Monday, January 10, 2011


Since television has been on hiatus since before Thanksgiving, and since I'm dealing with a case of post-holiday malaise (or at least ennui) I've been watching movies.

In the first three nights of 2011 Paul and I watched:
  1. Spellbound (documentary about the National Spelling Bee)
  2. Outsourced (indie comedy about a guy sent to India to train his replacement)
  3. Twilight (yes, that Twilight).

Here's how I sold it to Paul. 

Look, there were some things about the book that weren't so great.  But I bet they don't plague the movie nearly as much.  Here's the premise: it's set on the Olympic peninsula (which we love) in and near towns we've visited.  There are lots of scenes hiking in the woods, up the mountains, and on the beach.  (I've already piqued his interest.) 

There's a "family" of vampires living there, and since they choose to hunt animals rather than people they can stick around in one place for longer without attracting uncomfortable notice.  The "father" is a doctor and the five "kids" are in high school.  When it becomes obvious that they're not aging normally, they'll move somewhere else where it's cloudy most of the year and start over as high school students again.

There's also an Indian reservation nearby and according to tribal legend they're descended from wolves and are ancient enemies with the vampires so there's some territorialism going on in addition to the rest of the vampires trying to pass as humans stuff.  (It turns out that it wasn't the details here that caught Paul's attention, but rather the simple fact that there is any back story at all, something other than a flaky teen love story about romanticized vampires.)

Three big criticisms of the book are: vampires, teens, and bad writing/flat characters.  The first two aren't really problems for us.  (Hello, Buffy!) and the third was probably addressed by the screenwriter.  Simply by virtue of having faces, the characters will be more real than in the book.  We'll know what Edward looks like, not just that he's "perfect."  Bella will most likely have some personality and actually interact with the world around her.  And, best of all, there will be far less repetition than in the novel.

(He was actually interested in watching the movie at this point and voluntarily sat down on the couch without his laptop.)

Paul's comments: it wasn't bad.  There was a lot of teen angst, not very much happened, and it needed a lot more editing.  Some of the scenes really dragged and I didn't like the decision to have a narrator.  But the premise was pretty good and interesting. If it hadn't been All About Bella, it could have been a good fantasy series.

My thoughts: Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.  Also, the movie was structured better than the book.  Almost from the very beginning we're aware of a foreign threat in town, killing people.  In the novel, we meet the main antagonists, what, 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through?  They fixed that plotting problem for the movie.  The book was much more stream of consciousness/flow of the school year/life experienced along with the main character.  The movie had a narrative arc and seemed, well, plotted.

As a writer it was fun to look at the differences between the book (to which I listened on iPod during a road trip) and the movie, to try to pick out what worked, what didn't, and why.

I can't say that I'm now a Twilight fan.  For a good teen love story, show me Juno any time!  But I did add New Moon and Eclipse to my Netflix queue.

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