Take 3: Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance Review

As When Calls the Heart was walking away from its seventh chapter, the Matchmaker Mysteries series was embarking on their second installment! After its 2019 debut, this series has already found a place in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ collection of films. I have seen the first Matchmaker Mysteries installment, Matchmaker Mysteries: A Killer Engagement, and I thought it was a strong start to this series! It left me wondering where the story would go and how it would evolve over time. As I said in my review of Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, I have found Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ 2020 line-up to be strong. I’ve also enjoyed the majority of the films that have premiered so far. Since I liked the first Matchmaker Mysteries film, I felt there would be a chance I would like its successor!

Matchmaker Mysteries -- A Fatal Romance
Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Matchmaker+Mysteries+A+Fatal+Romance.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ve seen all of Danica McKellar’s Hallmark movies. The one consistent element I’ve noticed about Danica’s acting abilities while watching her films, including this one, is how her emotions seamlessly transition from one situation to the next. One great example is when Kyle shows up at Angie’s studio shortly after the murder victim is discovered. Danica, as Angie, goes from smiling and laughing at a friend’s joke to looking concerned when she notices Kyle’s presence. Lara Gilchrist also did a good job transitioning her emotions between scenes. This is because her acting abilities are versatile. A scene that effectively displays Lara’s talents is one where her character, Margaret, is sharing a personal secret to Angie. What helped this movie was how some of the cast members appeared in the first movie as well as the second movie. One of these members is Victor Webster. Throughout Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, he appeared at ease in his role as Kyle. This was caused by Victor being familiar with the material.

 

Angie’s relationship with Ethan: In Hallmark’s films, the female protagonist usually spends a lot of time with the male protagonist. This is done in the hopes of having these characters end up together in a relationship. In Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, Angie spends more time with her ex-boyfriend, Ethan, than with Kyle. By having the female protagonist associate herself with the male supporting character, this creates a unique dynamic from other Hallmark projects. It also helps that Danica and Dan Payne, the actor who portrays Ethan, had on-screen chemistry!

 

The locations/sets: Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance boasted some great locations, which lent themselves as sets for the project. At the beginning of the film, Angie attends a convention, where she is a co-host for a particular panel. This panel took place in a ballroom that has been featured in other Hallmark movies. The ballroom itself is spacious and grand. My favorite part of this place is the large windows, as they oversaw a golf course and let in a soft, natural light in one specific scene. I also loved the design of Beatrice’s house! The exterior had a cute Victorian look to it, from its pale-yellow hue to the wrap-around porch. The interior showcased impressive dark woodwork that complemented the space, especially on the fireplace! This was paired really well with the blue-green tiles found in this feature. Speaking of fireplaces, Angie’s father’s house also contained some eye-catching design features! One of them was a stone fireplace. Even thought this was never the focal point in the film, it was an interesting component of that space.

Happy Valentines day and heart. Card with Happy Valentines day a
Heart image created by Dashu83 at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundimage created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/happy-valentines-day-and-heart-card-with-happy-valentines-day-and-heart_1747001.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The matchmaking subplot: I know Angie’s matchmaking career plays a role in this series. In fact, placing this aspect within a subplot allows it to continue existing in the series’ identity. However, I didn’t find the matchmaking subplot in Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance interesting. If anything, it was predictable, coming off as a basic plot from an unaired Hallmark Channel movie. The story itself contains rehashed ideas that I’ve already seen from other Hallmark productions. This subplot, to me, didn’t add anything significant to the overall film.

 

Limited amount of suspense: In a typical mystery film, suspense is used to keep the audience invested in the story. While the first movie in the Matchmaker Mysteries series contained a good amount of suspense, the second film used suspense very sparingly. Moments of suspense were only found in a few scenes. While it was effective for those scenes, it also made the movie feel less thrilling.

 

A small amount of urgency: Having the protagonist talk to the suspects is an important part of any mystery. But in Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, this part of the mystery-solving process was the most prominent of the story. It got to the point where it seemed like all the characters were just sitting around and talking to one another. Because of this, it made the film as a whole feature a small amount of urgency.

269703-P5H9WI-853
Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance was a fine film. However, it took a few steps backwards from its predecessor. As I said in the introduction, I thought the first movie, Matchmaker Mysteries: A Killer Engagement was a strong start to the series. But this sequel didn’t leave as big of an impression on me as some of the other 2020 releases from Hallmark Movies and Mysteries have. The small amount of urgency and the limited amount of suspense has not helped this film’s case. While I appreciate this creative team’s decision to place the series’ defining element in a subplot, I was not a fan of the subplot itself. Even though this movie had its strengths, I think the overall project could have been stronger. It does take a while for each series to find its footing. But it also takes time for the next installment in each series to be announced. If there is a third movie in the Matchmaker Mysteries series, I hope it is better than the second movie was.

 

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

 

Do you watch the movies from the Matchmaker Mysteries series? Have you seen any of Danica’s Hallmark films? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder Review

As I just saw the third chapter in the Ruby Herring Mysteries series, I thought it’d be a good idea to pick this title as the next movie to review! Last January, I reviewed the first movie in this series; Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness. While I thought the film itself was decent, I felt it was a good start to the series. I did see Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath, but I wasn’t able to review it. However, it’s a movie I ended up enjoying! Because Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films have been strong this year and since the Ruby Herring Mysteries series has gotten better over time, I was looking forward to this movie! Similar to Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder focuses on a cold case. However, the story itself was different from the newest Mystery 101 project. Does the latest movie in the Ruby Herring Mysteries series continue its momentum of success? Keep reading my review in order to solve this mystery!

Ruby Herring Mysteries -- Prediction Murder poster
Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Ruby+Herring+Mysteries+Prediction+Murder.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder, I noticed how all the acting performances appeared natural and believable. This was the result of the quality of the actors’ talents! Like I said in my review of the first film, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, Taylor and Stephen were two of the strongest actors in this cast! Throughout the film, they gave the impression that they were comfortable in their roles. The fact Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder is their third movie together does help. What also helps is their on-screen chemistry, which has been a consistent component in this series. Even though we saw the return of several series regulars, the audience did receive some new characters. One of them is Dakota, who is portrayed by Teagan Vincze. She is introduced in this series as a new member of the police department. With a great on-screen personality and a solid performance, I hope Teagan can become a series regular for Ruby Herring Mysteries!

