Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Movie Review: Twilight

I have reached an interesting stage in my relationship with the Twilight series--I refuse to call it a "saga". I have gone through the stages of denial ("I should probably read those books, but I'm not going to!"), intense criticism ("This is one of the worst things I've ever read, I may never recover and neither will feminism."), acceptance ("But I am checking out the next book, just to see what happens."), guilt ("I can't wait for the next book to come in, why is ILL taking so long, maybe I should buy it, OH PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME!"), and depression ("It's over. What on earth will I read now?"). At some point, I reached a kind of free-fall where all Twilight-related things are still interesting to me, but I didn't have a lot of material to fan the flames of obsession. Until the recent release of the Twilight movie on DVD, that is.

I spent a lot of time last year reading reviews of the movie and resisting the urge to see it in the theater. After finally viewing it last night, I have to pat myself on the back for that decision. I saved us at least $20! On the bright side, it was very faithful to the book, and even improved on the pace a little, although I'm sure purists were disappointed that the agonizingly slow development of Edward and Bella's relationship was somewhat sped up. In the negative column: really bad special effects (I was especially disappointed by the lame sparkling--I NEED MY SPARKLES, DAMMIT!), wooden acting by many of the principals, occasionally hideous dialogue (although this sometimes was unavoidable since it was lifted directly from the book), bad voiceovers, and a severe lack of anything ever actually happening until the very end. It also seemed that Robert Pattinson frequently had his head tilted slightly down, so that we were always treated to a view of Edward's furrowed brow as the point closest to us. I felt that although Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were excellent choices for the lead roles, some of the supporting characters--notably Bella's parents and some of the Cullens--weren't quite what I had envisioned. Neither was the set design for their houses. I know I am in danger here of becoming a reviewer who is complaining that the movie wasn't more like the book, when actually I am relieved it wasn't more like the book, because the book has a lot of flaws.

Overall, I have to give the movie a positive grade because the experience of looking forward to it and watching it was so entertaining. I am firmly in the camp of people who enjoy So Bad It's Good, and Twilight: The Movie veers sharply toward this designation at several points. Will I watch the next one in the theater? I'm not sure yet. I may be busy organizing my Twilight Conversation Hearts into stacks of "dazzle," "bite me," and "I [heart] EC."

Final Grade: C+

Edited to Add: Twilight links I enjoy:

The Onion


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Book Review: Regenesis [2009]

Regenesis, the "long-awaited sequel" to C.J. Cherryh's Cyteen, moves at the same deliberate and complex pace as its predecessor; its climax is political more than anything else, and key nuances can be found largely in character interactions rather than pulse-pounding action sequences. However, that does not mean that it doesn't carry an emotional heft--there may have been some suspicious moisture in my eyes when the ragged Council was finally reassembled and got down to business.

Questions posed by Regenesis include: is it responsible to colonize an "empty" planet for human use and turn it into a replica of Earth? What happens when one of the branches of government tries to take control, and it's the branch that you rely on to protect the citizenry? If we conceive of an unending line of Ariane Emory clones, at which point do they choose to clone Ari Emory II instead of Ari Emory I? Would that make a difference? And so on. Perhaps one of the problems with Regenesis is that there are too many questions, and Cherryh has to spend a significant amount of time reviewing events in Cyteen (and even events that occurred before Cyteen) to bring some closure to the characters.

Some of the questions that I wanted answers to after finishing Cyteen (see review) were almost definitively answered, including the "who killed Ariane Emory?" whodunit that has been with us for oh, 1000 pages. However, Cherryh leaves herself enough room, with Gehenna, Wintersnow, and the course of human evolution in the balance, to write a raft of sequels. I hope that it doesn't take another 20 years. Cherryh has cleared the slate to move forward into interesting and previously uncharted territory, and she has a compelling protagonist and cast of characters with which to explore some of the issues that are only touched upon in this book.

My ultimate conclusion: If you read Cyteen, you should read Regenesis. I give it a B+/A-