Thursday, April 18, 2013

Movie Companion Time

After I watched The Host the first time, I was tempted to go into Barnes & Noble and buy the movie companion on the spot, even though it would be almost double the price in store versus online--but I wasn't that tempted considering that my local store didn't even have it in stock. Compared with all the books and merch that I would stare at every time I visited after The Hobbit came out, this was disappointing.

But I had been planning, for months now, a big online book purchase of all the random things I've been wanting. Now that the shipment has arrived, I keep thinking of more books that I want, but I am gleeful of the fact that I do now own so many coveted ones. As I look over them, I find that many are movie books, including Mark Cotta Vaz's The Host: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion.

Mark Cotta Vaz also wrote the four Twilight movie companions, and I do feel that his writing approach has improved over the course of these five books (which are nowhere near all he has written, of course). I really enjoy movie companions, provided they do more than show pictures and re-explain plot elements. So I am happy to say that this book does much more than that.

There are just the right amount of quotes from the cast and crew, whether major or minor actors, producers, stunt performers, location scouts, or anyone else involved in the project. The balance was perfect between getting words from people we'd love to hear from (like Saoirse Ronan and Stephenie Meyer) and also people whose voices don't always get heard in as much detail but were still important parts of the venture. The format of the book takes us smoothly through from preproduction to post, highlighting what it was like being on set and how certain aspects of the movie were achieved. The only thing that I noticed missing was the score, particularly considering that this was one part of the movie I really enjoyed. But I would imagine this was just an area where Vaz didn't have the opportunity to conduct interviews; after all, he's writing at everyone's mercy.

Despite the fact that I don't like to just have visuals, there are some beautiful pictures in here. I'm a particular fan of Ian and Wanderer sitting on the desert mountaintop on page 107; am I so very strange that I think that's such a romantic and gorgeous picture? Seeing all of these images in still, picture form reminds me of how perfect the colors in the movie were. I loved learning about how Andrew Niccol purposefully chose a plain, barren landscape in order to give the film a unique look. Since I missed all the vegetation I'm used to associating with Arizona, hearing this helped me understand why he chose these particular New Mexico locations.

Some other bits I enjoyed reading about included the crazy contact lenses, the amazing cave set, all the stunt people, and the ethereal and mythological Shiprock location. I definitely recommend this movie companion.

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