 

The humor: Humor can find a place in a Hallmark Movies and Mysteries series. More often than not, the incorporation of this element works in the movie’s favor. This is the case for Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder! In this film, there was enough humor to prevent the project from becoming too dark. At the same time, the humor never derailed the story, allowing the film as a whole to be taken seriously. One example is when Ruby and her friend visit the store of a well-known psychic. What makes this scene hilarious is how it was written and the actors’ delivery.

 

The cinematography: There was some surprisingly good cinematography in Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder! One great example is when Ruby and her dad are looking for a clue in a nearby forest. The film’s creative team took advantage of the natural lighting of this location, causing the foliage in the area to be illuminated. The movie’s cinematography not only did a good job at capturing scenery. It also helped the audience focus on people or details that the script wanted to highlight. In one scene, Jake and Ruby are at the driving range. During a conversation, the camera flawlessly transitions between medium and close-up shots. This allows the focus to remain on Ruby and Jake, despite the driving range being a public location.

O614E00
Magnifying glass and fingerprint image created by Alvaro_Cabrera at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/loupe-over-a-fingerprint_853908.htm’>Designed by alvaro_cabrera</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Alvaro_cabrera – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The high-school reunion subplot: In Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder, there was a subplot about Ruby attending her high school reunion. This subplot also featured the return of Ruby’s ex-fiancé, as the event caused him to come back to his hometown. I know this part of the story was supposed provide the audience a break from the cold case. But I found the subplot to be pointless, compared to the others narratives in the script. On Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the female protagonist usually ends up with the male protagonist. Since Ruby will likely form a romantic relationship with Jake, this subplot didn’t seem to go anywhere.

 

Ruby’s unwillingness to talk about relationships: Whenever Ruby is around her ex-fiancé, Luke, she always skirts around the idea of revisiting their relationship. Meanwhile, she still sees Jake as just a friend, especially when someone asks about their relationship. It’s understandable for relationships in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series to take their time. However, by the third movie in a typical series, the protagonist should know where the nature of her relationships is going. If Ruby Herring Mysteries does receive a fourth chapter, I hope this issue can be resolved.

 

Ruby’s rivalry with Todd: Throughout the series, Ruby develops a rivalry with a fellow investigative reporter named Todd. In Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder, this rivalry continues, as Ruby receives a promotion at the beginning of the film. The actor who portrayed Todd, Chenier Hundal, did a good job with the material he was given. However, his character wasn’t on screen for long, causing him to have little to work with. In the overall story, this component didn’t seem to serve a purpose. It makes me question why this aspect is in the series if the writers aren’t going to connect it to the film’s mystery?

Journalist Reporter Profession Isometric Banner
News reporter being filmed image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/journalist-reporter-profession-isometric-banner_2875517.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>, Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The Ruby Herring Mysteries series is one that has grown as time goes on. Despite the series only being a year old, it has cemented its place in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ landscape. Having Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder be a good, solid film does work in the series’ favor! Because of its unique story and positive attributes, the third chapter carries the network’s tradition of thinking outside the box and promoting creativity. There’s no denying the movie has its flaws. These are aspects that weren’t necessary to the overall story or they didn’t work as well as they could have. Hopefully, the series can receive a fourth installment, so the creative team may improve upon these flaws. Like I said in the introduction, the films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have been strong this year. Even though its not known how many new movies we’ll receive, besides the ones that have official release dates, I hope the consistent quality of these projects continue!

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you seen the Ruby Herring Mysteries series? If so, what would you like to see happen in a fourth movie? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Mystery 101: An Education in Murder Review

In 2020, I haven’t reviewed Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films as often as I had wanted to. This is because of two reasons. The first is how I’m not always able to watch a film as soon as it is released. The second is how I’ve devoted my time to re-capping When Calls the Heart. But since I just watched the newest film in the Mystery 101 series and because some of my most popular content is Hallmark Movies & Mysteries related, I decided to review Mystery 101: An Education in Murder! I’ve watched all of Hallmark’s mystery movies that have premiered this year, so far. In my opinion, I think these projects are stronger than the newer Hallmark Channel movies I’ve seen. While there are patterns that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films follow, each series tries to tell a different kind of story. The series themselves have a distinct identity, preventing these films from blending into one another. The Mystery 101 series is just one example. Taking an academic approach to the mystery genre, this collection of films has quickly become a fan favorite. I still can’t believe that after this story started a year ago, it’s already on the fifth chapter!

Mystery 101 -- An Education in Murder poster
Mystery 101: An Education in Murder poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Mystery+101+An+Education+in+Murder.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: What I liked about the performances in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder is how every actor and actress presented their character as if they were individuals from real-life. While the film’s writing makes this aspect a possibility, the quality of the actors’ talents also helps. All of the interactions between the characters felt realistic and their conversations came across as natural. Even though there were actors and actresses that were new to the series, there were others that have either regularly appeared in the Mystery 101 series or another mystery series. Steve Bacic was one of the main cast members in the Garage Sale Mystery series. Because of his work in those movies, it gave him an understanding on how a typical Hallmark Movies & Mysteries project works. Despite Steve being in the film for a short amount of time, his performance benefitted from his experiences working with Hallmark’s second network.

 

Travis and Amy’s interactions: Seeing Travis and Amy’s relationship grow over the course of the series is one of the best parts of these films! As I said in my Mystery 101 review, the on-screen chemistry between Jill and Kristoffer helps. In Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, these moments featuring Amy and Travis were more light-hearted and humorous. This was meant to provide the audience with periodical breaks from the darkness within the story. One of these moments was when Travis and Amy are waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Even though this was meant to be a romantic date, Amy’s dad showed up and the dinner became an unintentional group event. This scene was hilarious and provided light-hearted interactions between these characters!

 

The mystery: Cold cases are not often featured in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films. This kind of mystery in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder gave the audience a different story from what is usually shown on Hallmark’s second network. It encourages the creative team behind this series or any mystery series to think outside the box when it comes to story-telling. Instead of relying on physical objects as clues, the clues themselves were found in the dialogue spoken by the suspects. This provided an interesting approach to the mystery itself and how it was solved. Using language as a tool for solving a mystery is a concept that I’ve rarely seen in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film!

