I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy finding movie news stories to discuss on 18 Cinema Lane. However, I am thankful when I come across news about Hallmark productions! While I did talk about stories revolving around Hallmark films last month, those projects were Christmas related. In this Word on the Street article, I will address Hallmark films that will premiere outside the Christmas season! With the ‘Fall Harvest’ line-up just around the corner, it’s common for viewers to see trailers rolled out as the weeks go by. My Word on the Street story will focus on the first new trailer for the line-up. Before the Christmas season begins, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries likes to air some new films during the Fall. This Word on the Street story will feature a discussion about two upcoming movies; with one receiving a trailer and the other receiving a synopsis. As I sometimes do, I will share my opinion on these pieces of movie news.
Two new trailers have been released from Hallmark; with one for a ‘Fall Harvest’ film and the other for an upcoming movie from Hallmark’s second network! The first one represents the Hallmark Channel movie Follow Me to Daisy Hills, which currently has a release date of September 19th. In the trailer, there were three scenes that featured good cinematography! These scenes revolved around a river during the autumn season. The acting from the leads, Cindy Busby and Marshall Williams, appeared stiff to me. However, this is not a reflection of their performances in the film, as the movie has not been released yet. I am disappointed that with a project called Follow Me to Daisy Hills, there were no daisies to be found. It makes me wonder why the film’s town is even called ‘Daisy Hills’ at all?
The other trailer is for one of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ newest titles, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift. This movie is advertised on the main page of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ official website and boasts a release date of September 27th. As I look back on this specific trailer, I noticed how this movie feels like a complete tonal shift from its predecessor. From what I remember, JL Family Ranch was a gritty, modern western that had a certain amount of adrenaline and suspense. According to the trailer, however, the sequel is a heart-felt drama that focuses on family and second chances. Even the color scheme and lighting appear brighter than the first film.
Speaking of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, an official synopsis for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly has been posted on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website! Below is the description for the movie:
“Aurora’s high school reunion turns deadly when a body is found in the hotel pool. Aurora and her Real Murders Club help investigate which classmate was most likely to kill.”
Even though the movie sounds interesting, I am disappointed that the “reunited” part of the film will not have anything to do with Aurora’s ex, Martin. In a Word on the Street story back in February, I wondered if Martin would return to the series, based on the film’s title. A dynamic that hasn’t been featured in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film before could have been found in this project. But I guess there’s always the next film. What I do wonder is if any mentions of Nick and Aurora’s engagement will be found within the script? Will we see any wedding planning in the film? If we do, it would continue the story’s overarching continuity.
What are your thoughts on these pieces of movie news? Are you looking forward to any of the films I talked about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Here are the links if you want to check out each source:
It’s no secret that my Hallmark Movies & Mysteries related content is some of the most popular on 18 Cinema Lane. My review of Hailey Dean Mysteries: A Will to Kill has acquired over 1,000 views, making it the most popular movie I’ve ever written about! In recent days, my Aurora Teagarden reviews have garnered a large number of views. Because I was planning on talking about the newest film from this series, these viewership numbers gave me a greater reason to review Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek! In a Word on the Street story from two months ago, I discussed the likelihood of this film being removed from Hallmark’s schedule due to unfinished post-production work. While this work was eventually completed, the film moved from its original release date in April to May 17th. Despite this date change, I’m thankful this movie was able to premiere at all. Because the Coronavirus has prevented Hallmark from creating new content, I appreciate the network’s attempts to adapt to the current situation.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: A consistent strength I’ve noticed in the series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is the quality of the acting performances! Specifically in the Aurora Teagarden series, the acting has always been a highlight! Because most of the starring cast has appeared in more than one film, it allows the actors and actresses to become comfortable in that role and help their character adapt to a particular story. One of these actors is Dylan Sloane, who portrays Aurora’s relative, Phillip. Whenever he appeared on screen, Dylan always seemed at ease in his role. With a believable performance, Dylan’s portrayal made it easier for the audience to focus on how Phillip would contribute to the mystery. Newer additions to the cast also gave memorable performances, as two standouts came from Oliver Rice and Brendon Zub! I recognize Oliver from Chesapeake Shores. Since he has had a recurring presence on that show, his role as James gave him the opportunity to adapt to a variety of situations. After seeing his performance in this film, it makes me wish Hallmark would give him a lead role. As for Brendon, I liked what he brought to his role! His character, Eric, had a good persona and fit in well with the pre-established cast of characters. I’d like to see Brendon appear in more Hallmark films!
The inclusion of history: When it comes to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films, history is not often included in the story. This is because most of the stories focus on the current situations going on in a specific location. Since Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek incorporated Elizabethan history into their script, a unique identity was given to that film. It also made the project somewhat educational. Personally, I know a limited amount of information on the Elizabethan era. After hearing the explanation behind “Leicester’s Gift”, I feel like I gained more knowledge about Queen Elizabeth. While this movie doesn’t replace a history lesson, it at least starts the conversation.
The absence of the “don’t-get-involved” cliché: There have been times in the Aurora Teagarden series where Aurora is told to not get involved in a case. She is even told this after she had successfully solved more than one mystery. In the series’ thirteenth movie, I’m glad the creative team chose to not include the “don’t-get-involved” cliché! While Lynn tells her not to get in the police’s way, Aurora is never told not to solve the mystery. In fact, there is one scene where Aurora encourages her mom to continue being the voice of reason in her life. This was such a great subversion of expectations, as it gives Aurora freedom to solve the mystery but has someone in her corner to hold her accountable. This creative choice allowed Aurora to be recognized as the intelligent yet imperfect woman that she is!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Nick’s engagement proposal: In the trailers for this movie, Nick’s attempts of proposing to Aurora were heavily emphasized. This part of the story, in the film’s marketing, was highlighted more than the plot. Personally, I think this was a creative mistake. It didn’t play as large of a role in the story as I expected. But, because it was shown in the advertising, Nick’s proposal attempts felt predictable. As soon as it was introduced in the film, I correctly predicted the outcome. The proposal’s resolution also felt predictable.
A limited amount of suspense: Suspense has a consistent presence in the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. However, some movies contain less suspense than others. This is certainly the case for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek. While watching the movie, I noticed how the suspense was used sparingly. In my opinion, I like seeing a healthy amount of suspense in a mystery film. It helps the film maintain a good pace and it creates higher stakes for the story. Since this installment of the Aurora Teagarden series adopted less suspense, it almost gave the story lower stakes than usual. It also felt like the overall level of urgency was on the lower end of the spectrum.
Under-utilized clues: In my review of Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, I talked about how the clues were found in the spoken dialogue of the suspects. This was a unique creative choice that worked for that film. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek chose to incorporate physical clues as well as the perspectives of the suspects. Unfortunately, the script provided an imbalance between these perspectives and the clues. This caused the suspects’ perspectives to be given more attention than the clues. The majority of the clues consisted of paper, which created a lack of variety to the types of clues that were found. If the creative team knew how the clues were being under-utilized, they should have placed the clues within the dialogue like Mystery 101: An Education in Murder.
My overall impression:
As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, the Aurora Teagarden series is one of the strongest movie series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. There are movies in this series that are better than others, but I have yet to see a movie that is bad. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek was a likable addition to the series. The inclusion of history gave the project its own identity and the story subverted expectations from a familiar cliché. However, I feel there are movies that are stronger than this one. This chapter in the Aurora Teagarden story was not as suspenseful as other installments. Even though Nick proposing to Aurora progresses the overarching plot forward, it ended up being predictable because of the marketing campaign. Based on the title for the next movie, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly, I’m wondering if Yannick Bisson’s character, Martin, makes an appearance? If Martin returns, that would provide an interesting dynamic as Aurora plans her wedding.
Overall score: 7.3-7.4 out of 10
Have you seen the newest Aurora Teagarden movie? What do you think the next film will be about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
After three months of voting, the winners of the 2020 Gold Sally Awards have been determined! This year, the nominees were expanded beyond Hallmark projects. I made this choice to better reflect 18 Cinema Lane. Because of its success, I will not only bring the Gold Sally Awards back in 2021, but I’ll continue nominating films from within Hallmark and outside of Hallmark! Thank you to everyone who liked and voted in the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! You are the reason why I keep this event around! Like last year, I have brought back the scrapbook style page showcasing this year’s winners! 2020’s theme is silver and gold with a dash of sparkle! And now, the winners of the 2020 Gold Sally Awards!
Best Movie and Ensemble: Avengers: Endgame
Best Story: Mystery 101: Words Can Kill
Best On-Screen Couple: Ziyi Zhang and Chen Chang – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Best Actress: Haya Harareet – Ben-Hur (1959)
Best Actor: Spencer Tracy – Boys Town
Best Supporting Actress: Kathy Bates – Swept from the Sea
Best Supporting Actor: Ian McKellen – Swept from the Sea
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!
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.
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.
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!
Before I start this Word on the Street article, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, April 16th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Movie and Story of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The last award will be posted on the April 17th! Here is the link to the poll:
For a while, there has been a rumor about Sam Raimi directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I choose not to talk about this story because, at the time, it was a rumor that hadn’t been confirmed or denied. Now, the director himself has confirmed his involvement in the upcoming Marvel film! Jim Vejvoda, from IGN, reports that this news was first “confirmed by the project’s original director, Scott Derrickson, in a social media post wishing Raimi well with the film”. But, prior to confirming this news himself, Sam stated “I loved Doctor Strange as a kid, but he was always after Spider-Man and Batman for me, he was probably at number five for me of great comic book characters”. The news seems to spark positive reactions from fans, including Josiah from Geeks + Gamers. In a video titled ‘Sam Raimi will Direct Doctor Strange 2 | Marvel’s Best Decision in a Long Time!’, Josiah says “I think that Sam Raimi is, just, the perfect choice for this because he does have a background in horror. I think that he will be great for this. He does know how to handle that type of genre very well and he’s done comic book movies before as well. So, obviously, he has the experience and the know-how to blend these together”.
Type ‘Sam Raimi will Direct Doctor Strange 2 | Marvel’s Best Decision in a Long Time!’ into Youtube’s search bar or visit the official Geeks + Gamers Youtube channel
In a Word on the Street story two months ago, I talked about how Bob Iger stepped down as Disney’s CEO to become the executive chairman of the company. Despite not being the company’s leader anymore, The New York Times feels Bob will save Disney during the days of the Coronavirus’ presence. On April 12th, Ben Smith reports that “Mr. Iger has effectively returned to running the company”, saying that “Mr. Iger smoothly reasserted control”. While companies around the world are doing whatever they can to survive, Disney’s CEO situation now comes across, in retrospect, like a big reactionary move. Two people that feel similarly are Kneon and Geeky Sparkles from Clownfish TV. In a video titled ‘Disney Fights to LIVE! LAYOFFS in Disney World! Bob Iger in Charge!’, Geeky expresses that The New York Times article says “that they [The New York Times article] did mention he [Bob Iger] is not CEO”, while referencing an article on her blog called Pirates and Princesses. However, both Geeky and Kneon question where Bob Chapek has been during this time, with Kneon saying that “Bob Chapek, sort of, got sidelined”. On this topic, I agree with Kneon and Geeky. Anytime I watched their videos about Disney’s business decisions during the time of the Coronavirus, Bob Iger has been the one to give the official statements, not Bob Chapek. In fact, it makes me wonder what exactly Bob Chapek has done as Disney’s CEO? While The New York Times article focuses on Bob Iger’s perspective about how different Disney will be after the Coronavirus, Geeky speculates if Disney regrets making their CEO decision, saying “I bet Disney wishes, God, they just waited a couple more months to make that announcement, the switch, because now they just look stupid”.
Type ‘Disney Fights to LIVE! LAYOFFS in Disney World! Bob Iger in Charge!’ into Youtube’s search bar or visit the official Clownfish TV Youtube channel (there is some language in this video)
Because of the Coronavirus, Hallmark’s schedule was been thrown off-course. Movies that were originally announced have now moved release dates. One of these films is Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death. When I reported on this movie back in February, the date for this film was set for May 17th. However, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ official website lists that date for the premiere of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries:Heist and Seek. In an episode on the Deck The Hallmark podcast, the film’s director, Ron Oliver, says that the film might premiere in August. Meanwhile, a new movie, titled When it Rains it Pours, has been listed on Hallmark Channel’s website! Here is the synopsis directly from the network’s website:
“After swearing off dating for a full year, Leah quickly learns her new commitment has made her a magnet for men.”
As of April 2020, the film has been given a release date of June 13th. It also stars Cindy Busby and Christopher Russell.
Before I start this award post, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, April 16th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Movie and Story of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The last award category will be posted on the April 17th! Here is the link to the poll:
Last week, Ospreyshire, from Iridium Eye Reviews, nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! This is my fourth time receiving the title. To me, even winning one of these awards in an honor. Thank you, Ospreyshire, for your thoughtfulness when it came to nominating me! Moments like these make me feel like I’m doing some good in the world of blogging. If you want to check out Ospreyshire’s blog, here is the link:
Before this post can begin, I must list the official rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award, which are the following:
List the award’s official rules
Display the award’s official logo somewhere on your blog
Thank the person who nominated you
Provide a link to your nominator’s blog
Answer your nominator’s questions
Nominate up to 11 bloggers
Ask your nominees 11 questions
Notify your nominees by commenting on at least one of their blog posts.
My 11 Answers
Which actor or actress do you think is overlooked by the public and what role would you like to see them in? For this question, I had to really think about who I would talk about. There are a number of actors and actresses that I believe are underrated. Some of them have been mentioned on 18 Cinema Lane before, like Max Lloyd-Jones. However, there are others that I haven’t found the opportunity to talk about yet. But, this time, I’ve decided to pick someone who I’ve previously brought up on my blog. According to her filmography on IMDB, Karina Arroyave has been acting in the film and television industry since the late ‘80s. However, it seems like she doesn’t receive the amount of recognition and attention that I think she deserves. As I’ve said in my Christmas Camp review, Karina has starred in two Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, Blind Spot from 1993 and Missing Pieces from 2000. But her roles in those films were smaller than what they could have been. One day, I’d like to see Karina cast in a Hallmark Hall of Fame film with a bigger role than she has received in years past.
If you could have a crossover between an anime and something involving Western animation, what would they be and what would the plot look like? When I read this question, I immediately thought of the Sailor Scouts from Sailor Moon teaming up with heroes from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)! Because the animated shows from Marvel follow a different story than the films, the Heart of the Universe would provide an interesting component to the plot. I’ve read online that the ‘Heart of the Universe’ is more powerful than the Infinity Gauntlet. Whether the ‘Heart of the Universe’ is a part of official Marvel canon is unknown to me. But it could create a way to raise the stakes for both programs.
What is your favorite thing about international cinema? I’d have to say being introduced to new people in the world of film! Before I started 18 Cinema Lane, I didn’t know who Vincent Perez was. Now, I’ve seen two of his films; Queen of the Damned and Swept from the Sea! This June, I’ll be reviewing the 1990 film, Cyrano de Bergerac, which I’m looking forward to because of Vincent’s involvement in the project!
If you could switch a theme song from a movie or TV series with a different song, what would it be and why? I have two choices for this question. The first is the theme music from Murder, She Wrote. To me, this piece of music doesn’t fit the tone of the show. It makes the program appear more cheerful than it really is. While there are light-hearted moments within the show, there can also be suspenseful and darker moments. I would change the theme music to something that sounds more mysterious. The second choice is The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. I’ve never watched the show, but I have seen a video of the show’s opening credits. I was surprised by the creative team’s choice not to use music from the 1994 film. For this show, I’d select a song directly from the movie.
What book would you like to see adapted onto the screen? This could be a novel or comic book, by the way. I’ve mentioned this on 18 Cinema Lane before, but I’ll say it again. I would love to see Murder on Ice by Alina Adams become a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film! If you want to learn why I feel this way, you can read my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List at this link:
What band would you like to see compose an entire soundtrack? What kind of movie would they score? My favorite band is Trans-Siberian Orchestra! While their music was featured in the movie, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, I really want to see them create a soundtrack for a Christmas movie musical for Hallmark Hall of Fame!
What is the least favorite thing from a creator you really like? Some of my favorite youtubers from the movie community host scheduled livestream videos. Unfortunately, there have been times when these videos have started late at night or lasted two+ hours. It also doesn’t help that I can’t pause the video while it’s live, as I end up missing important content. So, I either skip the video completely or watch it on a later date.
Who would you like to see voicing over a documentary that has never done so before? What would the documentary be about? Even though Disney+ is hosting Wandavision, it would be fascinating to see a mockumentary about Sokovia. It also makes sense for Elizabeth Olsen to provide the project’s voice-over, especially since we haven’t heard her speak in a Sokovian accent while portraying Wanda/Scarlet Witch in quite some time.
Which actor would sound ridiculous if they tried an accent outside of their own? I don’t know if it would sound ridiculous, but I’ve never heard Vin Diesel attempt an accent.
Who do you think is the most overrated film or animation director? Personally, I would say Steven Soderbergh is overrated as a director. Granted, I only saw Logan Lucky. But I couldn’t finish the movie, as I disliked it that much.
What is your greatest wish for cinema and/or animation? This could be realistic or a pipe dream. I will select two wishes for this question. Whether they’re realistic or just a dream is up for debate. The first is for the more underrated people in the entertainment industry to receive more recognition and attention then they might currently have. The second is for the full version of The Crow: City of Angels to be released. The Youtube channel, GoodBadFlicks, created a really good video about this film called “Exploring The Crow City of Angels”. I’ve only watched half of it, but it’s an informative piece on the “studio intervention” that heavily effected this movie. Because of the growing awareness and drive to restore lost media/films, I feel the release of the full version of The Crow: City of Angels could be possible.
My 11 Nominees
Eric from Dr. Eric Perry, PhD
Zach from Shut Up Zach!
Paul from Classic Film Journal
Luke from Luke Atkins – Critic
Steve from Movie Movie Blog Blog II
Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews
Bonnie from Quaint Cooking
The Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society
James from This Is My Truth Now
Erica from Poppity Talks Classic Film
Quiggy from The Midnite Drive-In
My 11 Questions
What is the first thing you will do when the Coronavirus is behind us?
Has there ever been a time when you thought a film adaptation was better than its source material? If so, what is it?
Which piece of lost media would you love to see found?
Who was the last person to leave a comment on your blog?
Describe your dream blogging collaboration!
Is there an event you’d like to attend? If so, what is it?
Toward the beginning of this year’s round of polls for the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards, I posted the first two polls; the Best Movie Award and the Best Story Award. After these rounds were over, I discovered there was a tie in both divisions! To determine a winner, I have brought back both polls! You’re allowed to vote for more than one nominee. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, April 10th, and ends on April 16th.
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!
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.
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?
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!
Happy April! We’re almost finished with the acting division as the Best Supporting Actor poll arrives. This poll will help us determine who will be crowned the Best Supporting Actor of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! You’re allowed to vote for more than one nominee. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, April 3rd, and ends on April 9th.
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!
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!
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.
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!