Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fangirl rant!

Video Revue will return this summer, probably some time in June. One of our first topics will be books turned into movies. Here's a little preview of my thoughts (and I have a LOT to say on the subject). Specifically, why I think the Twilight movie will be better than the Harry Potter mega-multi-million monstrosity.

Let me start by saying that I love the Harry Potter books. I adore them. I remember when I was in fifth grade, my mom told me about this woman in England, an single mother who'd come up with this idea for a book about a boy who discovers he's a wizard. That same year, I had an amazing teacher who would read to our class out loud, one chapter a day right after lunch. Lo and behold, she'd heard of this little book too. Before she'd gotten halfway, I was hooked, and I begged my parents to buy the book for me so I could see how Harry's story ended. I was calling people "muggles" years before the word was added to the dictionary.

I went to three of the midnight release parties (for Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, and Deathly Hallows) and I own all seven books in hardcover. But for some reason, the movies never really interested me. I went to see the first one with a friend of mine, and then avoided them until last summer, when I took my brother to OotP. I have a horrible tendency to nit-pick. The danger with turning books into movies is that everyone who reads a book has their own view of how the characters, scenes, etc. should look and it's inevitable that the movie director is going to get it "wrong" according to at least some of the fans. For a long time I just thought that they'd gotten it "wrong" with the HP movies. I remember sitting in the theater, watching "Sorcerer's Stone" come to life on the big screen, and actually seeing Quidditch for the first time. Instead of being dazzled by the special effects, I was thinking, "They're trying to actually KILL each other! Why hasn't Madam Hooch called 'foul' yet? That's, like, twenty fouls! This would NEVER happen in 'real' life" (aka the book). The problem is not that they've gotten the details wrong; they've lost the essence of the books. The special effects are fantastic, but I still find it cheap and overdone.

Then I see first-graders walking around with Harry Potter pencil cases, and it hits me: J.K. Rowling is a sellout. Granted, she was still able to sell me all seven books. But with all the hype and the merchandising and the worldwide renown...okay, it would probably go to my head too. On the one hand, it is incredibly cool that a book can get so many people so excited. But at the same time, it's become less about the books and the fantastic world she's created and more about "Ooh! Let's see if we can get people to buy Harry Potter toothpaste!" Which, of course, they can.

It's entirely possible that "Twilight" will end up the same way, but I don't think so. Stephenie Meyer, the brilliant creator of the Twilight saga, seems much more...the only word I can think of is "accessible." I don't know how to explain exactly. But she's written about her writing experience, and she seems very connected to the fans and still surprised that she's become so successful. She can reveal information about the book without needing to make the evening news. Oh, and she's done something that JKR has yet to do (shocking, I know): she's branched out from the characters that made her famous. Stephenie's newest book, The Host, contains none of the Twilight characters and isn't even in the same genre. It comes out a week from today (squee!) and I can't wait to read it. She'll certainly have a good number of Twilight fans reading it, and draw in new ones as well. It's a test to see if the fans like her books for the writing, or simply because of the characters. But she's not afraid to see if people still like her books if she's not writing about Edward. Personally, I think The Host is going to be AMAZING.

"Twilight" the movie comes out shortly after "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" hits theaters. I think Twilight is going to kick HBP in the butt. It's probably just wishful thinking. Still, even with all of the hype, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was only at the top of the NY Times bestseller list for a few weeks. Guess who knocked the mighty Harry Potter out of the top spot: Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight saga. I anxiously awaited both books last summer; I devoted an entire day to each of them. There was no record-breaking crowd standing in front of the bookstores at midnight for Stephenie's book, but I honestly enjoyed Eclipse more.

Yowch. That was a long rant. Sorry. I did warn you that I had a lot to say.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

And so begins my Twilight campaign... visits the set of "Twilight" and talks with the cast and crew. I am SO psyched for this movie!! If you haven't read the books, go! Now! Mmm, Robert Pattinson...this movie's gonna ROCK!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

10-Word Movie Review Time!

As promised, Johnny and I will be updating the blog as time permits--Johnny posted the hilarious "Peanut Butter Jelly Time!" video below. It's stupid, pointless, and one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Anyway, I decided to do my famous snappy reviews of the stuff I've been watching recently.
The Tingler: Old, funny-bad movie about creatures in your spine. Vincent Price!
Signs: Like "The Birds" with aliens, kinda. Seriously creepy and awesome.
The Blair Witch Project: Stupid movie. I wasn't scared...*sleeps with lights on*
Blade: Wesley Snipes: badass vampire assassin. Like "Buffy" with gratuitous violence.
TV shows
Dexter: Disturbingly delightful. Sociopath kills killers, has really awkward sex scenes.
Breaking Bad: Chemistry teacher starts meth lab! He's dying of lung cancer.
Mythbusters: Blowing sh!t up for science!! Yay! They test urban legends.

Also in my free time, I've been writing fanfiction! You can check my FF account here:
I've written stuff for Moonlight (which returns NEXT FRIDAY!!) and Dexter, along with 3 for my FAVORITE book series: Twilight. Which is going to be turned into a movie! It's funny how much the Internet has changed the movie-making process. For example, instead of finding out about the movie maybe a month before it opens, I knew about it before they even started filming. I can get the latest news on Stephenie Meyer's (the author) blog, and I'm sure the trailer will be up on YouTube approximately 7 seconds after it appears in theaters. It's fascinating to read about the process of turning a book into a movie. As usual, fans are divided. I'm usually pretty wary about "book-to-movie" projects, but this time I'm firmly in the "completely excited" camp. Probably because they've involved Stephenie in the whole process, and she's just as excited as the fans. She got to go to the set, and meet the actors. And they gave her a CAMEO!!!

That was a really smart marketing decision. Oh well. I don't care why they did it. I'm optimistic right now that this is going to be a faithful adaptation of the book.

Vital stats: "Twilight" is directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of I'm going to HAVE to Netflix that one) and stars Robert Pattinson (AKA Cedric Diggory) and Kristen Stewart as Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. And I only have to wait until...December 12. They haven't even finished FILMING yet, and I'm already looking forward to it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Peanut Butter Jelly Time (the original)

A random video. Very funny though. Extremely popular on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Movie Review: 21

Twenty-one! No, not the legal drinking age, the magic number in blackjack. The premise of blackjack is simple: try to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. It can be played as a game of chance, or smart people can "count cards," which basically means using probability to determine when your chances of winning are good.

"21" follows a group of college students at MIT who are all math geniuses, and, under the tutelage of their math professor, take on Las Vegas every weekend to make serious money. The allure of money and power is intoxicating. Their team is literally undefeated and (supposedly) untraceable. But the higher you climb, the farther you fall. And there are powerful people in Vegas, people who don't take kindly to card counters.

On one level, "21" is a movie we've all seen many times before: our young hero must choose between his dorky-but-loyal old friends, who are working to win a robotics competition, and his high-rolling, card-counting, big-spending new friends. But then you mix that with a secret identity: college student on the weekdays, blackjack card shark on the weekends. Add in a stellar cast and you've hit the movie jackpot.

Jim Sturgess, who I fell in love with last year as Jude in "Across the Universe," stars as Ben Campbell, the team's newest edition. Kevin Spacey is their teacher/business manager Mickey Rosa, who knows more about Vegas than any of them but never plays himself. The entire cast is fantastic. And I've got to say I loved the last shot of the movie. It made me laugh. "Dazzled," indeed.

Please don't gamble. It's stupid.

On another note, I wish my college had an underground blackjack ring. Just so I could say my school has an underground blackjack ring.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars (out of 4)