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.

Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 2 (Spoiler-Free)

Sherlock and Moriarty are 'absolutely obsessed with each other', confirms  Andrew Scott | The Independent | The Independent

Rating: 9.8 out of 10

Intro

After watching the first season of Sherlock, I was super excited to dive in to Season 2. Below I share my impression of the season as a whole. As it is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Sherlock Season 2 aired in 2012 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 Lara Pulver.

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

Summary

By this time, Watson and Sherlock have been living together in a flat for some time, solving mysteries and generally getting better acquainted. We last saw them in Season 1 when Moriarty was threatening their lives.

In this season, Sherlock and Watson face off against Moriarty and also have to contend with the dominatrix Irene Adler.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Intriguing new character this season
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Engaging plot
  • Carefully chosen camera angles
  • Introduction of the mind palace
  • Catchy theme song

Cons

  • Nudity
  • Over-the-top drama when Sherlock is thinking deeply (in his “mind palace”)

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, for the first time, we see Sherlock take a vague interest in a woman, and we see him exhibit actual fear. Cumberbatch was highly skilled at demonstrating both.

Setting

Sherlock Holmes - Wikiwand
Sherlock and Watson’s flat in Sherlock

The setting in Season 2 is the same as Season 1, unsurprisingly. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones remains a way for this new Sherlock to test his intellect. 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.

This quote reveals just how blunt he can be.

You repel me.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock

It is demonstrated in this season that he cannot always reign in his emotions, even though he considers them “a grit on the lens.”

He shows emotions he has not shown before as he meets new challenges. These emotions expand on his character rather than contradicting it.

It was more than that, John. It was doubt. I felt doubt. I’ve always been able to trust my senses, the evidence of my own eyes, until last night.”

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 and ill-timed deductions.

The relationship between Sherlock and Watson gets closer in this season (although there is a fair share of tension and squabbles). Sherlock even attempts humor to “break the ice.” Watson responds with:

Funny doesn’t suit you. I’d stick to ice.”

Watson to Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
Irene Adler (BBC series) | Villains Wiki | Fandom

Irene Adler is the new character added to the mix, a dominatrix. She is intelligent enough to banter well with Sherlock, and provoking enough to make Watson uncomfortable.

The thing that is the most fun about Irene Adler is the way Sherlock reacts to her. Between her and Moriarty, Sherlock has some well-matched antagonists.

My favorite line of hers is this:

You know what the problem with a disguise is, Mr. Holmes? No matter how hard you try, it’s always a self-portrait.”

Irene Adler in Sherlock
Sherlock's Andrew Scott: fans asked me every day whether Moriarty would  return

Moriarty is undeniably intelligent and his schemes are both elaborate and effective. He’s a good villain – creepy, bizarre, and insane.

Script

The script is clever, deepening the relationship between the characters and creating many funny moments. Just one of the many examples of humor in the text is when Sherlock asked Watson to punch him. When Watson seemed confused, Sherlock asked if he heard correctly. Then, Watson said this:

I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you’re speaking, but it’s usually sub-text.”

John Watson in Sherlock

Plot

Without spoiling anything, all I can say is that if you liked the plot of Season 1, you will like Season 2 as well. The episode I found most interesting in terms of plot was The Hounds of Baskerville.

Camera Angles

The camera angles chosen at various times during the episodes added to the drama. For instance, the camera was jostled to simulate running in one of the episodes.

Mind Palace

Season 2 introduces the concept of a mind palace, a memory technique that mentally connects information to an imagined physical location. It is a testament to Sherlock’s ego that he calls his imagined location a palace rather than a house or street or even a mansion.

While on the topic of his mind palace, I should mention that Sherlock does some really dramatic motions while he’s thinking of it. Fly-swatting, phone-swiping, head-jolting sorts of motions. It’s all very dramatic and unlike him to be that expressive.

Nudity

There was a scene with nudity in it. I do not think that it was a wise choice on the part of the directors. Having that scene reduces the size of the potential audience while catering to the whims of a small percentage of their audience. Before and after that episode it really doesn’t seem like that kind of show.

That being said, there were some conveniently placed items of furniture and people that limited how much one could really see of the nude person, so I do not feel like it was a major con.

Conclusion

This show really deserves it’s rating of 9.8 out of 10. Although I admit I liked Season 1 best, this season was so good that I would certainly recommend it, and would gladly watch it again.

Rating System

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

Links

For my review of Season 1, click here.

Movies

Movie Review: Enola Holmes (Spoiler-Free)

Enola Holmes (2020) - IMDb

Movie: Enola Holmes (2020)

Rating: 6.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

When I found out that there was a movie about the teenage sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, I was skeptical about it. How would it compare to other renderings of the Holmes family?

The answer: it doesn’t. While entertaining enough to be fun watching once, it failed to measure up. Read on to find out why.

Background

Enola Holmes was released in 2020 as a Netflix original. It is based on The Enola Holmes Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer.

The film stars Millie Bobbie Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, and Louis Partridge.

Summary

Enola Holmes' Trailer: Millie Bobby Brown Is Sherlock Holmes' Sister |  IndieWire
Enola Holmes from Enola Holmes

The plot revolves around 16-year-old Enola Holmes, whose mother goes missing. When she becomes the ward of her brother Mycroft and he tries to force her into an oppressive finishing school, she escapes and concocts a plan to find her lost mother.

She stumbles across the missing Viscount Tewkesbury and becomes immersed in two mysteries: Who is it that is trying to have Tewkesbury killed? And where is her mother?

The movie Enola Holmes is both a mystery movie and a story of self-discovery.

