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: The cast in The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box was solid! I had never heard of Aneurin Barnard prior to watching this film. However, I was impressed with his portrayal of Mariah! His performance was expressive in a subtle way. A good example is when Mariah is explaining to Sacha why he wants to find his brother, Felix. The audience can tell that Mariah is about to cry, but Aneurin primarily relies on expressing those feelings of sadness and loneliness through his eyes. I was also not familiar with Mella Carron before seeing this movie. Like Aneurin, I was impressed with her performance as Sacha! Her overall portrayal was well-rounded. Similar to Aneurin’s performance, she was also expressive in subtle ways. One example is when she’s sharing her problems with Mariah. When she is talking about her father’s troubling behavior, Sacha’s eyes fill with tears, showing how much this situation upsets her. I thought Sam Neill portrayed a convincing villain! I’ve only seen a few of Sam’s films, so I have only seen him portray protagonists or characters that were not villainous. While bringing the character of Otto to life, Sam’s demeanor was arrogant and cunning. These are the qualities you’d likely find in a villain, as these kinds of characters sometimes see themselves as being better than everyone else.
Historical accuracy: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box takes place in 1885. While watching this movie, I noticed how everything looked and felt like that period in time. The wardrobe and set designs definitely fit within the world the film’s creative team created. The metalwork within the hotel seemed like it came straight from the 1880s. Even the font on posters and signs looked accurate to that time period. The ways this aspect of the film was handled shows that no detail was ignored during any part of the movie’s creative process.
The element of mystery: In The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, there was a mystery within the main plot. This mystery element was one of the most interesting parts of the film! It allowed me to stay invested in what was happening in the story and to the characters. The mystery also created a sense of wonder as to what would happen next. This element brought intrigue to the overall story!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Lack of lighting: While the cinematography was mostly good in this film, there were some scenes that had little to no lighting. They were so dark, I had difficulty seeing what was on screen. One example is toward the beginning of the movie, when Mariah and Felix are having a conversation outside. This scene was so poorly lit, Mariah face was hidden by the darkness. Whenever this happened, I found it to be frustrating.
A misleading title: As I said in my Halloween Double Feature, a film’s title can act as a promise to a film’s audience. When a creative team makes an effort to put a subject in their movie’s title, they need to deliver on that “promise” to their audience. For The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, I didn’t really feel like there was an adventure taking place in the story, despite the film being called The Adventurer. There were some scenes that had a sense of adventure to them. But it never seemed like the characters were going on a journey or allowing the audience to go on a quest with them. The majority of this movie took place in one location. This made the story feel condensed. All these elements presented the overall narrative like it belonged to a mystery movie and not an adventure one.
Two separate mysteries: Like I previously stated, I liked the mystery element within this movie. However, I think it was a mistake to feature more than one mystery in the film. In this story, there is a second mystery that exists while the main mystery is being solved. For most of the film, these mysteries were separate from one another. While they eventually connected, this didn’t happen until it was almost time for the film’s climax. The second mystery also felt like it combined with the first mystery out of plot convenience. I thought both mysteries were intriguing. But they should have been in their own separate films.
My overall impression:
The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a fine, enjoyable film! There were things about it that I liked, such as the acting and the historical accuracy within the project. However, I can think of movies with adventure stories that were executed better than this one. The fact that this film was light of the adventure was, for me, a disappointment. It also doesn’t help that the film’s title features the word “adventurer”. If you do plan on watching this movie, approach it with the notion that you’re going to watch a mystery movie. That way, the condensed nature of the story and the limited amount of adventure will make more sense. I’m not sure if this film was given a sequel. If it was, I’ll definitely consider reviewing it on 18 Cinema Lane!
Overall score: 7 out of 10
Have you ever heard of The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box? What movie from the 2010s is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!
Before I start the introduction of this review, I want to remind everyone that you have until Thursday, February 20th, to cast your vote for the Gold Sally Awards’ Best On-Screen! Here is the link to the poll:
As the 2nd So Bad It’s Good Blogathon rolls around, my quest to find a “so bad it’s good” movie continues. Last year, I reviewed All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 in the hopes of finding a film that deserved the aforementioned title. However, the film itself was just ok. This year, I decided to pick a less-than-stellar movie from Hallmark. There have been some good Hallmark projects made over the years. But not all of them are created equal. In fact, some of them are downright polarizing. Originally, I was going to review Three Wise Women, a Hallmark production from 2010. Due to technical difficulties, the movie disappeared from my DVR. So, I chose a back-up option instead. The Cabin is a Hallmark movie from 2011 that is equally as polarizing as Three Wise Women. People who have seen this movie either genuinely enjoy it or they genuinely don’t. Because I had never seen the film prior to 2020, I figured the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon would be an appropriate time to see where my opinions fell on this particular spectrum.
