Humor, Movies

So Now the Death Stare is Romantic?

Movie Analysis (with spoilers!!):

Twilight (2008)

Rating: 4 out of 10 stars

Intro

This analysis is a spoiler-filled review. If you don’t already know, my reviews that include spoilers are either for phenomenal movies that deserve analysis or movies that invite ridicule. I know many people enjoy the Twilight movies, but they are honestly poorly done and certainly not my style.

My siblings convinced me to watch it. I admit, romance is not my favorite genre, but this movie was particularly bad.

Background

Twilight was produced by Summit Entertainment and released in 2008.

The movie stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, and Peter Facinelli.

It can currently be watched on Netflix.

Analysis

The movie starts with 17-year-old Bella Swan leaving home to go live with her dad in Forks, Washington. This is followed by a scene in which Edward Cullen hunts and kills a deer. I think this is supposed to be serious, but seeing a guy come out of nowhere and grab a jumping deer was kind of hilarious. Watch the clip here.

There is something pretty respectable about deer hunting with a gun, but there is nothing remotely respectable about a pale teenager tackling a deer.

Soon afterwards we get to meet Jacob, one of Bella’s closest friends. His father Billy Black chats with them for awhile before trying to run someone over with his wheelchair. Bella hits Jacob with the door of the truck when she opens it, which reminds me of the movie Starstruck in which the heroine is hit by a car door. Both scenes are equally awkward, but the action seemed a little less pointless in Starstruck.

Bella joins in the middle of the semester, in March, and yet almost everyone with a speaking role either knows of her already or instantly is attracted to her. Mike introduces himself after she hits him in the back of the head with a volleyball, and he falls for her quickly. I guess it’s because she hit on him. Get it? With a volleyball?

(That was bad, I know.)

We meet the Cullen kids, who oddly enough are dating each other. I mean, I know that they are not technically biologically siblings, but it is still kind of strange to see the children of one family all around the exact same age and in love with each other.

The Cullen Teens

Immediately we get the first dramatic stare between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Now, if Edward’s stares were comparable to anything, it would be the infamous Luigi Death Stare from the Mariokart games.

When Bella walks in to the Biology classroom, there is a fan behind her that blows her hair around. I guess that’s supposed to be attractive, but really, it’s just awkward and contrived. And why is that giant fan even necessary? It’s March in a setting that is almost always rainy or overcast.

Bella ends up sitting beside Edward, who is obviously extremely uncomfortable. Something about Bella really rubs him the wrong way.

Notice the wings of the owl right behind Edward, making him look like some pasty-looking angel.

Anyway, Bella finds out Edward tried to quit Biology because he had to sit next to her and is understandably confused and annoyed.

Meanwhile, random people are being hunted and killed by vampires. My instinct was to blame the pale Cullen family, but apparently they are goodie-goodie vampires. Or what was it Edward said? That they were basically vegetarians. Who drink the blood of animals. So basically the opposite of a vegetarian…Yeah, he’s pretty bad at metaphors.

Despite the fact the relationship between Bella and Edward is supposed to be all romantic and cute, they have zero chemistry. They discuss the weather. They have apparently nothing in common. Edward apologizes, saying he is just trying to figure her out, as if she is a complex math problem instead of a one-note protagonist.

Then more staring until finally, the action starts! Bella almost is hit by a vehicle, which Edward stops easily with a hand. Before sneaking away, he stares deep into Bella’s eyes.

Then Bella dreams of Edward in her room. Or that is what she says happened. But I’m pretty sure if you’re awake when it happens, it’s either a hallucination or reality–not a dream. Later we will find out it’s the latter, which is so freakin’ creepy. Edward would literally be the perfect murderer if he was not a lovesick vampire.

“Bella, we shouldn’t be friends,” Edward says randomly a few days after their awkward interaction about the weather and Bella’s rescue from certain death. Bella really wants to be besties, however, because she won’t let him off the hook. He makes some stupid excuses suggesting he didn’t actually stop a car with his bare hands. Honestly, you would think someone who hid over a hundred years in plain sight would get used to lying about supernatural powers.

There’s a subsequent scene where an apple is dropped and it looks super unlikely and seems to serve no purpose. You can watch it here in the first few seconds of the video. The only reason I can think of for it being in the movie at all is that it could be a subtle reference to the cover art of Twilight.

