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.

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