Sally Watches…Walker, Texas Ranger!

For the Legends of Western Cinema Week, I was trying to decide if I should write a movie review for the 2015 film, Forsaken or create another television show review for Walker, Texas Ranger. Instead of selecting just one, I chose both options as my submissions for the blogathon! Prior to writing this post, I had never seen Walker, Texas Ranger. When I accepted my fourth Liebster Award back in July, I shared how I had never watched anything from Chuck Norris’ filmography. Hamlette and Heidi’s event gave me an excuse to not only change that, but to also expand my cinematic horizons to more westerns. Similar to last March’s review of Murder, She Wrote, I have randomly selected three episodes that happened to be airing on the INSP channel. This time, the episodes will be in the order of when I watched them, instead of chronologically. Each episode will be broken down into five categories: what I liked about the episode, what I didn’t like about episode, the story itself, other factors from the episode, and my overall thoughts. After reviewing these three episodes, I will share my final assessment of the show as a whole.

Legends of Western Cinema Week banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy and Heidi from Along the Brandywine. Image found at https://hamlette.blogspot.com/2020/07/announcing-legends-of-western-cinema.html.

Episode Name: The Covenant

Season 3, Episode 11

Premiere Date: December 9th, 1995

The title card for “The Covenant”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I liked about this episode:

My favorite scene in ‘The Covenant’ takes place toward the beginning of the episode. During a karate class, Walker notices how one of his students, Ricardo, is missing their purple belt. When he asks Ricardo about the whereabouts of his belt, Ricardo tells Walker he placed the belt in his recently deceased sister’s casket so she could take it to Heaven. After his confession, Walker gives Ricardo another purple belt. When this happens, Ricardo’s face immediately lights up. The music playing during this moment sounded like a tune you’d hear when an athlete in an inspirational sports movie reaches a breakthrough. This scene was both heart-breaking and heart-warming, allowing it to stand out in this episode!

What I didn’t like about this episode:

Chuck Norris’ claim to fame is his karate skills, which have become a huge draw for any of his productions. This fact is the reason why Walker is an intelligent karate master. While karate was incorporated into this episode, its presence was very limited. In fact, the story was 80% crime drama, with 20% action. Before watching ‘The Covenant’, I had expected the episode to be 50/50 when it comes to the drama and action. However, the only times karate could be seen are in a montage during a karate class and in the story’s climax.

The story itself:

When I first read the synopsis for ‘The Covenant’, it caused me to ask two “what ifs” about The Karate Kid (the original 1984 film). What if Daniel had never crossed paths with Mr. Miyagi? What if Daniel had joined Cobra Kai? I thought watching this episode of Walker, Texas Ranger would give me a basic idea of what these “what ifs” might look like. But as I reflect on ‘The Covenant’, I realize that comparing the stories of Daniel and Tommy, a student of Walker’s, is like comparing an apple pie to an Apple computer. While Cobra Kai was the villainous/antagonistic group in The Karate Kid, I don’t recall any member of that group breaking the law. Meanwhile, the gang that Tommy interacts with are comprised of legitimate criminals with violent actions and police records. This makes Tommy’s situation more dire than Daniel’s.

To me, this episode of Walker, Texas Ranger felt rushed, as the overall pace was faster than other shows of this nature. I don’t know if this is because ‘The Covenant’ was the first episode of Walker, Texas Ranger I had ever seen or if this was a legitimate creative error. But whatever caused this to happen, I found it difficult to keep up with the story. Another flaw I noticed was how context was missing in certain areas of the narrative. Even though this episode is called ‘The Covenant’, I am still confused as to what the covenant is in relation to the plot. Was it an ideology or a group? This question was never answered.

The other factors from this episode:

  • I was not expecting this episode to be Christmas-themed. However, the plot did not feel like a Christmas story. Sure, there were decorations shown in the background. But ‘The Covenant’ could have taken place in any time of year and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
  • Every television show is bound to have aspects that feel of its time. With Walker, Texas Ranger, there are elements that definitely look like it came from the ‘90s. This can be seen through the characters’ clothes, the background graffiti, and even the opening montage. These things definitely make any show feel like a time capsule.
  • Throughout my life, I’ve seen established shows include real-life topics in their episodes. Sometimes, these topics are effortlessly woven in with the episode’s plot. The anti-gang message of ‘The Covenant’ seems like a PSA was wedged into the overall story. I was given the impression the show’s creative team had chosen to write a narrative around an actual issue. There was some dialogue that sounded more like potential slogans than actual conversation. Even a message at the end of the episode revealed how the ‘The Covenant’ was dedicated to young victims of gang violence.

My overall thoughts:

 ‘The Covenant’ is the episode that inspired me to write about Walker, Texas Ranger. The “what ifs” relating to The Karate Kid are also a part of that inspiration. This episode ended up being different from what I expected, as the limited presence of karate is one reason why this is the case. Even though I liked the inclusion of karate, there was less of the sport than I had been led to believe. This is because the episode leaned more toward the criminal/police procedural part of the overall story. If anything, ‘The Covenant’ came across as part crime drama, part “after school special”, with the anti-gang message being dropped into the story rather than woven in. While this is not one of the worst television episodes I’ve ever seen, it definitely could have been stronger.

