Movies

A Movie About A Girl Struck by a Star

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Starstruck

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Intro

Last semester, my friends and I decided to watch each other’s childhood movies. This was a movie two of my friends had watched, but it was new to me. Even though the movie failed to win my admiration, I still enjoyed the experience of watching it with them.

Background

Starstruck is a rom-com and Disney Channel Original Movie released in 2010. It stars Sterling Knight, Danielle Campbell, Brandon Mychal Smith, Maggie Castle, and Chelsea Staub.

Starstruck is available on Disney+.

Summary

Michigan teen Jessica Olson visits her widowed grandmother in Hollywood, California. Her celebrity-obsessed sister Sarah convinces her to go to a nightclub where Sarah hopes to meet teen idol Christopher Wilde. When Christopher attempts to make a quick escape from the crowds after his performance, he accidentally hits Jessica with a door, and voila! The real story begins.

Pros

  • Catchy songs
  • Acting by Sterling Knight and Brandon Mychal Smith is decent
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Some character growth
  • Sweet, understanding grandma who really understands the protagonist
  • Wholesome, loving relationship between grandmother and boyfriend
  • Strong message
  • A fitting title

Cons

  • The female lead is hard to like
  • The movie star male lead is spoiled and occasionally a thoughtless jerk
  • Acting by most of the characters is not very good
  • Predictable
  • One picture taken from an impossible angle (they are looking down at the camera but it is taking a picture of them from above
  • Paparazzi used as a plot device, but only appear when they are needed to move the plot forward
  • How do their clothes manage to be so clean after the amount of mud and dirty creek water they slosh through

Review

Characters

First, I would like to say that I do sympathize with Jessica Olson’s lack of interest in celebrities. Personally, I rarely pay any attention to the lives of celebrities: their marriages, pregnancies, divorces, scandals and all that stuff have no bearing on my life and cannot hold my interest.

Jessica is only interested in those she can have an in-depth, personal relationship with and I admire that. That’s just about the only thing I admire about her because she is otherwise a bratty, annoying teenager who evidences only some growth as a person (shown in the comments she makes to paparazzi).

Her personality is so flat that the Starstruck Fandom has only Christopher Wilde in her list of “likes” and once again only includes Christopher Wilde in her list of “dislikes.”

Christopher Wilde is spoiled, naïve, and behaves like a jerk in a memorable incident during the movie. To be fair, his life has been in many ways unhealthy. His parents are his employees and plan out his life based on what options are most lucrative. Paparazzi invade his private life and ruin his ability to have fun like a normal teenager. His friendships are limited in the beginning of the movie to employees, and while that friendship seems sincere, it is not a good sign to only have friends you have to pay.

Sarah Olson, Jessica’s older sister, is mostly bland and annoying, obsessed with Christopher Wilde. She shows a little bit of unexpected kindness toward the end but is otherwise shallow.

Albert Joshua “Stubby” Stubbins is Christopher Wilde’s best friend who also happens to be his driver. Honestly, I wish we saw more of him because he is a fun character with convictions.

The grandmother of Jessica and Sarah has a touchingly close relationship with Jessica, and her grandmother is able to understand her even when the other members of her family don’t. Her grandmother has a sweet relationship with her boyfriend, and it was nice to see the cute elderly couple just living life together contentedly in the midst of all the drama in the movie.

Music

The first song isn’t amazing, but after that the rest are pretty catchy. My favorite is Something About the Sunshine. It’s catchy and just fits the mood of the movie so well. I found one music video that has the lyrics but no spoilers. I know it’s not the best, but most of them have spoilers, unfortunately.

Acting

The acting is…passable. Nothing amazing, nothing too cringy. A scene with crying is unconvincing, and Sarah’s obsessive fangirliness seems fake and a little too over-the-top.

Plot

Predictable. A couple things were unexpected, but we all know how this movie ends. I’m not going to say it, even though it barely constitutes a spoiler, but the whole thing is cheesy and obvious and you should probably know that going in. It doesn’t make it a bad movie, but it makes it an average one.

Scenery

The scenery is beautiful, whether its the beach, the cityscape, or the path less traveled they go on to avoid the paparazzi.

