Fifty Shades of Hell No

It is a difficult task to write about 50 Shades of Grey with any objectivity. I am not a fan of the books (I thought the first was horribly written and stopped there), and I have some issues with the content (no, not the sex). But it is fair to say that the movie is better written than the book. That does not mean the movie is good (it’s horrible), but at least it is better than the book.

Since this started as a Twilight fan fiction, you know the plot already. Virginal girl in Washington falls for a strange man who is way out of her league. He takes a strange attraction too her and claims he’s no good for her because of his secret. But instead of being a vampire, he’s a sadist with a “Red Room of Pain.” He takes her through sexual discovery by dominating her in every way. It’s a love story.

The movie thankful does not feature narration by Anastasia “Ana” Steele. Instead, the movie keeps the trite dialogue while more fluidly transitioning from one scene to another. “Goddess” is used only one time, and the “Oh My God”s are kept at a minimum. But there is no way to hide the Twilight parallels in almost every scene. I can just see E.L. James’ lawyer going over the content with a fine tip comb. “O.K., the rescue from the bicycle is different enough from the Tyler’s car but José has to be a different minority.” I would rather have watched Twilight.

fifty-shades-of-grey-movieDakota Johnson makes a good Bella-excuse me-Ana, but Jamie Dornan is horribly miscast as the titular Grey. He is good-looking and has a nice body, but he is not a good fit for the character. The reasons are two-fold. The first is that he looks like a young Colin Firth and that doesn’t go with the Christian Grey persona at all; it’s actually kind of terrifying to think of Firth in this role. The second is that his accent is terrible. If he had a voice acting coach, no other actor needs to hire them. The only good thing about Dornan being in it is that means Charlie Hunnam got out (Thank Goddess!).

There is one good thing about the film: it manages to give Ana more power than she did in the book. My friends tell me everything happened the same way in the book, but the book was so poorly written that it was hard to interpret any nuisances. When Ana goes to the conference room to negotiate the contract in the film, she is confident and forth coming. The movie makes it more apparent there is more of a balance between the two (only ever so slightly though).

While its claim to fame is nudity and sex, it’s the movie’s ability to transcend the book that is its positive aspect. The movie is truly horrible but it’s better than its book counterpart. That is a rare success for any movie.

Ah, Oblivion

Oblivion’s biggest issue is that it takes material from every sci-fi/fantasy story ever told and does it poorly. Read on for a list of what happens in the movie and what did it better.*

SPOILERS

1. Redhead gets pissed off and causes destruction-Carrieoblivion_tom_cruise_poster
2. Man is confused about what memories are real and which one aren’t- Total Recall
3. Too long and steals from other source material -Avatar
4. Heroes dies but female gives birth to the hero’s baby-Terminator, Pirates of The Caribbean, Premonition
5. Promises a treat when mission is completed but it’s a lie-Portal
6. Tom Cruise plays a man of the future that has been lied to by the accepted normality and then they try to kill him when he rebels-Minority Report
7. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a good looking asshole-Game of Thrones
8. Computer tried to kill everyone-2001 A Space Odyssey
9. Heroes must battle clone of themselves-Resident Evil
10. A phrase is repeated and can manipulation people’s destruction -BioShock
11. People stored in goopy cells in an alien ship-The X-Files
12. Tatters of the Statue of Liberty in a waste land- Planet of the Apes
13. Morgan Freeman adds a coolness factor to a Tom Cruise Movie –War of the Worlds
14. Circular robots get ill with the human and try to kill them- Portal 2
15. Collects crappy human relics- The Little Mermaid
16. Hero falls in love with the clone of their true love- Aeon Flux
17. Spaceship chase through tight canyons- Star Wars
18. Movie is so slow that you miss nothing when you go to the bathroom- Twilight
19. Hero redeems himself for the human apocalypse by sacrificing his life- Dollhouse
20. Title- Elder Scrolls Oblivion

*This is not a comprehensive list. The movie was so boring I probably missed a bunch.

By The Book: The Host

Andrew Niccol’s adaptation of The Host is very faithful to Stephenie Meyer’s book. But the film fails to capture the philosophical and moral complications detailed in the book.

eng-the-hostThe story follows a Host and a Soul on post-apocalyptic Earth. The Souls, an alien race who take over the natives of war-torn planets, live to make every world peaceful for their hosts. Earth’s humans are very dangerous to themselves and their planets so the Souls have some trouble subduing all the humans. Melanie is a particularly difficult being to conquer as she is part of a rebel human resistance. The Soul Wanderer is placed inside Melanie to mollify her and find out where the human are living.

Wanderer finds it hard to subjugate Melanie. She is still there inside the Host’s body nagging at her with every move she makes. Wanderer begins to sympathize with Melanie, and the two start a quest to find Melanie’s brother and boyfriend. But the Souls are not giving up, and a particularly singular minded Seeker chases after them.

By luck, Melanie and Wanderer are able to make it to the desert hideout of the humans. Wanderer is given shelter even though the humans do not trust her. Melanie’s boyfriend and brother are found, but the story does not simply end there. Wandered, now called Wanda empathizes with her human captors and falls in love while in the caverns.

The changes made to the movie are minimal. Some back stories, such as Kyle and Jodi’s, are left out leaving you to question the motivations of some characters, but the movie leaves little time for much more than Wanda and Melanie’s story.

xthe-host-movie-poster-pagespeed-ic-zyypkhl6cdThe problem with The Host as a film is that somehow all nuisances lost. The movie makes everything black and white. There is some discussion as to how one body can love too men but it mainly glossed over in stark kisses and slaps. The movie losing the internal dialogue between Wanda and Melanie. The movie features Melanie as a disembodied voice but Wanda talks aloud to herself. This is done for ease of understanding but the inner turmoil is too a minimum and Wanda seems to collapse under Melanie’s influence which is absolutely not the case. The book features two souls at war finding peace between themselves, their morals, their loves, and their loyalty.

It is hard to suggest what could have made this better. I want to fall back on an old excuse; it’s not a book you can translate. It’s not Twilight; there is depth and character development that was missing from the vampire saga. This is Meyer’s best work. But this is not Niccols.

Warming up the Zombie Genre

In a world where film companies are looking for the next Twilight or harry Potter, screen writers have forged through the young adult novels to fuel film fire. We have seen the Hunger Games, Beautiful Creatures, and Mortal Instruments come to life and Hush Hush is coming soon. Some of the aforementioned films can stand alone, but many fail to entertain those who not have read the books. But Warm Bodies translates well as an entertaining and comprehensive film.

This love story centers on a zombie and a girl who tries to kill him. After eating her boyfriend’s brains, he falls in love with her and takes her back to his hideout in the airport to keep her safe. He finds that as his feeling evolve for her, he himself is evolving. He is becoming less zombie like. He must convenience Julie that that he can change and that her father should not kill the zombies-they can change too.

From the beginning of the movie you bond with R, the romantic anti-hero. As he walks through the zombie world, we see this post-apocalyptic world as an allegory for our own as we seclude ourselves from each other with technology. R sees himself and those around with frank, truthful humor. His realization of being a monster makes him all the more real.

warm_bodies_HeartIt is also novel in the fact that zombies can be cured. Not only is a cure found, but it is very existential cure. No tubes or medicines. Zombies can only be cured through love and emotion. Hate transforms us into monster, and loves makes us human. Who thought that material from a YA book would get this thought provoking?

The make-up for the movie is probably some of the best. Sure there is monster movie make-up, but the amount and kind changes over time. As R is “healed” his makeup changes. His face gets warmer, his lips become less blue, and his eyes become clearer. These are all subtle shifts that slowly make R more human. The technical staff handles this brilliantly.

Nicholas Holt nails the changes in his character. He expertly morphs his walk, pattern of behaviors and speech. These shifts are slow and even; you almost don’t realize they are happening. These subtle shifts allow the audience to grow with R and cheer for him on his quest. Had another actor played R, this transition may not have been so graceful.

