Date Night: Sushi + Twilight: New Moon

April called for a date night this weekend, so last night I planned out an elaborate evening of surprises to wow and astound her.

Actually, dinner wasn’t a surprise because Haruno is our go-to place for fancy exciting dining. While I like Haruno and their delicious, delicious sushi, there’s one oddity that stands out every time we visit. Haruno is dubbed “Sushi Bar and Grill,” but every time we go and order sushi, the wait staff looks at us like we’re freaking crazy.

I get that sushi is an appetizer, but I’m not going to pay $14 for some chicken fingers and a sauce I just happen to not have at home (katsu). Sashimi’s cool, but spending $19 for something labeled an entree that isn’t filling just isn’t going to work.

We love sushi, so we order four rolls and enjoy ourselves heartily. Meanwhile the waiters look at us with surprise and we can see a group huddled in the distance, staring at us, talking.

After dinner, though, I pulled into a Blockbuster and surprised April by picking up New Moon, which I had called ahead to reserve. I must clarify: we didn’t actually want to watch New Moon. No, we wanted to make fun of it. Not the most hilarious Rifftrax ever, but it was still pretty friggin’ good and I enjoyed the many references they tied in. It was totally worth it, so if you have to suffer through New Moon, throw Rifftrax on and laugh instead of crying.

(Wanted to interject here before I move on to discussing Twilight–after dinner and Blockbuster we went for a stroll through Nathaniel Greene Park, which was my last surprise. A++ WOULD STROLL AGAIN)

My dreams last night were tinted by Twilight, but were significantly more awesome. I was a vampire with the speedy ability like in the fight scenes (gotta say, the fight scenes in New Moon were actually pretty awesome). Except I was fighting zombies, who were super strong and nigh indestructible. Throwing them around like that would be a great video game.

This morning as I thought about it, I became puzzled about the entire Twilight franchise. New Moon is in many ways a worse movie than Twilight, if you can believe that, though the action scenes helped it a great deal (it was just about the any time a character emoted). But it didn’t have to be. I haven’t read the books, but after seeing the second movie I wonder why the whole thing isn’t better.

Edward’s brooding is often mocked as being ridiculous and over-the-top, but in New Moon we start to get a glimpse into the darker side of all this. In the first movie, it’s like, “Why wouldn’t you turn someone into a vampire? You’re not killed by a stake to the heart, you can still go out in the sun, you live forever, you’re super strong/fast, yadda yadda yadda.” In New Moon, we hear something about eternal damnation, something about the soul, and there being a vampire royalty that controls everything.

And one of the Cullens, the blond woman, says that it’s not a life she would have chosen for herself. From an outsider’s perspective, like Bella’s and the audience’s, their life looks freaking awesome. Why wouldn’t you want that?

Maybe there’s a reason, but the movies don’t make it clear, and that’s part of what ruins them. I can buy into Edward’s shitty character if he has a reason, but we’re never given one.

I don’t even have a problem with the focus being on romance and the doomed relationship of human and vampire. Buffy the Vampire Slayer did that really well–it’s a solid plot device. The writing here just doesn’t support it or move it forward.

If you bullet out the plot points, it’s not half bad:

  • Human in love with a vampire
  • Vampire has lost soul and lives in eternal agony
  • Vampire is damned to hell and knows it
  • Human wants vampire to turn her
  • If vampire does, a war with the lycanthropes will erupt, likely resulting in the death of the vampire’s family and a number of humans as collateral damage
  • A war of this sort would bring down the wrath of the vampire royalty, who would want to purge them all
  • Vampire turns girl anyways, deals with consequences, awesome action scenes with explosions

Wonder if I could just rewrite the whole thing and make millions. It’s not like the story is terribly original to begin with, but if you took that plot and coupled it with good writing, it’d be pretty cool.

What do you think? Is Twilight reasonable except for bad writing and, on the part of the movies, bad acting? Or is the whole thing a wash?


One of my co-workers recommended this movie due to its hilarity and satirical nature, so April and I picked it up from Blockbuster last night and decided to watch it during lunch today. All I can say is: Dear Lord…

I mean, I guess it was funny… but mostly, I felt horrified throughout the film. It was depressing in its potential accuracy, taking the observation that people of both lower socioeconomic status and education tend to have more children than those with higher IQs, and then extending that observation to its logical conclusion. A man with an average IQ (which is between 90 and 100) in the present day is frozen and, due to circumstances that arise around the experiment, he is left frozen for over 500 years. When he awakes, he is the most intelligent person on the face of the planet.

The movie depicts a society that teeters on the brink of self-destruction due to starvation and rampant poverty because people are too stupid to solve even their most basic problems, and the main character is put in jail largely due to his intelligence, which is viewed as deviant, and is eventually sentenced indirectly to death. He survives, of course (this is a comedy, after all, rather than a tragedy), but the movie is still depressing.

I do not think such a future will come to pass, however. One of the subplots in the movie is that the two main characters (a woman was frozen as well) are easily able to manipulate the people with whom they come into contact. I suspect such manipulation and strength of will would disallow such a bleak and stupid future to occur. Or, at least, I hope so.

I felt that, in the end, the movie called into question our form of government. It makes no observations about any country other than the United States of America, and the viewer is left wondering what is going on in the “outside world.”  Perhaps it was not Mike Judge’s goal to question Democracy, but it certainly led me to such questions. Faced with such a crisis in a country with so many stupid people, is there any way for a democracy to resolve the challenges before it? For even a republic calls for election of those one thinks are intelligent enough to address and solve the problems we face… and if the people voting are too stupid to recognize intelligence, let alone know what is required to solve these problems, how can democracy succeed?

It is a dangerous question, and I do not know the answer. I suppose my fall-back would to be to trust God in the sure knowledge that He is sovereign. But that does not free us from our duty to question, learn, and do the best we can. The satire is right: we can no longer just “get out of the way.”

Peter Jackson > George Lucas

April and I have just finished watching the extended versions of Lord of the Rings with Shawn and Britt, and I have to say, my mind is made up. LotR is simply better than Star Wars. One could probably argue that the movies are better because Tolkein was a genius and gave them a great background and body of work from which to draw, but Lucas really has a fantastic world as well. I’ll never argue that the Star Wars universe isn’t well developed, because the idea is quite good. The problem is that Lucas took this great idea and didn’t know how to translate it to film, so he ended up butchering it.

The original Star Wars movies are only any good because the actors were phenomenal. They changed things and brought life to the script it wouldn’t have otherwise had. Jackson took a number of actors, some of which were almost completely unknown, and through his drive he made an equally expansive story into an artistic masterpiece of film.

Watching the Making Of special features of LotR is quite an experience, and almost as good as the movie itself. They really poured their hearts into the movies, and the level of detail makes the film seem almost real. If you ever watch the Making Of special features for Star Wars, it’s kind of amusing. It essentially starts off with George Lucas talking about how great a genius he is, and the actors saying that he’s a visionary, and as the feature progresses, the actors become more and more caustic, sometimes insulting him and talking about how they changed atrocities in the script into something actually decent because Lucas’s writing was so bad.

It’s night and day, and I know that while I’ve probably never written something quite so nerdy as this entry, I feel it needs said. Peter Jackson is simply a better director than George Lucas.