Rating: A 3 out of 5

As Walker says in ‘The Covenant’, “These belts don’t come easy. You have to earn them”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Episode Name: The Juggernaut

Season 3, Episode 16

Premiere Date: February 10th, 1996

The title card for “The Juggernaut”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I liked about this episode:

In ‘The Juggernaut’, Walker has a limited presence within the story because he has to attend a weekend tournament. This creative decision allows the stakes to be raised to a higher level. It presents a scenario where the hero isn’t always readily available to save the day. It also forces the secondary characters to rely on their own skills to resolve the overarching conflict. Another component is how the episode’s villainous character posed a legitimate threat to Walker and those around him. Connie’s husband, Brad, was a terrifying character because of his realistic nature. Patrick St. Esprit’s performance added to Brad’s sinister persona as well. All of these elements helped make the episode suspenseful and it made me fear for the characters’ lives.

What I didn’t like about this episode:

As I just mentioned, Walker has to attend a weekend tournament. Because of this, Trivette steps in to host a self-defense class at a retreat for domestic violence survivors. I liked how the actual tournament was shown in the episode, as referenced events or situations aren’t always visually presented in TV episodes. But what I didn’t like was how the tournament itself seemed more like a karate clinic. This is because the referee was coaching the athletes during duels and the athletes were surrounding the ring as if listening to an instructor in a class. At the retreat, Trivette led his self-defense class in an interesting way, allowing the survivors to hit him while he was wearing multiple layers of padding. This helped the survivors become comfortable with striking an attacker. The actual lesson didn’t take place until the episode’s halfway point. In my opinion, this moment should have happened sooner in the story.

The story itself:

Unlike ‘The Covenant’, the topic of domestic violence was woven into the story of ‘The Juggernaut’. Instead of dropping this real-life subject into the plot and making it seem like a PSA, the situation presented in this episode feels like it belongs in the show’s world. It gives the message an opportunity to organically grow within the story. Because the retreat is led by Alex, a deputy district attorney and a friend of Walker’s, she’s the one who takes charge of the plot. She was also able to use her skills and expertise to save the day. I like how Alex progressed the narrative forward, as it gave one of the show’s secondary characters a moment to shine. It reminded me of The Babysitter’s Club, where each book is told from a different perspective.

The other factors from this episode:

  • I thought Alex’s cabin looked cute, despite the living room being the only interior shot shown! The green porch was not only eye-catching, but inviting as well. I also think the grounds surrounding the cabin were scenic. I don’t know if this is a real-life house or if it was a set created for the show. However, the location scout did a good job when choosing this particular spot!
  • During the retreat, C.D. tells Connie a story about a retreat participant who was able to turn her life around. After this story was told, C.D. asks Connie if she’ll write a happy ending to her own story. When Connie asks him why he wants to know, C.D. tells her how he wants to share her story with future retreat participants. To me, this was the sweetest moment of the episode!
  • Speaking of C.D., ‘The Juggernaut’ presented the second time I’ve seen C.D. become seriously injured. I’m not sure if this happened often on the show or if it’s just a coincidence. But I felt like bringing it up as a factor of this episode.

My overall thoughts:

When I first reviewed Murder, She Wrote last March, I ended up liking the second episode, ‘Film Flam’ more than the first one, ‘The Legacy of Borbey House’. The exact same thing has happened with ‘The Covenant’ and ‘The Juggernaut’, as I prefer ‘The Juggernaut’ over ‘The Covenant’. The story of the third season’s sixteenth episode contained a better written narrative. It also helped that the delivery of the domestic violence topic didn’t feel forced or preachy. With Walker in the episode for a limited amount of time, it allowed the story to have higher stakes. It also gave secondary characters more screen time and opportunities to be involved in the plot. ‘The Juggernaut’ kind of reminded me of Touched by an Angel, where the series’ regulars approached real-life topics with their wisdom in tow and kindness toward those who needed their help. Maybe this is one of the reasons why I liked ‘The Juggernaut’!

Rating: A solid 4 out of 5

This is one of the few shots of Alex’s cabin that was shown in broad daylight. I wonder how many times it was featured on the show? Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Episode Name: The Lynching

Season 3, Episode 8

Premiere Date: November 18th, 1995

The title card for “The Lynching”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I liked about this episode:

There were two scenes in ‘The Lynching’ where Walker interacts with Jonah, a man who is accused of killing a local woman. In the first scene, Walker is questioning Jonah about the murder. When he is asked why he ran away from the crime scene, Jonah reveals he was so afraid, that he wanted to go to “Jonah’s Island”. It is implied that “Jonah’s Island” is an imaginary world Jonah created in his mind. Another scene has Jonah stating that he’s “slow in the head”. Walker tells him how there’s nothing wrong with him and how some people get in trouble for moving too fast. These moments were emotionally touching and contained heart.

What I didn’t like about this episode:

Wilma Casey, a local woman from a smaller Texas town, is killed in broad daylight. The people in this town are so upset by her death, that they form a mob against Jonah. Statements such as “Wilma was a good woman” were spoken among the members of the mob. Other than those vague statements, no explanation was given for why Wilma was so beloved. A small amount of information about Wilma is provided in this episode, revealing how she’s wealthy and how she helped Jonah after his parents died. But her influence in the town is not told. Was she a philanthropist or a former governor? These questions were never answered in ‘The Lynching’.

