Thursday, November 10, 2011

Countdown Part 1: The Movies

As previously outlined, I will now proceed with Part 1 of my countdown to Breaking Dawn and briefly talk about the first three movies. Note that I am not reviewing them; I am only giving random thoughts about them as a pre-Breaking Dawn exercise.

Each of these three movies is very different, and each one scores in different ways. As much as I would love to have all the positives put together and to have everything work perfectly in one movie instead of just some things, that is asking much for any book to movie adaptation. What I am slowly learning is that movies can only score so much for deep fans of the books from which they derive. So with Twilight, I have tried to sit back and enjoy the different pieces each movie brings for each segment of the series: if one doesn't give me something I want, at least I know that another probably does. And we all know that Summit did a pretty good job of assigning directors to the right movies. Catherine Hardwicke was the one to launch the project and to prove what it could be. Chris Weitz was willing to take the story where it needed to go, despite what critics would (and did) say. David Slade let us enjoy the action bits and just have fun with it before the story gets heavy again.

What I loved about this latest movie viewing of mine (I watched Twilight Tuesday night, New Moon Wednesday night, and Eclipse tonight) were the reminders of the good things in these movies. When I write posts on them, I try not to dwell on the negatives: is there any real point in doing so? I am never writing professional critiques of them and no one of import is reading my thoughts (meaning someone who would consider my opinions and apply them to the making of the next movies). Focusing on the negatives would only frustrate me, and I don't want to associate frustration with something I like (although I do feel the need to say that, yes, this is a situation where I would say I like the movies because I like the books first).

Watching Twilight, I was reminded of how much the tone of that movie matches the book. Although it probably isn't the closest adaptation, the tone is what I enjoy most in the books, so it is one of the most important things for the movies to get right. I can't thank Catherine Hardwicke enough for what she brought to this series.

New Moon has cinematography that is sheer perfection, isn't it? There are the shots we're meant to notice, like the ones of Victoria running or Sam cliff-diving. But even in the "normal" shots, there is such a coherency and artistry. This is a lovely movie to watch. And I always thought it evident how much Kristen Stewart put into her performance for this one; she doesn't care what she looks like, but what Bella is thinking. The score, though pretty, I felt from the start sets the wrong tone most of the time, yet there are wonderful moments with the soundtrack. But I'm supposed to have a separate post about soundtracks, right?

Eclipse is the most removed from Bella's mind and the most like a standard, Hollywood movie (which makes it easier for some people who are most used to standard, Hollywood movies). I have a hard time moving away from Bella's perspective (which is, again, one of the important parts of the story for me), yet I enjoy the scenes with Riley and Victoria in Seattle. I also love the three flashback scenes with Jasper, Rosalie, and the Quileutes. The action bits are fun, though I wonder if it isn't emphasized too much sometimes--if it's only action I crave, there are other places I can go besides Twilight.

Where does that leave us for Breaking Dawn? Cautious.

I like to assign these personal journey stages to the four books, respectively: innocence, initiation, chaos, and resolution. Since Breaking Dawn is like its own sequel to a trilogy, it manages to contain all the stages clearly inside of itself, even if resolution is the main one. Twilight's focus on the falling in love certainly fits in with the innocence side. New Moon's expression of sadness does initiation justice, and the action bits and such in Eclipse showcase chaos well enough. But Breaking Dawn will be in two parts, thus tearing its emotional journey apart into two pieces. I will talk more of my thoughts on this popular trend of splitting later, but for now I'll say that I wonder to what degree we can keep the theme of resolution when only telling the first half of the story.

I haven't been watching interviews or reading much more than headlines, for fear of spoilers. Rather than getting pieces one at a time, I prefer to wait to see everything in its proper place and put together as it is meant to be watched. But there are two things I have heard about Breaking Dawn that are worth noting. Robert Pattinson said that it returns to the tone of the first movie, about which he is glad--if there is one thing I could ask for this movie to do, that's it. I'm trying to not get to excited over this, though, lest I set up expectations. The other thing comes from the Twilight Lexicon's supposedly "spoiler free" review, which I just read minutes after watching Eclipse tonight, of an early screening. To call it the best book adaptation of the four is very big. It leaves me with hope.

It would be wonderful if Breaking Dawn could take all the best parts from the previous three movies: the tone of Twilight, the artistry and boldness of New Moon, and the appeal and polish of Eclipse. Honestly, I don't think it is too much to ask.

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