Mistakes

The main mistake I really noticed was that one of the photographs in the movie is shown from an impossible angle based on the way they were holding the camera.

They also got really muddy at one point, and after swimming in a creek, they were perfectly, immaculately clean. I wish stains came out that easily, but no.

Message

This movie could serve as a warning to those who idolize child celebrities to not take it to a creepy and inhumane level by prying into their private lives. It points out the problem with magazines and shows that capitalize on scandal and ruin celebrities lives. It also offers a peek into the life of a child celebrity and the unique problems and struggles they face. This is a kind of an interesting route for Disney to take considering how many teen stars they use, and surprisingly insightful.

Title

Ah, I get it. It’s Starstruck because clumsy star Christopher Wilde strikes Jessica Olson in the face…with a door…repeatedly.

Or maybe it’s because the TV show Christopher Wilde was performing on was called “Starstruck.”

Or it could be because the word “starstruck” comes up in the lyrics of the first song he sings, and is in fact the name of that song.

For whatever reason it was chosen, I feel that it was a fitting choice.

Conclusion

If you are a fan of Disney, you may like this. If you are a fan of Disney Channel Original movies, you almost certainly will like it. Otherwise, it’s probably a waste of your time.

I want to point out that my rating of 5 out of 10 stars does not mean that it was a bad movie. It just means it was an average movie–that there was nothing that made it terrible or great.

The best audience for this movie would be preteens and teens.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Links

Movies

Soul: A Spirited Comedy and a Reminder of What Life’s All About

Soul | Disney Movies

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Soul

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Intro

I was not sure what to expect from this movie when I decided to watch it. The only thing I had heard about it was that it was a bit “odd.” I couldn’t have anticipated how touching and fascinating it would be.

Sure, it was a little strange, but that’s part of what gave it its charm. It was worth every minute!

Background

Soul was created by Pixar and is currently streaming on Disney+. It stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, and Angela Bassett.

Pete Doctor, the director of Inside Out, developed the idea for Soul by considering what causes personalities and thinking about determinism.

Pixar settled on the idea of a musician for the main character after discarding the idea of a having his profession be scientist, offering the reason that that the musician’s life is just so “naturally pure” (1).

Summary

Soul Movie Review: Pixar Close to Its Best With Pre-Life Existential Romp

Soul is about a middle school band teacher by the name of Joe Gardner whose dreams are about to come true. Only before they do, he falls down an open manhole. His soul is then jettisoned into the afterlife, where he refuses to go to the Great Beyond and ends up in the Great Before instead.

The Great Before is where new souls get their personalities and prepare for life on Earth. Trying to blend in, he ends up becoming a mentor for a precocious soul called 22 who never wants to leave the Great Before. Life on Earth seems pointless and aggravating, in her opinion.

Joe soon realizes that if 22 gains her spark, she will receive a free pass to Earth. 22 agrees to give the pass to Joe if she finds her spark, because then she will never have to deal with life on Earth.

The movie follows their adventure to get Joe back in his body and a journey of self-discovery for 22.

Pros

  • Diversity
  • Brilliant animation
  • In-depth worldbuilding
    • Settings and backgrounds
    • Concept
  • Interesting characters
  • Superb character development
  • Comedic dialogue
  • Phenomenal music
  • Uplifting message

Cons

  • Black main character spends majority of movie in a different form

Review

Diversity

Soul: Jamie Foxx Explains Why The Barbershop Scenes Are Integral To The Film

Soul is one of the few Disney movies with an African-American protagonist, and Joe Gardner was also Pixar’s first African-American protagonist.

Additionally, one of the settings is a Black barbershop, which shows a wide array of hairstyles of young Black people.

To make sure they avoided stereotypes Pixar had twenty Black people provide their opinions in addition to Black members of the Pixar crew.

It is unfortunate that Joe Gardner spends most of the movie in a different form, similar to the way Tiana spent most of her time as a frog in The Princess and the Frog. While some of that was hard to avoid, since it was a movie based heavily on the experience of the soul, it might have been better to have Joe Gardner do more in his own body.

Animation

'Soul' trailer unveils Pixar's latest emotional animated ...

The animation was wonderful, even when the images, such as that of the Jerry’s, was simple.

Pixar focused especially on the texture of Black hair and the way that light shows differently on various tones of skin. (2)

Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding includes setting, but also the development of the concept and what makes the world tick.

The Great Before is perhaps the most interesting setting, with its array of soft colors, hordes of new souls, and assortment of Picasso-esque counselors all named Jerry.

The creation of the Great Before, where souls develop their personalities, was the most creative choice made in this movie.

The way the universe works in general, with Terry keeping track of the numbers of souls and the staircase leading to the Great Beyond, are pulled from more common ideas of what the afterlife would be like.

The mentorship program, where successful souls are paired with new souls to help them find their spark, was an interesting way to create a lot of humor, showing the way famous figures would react to young new souls.

Characters

Joe Gardner’s passion is music. He’s a middle school band teacher, but he wants to just be a jazz musician. He’s self-absorbed to the point of almost being completely unlikable, but he is not all bad. He’s also driven, determined, and talented.

22 is bored, cynical, and nonchalant. She is the 22nd soul to ever have existed, which shows just how long she has been unwilling to go to Earth. Despite her carefree attitude, 22 actually has deep-seated anxieties and feelings of self-doubt that she must grapple with throughout the movie. Her voice sounds like a “middle-aged White lady.”

Dialogue

The dialogue in this movie was witty and often comedic. Perhaps the best quotes came from those that mentored 22 in the past.

I have compassion for every soul…except you. I don’t like you.”

The Soul of Mother Teresa

The world doesn’t revolve around you, 22!”

The Soul of Copernicus

Stop talking! My unconscious mind hates you!”

The Soul of Carl Jung

Music

The music was wonderful, except the one part at the beginning with band class. That was intentionally awful. But other than that, it was a phenomenal supplement to the movies themes.

Message

The message is a profound consideration of what it truly is that makes life worth living, and that one’s passion can make a person lose sight of their purpose.

Conclusion

I would recommend this movie for both children and adults. If you enjoyed Inside Out, then Soul is likely to appeal to you. It is worth a subscription to Disney+ just to watch this movie.

Rating System

If you’re interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Recommended Links

  1. IMDB Trivia
  2. NY Times Article
Movies

Movie Analysis: Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl (film) - Wikipedia

Movie: Artemis Fowl (2020)

WARNING! SPOILER ALERT!

This review contains spoilers for the Artemis Fowl movie and the book series.

This is my first movie analysis, and let me start out by saying the movie sucked…but had a couple of positive qualities. And by a couple I literally mean two, and that’s it.

First of all, decent special effects. Haven City looked appropriately fairyish and high-tech. It all had this blue tinge to it that made it look otherworldly. And the device that sentenced Mulch Diggums to prison was creative.

Artemis Fowl's World Explained: Fairies, The Aculos & More
Holly Short in Haven City from Artemis Fowl

The troll looked much more human than in the Artemis Fowl graphic novel, but whatever, it looked fine.

Troll (Artemis Fowl) | Villains Wiki | Fandom
Troll from Artemis Fowl

Also, the therapy session scene near the beginning of the movie was pretty good. In it, Artemis Fowl acted like his usual pain-in-the-neck, prideful self like he was in the book series. The scene was pulled straight out of book 2 (The Arctic Incident). Artemis insulted the therapists chair with poise and intelligence.

Okay, there you go. That was all that was decent about the movie, in a few sad little paragraphs.

Anyway…

As a fan of the Artemis Fowl series, I was mortified by how Disney mutilated what had been an enchanting story into an awkward compilation of multiple books’ plots with some entirely new random stuff thrown in.

They also managed to mangle the beloved characters of the books series and make them…a bunch of goodie-goodies! The horror!

The movie starts out with the media converging on the Artemis Fowl case, revealing that Artemis Fowl Sr. is suspected of stealing relics. This sounds promising. (Now if he really was a criminal in the movie, that would be accurate.)

Mulch is telling this story under interrogation, so he butts in with his dull narration. Who’s Mulch? Well, the movie doesn’t tell you that yet, so stay tuned. The only thing we know about him is that he looks oddly like Hagrid from the Harry Potter movie.

