nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “Twilight

Ask Amethystos

I’m a little brainsquashed, having trouble finishing some drafts. Instead of continuing to mull over them, I thought I’d take a prompt from the fabulous evelynfilmfan (visit her blog—good reads!).
Now it’s time for a little Q&A…

  • Which film do you think is the best book adaptation?
    Very few projects measure up to their namesake books, to the surprise of no one. Three, however, stand out to me (though one isn’t technically a film): Catching Fire, Game of Thrones & Breaking Dawn, Part 2. Your eyes don’t deceive you, I really did just include a Twilight film in a ‘best’ category. Since it’s the most controversial, I’ll touch on it first.
    • BD 2 fixes everything a lot of what’s wrong with the book; maybe that’s simply because there’s sooooo much disappointment with the book. There’s still the weird Jacob/Renesmee love but we see flash-forwards of Renesmee as a teen/young adult, which takes away much of the skeeve factor. And the battle sequence is impossibly better than the text, even if it is only a hypothetical Alice vision. The anti-climax of the novel left me feeling cheated after having invested so much time and anticipation; film version more than made up for it.
    • You already know I’m a big fan of the Hunger Games trilogy. What you may not know is that Catching Fire was easily my favorite book. Given that, I had prepared myself for at least a little bit of a letdown with the film—said letdown never came. Casting is spot-on, pacing is considerably improved from the source material and the shift to an omniscient point-of-view makes this adaptation dang near perfect.
    • And Game of Thrones. Oh, Game of Thrones, you make me so happy with your general adhesion to Martin’s books. I’ve read through book 3 now and only rarely do the departures disappoint in the slightest; more often than not, the alterations do a great favor to pacing. The benefit of this series, of course, is its episodic nature which lends itself to really bringing the pages to life. I prefer the book’s relative lack of R-rated elements (call me a prude if you like) but the storytelling definitely earns a place in my top 3 adaptations.
  • Who is your favorite superhero? And which superhero powers would you like to have?
    pass—the answer to this will be its own post one of these days
  • Disney or Pixar?
    Disney. Pixar has its share of stirring tales and breathtaking animation to be sure, but my favor falls to Disney. From classics to contemporary films, animated or live-action, I’m astounded that one company can play such a role in lives young and old. Vivid imagery, riveting narrative, well-rounded humor and heartwarming heroism are benchmarks for Disney. Oh, and there’s that little bit about Disney owning Marvel and Star Wars now…I’m definitely team Disney.
  • Marvel or DC Comics?
    Historically, DC…I have always loved Superman, and I always will. But my loyalties are largely shifting to Marvel now if I’m being really honest with myself. Like the rest of the world, Marvel movies make me really happy. Though some of the characters can be a little bland at times (I’m looking at you, Hawkeye), they do a ridiculously good job of casting. Everybody is just so gosh darn lovable! Okay, except for Spider-Man; don’t like his character or the comics or the cartoons or the movies.
  • For which tv show/series do you really have to stay home? And what makes this tv show/series so special?
    The Walking Dead, hands down. Catching new episodes is literally an event for me; I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I have a number of fellow fans at work who are always ready to discuss on Mondays. I’m loving how the main characters have evolved over the last season or so, the growth is (in my opinion) exceptionally compelling. There are no other current programs that I will try to schedule around.

That’s all for this edition of Ask Amethystos. Tune in next time, when I’ll answer more questions and dodge others. Comment below if there’s something you’d like to ask; I’ll endeavor to satisfy your query.


Thanks, Twilight!

I’ve battled a chemical imbalance for years, and I consider myself an “informed patient.” What I mean by that is I tend to be aware of instances when I’m being illogically moody. I typically don’t know what triggered it or precisely how to deal with/overcome it in that moment, but I’m increasingly cognizant. On the one hand, I’m glad I have progressed enough in treatment to realize when the grouchiness manifests; on the other hand, I think it would be easier sometimes to be oblivious to it. Don’t know where I’m headed with this? Well, read on, friends.

I consider myself an “informed patient” with regards to my enjoyment of Twilight as well. I realize it’s dumb and, with few exceptions, I can appreciate the arguments for how horrible the franchise is. Because let’s be honest, it is pretty horrible.

Stephenie Meyer and Muse make a good case for vampires liking baseball, so let’s go with that terminology for a minute while describing some of the worst aspects. Edward, eternally age 17, is a vampire who’s been around the block for nearly a century longer than Bella (strike 1). Movie Bella can hardly make it through a scene without her mouth agape (strike 2). They have a hybrid vampire-human baby that they *choose* to name Renesmee (strike 3)…who is essentially betrothed to a shapeshifter/werewolf who used to be in love with Bella (yer out!).

So, yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous; I won’t deny it. I will, however, continue enjoying it in spite of itself. The initial love and danger and angst and whatnot all make my inner 15-year-old giddy. Plus, there are an awful lot of great things that have resulted from my exposure to Twilight.

