The Conclusion to my 80s-tastic Mall-tacular Double Feature!

The films I reviewed in this double feature, The Legend of Billie Jean and Night of the Comet, were referenced by Dan, from the Youtube channel, This is Dan Bell. Because both movies were classified as “mall movies”, I assumed at least one of these titles would primarily take place in a mall. But after I watched The Legend of Billie Jean and Night of the Comet, I discovered this was not the case, as both stories featured a mall for a very short amount of time. This made me reflect on the idea of movies being defined by a singular location and the inconsistency of that idea. As I’ve already said, Night of the Comet and The Legend of Billie Jean are labeled “mall movies”, despite their respective malls not being the story’s primary setting. Yet, I have never heard anyone call Phantom of the Megaplex a “movie theater movie”, even though more than fifty percent of that film takes place at the Megaplex movie theater. This can also be said about the “destination film”. Whenever a protagonist in a Hallmark movie travels to somewhere other than their small hometown, “destination film” is the distinction these titles are given. But by Hallmark’s logic, wouldn’t the Fast & Furious films be considered “destination films”, especially since, more often than not, the characters are shown traveling to destinations outside the United States? The idea of movies being defined by a singular location and its inconsistency is a fascinating one that might be covered in a future editorial or double feature!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Image by Freepik

If you want to read the other articles associated with this double feature, I’ll provide the links here:

The 80s-tastic Mall-tacular Double Feature Introduction!

Take 3: Night of the Comet Review (80s-tastic Mall-tacular Double Feature Part 1)

Take 3: The Legend of Billie Jean Review (80s-tastic Mall-tacular Double Feature Part 2)

Take 3: A Quiet Place Review + 445 Follower Thank You

This month, 18 Cinema Lane received 445 followers! Therefore, a Blog Follower Dedication Review is in order! Since October is typically known as the Halloween season, I wanted to select a film that was appropriate for this time of year. But I’m also participating in Genre Grandeur, where the theme this month is ‘Movies Directed by the Main Actor/Actress’. So, as the title of this review says, I have chosen to write about A Quiet Place! Prior to this review, I had heard of the 2018 film. Mixed results are what I have heard; either viewers have loved the movie or they thought the story’s logistics didn’t make sense. I’ve also heard A Quiet Place is a horror film that thinks outside the box. This is another reason why I chose to review this movie, as I don’t often talk about titles from the horror genre.

A Quiet Place poster created by Platinum Dunes, Sunday Night Productions, and Paramount Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The family dynamic: John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are two actors I am familiar with, primarily for their comedic performances. With John, I have seen clips of The Office, while one of Emily’s most notable performances was in The Devil Wears Prada. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, I’ve seen more comedic actors successfully transition to dramatic acting. John’s and Emily’s performance definitely stuck the landing, as they were both able to convey a variety of emotions through facial expressions and body language! Portraying John and Emily’s on-screen children were Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, and Cade Woodward. Adding their strong performances, the Abbott family had a really good family dynamic that felt believable and genuine. Toward the beginning of the film, Cade’s character, Beau, really wants a toy space shuttle. However, the toy makes noise, which is a no-no within the Abbott family’s world. Through sign language and facial expressions, John’s character, Lee, explains how Beau can’t have the toy. Beau’s response was a look of pure sadness and confusion on his face. Another memorable scene was when Regan refused a new cochlear implant. Throughout the film, Lee attempts to create a functioning cochlear implant for his daughter. When he gives Regan the implant, Lee is optimistic it will work this time, wide eyes and even a smile conveying this optimism. Regan is not impressed with the new implant, as she’s frustrated at the idea of another implant not working. She not only expresses frustration on her face, she even pushes away her father’s hand.  

The atmosphere: As I mentioned in my point about the family dynamic, noise is a no-no in the Abbott family’s world. That’s because unidentified extraterrestrial creatures have taken over their environment, destroying anyone or anything that makes noise. Right in the very first scene, the audience can see how these creatures have driven people away from a small town. It looks like what most people would call a “ghost town”; cars frozen in the street and leaves slowly blowing through the air. The store where the Abbott family visits appears to be an urban explorer’s dream. Natural light from the store’s windows provides the facility’s only source of light. Products are strewn on the floor, waiting for someone to finally pick them up. Cinematography and inclusion of light help create a film that feels very atmospheric!

Use of sound: Even though the Abbott family try to create as little sound as possible, the film itself was not devoid of sound. At various moments in the story, natural sound could be heard whenever the family traveled from place to place. One notable example is when Noah’s character, Marcus, and Lee walk near a river. Sounds could also be heard through headphones or earbuds. In a scene where Lee and Emily’s character, Evelyn, are slow dancing, Evelyn puts one of her earbuds in Lee’s ear. Not only can the song be heard through the earbud, the song is amplified so the audience can hear it too. It serves as a reminder how sound, even noise, plays a role in our lives.

Sunny autumn landscape picture created by Kotkoa at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/autumn-forest_1436222.htm’>Designed by Kotkoa</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Kotkoa – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A film that doesn’t feel like a horror film: Like I said in my introduction, A Quiet Place is a horror film. Even the poster bears the hallmarks of a typical horror production. But, to me, A Quiet Place didn’t feel like a horror movie. Sure, there were terrifying moments in the story. But, if anything, the film felt like a dystopian/apocalyptic film with sci-fi elements. As I watched A Quiet Place, it reminded me of a more creative version of Signs.

Questions that are left unanswered: While I appreciate the film’s creative team respecting the audience’s intelligence, there were some questions I wish were answered. For instance, why did the Abbott family choose not to wear shoes? During Lee and Marcus’ hike, they cross paths with an elderly couple. Who were they and why did the elderly man want the creatures to capture him? Couldn’t the couple join the Abbott family and seek safety together?

The science’s confusing logic: As Marcus and Lee attempt to catch fish in a river, Lee explains how it’s ok to make small sounds. While big sounds are bad, they can be cancelled out with bigger sounds. With this logic in mind, why aren’t the extraterrestrial creatures congregating near the river? Why would they even bother trying to capture people, animals, and objects that make noise? Statements like Lee’s made the story somewhat confusing.

Sign language alphabet image created by Freepik at freepik.com. Hand sign vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression of A Quiet Place, I’d like to thank all of 18 Cinema Lane’s followers! You are the reason why I continue to write and publish so many Blog Follower Dedication Reviews! Now, on to my thoughts on A Quiet Place. I will admit this is a fine, ambitious film that is one of the more unique titles of this nature. However, some aspects of the project could have been stronger. Like I said in my review of Night of the Comet, you need to explain the science in your science fiction story, especially in a way that satisfies the audience. While some of the science in A Quiet Place was explained, other parts of the story were confusing. The movie, to me, felt less like a horror movie and more like a dystopian/apocalyptic film with sci-fi elements. This makes the film’s marketing, as well as its horror classification, somewhat misleading. I am aware there is a sequel to A Quiet Place. Because I thought the movie was just fine, I’m not rushing to see the sequel anytime soon.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen A Quiet Place? What movie do you like to watch around Halloween? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Night of the Comet Review (80s-tastic Mall-tacular Double Feature Part 1)

Hello and welcome to the first part of the 80s-tastic Mall-tacular Double Feature! Before this review begins, I’d like to remind my readers there will be spoilers for Night of the Comet. If you’re interested, you can check out the double feature’s introduction at this link:

The 80s-tastic Mall-tacular Double Feature Introduction!

Night of the Comet poster created by Thomas Coleman and Michael Rosenblatt Productions, Film Development Fund, and Atlantic Releasing Corporation

1. How were you introduced to Night of the Comet?

At the beginning of Dan’s video, ‘DEAD MALL SERIES : Back to the 80s : The Gallery in Philadelphia (Hologram Plaza – Disconscious)’, the scene where Regina and Samantha, the film’s protagonists, go to the mall is included in the introduction. That scene is spliced with Dan’s footage of The Gallery in Philadelphia, as the song, Enter Through the Lobby by Disconscious, plays over the images. In Dan’s video, ‘DEAD MALL SERIES : Best Fountain in the US : Burlington Center Mall NJ **CLOSED**’, he brings up several of his favorite “mall movies”. One of these movies is Night of the Comet.

2. Was Night of the Comet filmed in a mall? If so, which one?

According to a Youtube comment, Night of the Comet was filmed at Bullocks Wilshire. Upon further research, I learned it was a high-end, Los Angeles department store, complete with its own tea room. As of late 2022, the building is owned by Southwestern Law School.

3. What role did the mall play in Night of the Comet?

Before Regina suggests she and Samantha go to the mall, their world had been turned outside down. Most of the population had either been disintegrated into dust or turned into a zombie, due to the aftermath of the titular comet. The sisters are at their wits end, desperately trying to not only defend themselves, but also trying to find answers. After Samantha tearfully confesses how a guy from her class was going to ask her out on a date, Regina sees going to the mall as an opportunity to get their minds off the confusion surrounding them.

4. Why do you think the mall was in the film for a short amount of time?

When Dan Bell referred to Night of the Comet as a “mall movie”, I assumed the mall would play a significant role in the story. I even predicted the mall would play a bigger role in Night of the Comet than in The Legend of Billie Jean, as I thought the story would primarily take place in one location. But the 1984 title is a more expansive narrative. Not only is the aftermath of the comet more widespread, there are more locations for the characters to explore. While Regina and Samantha’s mall excursion was fun to watch, it was interesting to see the comet’s effects on other locales, like the local movie theater and a mysterious science headquarters.

5. Besides including a mall and focusing on teenage characters, do The Legend of Billie Jean and Night of the Comet share a common theme, idea, or message?

I haven’t seen The Legend of Billie Jean yet. But based on the introduction of Dan’s video, ‘DEAD MALL SERIES : Tour of the SUNRISE MALL from THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985)’, I can safely assume a shared idea between The Legend of Billie Jean and Night of the Comet is younger characters taking matters into their own hands. As I mentioned in answer number three, Regina and Samantha are at their wits end, as they desperately try to defend themselves and figure out what is truly going on. Since there are very few people to turn to, they rely on themselves and each other, proving they are capable of anything they set their mind on. Through strength, resilience, and adversity, Regina and Samantha become the embodiment of Christopher Robin’s quote:

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Colorful galaxy image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/lovely-hand-drawn-galaxy-background_2943080.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.

6. Is there anything about Night of the Comet you liked or didn’t like?

Based on the synopsis and Dan’s thoughts on Night of the Comet, I knew the protagonists were described as “valley girls”. But I didn’t know what to expect from Regina and Samantha. When I watched the movie, though, I adored these characters, as they were so endearing! In fact, they’ve become two of my favorite characters from film! Part of this is due to Catherine Mary Stewart’s and Kelli Maroney’s performance. Through their well-rounded portrayals, Catherine and Kelli carried this film, making it worth the price of admission. No matter what their characters experienced, their expressions and reactions felt realistic. Even the on-screen camaraderie was believable, successfully selling the idea Regina and Samantha were sisters. According to Wikipedia, Thom Eberhardt, Night of the Comet’s director, asked teenage girls how they’d respond to a large-scale catastrophe while working on PBS specials. The answers he received were used as inspiration for the film’s script, adding to Regina and Samantha’s believability.

When creating a science fiction story, you need to explain the science in a way that satisfies the audience. Even if the science was made specifically for the story, you still need to provide a logical explanation. With Night of the Comet, though, most of the science was left unexplained. There were also parts of the story that were under-utilized. At the beginning of the movie, Regina is playing an arcade game. She discovers a gamer named “DMK” has beaten her high score. Not only does Regina attempt to beat “DMK”’s high score, she wonders who “DMK” is. While the audience learns the identity of “DMK” (a random survivor named Danny, who used his initials to record his high score), this part of the story was forgotten about until the end of the movie. To me, this was a missed opportunity. Regina could have used her video game/arcade game skills to save the day. She and “DMK” could have met face-to-face earlier in the story, setting aside their differences to recruit more survivors to safety. But, alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.

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

As I said in answer number six, most of the science was left unexplained. While watching Night of the Comet, I found myself more confused than entertained. I’ll list some of the questions I had after I saw the movie, as I don’t want this review to become even longer than it already is:

  • Why did the effects of the comet cause some people to disintegrate into dust while causing others to become zombies?
  • Why exactly did steel protect Samantha, Regina, and the other survivors from the comet’s effects?
  • How did Brian and Sarah survive? Where did they come from?
  • Why did Willy and his gang of zombies possess more intelligence than other zombies the survivors encountered?
  •  What was the mission of the scientists? Were they trying to save or harm humanity?
  • Why did Audrey White go rogue? Was she a zombie?

8. In your double feature for Rich Kids and Over the Edge, you discussed certain events from the ‘70s that likely influenced the creation of those films. Is there anything from the ‘80s that you think either affected Night of the Comet or teenagers from that time?

Imagine you’re a teenager in the 1980s. You’ve got a lot of your plate as it is, from trying to pass your upcoming math test to figuring out how you’re going to get that latest album from the music store. But from time to time, you hear about this thing called The Cold War. That phrase puts a concerned look on your parent’s face as they drive you to school. You hear about it on the news, with the President pleading to “tear down that wall”. Even your favorite tv show is bringing it up. The Cold War seems to be everywhere. You wish there was something you could do to end this conflict. But because you’re just a teenager, you feel powerless, like there’s not much you can do. As you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering, “What does The Cold War have to do with Night of the Comet”? Even though The Cold War isn’t brought up in the story, it was present around the time of the film’s release. And yes, the film is meant to be a form of escapism. However, through Regina and Samantha’s adventures, teenagers at that time could see there were things within their control they could do.

9. A lot has changed since the release of Night of the Comet. Have you come across any recent pieces of media that prominently feature a mall?

For this answer, I’m not going to bring up a piece of media. Instead, I’ll talk about an experience, as it makes more sense with Night of the Comet. In the U.K., there is a company called Zombie Experiences, providing customers with the opportunity to explore abandoned locations and defeat zombies. One of those locations was a mall. But according to Zombie Experiences’ website, this experience ended in February 2018. They did re-locate this particular experience to a shopping complex. However, on Zombie Infection’s website, it will end this December. There are two other shopping mall experiences offered, but they seem inactive at the time of this review’s publication.

10. After watching this movie, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

Calling Night of the Comet a “mall movie” is, in my opinion, a bit of a stretch. This is because the mall only appears in a few scenes. If I had to call Night of the Comet anything, I’d call it an “alternative Christmas film”. The story takes place around Christmastime, but doesn’t rely on the tropes and clichés typically found in Christmas movies. Like I said in answer number seven, I was more confused than entertained by Night of the Comet. After watching this film, I was left with more questions than I planned to have. But one of the reasons why I kept watching was Catherine’s and Kelli’s performance. I also think the story itself contained interesting ideas. Overall, I think Night of the Comet is an ok film with some bright spots.

Have fun at the mall!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Alphaville Review

For July’s Genre Grandeur, the theme is “French Film Noir”. Originally, I was going to review a film released within the Breen Code Era, as I’ve been participating in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month. But anytime I searched for a French film noir title that premiered between 1934 and 1954, the movie was either too expensive to purchase or unavailable to rent. So instead, I chose to review the 1965 film, Alphaville, as I was able to rent it. In my review of Alice in the Cities, I said that out of all the movies I’ve seen and/or reviewed that were created outside of North America, most of them came from Europe. The majority of these films were released from France. While researching Alphaville, I learned that the movie is labeled as a science fiction story. As someone who has seen both film noir and sci-fi movies, I was curious to see what a story with this specific genre combination would look like.

Since I saw a picture of the film’s poster on my television, I decided to take a screenshot of it. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because I’ve seen a limited number of French films, I wasn’t familiar with these actors and actresses. However, I thought the acting performances in Alphaville were good! Eddie Constantine’s portrayal of Lemmy Caution reminded me of the performances I’ve seen from John Wayne. What I mean by this is Eddie presented his character with a tough and masculine exterior, but allowed emotion to break through that exterior. He also adopted a “no nonsense” attitude that worked for a story of this nature. Anna Karina also gave a performance that worked for this story! She incorporated a gentleness to her portrayal of Natacha von Braun. This can be heard through her soft-spoken voice and seen through her caring nature. Throughout her performance, Anna displayed emotions in a subtle way. In one scene, when Lemmy is being arrested, Natacha can be seen crying as silently as possible. Despite appearing in the film for less than five scenes, I liked watching Akim Tamiroff’s portrayal of Henri Dickson! The best part about it was how believable it was. A good example of this is any time Henri was experiencing a heart attack, as pain could be seen in his face.

The cinematography: There were some scenes in Alphaville that were shot in interesting ways! This was accomplished by applying various film-making techniques. When Lemmy was walking to a particular location, a continuous shot followed Lemmy to his destination. A perfect example can be found toward the beginning of the film, when Lemmy is being led toward his hotel room. For scene transitions, flashing lights were incorporated to signify a bridge between scenes. After Alphaville’s computer, Alpha 60, is finished explaining one of the city’s many beliefs, a neon sign of a math equation flashes until a scene involving Lemmy begins. Toward the end of the movie, some scenes were presented using an infrared light. This was to show a glitch in Alphaville’s technological system.

The film’s sci-fi world: When most people think of the science fiction genre, fantastical worlds with elaborate costumes, set designs, and makeup are usually what come to mind. For Alphaville, the creative team purposefully chose to film in real-life locations. This decision causes the titular city to appear grounded in reality. The science fiction elements of this story were woven into the behaviors of the citizens and the beliefs they hold. Using what they already had to create a science fiction narrative allowed the movie’s creative team to submit a film that goes against the genre’s norm.

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 film’s science fiction ideas: In a typical science fiction film, the sci-fi ideas are presented as understandable enough for the audience to know what’s happening on screen. This was unfortunately not the case for Alphaville. The ideas associated with this story were so high-concept and complex, that I found myself not understanding what the characters were talking about most of the time. It also doesn’t help that the characters fail to provide clearer explanations for these ideas. This feels like the creative team expected the audience to know what was being discussed before they saw the movie.

Lack of context: In my review of The Crow, I talked about how questions emerged without an answer or an elaboration being provided. This is the exact same mistake that the creative team behind Alphaville made. The majority of female characters in the 1965 picture can be seen with number tattoos. No context is given for why they have this type of tattoo or the meaning behind the tattoo itself. In one scene, Lemmy and Natacha are attending a gathering where people who disobey Alphaville’s beliefs are being punished. Natacha explains how there are more men than women who get punished at these gatherings. She never gives further explanation for why this is the case. Because of the lack of context, it adds to the story’s overarching confusion.

No sense of urgency: Film noir movies usually have a slower pace. This is done on purpose to flesh out the overall story. However, there is an underlying sense of urgency. While watching Alphaville, I could not detect any amount of urgency in the story. For most of the film, Lemmy could be seen in his hotel room, roaming around the city, or visiting the Alpha 60 headquarters on rare occasions. Even though he resolves the film’s conflict, this doesn’t happen until about the last twenty minutes.

Colorful galaxy image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/lovely-hand-drawn-galaxy-background_2943080.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.

My overall impression:

I like participating in Movierob’s Genre Grandeur blogathon because it gives me an opportunity to see films that I may not have watched otherwise. This is certainly the case for this month’s selection, Alphaville. A combination of sci-fi and film noir was something I hadn’t seen before. But I found it to be an interesting contribution to both genres. The world presented in this story is not always found in sci-fi narratives. Bringing a newer idea to the table is what basing the world in a more realistic setting did. Cinematography was also a highlight of this project. It gave the film’s creative team a chance to experiment with different film-making techniques. However, the overall story was just ok. This was caused by confusing science fiction ideas and a lack of context. The majority of content from this story flew over my head, as I didn’t understand what the characters were talking about most of the time. I was frustrated by the overall project because I wasn’t able to grasp the concepts within Alphaville.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any French film noirs? Are there any movies from this specific genre you’d like to see me review? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019

Another year, another annual Top 10 article! In 2018, I published my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2018 first. This time around, I’ll be publishing my worst of the year list instead! For me, 2019 has been a better year for movies, as I saw far more good films than bad. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see any movies I wasn’t a fan of. Similar to last year’s post, this list will be based on movies that I personally saw, as well as my own opinion. Also, this list is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now, let’s begin by bringing up the Dishonorable Mentions!

Our Christmas Love Song, My One and Only, Over the Moon in Love, Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Heart, A Very Country Wedding, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, Nightmare Best Friend, Last Vermont Christmas, Always and Forever Christmas (I only watched half of it before turning it off), and Christmas in Louisiana (I ended up watching less than half of it before changing the channel)

478305-pgu38i-327
Setting up 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-background_3590600.htm’>Designed by Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik. Image found at freepik.com.

10. After the Storm

Sadly, we start this list with an UP Network release. I was hoping any movie from this network didn’t have to end up on my list. But this movie is placed lower on the list than last year’s entry, Christmas on Holly Lane. So, I guess that’s a step in the right direction! Now, back to talking about After the Storm. What made me want to watch this movie is the discussion of natural disasters and their aftermath. In family-friendly, made-for-TV movies, this specific topic is rarely featured in the story. Unfortunately, this film’s narrative placed more emphasis on the romance than the titular storm and its aftermath. Another major issue I had with this movie was the questionable decisions the male and female protagonist make within the film. While these decisions were not necessarily bad, they were also given questionable explanations. I wasn’t able to stay invested in the protagonists and their relationship because of this creative decision.

9. A Feeling of Home

Texas is one of the states that isn’t always featured in a Hallmark movie. This part of the film made me want to give this project a chance. But, similar to After the Storm, the story placed more focus on the romance than in the conflict. There were some editing errors within this film that were painfully obvious. It also doesn’t help that the weakest acting performance came from the lead actress. Watching the female protagonist desperately trying to win over her father’s attention was, actually, quite sad. This made her appear weaker than the majority of female protagonists from Hallmark Channel. I have to ask: who greenlit this script when they knew it was this weak?

8. Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays

In 2018, I saw and really liked Christmas at Graceland. While I thought Wedding at Graceland was ok, it’s the third film in this trilogy that I find to be the worst out of the three. There were a number of plot points in this movie that didn’t make any sense. Why would the female protagonist give her nieces only one small snowglobe but the male protagonist’s children an elaborate and large advent calendar? Also, for a movie set in Graceland, the famous location ends up being a glorified extra by having less than three appearances on screen. Because of this, it makes the story feel like it didn’t need to take place in Graceland. The movie made me wish Christmas at Graceland had never received any sequels.

7. Christmas Scavenger Hunt

The idea of a Christmas themed scavenger hunt is something that had never been shown in a Hallmark production prior to 2019. So, I was somewhat optimistic about this particular movie. Sadly, the potential this film had was wasted on a poorly written script. All of the scavenger hunt clues were way too easy to solve. There was no sense of urgency throughout the film, as well as two separate moments where the male and female protagonist came across as selfish. Not only was the lead actress’s performance weak, but so was the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Like other films on this list, questions arose within the story that distracted me from enjoying the movie. One of these questions was why the female protagonist didn’t make her boyfriend take off his expensive tie before baking. All of these missteps added up to a movie that was less entertaining that it could have been.

6. Christmas Camp

When I first heard of this movie, I was excited to see a Christmas themed camp brought to life for the first time in a Hallmark film. I had reviewed this movie for Drew’s Movie Review’s Christmas in July Blogathon. Upon my first and only viewing of the film, I learned that the camp itself was nothing more than an afterthought. What this movie excels at is having a pointless plot and tradition shaming characters whose Christmas doesn’t look or sound “traditional”. Despite the fact this is a Hallmark film, these things don’t make it feel like a Hallmark film. If anything, it makes me wonder why the network would greenlight this movie at all? Hallmark has been known for creating a variety of Christmas products to celebrate a multitude of Christmas traditions. With Christmas Camp, it makes the network seem inconsistent with their message.

Basic RGB
Group of unhappy image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

5. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Back in October, I gave this film a second chance for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Looking back on it, I realize that was probably a mistake. Unfunny humor is the movie’s biggest flaw. Yes, I know that comedy is a very subjective thing. But if a comedic film barely makes me laugh, then it hasn’t done its job well. Other problems in this movie include the run-time and a weak story. There were elements that could have enhanced the project, such as commentary about greed and the power of money. But these things were swept under the rug for the sake of hosting a popularity contest instead of a movie production.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This was the first movie I saw in 2019 and boy was it a disappointment. All of the humor was so forced, that I found myself not laughing at any of the jokes. The film’s plot was tedious, which made the movie itself feel longer than its run-time. I also found a few plot-holes within this film. One of them was so large and obvious, that it made me question the existence of the movie’s narrative. While I liked the acting performances and the special effects (both practical and CGI), there were more negatives to the film than positives. This could have been something quirky and fun. Unfortunately, the movie was missing those two important ingredients.

3. A Cheerful Christmas

This is not only the worst Christmas movie I saw in 2019, it’s also the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2019. It doesn’t help when the lead actress ends up over-acting or when at least one of the actors clearly can’t carry a British accent. But it also doesn’t help when the story is poorly written. This movie made me ask more questions than I had planned to. One question was about the female protagonist’s ability to keep her job after all the business-related blunders she makes. I know that fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But this movie tried to make me suspend all my disbelief, making me feel uncheerful. While I appreciate the movie’s attempt to avoid a large number of “royal movie” clichés, it wasn’t enough to save the project. In my opinion, it felt like the film’s creative team put so much emphasis on making a pointless, family-friendly, Christmas remake of Pretty Woman, that they forgot how to make a good movie.

2. Ace of Hearts

I’m all for helping smaller, family-friendly films get the “standing ovation” they might deserve. However, for a movie to achieve a “standing ovation”, it needs to be good. Ace of Hearts, unfortunately, fails to meet that criteria. The majority of the acting performances are poor and the pacing is very slow. But the worst offense this movie commits is bad writing. This story had so many plot-holes and inconsistencies, that it was exhausting instead of enjoyable. When the protagonist’s daughter convinces her friend that the reason why her family’s dog is trying to get home is to get back at the film’s villain because it’s his “unfinished business” (she comes to this conclusion after seeing the title of a video game), that’s when you know you’ve come across a bad script. As if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is, apparently, based on a true story. If my true story were handled this poorly, I would be offended and embarrassed.

1. A Page of Madness

A Page of Madness is a silent film from Japan, for those of you who are not familiar with this title. I appreciate the director’s efforts to preserve this movie, especially since, according to Ben Mankiewicz from Turner Classic Movies, the majority of Japanese films created before 1945 are either partially or completely lost. I also understand what the director was trying to do with the project. But just because I’m a grateful and understanding movie blogger, that doesn’t mean I liked the final product. This movie has a plethora of problems that would make this list longer than it already is. So, I’ll share two reasons why A Page of Madness is the worst film I saw in 2019. The first is how it has no plot, narrative, or story. It just contains a premise that goes nowhere. The second is how, in reality, this movie is an artistic experiment masquerading as a film. Personally, I found this to be dishonest and manipulative. At two separate moments, I wanted to fall asleep and turn the movie off. This is one of those times where I wish I would have listened to my instincts.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster created by Casey Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:It%27s_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World_(1963)_theatrical_poster.jpg

What are your thoughts on my list? Which is your worst film of 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Return from Witch Mountain Review + 40 Follower Thank You

Back in early November, I received 40 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! As I mentioned in my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List post, I’ve been busy doing blog related things. I apologize that this thank you review is being published much later than expected. But, anyways, back to the review itself. Like I’ve done with my other thank you reviews, it is time for me to talk about a film that was released 40 years ago (in 1978). Because Return from Witch Mountain just so happened to be on my DVR, I decided to pick that movie for this review. Since this was my first time seeing this particular film, I coordinated a double feature with both Escape to Witch Mountain and Return from Witch Mountain. I really enjoyed the first movie, as it was intriguing and memorable. So, after I saw Escape to Witch Mountain, I was definitely looking forward to watching the continuation of Tony and Tia’s story. Was the sequel just as memorable as its predecessor? Join me on this journey through this review to find out!

Return from Witch Mountain poster
Return from Witch Mountain poster created by Buena Vista Distribution and Walt Disney Productions. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24411/Return-From-Witch-Mountain/#.

Things I liked about this film:

  • The acting: I really liked this cast! Everyone was so talented, bringing a sense of believability to the portrayal of their characters. I liked that Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards reprised their roles of Tony and Tia because their performances were a highlight in both Escape to Witch Mountain and Return from Witch Mountain! Ike and Kim not only provided versatility to their roles, but they also added a good amount of likability to their characters. I really liked Tony and Tia, as characters, because they seemed like intuitive children and good people. Everything I just said helped me, as an audience member, stay invested in Tony and Tia’s story.

 

  • The film’s setting: Whenever characters in a children’s/family movie or television show take a vacation to California (specifically the Los Angeles area), the portrayal of the trip is, more often than not, glamorized (for example, the characters take a trip to Hollywood and/or get involved in the movie-making aspect of the city). In Return from Witch Mountain, however, the portrayal of the Pasadena/Los Angeles area appeared well-rounded. While the film shows tourist/ “glamourous” aspects of the city, such as the Rose Bowl Stadium and a museum, other parts of the area are showcased in the film’s narrative. For instance, a run-down house that serves as a secret hiding place represents a not-so-glamourous side to that particular area. Within the movie, a plutonium plant is also featured, giving the audience an idea of the types of businesses that can reside within that area.

 

  • The story: While there are a few similarities between the narratives of Escape to Witch Mountain and Return from Witch Mountain, I feel that the story in the sequel expanded upon Tony and Tia’s story from the first movie. Return from Witch Mountain explores the idea of what happens when twins are separated and the differences of how their powers can be used. The acting performances and screen-writing helped these ideas flourish to the best of their ability. When watching this film, I was surprised by some of the other ideas expressed within this story, such as the importance of education and what exactly it means to be “tough”. While these ideas were not fully explored, I still thought they added something special to the overall story.

66
Colorful travel suitcase image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/beautiful-illustration-of-travel_2686674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The editing: In Return from Witch Mountain, there were a few scenes that seemed to end a little too quickly. I feel this was a result of the film’s editing. However, this problem was improved upon from the first movie, where the editing made a certain amount of scenes feel too short.

 

  • Scenes lasting a little too long: There were some scenes in Return from Witch Mountain that, in time length, were a little too long. An example of this is the museum robbery scene, where the events associated with it seemed to be stretched out. To me, the length of these scenes were the result of satisfying the film’s run-time. Either the movie itself should have been a bit shorter or these scenes should have been reduced in, about, half.

 

  • The villains: While the actors portraying the villains did a really good job with the acting material they were given, I thought the villains themselves were a bit on the sillier side. Because of this, I, as an audience member, didn’t get a strong sense that Tony and Tia were danger until the film’s climax. I also thought that the ideologies and beliefs of the villains were more unsettling than the villains themselves. This was very different from Escape to Witch Mountain, where the secrecy surrounding the villains added to the fear and concern for Tony and Tia.

415357-PE8S16-748
Colorful galaxy image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/lovely-hand-drawn-galaxy-background_2943080.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.

My overall impression:

To start, I just want to say thank you to all of my 40 followers! If it weren’t for you, I probably would have never seen Return from Witch Mountain or its predecessor. But, I’m glad I checked this movie out because I really enjoyed it! Return from Witch Mountain is not only a good movie, it’s also a good sequel, expanding the overall story and improving upon flaws from Escape to Witch Mountain. As I think more about both movies, I realized that they would be a great way to introduce someone to the science-fiction genre. I feel this way because while this is a science-fiction story, it was light on the science-fiction elements. Because I also received 45 followers last month, I will publish my thank you review for a 1973 released film very soon. Whichever film I end up picking, I will be so excited to share it with all of my readers and followers!

 

 

Overall score: 8.1 out of 10

 

 

Have you seen either of these two films? What is your favorite live-action Disney movie? Please let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen