Beautiful Creatures – Another Book to Movie

Time for yet another YA novel to be adapted to a movie.  Those who loved the Twilight books (great premise, bad execution – said it before) will like this book and will probably like the movie. Unlike the Twilight novels, the writing duo of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl do a much better job of rich character building and are not afraid to have their characters look bad or do bad things. Unfortunately, the book is written in the overused device of first person – this time from the point of view of a very horny sixteen-year-old body. But at least it’s not the slow, desperate, voice of Bella and is a funny, optimistic, bright voice of Ethan. It provides a much better platform for the world the authors build.

The fantasy aspect is developed from a great premise – the girl of Ethan’s dreams (literally and figuratively) comes from a family of witches (they prefer the name Casters) and has until her sixteenth birthday where she will be “claimed” by either the dark (evil) or the light (good). On top of that, she craves a normal life and finds herself dealing with the ordinary dark and light of high school. Who hasn’t dealt with that? Her family – a cast of characters each possessing a very unique way of manifesting their powers – are interesting and well developed.

There are a couple of plot lines resulting in some later conflict that is really contrived. The same thing happened in the Twilight books. But overall the novel provides an entertaining story – so entertaining that it goes on for three more books.  So, if the movie is remotely successful, plan to see the next three made.

Oh, wait! Plan for the last book to be split into two movies. So plan for four. Isn’t that the way it works?

Oscar Nom – Beasts of the Southern Wild

It’s award season people! And that means catching up on all the movies you wanted to see when they were first released and didn’t. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is one of these movies for me. I had heard from friends and colleagues that it was lyrical and moving and the young lead, Oscar nominated Ouvenzhane Wallis (who was six when she filmed the movie now 9 and has set a new record of being the youngest actress to be nominated, beating out the 12-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes from WHALE RIDER) is a wonder.

Wallis is good – like a lot of child actors. For her first try at acting she is natural and believable. I think it is due to the close to the last scene in the movie (I won’t include any spoilers so I won’t ruin it for the three people that read this blog, including my mother) that cinched her the nomination, forcing out other actresses such as Marion Cotillard for RUST AND BONE and Helen Mirren for HITCHCOCK.

It’s the story of this movie that doesn’t bode well. Even the script is also Oscar nominated for best adaptation, it was convoluted and the expectation for the audience to fall into the category of suspended disbelief was over estimated. There is some fable-like visuals that are supposed to propel the story forward but stop short leave the viewer wondering whose story is this movie telling?

I will fully admit, when you wait to see a movie as long as I did this one, one’s expectations are likely to grow rigid. I thought this film would be much more whimsical and have more of a fantasy-like built world (like PAN’S LABYRINTH – a beautiful film by Guillermo del Toro – Netflix it today!), but instead it is chocked full of a lot of themes that didn’t have the opportunity to be fully developed, making the story unsatisfying on a lot of levels. This leads to the audience being introduced to a fantasy/fable story line, but with no guide to determine the correct course. I lose my geography in the story more than once, which results in me being totally pulled out and super reluctant to get back in.  The camera work is also a hodge podge of techniques and angles that didn’t add to the storytelling – particularly the hand-held shaky shots.

The first-time Oscar nominated director, Benh Zeitlin, shows great promise, and I think we will see more of him in the future as he hones his talent and decides what kind of director he wants to be. But this movie could have used a more seasoned director who has a healthier grasp on how to lead an audience through a rather shaky script.

What did you think of this movie?

Breaking Dawn Part 2 – Okay…I Saw It

So, like the rest of the country I have been fighting through this weird flu that seems to NEVER go away. My nose has been stuffed up, my voice has dropped in register making me sound scratchy and little bit like Demi Moore (I know…not such a bad thing), and my head has ached. I also have been housebound.

Needless to say, I got myself out of the house and went to…the mall. Walking around I got tired and found myself near the movie theaters. The only one playing that I could see beginning to end was BREAKING DAWN PART 2. My vow of never paying for a movie ticket to see any film in the TWILIGHT franchise quickly faded in place of a deep desire to sit down.

What can I say? BREAKING DAWN PART 2, aka, the creepy CGI baby movie, is a terrible waste of film. But again, the books – loved by tween girls around the world – are terribly written (I have said this before) and therefore it is difficult to adapt a shitty book into an enjoyable film. But the problem with this movie is way beyond the source material.  Like I stated, it is the creepy CGI baby movie. For some reason the director (Bill Condon –  DREAMGIRLS) applies a weird treatment to the famous half-human, half-vampire child Renesme. It’s just…creepy. And worse it’s badly executed. In the time of AVATAR, to have a special effect so poorly applied makes the movie even more laughable.  Plus, the original story was so lacking in conflict (the author Stephanie Meyers refuses to have anything bad happen to her characters to elicit growth or true crisis) that the ending is be majorly tweaked by the screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (who is now developing her own show for TV – look what adapting shitty books can do for you) in order for a film audience to sit the 90 or so minutes and not be bored out their minds.

I’m still sorry I spent the money for a theater ticket for this movie. I should have waited until I could Netflix it like I’ve done with all the others, but like in the movie CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE ( a fabulous script written by Dan Fogelman, Netflix it today) “I went and saw the latest Twilight movie – and it was sooooo bad.” That about sums it up.