10+ The Photograph Reviews – A Little Underdeveloped

The Photograph⭐️⭐️½ 

Chemistry between the leads is everything in a romance film.

But the somewhat confusing and formulaic back and forth story fails to enrapture viewers, just as gorgeous Issa Rae as museum curator Mae and handsome LaKeith Stanfield as reporter Michael do not exhibit that expected romantic chemistry. On the other hand, Mae’s famous artist mother Christina Eames (Chante Adams) and young Isaac (Y’lan Noel) exude honest passion.

REEL REVIEWS: Lack of chemistry mars ‘The Photograph’ | Lifestyles | heraldbanner.com

Of course as I’m reading through reviews from others, I found other movie review bloggers who thought there was significant chemistry between the two leads. Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks had amazing chemistry, DiCaprio and Winslet in Titanic, too, I just wasn’t seeing or feeling enough of it here. Some? Yes.

I felt some chemistry between the two, just not enough. Like one of those old Polaroid pictures that is partially developed and has some psychedelic colors in it.

This wasn’t my biggest gripe, though, but before we can get to that, a SPOILER warning.

… you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …

The Underdeveloped Photograph

From the title and the trailer, I thought there would be more to Mae’s digging into her mother’s background through the photograph. Like the more she would look at the pictures, more of the story would unfold. Or at least with the letter her mother left behind.

Instead, it was at best a minor subplot, almost a mcguffin to draw the two main characers together. The letter was underutilyzed.

Reviews by Others

Let’s see what others think of The Photograph:


  1. Cinefiles Movie Reviews (Grade: B-): “…may not boast a unique story, but it at least aspires to provide this substance.”
  2. Diana Metzger / BYT: “It’s rare that a modern romantic film doesn’t edge into excessive melodrama, or forced to take on another genre entirely. Luckily, The Photograph elegantly avoids either of those fates.”
  3. filmfanstake: “…is perfect for Valentine’s Day weekend. However if you’re looking for something that’s going to reinvent the wheel of romance you won’t get that.”
  4. Katrina J. Williams: “It was beautifully written and brought to life on screen by the actors and all involved.  I watched the reactions in the theater and it matched my sentiments.”
  5. Keith & The Movies (4/5): “…maintains its tenderness and sophistication by simply latching onto the one thing all great romances embrace – the human element.”
  6. leap taken: “was thankfully free of trauma, politics and stereotypes. It was so good, I plan on actually seeing it again!”
  7. Music Movies Thoughts (4/5): “…is a sentimental snapshot of a universal theme through an unapologetically Black lens. Character driven and revelatory, the film is not for those seeking a fast-paced romp but rather those who wish to be enveloped in a story of finding love through exploration.”
  8. M.N Miller / Ready Steady Cut: “…is told with care and quiet confidence that may wrap up too neatly for today’s smarter cinephile.”
  9. Rachel’s Reviews (8/10): “The flashbacks telling the story of Rae’s parents isn’t as compelling but it’s still serviceable. If you are into romances The Photograph is a well executed film”
  10. Reel Projection / Mike Shutt: “…carves itself out a much needed place in the multiplex as a well-acted, well-made, thoughtful romance for adults. Please do not be an anomaly, and if somehow studios start making a few more movies like this, I hope they are at least half as good as this one.”
  11. SheiaSwainWrites: “I loved this movie and how it shows how we allow cycles to continue but also how we can fight to see that they don’t.”
  12. The Silver Screen Analysis (90%): “…falls exactly where you want it to for the genre, right in the middle. It captured emotional weight as two stories of love evolve. But it also infuses it with a natural levity and charm through characters that feel like real people living their lives and confronting the obstacles that come with it.”
  13. Timothy Hall / The People’s Critic (Grade: B): “When the two are romantic, it feels flat. There’s something missing between Rae and Stanfield that makes it hard to believe them as a couple. Their lack of chemistry is more glaring after the flashback scenes when you two actors that look in love, for real.”
  14. Tom Moore / Moorereviews (4/5): “If you’re looking an original romance story filled with great storytelling, a mature and genuine heart, and incredible performances that you can really connect to, then The Photograph is a post-Valentine’s Day must-see.”

Not Recommended (or on the fence)

  1. A Little Bit of Everything: “The movie was a little slow especially towards the end, but overall I would give this movie one thumb up and one thumb down.”

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

Happy movie watching!

Spring 2020 Movies Coming Soon + Viewing Challenge

UPDATE 3/31/2020: With the coronavirus pandemic, most theaters have closed and planned release dates have changed. A strikethru on the title indicates the planned date has changed.

Baseball. Fresh growing green grass. Signs that another Spring is upon us. Spring also brings new movies to theaters in March 2020, April 2020 and May 2020 (will be posted by March 15, still waiting for trailers to drop — SEE UPDATE AT TOP OF POST). The titles below are taken from the Coming Soon To Theaters In 2020 list.

This list is sorted by most to least interest. Anticipation for a movie will change based on new information that comes out closer to the release date.

  1. (Mar 20) A Quiet Place Part IIFIRST LOOK
  2. (Apr 10) No Time To DieFIRST LOOK
  3. (May 1) Black WidowFIRST LOOK
  4. (Mar 13) The HuntFIRST LOOK
  5. (Mar 13) BloodshotFIRST LOOK
  6. (Apr 17 10 – VOD) Trolls World TourFIRST LOOK
  7. (Mar 6) OnwardFIRST LOOK
  8. (Apr 3) The New Mutants FIRST LOOK
  9. (May 15) Scoob! FIRST LOOK
  10. (May 15) Spiral (Book of Saw)FIRST LOOK

Honorable mentions: Fast & Furious 9, Bad Trip, Mulan

There are more movies I’m looking forward to than the top 10 listed above and undoubtedly there will be surprise anticipated drop-in titles (The Hunt was a drop-in title recently, and look how far up the list it is for me). This is what happened with my Fall 2019 and Winter 2019-2020 anticipation list, which is why I continue to monitor new movies that are previewed and update.

My Summer 2020 list will be posted toward the end of May 2020.

What Movies Are You Looking Most Forward to Seeing in Spring 2020?

It’s your turn, what movies are you most looking forward to seeing?

Spring 2020 Viewing Challenge

From March 1, 2020 – May 30, 2020 goal is to watch or rewatch any 30+ action/thriller/suspense movies. That’s an average of 10 action/thriller/suspense movies every month or about 2-3 per week.

Past Viewing Challenges

Spring 2020 (March 1 – May 30, 2020) will be interactive movie viewing challenge #5. Here are the others:

  1. 2019 October Viewing Challenge: 66+ Horror Movies Viewed In October (completed74 movies watched, rated & reviewed)
  2. 2019 Holiday Viewing Challenge: 25+ Christmas Movies Viewed 11/1-12/25/19 (completed25 movies watched, rated & reviewed)
  3. 2020 January Viewing Challenge: 21+ New/Unseen Movies
    (completed30 movies watched, rated & reviewed)
  4. 2020 February Viewing Challenge: 14+ Romance Movies
    (pending end of month results)

The February 2020 14+ romance movie viewing challenge isn’t completed as of this posting yet. Those results will be posted next week after the month has concluded, but there’s still time to go on a romance movie marathon and join in if you like.

What are viewing challenges?

It’s where we try and watch a minimum number of movies of certain type(s). They are usually themed based on the month(s) or seasonal. For example, around Halloween, horror movies and holiday movies during the holidays.

Any movie watcher is welcome to participate. You do not need a blog or website, but do need some way to track the movies you’ve watched during the challenge. Fortunately, there are several free services available.

How To Participate

Just keep track of all the thriller/action/suspense movies you’ve watched from March 1, 2020 until midnight May 30, 2020. Sites like Letterboxd make it easy to do. Tag movies watched with #spring2020challenge. EXAMPLE. here are movies tagged for #feb2020challenge. You do not need to write reviews or rate any movies to use the Letterboxd service.

It’s free and fun to participate. Hope to see others joining in too! 


Marvel’s Morbius is sinking its vampiric jaws into theaters Summer 2020

Summer 2020 a new Marvel movie is coming featuring Jared Leto as Morbius.

Was not familiar with this comic book character (is he a deep cut?), so had to do some research for this post. Turns out his full name is Morbius The Living Vampire, and originally an antihero of Spider-Man’s.

Despite his initial status as one of Spider-Man’s horror-based rogues, he went on to become a brooding and gritty, albeit heroic and tragically flawed antihero in his own series and other titles. His true identity was former award-winning biochemist named Michael Morbius imbued with pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities and physical traits stemming from a failed biochemical experiment which was intended to cure his rare blood disorder, as opposed to supernatural means. The rest of his appearances feature his struggles with his non-human vampiric persona, his insatiable lust for human blood and his subsequent efforts to cure his horrific condition, along with his eventual stint as a brutal and nightmarish vigilante.

Wikipedia entry for Morbius

Ok, Morbius now has me very interested. There is a teaser trailer which makes me want to see it even more.

Teaser trailer for Marvel’s Morbius released 1/13/2020

One interesting side benefit of these comic character movies that is not often discussed is that it can lead people to greater research into past art. I consider myself a light comic fan, not a diehard reader by any stretch, but I am unfamiliar with Morbius.

Until earlier this year, I didn’t know about Harley Quinn either. Maybe I’d heard her name mentioned before but having not seen Suicide Squad, I missed Margot Robbie’s portrayal. Now that she will be appearing in Birds of Prey, I took a closer look into the character, going back to the comics and her new adult animated TV series on DC Universe. This has opened my eyes to a wealth of creative works involving the character.

Unless a movie is based on a novel or some other work, there isn’t this degree of depth beyond the movie. These comic book characters have a lot more depth than some are giving credit for, just because comic books may seem like a juvenile activity. They are not. These movies offer an exciting experience that goes beyond the two hours or so they are realized on screen.

Morbius opens in theaters on July 31, 2020.

NOW PLAYING REVIEWS: Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn)

“Lonely, lonely, lonely…” — Robert Plant wailing in a famous Led Zeppelin song. It’s also how week #6 of 2020 (2/6-2/9/2020) at the movie theater works with only one lonely wide release movie. We last encountered this on week #1 of 2020, too with The Grudge being the only wide release that week.

This week we get one of a couple dozen movies (see: 24+ movies to watch in 2020 to make buying an Unlimited Pass worthwhile) I’m eagerly looking to see at the theater.

So, what did I think?

Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) ⭐️⭐️½ 

Kara and I video review Birds of Prey (2020) just after leaving the movie theater

Unfortunately, we’re not recommending this movie. I am considering watching it one more time and maybe (?) I’ll change my mind. It was one of those movies that is on the edge of recommend or not. As much as I want to say, “yes, go see it now!” I don’t feel that way after seeing it on opening night Thursday.

But good news for Harley Quinn fans, because I do have a fantastic recommendation.

A movie ticket to Birds of Prey is going to cost you an average of $12 USD. Here’s a much, much, much better idea: buy a subscription to DC Universe ($7.99/month) and watch Harley Quinn adult animated TV series.

Harley Quinn TV show on DC Universe is more entertaining than Birds of Prey

There are 11 episodes of Harley Quinn available as of this writing. Each episode is 22 minutes, which means for $7.99 USD you can binge watch all 11 episodes available (22 x 11 = 242 minutes / 60 minutes = 4+ hours!)

Four hours of entertaining, creative adult animated stories vs. 109 minutes (1 hr, 49 minutes) of a below average (in our opinion) live action movie featuring Harley Quinn played by Margot Robbie.

Want to see what else we recommend NOW PLAYING at the theater?

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theaters recently and liked (maybe they are available in your area still) that are recommended. Any movie rated at least 3-stars is recommended. You should read any 3-star review (click the title), because sometimes we do qualify those recommendations, meaning we were entertained, but it doesn’t mean that the film was that good.

4-star movies are highly recommended and films rated as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see.

  1. 1917 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 
  2. Little Women ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  3. Uncut Gems ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  4. Frozen II ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  5. Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  6. The Last Full Measure ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Bombshell ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  8. Like A Boss ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  9. Doolittle ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy movie watching to you!



Looks like the first high quality animated wide release film of the year. I don’t know what it is but Pixar films just have a certain sharpness to their animation that is almost immediately recognizable. A signature sound like many music artists have only graphically.

Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney-Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Info
Onward first official trailer

Here is trailer #2:

Onward official trailer #2

The plot for this one seems different enough to draw me in. The quest to get the other half of their father has comedic value. Looking forward to this one. Who else is looking forward to seeing this?

Onward opens wide in theaters on March 6, 2020.

25+ The Rhythm Section Reviews – Portrait Of Story Confusion

The Rhythm Section⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Revenge flick with female protagonist? Drama? Action film? From the trailer it was never very clear what this was about. Apparently, the trailer was more honest than we could ever know.

I also understand there was a miscommunication between Eon and Paramount in regards to what Rhythm Section actually was: Rhythm Section was always pitched as a slow burn, noirish Euro thriller by Eon. Not a female Bond film, even though Paramount won the rights in a competitive bid.

What Went Wrong With ‘The Rhythm Section’? Action Pic Could Lose $30M+ – Deadline

If the producers can’t agree on what this was supposed to be, how will viewers? Despite its many flaws, Kara and I enjoyed the film. But not as a spy thriller. If we went in with that vibe, then our rating would have been much lower. We both considered it to be a revenge flick. A regular woman who has to train and learn how to be a fighter so she can enact revenge on those responsible for her family’s deaths.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the movie that most people saw. It’s from the folks from Eon behind the James Bond movies and it’s like they wanted to make this into being a spy thriller, which seems to be what the novel it is based upon.

I know, it’s weird. How can we give a movie two different ratings? The movie watching experience can change based on perception, I’d argue. Whether or not that’s a fair criteria is open to debate, but for us anyway, we were entertained by this film. Clearly many others were not.

… SPOILERS beyond, you have been warned …

The title sucks

There, said it. What does it mean anyway? Is it a movie based on a song? I can pretty much guarantee nobody seeing that title will guess it has to do with some bizarre reference to training and heartbeat for the main character, but yes, somehow it does.

Numerous movie bloggers couldn’t resist using the “missed a beat” title slam. Soooo easy to make fun of such an esoteric and unnecessary title. Clever, not.

Will admit that initially the title at the preview/first look stage was intriguing, but after seeing the film it was just such a tiny and relatively unnecessary part of the overall story that it didn’t deserve to be the title.

Author does not appear to be skilled screenwriter

Writing a novel and a screenplay are two very different animals. The author of the book series doesn’t seem to have been the right person to write the screenplay. Normally, I’d support the author penning at least the initial screenplay. Beyond that, though, might need to call in some skilled screenwriters that aren’t as close to the source material.

Some book material just doesn’t translate to the screen well. Veteran screenwriters understand what works and doesn’t. This screenplay needed help.

The progression from amateur to skilled spy is too abrupt

Quite a bit of time is spent in the first two acts establishing Stephanie’s weaknesses in being an effective fighter and, ultimately, spy. She needs a ton of training. Maybe the movie would have been better served to not have the third act make her seem so much like James Bond’s sister?

Stephanie romancing the informant, Marc … why?

There was less than zero chemistry between Stephanie and the informant, Marc (Sterling K. Brown). The love scene was some kind of corny kissing and sex. I’d much rather have seen Lively kissing any other female character. Remember this:

Now this is a kiss, but unfortunately it’s from A Simple Favor, not from The Rhythm Section

Was it supposed to be surprising somehow that her character was having an interracial romance? Um, no. Especially when there didn’t seem to be any romantic build-up, period. All of a sudden it’s like they’re just kissing. Kind of like what happened between Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively’s characters in A Simple Favor, only in that scene we actually felt something as viewers.

The twist ending doesn’t provide any real shock factor

Not a fan of the twist ending with Marc Serra being the bad guy, perhaps established and ruined by his faux romance with Stephanie. If we don’t care about this guy, why should we care that he turns out to be the poison pill?

We liked the revenge tale angle, disliked the spy thriller part

After everything I’ve complained, I keep coming back to the one thing about the film both Kara and I liked: how Stephanie deals with revenge. Wish it all would have stayed there instead of straying into the whole spy thriller genre. As stated in my review, the rating I gave this film is for the revenge part of the story, not what I’d rate it as a spy thriller. I’d give it 2 starts out of 5 as a spy thriller. Mediocre.

Hopefully the franchise is D.O.A with no plans for a sequel. I don’t want to see more Stephanie the spy.

Reviews by Others

Let’s see what others think of The Rhythm Section? Not surprisingly, most of the reviews from the many blogs I read are negative. I did find a few others who liked and recommended the film.


  1. Amused in the Dark: “I didn’t expect La Femme Nikita. I expected American Assassin. I am pleased in my disappointment. This is a well paced, well shot, well acted spy thriller with a fully developed lead character.”
  2. No More Workhorse: “…may not be groundbreaking or very original, but it is an enjoyable thriller, with multiple twists and turns, and will certainly appeal if you want an undemanding evening out and (very topically) a female, kick-ass, central character wreaking her revenge on a world of men.”
  3. Shaun Wren / The Bear Cave (4/5): “Not only did we witness the birth of an assassin, but we witness the birth of a new action star in Lively and a new franchise.”

Not Recommended

  1. Adrian / But Why Tho? (4/10): “I came into the movie hoping that I wouldn’t get the stereotypical revenge movie. For much of it, that is what The Rhythm Section provides. In the end, the film falls into the same tropes it was trying to subvert.”
  2. Bobby Carroll’s Movie Reviews: “I felt very disassociated from what was happening onscreen.”
  3. Bryan Caron (Grade: B-): “It’s almost as if the film is in someway bipolar; the majority of the film drives through your typical revenge plot with questionable motives and ideas, only to shine bright for mere moments to show us what the film was capable of if it simply understood itself.”
  4. BYT / Brightest Young Things: “A cliche-riddled hunt for a bomb-maker is an adventure a late 20th-century Bond might’ve gone on, though that’d be a bit of fun, at least. Instead, a strong cast can’t do enough to overcome their producers’ half-hearted attempt to go beyond their comfort zone.”
  5. Daniel M. Kimmel / NorthShoreMovies (1/5): “…has some disconnected action scenes that perk things up for the moment, but mostly has characters we barely get to know carrying on in a fashion that sheds no light on their actions.”
  6. Dave Bond / Set The Tape (2/5): “Pacing aside, the film is attractive to look at, and very well-performed.  That said, it offers nothing of which audiences are likely to be screaming out for more.  For a studio with one viable property – one for which they have produced relatively little content in the last decade – that is a disappointment.”
  7. David Ferguson / Movies Reviews from the Dark: “Having author Mark Burnell adapt his own novel may have been a mistake, as there are far too many plot holes and ridiculous moments for this to work as any type of thriller.”
  8. Doc / EYG Embrace Your Geek (2/5): “Blake Lively did a nice job as the character, but there was just nothing there and the script was such a mess that I could not care one iota about Stephanie.  Any little bit of connection I felt for her was because of Lively.”
  9. fanboyreviewer (2/4): “…was okay, but altogether pretty generic. The film had some solid performances and a potentially interesting set-up, but it wasn’t very memorable.”
  10. Ferdosa Abdi / Screen Queens: “Needless to say, there is a lot wrong with this film, but what The Rhythm Section lacks the most is entertainment”
  11. Irish Film Critic / Thomas Tunstall (3.5/5): “Judging from this initial outing, forthcoming sequels appear unlikely. “The Rhythm Section” simply cannot muster enough action and empathy necessary to suspend disbelief over the course of the highly improbable events depicted in the film”
  12. Jason Bleau / Cinema Spotlight: “…isn’t a terrible movie or really a truly bad movie, nor is it boring. It’s just predictable, derivative, and needed more energy to really become a memorable experience.”
  13. jmuney’s blog (2.5/5): “…this all leads into a cat-and-mouse game between Lively and Sterling K. Brown, which should be dynamite, but it’s built upon the barest bones of a structure.”
  14. Josh Lasser / The TV and Film Guy’s Reviews (2.5/5): “Lively is wonderful and keeps the viewer invested, but in the end there is too little return on that investment.”
  15. Keith Young / KEITH on Reels: “I was fairly disappointed that it did not meet my expectations, established by the movie trailer, for a very entertaining and dramatic action thriller; even with Blake Lively’s terrific performance that could make for a turning point in her acting career, the movie is unable to really recover from the poor pacing and lack of originality.”
  16. Swanner & Judd Film Reviews: “This film could have been very entertaining, but with its slow start and far too linear script, it suffers from too much character development. “
  17. The Spy Commander (Grade: C): “..it’d be better if there were more audience investment in Patrick’s story.”
  18. The Inside Reel (Grade: C): “…is dynamic and admirable in the ways it tries to reinvent but also ground the genre with a slightly different approach.”
  19. Tom Moore / Moorereviews (2/5): “…isn’t a total loss thanks to Lively’s strong leading performance and Morano’s direction, but damn is its story a mess and totally forgettable. It certainly marks a disappointing end to a surprisingly solid January. Like I said, Lively and Morano are strong here and I’d love to see them make another action team-up in the future – I just hope they find better material to work with.”
  20. RockAtTheMovies (5.5/10): “The film hits “Action thriller led by a female lead” cliches as we go along. I can see what the filmmaker was going for but unfortunately there isn’t enough action or entertainment to really get viewers hearts racing. The studio was unsure what to do with this film”
  21. Society Reviews: “I’ve seen Blake Lively have a great presence in other films but this one ain’t it. A role that probably sounded better in a pitch meeting turns into a disaster of a film, The Rhythm Section is a mess of a film and one of the worst narrative movies in the last few years. Truly a failure from top to bottom.”
  22. Trailer Trashed (2/5): “Problems, problems, so many problems. This story had the potential to be great. It had a great premise. But instead it was a massive disappointment, with a bad story and some real shaky camera work.”
  23. What Went Right or Wrong With? (3/10): “Even as you wander around giddy, zigzagging your lounge and knocking the TV off its bracket, that’ll be a better experience than watching this trash.”

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quote from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

25+ Gretel and Hansel Reviews – A Clever Binomial Misses The Mark

Gretel and Hansel ⭐️½

Two words: too long.

…congratulations to director Oz Perkins for overturning what had previously been an irreversible binomial with his new film Gretel & Hansel. I can now look forward to such remakes as Furious & Fast, The Chocolate Factory & Willy Wonka, Louise & Thelma, Guy Ritchie’s RollnRocka, and of course The Two Dwarfs & Snow White & the Other Five Dwarfs. But seriously, this flipped title is just Dumber & Dumb.

Movie review: When it comes to the new movie titled Gretel & Hansel, it’s a matter of leave it or love it | Vancouver Sun

Let me speak up for director Oz Perkins with the reversed title choice. The characters in the story have some of their traditional character traits reversed. Some reviewers picked up on this. The one above appears either not to care, doesn’t like clever titling or ___ (fill in the blank). Whatever, no shade thrown here either way. You can like a movie or not, like a title or not, whatever you want to like you like — or not. Personally, I do like inventive titles, though.

… SPOILERS are ahead, you’ve been warned ….

Great looking, less filling

There was more thought put into the cinematography than the script. A lot more. That weird triangle house just oozes evil by design. Why didn’t these kids look at that strange shaped house and say, “hmm, something isn’t right here?” They were so hungry that the feast sitting on the table was all that mattered.

In the fairy tale the kids started by eating the house, whereas in this tale a bountiful feast magically spread across a table inside the house. This isn’t accidental, the director did not want the house to be edible. As a moviegoer it would have been cooler if that weird triangle was like the inside of Willy Wonka’s chocolate river area. Eat anything on there you like. Windows, gutters, just seeing those kids gnaw into the structure would have added weirdness. Missed opportunity.

Cannibalism at PG-13

I’m a hardcore horror fan, so I can’t really get with the crowd that wants PG-13 horror for a movie that deals with cannibalism. Fundamentally, this is a broken concept because everything graphic and gory has to be subdued.

I’m not saying a good PG-13 horror movie can’t be done, but I can’t name even one. Can you? Use the comments to recommend one.


Feeling a bit broken recordish, but this story belongs in an anthology show. There isn’t enough that happens to warrant barely warrant 30 minutes of screen time. 20-25 minutes is more than perfect for this short story. We don’t need or want backstory on the kids or the evil woman, we want them to stumble hungrily upon the house in the woods, be trapped and face the evil.

Reviews by Others

Let’s check out what others have to say reviewing Gretel and Hansel.


  1. Becky Taylor Art & Photography (4/4): “I highly recommend this. It’s a slow creeper, and it’s worth viewing every moment. It lifts the level of horror for the year”
  2. Chaz Evans / Patrick Beatty Reviews: “I think it’s worth watching to see the performances, the cinematography, and the sequences of psychological terror, because those really help the film shine and makes up for what it lacks in some parts. For a January horror release… this is pretty badass.”
  3. Gimmick Reviews: “…will be a delight to seasoned horror fans even if it doesn’t have a kill count or compelling story. It deserves ten fold the praise it’s receiving.”
  4. Good Movies for Bad Guys (7/10): “…it’s not a slow burn or a fast pace like so many horror movies. It is a tone. An eerie uncomfortable and beautiful tone.”
  5. Griff’s Picks (Grade: B): “…can bring grateful rewards for those who tap into its unusual wavelength: as this aesthetic showcase brings lush beauty and new intelligence into an age-old nightmare.”
  6. Horror Reviews By The Collective: “Osgood Perkins is the right person to re-imagine a Brothers Grimm story, and he did it very well by adjusting the story to fit the heavy giallo/folk influence here. Gretel & Hansel is a great adult update of the story, even if it lacks a bit of impact during some scenes.”
  7. Jason Bleau / Cinema Spotlight (4/5): “With better writing this could have been the first great horror film of the decade, but as it stands it’s the first truly GOOD horror movie of 2020 that sets the bar for what’s yet to come.”
  8. Logan Coleman Reviews (7.5/10): “Costume and hairstyle design were excellent for the film. The direction of the film was good for Oz Perkins. My only complaint was the film needed one more rewrite, in a way it needed to be a little bit longer.”
  9. Kate Sanchez / But Why Tho? (8/10): “…is everything I wanted from this grim undertaking. It was both everything that I expected and something from Perkins and Hayer that subverted the ideas I had going in.”
  10. Literary Dust: “The atmosphere has that slow moving, creepy, and beautiful quality that I love so dearly! And the movie was just deliciously weird in general!”
  11. Modern H.P Lovecraft: “The movie is worth a watch if you enjoy the horror genre at all. It’s PG-13, so it certainly isn’t a blood bath. A few gory parts, but nothing intolerable. The story makes up for any grotesque scenes, and does justice for its Grimms’ Fairy Tale heritage.”
  12. MonsterZero NJ: “…this is a very spooky and unsettlingly dark version of a classic fairy tale. Most such tales had subtle meanings and dark centers and here Perkins expertly brings them to the surface.”
  13. Stan The Movie Man (3/5): “…didn’t make me feel much of anything. It is an interestingly shot film with a great deal of potential. Focusing on Gretel, as the title suggests, is a good idea from co-writer and director Oz Perkins, son of “Psycho” himself, Tony Perkins. It is a shame that so little came from it.”
  14. The Critic’s Sanctum (8.2/10): “…is a beautiful looking, slow-burn telling of the Grimm Brother’s fairy tail. The changes feel fresh and I appreciate what the movie was trying to do.”

Not Recommended

  1. Alex Brannan / CineFiles Movie Reviews: “…is more of a daydream than a nightmare, a film whose spell you fall in and out of in equal measure.”
  2. Eliah de Castro: “…satisfies the eyes, but never stimulates the brain.”
  3. EYG / Doc: “I really disliked most of the film.  The performances were decent.  Sophia Lillis was solid with what was given for her to do.  The music was good too.”
  4. Lilyn G / Sci-fi & Scary: “It was a very beautiful movie. As in, aesthetically pleasing even with the yawn-worthy scenes that have been done ad nauseam. Beyond that, it didn’t have much going for it.”
  5. Matthew Liedke (2/5): “So much of what’s good in “Gretel & Hansel” is cancelled out by its execution. It’s an unfortunate situation where the film had a clear artistic identity, but at the end it doesn’t come together.”
  6. RockAtTheMovies (5.5/10): “There are times throughout where I lost interest and was disappointed that the film didn’t do more with what it had. What we got was a forgettable horror film that was boring.”
  7. RogerInOrlando / Movie Nation (1.5/4): “…all this beauty and detail serves a heavily-narrated, dramatically-thin war of the wills tale, where we and Gretel figure out that there’s no such thing as a free dessert cart”
  8. Stream to Big Screen: “I actually think making the movie only PG-13 may have hurt it in the long run. The horror elements could have been pushed further, but I realized they were targeting a specific age range with this movie that I’m not in anymore.”
  9. Society Reviews: “Despite its PG-13, this is not a children’s movie and you should probably skip this even if you are an adult. Gretel & Hansel is every bit that visually aesthetic buffet that tastes like a bucket full of rotting entrails.”
  10. Startled Sloth Reviews (5/10): “I guess I just don’t know why we needed another retelling of the Hansel and Gretel storyline in the first place. I always figured the franchise peaked in its absurdity with “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” anyway.”
  11. The Monster Lady (6/10): “I guess my biggest disappointment with this adaption was that the trailers made this out to be a lot more sinister and horror based than what we actually got. In MY honest opinion, there was a lot of missed, unused potential.”
  12. Your Intrepid Host: “It is trying so hard, but it isn’t investing enough in true substance to be totally worthwhile. Could the visuals make up for that? Depends on the viewer. For me, Gretel & Hansel was a one and done.”

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quote from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

Watch 14+ Romance Movies for February 2020 Viewing Challenge

Just Google “Valentine’s Day” for all kinds of event-related ideas

We’ve been married 30+ years and I’ve been struck within the last year by two movie-related romantic moments:

  1. My wife who rarely signs up for anything with technology involved, downloaded the Regal Unlimited App and purchased her own subscription
  2. (very recently) She has taken to coining Thursday’s our “Date night”

No surprise, I’m going to disagree with TV Guide’s writer (bolded below).

As we’ve told you time and again, nothing is more romantic than spending the evening on your couch, watching movies from the comfort of your own home. So grab some delicious take-out and an inexpensive-but-not-cheap bottle of wine, and settle in for an intimate evening at home with your loved one. (FYI: This scenario works well even if you’re not in a relationship this Valentine’s Day.)

The Best Romantic Movies to Stream on Disney Plus This Valentine’s Day | TV Guide

Staying home and watching movies is romantic, sure, but the “nothing is more” part is completely bogus. How about watching a drive-in movie or going to the park and watching a majestic sunset or starry sky?

Segue to our 4th movie viewing challenge …

What are viewing challenges?

It’s where we try and watch a minimum number of movies of a certain type. They are usually themed based on the month(s). For example, around Halloween, horror movies and holiday movies during the holidays.

Any movie watcher is welcome to participate. You do not need a blog or website, but do need some way to track the movies you’ve watched during the challenge. Fortunately, there are several free services available.

Past Challenges

February 2020 will be interactive movie viewing challenge #4. Here are the others:

  1. 2019 October Viewing Challenge: 66+ Horror Movies Viewed In October (completed74 movies watched, rated & reviewed)
  2. 2019 Holiday Viewing Challenge: 25+ Christmas Movies Viewed 11/1-12/25/19 (completed25 movies watched, rated & reviewed)
  3. 2020 January Viewing Challenge: 21+ New/Unseen Movies
    (completed: 30 movies watched, rated & reviewed)

February 2020 Viewing Challenge Goal

14+ romance movies watched from February 1-29, 2020.

How To Participate

Just keep track of all the romance movies you’ve watched from today, February 1, 2020 until midnight February 29, 2020. Sites like Letterboxd make it easy to do. Tag them with #feb2020challenge.

Since this started, I’ve already watched, rated and reviewed:

13+ more romance movies to go. A month or so from this post, the results will be posted in a recap. If you notify me in the comments below that you’re participating and/or through trackback ping, you’ll be linked in the final recap post.

It’s free and fun to participate. I hope others join in too!

Other Valentine’s Day Articles of Interest

Need some help finding some good romance movies to watch? In my quest to find romance movies recommended by others, I’ve compiled the following list of recent articles:

This month on the big screen and television screens cupid’s arrows are flying.

NOW PLAYING REVIEWS: The Rhythm Section, Gretel and Hansel

Week #5 of 2020 (1/30-2/2/2020) offers a woman tortured by the loss of her family turned into a spy hellbent on revenge and a film retelling a story of two children who encounter a woman in the woods that is not at all what she seems.

We saw both films on opening day, Thursday, and choosing the one that was more entertaining was fairly easy.

#1 is ….

The Rhythm Section ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

Starring Blake Lively in a number of different wigs, hairstyles, hair colors, makeup and outfits and training to be a modern day spy.

Blake Lively flexes her muscles in The Rhythm Section

This isn’t your average revenge spy flick. A fair amount of time and effort is spent training an every day regular woman into a spy killing machine. Some might think the transition is too fast, others might enjoy the effort and spotlight into explaining how and why this tortured woman could and would become a spy. We are in the latter camp.

From the creative team at Eon, behind the James Bond films and an adaptation of a novel series by Mark Burnell. The screenplay was written by the author. Haven’t read the book, so the review doesn’t evaluate the merits of the adaptation.

Blake Lively on how she prepared for each day on the set to film The Rhythm Section

Some of the early critic and audience reviews are not as positive on this movie as both Kara and I in our review and rating. This is one of those “depends on what you genre you are expecting” movies that is best evaluated as a drama-thriller instead of a spy action movie. It’s not a very good action movie, but it’s a much better drama-thriller. You can tell Blake Lively is giving everything to this script. She gave so much to her performance that she had a serious hand injury that shut down and delayed filming for months. The video above details her daily grind for 8 months to make this film.

So, if you go to see this, try and think of it as a drama-thriller for the optimal viewing experience. Blake Lively is very good in this film, but since it was a dump month film, it will probably be forgotten as the year goes on. Too bad, it doesn’t deserve that sort of apathy.

Gretel and Hansel⭐️½ 

Why was this made? I’m tempted to start a list of remakes/reboots/adaptations that should never have been made. Gretel and Hansel doesn’t deserve a feature film treatment, but could have been an awesome short in an anthology horror show.

Gretel & Hansel tells a very familiar Grimm fairy tale

Just too long. There is a good deal of effort put into establishing a dark, foreboding atmosphere which I appreciated, but it becomes painfully aware that the story is unnecessarily padded. This is one of those horror tales that works better as a quick and nasty bite, not some long, slow bloodletting.

Want to see what else we recommend NOW PLAYING at the theater?

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theaters recently and liked (maybe they are available in your area still) that are recommended. Any movie rated at least 3-stars is recommended. You should read any 3-star review (click the title), because sometimes we do qualify those recommendations, meaning we were entertained, but it doesn’t mean that the film was that good.

4-star movies are highly recommended and films rated as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see.

  1. 1917 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 
  2. Little Women ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  3. Uncut Gems ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  4. Frozen II ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  5. Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  6. The Last Full Measure ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Bombshell ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  8. Like A Boss ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  9. Doolittle ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy movie watching to you!

Linda Hamilton Wrongly Thinks Movie Audience Today Are “so unpredictable”

Put me in the Linda Hamilton fan club.

Unfortunately, I must disagree with her assessment of today’s audience (emphasis mine below), but very much agree with her on big budget movies (emphasis also mine) being high risk:

“I would really appreciate maybe a smaller version where so many millions are not at stake. Today’s audience is just so unpredictable,” Hamilton tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I can’t tell you how many laymen just go, ‘Well, people don’t go to the movies anymore.’ It should definitely not be such a high-risk financial venture, but I would be quite happy to never return. So, no, I am not hopeful because I would really love to be done.”

Linda Hamilton “Would Be Quite Happy to Never Return” to ‘Terminator’ | Hollywood Reporter

So much to talk about in these bolded quotes, so let’s tackle them one at a time.

Today’s audience is just so (NOT!) unpredictable

Blaming the audience for the reason a movie doesn’t do well isn’t a very sound career move. Linda Hamilton is well past those concerns and I don’t think she meant in her comment to be blaming the audience, but it came off that way to me. It’s like standing at the door of your business and telling customers not to enter your store.

The film business isn’t rocket science.

If you make a great movie on a reasonable budget, you have a better than good chance of turning a profit at the box office. I would say financial unpredictability arises when the film budget is too high, see: $100+ Million Movie Budgets Are Stupid

The problem with Terminator: Dark Fate⭐️⭐️½ had nothing to do with audience unpredictability. The director, Tim Miller was submarining the film with misguided promotional efforts (see: How To Better Promote Your Next Films, Elizabeth Banks and Tim Miller), the story was ill-conceived and the most important thing: the movie was essentially unnecessary reboot that wasn’t as good as the original T1+T2 punch.

Why did audiences need Dark Fate? We didn’t, because we had the originals that were far superior. This is coming from a fan of the franchise, not somebody who wanted to see the film underperform. We provided more lead-up coverage for Dark Fate on this blog than any other movie to date. Just do a search for terminator and you’ll see how much I wanted to see this movie succeed.

And let’s be clear: making over $250 million at the box office is not a failure or a “bomb” or any of the other headline clickbait slams. Audience interest was there, but when your budget is too high, filmmakers, that isn’t on us, that’s on you.

Despite all this Terminator: Dark Fate Might Eventually Break Even.

People Don’t Go To Movies Anymore

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to me, nor many of the 1,200+ movie bloggers I’m following. But are people becoming apathetic to the theater experience? Yes, many are.

Movie theater audiences have been declining, unfortunately, but I think the numbers could flatten, especially with more promotion of unlimited passes and better movies released throughout the entire year and creative business moves, see: Yes, More Perks and Quirks to Entice Moviegoers Please.

People aren’t going to go watch a bunch of bad movies. Honestly, if we gauged January 2020 movies there is little incentive by and large to go see movies like these. January is a well known terrible month for studios to dump on audiences and this year clearly is no exception.

From a business perspective this is just stupid. What if McDonalds chose to sell food of a lesser quality in January, would that make sense? But for some reason, Hollywood studios think it’s OK to shovel lesser quality film on moviegoers every January. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

So what if a movie has a less chance of winning a gold statue. A wise friend of mine used to say, “you can’t eat plaques, pins and awards.” Alas, the movie business is letting down its customers 1/12th of the business season.

If you just fail to try and change business trends, you accept the dying process.

It should definitely not be such a high-risk financial venture

Let’s end on a more positive note. This is the one part of what Linda Hamilton said that makes the most sense. Movies don’t have to be high risk financially. I’d like to see a move back to more financially responsible, lower budget, CREATIVE films. Stop making so damn many reboots and sequels and rehashes. Focus on adapting great novels that never have been adapted and fresh, original, inventive screenplays.

I refuse to believe the problem is with the creative content available, it’s the choices being made by the studios to finance and produce movies they think we want. We don’t need another Spider-man movie, and I’m not saying that because I dislike Spider-Man, but give us movies about Harley Quinn, The Joker, etc. Those are less trodden paths.

Why does it take millions to make good movies in 2020? It shouldn’t. Syfy did pretty well with some crazy, creative movies like Sharkanado. Blumhouse has been banking it with some of their lower budget genre horror films based on older properties. So, there are some studios thinking out of the box. Need more to follow the lead of the smaller guys.

A lot depends on what Disney does, since they are commanding some 40-50% of the box office revenue. Will Disney continue making their massive blockbusters only or will they encourage their “smaller” studios (see: Disney purges “FOX” name – the FOX has left the 20th Century Mouse House) within the mega large company to make lower budget, creative films.