Over all the movie is no too creepy or gory proving that zombies don’t have to be disgusting. This romanticizing of the zombies is akin to Anne Rice’s transformation of the vampire. Zombies are clearly mainstream, and Warm Bodies becomes a great date movie for men and women alike. Love story her, zombies for him.

LD Entertainment Options Hush Hush

230px-Hush,hushFans of the Hush Hush Saga are getting their wish: LD Entertainment optioned the film rights to this the hit Young Adult novels. Currently, Greek creator Patrick Sean Smith has been hired to write the screen play for the first installment Hush Hush.

The Hush Hush saga by Becca Fitzpatrick is comprised of four books (Hush Hush, Crescendo, Silence, and Finale) and is centered on 16 year old Nora Gray. When she falls for the mysterious Patch, she gets more than she bargained for! Patch happens to be a fallen angel who is in the midst of a war between Fallen Angels and the Nephilim (beings that can take over a fallen angel’s body). Can Nora and Patch’s love survive this heavenly battle?

Fitzpatrick confessed to Entertainment Weekly that she is concerned about the casting. She had imagined certain actors when she wrote the novels but those actors would now be too old to play them. Some fans hope the company does like Twilight and find unknowns who become the characters instead of hiring A-list celebrities for hype.

Production on the film is expected to start in Fall 2013.

The Hobbit is a Faithful, Long Adaptation

As a child, my parents made me watch The Hobbit animated feature a zillion times. They even had the book full of the illustration and story. I was so afraid of the trolls and their song about eating Bilbo. In fact, I got so tired of watching it that I never had anything else to do with it as I grew up. I haven’t watched any of the Lord of the Rings all the way through, and went to see The Hobbit An Expected Journey because, now, my boyfriend owes me. But it does allow me to give you my take on the movie.
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For those of you living under the sea, The Hobbit is the tale of Bilbo Baggins a hobbit who likes the safety and monotony of his Hobbit Hole. When Gandalf the Wizard and his troupe of dwarves pay an unexpected visit, Bilbo becomes a part of the dwarves’ journey to reclaim their homeland.

Technically it looks really good. The majority of the environments are bright and clear and it seems realistic. But as much as Hobbiton is beautiful many of the CG action sequences are a blur. The dwarf battle in the beginning and rock giant battles have blurred background and scenery. Some blame it on the filming in a different film rate than we are used to, but if this was the case the rest of the movie would look the same. It is the CG heavy atmosphere that either loose clarity when transferred to 2-D or (most likely) a way to cut costs but not applying too much work for a crisp CG world. This happens often in movies including Transformers. So while this is a fault to The Hobbit, it is a fault of many movies as well.

Books fans will be delighted as the movie goes into minute detail of the events of the novella. Much time is spent on the dwarfs’ time at Bilbo’s house and the movie sticks to the majority of the action of the road. But this constant jump from action to action cuts down on any character development. It is not until the end of this almost three-hour-long film, that the viewers see any changes in the characters. It is hard to love characters that whiney or arrogant without seeing much growth.
the-hobbit-still02

For movie goers who don’t know the book by heart, the film becomes very tedious. Trolls and orcs and goblins and elves and hobbits and dwarves. There isn’t much time devoted to any one species and becomes a smorgasbord of fighting and overly CG’ed action sequences. Whatever wonder I felt about Baggins looking life like was lost in the long, tedious journey of this clan that isn’t even over yet. Also, it seems that Peter Jackson pays no attention to movie phenomenon around him or he wouldn’t have ended the first installment of The Hobbit with the same sequence as Breaking Dawn Part 1 did. It can’t be good for your viewers to say, “Twilight already did that!”

While the cut of the first installment come at the right place story wise, I wonder why they didn’t cut it about twenty minutes sooner. Like every book and movie in the cannon before, the parts with Sméagol are the best and the ones even non-fans like me are waiting for. From a film perspective, I would have split this scene into both movies for the benefit of the non-book fans.

The Hobbit has its merits but it will be the diehard fans that love it the most. Anyone else should wait for the DVD so you can pause it and stretch your legs and take an ADD break.

By the Book: Breaking Dawn

Contains Spoilers

The Twilight Saga movies have a tumultuous history. The first adaptation was a horrible movie, slicing and cutting at fan favorite books passages. The movies became increasing better culminating with Eclipse. Break Dawn Part 2 takes after Eclipse as an adaptation; it takes the best from the book and makes it better.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 includes material from the last 400 pages of the book and picks up where the last movie left off: Bella’s transformation to vampire. Overall the movie is a loyal adaptation to the source material. The movie cuts out small portions in order to move the story along. The only real loss was the fear J. Jenks felt for Jasper (and I was hoping for a created flashback for that).

But like the other installments, it reduces or cuts out character completely. With this being said, the movie does include the majority of the Cullen’s witness though it cuts down on the Volturi clan. These new characters are well cast and, unlike previous installments, look like the characters in Stephenie Meyer’s book. And many of the characters lines come directly from the book.

Changes in the movie do make correct some issues with the novel. I personally was quite upset that there was no fight after the build up of other vampires. Other complained that there were no deaths and fans did not have to mourn. I understand this point, but I like for my characters to live. The twist ending changes these complaints making the movie compelling and keeps fans on their toys. It’s like watching The Walking Dead and getting a great surprise in the TV that wasn’t in the comics. Fans should stick with the movie through the twist, no matter their first reaction. In fact, the ending gives a more “happily ever after” outlook than the book by including scenes Alice envisioning the future.  Even the credit give homage to the whole cast and fans feel like they are saying good bye to old friends, just like they felt when they closed the final book.

The movie also makes Bella a little less perfect. She has great self control but in the movie she actually gets close to the human before turning back. Unfortunately, the acting does not hold up in her fury towards Jacob though Stewart does well with the mother/daughter bond. It boggles me why Bella has more color as a vampire than she did as a human. Otherwise, seeing beloved characters come to life is a treat for fans.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 is one of the better movies in the Twilight Saga and Melissa Rosenberg expands on the material already written by Meyer. Fans will be please with the ending of this installment as a stand alone movie, and also as an ending to a beloved movie journey.

Watch This Not That Twilight Edition

The Twilight Saga

Watch This…

Eclipse

This is the best movie in the series. This installment does what a good movie adaptation should do: cut the boring weaker parts of a book and concentrating on the best parts. The teen angst is minimal here cutting out a lot of Edward/Jacob from the novel. The screen writer makes the appropriate choices of focusing on Jasper and Rosalie’s back stories and the training for the upcoming newborn battle. This movie lets several of the Cullen clan shine instead of giving them minimal lines. Even Emmett gets a little attention. Eclipse allows allowing the vampires to truly show their power.

…Not That

Twilight

If it weren’t for the tale is a beloved story for fans, this movie would have been an epic failure. The teen angst was overdone to the point of being overly melodramatic and if I never ever hear a “dramatic pause” again it would be too soon. This drear look into a dazzling vampire world suffers from lack of vision and casting. The character’s make-up was horrendous and the two main actors have no charisma or spark. The movie only picks up for the baseball scene and ballet studio fight showing what this world could really be.

Breaking Dawn

Watch This…

Part 2

With a Twilight movie, it’s hard to get away from the emotional sappiness. This one has this of course but it also includes Bella truly developing into a person. In fact as a vampire, she has more color than she did as a human. Part 2 also brings back the Volturi, one of the best aspects of the mythology. Michael Sheen is amazing as Aro and creeps out the Cullens and viewers alike. This adaptation corrects criticism of the book (no battle, etc.) while keeping the true intention of the book clear. The surprise ending is exciting for fans and they will forgive any deception they may feel. This last Twilight leaves with a punch.

…Not That

Part 1

The first installment of the adaptation of the 754 page book is great for those fans that are Team Edward and love Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. For the rest of the world, we cringed at every badly acted scene about the honeymoon or pregnancy. We enjoyed the wedding for the funny moments not the horrible dress Bella wears. This is the epitome of emotional sap that goes to far in the books (or I could just be cynical). The wolf CG scene looks like something from a B movie but Jacob and his new pack are truly the best part about a movie based on a girl loosing her virginity and getting pregnant.