Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

Title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
Directed by: Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sequel, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour. 57 minutes
Release Date: November 18th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: Once again, I find myself in the midst of Twi-hard mania at midnight on a Thursday night, waiting for the squeals of delight to begin. This being fourth film in the series, the level of frenzy has been building with each installment, and now, almost at the conclusion of the story, the theater is literary vibrating with excitement. Breaking Dawn is the thickest book in the series, and it's packed, so I understand the decision to make it into two films. However, holding off on the second part for another year, might constitute torture for some die hard fans.

The film itself is quite true to the book, and fairly well made (especially compared to the first horrible flick). The special effects have improved exponentially, from crazy road-runner-esque and throughly hilarious home-video quality of effects, to the amazing work we see in this installment. I'm particularly referring to Bella's transformation in this film, which is very well done, and leaves quite a strong impression. The wolves are visually satisfactory, although the portrayal of the pack-mind leaves a little something to be desired. I literary laughed out loud in the theater (not something that was very well received) the first time the pack-mind came on the screen.

The supporting cast of Bella's school friends, although having a very small part in this film, bring their usual funny quips, which got some laughs. We also do get to see a bit more of Bella's new family vampire members, which has been largely missing from the previous films. As in any film adaptation, quite a bit is missing "for movie making reasons", and what we do get to see is alright. I would have liked to have more. The film is not exceedingly long, and I do think they could have included a bit more.

All in all, Part 1 does won't disappoint fans, at least not very much. The wedding is beautiful, the dress is very Bella, Isle Esme is actually just as advertised, and everything that follows is a fairly accurate adaptation of the book. One guaranteed disappointment is the anticlimactic wedding night sex, which due to the MPPA rating was down grated to a mild make-out session, and then skips to the next morning. Although, that is of course exactly as in the book, and the one detail they should have changed in Hollywood. If you haven't read the book, you might find yourself a bit confused, not to mentioned floored by the crazy turn the story takes after the Honeymoon.

Grade: 8.5

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Descendants

Title: The Descendants
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Mary Birdsong, Nick Krause, Jude Greer
Genres: Drama, Comedy, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour. 55 minutes
Release Date: November 18th, 2011 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'The Descendants' is one of the best films of 2011, one of the few movies that qualified to be on the Must-See List of this year.

'The Descendants' is a well made film. It is very well casted, and the entire crew puts in very strong performances. George Clooney's pulls off one of the absolute best performances of his career. He is strong, vulnerable, angry, grieving, lost, and confused, all at the same time, and he really makes the audience care for him. And this is what makes this film so good, the real struggles these characters face, an how they deal with those struggles. It's all in here, the mistakes and the triumphs.

Do yourself a favor, and do not miss 'The Descendants'.
Grade: 8.5