21-150-01
Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The “don’t-get-involved” cliché: In my Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver review, I talked about how the incorporation of the “don’t-get-involved” cliché was one of the flaws of that film. This is because I feel this cliché doesn’t work outside of the series’ first or second movie. Mystery 101: An Education in Murder is another film that adopts this cliché. Within the first twenty minutes of the film, Travis tells Amy not to get involved with the case. I know that he told her this with the intention of keeping her best interests in mind. I am also aware that the mystery itself was a cold case. However, Travis told Amy this after she had helped him successfully solve more than one mystery and after he called her a “consultant” while talking with a former colleague. If Travis had expressed his concern about Amy getting involved in the first or second movie, it would feel justified. But in the series’ fifth film, this cliché seems unnecessary.

 

A limited presence for some characters: Some of the characters in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder are featured less than others. As I already mentioned, Steve Bacic was in the film for a limited amount of time. When I first saw this film’s trailer, I had assumed Steve’s character, Mac, would play a bigger role within the story. However, he was only presented in a handful of scenes. I’ve enjoyed watching Preston Vanderslice’s performances in the Mystery 101 series! It makes me happy whenever Bud shows up in any movie. However, it feels like this character is stuck in the same place. I’m not an expert on the subject of the teaching profession. But, by the fifth movie, I feel like Bud should be further along in his educational journey. If this series receives a sixth movie, I hope we can see Bud passing his final exams or watch him graduating.

 

A few overlooked story-points: There were a few story-points in this movie that were not fully explored. A series of Mark Twain’s transcripts were incorporated in the overall story. They were shown at the beginning of the film as the cause for the mystery taking place. I’m not going to spoil the film if you haven’t seen it yet. However, I think these transcripts should have had a stronger connection to the overarching mystery. There was one suspect who was directly connected to the case. Again, I will not spoil the movie. But I think this character’s part of the story was, to a certain extent, overlooked.

Books Seamless Pattern
Old-fashioned books image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/books-seamless-pattern_1539033.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The Mystery 101 series is, in my opinion, one of the stronger of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ series. Its quality has been consistent and I’ve enjoyed watching each chapter. In fact, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill was one of the best movies I saw in 2019! Similar to that film, I did like Mystery 101: An Education in Murder! While it did have some flaws that prevented the project from being better than it was, I had a good time solving the mystery alongside Travis and Amy. Having the mystery be a cold case provided an interesting change to the series. The way the mystery itself was approached was also unique. Language has always played a role in any mystery. But in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, dialogue from the suspects was used as clues for solving the case. Because of everything that’s been happening in the world at this time, it’ll be a while before we see another Mystery 101 movie. However, I hope we can receive another chapter in this series soon!

 

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

 

Have you been watching Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ newest films? If so, which one has been your favorite so far? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review

For February’s Genre Grandeur, the selected theme was “Animated Comic Book/Strip Movies”. Chosen by Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights, this theme required some thought. To search for a possible title, I headed to Bubbawheat’s blog and discovered the list of “every superhero and comic book movie in chronological order”. While scrolling through the list, I came across one movie that I had heard of, but had never seen: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. This cinematic Batman entry has acquired a great amount of praise over its twenty plus year existence. However, it also has a reputation of not performing well at the box office. Any movie fan knows that box office performance does not always equal quality. But what is the quality of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm? Is it truly as good as other people say it is? Has it become overrated through the power of nostalgia? These are the questions I’ll answer in this review!

Batman -- Mask of the Phantasm poster
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm poster created by Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Animation, and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/batman-mask-phantasm/.

Things I liked about the film:

The voice acting: When it comes to animated films, the audience’s attention is so focused on what’s happening on screen, that they don’t think twice about the voice acting. Even though it seems like a small piece of the overall project, it actually can make or break the characters’ and their memorability. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm had an exceptional cast! Each actor brought more than enough emotion to match the facial expressions presented in the movie. These two components felt they were paired perfectly, with the voices themselves feeling like they belonged to that character! The casting itself couldn’t have been better! All of the actors effortlessly embodied their character through their voice talents. They were able to successfully gave life to their roles and enhance their memorability!

 

The animation: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is filled with great animation! Its 2-D style still holds up twenty-seven years later! What works in this movie’s favor is the color palette found throughout the project. Most Batman stories adopt a dark color scheme, to showcase the destruction and dismay that has overcome Gotham City. While Batman: Mask of the Phantasm does feature darker colors, the way lighter colors are paired with them is visually interesting. A great example is when a criminal named Buzz Bronski visits the cemetery. The entire scene is filled with the hues of black, gray, and dark blue. The red roses on a wreath are one of the few light colors that can be found in that scene. This makes the wreath pop with color and forces the audience’s attention toward the flowers. It also gives the film a style similar to movies with a “film noir” label.

 

The music: Another element in animated films that sometimes gets overlooked is the music. For Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a piece of music that really stood out was the official score. Composed by Shirley Walker, this score was powerful and helped the overall production gain its own identity. An orchestral composition and an operatic choir make this piece of music, as well as the overall film, feel grand in scale. This score was used during the opening credits, with similar tunes featured in two climatic moments of the film. Batman movies have historically incorporated orchestral scores into their projects. The score from The Dark Knight is one of the most iconic pieces of music in film history. Shirley Walker’s musical contributions to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm help keep that tradition alive.

 

The writing: I was really impressed by the writing in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, as it was clever and well thought-out! The film’s overarching mystery is a perfect example of this. It’s the kind of mystery that allows the audience to take a journey alongside Bruce/Batman. They get to experience events and situations when Bruce/Batman does. At times when a surprise comes, it catches the audience off-guard, as they are so invested in Batman winning over evil that they don’t see a surprise coming. Despite the movie’s darker tone, there was room in the script for humor to be included. One great example is when a party guest believes that the word “engagement” starts with the letter i. Because of how the joke was written and the delivery of the voice actor’s performance, the joke itself was executed flawlessly!