(image from stepheniemeyer.com)

(image from stepheniemeyer.com)

My first encounter with Twilight was as a major skeptic library clerk in 2007. I was relatively certain it was a skeevy premise for YA fiction, and I couldn’t fathom why so many people were checking it out. First teen girls (even a few boys) kept it in constant circulation, then their moms started getting in on the act, too. Seeing it cross my desk over and over and over again piqued my curiosity, but I had my pride.

I had my pride until I started seeing tv spots for the movie, that is—Edward’s “I feel very protective of you” got to me and I was forced to admit that I wanted to see it in spite of my shame. So I did what any other self-respecting person would do:
I rationalized.
As a distinguished member of the library community it was my job civic responsibility to actually read this book. And I needed to do it before darkening the doors of the local cineplex. After all, I’m nothing if not a model employee.

Within two days, I was done reading the first novel, irrationally ravenous to get my hands on the second in the series. With a little hacking on the library’s system, I put myself next in line for the title. Such shame I feel in admitting this unethical behavior to you fine people. Remember what I said before about being a model employee? It was true except for this isolated instance. Rest assured I’m a different person now. Or maybe I’m not, but I no longer have access to the circulation computer, so you’re all free of my ordering manipulation. 🙂

The librarian and I went to see the film adaptation of Twilight in November 2008. It was then that a stupid vampire story began to change my life.

From the books I discovered the movie. From the movie I discovered the soundtrack. From it and subsequent soundtracks, I discovered a love of Paramore, Muse, Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, St. Vincent and many other artists I might not have heard otherwise. The Twilight station on Pandora is fantastic, by the way.

My style owes a teeny bit to Twilight as well. All of those cool kids motivated me to up my game (ever so slightly) in the fashion department. I still dress more like early Bella than any of the couture Cullens, but it’s something of an improvement over the frumpiness rut I’d fallen into during the mid 2000s. Moreover, Ashley Greene and Nikki Reed provide real-life fashion and hair inspiration. Call it lame if you want, but my hair has never looked better.

Additionally, each new Twilight film provided a fun social opportunity. One of my dearest library friends and I took off time to go see each release on opening day. We had little movie marathons at home in preparation, we brimmed with excitement while waiting in line and we gushed with feedback over lunch. Those were fantastic days!

Perhaps most importantly, though, the franchise helped introduce me to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Most of the first movie was shot in Oregon, and it looked divine. At one point, Bella and Edward are standing in the top boughs of a towering evergreen when Bella says awestruck, “This isn’t real. This kind of stuff just doesn’t exist.” Edward replies, “It does in my world.”
He’s right, that kind of stuff absolutely does exist in the Pac NW. Apart from actual vampires and standing in the treetops, anyway; I can’t personally vouch for those.

I’d wanted to visit the Seattle area since high school but had never done it. When the opportunity arose for cheap airfare a couple of years ago, we decided to venture toward the coast to check out Forks and La Push. Even in the dank gray of February, it was some of the most beautiful scenery nature has to offer. I committed then to visit the filming locations in Oregon. It may have been dumb initial motivation to travel somewhere, but I will be forever grateful that we did. I feel energized and in my element when I’m out there, especially along the Oregon coast. I intend one day to call it my home.

So while my intellect affirms its awfulness, I have to admit that Stephenie Meyer’s vampire love story has enriched my life beyond just a series of mediocre books and movies. And it can enrich your life, too, even if it’s nothing more to you than an annoyance. For you, I offer its virtue as fodder for snarky videos. After all, you can never have too many snarky videos.


Dance! Don’t Swim

Sleep is awesome. It rejuvenates the body and exposes the mind to a vast world altogether hidden
in the waking realm. Some of the most creative outpourings spring forth from the land of sleep.
Paul McCartney famously penned “Yesterday” from a dream. Mary Shelley and Stephen King both credit dreams for some of their greatest works. And Stephenie Meyer claims a dreamy origin for the wildly popular story of a certain sparkly vampire who fell in love with an utterly human girl—love it or hate it, there’s no denying the success.

A couple of years ago, I had my own fiercely imaginative dream. I considered it wholly absurd at the time, nothing more than silliness. Then last year, I began seeing advertisements for reality TV shows Splash and Stars in Danger: The High Dive. Absurdity is a barrier no more. Imagine if you will…

DANCE!
Don’t Swim

As audiences have come to expect from programs like American Idol and Dancing With the Stars,
a panel of judges sits facing the stage. What sets this apart from the others is the stage floor—or rather, what lies beneath it. Unlike the typical black particleboard flooring, this is clear plexiglass that reveals a daunting body of water below.

Storyboard by Darth Amethystos

In this episode, the stage curtain rises to reveal a massive set designed to resemble the treed ewok village of Endor. A team of dancers and acrobats dressed in ewok costumes performs an interpretive dance to the music of Star Wars (specifically, a medley of the melodic theme “Luke and Leia” and “Parade of the Ewoks”).
A sort of Cirque du Soleil meets Star Wars, one might say.

As the performers embark on their number,
the floor splits in the middle and opens.
Judges can choose to dunk the entire company or individual performers (who are connected to fly cables) should they fail to impress…mid-performance.

See, there’s a chance that somebody can plummet into the water at any given moment, from any height. It’s entertaining and exciting. And a little masochistic.

Each dance team (minus any individuals who swam) that manages to stay dry moves on to the semifinals until one group emerges as the ultimate victor.

You heard it here first, kids. Dance! Don’t Swim. It’s Must-Sea TV. har har


The Host

You’ve no doubt figured it out, so I’ll go ahead and admit it. I’m a Twilight fan. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth. Books, movies, all good as far as I’m concerned.

This does not, however, make me a Stephenie Meyer fan. Is she a great idea person? Absolutely! Can she write first-person from the perspective of a petulant teenage girl? With the best of ’em!
Ms. Meyer will draw you in hook, line and sinker…up to a point. Tip-toe into that dangerous territory of composing a climactic scene, though—like, say, an epic battle between the ruling-class of vampires and their civilian counterparts—and her writing falls flat.

hostTherein lies the biggest problem with Meyer’s latest box-office foray, The Host, which I had the pleasure of pre-screening last night. Fair warning: I’ve not read the book, so I can’t offer any background on how it compares.

The premise is surprisingly compelling: there is a race of alien beings (“souls”) that travel from world to world and take up residence inside other living creatures (“hosts”). For whatever reason, these beings have taken over Earth and, consequently, infiltrated the human race.
In other words, they’re parasite alien amoebas that are implanted in human beings and take over the body as their own.
Unlike Meyer’s vampires who sparkle, the amoebas souls are shiny and travel in shiny vehicles (in little vessels when between hosts and driving in mirror-finished cars when inhabiting humans).

Every so often, a soul will find resistance in its host body. And that’s where we get our story.

Melanie Stryder is an average girl living an average life until the whole amoeba parasite apocalypse thing happens. She and her little brother and a guy who ends up being her boyfriend are on the run, hiding from the “Seekers” who capture humans and implant said amoeba souls for no apparent reason other than to perpetuate their species. At one point, Melanie tries to draw the Seekers’ attention away from her brother, promises him she’ll be back and winds up getting captured.

The soul that’s assigned to Melanie is called Wanderer (later referred to as Wanda). Wanderer infiltrates Melanie’s memories in search of other human hold-outs, but Melanie fights back; see, her mind is still in there, just kind of trapped. Melanie doesn’t want to let Wanderer be in control. Confused yet?

Well Wanderer/Melanie talk to each other, which is weird and one of the dumbest aspects of the whole movie. Melanie’s voice-over commentary is goofy, much like the scenes in Twilight where the CGI wolves talk to each other. I get the idea, it just doesn’t really work.

Anyway, Melanie convinces Wanderer to help keep her promise of returning to her brother. After a series of events, she’s reunited with her family only to face the trials of being accepted (they think the alien is trying to trick them so they’ll be captured), falling in love (more on that later) and being hunted by a Seeker.

Okay, I won’t say much more about the plot because I don’t want to ruin it for anybody. But I will highlight some of the signature Stephenie Meyer elements…

Exhibit A. The Love Triangle
Except in this case it’s a love rhombus because Wanderer/Melanie is technically two beings and each is interested in a different dude. 2+1+1=4=love rhombus

Exhibit B. “I Hate/Love You”
Guy tries to kill Melanie then falls in love with her and wants to protect her. Sound familiar?

Exhibit C. Avoid Confrontation
Don’t worry, no spoilers. Just trust me, the ending reeks of vanilla. <disgruntled sigh>

All things considered, it was a decent film. My partner in crime, Severus, thought it was better than any of the Twilight movies (except Breaking Dawn: Part 2, which he tolerates). He appreciated that it lacked “all of the awkward staring” that’s the hallmark of a Bella/Edward dynamic.
On that note, I found the actors a little ho-hum; perhaps a bit better than the kids in those other movies but not significantly. I assume there is deeper character development in the book, which might have made me care more.

As it was, I liked The Host. Didn’t love it, and not sure I’d pony up the money to see it on the big screen again. In fact, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the book, I’d wait and catch it on Netflix.


Shutterbug

Just three days after returning from Oregon/Washington, I got my act together and posted pictures. This is a big deal, people!

There are a few teaser pics below…197 more can be found on my share site (http://troopersthicket.shutterfly.com). I invite you to go take a look at the photographic manifestations of memories dear to my heart: tide pools and inhabitants of the Pacific Coast, towering trees in old-growth forests, snowy mountain adventures and a low-key birthday celebration.
I’m a word person by trade, yet I find myself sorely wanting in my attempts to adequately describe the splendor. The photos don’t do it justice either but it’s a start.

For those interested in the technicalities, the Mr.—henceforth referred to as “Severus”—shot with a Nikon D5000; I wielded a Nikon D7000 and my iPhone.