Edward suggests that he is the bad guy in the story, which is not necessarily true. He’s just a 108-year-old man child who watches a girl minor sleep without her permission or knowledge long before they started dating.

You know what? Maybe he is a bad guy.

Another human bites the dust when the nomadic vampires come to feast again. Their fast movements look basically like the film was fast forwarded, not realistic at all.

Bella and her friends go dress shopping, but Bella is not into it. Clearly it’s another one of those “not like the other girls” tropes.

After dress shopping, poor helpless Bella is rescued from a bunch of potential rapists by Edward, who has been stalking her. He stares them down until they leave.

You heard me. He stares at them. I mean look at this. Wouldn’t it scare you away?

The Stare

I mean, it does make me uncomfortable. But I don’t see how it would be sufficient deterrent for a rowdy bunch of drunk rapists.

Edward tells Bella to distract him so he doesn’t go back and kill the men who were threatening Bella. Apparently that doesn’t clue her off to the fact that maybe, just maybe, he isn’t just a hot guy. On that note–he really isn’t, according to both of my siblings. I never think of people as hot, nor do I really understand what makes someone hot, so I can’t speak my mind on the subject, but I trust my siblings. This dude is not hot.

Then they bond over the fact that they both know the square root of pi. Now being a nerd is cool, in my opinion, but I still don’t like Bella or Edward, and especially not Bella and Edward.

He cannot read her mind, which is definitely not explained, at least in this movie. He can read everyone else’s mind, except hers. Now that makes me think of Nendo. In The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, Saiki K can read everyone’s mind, including animals, but he can’t read Nendo’s mind. Why? Because Nendo is so abysmally stupid. Maybe he can’t read her mind because she doesn’t think?

Edward has all these lackluster pick up lines that are creepy for any guy to use who doesn’t know her well. “I feel very protective of you” and “I don’t have the strength to stay away from you anymore.”

His hands are always cold, which I don’t know why she is cool with, because she literally says earlier how she dislikes cold things like rain.

Bella studies vampires when she gets the chance, reading articles in particular about Egyptian vampires. Because obviously if you are looking for info about vampires in the U.S., Egypt is the place to study.

Bella says the Edward is a vampire and he admits to it.

He also says he is 17 years old and has been for a long time. Now that’s simply inaccurate. If people were assigned ages based on appearance, I would have been marked down as a 12-year-old even when I was 17. No, age is based on how many years have elapsed since one’s birth. So yeah, he’s 108 years old.

Edward gives Bella an awkward superspeed piggy back ride to the top of the mountain to show off his sparkly skin. What’s better than a pasty vampire, you wonder? A bedazzled one, clearly. He seems to think he is hideous, but Bella apparently is attracted to people who could be used as disco balls.

And people who have killed. And people who subsist on blood. And people who literally have to resist the urge to eat her.

Edward compares their budding relationship to a lion falling in love with a lamb. This guy sucks at pickup lines. I mean, comparing yourself to a predator and your crush to prey is not the best way to get a date. But man, Bella is digging it.

Edward takes Bella to his house, where everyone is awkwardly nice to her except Rosalie, who without provocation destroys a poor salad bowl. The others do their best to whip up some dinner for her, but obviously are as clueless as me when it comes to cooking.

As they walk to Edward’s bedroom, they pass a wall of graduation caps. The five Cullen kids have graduated countless times, and all I can think is why? Why don’t they get jobs? Or move on? Why do they think they need to repeat high school in a new place over and over again.

There we learn that Edward doesn’t sleep, but we knew that. He wouldn’t have time anyway, what with watching Bella sleep.

They attempt dancing in the room, but Bella is reluctant and doesn’t really feel like it. He says, “Well, I could always make you.”

Um, what?

Then he calls her his spider monkey and carries her into the trees on his back. Spider monkey. That’s so cringey.

After more awkwardness, this interaction is finally over.

She has some father-daughter time. Her dad orders for them at the restaurant, picking a steak for himself and a salad for her. If my dad did that, I would be less than thrilled.

Next, a kissing scene that looks like…just not right. I’ve seen a lot of people kiss on TV, and their kissing looks more like the kissing from Jumanji than anything actually romantic.

The only other interesting things that happen in this movie is vampire baseball and the actual villain hunting Bella. And the baseball is just a bunch of superpowered people playing so loudly the thunder has to mask it. Then a rival team shows up, a bunch of vampires that want to play until they smell Bella. Then they just want a snack. (They have really short attention spans.)

