Monday, February 18, 2013

Early 2013: Film Reviews: Warm Bodies & Beautiful Creatures.

1. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. Book Review: My best friend Bill just wrote a fabulous book/movie review of Beautiful Creatures over at his blog The Nerdly Ginger, and generally I agree with him about the movie and film. As I said on our Book Club page"Honestly, the book had a bit too much in common with the Twilight series for me to take it very seriously. The first draft was written in three months by two authors and it is very obvious that quality for what could have been a charming story was sacrificed in the rush. (Although there are several lovely passages worth reading (maybe 6 pages in total) in the 500+ page book.) It was refreshing in that it was written in the perspective of a male protagonist, however, but just as the disappointing lead males in I Am Number Four, The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson, so this "Ethan" also seems to fall flat. I do feel that the current tendency for authors to create "2-levels of depth" in cookie cutter leading men is lazy and inaccurate. Men have just as many layers as women: histories, traumas, lost loves and jobs and fortunes...does every motive for a character need to be either self serving or sacrificial? I have been disappointed and bored with these new lead "characters" lately. For Beautiful Creatures: give me Ridley's back story- hers was actually worth telling. Advice? Skip it, unless you're missing the novelty of a series like Twilight. See the movie instead. Emmy Rossum looks delightful in the trailer." 

Film Review: Surprisingly, the movie did all of the things the book didn't do: it had believable character portrayal in a perfect casting mix in all of the leads, it added Ridley's back story, it immersed us in gorgeous southern nature shots, there were fun interior sets, and believable "magic" effects (instead of campy/overdone effects). It was even funnier than the book! I attribute that to the unfaltering passion of the male lead, newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, who you can't help but root for in all of his jock-nerdiness, because he gives such a raw performance of a real struggling young couple. (No lifeless Edward Cullen here!) Main question: Can someone who hasn't read the book enjoy and understand the movie? Yes, but you should read the book afterwards, because there are some slight changes to the ending. Can we expect a sequel? Probably not considering it only brought in $11.4M on a budget of $60M. Although, it was in a tough "teenage girl" category, competing with Safe Haven and Warm Bodies. (So perhaps as word picks up about how good it was, so will the box office returns.) Advice? See it in theaters and enjoy a magical southern escape :)

2. WARM BODIES. Another enjoyable book-to-movie adaptation, I was worried that the snarky-adorable inner monologues of the male lead 'R' wouldn't translate well to the big screen. I was wrong. Not only did they include most of the hilarious inner-sequences of 'R's mind as he struggles to communicate at first with Julie, a zombie slaying human, but it was a seamless effort of screenplay writing brilliance come to be expected in other witty modern teenage flicks; Napoleon Dynamite, Juno, Scott Pilgrim, Superbad, Garden State, Adventureland. In a similarly silly style, the audience gets to watch the leads fall in love in an apocalyptic, zombie filled battle worn America. There's a happy ending. What's not to like? I can imagine my parents watching this on DVD one night in the future and my dad laughing the whole time, and my mom smiling and wincing through the two or three moments of campy gore/zombie fighting. Advice? Rent it for a date night on DVD.