Pros

  • Unique take on the Holmes family
  • Creative pop-up book illustrations
  • Costumes interesting, had a lot of thought behind them
  • Enola had a fascinating childhood
  • Enola is good at cracking codes, self-defense, hiding/disguises, memory
  • Will likely be appealing to an audience of preteen and young teenage girls

Cons

  • Constant breaking of the fourth wall
  • Henry Cavill is a terrible Sherlock
  • Mycroft is reduced to a disgruntled babysitter
  • This is definitely not going to satisfy Sherlock Holmes fans
  • Enola is not much of a mystery solver

Review

Concept

It is safe to say that movies and shows about Sherlock Holmes are overdone. But ones that focus on his family? Not so much.

This is not Sherlock’s story; it is 100% Enola’s story. The name Holmes is important in the title because of the legacy it carries of mystery, ingenuity, and creativity – not because Sherlock is a significant character.

This is a new take on the Holmes’ family – one that has not been overdone, and one that could create a worthwhile series of its own.

Pop-up Art

The choice to include pop-up animations to introduce the family was creative. These were also used throughout the film, along with journalistic illustrations that made the movie feel like Enola’s personal diary.

Costumes

Netflix's 'Enola Holmes' Quotes to Use as Instagram Captions
Enola Holmes from Enola Holmes

The costumes were designed by Oscar-nominated Consolata Boyle. According to Boyle, Enola’s red dress was chosen to represent courage. She also utilized ivory, as it is a color associated with the suffragette movement. Each costume was carefully chosen. To learn more, check out this article

Characters

Enola Holmes is a likeable character with many skills. She is good at cracking codes, self-defense, and disguises. Her memory for details is impeccable. Her courage and generosity is also notable.

Enola is not much of a mystery solver, however. She did not solve either mystery mentally, but instead by courageous action and being where the action was happening.

Sherlock from Enola Holmes

Sherlock is an ineffective character primarily because it seems like the actor is trying to be two things at once: the friendly, compassionate big brother and the emotionally detached detective. For instance, Sherlock says:

You’re being emotional. That’s understandable, but unnecessary.”

Sherlock from Enola Holmes

Yet he is so emotional that, according to Screenrant, Netflix was sued by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who claimed that this emotional Sherlock was based off Sherlock stories still under copyright.

Sam Claflin interview - Millie Bobby Brown is a "powerhouse"
Mycroft from Enola Holmes

Mycroft is reduced to a disgruntled babysitter who continuously fails in his attempts to control Enola. He has no redeeming qualities.

Breaking the Fourth Wall

I know this is a legitimate storytelling technique, but it was excessive in this movie. It strained one’s suspension of belief to the breaking point. Enola looks at the camera all the time, reminding viewers over and over that this is just a movie and that it’s all fake.

If you are looking for the escapist qualities of a good film, you won’t find them here. The constant reminder of the camera’s presence ruins any chance of the sort of realism that allows one to be absorbed in a story.

Conclusion

I gave this movie a 6.8 because it was better than the average movie. However, I would not be interested in watching it again.

While this movie is not for everyone, it is likely to appeal to an audience of preteen and young teenage girls.

Sherlock fans are likely to be disappointed. If you go into the movie without comparing it to other media that depict the Holmes family, you’ll be better off.

My Rating System

If you want to know how I rate movies, check out my rating system for movies.

Movies

Movie Review: Jumanji: The Next Level (Spoiler-Free)

Jumanji: The Next Level | Buy, Rent or Watch on FandangoNOW

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Intro

For my sister’s graduation party, she was allowed to choose any movie for the family to watch. She chose Jumanji: The Next Level, and boy, am I glad she did. This hilarious sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle truly takes the game to a whole ‘nother level.

This movie was released in 2019, and fits into three genres: Fantasy, Adventure, and Comedy. It stars Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Alex Wolff, Nick Jonas, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Awkwafina, Rory McCann, Danny Glover, and Danny DeVito.

Summary

Embarrassed and disappointed by how his boring life compares to that of his friends, Spencer repairs the game console that originally sucked him and his friends into the game Jumanji. Entering the game, he hopes to become Smolder Bravestone and find a sense of purpose again.

His friends are shocked and bewildered by Spencer’s choice to return to Jumanji. After some hesitation, they decide to enter the game to bring him back.

Only things don’t go as planned. The two elderly men upstairs (Spencer’s grandfather Eddie and Eddie’s once-friend Milo Walker) get sucked into the game as well.

Jumanji: The Next Level review: a pretty good body-swap comedy ...
Smolder Bravestone and Franklin Finbar

What follows is hilarious. Catching Eddie and Milo up to speed is harder than expected, allowing for a lot of jokes.

Nigel then gives them their next mission, which is to defeat Jurgen the Brutal and return the Falcon Jewel to its rightful owner.

Throughout their journey, the heroes face a herd of ferocious ostriches, a rope bridge maze reminiscent of the randomly moving staircases at Hogwarts, and a horde of violent simians.

The twist at the end offers hope of a sequel.

Review

The humor and irony offered in this movie was great, although at one point it was extremely cringy. Just wait for the part with the hyenas, and you’ll see what I mean.

The length of the move is 123 minutes, which was long enough that it didn’t feel rushed and short enough that it didn’t drag on.

Eddie’s antics were hilarious at first but almost got annoying because of his stubbornness and bad judgement.

Milo’s tendency to draw his explanations out made for some funny scenes.

The relationship between Eddie and Milo created some of the most touching moments in the movie.

I didn’t see as much of some characters as I would have liked.

Jurgen, like the villain of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is not well-developed at all. He is a pretty standard bad guy with almost no backstory. Yep, he’s just evil because he’s evil. I even forgot his name because he wasn’t very memorable, and had to look it up.

Conclusion

Overall, I rated this movie 7 out of 10 stars because it was hilarious and enjoyable, but certainly wasn’t one of the best movies I ever watched. I wouldn’t mind watching it again in a few years.

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!!!).