The 2020 Unpopular Opinions Tag

Last week, I announced I would be publishing a celebratory post to commemorate reaching 200 movie reviews. Now that my 200th review is published, it’s time for the celebrating to begin! Two months ago, I read an Unpopular Opinions Tag post from the creator of Iridium Eye Reviews, Ospreyshire. This post inspired me to create an Unpopular Opinions Tag article of my own! However, I waited for the perfect opportunity to post it. Since publishing 200 movie reviews is an accomplishment, I thought this would be a good way to start the week! Before I begin, I’d like to remind my readers, followers, and visitors that these answers are based on my opinion. This post is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative.

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  1. Popular series I don’t like* (* – as much as other people do)

For this question, I had to put an asterisk by the series I chose. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, I don’t like Signed, Sealed, Delivered anywhere near as much as other people do. I find the overall quality to be inconsistent. While there have been a few movies I enjoyed, the majority of them, in my opinion, are either ok, decent, or bad. It also doesn’t help that the stories tend to emphasize the personal lives of the Postables over the mysteries of the letters. When the next Signed, Sealed, Delivered film is eventually released, I hope it’s one of the better ones.

2. Popular movie I like, but everyone seems to hate

I’ll select two movies for this question: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. I haven’t watched these movies in several years, but I remember liking both of them over the first one. Over time, I discovered most people like the first movie, but dislike the second and third films. Personally, I think the first three films make up a solid trilogy!

3. Love triangle where the character didn’t end up with the character I wanted

I’m going to discuss a relationship from an animated movie for question number three. I haven’t seen FernGully: The Last Rainforest in a long time. However, I recall not agreeing with Crysta’s decision to stay with Pips. I found Pips to be a terrible significant other. Not only does he bully others, but he also manipulates Crysta by creating a false image of himself instead of being honest with her. Based on a video review I saw a few years ago, Pips apparently becomes a nicer person in FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue. But, personally, I feel the sequel was created to justify Crysta’s decision.

4. Popular genre you hardly watch

For me, this genre would definitely be documentaries. Either I don’t have the opportunity to purchase/rent them or I rarely come across one I’m actually excited about. The last one I watched was Life, Animated, which I would recommend to those who are fans of animation. I recently discovered a docuseries called The Road to Miss Amazing, so I might get around to checking that out!

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5. Beloved character you don’t like

Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara would be my choice for this question. She’s a static character with an unpleasant personality. Following her for about four hours doesn’t help either. I’m also not a fan of Scarlett’s relationship with Rhett Butler, which is one of the unhealthiest relationships in film.

6. Popular show or series I can’t get into

BYU-TV aired reruns of Wind at My Back for a period of time. Because I’m a fan of When Calls the Heart, I thought Wind at My Back would be a show I’d like. I watched two episodes with an open mind, but I ended up not becoming invested in the program. Wind at My Back is a show that tries to be a Hallmark Hall of Fame-esque production without showing an understanding for what makes a Hallmark Hall of Fame project typically work. Based on the two episodes I saw, I found the show to be devoid of humor. Wind at My Back is a show that was meant for someone. However, I recognize that someone was not me.

7. Popular show or movie I have no interest in seeing

When it comes to movies, I have no interest in seeing any of the Sharknado films. I know any title from that series would be a perfect choice for Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon. But just because other people say a film is “so bad it’s good”, it doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to agree with them. The tv show I’ll choose for this question is the Canadian program, Heartland. This show has been on the air since 2007. Since this chronological story has been running for so long, I don’t have the time to devote to Heartland. Also, I’m a person who watches more movies than television.

8. Popular show or movie I prefer over the book

This year, I read To Kill a Mockingbird and saw its film adaptation. While I thought the book was fine, I found the movie to be a better story-teller than the source material. The 1962 film went to the heart of the text a lot sooner, cutting out of a lot of the “slice of life” content I wasn’t a fan of. Visual elements, such as suspense and cinematography, helped to enhance the story.

To Kill a Mockingbird poster created by Brentwood Productions, Pakula-Mulligan, and Universal Pictures. Image found at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:To_Kill_a_Mockingbird_(1963_US_theatrical_poster).jpg

Bonus Round: Movie I used to love, but I hate now

In this last question, I’ll talk about two movies. The first is High School Musical, a movie I used to like, but now strongly dislike. When it premiered in 2006, I really liked the concept of a modern-day musical airing on Disney Channel. This brought something new to the table. In a short amount of time, High School Musical became bigger than it needed to be, which made it appear everywhere. It also started what I call the “instant celebrity” trend, where characters are no longer allowed to lead typical lives and deal with typical problems (examples: Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens). These things have turned me off from High School Musical.

The next movie is Avatar, a movie that I don’t dislike, but that I’ve fallen out of love with. I enjoyed the movie when it first came out. But as time went on, it lost relevancy. It also didn’t help when James Cameron kept pushing back the release dates for his sequels. Every movie doesn’t have to start a franchise, with Avatar as a prime example.

