Sunday, November 30, 2008

Twilight Movie REVIEW

Many of you know that I'm a big fan of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and that it was actually my gateway novel to being a full fledged romance reader back in September 2006. You can actually read about how Twilight turned me on to reading romance at the following link: How I became a Romance Addict, which is actually one of my very first posts on this blog. :)

In the summer of 2007, my oldest daughter read Twilight and New Moon and became an equally big fan of the series and we waited on pins and needles for Eclipse that summer and then we spent a year discussing the books, debating Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, listening to Meyer's playlists for her novels, and speculating on the future of the series for over a year, when we read the final series installment, Breaking Dawn in August 2008. You can read our chat review of Breaking Dawn at Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer: A Mom & Daughter Chat.

When we learned that Twilight was going to be brought to the big screen, we had some mixed feelings. Our first response was excitement, but was then soon followed by extreme reservations. Like who in the world could possibly pull off playing the role of Edward? He's beyond beautiful and has an irresistible allure about him. It's not something any actor could really pull off, you know? It's one of those things that you just know, feel and sense when you're reading the book, but would be so difficult to pull off on film. Despite these reservations, we still knew we'd end up in the theaters on opening weekend. Turns out we went on opening night.

After months of over the top buzz and hype on the Twilight movie, I went to the theater to see the film with my thirteen year old daughter and one of her friends last Friday, November 21, 2008 and all three of us walked away from the theater pretty disappointed. I tried to go into the theater with an open mind, knowing I was going to like the book so much better than the movie, but was still really disappointed with the lack of depth in character and plot compared to the novel. My daughter felt similarly, as was evidenced by her grabbing and tugging at my arm, saying, "What? What are they doing? He doesn't say that! She doesn't do that! Wha! What? They're ruining it! How can they do that?" And this was all in the first fifteen, twenty minutes. I even had to "Shhhh" her!

Perhaps because I've read and reread Twilight more than once and the essence of the written story has penetrated too deeply into my mind that I can't help but be critical of the portrayal of the story on the big screen. The setting was great of course, and casting was very good for the most part. Cam Gigandet did a great job as the villain James, and Ashley Greene who played Alice Cullen was another great casting. She was just how I envisioned. Who didn't work in my opinion? Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen. I know that the fictional character makes some tough shoes to fill, but I don't think Robert Pattinson pulled off Edward Cullen at all. First of all, he didn't have the right look, but I could have gotten over that if he didn't always look so angry and brooding. He didn't capture the attention of the humans with his good looks, voice and charisma they way Edward Cullen would have. I thought that Pattinson's acting was sub par. Most of his lines seemed cold and unnatural. Not the least bit alluring.

Then there is Kristin Stewart playing Bella Swan. I think Stewart did well capturing Bella's character, but thought she went a bit overboard with the sad and confused emotions. Was Bella really that depressing in the book? I didn't think so. In the novel, we at least get inside Bella's head a bit more since it is written in her POV, so we see more of her upbeat side and sense of humor. I didn't like how she was so blah--do I dare say emo?-- throughout the film. Part of this could also be a result lacking dialogue and poor pacing in the movie.

Too many scenes and dialogue exchanges were not in the movie that would have better captured the tone of the novel. I know that it's impossible to include every sentence and every little scene in the movie, but so much was cut out that the pacing of the movie felt very choppy to me. I kept waiting for a scene between Bella and Edward that would capture the chemistry and passion between them, and it never happened. I never saw their relationship develop nor did I ever feel that strong connection between them like I did in the book.

What scenes did work?
+The parking lot scene when Edward saves Bella from Eric's van.
+When Bella meets the Cullens.
+The baseball scene.
+When Edward saves Bella from the thugs in Port Angeles.
+When Bella confronts James in the ballet studio in Pheonix.

What important scenes were missing?
+Any scene not mentioned above, because it was done completely wrong.
+The blood typing science lab. The movie needed the humor of this scene.
+The meadow scene! They totally completely botched that scene in the movie. I don't know how Meyer let them do that! It was the scene on which she bases the entire beginning and ending of the story around. The shame!
+All the other great scenes in the book that had all those great lines that never got spoken in the movie.

Simply for frame of reference, here is a summary of my and my daughter's grades for each book in the Twilight Saga as well as the Twilight movie:

Maria: Christine:
Twilight A+ Twilight A+
New Moon A New Moon A
Eclipse A Eclipse B
Breaking Dawn B Breaking Dawn C+

Twilight movie D (ouch!) Twilight movie C-

(That is the grade Maria gave me when I asked her tonight, although I'm thinking it was a melodramatic teenager response. I'll ask her again in the morning for a serious answer and see what she says and report back.)

EDITED TO ADD: November 30, 2008, 10:22 AM EST, Melodramatic teenager or not, she's sticking with the D.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for YOU!

Several weeks ago, I read a truly heartwarming blog post by my friend Sarai, who despite having been through some really tough times this past year, was able to reflect on her life and find some really wonderful and important things to be thankful for. Her positive attitude was very inspiring and has stuck with me in the corner of my heart since I read her post.

I consider myself a pretty upbeat and optimistic person--something I strive for every day, (although at times my family may say otherwise...), yet even with the best of intentions, it is often easy to lose sight of the truly important things in life: to be alive, to have food to eat and a roof over your head, to have your health, and to share yourself with someone you love. I'm thankful for all of those things and more, but for this post, I'd like to express my thanks for something many may consider low on the priority list or even relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things in life, but is actually very important to me, and that is YOU.

Quite simply, I'm thankful for the friendships I have made through this amazing community of romance-sci fi-fantasy-reading and writing bloggers and authors. Some of you I've known for almost two years already (dd03, DarlingDiva, Terri a.k.a. moonwindt, Katiebabs, Kat), some of you for a little less (Amy C, Tracy, Anna), and some of you for only a few short weeks or months, but you are all important in my little world. You all have a great sense of humor, you're creative, smart, fun, supportive and hold a special place in my heart. Every day I look forward to interacting with you and I'm always interested in what you have to say either on your own blog or in your comments on my blog. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me think and you make me buy way too many books. I'm thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow US friends and happy-second-to-last-day-before-the-weekend to everyone! 

Christine :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Contest by Viral Kung Fu*: WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS by Carrie Lofty

*I stole this creative contest descriptor from Ann Aguirre without permission.

Climbing out beneath the construction rubble to announce yet another generous contest hosted by the fantabulous Ann Aguirre. I love Ann's work, but I also love the way she gets so enthusiastic and passionate about spreading the word about books she herself enjoys reading. Not only does she express her love of a novel, but she goes the extra mile to literally put her money where her mouth is and gives away a copy of the very book she loved. Often times her prizes are even more generous, such as giving away multiple copies of the book and or gift certificates to favorite booksellers and often surprise bonus giveaways throughout the contest period.

Ann's latest promotional contest is for the upcoming release of Carrie Lofty's historical romance, What A Scoundrel Wants. You can visit Carrie's website HERE. Here is the gorgeous viral widget promoting the contest:

So what are you waiting for? Click on over to Ann Aguirre's blog for more information on Carrie Lofty's upcoming novel and on how to enter this fantastic contest. It's so easy and you can even do different things to get more than one entry.

And while you're visiting Ann Aguirre's blog, poke around on her website and check out what Ann's been writing lately. Aside from her popular Sirantha Jax sci fi romance series that you can read about HERE (click on the book covers for more info). Ann is also writing an urban fantasy series called the Corine Solomon series that you can read about HERE, and a paranormal series that she will be writing under the name Ava Gray that you can read HERE. And if that isn't enough? Ann is also working on a Sekrit Project that you can find absolutely nothing about (because it's secret, of course) by reading HERE.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Construction Zone: A Roof Over Our Heads

. . . brushing away the cobwebs . . .

It's been two weeks since my last post. I don't know how that happened!?! 

Well, actually ... I have an idea. It's called living and breathing the partial demolition and rebuilding of your home right before your very eyes because you are living in it, making executive decisions on architectural, electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling system changes in the field, selecting roofing, siding, doors, plumbing fixtures, appliances, flooring, tile, etc., packing away your belongings, restructuring your living arrangements and trying to take care of your husband, two kids, elderly and easily disoriented father-in-law, and four cats the best you can so that their lives go on business as usual while you barely keep your head above water. That's what makes days and days and days go by without making a single blog post or finishing a single book. Yup. That would do it, all right. 

The last post I made here on the construction was Sunday, October 26 and the framing of the first floor addition had just been completed. Despite a few delays here and there due to rain, the construction has been progressing really well. It looks as though we are ahead of schedule, which has put a bit of pressure on me to make some quick decisions on things, but I can't complain. I certainly don't want to be the cause of any loss of momentum on this project. Besides, it's good for me to have strict decision deadlines, because I tend to be indecisive and change my mind a lot when I have too much time to think about it.

So here's what's been going on in the Construction Zone:

October 30, 2008
Second floor walls have been framed. The blue tarp in the background is there to protect the existing structure since the siding has been stripped to the studs on the outside of the house. Remember my 1920s house has no insulation in the walls. We're still at the mercy of the weather until they're ready to put up the new siding at which point they will blow in insulation in the outside walls. 

The side entrance from the driveway. I'm going to love that little covered porch. :) 

November 5, 2008 
Plywood siding has been put up and window openings have been cut out. The roofers are framing the roof for the addition and marrying it to the existing roof line.

November 11-12, 2008
Roofing Day. There was a ton of hustling and bustling and plenty of noise and mess these two days. The roof shingles on the existing part of the house were removed, damaged sections of the existing roof were repaired and new roof shingles were installed on both the existing and new roofs.  The existing roof stripped:

Poof! Just like that... a new roof. 

Note the mattress and box spring ready for the dumpster. My husband and I have no bedroom right now. We'll be camping on a futon mattress on the floor in the living room for a few months. So far it's very hard and very cold. It's only been a week and already I'm thinking of buying a sleeper sofa next weekend.

All the leaves have fallen from the magnolia tree out back and I can finally take photos of the back of the house straight on. 

On Friday most of the windows in the addition got installed, but it started raining so I didn't get a chance to take pictures yet. Next up on the Construction Zone feature will be the inside of the house. Namely the part where I have no bedroom and no kitchen and a skinny piece of plywood between my dining room and the great outdoors. In the Northeast, USA. In mid November. Nice. :) 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Pumpkin Sail

Last night my husband, youngest daughter (oldest was at another Halloween party!) and I went to a Pumpkin Sail at a local county park at which attendees bring their carved pumpkins to be lit and then set sail upon the lake at nightfall. We went for the first time a few years ago, and the images of dozens and dozens of candle lit carved pumpkins afloat on the lake in the dark of night was a stunning sight I could not forget. In the years following, it we couldn't manage to fit the Pumpkin Sail into our schedule because of homework or dance classes, or someone being sick, etc. This year, I was determined to go again and hoped to get some really good photos. I have this fancy digital SLR camera and was excited to get some professional looking photos. Well.... I guess that's where a professional photographer would have come in handy. Because I learned very quickly that it is very difficult to take quality photographs in such low light conditions. I took about 70 pictures and only about 5 of them are worthy of keeping, and even those are not so great. My photography coach, i.e., my husband, was helping me fine tune the settings, but it was still very challenging. I have a lot to learn. Good thing it's so much fun. :) 

I hope the photos I took at least give you a sense of the majesty of the Pumpkin Sail. It was quite beautiful. You can click on the images to view them full size so you can view them in their true low quality. ;)

The view was actually darker in real time. I had my camera set to let in the most light possible, with a very slow shutter speed. That's why the scene looks so well lit. 

This shot is probably my best one. At least the pumpkin faces aren't too blurry.  

My husband and photography coach. Check out the size of his . . . lens!  So sexy. ;) 

I saved the best for last--one of my husband's photos. Great composition, lighting, and focus.  

Hopefully I get in a lot of practice over the next twelve months, and my photos will be even better next year!