Book vs Movie Face Off: Twilight Saga, Part 2

Welcome back! Yesterday I examined the books in the Twilight Saga; today, we talk about the movies. I watched them so you don’t have to.

Instead of talking about each movie, I want to look at the elements across the board: casting, the director who needed to set the tone for the series, and just the limitations of the medium.

Catherine Hardwicke

Remember how I said this was commercial fiction? Yeah, they picked a bad director for this. Hardwicke is a good director, but she is more known for critically acclaimed work. Sadly, she tried to put that spin on Twilight. First off, the script is straight up terrible in some places. When Edward calls Bella spider monkey? WTF??? I think Hardwicke was trying too hard with this film. She placed so much emphasis on wardrobe and creating an environment, that she missed that fact that this was supposed to be an enjoyable film. I really had high hopes for it the first time I ever saw it. The world was just coming off the high that was the Harry Potter film adaptations and there was hope for this. Every time I watch it now, I just cringe at sooo many places. This film should have set the tone for the films: instead it soured everything from the get go.

Casting

The casting in this series is really just terrible. It is like they only saw some people and the rest were signed on pictures along. For instance, Kristin Stewart. OMG. Like really, could they have found a worst actress? I know she gets a lot of indie recognition, but seriously, no emotion at all in this series. But Bella has emotions and a lot of those emotions are central to making her a likeable character. Kristin Stewart  failed so epically.

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Then there is Robert Pattinson. I have seen Pattinson in other films. He is not terrible. But it is like Kristin Stewart is a black hole for acting ability. Pattinson just sucks (pun intended) when acting with her. Edward is supposed to be this amazingly hot man with a beautiful voice. I originally picture Henry Cavil when I read Twilight, and after seeing him in Superman, I feel like he would not have sounded as pained as Pattinson did. Cavill has a lovely voice.

Across the board, the only casting choice I approve of is Taylor Lautner. Yes, he is not as tall as Jacob in the books, but Lautner perfectly captures the character. But this also just circles back to my Hardwicke argument: she was going for a “intellectual” film. Most of the other actors have stared in indie films and won praise. Lautner is straight up teen heartthrob/commercial appeal. And he is the only actor who works in the film. Imagine what the movies would have looked like if they were filmed the way they were intended: as straight up commercial fodder with undiscovered actors or at least actors who looked like they enjoyed themselves.

Music

This was 50/50 for me. Again, it circles back to Hardwicke. I did not enjoy some of her musical selections. But as the series developed, there are some very great moments with the music.  The theme song by Carter Burwel is a great example of how the music could be.

But you can see why I am 50/50. Listen to the music at the beginning of the clip; that just doesn’t fit. Carter Burwel is a genius with his compositions.

But the best moment for me in the series comes from the scene where Bella has fallen apart. I loved the way the time passing was handled in the books, and it was so beautifully translated in the movies and paired with the single best song for it.

CGIs

So these were pretty cool up until vampire baby. The wolves actually kind of cool in the films.

Right around the 48th second is when the CGIs come in.

But vampire baby? That was too much.

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Limitations of the Meduim

The problem with the films is the fact that these characters, which were so complex in the books, are distilled. Bella becomes whiny and a pushover, Edward more controlling and because movies have a much broader audience, that is how people remember the Twilight Saga.  Though I do think the films got slightly better as new directors, who saw the material as more commercial, improved it.

And there you have it, folks, the first ever Book vs Movies Face Off. The next one won’t be for awhile because of time constraints, but there will be more.

P.S. trying to decide if I should invest time to watch the Twilight mini films.

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Book vs Movie Face Off: Twilight Saga, Part 1

I have decided to do a new set of posts: Book vs Movie Face Off. I plan to break down the good and bad of both mediums. First up: the Twilight Saga.

Last weekend, while avoiding chores, I stumbled on the Breaking Dawn, Part 2 marathon on ABC Family. I started watching a bit, never really finishing the movie, and I decided I was in the mood to read/watch Twilight. So I went the gym to watch the Twilight movie. The whole time, between my giggles from amusement at the horribleness, I had a thought: “I don’t remember the characters being this bad.” And so began the long week of re-reading the Twilight Saga and re-watch of the movies. For Part 1, I will just focus on the books since I have a feeling this will be a really long post if the two are together.

Writing

Everyone bashes Meyer’s writing. But this series was never pitched to when critical acclaim in the book world. It was meant to sell books. And it did that quite successfully. Literary writing and commercial writing are two very different things. Not to mention that this was her DEBUT books. Newbie authors only grow stronger the longer they write. I will admit to feeling peer pressure to say she is a bad writer; she isn’t. I have seen far worse. I probably would have taken this to my boss to acquire and more than likely have gone to bat for it.

Actually one of my favorite part of her writing is how she handles the months passing in New Moon. That had maximum impact to show just how in a fog Bella was

Bella

So here’s the thing: Bella does have a bit of backbone in the books. Now, stick with me here, I can hear some of the groans out there. In the first book, Bella straight up tells readers her anger is tied to her tear ducts. As someone whose emotions are tied to certain body parts, I totally get this. So sometimes ball comes off like she is crying and upset but she is ANGRY. Emotions are there.

Everyone has seen the memes about Bella vs Hermione, or Bella being anti-feminist.

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I’ll tackle the Bella vs. Hermione first. The world is filled with some many different types of people, and so it is roughly true in YA. Not everyone can be a strong character; it gets boring. The reaction Bella has to Edward leaving her is pretty similar to what I image I might feel when my mother dies: like a part of you has been ripped out and you are in pain. Remember, Bella and Edward are more than soul mates; they are supposed to be one person. Imagine losing your arm or leg. The phantom pains that people experience.  So yeah, it seems plausible she would fall apart.

As for Bella being anti-feminist, I would say whoever said that clearly has never read the books. 1) Bella has sexual agency. Most people forget that it is Bella would is always trying to initiate sex. I am not getting into a multi-layered discussion about Meyer’s motivations and messages. The fact of it is, Bella has an equal hand in her relationship as far as physical intimacies go. 2) When Edward proposes, Bella is very put off by the idea of marriage. I think this is one of her most feminist moments: Bella points out that marriage does not equal forever. She is very against the idea of marriage, especially at such a young age.  3) Bella is constantly pushing to be treated as equal. She wants to be in the fights for her life just as much as Edward.  She is not sitting on the sidelines willingly and when given the chances, tries to help out. If you think Bella is not a feminist, then maybe you should re-examine what feminism means for you. For me, it means being an equal player in the relationship and standing up for what I need. Bella does this, multiple times throughout the series.

Now there are some things I would have pushed for if I had been Meyer’s editor. Like I said, I totally believe Bella could fall apart when Edward left, but I think I would have liked to see a bit more hesitation and anger on her part when he returned. Your other half left you for several months, and now you just hope back into the relationship, maybe a bit more panicky when he leaves. I think I would have asked for Bella to be more hesitant with trusting Edward again, and also a little angry that he took her choices away from her. More drama that way.

Edward

Bella might stand up for herself, but Edward often gets in the way. People have called him abusive, controlling, a stalker, etc. Part of me agrees with some of these assessments. But I also understand the positions behind them. Keep in mind that Edward is used to hearing everyone’s thoughts. That means Edward is constantly in control of every situation. He instantly knows what the other part wants, if they are lying, if they need things from him. And then BAM! He finds Bella, who he cannot hear at all. For someone used to being in control of every situation, he is suddenly out of control. It makes a person get MORE controlling. SO yeah, that is where Edward is approaching this.

Edward’s abusive nature is a bit harder. He is trying to keep Bella safe. As Bella herself admits, she is a klutz. Edward sees Bella as very fragile and is constantly trying to protect her. And that is where the problem comes in. Edward does take away some of Bella’s agency with his over protective ways. But again, like above, Edward is used to being in control.

Edward was never my favorite love interest for Bella.

Jacob

BEST MAN EVER. I will hear nothing bad about him. Team Jacob 4EVER!

Vampire Baby, aka Nessie

When I first read the books, I was so disgusted with this development. Meyers had given multiple interviews where she had said that vampires were frozen forever when they were turned, and then she pulled this?! She was very quick to say she deliberately said female vampires couldn’t have kids, but males had the option. Whatever. Didn’t buy it then, don’t buy it now.

But having just finished the series, I can see the slow developments over time. In New Moon, Bella wishes she had a more permanent claim to Jacob, like a brother; something that would make him a family. In Eclipse, Bella has moment where an alternate future flashes before her eyes and she sees the children she could have had. Furthermore, Bella’s dreams (not quite prophetic, more like cutting to the truth and passed the façade) hint to several key developments in the books: Edward as a vampire, Jacob as a werewolf, having a baby with Edward. There are clues along the way once you know.

Not happy about the decision, but it was nicely worked into the overall series.

These books are more complex than most people would like to admit. But that is the joy about books, these nuances in character can be showcases better. Yes, there are elements that I would have loved to influence, but these books still manage to play with my heartstrings every time.

Come back tomorrow to see part two where I examine the movies. That should be fun…

The Girl at Midnight Review

Girl at Midnight

Title: The Girl at Midnight

Author: Melissa Grey

Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)

Flap Copy:

“Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.”

I really want to scream. What was Kirkus thinking giving this a starred review? Seriously, I question them. Is this book bad? No. Is it great? No. The world building and the characters are amazing, but if you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone then this book does not seem so great.

The romance and adventure just don’t feel as intense. Even the war between the two races lacks impact. It really did read like a less impressive version of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I think I would acquired it, but it would have been almost a completely different book. I love the world, and her writing, but the story right now just is not doing it for me.

The Heartbreakers Review

Heartbreakers

Title: The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreak Chronicles)

Author: Ali Novak

Publisher: Sourcebook Fire

Flap Copy:

“ “When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara―even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver ― dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band ― when her sister could be dying of cancer?”

This book was a bit of let down. As you all know, I am on a teen romance trip, but nothing seems to be hitting the spot. I like Novak’s previous book, but I just wasn’t feeling this one as much.

I like the secondary characters of the band more than Stella. But I wish Novak would have either embraced the full Hollywood teen romance, or the sick sister story. It waffled in between and as a result, I felt like neither side got the full attention it deserved.

Would I have acquired this? Not sure. I like Novak, and I feel like she has some solid stories, I just am not sure I could have pulled the story out of her that I wanted.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Review

Thorns and Roses

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Flap Copy:

“When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.”

Welp, what can I say? This is definitely a book for older teen readers. But it was soooo good. Beauty and the Beast  meets Cupid and Pysche. I loved the give and take between Feyre and several of the characters. Maas is brilliant when it comes to creating tension and witty dialogue.

The book is on odd size though so it looks slim but it is actually a good size book. And I am not a fan of the jacket itself but Maas seems to be doing a good job with illustrated books for YA.

I would definitely acquire this.