Did you like reading my Unpopular Opinions Tag post? Which tag would you like to see me write about next? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Luna: Spirit of the Whale Review + 245 Follower Thank You

Four days ago, my blog received 245 followers! To everyone who helped 18 Cinema Lane become this successful, thank you! None of this could have been a reality without you. BYU-TV recently aired Luna: Spirit of the Whale on their network. Because I don’t get many opportunities to talk about films that feature Native American stories, I felt this film would make a good selection for this blog follower dedication review! The movie is one I had never heard of prior to this year. So, this was also a great chance to expand my cinematic horizons! As I’ve said on multiple occasions, I try to give lesser-known films a “standing ovation”. Luna: Spirit of the Whale is one of those films, as I didn’t see any other blogger on WordPress talk about this movie. By choosing to review this project at all, it will hopefully give this movie a little more recognition than it might be currently receiving.

This is a screenshot of the poster for Luna: Spirit of the Whale that I took with my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching Luna: Spirit of the Whale, I noticed strong performances within this cast! One of them came from Adam Beach, who portrayed the protagonist, Mike Maquinna! Throughout the film, Adam did a good job giving his character a wide range of emotions. In one scene, Mike is happy to take a youth named Adam on a short canoe trip. In another scene, Mike is tearfully reflecting on a regret from his past. These emotions helped make Adam’s character well-rounded! Speaking of the aforementioned youth, I also liked Aaron Miko’s portrayal of Adam! A sense of believability is what made this performance enjoyable to watch! With the emotions, facial expressions, and body language, Aaron was able to show the audience that his character had experienced so much in his young life. Prior to watching Luna: Spirit of the Whale, I have seen Erin Karpluk’s performances in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Fixer Upper Mystery series. While she’s in the film for a certain amount of time, the acting material Erin was given in this film was different from the aforementioned series. This is because her performance was allowed to be more dramatic. Erin was able to use that opportunity to her advantage by creating a portrayal that was interesting to watch!

The scenery: As someone who has seen many Hallmark movies, I know that Canada has a reputation for showcasing great scenery! Luna: Spirit of the Whale is no exception to this. Most of the scenery revolves around the water, as the story focuses on a whale. Anytime these scenes appeared in the film, they were appealing to look at! The green hues of the surrounding trees compliment the blues and grays of the water. More often than not, a clear sky enveloped the entire space. Some scenes took place on the shore, an area that was also photogenic! The rocky edge and calm waters set the stage for an inviting place! It really did look like a backdrop you’d see in a Hallmark movie!

The incorporation of Native American culture: Because some of the characters in Luna: Spirit of the Whale are from a Native American/First Nations community, elements of Native American culture are found in this story. The way they are incorporated into the movie is not only educational, but also insightful. These elements are showcased in a reverent and respectful way. During Chief Ambrose Maquinna’s funeral, two men were dressed in wolf fur and crawled on the ground in front of the procession. Before this shot was shown in the film, Mike explains that this particular community believes a deceased chief will have his spirit carried through a wolf (protector of the land) or a whale (protector of the sea). Before any of the canoes go out into the water, a blessing is placed on them, complete with a series of chants. Traditional chants also play a role during the story’s climax.

Canada postage stamp image created by Ibrandify at freepik.com <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/canadian-flag-stamp-template_836872.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/template”>Template vector created by Ibrandify – Freepik.com</a> Image found at freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

An unclear time period: According to IMDB, Luna: Spirit of the Whale was released in 2007. Erin Karpluk’s character, Jill, mentions that some people have discovered the story of Luna the whale through the internet. However, all of the televisions in this film look older than 2007. On a canoe trip, one of the youths pulls out a camcorder that appears to have been sold sometime in the 1990s. Everything I just said made it difficult to decipher when this story took place.

A somewhat meandering story: The movie’s main conflict is about a Native American/First Nations community’s attempt to protect a whale they believe physically embodies the spirit of their deceased chief. While this conflict was interesting to see unfold, it didn’t appear until about forty minutes into the film. Personally, I feel this conflict should have been introduced a lot sooner. This not only could have helped the narrative get straight-to-the-point, but it also could have shaved off some of the run-time.

Some scenes that lasted too long: There were some scenes in this film that felt longer than necessary. The scenes where the characters were in the canoes suffered the most from this flaw. Because these scenes emphasized the scenery surrounding the characters, it caused the plot to feel delayed. Scenes like these could have benefited by being shortened.

Orca Whale image created by Freepik at freepik.com. Label vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Native American stories are not often found in mainstream cinema. This fact can cause movie-goers to look beyond the surface and seek out titles located off the beaten path. Luna: Spirit of the Whale is a part of this discussion, as the film is not well-known. Despite this, I found it to be a fine, decent movie! The elements of Native American culture were incorporated in a reverent and respectful way, while also being educational and insightful. Watching the film’s main conflict unfold was interesting to see, even if it did start later than I would have liked. But if someone were looking for Native American stories told through a cinematic lens, I would recommend Luna: Spirit of the Whale! Finding likable films on BYU-TV is always a treat, so I do appreciate the network’s efforts to introduce their audience to various titles! If I hadn’t came across this film, I might never have discovered it.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Do you have a favorite Native American story told through film? Are there any you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Shoelaces for Christmas Review

During this Christmas season, I wanted to try my best to review Christmas movies from a variety of networks. While Hallmark has, so far, been doing a good job with their selection of Christmas films, I think the creative efforts of smaller, sometimes lesser-known, networks should be celebrated. For this review, I will be talking about the latest entry from BYUtv, Shoelaces for Christmas! The Utah based network has only started creating Christmas movies two years ago, but it has begun on a very strong note. I have seen both of BYUtv’s films, Winter Thaw and Instrument of War, and have really enjoyed them! When the news about Shoelaces for Christmas was announced on various parts of the internet, I couldn’t help but wonder how this new movie would hold up against the network’s previous films. Was this movie going to be another stepping stone on BYUtv’s path to movie making success or would it end a winning streak that became short-lived? Now that I’ve finally seen this movie, I can share my thoughts on this film to all my readers and followers!

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Thank you again, television of mine, for reminding me that I have watched yet another Christmas movie this season. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. 
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching this film, I thought the talents from everyone in the cast were really good! Not only did the performances feel believable, but the characters felt like they were real people instead of fictional individuals. Mia Topalian really shined in her role as Jennifer, leading this film with a strong performance filled with emotion and genuineness. I also thought Ivey Mitchell’s portrayal of Chloe’s mom, Charlotte, was emotionally powerful. Though she didn’t have as much screen-time as the other actors, her on-screen presence was very memorable and effective.

 

The messages and themes: When it comes to making Christmas movies, a strength that BYUtv has is focusing more on the messages and themes associated with the Christmas season. What’s also great about the incorporation of these messages and themes is how naturally they were woven into the story. While Shoelaces for Christmas features more Christmas aesthetics than Winter Thaw and Instrument of War, it still puts more attention on the moral aspects of Christmas. Shoelaces for Christmas was filled with great themes and messages; such as giving back to others, taking the time to appreciate the people around you, and putting the needs of others before your own.

 

Getting to know the characters: In my review of Waffle Street, I said that the lack of character development for the characters except James “Jimmy” Adams was one of the weaknesses of the movie. Because Shoelaces for Christmas is very protagonist focused, BYUtv’s film could have faced the same weakness. However, this was not the case. In Shoelaces for Christmas, however, every character gets a good amount of character development! While the main character, Jennifer, receives the most character development, the audience is given a chance to truly get to know the other characters in the film, not just become familiar with them. This connection with the characters really added to the enjoyable nature of the story!

Fashion shoes
Sneakers with shoelaces image created by Mrsiraphol at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/fashion-shoes_1123476.htm’>Designed by Mrsiraphol</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Mrsiraphol – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A little too drawn out: While I watched this movie, I felt it was a little too drawn out. This made some scenes drag on longer than others. To solve this problem, I think the script could have been written a little bit tighter or a few scenes should have been cut.

 

The quick evolution of Jennifer: Even though Mia Topalian gave a great performance as the film’s protagonist, the evolution of her character seemed to happen a little too quickly. While the audience can see Jennifer, the protagonist of the movie, start out being mean and self-centered, this beginning stage is presented for a short period of time. This causes the evolution to not be as effective as it could have been.

 

Lack of explanation for the shoelaces: As the film progresses, the audience gets to learn about the significance of the shoelaces within this story. However, when Jennifer suggests that shoelaces have a symbolic connection to the Christmas season, she forgets to explain this correlation. I have not read the book that this movie is based on, so maybe a clear explanation of this connection can be found with the text of that novel.

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Christmas book image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/christmas-mockup-with-open-book_1482296.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Freepik</a>.  Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When I compare Shoelaces for Christmas with BYUtv’s other two Christmas movies, I think that it holds up well within this particular collection of films! With the messages and themes associated with Christmas receiving more of the spotlight, movies from BYUtv set themselves apart from the Christmas offerings of other networks. However, Shoelaces for Christmas feels much smaller in scale compared to the other movies by BYUtv. Both Winter Thaw and Instrument of War feel like grander and more epic films, giving off the impression that these films are bigger in scale than what was meant for a made-for-TV format. Shoelaces for Christmas, on the other hand, looks and feels like a made-for-TV movie. While this is not a bad thing, it shows that BYUtv is trying new things as they keep moving forward in their movie making journey. Because I had seen Winter Thaw and Instrument of War prior to watching Shoelaces for Christmas, this difference in scale did take some getting used to.

 

Overall score: 8-8.1 out of 10

 

Have you seen BYUtv’s films? Would you like to see BYUtv continue to make more movies? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen