Archives For Twilight

This week, in a classic display of masochism, I decided to watch and review the final instalment in The Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Part 2. Of course, I wasn’t going to do it alone, so I enlisted the help of Joanna Robinson (@quityourjrob) from Pajiba and The Station Agents podcast.

Together, Joanna and I dissect everything that is awful about the franchise and this film, as well as the moments that surprised us and in some cases shocked us. In about an hour of discussion we cover it all, from our fascination with RPatz, to our love of Michael Sheen and Lee Pace, to the depressing influence of the series on a generation of young girls, and even the terrifying pitfalls of CGI babies.

I won’t lie, I had fun watching the movie, though maybe not for the reasons the makers intended, and I think it provided for some good podcast fodder. Because bashing awful movies is always fun, no?

Anyway, sit back and enjoy the episode.

If you have any feedback on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, this episode, or the show in general, don’t hesitate to email me at coreyatad@gmail.com.

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Note: In the episode, Joanna references this article from Pajiba featuring some of the best disdainful quotes from the biggest Twilight hater of them all, Mr. RPatz himself.

 

There is one unfortunate ingredient in the new version of the classic fairy tale, Snow White and the Huntsman, and that is the star. Kristen Stewart, I’ve decided, is not a good actress. She’s not a bad one, but she suffers from a total lack of charisma. While this handicap might be okay in a film like Adventureland, where her emo mysteriousness is what makes her appealing, but when called upon to lead a film she’s out of her element.

The reason this is unfortunate is that Snow White and the Huntsman is, surprisingly, a really good film. In fact, it borders on outright greatness. The thing bringing it down is Stewart. Sadly, she brings it down both in a direct way, through her mediocre acting, but also in the perception of the film overall. How can anyone take Snow White and the Huntsman seriously when the lame actress from Twilight is the lead? I’d argue that even with Stewart’s miscasting, the film is very much worth taking seriously. I’ve seen comparison drawn to the fantasy films of the 80s, like Legend, but Snow White and the Huntsman one-ups those films by actually being, well, good. CLick to read more.

UPDATE: WELP! I WAS WRONG. IGNORE THIS POST. Oh my…

Last year I read all three books in the popular Hunger Games series. I quite enjoyed the first book and basically couldn’t stand the sequels. The way I see it, The Hunger Games should have been one 600-page book instead of three books over 300 pages each. Oh well. Next month, Lionsgate is releasing a film based on The Hunger Games, which it hopes will become a huge franchise on par with the Twilight or Harry Potter films. I admire their ambitions, but I think they’re making some key mistakes. Not the least of which is assuming that The Hunger Games is some sort of huge publishing phenomenon. It isn’t quite that, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.

To understand what I mean by this we need to look at some figures. The Harry Potter series of books has sold over 450 million copies worldwide in various languages. Even in 2001, before the release of the first film, the four available books are believed to have sold at least 50 million copies worldwide, and likely many millions more than that.

By 2010, the Twilight series is believed to have sold roughly 116 million copies. This figure would have been smaller before the first film came out, but probably not much less.

Meanwhile, The Hunger Games and its sequels are said to currently have 23.5 million copies “in print”. That is to say, 23.5 million copies have been printed and most of those sent to stores, and a majority of those sold. Which is another way of saying the series has sold less than 20 million copies. Sure, it’s a huge success in the world of publishing, but it’s hardly the runaway cultural phenomenon many are claiming it as. In fact, the series has another problem, which is that it’s already complete. Harry Potter in particular was lucky to have books still left to be released. This meant that the excitement for the upcoming books and films built on each other into something huge and sustained for a little over a decade.

Lionsgate doesn’t seem to care about this. Both trailers released so far (a new one came out today) pretty much play just to the audience who have read the books, or who at the very least have had the books explained to them. In fact, if you don’t know anything about the series—which is likely considering their obscurity relative to those previously mentioned franchises—then it would be very easy to watch these trailers and marketing materials and come out the other end not understanding anything at all about the story.

In case you are unaware, The Hunger Games tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a girl living in a post-apocalyptic future world in which an oppressive capitol city forces children from the outlying regions to participate in a drawn out fight to the death. Katniss, of course, ends up taking part in the games, and must work to survive while at the same time stoking the flames of revolution. It’s not that difficult a premise to sell, yet the trailers do their best to try and obscure exactly what is happening. The first trailer admittedly does a better job of explaining things, but if you aren’t paying close enough attention you might miss it.

On top of this, the style of the world is really weird, and quite off-putting. This is part of the concept, of course, but when the concept isn’t clear in the trailer then all you’ve got is a movie that looks closer to The Golden Compass than Harry Potter. It’s a dangerous line to straddle, and with Lionsgate pretending like everyone on the planet already knows and has read the books, this could spell trouble for them. The worst thing will be if the movie turns out to be mediocre or bad. Twilight could withstand this issue, as could the earlier Harry Potter films, but they had enormous built-in audiences. The Hunger Games doesn’t.

In my opinion, Lionsgate needs step up their game and sell this movie to those who aren’t already familiar with the series. There’s an easily marketable movie in there somewhere, but it isn’t helped by sticking to those who are already fans.

Or maybe I’m off base. What do you all think about the current marketing strategy for The Hunger Games? Do you think it’s worked? Have you already read the books? Are you excited to see the movie?

In a discussion with my friend, Bondo, about a recent indie film I have not yet seen, Bellflower, a question came up. Do we need to agree with a film’s morals for it to be good? It’s a question that will inevitably come up when one delves far enough into films thematically. This, of course, leads to an even larger question: does art need to be moral at all? These are questions that get at the heart of how we approach films and film criticism. Pondering the questions for a little while, I think I’ve settled on an answer. Yes, good film must be moral and morally justifiable, otherwise it cannot truly be called ‘good’. Click to read more