One of them, James, hunts Bella until the end of the movie where he is burnt alive, but not before biting Bella. Yep, that got dark real quick.

Bella has vampire venom in her, which Edward sucks out of her. He is almost unable to stop himself from sucking out all her blood, but hey, no harm done.

She wakes up in a hospital bed with a broken leg.

The movie ends with a prom. I guess he did make her dance after all.

Conclusion

Overall, Twilight is a bizarre and unconvincing romance. If this is what romance is supposed to look like, I want nothing to do with it. I would not recommend it for any audience, unless you just want a few laughs.

Rating System

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

Links

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Finch for their feedback on this article.

Movies

Knives Out Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Knives Out (2019)

Rating: 9.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

I don’t watch mystery movies too often, but I really enjoyed this one. I watched it once with my uncle and once with my roommate.

Background

Knives Out was directed by Rian Johnson. Many people are not happy with what he did to Star Wars, but I can honestly say that he was in his element when he directed this movie.

The movie stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Knives Out is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Summary

Detective Benoit Blanc investigates an apparent suicide, believing it to be a murder. Investigation into family matters reveals most family members had sufficient motives for murder, but this wacky mystery is much more complex than it seems.

Pros

  • Creative title
  • Phenomenal acting and cast
  • Complex and entertaining characters
  • Interesting setting
  • Subtle aspects of the film rewarding those paying attention
  • Plausible yet unexpected ending

Cons

  • Marta’s vomiting is overused

Review

Title

The title was well-chosen, part of one of the most impactful quotes in the whole movie by Benoit Blanc – “You’re a pack a vultures, knives out and beaks bloody.” In context it is blunt, but cuts to the heart of the problem with the whole Thrombey family.

The title could also be a reference to the stunning display of Harlan Thrombey’s knives, which was certainly the most iconic object in the movie.

Acting

The acting was phenomenal, especially by Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc and Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera. Some people found Craig’s southern drawl annoying, but it didn’t bother me.

Characters

Again, Benoit Blanc and Marta Cabrera were the best characters, though I appreciated Harlan Thrombey as well.

Benoit is an eccentric detective, not just another cookie-cutter Sherlock. He has elaborate metaphors involving donuts, and even seems incompetent at times. Yet he is super sharp too.

I feel a noose tightening. The family is truly desperate. Desperate motives, with the mystery of who hired me, the impossibility of the crime, and yet a donut. One central piece, and if it reveals itself, the fog would lift, the arc would resolve, the Slinky become unkinked.

Benoit Blanc

Marta Cabrera is a kind-hearted nurse who cared for the deceased Harlan Thrombey during his old age. She has complicated relationships with all the members of the Thrombey family. She is basically the protagonist of the movie.

Setting

The house most of the action is set in, becomes, as a character pointed out, just like a Clue board. It has all these quirky aspects that made it stand out. These details are what made the family home the family home. And as a former English major and a (hopefully!) future librarian, I appreciated the sheer number of books in the house. At the same time, I don’t think I could handle the clutter. That being said, this house just had so much character.

Details

There are some details that added to this masterpiece of a story. When each family member told the story, the flashbacks had slight differences even in places where they intersected, which is especially notable in the scene with the birthday cake.

Different members of the family say that Marta’s family is from different countries. Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil…none of them cared enough to know for sure her story.

According to Fandom, the accuracy of the clocks was carefully considered when setting the scenes. Each one was carefully at the time it should have been for the scene.

The timing of Benoit hitting a piano key during the investigation was the way one of the investigators was prompted to ask a certain question. I thought that was pretty creative.

Ending

The ending was well-executed and I would say most people would not see it coming. Obviously I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that I certainly was not disappointed.

Conclusion

I would recommend this movie even for people who don’t usually watch mysteries. It’s not your typical whodunit. The rating of PG-13 is entirely reasonable.

Also, I heard a sequel is coming out, so it’s the perfect time to watch Knives Out!

Rating System

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

Links

Shows

Sherlock Season 4 Does Not Measure Up

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

Sherlock Season 4

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Intro

Having enjoyed the first three seasons of Sherlock, I expected the last season to impress, but I ended up being disappointed. It was actually still somewhat enjoyable, but nowhere as phenomenal as the earlier seasons.

Warning! Even though there are no spoilers for Season 4 in this article, there are minor spoilers from previous seasons.

Background

Sherlock Season 4 aired in 2017 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Andrew Scott, and Amanda Abbington.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Benefit of the familiar character of Sherlock with a new spin
  • Strong character development
  • A fascinating villain at the end of the season
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Catchy theme song and music

Cons

  • A lackluster first villain of the season
  • Sherlock’s ability to predict the future stretches believability
  • Unnecessarily confusing, especially in the last episode
  • Yet more predictable in the first episode

Observations

  • You could probably stop watching at Season 3 if you wanted a better ending for the series

Review

Acting

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, was incredible. They each played their parts well.

All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized. The way that the actors for Sherlock, Watson and Mary interact shows great chemistry and skill.

Setting

Sherlock Holmes - Wikiwand
Sherlock and Watson’s flat

The setting in Season 4 is the same as Seasons 1-3, unsurprisingly: modern-day London. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones remains a way for this new Sherlock to test his intellect. John Watson records their adventures through a blog, another modern touch. This transition from the Victorian London of the books to modern-day London is seamless.

Characters

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is always blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage.

Watson is of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has a high tolerance for Sherlock, but even he loses his temper sometimes at Sherlock’s careless comments ill-timed deductions, and drug habit.

This season introduces more tension between Watson and Sherlock when Sherlock makes a critical error.

The first villain is creepy at least, but he lacks the style and creativeness of villains such as Moriarty. The second villain is fascinating and more intelligent than Sherlock and Mycroft. She once cut open her skin because she wanted to see how her muscles worked. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a picture of either of them without spoiling the series.

Script

The script of Season 4 is actually pretty good. There are several quotable moments. For example, an unexpected reflection on suicide by Sherlock.

“Taking your own life. Interesting expression– taking it from who? Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it.”

There is also a decent amount of humor in the fourth season.

Watson: “I need a second opinion.”

Sherlock: “Oh, please, John. Since when have you ever managed TWO opinions. You’d fall over.”

There is even some genuine sincerity on the part of Sherlock:

Mycroft: “Dr. Watson? Could you please leave?”

Sherlock: “John stays.”

Mycroft: “This is about family.”

Sherlock: “THAT’S why he stays!”

Music

The theme music is catchy as always, and the music throughout the episodes is fitting and develops the mood.

Believability

Sherlock’s skills were always unbelievably amazing, but now he adds telling the future to his repertoire of skills. He predicts the exact location and time of events without a strong explanation as to how he managed to do so. Making Sherlock near-omniscient was not a good choice.

Predictability

The level of predictability for the first episode is higher than the rest of the episodes. Sherlock’s mistake is unsurprising, as well as the results.

Confusion

All the confusion in the series stems from one villain. Somehow the creators made her whole storyline extremely convoluted. I found myself wondering, what the heck just happened? The villain was impressive, but the events surrounding her created too much confusion.

Conclusion

Even though I found this season somewhat enjoyable, I think that you may be better off stopping at Season 3. That’s what my siblings ended up doing and I don’t blame them.

I recommend this season for audiences ages 13+.

Rating System

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

Links

Related Articles

Movies

A Romance Masquerading as Horror

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Rebecca (2020)

Rating: 4 out of 10 stars

Intro

I had high expectations for this movie. The trailer was intriguing and even looked spooky. Unfortunately, the movie did not satisfy. I haven’t read the book it is based on, so I cannot compare the two, but I have heard that the book is much better.

Background

This version of Rebecca was released in 2020 and is based on a novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. It fits into the genre of romantic thriller. The movie stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristen Scott Thomas, Ann Dowd, Keeley Hawes, and Sam Riley.

Summary

An unnamed newlywed woman is brought to Manderley, her husband Maxim de Winter’s English estate. There she desires to live happily, but cannot help contending with the memory of Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife. She feels threatened by Mrs. Danver’s, a servant in the house who was intensely loyal to Rebecca. As she spends more time at Manderley, the details of Rebecca’s life start to fall into place and mysteries begin to unravel.

Pros

  • Narrative voice at the beginning compelling
  • Acting by Kristen Scott Thomas was excellent
  • Several memorable quotes
  • Not very predictable
  • General setting attractive, especially Manderley

Cons

  • Most of the acting fell flat
  • Suspense was lacking
  • The protagonist was unnamed, which felt unnecessary
  • Maxim de Winter’s signature mustard yellow suit looks terrible
  • The trailer suggested undertones of horror that were never realized in the film
  • The movie dragged and then wound up too quickly

Review

Narrative Voice

The story begins with narration by the unnamed protagonist:

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. I dreamt that where our drive once lay, a dark and tortured jungle grew. Nature had come into her own and yet the house still stood. Manderley. Secretive and silent as it had always been. Risen from the dead. Like all dreamers, I was allowed to pass through my memory. Spanning the years like a bridge. Back to that summer in Monte Carlo when I knew nothing and had no prospects.”

This imaginative language drew me into the story. I only wish that the story had merited such a beginning.

Acting

The acting by Kristen Scott Thomas (Mrs. Danvers) was excellent. Watching her subtle expression when she welcomed the protagonist into the house gave an immediate indicator of how well her character was going to be portrayed. Her loyalty to Rebecca seemed intense and sincere, as did her hatred of the new Mrs. de Winters.

Armie Hammer (Maxim de Winter) came off differently. It was like he was trying to play the wrong role. His intimacy was too intimate, and his subsequent coldness was too cold. It was as if he were trying to act out two separate roles, and that made the romance hard to enjoy.

Lily James (Mrs. de Winter) made for a timid protagonist that it was easy to feel sorry for but hard to really root for.

Suspense

There’s not much to say about suspense. There wasn’t any. For there to be suspense, you have to care what’s going to happen to the characters, and I really didn’t.

Sure, it wasn’t very predictable, but that cannot in itself create suspense. There has to be emotional investment in the movie for suspense to exist.

Quotes

There were a couple good quotes from Maxim, and one notable one from Mrs. Danvers.

I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.”

Maxim de Winter

Not the most romantic line, but pretty unique. I doubt I would appreciate being called a little fool, but whatever. If that’s her thing.

All marriages have their secrets.”

Maxim de Winter

Again, not the most romantic thing one could say. I mean, it’s probably true. Most married people likely keep secrets from each other, but most people are not blunt enough to come out and say it. Trust and communication are not Maxim’s strong points, even though that’s what relationships need to be stable and healthy.

I wonder what’s she’s thinking about you.”

Mrs. Danvers

This line, delivered with finesse by Mrs. Danvers to the new Mrs. de Winter, is chilling. The “she” in the quote is the late Mrs. Rebecca de Winter. It’s one of those lines that make it seem like the movie is pretending to be a horror film. The trailer itself gives off horror vibes, and you get the feeling from the trailer that this is some ghost story, but it really is not. Nonetheless, this quote fits with the creepiness of Mrs. Danvers extremely well.

Setting

The setting is beautiful, whether it’s Manderley itself, the beach, the restaurants–all of it. The detail taken with the house made and the way the protagonist interacted with the things in the house made it all too clear how out of place the protagonist felt.

Details

The fact that the protagonist was never named bothered me. I know the movie was keeping with the tradition in the novel and earlier adaptation of not naming her, but this doesn’t really constitute an excuse. Why was she never named in the movie? It’s frustrating trying to refer to her and having nothing to call her before she is married and nothing to call her afterwards other than Mrs. de Winters after she is married. Names are so strongly tied into who people are. They, in a sense, make their names mean something by their actions. The fact that she doesn’t have a name makes her seem like a non-person, a non-character or like an extra with too many lines.

There isn’t any reason given during the movie for her not having a name, and her husband never uses it, which is so weird. Even when I am talking to my friends, I address them by name. How much more would this be true if I were in an intimate romantic relationship with someone?

Screenrant has an interesting article about why she was not named and regards it as a creative choice, but I still think it was an unfortunate decision.

Maxim de Winter’s suit near the beginning couldn’t help but call to mind images of the Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George. I don’t like the mustard color. He also wears this outfit repeatedly during their courtship period. He’s a rich dude, so he should be able afford some changes of clothes and at least something more aesthetically pleasing. I checked to see if I was the only one with this opinion, but looking at the reviews on IMDb, it seems I am not alone.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t recommend this movie for anyone, honestly. I would say it’s rating of PG-13 is reasonable due to sexual content, but there is nothing scary about Rebecca.

Rating System

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

Links