The story itself:

The story within the ‘The Lynching’ is a murder mystery, as Walker and other members of law enforcement come together to solve Wilma’s case. With a variety of clues and some shady characters, this plot was intriguing as well as engaging! It also made more sense for the plot to rely on the criminal/police procedural aspect of the show, as the majority of murder mysteries incorporate law enforcement officers in the story. The actions and choices of the people involved in the case did raise more questions than I expected to ask. In one scene, Walker comes across an object that could be used in court. However, he chooses not to collect this object as evidence. These questions didn’t take me out of the episode, but it happened more often than it should have.

The other factors from this episode:

  • Wilma’s house in ‘The Lynching’ was absolutely picturesque! Most of this location was captured in exterior shots, with only the kitchen and office being shown on screen. Like Alex’s cabin in ‘The Juggernaut’, I’m not sure if this is a real-life structure. But whoever was the location scout for Walker, Texas Ranger deserves recognition!
  • According to INSP’s website, Trivette “is a little less “high noon,” and more “high tech” when it comes to fighting crime”. Based on the three episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger I saw, Trivette doesn’t use technology more or less than the other characters. INSP’s description makes it seem like he is the go-to guy for technology, similar to Angela’s adopted role on Bones. After seeing this show, I think the article from INSP is a little misleading.
  • At one point, Jonah has to be transferred from the jail to another location. Instead of taking him to a second jail, the people associated with Wilma’s case take Jonah to a secret area. What surprised me was how Walker didn’t suggest Alex’s cabin as a safer place for Jonah to stay. Even though the cabin is used for Alex’s domestic violence survivor retreats, I’d like to think she wouldn’t mind allowing Jonah to temporarily stay at her cabin.

My overall thoughts:

While I didn’t enjoy this episode as much as ‘The Juggernaut’, I did like it more than ‘The Covenant’. As someone who goes out of their way to talk about mysteries from time to time, the story was interesting enough to keep me invested in the plot. It contained the components that are usually found in a mystery: a collection of clues, potential suspects, some surprises, and suspense. Having this episode lean more toward the crime drama side of the show made sense with the narrative being told. This story is not without its flaws, however. Some of the actions and choices of the people involved in the overarching case were questionable in terms of believability. The lack of explanation for Wilma’s importance also didn’t help. Similar to ‘The Juggernaut’, the situation in ‘The Lynching’ felt it belonged in the world of Walker, Texas Ranger. This episode could have easily followed the footsteps of ‘The Covenant’, placing a message in the script and writing a story around it. Instead, ‘The Lynching’ focuses on themes that the audience could relate to; such as treating others as they would like to be treated.

Rating: A 3.6 out of 5

Is is just me or does this house remind anyone of Laura’s boarding house from Little House of the Prairie? Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My final assessment:

In my first review of Murder, She Wrote, I said the show as a whole, based on the three episodes I wrote about, was fine. I also said that I’d watch the show if I had nothing else to do. With Walker, Texas Ranger, I thought it was fine as well. However, the overall quality of the episodes was more consistent than the ones from my Murder, She Wrote review. Even though ‘The Juggernaut’ was the best episode of the three I chose, I did enjoy watching ‘The Lynching’. My least favorite episode was ‘The Covenant’, as I thought it was just ok. One aspect that stood out to me was how karate was only used during select moments of each episode. There was enough action in ‘The Juggernaut’ and ‘The Lynching’ to keep the plot interesting. However, I thought ‘The Covenant’ was a little light on action. While I probably don’t see myself watching Walker, Texas Ranger religiously, I wouldn’t mind checking out an episode or two if it happened to pop up on my television. But who knows? Since last March, I’ve seen more episodes of Murder, She Wrote than I originally expected.

Have you seen Walker, Texas Ranger? Are there any episodes you’d want to see me review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Dallas, Texas!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Kubo and the Two Strings Review + 125 Follower Thank You

Two weeks ago, 18 Cinema Lane received a hundred and twenty-five followers! However, because my blogging schedule revolved around the four blogathons that are scheduled for August, I haven’t found the time to publish this review. I knew I wanted to post this review before the end of the month, so I made some room in my schedule for this review to become a reality. For this post, I chose a movie that was released in August of 2016. I had the option of two Hallmark Channel films and Kubo and the Two Strings. Since I reviewed a Hallmark Channel movie for my previous blog follower dedication review (that film was Desolation Canyon) and since the last time I reviewed an animated film was back in February (the movie I talked about was All Dogs Go to Heaven 2), I decided to talk about the latter. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that I had not seen, but definitely had heard about. Mostly positive things were said about it, with the animation itself being a highlight. I don’t watch stop-motion animation often, so that means this is the first film of this kind to be reviewed on my blog! Even after reviewing over a hundred films, there’s still a “first for everything”.

Kubo and the Two Strings poster
Kubo and the Two Strings poster created by Laika and Focus Features. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kubo_and_the_Two_Strings_poster.png

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Stop-motion animation can be hit or miss. You can either get something that looks whimsical, like The Nightmare Before Christmas or off-putting, like Coraline. Kubo and the Two Strings, however, falls more on the whimsical and imaginative side of the genre. The use of colors is what makes this movie stand out, as the balance between bright and dark palettes was complimentary. A good portion of the landscapes looked very realistic. Water, cliffs, and snow are just a few examples. I also liked how each character had a unique design. No two characters looked alike and their personalities were different from one another. All of these factors made for a truly stunning visual!

 

The humor: Family-friendly/children’s films sometimes try to incorporate humor by telling the same types of jokes. These jokes can be so overdone that they fall flat or become offensive. The humor in Kubo and the Two Strings was witty and clever. Funny moments felt like they were naturally extracted from the situation, instead of having the characters say or do something hilarious for the sake of it. Kubo and the Two Strings’ humor was well spaced out. It was mostly placed in the quieter scenes of the film, where there was less action and suspense. These moments never overshadowed or took away from the movie’s dramatic and serious parts.

 

The messages and themes: Kubo and the Two Strings contains several messages and themes that not only compliment the narrative, but help create an enriching story. An overarching theme is family, which plays a huge role on more than one occasion. It provided a moral compass for the characters and even put a new take on a familiar trope from family-friendly/children’s films. The message of how powerful story-telling is was impactful, changing the way certain things are presented. Something as simple as a piece of paper or the sounds of a bird as just two examples. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that gives the audience valuable words of wisdom!

 

The pacing: As I previously stated, the film’s humor was placed in the quieter scenes that featured less action and suspense. I should also add that the humor played a role in assisting the movie’s pace. Kubo and the Two Strings’ pace felt like the ebb and flow of an ocean’s waves. When an action scene came into the story, calmer scenes soon followed. These scenes were used to provide character development and feature interesting character interactions. Because of this balance between action-heavy and dialogue-focused scenes, it never made the movie feel drawn out or longer than its run-time. It made the movie-viewing experience that much more enjoyable!

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Paper Boats in the Sea image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/background-of-paper-boats-with-hand-drawn-waves_1189898.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Choppy movements: Whenever characters moved, it was always in a fluid motion. Some examples include walking and putting up objects. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the motion of human characters’ mouths. Any time a human character spoke, the movements of their mouth appeared choppy and they didn’t flow with the rest of the animation. The only character I didn’t feel this way about was Monkey. I’m not sure if this is a production issue or if it’s because I don’t watch stop-motion animated films often. But it got to the point where these choppy movements were distracting.

Japan Retro Cartoon Icons Set
Japanese paper dragon image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flower”>Flower vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When it comes to my blog follower dedication reviews, I always try to choose films that are worth my followers’ time. Because they helped my blog reach the milestones that it has, I feel they deserve a good, quality movie as well as review. Well, I can honestly say that Kubo and the Two Strings is that film! This movie has everything I could ever want or ask for in a cinematic story, holding on to my attention from start to finish. While we’ve seen the “hero’s journey” narrative before, this film takes that template and breaths new life into it. It’s a story with so much heart, that it feels like the creative team behind this film truly cared about the movie they were making. With relatable and inspirational messages and themes, Kubo and the Two Strings makes me want to be a better person. Speaking of people, thank you to all of my one hundred and twenty-five followers, as well as my readers, for helping me get to this point. You have and will always play a vital role in this blogging journey.

 

Overall score: 9.1 out of 10

 

Do you like that I review animated films? Which movie from this genre would you like to see me talk about? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Jurassic World Review + 105 Follower Thank You

Last month, I received 105 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! Because I took two out-of-town trips and had several blog related projects on my plate, I wasn’t able to create this post as soon as I had hoped to. Since I wanted to publish this review before the end of the month, I put aside some time to finally share this post with all of my followers. Before I received 100 followers, I had a system for choosing which movies I would review. Now that I have more than 100 followers, I found a new way of picking out movies to write about, especially since it’s difficult to find movies that are older than 100 years old. Whenever I reach a milestone number of followers, I will pick a movie that was released in the same month as when I received this milestone. To determine which year this movie will be from, I will flip a two-sided coin. If the coin lands on the heads side, the movie will be from a year that starts with the number “1”. If the coin lands on the tail side, the movie will be from a year that starts with the number “2”. When this happens, I will flip the coin again. If it lands on the heads side, the year’s last two digits will start with the number “0”. If it lands on the tail side, the year’s last two digits will start with the number “1”. After this step, I will roll a piece of dice. For a year starting with a “1”, I will roll the dice twice, in order to determine the year’s last two digits. For a year starting with a “2”, I will only roll the dice once. I apologize if this process sounds more confusing than it actually is. I tried to explain it the best that I could. Anyways, after I completed this new process for the first time, the movie that I was to review for this post ended up being from May of 2015. Since I saw Jurassic Park last year, I decided to watch its continuation, Jurassic World. How did this four-year-old film compare to a twenty-six year old classic? The only way to find out to by reading my review!

Jurassic World poster
Jurassic World poster created by Universal Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and The Kennedy/Marshall Company. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jurassic_World_poster.jpg.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: For the most part, the acting in Jurassic World was good! Prior to watching this film, I had seen Chris Pratt’s acting performance in Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. While there are dramatic moments within these films, Chris has partaken in comedic acting more than dramatic acting. In Jurassic World, Chris’ performance was more dramatic, with only a few comedic moments. It was great to see a different side of Chris’ acting talents, especially when he was able to pull off a really good performance! Another performance that I was impressed with came from Ty Simpkins. Before seeing Jurassic World, I had remembered his performance in Iron Man 3. What I liked about this performance was that Ty was given more acting material to work with than in the aforementioned Marvel film. This allowed him to explore more emotions as well as the character’s backstory. What Ty brought to the role, acting wise, was interesting and entertaining!

 

  • The special effects: While watching Jurassic World, I found myself being impressed with the special effects! One of the most memorable parts of Jurassic Park was the quality of the CGI. This was also a highlight of the 2015 continuation. The dinosaurs and other creatures looked very life-like, even when they were next to the human characters. The level of detail in the designs were beautiful, especially when it came to the eyes of these creatures! What was interesting about the dinosaurs in this movie was how they seemed to have their own personalities. This was a unique difference from Jurassic Park.

 

  • The scenery: I loved the scenery in this movie! The island landscape was not only great to look at, but it also fit the type of setting that the creative team behind this film was going for. The natural beauty of the foliage was a consistent aspect of the backdrop, just like in Jurassic Park. Jurassic World‘s theme park looked really cool! With all of the different attractions, this place appeared to be a lot of fun (when you take away the imminent danger, of course). Every aspect of the island was captured well on film!

Various animal toy figures in a colorful background
Colorful dinosaur image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/various-animal-toy-figures-in-a-colorful-background_3011200.htm’>Designed by Rawpixel.com</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Rawpixel.com – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Thrills that weren’t consistent: In Jurassic Park, the story is thrilling from beginning to end. Almost immediately, the audience goes on an emotional roller-coaster ride. This is one of the factors that made this movie as enjoyable as it was. With Jurassic World, however, I never got that same feeling of a continuous thrill ride. Sure, there were several thrilling moments within the movie. But the build-up to the first, big, thrilling moment lasted for about 40 minutes. Because of this, it took me a while to get fully invested in the film.

 

  • Young characters who don’t have a strong significance: Similar to Jurassic Park, two young family members of one of the protagonists visit the island in Jurassic World. Unlike Jurassic Park, these family members didn’t have anywhere near as big of a significance as the children did in the predecessor. Tim and Lex, from Jurassic Park, were not just featured in the story for the sake of bringing more characters on the adventure. At one point in the film, Lex uses her computer skills in order to save the day. Zach and Gray, Claire’s nephews in Jurassic World, don’t really do anything to solve the film’s conflict. In fact, it felt like Zach and Gray were included in this story just because there were young characters in the first movie.

 

  • Moments of randomness: There were a few moments in Jurassic World that didn’t really make sense within the overall context of the story. For example, one of Claire’s nephews brings up the possibility of his parents getting a divorce. This leads the brothers to have a conversation about what would happen if their parents got a divorce. I found the inclusion of this conversation to be very random. This is because there were no explicit references to the idea prior to this moment. Had moments like these been eliminated from the film, I think the script would’ve been tighter.

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Tropical island image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/island-background-design_1020626.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Brgfx – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my thoughts on this movie, I wanted to say thank you to all of my followers! Without you, 18 Cinema Lane would have never come as far as it has! Now, on to my overall impression of  Jurassic World. Personally, I thought it was decent, at best. Even though it stood solidly on its own merits, I still think that Jurassic Park was the more superior film among the two movies. Throughout Jurassic World, there were references to the first movie that I thought were well done. They didn’t distract the audience’s focus on the story, but complimented the plot instead. I also thought this was a nice touch to the film, as a way of commemorating what came before it, while also adding something new to the narrative. It just goes to show that, when it’s done with the best quality possible, new chapters to a franchise can work.

 

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on my new system of choosing movies for these reviews? Are you looking forward to my next review? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Avengers: Endgame (SPOILER-ZONE) Review

One opening weekend and three hours later, Avengers: Endgame has officially owned the box office! With both the domestic and foreign box office records being broken, Avengers: Endgame will certainly be a movie for the history books. Because I posted my spoiler-free review on April 27th, within the film’s opening weekend, I chose to publish my spoiler-zone review this weekend. This way, any of my readers or followers who wanted to see Avengers: Endgame could do so without being spoiled. In this review, I will expand upon the things that I didn’t like about this film, since I talked about them only vaguely. However, I will also discuss spoiler related things from the movie that I liked. Similar to my spoiler-zone review of Avengers: Infinity War, this post will be long. So, with that out of the way, let the spoiler review for Avengers: Endgame begin!

Be aware that there are spoilers ahead!

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Yes, I know this is the same picture I used for my spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame. But, I didn’t have time to take a separate picture for this spoiler-zone review. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

  • A slower first half: As I said in my spoiler-free review, I thought that the first half of Avengers: Endgame had a slower pace than the second half. Now that I’m publishing my spoiler-zone review, I can give an explanation to what I said. The first half of the movie was not only meant to build-up to the time-traveling portion of the story, but it was also reserved for the exploration of loss that I talked about in my spoiler-free review. The majority of Avengers: Endgame takes place five years after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, so it makes sense for this exploration of loss to be incorporated into the first half. The various superheroes that had survived the events of the previous film had gone on their separate ways. This first half also showed how these heroes came back together in order to accomplish their mission. When the time-traveling portion of Avengers: Endgame began, that’s when the pace picked up.

 

  • Plot Points that Complicate Future MCU Projects: In my spoiler-free review, I mentioned that there were a few plot points that confused me in the context of future MCU projects. Because this is my spoiler-zone review, now I can explain what these plot points are and why they confused me. The first was when Black Widow died as she was sacrificing her life to acquire the Soul Stone. Even though this was a shocking moment that I did not see coming, it brought up questions about the upcoming Black Widow movie that was announced to premiere after Avengers: Endgame. Will this movie be a prequel or will Marvel find a way to bring Black Widow back and tell her story in the present? These next two plot points bring up confusion for the upcoming shows on the Disney streaming service, Disney+. One of these shows is WandaVision and from what I’m heard, the show will be about both Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff and Vision. However, Vision never made an appearance in Avengers: Endgame. So, does this mean that the show will be about Wanda trying to find Vision? Was Vision in another area of the world/universe completing his own mission? Another show that was announced is Falcon & Winter Soldier, which will feature both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. But, toward the end of Avengers: Endgame, Sam receives the title of Captain America. Since Sam is an Avenger (again) and Bucky is not an Avenger (again), will Sam end up being the star of the show, with Bucky being a supporting character? Will the title change to Captain America & White Wolf (since Bucky hasn’t been the Winter Soldier since 2014 and he was called “White Wolf” in the end-credit scene of Black Panther)? With these creative decisions being made, it seems like the creative team behind Avengers: Endgame wasn’t willing to address this confusion because they were probably not prepared to do that. Their job was not to promote the MCU’s future projects, but to tell the story at hand. If Avengers: Endgame’s creative team knew that these creative choices were going to affect upcoming projects, they should have at least used dialogue or interesting story-telling to answer some of these questions.

Avengers Endgame Bucky poster
Avengers: Endgame Bucky Barnes poster created by The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Marvel and Avengers Characters: ©2017 Marvel. Image found at https://www.marvel.com/articles/movies/mcu-heroes-unveil-avengers-endgame-character-posters

  • A Personal Disappointment: This paragraph is about something that personally disappointed me in Avengers: Endgame. What ended up making me feel this way is connected to one of the things that I didn’t like about this movie. In my post called “A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List”, two of the things that I wanted was for Bucky’s cure to be confirmed in Avengers: Endgame and for Bucky to become the next Captain America. Unfortunately, none of those things happened. I get it, some wishes weren’t meant to come true. And I’m fine with Sam receiving the title of Captain America. However, if the creative team behind Avengers: Endgame were going to add something new to Sam’s story in preparation for the show, Falcon & Winter Soldier, they should have also added something new to Bucky’s story to get the Bucky fans excited for the show. In the scene where Steve gives Sam the shield, it almost seemed like Bucky was an afterthought, as he was standing in the distance and watching everything going on in front of him. Since the creative team knew that Bucky wasn’t going to become the next Captain America, they should have, at least, given him another superhero title to make up for it. Had they made Bucky an Avenger by expanding upon the White Wolf “title” he was given in the end-credit scene from Black Panther, I would’ve been totally content with that. It would have given me, as a Bucky fan, an incentive to want to watch the show. Could Bucky’s cure be confirmed in Falcon & Winter Soldier? Possibly. Could Bucky finally receive a superhero title on that show? Again, it’s possible. But, because the creative team behind Avengers: Endgame weren’t prepared to acknowledge Falcon & Winter Soldier, their creative choices brought up more confusion and complications for the show than they were willing to address. Because of this, I’m finding it very difficult to get excited about Falcon & Winter Soldier. I want this show to be good and I want it to be something enjoyable for both the Sam and Bucky fans. But I’ll wait to hear what other people have to say about the show first, in order to determine if it’s worth the price of admission.

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Yes, I know I used this picture in my spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame. But, I thought this picture was relevant for this specific review. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

  • Genuine surprises: Black Widow’s death was definitely one of the most shocking moments within this movie. But it wasn’t the only shocking death in Avengers: Endgame. Toward the end of the film, Tony Stark/Iron Man dies in order to use his own Infinity Gauntlet to snap Thanos and his army out of existent. This was shocking for me because I did not think Iron Man would pass away, considering how popular both the character and Robert Downey Jr. are. The character that I did think would pass away, Steve Rogers/Captain America, did not lose his life. Instead, he manipulated time in order to live out his life with Peggy Carter. Not all of the surprises had to do with a character’s fate. One example is Joe Russo’s cameo toward the beginning of the film. Pleasant surprises like this kept Avengers: Endgame

 

  • Clarifications on things from Avengers: Infinity War: In my spoiler-zone review of Avengers: Infinity War, I mentioned how some of the creative choices that were made in that movie ended up confusing me. One of them was how Rocket was one of heroes that survived Thanos’ plan. In Avengers: Endgame, when Rocket teamed up with Thor to retrieve two of the Infinity Stones, Rocket’s explanation for why he was with Thor helped his survival make more sense. Another interesting choice that, at the time, confused me was why Rhodey/War Machine was one of the remaining heroes at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. However, when Rhodey and Nebula were paired together, in Avengers: Endgame, to collect one of the Infinity Stones, the reason for this creative decision was well-explained. It was because both Rhodey and Nebula have been mechanically “repaired” over the course of their cinematic journeys. It definitely helped that Avengers: Endgame was released exactly a year after Avengers: Infinity War, as it seemed to give this film’s creative team a sense of urgency to make some of these clarifications.

Avengers Endgame poster
Avengers: Endgame poster created by The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Marvel and Avengers Characters: ©2017 Marvel. Image found at https://www.marvel.com/articles/movies/marvel-studios-reveals-avengers-endgame-poster.

There’s definitely going to be some comparisons and contrasts to the spoiler-zone review for both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. But after the dust has settled (no pun intended), I ended up liking this movie a little bit more than Avengers: Infinity War. As I’ve explained, this was not a perfect or near perfect film. But I thought Avengers: Endgame was enjoyable for what it was. There were some creative choices that confused me as to how they will affect some of the future MCU projects. Hopefully, this confusion will be cleared up as the months go on. I’ve seen other responses for the film and it has been a variety of reactions. Some of these opinions are similar to mine, while others are the complete opposite. To this I say that it’s ok. Everyone is going to see this movie through their own unique lens. In fact, if any of my readers or followers have a different opinion than me about Avengers: Endgame, that’s fine. As long as we can have a conversation that is respectful to all parties. Now that we’ve reached the end of this post, I’d just like to wish everyone a happy Summer movie season! Since Avengers: Endgame has premiered in what is now considered the start of the Summer box office season, the battle to become the number one movie of the Summer has officially begun!

20190427_121759
I apologize for using some of the same pictures I used in my Avengers: Endgame spoiler-free review. It’s not that I’m lazy, these pictures are just that relevant. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What are your thoughts on this review? Are there any other spoilers that you would like to discuss? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to learn more about some of the future MCU projects I referenced in this review, check out Grace Randolph’s videos called “Disney Plus BREAKDOWN – Marvel Shows, Release Date, News” and “Black Widow Movie Cast – Florence Pugh” on her Youtube channel, Beyond The Trailer.

Take 3: Avengers: Endgame (SPOILER-FREE) Review

After billions of dollars, millions of fans, thousands of talent, hundreds of source material, eleven years, and one dream, Avengers: Endgame has finally made its grand entrance. This seems like a movie for the history books, even before its release. Websites offering tickets crashed multiple times, yet the film still owned records in the process. Trailers and tv spots appeared wherever they could, announcing their message like the sound of a trumpet. The official premiere had their carpet decked out in purple, representing the villain’s signature color. With the opening weekend upon us, the time has come for me to review the film! I’ll be honest, I had lower expectations for this movie than I did for Avengers: Infinity War. This was due to the ending and end credits scene of the aforementioned predecessor. However, because Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are a two-part story, I wanted to find out what happens next. With positive word-of-mouth and skyrocketing levels of anticipation, it seems like other people had the same idea I did. Speaking of ideas, I requested six films for a potential Breening review at Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. One of these films, The Moon-Spinners, was just given a Breening Thursday article on the blog! This was such an insightful review about how the Breen Code could be applied to this film. Make sure you check out that review as well as this review of Avengers: Endgame!

https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/04/25/breening-thursday-24-the-moon-spinners-from-1964/

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When I saw this at my local cinema, I knew I just had to take a picture of it for this post! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: Like in Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame had a great cast! Everyone did a really good job at portraying their characters, no matter what the size of their role was. All of the reactions, expressions, and behaviors appeared as realistic as possible, helping me, as a movie-goer, stay invested in the film. Also, like in Avengers: Infinity War, the comedic and dramatic timing was perfectly executed. This helped both types of moments stick the landing.

 

  • The different ways of dealing with loss: Within Avengers: Endgame, one of the narratives was how the heroes dealt with loss. This aspect of the film reminded me of Flicka: Country Pride, where grief affected almost all of the characters. Each of the heroes faced the subject of loss in a very different way, highlighting how everyone has their own way of dealing with this topic. This aspect of the story really added some depth to the overall project. It was an interesting addition to each of the characters’ stories, as this narrative helped incorporate a distinct stepping stone in these individuals’ character development. Understanding the different ways that the characters react to loss helped to show how they move forward from it.

 

  • The special effects: All of the special effects in Avengers: Endgame looked really good! They were not only photogenic, they also had very unique color palettes. The different colors that were used for these special effects were complimentary, working in their favor to be appealing to the eye. The various locations in this film appeared so realistic, I wondered if one scene in particular was filmed on location or created with CGI. This reminded me of the scenery in Avengers: Infinity War. Also, just like in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos’ overall design looked and felt very real. This helped continue the believability of the character as well as my investment in his story.

 

  • Balance between comedy and drama: As I already mentioned, the comedic and dramatic timing was perfectly executed. This was not only because of the acting performances, but also because of the writing. Both the comedic and dramatic moments were spaced out really nicely, with the narrative maintaining a good amount of intrigue. What also helps is that these moments felt genuine. It makes their emotional weight effective, whether it is light-hearted or serious.

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Like last year, Bucky, Bucky, and Thor joined me on this cinematic adventure! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
What I didn’t like about the film:

  • A slower first half: Because this a spoiler-free review, I will be very mindful of what I say in this post. To me, the first half of the film had a slower pace than the second half. I understand that this part of the film was meant to be build-up for upcoming events. However, that build-up seemed to be a little bit longer than I expected. This pace does eventually pick up at the start of a particular event.

 

  • Confusing plot points: In this film, there were a few plot points that confused me. They didn’t confuse me in the context of the film, but they did confuse me in the context of future MCU projects. These plot points seemed to bring up more questions than I was expecting. Since this is a spoiler-free review, I’ll explain more about what confused me in my spoiler-zone review.

20190427_121759
It looks like I’m not the only one who was impressed with this display. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

History is a very interesting thing. It makes us who we are and helps us shape the world around us. What do you we want to be remembered for? What legacy do we want to leave behind? When we look back on Avengers: Endgame, what will this film be known for? Even though it’s way too early to determine this film’s place in history, we can definitely talk about its immediate impact. Starting with my own thoughts, Avengers: Endgame is a great film! While it’s not perfect, it does do a good job at being an entertaining and enjoyable movie. Something I noticed while watching this film was how much heart, soul, love, passion, and care seemed to be put into this project. It felt like the creative team behind this movie tried their best to make something that a large amount of people would enjoy. It’s unclear what the future holds for the MCU, but we at least have an idea of the kind of legacy it will leave behind.

 

Overall score: 9 out of 10

 

Have you seen Avengers: Endgame? Are you looking forward to my spoiler-zone review? Tell me what you think in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Kim Possible (2019) Review

The time has finally come for me to review a film that has gotten a lot of attention on 18 Cinema Lane, the new live-action Kim Possible film! If you’ve been following my blog since last year, you would know that I’ve been talking about this movie since the very beginning. In fact, the first announcement about this Kim Possible movie was the first Word on the Street story I ever wrote. As the months went by, I’ve discussed other news relating to this film, such as casting announcements and production updates. When the trailer for Kim Possible was released last December, I definitely took the time to talk about how I felt about it. To me, the trailer was fine, at best. I’ve also shared that I was very skeptical about the project. As I mentioned in my very first Word on the Street story about Kim Possible, I have enjoyed watching the original show. However, I was concerned about a newer audience receiving more attention from this film’s creative team to the point of alienating the audience of the original show. Even though I had very low expectations for this film, I still watched it with an open mind, with the hope that it could be good. After one whole year of introducing this movie news story to my readers, it’s time to talk about 2019’s Kim Possible!

Kim Possible 2019 poster
Kim Possible (2019) poster the Walt Disney Company and Disney Channel. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Disney XD© Disney Enterprises, Inc. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kim_Possible_(2019_film)_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: While watching this movie, I was really impressed with the acting! Every actor in this cast seemed to disappear into their roles, effectively bringing characters that I have come to know and recognize to life. Sadie Stanley shined in her performance as the beloved secret agent, Kim Possible. Whether it was an intense action sequence or an emotionally heart-felt moment, Sadie successfully brought the versatility that helped her embody this character on-screen. As I’ve mentioned before, Shego is my favorite Disney villain of all time. Seeing Taylor Ortega’s portrayal of this memorable character made me so happy! She captured Shego’s snarky attitude and strength that I best remember from my days of watching Kim Possible on television. The acting in this film was definitely a highlight!

 

  • Looking and feeling like the show: Throughout this film, I noticed how close almost everything looked to the show. From the Possible family home to the high school’s official sign, there were a number of things in this movie that looked like they were copied directly from the series. Because of this level of detail, it made the movie feel like the show. Since I am fond of the original series, I liked this aspect of the film. It made it seem like the creative team behind this movie truly cared about the project they were creating. Things like this made me enjoy the film that much more!

 

  • The humor: The Kim Possible television show was known for having humor woven into each episode. In this movie, there was humor that was effectively incorporated into the story. One example of this is the high school’s official sign. In the show, this sign would display funny sayings and puns. The sign in this movie not only had those funny sayings and puns like in the show, but the words on that sign correlated with the events in the story. The overall humor in this movie matched the tone of the show. Not only that, but I thought this film’s humor was genuinely funny.

 

  • The messages and themes: Another thing that the Kim Possible show was known for was including messages and themes into the story of each episode. This movie also had messages and themes that were related to the overall narrative. Friendship, jealousy, and not being afraid to ask for help when it’s necessary are some themes that stood out to me in this story. The messages of the importance of being a good friend and the difference between who you are and the things you do are messages that felt relatable. These messages and themes made me feel good about what I was watching.

Shego and Drakken pin
When talking about this Kim Possible movie, of course I was going to put a picture of this pin within this review! Apparently, this was the only Shego related Disney pin that was ever created. Screenshot created by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The inconsistency of the special effects: When I first talked about the Kim Possible trailer, one of the things that stood out to me was how the special effects looked. At worst, the special effects in the trailer were distracting. Throughout the film, the special effects were 50/50. There were some times when the special effects looked good, such as when Shego uses her green blasting powers from her hands. But there were other times when the special effects looked less-than-stellar. This mostly happened whenever an explosion happened during an action scene. When this occurred, it appeared like the actors were moving in front of a screen. Fortunately, these less-than-stellar moments with the special effects were not as distracting as it looked in the trailer.

 

  • Kim Possible as a celebrity: In the show, the only people who seemed to know about Kim Possible being a secret agent were Ron and Wade. Because this part of Kim’s life was secret, it gave audience members the impression that Kim could still be a relatable character no matter how extraordinary her life seemed. In this movie, everyone knew that Kim was a secret agent, even having other characters treat her as if she were a celebrity. This new aspect of the character took away some of her relatability. But the creative team behind this movie still gave Kim enough relatability to her character to keep her as close to the original version as possible.

Vector cartoon illustration of college classroom
Picture of a high school classroom image created by Vectorpocket at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by vectorpocket – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Kim Possible was a better movie than I expected it to be! Despite its flaws, I thought this movie was good! Before this film’s release, my biggest concern was the movie possibly catering to a younger audience to the point of alienating the audience of the original show. However, the creative team behind this film did a good job at introducing new fans to the source material while, at the same time, respecting the fans of the original show. In fact, it felt like the creative team brought back the magic of the original series! As someone who not only watched the show in its original run, but also was very skeptical of the project, I ended up enjoying this movie more than I thought I would! I’m so glad I gave this film a chance!

 

Overall score: 8 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on this review? Would you like to see your favorite animated show adapted into a live action film? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen