Magic in the Mirror: Fowl Play (1997)

Starring Jamie Renée Smith, Kevin Wixted, Saxon Trainor, David Brooks, Godfrey James, Eileen T’Kaye, Gerrit Graham, Bryan J. Terrill, Eugen Cristian Motriuc, Ion Haiduc, Brent Morris, Iulia Gavril, Ileana Sandulescu, Daniela Marzavan, Stelian Nistor, Mihai Niculescu

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate. I liked the first one.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

The first Magic in the Mirror film was a great blend of weird B-Movie thrills and kids’ movie charm, so I was hopeful that the sequel could deliver more of the same. It turns out that the sequel does just that, but upon receiving it I’m not sure that I actually needed any more. Magic in the Mirror: Fowl Play tries its best to move the adventure in a different direction, but even with this shift the story still boils down to the same beats as the original. For kids who enjoyed the first film, this will likely be a good thing, as the sequel scratches the same itch, but do kids who enjoy these movies still exist? If you’re looking for a bit more, you should probably look elsewhere, although if you’re reading this I’m not sure this applies to you. You’re a special type of person if you’re reading reviews of low-budget kids’ movies from the late ’90s. 🙂

After returning home from her adventure in the mirror world, Mary Margaret (Jamie Renée Smith) is helping her parents prepare for her mother Sylvia’s upcoming party. I honestly don’t remember why they were having a party, but I know it wasn’t a birthday, and I’m pretty sure it was something to do with Sylvia’s work in the field of making lasers that rip holes into other dimensions. Meanwhile, her partner in this work, Dr. Lazlo Tuttle (Mihai Niculescu), has decided to go rogue and use the machine for his own purposes. In doing so he lasers himself directly into Dragora’s palace, and if you forgot who Dragora is, she’s the Drake queen who enjoys nothing more than a good cup of “people tea.” This allows Dragora to enter our world unchecked, bringing with her a couple of Drake underlings and a serious grudge against Mary Margaret.

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Magic in the Mirror (1996)

Starring Jamie Renée Smith, Kevin Wixted, Saxon Trainor, David Brooks, Godfrey James, Eileen T’Kaye, Eugen Cristian Motriuc, Ion Haiduc, Ileana Sandulescu, Daniela Marzavan, Mihai Niculescu

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

B-Movies are always subjectively entertaining, so when I say that I found Magic in the Mirror to be one of the best Moonbeam films, I do so knowing full well that there will be others who absolutely can’t stand it. This usually should go without saying for any review, but with this movie I feel it bears repeating. One real key to my enjoyment of this movie (and not immediate & complete rejection) is that I love Howard the Duck. Yes, the movie. So the mere idea that Full Moon made a movie with a race of giant ducks was enough to put a smile on my face. The ducks of Magic in the Mirror are definitely not as well-realized as Howard in his film, but I found their limitations to be part of the charm (especially the flying). Anyway, I just wanted to get this out of the way right at the beginning, because I think this is great little fantasy adventure for kids, but I think the ducks will turn a lot of people off.

Mary Margaret Dennis (Jamie Renée Smith) is the daughter of two considerable, scientific talents. Her father works in the field of botany, following in the footsteps of his grandmother. He’s a little lacking in common sense, but his heart is in the right place. Mary Margaret’s mother (Saxon Trainor) is a physicist who is on the brink of finalizing a laser gun that shoots a hole into an alternate dimension. I’m sure there’s a more scientific way to describe it, but I’m not a physicist so that’s all I got. 🙂 Anyway, these are very engrossing jobs for parents to have, and as a result they aren’t as attentive as they should be with Mary Margaret. So when her great-grandmother’s mirror is bestowed on Mary Margaret, of course her ambitious idle hands will find a way to use it as a portal into another world.

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Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns (1996)

AKA Leapin’ Leprechauns! 2

Starring Gregory Smith, Madeleine Potter, Godfrey James, John Bluthal, Tina Martin, James Ellis, Sylvester McCoy, Ion Haiduc, Mike Higgins

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate. I liked the first one.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns is a great, intriguing title, but to be honest it’s not the most fitting one for the film that bears it. There is some spell breaking to be had, but I can’t remember any great secret of the leprechauns that comes to light. Anyway, this shouldn’t get in the way of the fun, and who knows, maybe in the course of writing this review, I’ll somehow unlock the film and discover the secret of the leprechauns. 🙂

This film picks up a short time after the original. Michael Dennehy (John Bluthal) has returned to his home on Fairy Hill, where he lives in harmony with the leprechauns and the fairy folk. His grandson, Mikey Dennehy (Gregory Smith), is staying with Gramps (no sign of the other family members) and enjoying his time there. One day while fishing, a woman rides up on a horse and sparks a conversation. She introduces herself as Morgan (Madeleine Potter), explaining that she’s staying at a nearby castle. Michael thought the place was uninhabitable and haunted, but apparently it’s been recently cleaned up! Morgan does need a spot of help, though, so Michael volunteers Mikey to help the nice woman.

Continue reading Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns (1996) →

Leapin’ Leprechauns! (1995)

Starring John Bluthal, Grant Cramer, Godfrey James, Tina Martin, James Ellis, Sylvester McCoy, Sharon Lee Jones, Gregory Smith, Erica Hess, Mihai Niculescu, Dorina Lazar, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

The Moonbeam films share so many similarities that I am no longer surprised to see re-used elements; I actually look forward to them now. Leapin’ Leprechauns comes from the mold of Dragonworld, though it uses its building blocks uniquely to make for a much different film experience. Shot on the rolling green hills of Ireland Romania, Leapin’ Leprechauns introduces us to a world of wonder and fantasy, the people who believe in it, and a few who do not.

Michael Dennehy (John Bluthal) has lived peacefully on Fairy Hill his entire life, and now in his elderly years gives brief tours of the grounds to visitors on bus excursions. He lives in harmony with the living world around him, including the wee leprechauns and the fairy folk. One day, Michael comes upon a pair of surveyors examining the land, and much to his surprise they’re working under the orders of his son living in America, John Dennehy (Grant Cramer). John wants to turn the land into an amusement park called Ireland Land, so he invites Michael to see the grandkids in the US (getting him out of the way for the surveyors to survey in peace). It’s kind of an inverse of Dragonworld, where an American boy is orphaned and comes to live in Scotland with his grandfather. In the back story of Leapin’ Leprechauns, John must have moved to the US at a young age with his mother or something, because he has zero trace of an accent or respect for his Scottish heritage. This makes me wonder about the wild, roving days of Michael, but all of this is far outside of the confines of Leapin’ Leprechauns.

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Aliens in the Wild, Wild West (1999)

timeslingers_7Aliens in the Wild, Wild West (1999)
AKA Timeslingers

Starring Taylor Locke, Carly Pope, Barna Moricz, Markus Parilo, Gerry Quigley, Gloria Slade, George Ilie, Ovidiu Bucurenciu, Marcel Cobzariu, Marius Florea Vizante, Marioara Sterian, Mircea Constantinescu, Ion Haiduc

Directed by George Erschbamer

Expectations: Looking forward to it.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

As a kid did you ever wish for a movie that combined your love of westerns with your love of E.T.? If so, Aliens in the Wild, Wild West is the movie you’ve been hunting for! You may have happened upon it 20 years too late, but you’re only as old as you feel! So dust off those childhood fantasies and throw those suicidal thoughts away for the next 90 minutes, cuz we’re going back to the wild west wild, wild west!

Tom Johnson (Taylor Locke) is a kid obsessed with video. He carries a camera everywhere he goes, even strapping one to the front of his moped as he drives home from school. His sister Sara (Carly Pope) is the classic rebellious teenage girl, dating a dangerous rocker dude that her father firmly disapproves of. After a rather heated argument when Sara is brought home by a couple of cops (all videotaped with MTV VJ-style commentary by Tom), the head of the family decides that there’s only one thing to do in a situation like this. Unwavering discipline? Family counseling? A stiff drink on the rocks? Nope! Family vacation! Who wants to bet they’ll have a hair-raising adventure that ultimately brings them all closer together?

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Mandroid (1993)

mandroid-movie-poster-1993-1020548085Starring Brian Cousins, Jane Caldwell, Michael Della Femina, Robert Symonds, Curt Lowens, Patrik Ersgard, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Jack Ersgard

Expectations: High. That poster promises a lot of fun.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

You don’t know how sad it makes me to watch a movie called Mandroid and not be able to tell you how incredible it is. It’s remarkable how much this film squanders its potential to be a great film, and continues to do that over and over and over again throughout. At least it’s consistent. But don’t fret, it’s not all bad. The elements are here, so Mandroid would actually be better if you’re not paying close attention. You’re doing something, you look up and see the Mandroid driving a car into a wall, you go back to what you’re doing with a smile on your face. That would be a far more enjoyable experience than actually trying to follow the “story” of this movie.

But what is that story? Hellifino! No really, it’s about this Mandroid and he’s in love with a Wo-Mandroid from a rival clan. Their fathers creators object to their coupling — OK, OK. The real story is about a pair of elderly scientists who created the Mandroid together. One creator, Karl, wants to use it for science, but the other, Drago, wants to sell it to the military! They do a bit of fighting about it, and Drago decides to take matters into his own hands and just steal the sum’bitch. That plan goes awry and Drago gets hideously disfigured, fueling his rage even more!

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The Shrunken City (1998)

The Shrunken City (1998)
AKA Shandar: The Shrunken City

Starring Michael Malota, Agnes Bruckner, Jules Mandel, Steve Valentine, Ray Laska, Dorina Lazar, Christopher Landry, Lula Malota, Andreea Macelaru, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate, the kids movies are always iffy.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

I’ve put off writing this review for the last hour or so after the movie had ended. Usually I start right away, eager to blast out my thoughts into some form of a rough draft. Whenever I hesitate, it’s usually a bad sign. In this particular case, it’s a sign of a film that has left me rather indifferent, but I’ll try to make the best of it. It’s odd too, because I enjoyed The Shrunken City, or Shandar – The Shrunken City! if you’re going by its most recent title (and what it’s known by at a Redbox near you).

Shandar is about the mystical city of Shandar that was shrunken into a glass bottle as a last-ditch effort to save it from the destructive forces of the evil Ood. As a sidenote, has there ever been a shittier name for a villainous force? The Ood? I suppose I could call them the El Ooderino, but they’re obviously into the whole brevity thing so I won’t. Anyway, the city is shrunken and then 26,000 years and a dimensional journey later, it is unearthed by our 13-year-old heroes, George and Lori. The only problem is that by unearthing it, they have also broken its protective shield and now the Ood are back to finally wipe out that pesky city of Shandar. Boy, these guys really know how to hold a grudge. You’d think after 26,000 years they’d let it go.

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