Why Mulch Diggums from Artemis Fowl looks so familiar
Mulch from Artemis Fowl

We get to know Artemis Fowl Jr., who loved Ireland.

Ireland,field,pasture,landscape,scene - free image from needpix.com

Yeah…I don’t think the Artemis Fowl in the book loved anything…or at least would never admit to it.

Of course, the movie has to prove he loves Ireland. Cue surfing scene and outdoorsy activities.

That was the moment I knew they were going to ruin the movie. Artemis was a pallid, inactive boy in the book series. The first book literally said, “Sun did not suit Artemis. He did not look well in it. Long hours indoors in front of a computer screen had bleached the glow from his skin. He was white as a vampire and almost as testy in the light of the day.”

Artemis is no outdoorsman. If this was the Artemis from the book, he would probably fall off the surfboard and drown. What am I saying? He would never get on a surfboard in the first place.

Artemis Fowl from Artemis Fowl

We get to know this new-and-not-improved Artemis Fowl better in the therapy session scene, which seems to exist mostly because it gives the viewers background information such as the fact that Mrs. Fowl is dead (instead of mentally unstable and hiding away in her room like in the book). Also, that his father is frequently away on business trips.

But it is the one good scene in the movie, so it gets an excuse for its obvious purpose of exposition.

Now for a series of affectionate father-son bonding moments. Based on the book series, it’s hard to imagine Artemis Fowl showing actual affection. In the graphic novel, he hugs his mother once and it’s touching (but kind of out of character). But in the original series, Artemis showed very little affection toward anyone. Ever.

Artemis Fowl Sr. from Artemis Fowl

After the father-son scenes, Artemis Fowl Sr. leaves on a trip and is kidnapped by Opal Koboi. Good old Opal, who made her first appearance in the second book.

She should look like this:

Opal Koboi from the graphic novel series

In the movie, she looks like this:

Who's the Artemis Fowl villain? Without a post-credits scene, we ...

Don’t ask me why Disney made her look like a Sith Lord. I guess to make her creepier than a pink-haired pixie, but it backfired.

I guess they thought giving her a grating voice would help with the scare factor too, but no…it was hard to take Miss Sith seriously.

Apparently Opal Koboi is after the Aculos, which is a fancy-looking upside-down acorn…I mean, fairy artifact…with mysterious and dangerous powers.

Wait, what? What’s the Aculos? That wasn’t in the book series. Where did that come from? And why is it at the center of this movie?

Artemis Fowl: The Aculos, the Disney Movie's New Plot Device ...
The Aculos from Artemis Fowl

Anywho, Opal threatens Artemis Fowl Sr.’s life if Artemis Fowl Jr. doesn’t get the bedazzled acorn (fairy artifact, sorry) for her.

Butler takes Artemis down to the basement, where Artemis Fowl Sr. has kept his years of research on fairies. Only…in the books Artemis Fowl Sr. was not the one who researched fairies, it was Artemis Fowl Jr.

But, okay, sure. I mean, this movie already made him the good guy, even though as soon as he goes missing he is accused of stealing artifacts. Artemis Fowl Jr. is indignant. His father, a criminal? Of course not. So he has some interest in clearing his father’s name.

And Butler is not the man he was in the books. He goes by Dom in the movie, and man, if you dare to call him something else, he will snap you in half.

Seriously? Dom? In the books, you called him Butler if you valued your life. Even Artemis called him Butler. Artemis didn’t even learn Butler’s first name until Butler thought he was going to die and revealed it later in the series.

Butler from Artemis Fowl

Butler has a little sister named Juliet in the books who is a niece instead in the movie. Juliet was a teenager in the books, but is another 12-year-old in the movie.

Juliet from Artemis Fowl

In the meantime, Holly Short is in Haven City. We get to see the other main character, finally. They didn’t mess her up at all.

Just kidding. They ruined her.

First off, she looks like a twelve-year old of average height. In the book, she was a 3-foot tall woman. Second, in the book she specifically had nut-brown skin. Why did they choose a white actor to fill this role? I guess they tried to make up for it by making a couple of secondary characters black, but why not just have a main character with brown skin? Also, the secondary characters they made black were in the role of servants.

Holly Short | Disney Wiki | Fandom
Holly from Artemis Fowl

Also, in the books, she’s a snarky, rebellious woman. In the movie, she is a kind of rebellious, sweet and dumb little girl.

Mulch picks her pocket, making his first appearance as a giant dwarf. In the books, he was just a normal dwarf. Kind of reminds me of how Hagrid is half-giant.

Moving on…

We meet Commander Root and…what the heck…he’s female! Why? Did they just feel like they didn’t have enough female characters? Cause Commander Root was definitely a dude in the book…one that came off as sexist at first, until it was revealed that he really was hard on Holly because he wanted her as the first female LEPrecon officer to be better than his other officers. That way she could prove females could work in a job like that.

Commander Root from Artemis Fowl

Anyway, I guess they really didn’t want him to come off as sexist toward women, so they made him female. And made the team of LEPrecon officers consist of several more female characters for good measure.

Now, if they wanted this film to represent women more, they should have had better female characters. Not boring and painfully unfunny Commander Root, childish and consistently helpless Holly Short, and the combatant who never shows her skills, Juliet.

It turns out the fairies do not have the Aculos either, because of the treachery of Beechwood Short, Holly’s father. Holly maintains that he is innocent. Don’t worry, Beechwood is a good guy too.

We meet Foaly shortly after Root, when they receive news of a troll that has escaped to the surface world. Now, in the books Foaly is a centaur with an affinity for tin hats. He is snarky, witty, and hilarious.

So of course in the movie he has absolutely no funny lines, and barely appears.

The only funny thing about him is the way he gallops around the room, looking like a prancing pony. That was the part of the movie that made me laugh.

So anyway, Holly is sent to the surface to deal with the troll in Italy. The troll attacks a party. Unlike in the book, no human gave Holly an invitation to enter the party that the troll attacked. This makes the rules of the movie inconsistent because fairies require human permission to intervene in situations like this.

The troll is defeated and Holly Short goes off to Tara because there is a clue to how she can clear her father’s name there. This is unlike the book because in the book she goes there to replenish her magic by completing the Ritual.

Artemis and Butler manage to kidnap her. The fairies find out and are dismayed. They retaliate by stopping time around Fowl Manor.

Artemis and the fairies attempt negotiations, which end in Artemis refusing to allow the fairies inside while he lives. The fairies decide to send in Mulch because they say he is a dwarf, not a fairy.

This is where the creators of this movie made a critical mistake. In Irish mythology, and in the Artemis Fowl series, dwarves are fairies.

The real reason Mulch was able to go inside the Manor in the book was because fairies technically can enter dwellings without permission – at the cost of their magic. Mulch lost his magic in the past breaking and entering into human dwellings, so he had nothing to lose by entering Fowl Manor without permission.

Mulch finds the Aculos located in a safe in Fowl Manor.

Artemis has a heart-to-heart conversation with Holly, where they bond over both having falsely accused/slandered fathers. Holly asks if they are friends, and Artemis says, “Forever friends.”

I almost died of laughter and indignation when he said that. It was like something straight out of My Little Pony. The Artemis in the books wouldn’t be caught dead saying something that sappy.

The Hub Renews 'My Little Pony' for Season 5 | Animation World Network
From My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Under new management, the fairies send in a troll and turn off all magic in the house. The heroes of the story engage in a pathetic battle that consists mostly of the troll smashing things and Holly shrieking at people to untangle her wings from a chandelier where she is hanging like a pinned butterfly. Juliet is equally useless. Artemis and friends winning the battle seemed like a big accident.

In the book, Butler managed to take down the troll on his second try with some advanced martial arts. In other words, he was scary competent in the book, but awkward in the movie.

Butler almost dies after the battle, but Holly is able to heal him when Root regains control and turns the magic back on in the house. At this point, Butler cries. Yeah, this is not the Butler fans of the book know and love.

The whole dying scene was completely ruined by the creepy dolls that were all over that room. The whole time Butler was almost dying I was thinking, yikes, those things are freaky, why are they there?

Rather than give the Aculos to Koboi, Artemis asks Holly to bring back Artemis Fowl Sr with the power of the Aculos. She gladly complies (Stockholm Syndrome?), and it works because the movie needs to end soon I guess. Kind of anti-climactic, but whatever.

Artemis Fowl Sr. gives Holly a list of traitors to the fairies, which Commander Root orders her to investigate. She’s happy with that, and even gets some applause from the rest of the LEPrecon officers. For what exactly? Getting kidnapped and assisting the kidnappers?

Artemis Fowl calls himself a criminal mastermind at the end of the movie. That doesn’t make sense for multiple reasons. First, they already established him as the good guy. Second, he was horrified when his father was accused of crimes and wanted his name cleared.

So why would he be proud of being a criminal at the end? Also, he did very little that was criminal compared to in the books. In the first book, he kidnapped Holly just so he could get his hands on fairy gold. In the movie, he only kidnapped her to save his father.

Overall, this is a movie that fans of the original series will hate, and it is unlikely to win over any new fans.

It is not good as a standalone movie. For people to understand it, they have to have read the book. Yet it deviates so far from the book that those who have read the books will not enjoy it. At the same time, the movie’s so confusing that people who have not read the book will be turned off by it.

Movies

Movie Review: Artemis Fowl (Spoiler-Free)

Artemis Fowl (film) - Wikipedia

Movie: Artemis Fowl (2020)

Rating: 2 out of 10 stars

Intro

This is the first movie review on my blog, and I wish that the movie would have been better. In fact, this is one of the rare occasions that a movie has made me angry by how much it differed from the book.

As a fan of the Artemis Fowl series, I was mortified by how Disney mutilated what had been an enchanting story into an awkward compilation of multiple books’ plots with some entirely new random stuff thrown in.

Below, I have outlined the pros and cons of the movie. I will be as vague as necessary to avoid spoilers.

Pros

  • The movie had decent special effects.
  • The Therapy Session scene was well-executed.

Racking my mind for any other positive aspects of this movie….

I got nothing.

Cons

  • The characters were ruined
    • For example…
      • Artemis Fowl was a good guy in the movie – not a criminal mastermind.
      • Artemis was also an active outdoorsman in the movie, while he was a pallid, inactive boy in the book series. The first book literally said, “Sun did not suit Artemis. He did not look well in it. Long hours indoors in front of a computer screen had bleached the glow from his skin. He was white as a vampire and almost as testy in the light of the day.”
      • Butler and Juliet acted ridiculous in the movie, while they were serious and formidable in the book series (although Juliet has always had her moments of poor decision-making).
      • Mulch was a giant dwarf (an oxymoron, I know). In the book, he was just a normal dwarf.
      • Commander Root was cast as a kinder female character, while in the book Commander Root was male who was in a constant state of irritation, spouting curses continually.
      • Foaly was a prancing centaur with absolutely no interesting lines. In the book, he was the funniest character and was at least respectable.
  • The plot was completely different than the book.
  • An important detail of Irish mythology was messed up in the movie.
    • Hint: Dwarves are a kind of fairy.
  • The directors never should have tried to make a PG Artemis Fowl. Instead, it should have been PG-13 to incorporate more of the important aspects of the book series. The book series was originally intended for young adults.
  • It was an awkward compilation of multiple books.
  • In the books, Holly had nut-brown skin. In the movie, she was white. Instead, they made secondary characters Butler and Juliet black, even though they were Eurasian and white.

Once both the plot and the characters of a story are screwed up, it doesn’t have a chance. I knew that this movie was not going by the books as soon as I saw Artemis on a surfboard, but I had still held out hope that it would be a good movie. Yet it was by straying so far from the beloved characters and amazing storytelling of the Artemis Fowl series that the movie went wrong.

The only part of the movie where it genuinely seemed like Artemis Fowl was acting like he did in the original book series was during the therapy session scene. In that scene, he spoke and acted like the extremely intelligent 12-year-old that he was supposed to be.

It is not good as a standalone movie. For people to understand it, they have to have read the book. Yet it deviates so far from the book that those who have read the books will not enjoy it. At the same time, the movie’s so confusing that people who have not read the book will be turned off by it.

Overall, this is a movie that fans of the original series will hate, and it is unlikely to win over any new fans.

In another of my blog articles, there is a full length movie analysis (with spoilers!!!).