Things I liked about the film:
The scenery: According to IMDB, The Cabin was filmed in Ireland, even though the movie takes place in Scotland. Despite this, I absolutely loved the scenery! Everything was captured so well on film, accentuating the natural features of each location. When both families spend time in a local town, all of the buildings looked so quaint and inviting. A church and castle are also featured in this film, with picturesque grounds to match their stunning nature. The castle was a massive gray structure paired with a small garden of hedges. The greens of this garden nicely complimented the color of the castle. The foyer of the castle was shown, boasting an impressive interior with interesting features, such as a large fireplace and colorful floor tiles. Similar to the castle, a gray stoned church was complimented by the greens of the grass in the cemetery. The foliage surrounding the cabins and in the forest definitely stole the show! Their rich greens and browns were attention-grabbing and appealing to the eye. The creative team behind this movie made the most of their surroundings!
The inclusion of Scottish culture: As I already mentioned, The Cabin takes place in Scotland. Because of this, pieces of Scottish culture are incorporated in the story. Elements like attire, food, and activities are showcased on screen. The reason why both families go to Scotland is to participate in an event called the “Meeting of the Macs”, a series of games that are inspired by traditional Scottish sports. Throughout the movie, each family takes the time to experience what Scotland has to offer, from trying the local cuisine to attending a dance party. Toward the end of the film, all of the male characters from each family are seen wearing a traditional kilt. The way these components of the Scottish culture were woven into the film not only served as an introduction for the audience, but was also executed in a respectful and appreciative way.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Lack of consistency: In romantic comedies, the consistency of the lead characters and their relationship can help gain fans within the audience. The Cabin, however, lacked that important ingredient. During the duration of the film, Lea Thompson and Steven Brand’s characters, Lily and Conor, are constantly arguing and making up. This is exhausting to watch and it makes it difficult to determine if Lea and Steven have any on-screen chemistry. This part of the movie was more distracting than it needed to be.
Weak acting: Half of the cast in The Cabin gave a performance that ranged from fine to good. The other half ended up giving weak performances. One of them came from Lea Thompson, whose portrayal of Lily consisted of smiling, arguing, and looking confused. This is not the kind of well-rounded performance I’ve usually come to expect from the leading actresses in Hallmark projects. Most of the young actors in this cast also gave weak performances, as they often appeared flat and unexpressive. I understand that casting younger actors in films can be hit or miss. But, in this case, it just didn’t work.
Two plot ideas that should have been separate: The Cabin contained two good plot ideas; a family going to Scotland for vacation and a family competing in a series of games. Both of these ideas had the ability to stand on their own, providing conflicts and series of events to compliment the story itself. Because of this, these plot ideas should have been placed in their own respective movies. During the first half of the film, the narrative was so dedicated to showing the families sightseeing in Scotland, that little attention was given to the “Meeting of the Macs” event. In the second half of the film, the story revolved around the exercise/training montages of the families to the point where the sights of Scotland were practically ignored. Since these ideas ended up clashing for attention, both of them were given a disadvantage.
The audio: Background noise and music can bring a sense of realism or emotion to a scene through various sounds. However, it’s called “background” noise or music for a reason, as it is loud enough to be heard, but quiet enough to not overpower the character’s speech. In The Cabin, the audio was so loud that I found it difficult to understand what some of the characters were saying. Because of this, I had to rewind the movie a few times just to hear or try to guess what was being said. The more I rewound the film, the tiresome it became.
Limited presence of the games: Throughout this review, I’ve mentioned the “Meeting of the Macs” event, the athletic competition that provides the reason for the families’ presence in Scotland. Before watching this film, I had expected the event to have a consistent presence in the story. Sadly, that was not the case. The first segment of the games, the preliminaries, didn’t appear until forty minutes into the movie. The final event doesn’t show up until the last twenty minutes of the film. For the rest of the project, the narrative focuses on other things, from one of Lily and Conor’s many arguments to one of the children dealing with a personal issue. While the games themselves were interesting, it wasn’t enough to make up for the script’s other flaws.
My overall impression:
The Cabin is one of the most polarizing films in Hallmark history. Some people truly enjoy it, while other people don’t. Now that I have finally seen it, I can honestly say that I belong in the latter camp. This is not a well-constructed film. It has far more negatives than positives, with those negatives being painfully obvious. But in this movie’s defense, I have seen Hallmark productions that are worse than The Cabin. If anything, I would place it in Dishonorable Mentions. It’s not a good movie, but there were two things about it that I liked. Truthfully, I can’t say this film is worthy of the “so bad it’s good” title. This is because I didn’t enjoy the movie, for better or worse. So, it looks like I’ll have to go back to square one in my quest to find a project that I would personally consider “so bad it’s good”.
Overall score: 5.5 out of 10
Have you any Hallmark films that were less-than-stellar? What is the most polarizing film you’ve seen? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!