Thursday, December 4, 2008

Movie Review: Twilight

I saw Twilight on Friday with my sisters and girl cousins, and it was greatly entertaining without being in any way shape or form a "good" movie. I've read the books, and for me it was a great way to see cool scenes or interesting ideas without having to slog through the million descriptions of Edward's "marble skin" or whatever.

I thought the casting was good, for the most part. Bella was so much less annoying than in the book, and even Edward was a bit more tolerable. I thought the actor did a great job with the American accent. He was an okay actor, too, when they weren't asking him to look constipated. Alice, Emmett, and Rosalie were pretty much perfect, but Jasper spent half the movie looking like a crazy person. Cut his hair and let the man show a few facial expressions. "Wooden" does not equal "tormented". Esmee was good, and I thought Carlisle was perfect. It's hard to have young, impossibly good-looking people play "parents" to other young good-looking people.
The "fast-motion" vampire movements though? Horrible. Like, I'm sure you had a decent budget. Use a little more on the effects and less on the makeup.

To sum up: it was wicked entertaining and funny, both intentionally and unintentionally, and I'm glad I went to see it.

This "Classic" Suuucked

I just finished Wuthering Heights. I know some people really love it, and after reading it I have no idea why. The names and relationships of one character to another were confusing, the plot was pretty lame, and then there are the people. What horrible, hateful, spiteful characters! I spent the whole book wanting someone to kill Heathcliff as slowly and painfully as possible. Scratch that, I wanted 4/5 of the characters to just kill each other off. Why is this a classic? Because it's unremittingly twisted?

Maybe the book's power to elicit strong feeling is some sort of mark of quality, what do I know. Anyway, I do not recommend this book. If you want a good Bronte book, go read Jane Eyre.

The Last Cavalier by Alexandre Dumas

A caveat to this review: A reviewer on Amazon said that one should be familiar with Dumas’s works before picking up The Last Cavalier. I think that advice is sound. The Last Cavalier is far from his best work (understandable, since he died before it could be finished) and being comfortable with Dumas freed me up to just enjoy the ride and be happy that this novel was discovered after being lost for so long.

The Last Cavalier. The long-lost final novel of Alexandre Dumas covering the Napoleonic era. I don’t even know where to start, really. It’s a massive book, longer than The Count of Monte Cristo even unfinished and only about half of it is dedicated to the title hero, Hector de Sainte-Hermine. The first half is mostly about Napoleon, and countless other small digressions. To be honest, that was my favorite part. I loved reading about Diana the super-avenger (and kick-ass woman!), Chateaubriand exploring North America and giving a shout-out to Lake Erie, Cadoudal the honorable royalist, and on and on. One thing that had a more personal meaning to me was the description of the port city of Saint-Malo, as I recently discovered that some ancestors of mine lived there in the 1500s.

The part of the book dedicated to Hector (who assumes a few other names throughout the book) was a little less satisfying. I couldn’t help making comparisons to The Count of Monte Cristo, as both heroes undergo a stint in prison and come out changed men. Obviously the Count will win every time. Hector also suffers a bit from Perfect-Hero Syndrome. I mean, the man should be bad or at least average at something. Still, he is charming and these are pretty small quibbles. And come on, how could you say no to such a wonderful cover!

Besides the gorgeous cover, another great feature is the preface by the man who discovered the novel. He writes in great detail how he found it, when Dumas wrote it, and the history behind the events in the book. It also gives Dumas’s outline of the whole plot, so even though the book is unfinished, the reader knows what happens in the end. As to the unfinished nature of the book, don’t worry about that. The ending is actually very appropriate and I didn’t feel that I was left at an intolerable cliffhanger.

I would recommend this book to people who love Dumas and who want to take a fun ramble through a chunk of a book. Perfect for those cold evenings in!