Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Skip the Books, See the Movies

Okay, I owed myself a follow-up post. I saw "Eclipse - the Movie" yesterday and at the risk of coming over all self-congratulatory, I have to say that I was 100% right. The movie version was a lot more palatable than the book. In fact, to anyone who has never read any of the books but wishes to know the story, I recommend you skip the reading and just go to the movies.

Without having to endure page after page of Bella's internal musings, she came across as a lot more conflicted about her choice between Jacob and Edward. Rather than a girl who is stringing two guys along, the movie and Kristin Stewart do a much better job showing how Bella does love both Jacob and Edward, although she admits that she loves Edward more. The book Bella is instead very whiny and wishy-washy about her feelings. Sometimes, as the case is here, a facial expression is worth many chapters of words and does a heck of a lot better making me not want to drop kick Bella Swan into the Pacific Ocean.

Another aspect I thought went over better in the movie was Bella's growing uncertainty about changing into a vampire. Time and again she's forced to face the aspects of her life that are going to change - no more seeing her mother in sunny Florida, saying good-bye to all of her friends, the worry that Charlie will go through when Bella "disappears", becoming a blood-thirsty newborn - and you can see that it causes her to begin to doubt her choice. Props again to Stewart for this fine bit of acting.

Both Jacob and Edward also improve in the movie over their literary counterparts. Jacob is a little bit less manipulative and borderline abusive although he still shows these tendencies. Edward is much less of a doormat and only a tad bit overbearing and oppressive. Funny how removing the filter of Bella's POV makes everything seem so much better.

A couple of things I didn't like in the movie: the introduction of Riley the Newborn Vampire Leader and Bree the Sequel Product Placement. Neither was necessary and since both die in the end - no Spoiler - you knew this would be the outcome - what was the point?

I also think Dakota Fanning deserves a Most Over-Hyped Guest Star Appearance statuette because I thought she was just awful. Her dialogue delivery was flat and wooden. I know some will argue that the character Jane is emotionless and wooden, but this just seemed like bad acting to me.

And the flashback scenes in which we learned both Rosalie and Jasper's backstories were only minimally interesting and ground the action to a screeching halt. Same thing with the whole Quileute Tribe History lesson wherein Bella is told to her face that the man she loves is an evil, soulless demon who deserves to die. Gee, thanks Jacob for inviting me to your big bonfire party.

Sidebar to say: who cast Nikki Reed as Rosalie? Rosalie is supposed to be the most beautiful creature Bella has ever seen, a beauty unlike any other woman, breathtaking and ethereal. Nikki is not ugly by any stretch, but she's just not drop-dead stunning like you'd expect from Rosalie. I think this was the only casting misstep in the movies so far, but it's pretty glaring.

Best part of the movie: By far Bella's father, Charlie, played by Billy Burke. He's got the best lines, all tossed out as throwaways but laugh out loud funny. I wished he could have been in every scene.

The tent scene was also highly entertaining but mostly because the hoyay was so thick, you wanted the director to find a way to just kill off Bella so that Jacob and Edward could be together. I also think Robert Pattinson did some of his best work of all three movies during this scene - he finally seemed to relax and enjoy himself.

One thing about that tent scene: In the book, I found the tent scene to be the most ridiculous one of maybe the entire series because Stephenie Meyer tried so hard to cheat her own POV rules. For almost three books we'd seen everything through Bella's first person point of view. Now Meyer needed Jake and Edward to have a conversation about Bella, so she has Bella be sort-of asleep, enough that she's not sure if she's dreaming but can still understand every word these guys say about her. That scene never should have been allowed in the book because it's ridiculous, forced and contrived. If she couldn't find a way to convey that same information via Bella's direct, first person POV fully-conscious experience, too bad for Meyer.

In the movie, the scene is kind of silly because these two guys are talking about this girl who's asleep between them. They gush on and on about how much they love her and how they are both willing to suffer great agonies and heartbreak if that's what it takes to make her happy. I threw up a little bit in my mouth because really, Bella is so not worth it. What in the world is it about this girl that has these two guys so jacked up?

In the end, "Twilight - the Movie" was as decent of an entry into the movie series as the other two films. If you're not a fan, you won't change your opinion. If you are a fan, you'll enjoy watching the scenes you know unfold visually.

ETA a teeny-tiny rant:  I'd waited very patiently all weekend to see "Eclipse" because of how much I hate sitting in a movie theater with teenagers, especially teenage girls. I went to the earliest available showing on a Tuesday hoping to avoid chatty, giggling, texting girls. We got to the theater which was probably at least half full and found good seats second row from the very back, surrounded by empties. One minute before the show began a group of four teen girls and one boy came in and sat directly behind us. The girls kicked my seat and talked in full voice. The boy asked questions all through the movie. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being me ready to fetch the manager, they were only at about a 6. Still, I wanted to scream. I think I'm going to have to resign myself to DVDs.

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