112444-OO5FAM-333
Rose illustration image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

An unclear timeline: Throughout Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it was difficult to determine when this film took place. In a flashback scene, Bruce and Andrea visit the Gotham World’s Fair, mirroring World’s Fairs that have taken place in decades past (for a point of reference, a World’s Fair was featured in Captain America: The First Avenger). That same flashback scene showed Andrea using a car-phone, an invention known for its popularity in the ‘80s. At two separate moments in the movie, Bruce uses a computer to solve the film’s overarching mystery. Batman stories, more often than not, make a conscious effort to ground themselves in reality. Since this film was released in 1993, the story should have taken place in the early ‘90s, in order to reflect its “current” setting.

 

Too many flashbacks: Flashback scenes are meant to provide additional context to the film’s plot. They are placed at certain points in the story, so they can present their full impact on the audience. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, several flashback scenes were shown, explaining the nature of certain relationships and giving clues to the film’s mystery. However, I feel there were too many of them. More than three flashback scenes existed in this narrative. At times, it seemed like every other scene in the movie was a flashback. It also didn’t help that some of them were a little too long. One example is when Bruce meets Andrea’s father for the first time. I liked the scenes themselves, but they made the flow of the film a little clunky.

2 joker cards
Pair of joker playing cards created by Outanmax at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/2-joker-cards_1127202.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Outanmax – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is not just a solid Batman film. It’s also a solid animated film in general! For my first time watching an animated movie starring the world’s favorite ‘Caped Crusader’, I really enjoyed what I saw! It contained a lot of elements I look for in good animated projects, such as the quality in animation and the story itself. What’s great about this film is how Bruce/Batman was allowed to be a detective within the story. This aspect of the character is not often seen in cinema, as Warner Bros. has usually placed more emphasis on making Batman an action-hero. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it was nice to see Bruce/Batman use multiple talents to save the day. This is definitely one of the better of the Batman cinematic entries! It has stood the test of time and is an enjoyable picture! I want to thank Bubbawheat and MovieRob for giving me a chance to finally see this film! Looking back on it, I have to wonder, where has Batman: Mask of the Phantasm been all my life?

 

Overall score: 8.4 out of 10

 

Do you have a favorite Batman film? Is there an animated movie you’d like me to talk about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For Review

Welcome back to another Aurora Teagarden review! As I said in my last review, I stated that I was excited for the next movie. Why, you ask? Well that’s because I was looking forward to seeing how a murder mystery party was incorporated into the Aurora Teagarden series! Parties like this are not featured in films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. So, this particular creative decision intrigued me about this film. When I watched the trailer for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For, I noticed that Preston Vanderslice appeared in two clips. Preston is becoming one of my favorite actors in the Hallmark community. He is one of the few actors who can successfully pull off a portrayal of both a likable and unlikable character. He also won the title of Best Supporting Actor from a Hallmark Channel Movie in this year’s Gold Sally Awards! Whenever Preston appears in a Hallmark production, I know, as a Hallmark fan, that he’s going to put everything he has, talent wise, into that performance!

Aurora Teagarden 11 poster
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Aurora+Teagarden+Mysteries+An+Inheritance+to+Die+For.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Just like in the previous Aurora Teagarden movie, the acting was one of the best aspects! As always, Marilu Henner gave a great performance as Aida Teagarden! What helps is that she has consistently portrayed this character throughout the series. This not only helped Marilu become familiar with the role, but also include her talents to bring this character to life! As I said in my introduction, I was excited to see Preston Vanderslice appear in this film. His performance did not disappoint, as this helped me stay invested in his character from start to finish! His character, Cade, is a very multi-layered individual. This is something that is not always seen in mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Despite this, Preston shined as this role was the perfect fit for his talents!

 

The incorporation of the Real Murders Club: In the Aurora Teagarden series, the Real Murders Club plays a minor role in the overall narrative. In both Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For and Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse, this group actually worked together in an attempt to solve the mystery! Even though Aurora ended up solving the mystery by herself, as usual, the Real Murders Club was able to help the plot move forward. Seeing almost every individual provide their insight into the film’s main plot was interesting to witness. It kind of makes me wish that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries would create a television show based on the Real Murders Club from this series.

 

Arthur and Lynn’s subplot: Similar to the Real Murders Club, the characters of Arthur and Lynn are, usually, given minor roles within each film. While their subplot in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For wasn’t spectacular, it gave Arthur and Lynn an opportunity to play larger roles in the story. Instead of just telling Aurora that she couldn’t help them solve the mystery, they are shown using their detective skills to carry out their jobs and provide their pieces of the puzzle to the overall conflict. Whenever there’s a character or characters that work for the police, but are not a love interest, their side of the story is usually not explored. In Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For, however, Arthur and Lynn were not only given more screen-time, but they were also given more of a story than they normally receive.

detective-desktop-1240088-1280x960
Vintage detective desk photo created by Olivier Bourgeois at freeimages.com. Photo by <a href=”/photographer/ornicar69-54520″>Olivier Bourgeois</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt; Image found at freeimages.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The murder mystery party: Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But Sally, I thought you were looking forward to this part of the film. How could not like it”? It’s not the murder mystery party itself that I didn’t like. The length of time it was given was what I had an issue with. In the trailer for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For, it seemed like a large portion of the movie would take place at a murder mystery party. In reality, this part of the story only lasted for about five minutes. Also, this party barely played a role in the overall plot. This is not only an example of false advertising, but it makes me feel like it shouldn’t have been included in the film.

 

The pace: In the last Aurora Teagarden review, one of the flaws that I pointed out was the film’s slow pace. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For also made this same mistake when it comes to the pace of the film. Because it was slow, it made the overall project feel longer than its intended two hour run time. What didn’t help was some of the scenes being drawn out in order to satisfy this run-time. This made ideas take a while to be expressed. I found myself enjoying this movie less than other mysteries on the network. It shows that a film’s pace can truly make or break a production.

 

An imbalance between comedy and drama: I said in my review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse that the overall tone of the movie was more serious than in previous films. The tone of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For was also serious, with very few comedic moments. I also said in the aforementioned review that comedy is used to give the audience a break from the darkness associated with the film’s murder. But, if a mystery movie doesn’t give its viewers some distance between the grimness of the situation, it might make the experience of watching the film more depressing. This Aurora Teagarden movie didn’t provide their audience with that distance, which means that the primary focus of the story was on the darker and serious subjects.

victorian-houses-4-1233917-1280x960
Victoria house photo created by Nathan Benney at freeimages.com.Photo by <a href=”/photographer/nbunney-47645″>Nathan Bunney</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;. Image found at freeimages.com.

My overall impression:

Compared to the last film and as a film in general, I found Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For to be just ok. Looking back on this movie, I’m still disappointed about how little time was given to the murder mystery party that was promised in the marketing. Besides that, this movie has some of the same flaws that the previous Aurora Teagarden film did. But, it’s important to point out the positives within this movie. One example is the acting, especially from Preston Vanderslice! For the most part, this series has been one of the strongest on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. With one more film set to premiere during Aurora Teagarden Month, I hope this upcoming film is better than these first two Aurora Teagarden films combined. From what I’ve seen in the trailer, it looks like a murder mystery play will be involved. But, after the murder mystery party in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For, I’m not getting my hopes up.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on Aurora Teagarden Month so far? Are you looking forward to the next movie? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse Review

So, it’s been five months since I last reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (yes, you read that right). And I was surprised to discover, recently, that my review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game is one of my more popular reviews. Currently, it has four likes and 390 views! Because of these two factors, I decided to review all three films that will premiere during the first ever Aurora Teagarden Month! This is one of my favorite series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so I wouldn’t pass on an opportunity to talk about these movies! The first one to air was Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse. Not only was I excited to revisit these characters, but also to see some newer faces return. What are we waiting for? Let’s begin this review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse

Aurora Teagarden 10 poster
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Aurora+Teagarden+Mysteries+A+Game+of+Cat+and+Mouse.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The acting performances in the Aurora Teagarden series are, always, a highlight. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse is no exception, as the entire cast did a great job with their on-screen performances! Once again, Candace Cameron Bure shines in the lead role! She helped carry the film with a likable personality and charm. I also liked seeing Niall Matter again as Nick Miller. Even though this character hasn’t appeared in the series for very long, he has already become a favorite! Supporting actors and actresses also did a wonderful job, whether they were series regulars or newcomers! Since the very beginning of the series, Ellie Harvie has portrayed Lillian Tibbett, Aurora’s co-worker at the library. She only makes limited on-screen appearances, but her performances make up for that. With enough believability, Ellie has been able to bring her character to life and give the audience the impression that Lillian is not Aurora’s biggest fan. The Aurora Teagarden series would not be the same without her.

 

The mystery: In almost every mystery film on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the main mystery revolves around a murder. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was about a different kind of mystery; where thefts, vandalism, and danger were the key ingredients. While there was a murder associated with the story, it was not the primary focus. Enough suspects and clues allowed the audience to stay invested in the story. Incorporating Aurora’s occupation with the mystery itself was not only clever, but also showed how well-written this movie was!

 

The surprises: I’m not going to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t seen this movie yet. But I will say that there were a few surprises that were well executed. One of them was so effective, that it made me jump in my seat! As I’ve said, this movie was well-written when it came to the film’s mystery. I also felt this way about the surprises in this movie. This was a good way to try to help the audience stay focused on what was happening on-screen.

City Library Isometric Illustration
Interior view of library image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A slower pace: Most of the mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have a faster pace. This is to maintain the suspense and intrigue that the mystery provides. In Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse, though, the overall pace was on the slower side. While the story itself were intriguing, the slower pace made the film feel like it was a little bit drawn out. This also made the movie seem like the suspense was very limited.

 

Rehashed material: There are two ongoing narratives in the Aurora Teagarden series: people disapproving of the Real Murders Club and the police not wanting Aurora to help them solve the case. I understand that things like this help a series maintain its continuity. But when this is the tenth movie in a four-year-old movie series, those narratives start to become stale. In every film, Aurora ends up solving the mystery without the help of the police. As for the Real Murders Club, the mayor of Aurora’s town became a member of the group a few movies ago. Hopefully, these narratives can be dropped or changed within the next two films.

 

Lack of comedy: Even though the films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are known for having a more serious tone than the movies on Hallmark Channel, comedy is, more often than not, incorporated into their projects. The reason for this is to give the audience some distance between the darkness of the film’s murder. The overall tone of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was serious, which left very little room for comedy. Sure, there were a few moments that made me chuckle. But the humor that is usually found in this series was sorely missed.

Private detective office interior cartoon vector
Interior image of detective’s office created by Vectorpocket at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage vector created by vectorpocket – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As a film, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was decent. But, as the first movie in Aurora Teagarden Month, this was a good start! There are very few times when this series disappoints. This film definitely did not do that, as interesting creative choices were made and the story itself was thoroughly thought out. I’ve been a fan of this series since the very beginning, so I’m glad that it finally got its own month! Because I enjoyed this entry in the Aurora Teagarden story, I am looking forward to the next two installments! Based on the commercial, it looks like the eleventh movie will feature a murder mystery party. From what I remember, there hasn’t been a party like this featured in any of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ mystery films. It looks like August is shaping up to be a very fascinating time of year!

 

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on the start of Aurora Teagarden Month? Are you looking forward to the next two films? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For Review

Since I happened to see Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For right after I saw the latest episode of When Calls the Heart, I felt that I needed to write a review for this movie. Also, it’s been two months since I last reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so it was time for me to get back to talking about mystery movies. I remember when this project was first announced at Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last year. At the time, I wondered how this series would be any different from the other mystery series that had already been established. In a Word on the Street story last August, I talked about how the movie was about to go into production. This led me to speculate whether the film would be released in Fall of 2018 or early 2019. It looks like I was right in one of those predictions, as this movie premiered in early March. Did this movie stand out from all the other mystery movies on the network? The only way to solve this mystery is to read my review of Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For!

Crossword Mysteries -- A Puzzle to Die For poster
Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Crossword+Mysteries+A+Puzzle+to+Die+For.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I thought the acting in Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was good! Ever since this project was first announced, I was excited to see Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott star in another movie together. This is because I’ve enjoyed their performances in other Hallmark projects. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, both Lacey and Brennan did a really good job portraying their characters! Their performances display a sense of believability and emotionality that is required in a mystery story. They also had a good amount of on-screen chemistry. I also think the supporting cast did a good job in their acting performances! I’ve always enjoyed watching Barbara Niven’s performances in other Hallmark productions. So, it’s no surprise that I found myself applauding Barbara’s portrayal of Tess’s aunt, Candace. Her versatility helped make her character seem as realistic as possible. Even though Candace was only on-screen for a limited amount of time, I’m hoping this character can play a bigger role in future movies.

 

  • The incorporation of crossword puzzles: Every mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has their own unique identity, even though almost all of them focus on solving murder mysteries. Having crossword puzzles associated with this story was a creative and unique way to set this series apart from the other stories on the network. Having the puzzles correlate with the mystery worked really well for this movie. I also liked the idea of the Crossword Puzzle Tournament that was featured in the film. With the way this type of competition was portrayed in the movie, it kind of reminded me of spelling bees or chess tournaments. However, the competition itself felt like its own unique event.

 

  • The big city landscape: In most of the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the primary location of the story is in a small, sometimes fictional, town. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the story took place in New York City. This was a nice change in scenery which worked well of this particular story. Seeing the different businesses and facilities within this film was very interesting! One of my favorite locations in this movie was the Ping-Pong Hall, where Tess was playing a game of Ping-Pong with a friend. Not only is Ping-Pong rarely seen in Hallmark movies, but I’ve never seen a facility like this in any other Hallmark production. I hope a mystery can place at this Ping-Pong Hall in another Crossword Mysteries film!
newyork4
New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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:

  • A slow pace: Throughout the film, the overall pace was slower than in most of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films. This caused the story to feel drawn out. It also made some scenes drag on longer than they might have been intended. The issues relating to the film’s pace definitely took away some of the film’s excitement.

 

  • A lack of suspense: In most mystery films, there is a good amount of suspense that helps the audience stay invested in the story. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the suspense was not as abundant as in other mystery movies. While there were suspenseful moments within this narrative, the film’s total amount of suspense was not fluid. This aspect did affect my overall enjoyment of the film.

 

  • A confusing story element: While watching this movie, there was one part of the story that really confused me. During this film, Pierre was the lead organizer of the annual Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He was planning on retiring and handing the title over to Tess. However, when the Tournament arrived, it looked like Pierre was competing in the competition. No one in the film seemed to notice that this could have been a conflict of interest. I don’t know if I just missed an important plot point or if the screenwriters forgot to include significant details into their script. But I found this part of the film to be very puzzling (no pun intended), even after I saw the film.
sunday-s-crossword-1238083-1279x852
Crossword puzzle image created by jaylopez at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/JayLopez.”

My overall impression:

Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was just ok. It didn’t impress me, but it didn’t make me feel like I wasted my time. However, I do think this movie has the potential to start a strong and entertaining series. This movie has the pieces to lay out the foundation for a series that can be intriguing and engaging. The cast did a good job with their performances, there were creative elements found within the narrative, and the mystery itself was well written. At Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last month, it was announced that there would be three more Crossword Mysteries movies, which will premiere in October. It will be interesting to see how this series continues, especially since there’s only so much that can be done with crossword puzzles. When October finally comes around, I do want to see what these films have in store and if this series can stand on its own.

 

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

 

Have you seen Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For? Are you excited for the rest of the Crossword Mysteries films to premiere? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Mystery 101 Review

Because my review of Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was fairly successful (with 55 views and 5 likes), it made sense for me to continue reviewing mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The next film that the network released was Mystery 101. I was pretty excited to see this film because of Jill Wagner’s and Kristoffer Polaha’s involvement in the movie. One of my favorite Hallmark movies from last year was Pearl in Paradise, so I was looking forward to seeing Jill and Kristoffer lead another Hallmark production. However, I had low expectations for this film. This is because Mystery 101 appeared to have some of the same aspects of other mystery movies from this network. But, because I enjoy watching the mystery films on Hallmark’s second channel, I decided to give this movie a chance. Was this film as enjoyable as Pearl in Paradise? The only to solve this mystery is by reading my Mystery 101 review!

mystery 101 poster
Mystery 101 poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Mystery+101.

Things I liked about the film

  • The acting: The cast in Mystery 101 was one of the best parts of this film! As I said in my introduction, Jill Wagner’s and Kristoffer Polaha’s involvement in this film was what excited me about the project. Their performances did not disappoint, as both of their talents appeared very natural and believable on-screen. I was also impressed by the acting performances of the supporting cast. I was pleasantly surprised to see Preston Vanderslice within this film. I’ve really enjoyed his performances in other Hallmark productions, like Cooking with Love. His portrayal of Amy’s teaching assistant, Bud, was very good. I also liked Andy Thompson’s portrayal as Eldon, the university maintenance employee. His performance was so memorable, I’m still thinking about it as I write this review.

 

  • The on-screen chemistry: Because of their on-screen chemistry in Pearl in Paradise, I had a feeling that Jill Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha could also have on-screen chemistry in Mystery 101. Like their acting performances, Jill and Kristoffer’s on-screen chemistry did not disappoint either. Anytime Amy and Travis interacted with one another, it always came across realistically and convincingly. The banter between them was good to hear and the situations they were a part of were interesting to see. If this movie is the start of a new series, seeing Amy and Travis’ relationship grow will be something to look forward to.

 

  • The mystery story: In most mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, there are one or two mystery stories within the overall film. In Mystery 101, there were four mysteries within this movie’s narrative. This was a creative and ambitious approach, trying to do something different from the other movies on the network. Having more than one mystery with the film’s story allows the audience to stay engaged in what is happening in the narrative. It also made for an interesting interactive experience.
269703-P5H9WI-853
Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • A slower pace: Throughout Mystery 101, the pace was on the slower side. It almost seemed like the film wanted to take its time with each mystery instead of being as suspenseful and fast-paced as possible. It didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the film, but it was something that I noticed.

 

  • A delayed start of the mystery: As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, I feel that a film’s mystery should be introduced within the first few minutes of the movie. However, the mystery in Mystery 101 was introduced toward the end of the film’s first 20 minutes. I understand that this is a first movie to a potential new series, meaning that the film’s first few minutes are crucial to setting up the world of the overall series. But I still feel that this film’s mystery should have been introduced within the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film. This way, the story could have jumped right into the mystery and the audience could have started their mystery-solving journey a lot sooner.

 

  • Some of the mysteries not connecting with other mysteries: I won’t spoil Mystery 101 if you haven’t seen it yet. But some of the mysteries within this narrative didn’t connect with the other mysteries in this movie. Out of the four mysteries that were introduced in this story, two of them were stand-alone mysteries. They kind of felt like they were there just for the sake of being there. If Mystery 101 becomes a new series and continues to include more than one mystery in their films, I hope these mysteries have some connectivity with each other.
342407-PA9PYX-915
Library image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stack-of-books-on-library-desk_2509490.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/school”>School image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, Mystery 101 was a good start to this specific series. But, after watching Mystery 101, I liked this movie more than Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness. When comparing the two stories, I think that Mystery 101’s story had more creativity to it. The very idea of having more than two mysteries being explored within one movie is something that isn’t often seen on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. It’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for Mystery 101 in the future. Even though Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films, to a certain extent, seem to follow a formula, it looks like the network is putting in a good amount of effort to create movies and series that are unique and creative from each other. Hopefully, these efforts can continue as new series are welcomed and returning series come home.

 

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen Mystery 101? Would you like to see this series continue? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness Review

Though Hallmark Movies & Mysteries doesn’t have seasonal themed line-ups like Hallmark Channel does, they have not wasted any time in starting their mystery movie series for 2019. After two wonderful months of Christmas movies, the mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are such a welcoming sight to see. For the first movie of this new year, Hallmark’s second network decided to premiere the start of, potentially, a brand-new series: Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness. Last November, in a Word on the Street post, I speculated that Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness could be a first movie in a new mystery series. As the “Miracles of Christmas” line-up started to wind down, this speculation became a reality as Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was, indeed, a Hallmark movie. Because this film’s synopsis shared several similarities with other series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I kept low expectations for this movie. However, since this network has, for the most part, had a good track record when it comes to their movies, I chose to watch this film with an open mind. As this is the first review of 2019 for a Hallmark mystery film, let the Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness review begin!

ruby herring -- silent witness poster
Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Ruby+Herring+Mysteries+Silent+Witness

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: For the most part, I thought the acting in Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was good. During her time in the Hallmark community, Taylor Cole has primarily appeared in movies on the Hallmark Channel. This is the first time she has appeared in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film. To me, Taylor was one of the strongest actors in this cast! She embodied the character of Ruby Herring with versatility and a well-rounded performance, bringing a sense of believability to her role. Stephen Huszar is no stranger to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, with Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness being his fourth film from the network and his second Hallmark mystery movie. Just like Taylor, Stephen embodied this character in a way that appeared very natural and believable! His performance in this film was very enjoyable to watch.

 

The on-screen chemistry: While Taylor and Stephen gave a good acting performance individually, they also gave a good acting performance as a pair. Through-out Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, Taylor and Stephen effectively portrayed two people who have feelings of dislike/like between each other. Their banter was not only well-written, but also well-delivered. Taylor and Stephen’s performances complimented one another, which I thought was good to see in this film. I hope they can appear in more Hallmark movies together!

 

The mystery: I thought this mystery story within Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was well-written! There were enough clues and suspects to keep the story satisfying. I also liked how the story was written in such a way that it leaves the audience guessing until the end. This makes the story intriguing and engaging. Having a consumer investigative reporter solving murder mysteries is an interesting idea for a mystery series, as it provides a unique perspective to a commonly used type of mystery on the network. It shows that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is putting in a conscious effort to give their series its own identity.

Journalist Reporter Profession Isometric Banner
News reporter being filmed image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/journalist-reporter-profession-isometric-banner_2875517.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>, Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The time stamps: In order to break up certain scenes, the creative team behind this film decided to put time stamps throughout the movie. For example, in-between the first and second scene of Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, the words “Day Two – Tuesday” appeared against a black background on-screen. At first, I thought this was an interesting concept. But, as the movie went on, it didn’t seem to add anything to the story. Overall, these time stamps felt random within the context of the movie.

 

A drawn-out story: While watching Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, I felt that this story was a little too drawn-out. Even though the pace of this film was on the slower side, the story itself seemed like it went on longer than it might have been intended.

 

Lack of subplots: As I’ve already mentioned, I really liked this film’s mystery story. It also served as the film’s main plot. But this plot was the only one within the entire movie. Personally, I couldn’t find any substantial subplots while watching the film. Yes, there was a wedding and a baking convention that was brought up within the film’s narrative. However, it felt like these events only served the main plot and didn’t have their own stories to tell.

OYHKOT0
Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was a decent film. However, it was a good start to this particular series. Ruby Herring Mysteries has the potential to be a strong mystery series, like Garage Sale Mystery and the Aurora Teagarden series. Who knows? Maybe there could be a Ruby Herring month! While Hallmark hasn’t made any official announcements yet about any more movies within this series, there are more mystery movies that are on their way on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries! As of January 2019, there are six new mystery movies that have been officially confirmed for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries premieres. While most of these movies are brand new series on the network, only one of these movies is a continuation of an already established series, which is Emma Fielding Mysteries: More Bitter Than Death. As I fan of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I am grateful that this network continues to try their best at not only making good mystery movies, but also quality mystery series that are worth celebrating.

 

Overall score: 7.1-7.2 out of 10

 

Have you seen Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness? Which mystery movie are looking forward to seeing? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

 

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire Review (Halloween Double Feature Part 1)

Happy Halloween! Just to let you know, there will be spoilers in this review.  If you want to read this Double Feature’s introduction, visit this link:

My Halloween Double Feature: An Introduction

20181031_233641[1]
A DVD of The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
  1. In your introduction for this double feature, you mentioned that both Queen of the Damned and The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire were released in 2002. Can you think of anything from around that time period that could have influenced the creation of this film?

When Hallmark Channel began in 2001, the network didn’t have a strong identity like they do today. Because The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was released the year after Hallmark Channel’s start, the creative team behind this film seemed to have more creative freedom on this project than they would have if it were made in recent years. With this creative freedom, the film was able to explore themes that are normally not found in Hallmark movies, such as various belief systems and raising awareness for endangered species.

 

2. Were you able to follow along with the story and understand what was going on in the film despite not having read the source material?

Absolutely! The thing about The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire is it’s written in a way that made me feel like prior knowledge of the source material wasn’t necessary to enjoy this film. From what I know about the Sherlock Holmes character and series, the stories seem pretty straight-forward. The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was, for the most part, isolated from the other movies in this particular series. This makes it a good movie to introduce someone to Sherlock Holmes, as the film doesn’t make you feel like you have to watch them in a certain order.

 

3. Was your pre-movie thought addressed?

Because there were no legitimate vampires in this movie, my pre-movie thought was not addressed. The closest thing to vampires in The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire were vampire bats.

 

4. Were you right or wrong in your pre-movie prediction?

I was so wrong in my pre-movie prediction {face palms embarrassedly}. As I mentioned in answer #3, there were no vampires in this movie.

 

5. Within your pre-movie thought for The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, you talked about how a film’s title can act as a promise to a film’s audience. Do you think the title of this movie was deceiving or honest?

It’s actually a little bit of both. On the one hand, most of the characters truly believed there was a vampire on the loose. On the other hand, as I’ve been saying, there were no vampires in The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire. If anything, this film’s title bent the truth.

O614E00
Magnifying glass and fingerprint image created by Alvaro_Cabrera at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/loupe-over-a-fingerprint_853908.htm’>Designed by alvaro_cabrera</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Alvaro_cabrera – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

6. Because The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was released before the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel (formerly known as Hallmark Movie Channel) began, do you think there was anything within this film that could have influenced future films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries?

I believe The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was one of the movies that helped create the foundation that today’s Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films use in their stories. The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire is a murder mystery, which is the same type of mystery story that a lot of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films choose to adopt. In terms of specifics, Watson and Holmes use autopsy reports to solve their respective mystery. This reminded me of how Jennifer Shannon, in the Garage Sale Mystery series, relies on Tramell’s autopsy reports to help her solve the case. What surprised me the most was that The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire takes place during the Christmas season. The only Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film that is set during Christmas is Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery. I’m hoping Hallmark can have more of their mystery movies take place during Christmas, so that fans of the mystery series can solve mysteries year-round.

 

7. Did you acquire any new thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?

Yes I did! Here are a few of them:

  • As I mentioned in answer #1, the theme of various belief systems was explored. In The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, every character believed in something. For instance, Sherlock Holmes believed in logic. It was interesting to see how these different belief systems correlated with each other to propel the story forward and help the characters solve the case. An example of this is how Holmes’ belief in logic and Dr. Chagas’ belief in knowledge and awareness of vampire bats were used together to not only prove Dr. Chagas’ innocence, but also to find the culprit.

 

  • As I also mentioned in answer #6, The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire took place during the Christmas season. While the Christmas theme, in this movie, did not have anywhere near as strong of a presence as in Hallmark’s Christmas movies today, I found this choice to be very interesting. When one thinks of what could be found in Christmas movies, the subject of vampires doesn’t normally come to mind. This shows that the concept of vampires can be incorporated into almost any type of movie in almost any time of year. This also shows how Hallmark thought outside-the-box when it comes to their Christmas movies.

 

  • There are very few Hallmark movies that feature characters with disabilities. Even fewer Hallmark movies feature protagonists or significant secondary characters who not only have a disability, but who also contribute to the film’s plot. In The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, Sister Helen, one of the sisters who lived and worked at the church, is blind. However, she didn’t let her disability stop her from helping Sherlock Holmes find the guilty individual and continuing to carry out her congregation’s mission of sharing their faith with the community.

 

8. In The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, did anything stand out to you, whether for better or worse?

For the better, I really think the camaraderie between Holmes and Watson was a highlight of this film. Matt Frewer’s and Kenneth Welsh’s performance was very natural and convincing, making their characters appear like they truly got along with each other. As I was watching this movie, I realized that this camaraderie is the foundation for all of Holmes’ interactions and relationships. If it was not for the believability of the camaraderie between Watson and Holmes, the other times where Holmes interacts with various characters would probably not feel believable either.

 

Now, for the worse, something that I felt was missing from this movie was humor. I’ve mentioned before on my blog that Hallmark incorporates humor into their mystery stories to give their audience a break from the darkness and sadness of the murder mystery. Since, in this movie, there were seldom moments of light-heartedness or humor, the audience isn’t able to take a break from the darkness of the murder mystery and the spookiness of the vampire theme. I don’t know if there is humor within Sherlock Holmes stories, but I’m pretty sure Hallmark could have added some light-hearted moments that would have be more in line with the tone and time period of a particular story like this.

 

9. When people talk about their favorite Hallmark movies or Hallmark movies that they like, no one mentions The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire. Why do you think the majority of Hallmark’s audience isn’t aware of this movie’s existence?

This movie is not available on Hallmark Movies Now and, as far as I know, it has never appeared on any of Hallmark’s networks. Because of this, Hallmark hasn’t given their audience an opportunity to see this film.

 

10. After watching The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, what is the one thing you can take away from this movie viewing experience?

Well, for one thing, The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire is a different film from what is usually found on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This is because the movie is dialogue heavy, with few moments of suspense and action. However, I do this is a good movie. As I mentioned within this review, I think this movie is a good introduction to Sherlock Holmes. I also think this is a good introduction to mystery stories from Hallmark. In a time when Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is thriving with their mystery series, I believe it’s important for Hallmark fans to be given the chance to watch the films that helped these stories be what they are today. After I watched The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, I gained an appreciation not only for Hallmark’s mystery movies, but also for the foundation that was set in place so these movies could be as entertaining and intriguing as possible.

176402-OWIP8M-64
Happy vampire image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/several-vampires-ready-for-halloween_1317599.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/party”>Party vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen