erik lundegaard

Jordy's Reviews posts

Sunday March 09, 2014

Consider Yourself ... Well-Reviewed!

Jordan Muschler as the Artful Dodger

Jordan Muschler (front) as the Artful Dodger, with Justin Dekker as Fagain, in the Prior Lake Players' production of “Oliver!”

My nephew Jordan Muschler, a one-time reviewer on this site, has burst onto the stage yet again. Last October he played Gavrouche in the Bloomington Civic Theater's production of “Les Misérables.” Now he's the Artful Dodger in the Prior Lake Players' production of “Oliver!” It's actually a family affair. My nephew Ryan and brother Eric are in the production as well.

A review recently went up at The Prior Lake Monitor site, including this:

Jordan Muschler did a superb job playing the part of the Artful Dodger and had the cockney accent down perfectly.

Thank god. The rest of us in the family are a bit Seinfeldy (“Not bloodly likeLEE!”) in that regard.

Performances of “Oliver!” run through March 16.

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Posted at 12:01 PM on Mar 09, 2014 in category Jordy's Reviews   |   Permalink  
Wednesday March 20, 2013

Jordy's Reviews: Oz, The Great and Powerful (2013)

My nephew Jordy, 11, reviews the prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” which is currently the highest-grossing movie of the year. Comments welcome.



I’m sure you have probably heard the “'Wizard of Oz' is amazing you need to see it” lecture. It is a great, magical movie. So I came into “The Great and Powerful” with high expectations. Is the movie great and powerful?

Not quite.

The movie is about a greedy magician named Oscar, whose act is known as Oz: The Great and Powerful. Oz was whooshed into a magical tornado and lands in Oz. The movie, set in 1905, starts off brilliantly by adding the unique touch of not only being in black and white, but also having the camera shaped like a box, like a camera would have been back then. Then, when they land in Oz, it goes to color and widescreen. Brilliant!

Everyone in Oz thinks Oz is the great wizard who will save them from the evil wicked witch, except all he is interessted in is the great treasures of Oz. The movie is not a remake, it is a prequel.

The movie has some good plot twists, like who is really wicked.

The acting is fine. However, it’s nothing that would stand out. The movie isn’t as magical as “The Wizard of Oz,” missing songs that have gone down in history (“Somewhere over the Rainbow“), the bond between the main characters on their adventures, and some great quotes. (”There’s no place like home!") Also, there's an attack and then 5 minutes later there’s war. That’s a pacing issue right there.

Overall, it was OK. It had a good script and a great beginning but the movie wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. They are setting this up for a remake of the “Wizard of Oz.” It will need the next young Judy Garland if it comes.

2.5/4 Stars

Oz, the Great and Powerful

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Posted at 07:10 AM on Mar 20, 2013 in category Jordy's Reviews   |   Permalink  
Sunday December 30, 2012

Jordy's Reviews: Les Miserables (2012)

What have I done? Though I'm master of the house, and on my own, and reviewed “Les Misérables” a few days ago, my nephew Jordy, 11, with a heart full of love, keeps us talking about the movie for one day more...

“Les Miserables” (Les Mis) means so much to me. It was the first play I was in, and got me interested in theater. I came into this movie with very high expectations. If I didn’t like the movie, I would not only be sad, I would be mad at Tom Hooper, the director, for not doing Les Mis proper justice. So did I like it? I loved it. It’s my favorite movie of 2012.

Les Miserables: both film and play postersIt is a compelling story. The story is about a man named Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) who steals a loaf of bread to save his sister’s child from death, and suffers 19 years of punishment for it. After he gets out, he continues stealing, but a kind Bishop saves him. He decides to live by the law, and spends the rest of his life doing good deeds. The movie manages to tell it a little bit better than the play, with some things that confused me in the play being absent here.

When you go to this movie, bring Kleenex, because you’ll probably cry. I cried 6 times throughout the 157-minute movie, and the people that I came with all cried at least once. It is a very emotional movie, and mostly because of the amazing acting from the great cast. Everyone shines, although Anne Hathaway as Fantine does the most, even with her short role. Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried-- everyone. They’re all great. They are also great singers.

The movie has some great camerawork, too. You’ll see mountains, barricades, and streets. The movie is also different enough from the play in that it feels a little bit original, with some songs put in different places, and an original song, “Suddenly,” which is also great. Some of the best songs from the play aren’t as good here (Except for “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables,” which was just as good as the play and made me cry), but it’s not really a criticism of the movie, more that the songs didn’t work as well as they did in the play. However, the songs that were good in the play, but not amazing were better here, like “A Heart Full of Love,” the love song of Cosette and Marius, Fantine’s blockbuster, “I Dreamed a Dream,” and some others.

The Thenardiers  (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter) deserve their own section. They have all the funny bits in the play, and are just as funny as they are in the play. The scene in which they sing and rob people of their money is hilarious. In a movie full of misery, they are the comic relief.

Overall, the movie is amazing. I didn’t have a single problem with it. Maybe that’s because I was already familiar with the play, but it probably is because of the fantastic acting, emotional story, and a whole lot of other things that make this movie perfect to me. This IS the best movie of 2012. Cheers, Tom Hooper. You’ve made a masterpiece.


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Posted at 10:09 AM on Dec 30, 2012 in category Jordy's Reviews   |   Permalink  
Wednesday December 19, 2012

Jordy's Reviews: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

My nephew Jordy, 11, reviews the Hobbit movie so I won't have to...

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is an OK movie. It has good acting, great camerawork, good action scenes, and a good story. (Although it is based off one of the most famous books of all time, so I guess that’s a given.) But for all it does well, it gets some things wrong.

“The Hobbit'’s story is basically a Hobbit (a small creature from the Shire) named Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) who goes on an adventure with 12 Dwarfs (small, mining and building creatures) and a wizard named Gandalf (Ian McKellen) through the dangerous Middle-Earth to take The Lonely Mountain back from Smoug The Dragon. The fire-breathing beast took over the Dwarf empire 60 years ago. Along the way, they encounter a lot of things — namely, monsters, monsters, and monsters. The adapted screenplay also contains some foreshadowing for the Lord of the Rings trilogy that I think is unnecessary. ”The Hobbit“ is fine as a stand-alone adventure just as well as LOTR is. However, the story starts really slow and keeps it that way for about an hour. Then we get action, action, and action. That is bad pacing.

Poster for Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)The movie has what you’d expect from a high-budget film: good acting, some great camera shots (especially with the background), some comedic moments, stuff like that. However, what it’s missing that ”The Lord of the Rings“ had is some amazing special effects. A few of the things look fake in it. It’s just not nearly as good as LOTR was with the special effects, even though those movies were made a decade ago. Those movies had amazing special effects that few movies can match even now.

Also, a lot of the characters in ”The Hobbit“ represent a certain characteristic. The Dwarves are the tough, partying but lovable people, the Hobbits are the simple folk, Thorin is the serious one, and Gandalf is the calm one. It is done extremely well in this world of creatures we dreamed existed. (Except for Orcs. I hate those guys.)

For heroic people, they seem to do a lot of running away in the movie. Almost every time some creature comes, Gandalf says “Run!” and a rule of survival is that if an all-powerful wizard runs away, you should too. The epic music makes me not care too much about the running away, though.

They also overuse slow-motion. In almost every action scene, there’s a slow-motion shot that is completely unnecessary. This is what I call the Michael Bay effect. The movie is very good in HD and it will not be the same at home as it is in the theater. The humor also goes well with the movie, not too much so that it will feel like the movie is trying to make you laugh, but like real life, where every 2 hours or so something funny happens. My favorite scene was the game of riddles between Gollum and Bilbo. It was slow, dramatic, suspenseful.

Now for what I despise the most about the movie. I don’t like that there are three films. We don’t need three films to tell the story of The Hobbit! That’s just stupid! Each Lord of the Rings book got one movie, and that was it. The Hobbit, the shortest book of the four, mind you, has three movies going for it? That’s like Gandalf casting a magic spell tripling the money! What the heck! I also don’t like how hyped the movie got. It was by the same person, Peter Jackson, that made Lord Of The Rings, and all three LOTR were great, so it got extremely hyped. It’s an example of what hype does to a movie: raises our expectations too far.

Finally, the ending was bad. It’s hard to end a movie that will have a sequel picking up on it, but they had a perfect ending going for it (which I won’t spoil) but they went and ruined it by adding something else. You’ll probably know what I mean if you see the movie.

Overall, ”The Hobbit" is only OK. It has some good things going for it, but it disappoints in too many others for it to be great. I recommend you see it if you have seen LOTR, because you will find it entertaining even with all its problems.


Okay For 10+ (There are some scary monsters throughout the movie, and it does have a lot of action involved.)

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Posted at 07:32 AM on Dec 19, 2012 in category Jordy's Reviews   |   Permalink  
Sunday December 02, 2012

Jordy's Reviews: Rise of the Guardians (2012)

My nephew Jordy, 11, keeps at it...

“Rise Of The Guardians” sounded like it would be a good film. The trailers showed good animation, action, an all-star cast. I went into the movie theater expecting a fun hour and a half.

Boy was I disappointed. Despite some good things, it fails to make up for its bad story, terrible 3D, and meh script.

Rise of the Guardians (2012)The trailer did get some things right. For one thing, the animation is nice. It has these weird sand things flying everywhere, and there is a lot of detail. Also, the movie has action in a non-violent, young kind of way, which I respect. However, I have to question the cast a little bit.  The Easter Bunny is Australian? What? Even though the supporting cast is made up of stars, I would expect the main character to be a star, too, but no. Jack Frost is Chris Pine, and while he’s been in some movies, it’s not like everyone knows him.

The story is that Pitch Black (Jude Law) is coming back to bring fear and misery to children, and the guardians, who are Santa Claus, (Alec Baldwin), The Australian Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and The Sandman (who doesn’t speak) to save the world. However, they need a new guardian, Jack Frost, who is not seen by us puny mortals because we don’t believe in him yet. And the guardians go off to save the world. Personally, I think that this group is bad. If you can hire any person to be a guardian, why not just hire James Bond or Hulk Hogan, or worst of all, MR. ROGERS. The story also gets too complicated for its own good. But since I didn’t care much about the characters, I didn’t care.

The script also isn’t that good, with more bad lines and screenwriting clichés. It is a shame, since if I thought that the script was better I probably would have been more forgiving of the bad story. The script also does nothing to compel older audiences like teens to keep them interested except some comedic parts. However, the movie has a nice pace to it.

The 3-D is also pretty bad, never doing too much with it, so you should definitely watch this one the old-fashioned way.

My brother loved the movie, though. He thought it was great. (Leave a comment encouraging Ryan to write reviews and he just might do it!)

My dad thought the movie was good, but agreed with me that the movie got too complicated for its own good. Ryan would give it a 9/10, but my dad, Eric, would give it a 7/10.

It seems like younger audiences would like this more than teens and adults, based on what Ryan thought of this movie. I felt its bad story, iffy script, the lack of compelling things for more mature audiences, and bad 3-D make this a lame movie. It might be good for kids, but I think you should only see it if you have kids. Since this is MY review, my brother’s and dad’s thoughts will not be in the overall score.

Nice try, Dreamworks, but you need to try again.


Okay For 7+ (There is some action, and there are some parts that could be considered frightening for younger people, like my brother.)

(Please leave a comment suggesting what to review next or what you thought of “Rise Of The Guardians.” Thanks!)

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Posted at 11:00 AM on Dec 02, 2012 in category Jordy's Reviews   |   Permalink  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard