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

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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

Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 3 (Spoiler-Free)

Sherlock' and Its Woman - The Atlantic

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

Season 1 and 2 were phenomenal, so watching Season 3 was a no-brainer.

As this is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

This review contains no spoilers for Season 3, but it does contain spoilers for Season 1 and 2.

Background

Sherlock Season 3 aired in 2014 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.

Summary

Last season, the villain Moriarty and Sherlock went head to head, which ended with Sherlock’s apparent suicide to save his friends. The final episode of Season 2 offered a glimpse of Sherlock alive–and fans had to wait until Season 3 for an explanation.

Season 3 basically establishes a plausible way Sherlock could have survived and inserts him back into Watson’s life. That doesn’t go as Sherlock planned, and he discovers there is someone new in Watson’s life–the witty Mary Morstan.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Benefit of a new and intriguing characters
  • Realistic emotional reactions to Sherlock showing up again
  • Dynamic of Sherlock, Watson, and Mary
  • Villain who is easy to hate
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Engaging plot
  • Catchy theme song and music
  • Development of the concept of a mind palace
  • Satisfying answer to how Sherlock survived

Cons

  • Nothing that I could think of.

Review

Acting

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

All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized. 

This season brings the talents of Amanda Abbington to the screen as Mary Morstan. The way that the actors for Sherlock, Watson and Mary interact shows great chemistry and skill.

Character Development

This season, we see Sherlock become increasingly more human as he spends more time with Watson and Mary. He shows actual affection for Watson in particular, but also Mary as he gets to know her. So much for “high-functioning sociopath.”

He is still his usual thoughtless self, however, which is shown in the way he springs the news of his survival to Watson like a joke. Like, haha, you grieved me and then moved on for two years, but I was alive the whole time! Hilarious, right?

I could have slapped him. That is a mark of a good story though–caring enough about the characters to be disappointed in them when they do wrong. Watson’s reaction was entirely realistic and understandable.

Watson develops as a person through his relationship with Mary. Unlike with his previous relationships, this one does not pull him away from Sherlock. Mary instead takes an active part in their lives and adds to their duo.

New Characters

Mary Watson (BBC series) | Heroes and Villains Wiki | Fandom

Mary Morstan is an incredible character with a lot of depth to her. She is the one person who can see through Sherlock’s lies.

Rather than being a hindrance to the team of Sherlock and Watson, she is an asset with a skill set of her own. Sherlock and Watson both appreciate her skills.

Charles Augustus Magnussen | Villains Wiki | Fandom

Magnussen is a new villain in Season 3. Even though Moriarty has his own issues with licking things, Magnussen is worse because he licked a person. Nonetheless, he is very intelligent. He is called “the Napoleon of blackmail.”

Script

The script is frequently witty and well-written. One of my favorite quotes in this season is said by Sherlock after Watson says he has moved on with his life:

What life? I’ve been away.”

Sherlock

This emphasizes Sherlock’s thoughtlessness while adding to the humor of the episode.

When it is suggested that Sherlock does not understand human nature, he replies:

Nature? No….

Human? No.”

Sherlock

Another quote I enjoy is by Mrs. Hudson. She is complaining about the small role that she has in Watson’s stories.

I’m your landlady, not a plot device.”

Mrs. Hudson

Sherlock Season 3 is chock-full of quotable material, demonstrating how witty and worthwhile the show is.

Music

The theme song of Sherlock is catchy enough to get stuck in my head. The show also uses music at critical moments to increase humor. One instance of that is when Watson tackles Sherlock, the musical sequence playing in the background is energetic and funny.

Conclusion

If you liked Season 1 and 2, Season 3 will not disappoint. If anything, the addition of Mary makes the story even more interesting and humorous.

Rating System

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

Links

Movies

Movie Review: Murder Mystery (Spoiler-Free)

Murder Mystery (film).png

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Intro

My roommate convinced me to watch this one by showing me this trailer. As far as movie trailers go, it’s a pretty good one – providing a glimpse of the character of the movie without giving away any major plot points. Check it out!

Anyway, I am so glad she convinced me. It was totally worth it. Read on to find out why.

Background

Murder Mystery was released on Netflix in June 2019 and fits neatly into three genres: action, comedy, and crime.

The movie stars Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, and Terence Stamp, among others.

According to Variety.com, 30.9 million households watched at least 70% of the movie within 3 days–a new record for a Netflix film.

Murder Mystery also won a People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Comedic Movie.”

Summary

Will Netflix Make Murder Mystery 2? The Case For A Sequel - CINEMABLEND
Nick and Audrey Spitz

Nick Spitz, a police officer in New York, has been married to a hairdresser named Audrey for 15 years. However, they have not yet gone on their honeymoon. They had plans to go to Europe, but the plans kept getting put off.

Nick Spitz has failed his detective exam multiple times, but he lies to his wife by telling her he is a detective and has had a recent raise. To keep up this façade, he acts like an actual detective.

When they are on the plane on the way to Europe, the couple meets Charles Cavendish, a billionaire who invites them to join his family on a yacht. After some hesitation, Nick and Audrey agree.

Everything is going well until Malcolm Quince, the uncle of Cavendish, is murdered before he could sign his will, which stated that his fiancé Suzi would receive his entire fortune.

The primary suspects? The Americans–Nick and Audrey Spitz. In order to avoid some serious jailtime, the couple must solve the mystery and prove their innocence.

Pros

  • Humorous script
  • Drama
  • Hilariously complicated mystery with many layers
  • Surprises throughout
  • Unexpected ending
  • Chemistry of the couple
  • Amusing character types

Cons

  • Many sex jokes
  • Uncreative title

Review

Humorous Script

Why Grace Ballard from Murder Mystery looks so familiar
Grace Ballard

This movie is filled with lines that are creative or just plain funny. The banter between the couple is especially convincing. My favorite quote is this:

All women are actresses, dear. I’m just clever enough to get paid for it.”

Grace Ballard to Nick Spitz

Drama

Murder Mystery: 11 unbelievable reasons why Jennifer Aniston and Adam  Sandler's Netflix comedy is the worst film of the year
Colonel Ulenga

There is so much drama in this movie that it is completely ridiculous. Luckily, that’s the point.

Colonel Ulenga, for instance, tampers with the body by removing the knife, only to be told he shouldn’t have touched it. As a result, he promptly puts it back, oblivious to the cries of horror by everyone else present.

(This is no spoiler – it was included in the trailer.)

Mystery

The mystery is hilariously overcomplicated. Every time you feel like it’s solved, the movie throws more surprises in your face. It’s the sort of crime no one could predict the solution to. You just have to prepare yourself to be surprised and hang on for the ride.

Characters

The Cast & Characters In Netflix Murder Mystery Movie
Suzi Nakamura

When the couple joins the family on the yacht, they do not realize the sheer amount of ill will directed at Malcom Quince. This no doubt worsens when Quince asserts:

You are all leeches.”

Malcom Quince

Each character has a complicated history with Malcolm Quince. Furthermore, the characters have intense personalities and veiled motives that make this mystery fun to follow.

Nick and Audrey have great chemistry–they truly act like a couple who have been married for fifteen years. Watching them interact is entertaining, comedic, and refreshing.

Sex Jokes

I don’t mind the occasional joke or two of this kind if it is consistent with the character who says it, but I did feel that these were a little excessive.

Uncreative Title

Far more important to me is the lack of a compelling title. I told my dad that he should watch Murder Mystery. It took him longer than expected to find the trailer because “murder mystery” is too common a term.

It isn’t clever. It’s pretty much stating what the movie is about, like those bland essay titles I used to do before I knew it was better to have an impactful title.

Conclusion

I rated this movie a 7 out of 10 because I enjoyed it and would be willing to watch it again in a few years. I recommend it for an audience of teens and adults, which is consistent with its official rating.

Rating System

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