God help thee, poor monkey. - Macbeth

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let's play tag!

I've been tagged for a meme by my dad, so here are 5 Little Known Facts About Me.

1. Strangely, like my dad, I ALSO have a group of freckles shaped like the Big Dipper (missing 1 or 2 of the stars). Mine is on my left shoulder, though.

2. I have a massive scar on my stomach from spilling boiling water down my front last year. It was the last day of winter break, and I was stressing out about calculus. As a result, I wasn't paying as much attention I should have, and the pot that I was pouring the water out of slipped and splashed the water all down my front. I got my shirt up off my stomach, so the burn wasn't as bad as it could've been, but the waistband of my jeans got completely soaked and my stomach was burned pretty badly. It's not really noticeable now, but I still think it looks horrible.

3. I am a jigsaw puzzle master.

4. I played Princesses in my neighbors' backyards until I was 13. We still have lots of inside jokes from back then.

5. I played Templeton the rat in my high school's play of Charlotte's Web last spring. It was really fun.

I tag Crayons and PoodleDoc.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Movie Review: The Golden Compass (SPOILER ALERT!!)

Sorry, but I can't write this review without some spoilers. Stop reading now if you don't want to know anything about the movie. So, first of all, I have to say that I had very low expectations for this movie. I love love love the book, and what with all the disappointing movie adaptations that I've seen over the years, I didn't expect this one to be any good. Not only that, but the trailers made it seem like they had completely changed the theme of the story, which really bugged me.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. It followed the plot of the book pretty well, and Dakota Blue Richards was a much better Lyra than I expected. Also, the clips of the scenery that they showed in the trailers were somewhat misleading. For the most part, I really enjoyed this movie, and I think that everyone should go see it (ignore the reviews, they're never right about movies anyway).

There were a couple things that bugged me. For one thing, the movie seemed a little rushed. Not just to me, but to my friends as well. I think this was because they were trying to fit as much into the movie as possible. I think I'll have to see it a second time to see how it sits with me, but I did like that they didn't cut out too much from the books. Another thing that bugged me was that they changed a couple of the characters around. It's not that big of a deal, and I can't say who it was without giving away the movie, but let's just say that in the book, Billy Costa's daemon isn't named Ratter. Ratter meets the same fate in the book and the movie, but he has no relation to Billy Costa at all. The third thing that bugged me was that everything seemed a little...cartoonish. It was too bright of a movie for my liking, and I felt that it should have been darker and dirtier, especially in the city. Also, they changed Iofur Raknison's name to Ragnar Sturlusson, but I think that was so people who hadn't read the book didn't confuse him with Iorek Byrnison.

The cast, I thought, was phenomenal. It included a lot of very well known people, such as Ian McKellan, Christopher Lee, Nicole Kidman, and Daniel Craig, as well as newcomer Dakota Blue Richards who, as I mentioned before, did a really good job. However, I didn't feel like there was enough character development in the movie. Because they didn't cut much out, everything went so fast that there wasn't really time for the audience to develop an emotional connection with the characters. Also, everything was told rather than shown, which is something that really shouldn't be done in filmmaking or writing. The dialogue is important, but if they tell you everything, it just doesn't work out. As a result, I felt like a non-reader wouldn't quite grasp the concept of things like daemons and Dust. I mean, they tell you what it is, but you don't really GET it, if you know what I mean.

Now, I know I said they followed the book faithfully. This is true up to a point. However, the entire ending was cut off, which really pissed me off. I've been reading reviews on imdb, and other fans, it seems, feel exactly the same way. It would appear that the common audience reaction is, "WHAT THE HELL?! THEY CAN'T END IT THERE!" According to interviews with both Philip Pullman (the author), and Chris Weitz (the director), they changed the ending because they felt that it would make more sense if they put that part at the beginning of the second movie (if they make a sequel. It all depends on how much money this one makes). I disagree, however. I think that ending the movie where the book ends is crucial to the development of the characters of Lyra, Ms. Coulter, and Lord Asriel. I also think that if they're trying to follow the books as precisely as they did in the first movie, they're going to run out of time because now they are going to have to put in this huge, important event from the first movie as well as the entire second book. It's just very very frustrating. Also, it makes the ending of the movie all sugary sweet and happy, which really doesn't fit with the books at all. The books are super dark, and the movie was pretty bright and cheery.

All in all, the movie was better than I expected, but I wish that they had taken their time more. I feel like if they had cut out some less important stuff and taken their time with the more important stuff. Show, don't tell, would have been a good rule for them to follow. I also wish the movie were darker. Since I went with low expectations, I liked the movie more than I expected. However, it seemed kind of like they were trying to recreate the feel of LOTR, even to the point of having similar cinematography. Too bad Chris Weitz couldn't recreate Peter Jackson's understanding of good storytelling. "The Golden Compass" was better than most movie adaptations, but it could have been a lot better. I still recommend that you see it, though, if only so they have enough money to make a sequel. If I don't get to see Will and the Mulefa and the end of this trilogy, I will be very upset.

Oh, I forgot to mention, they handled the problem of the Church and the supposed "anti-Christian" messages really well. Philip Pullman isn't anti-religion, he's just against the problems caused by organized religion. We all know the church has gotten away with some pretty brutal stuff in the past. As for the movie, they just called the Church "the Magesterium" for the entire movie and referred to Adam and Eve as "Our Ancestors." It was a very masterful manipulation of language, although I wonder if the non-readers have any idea what is going on.
Anyway, check out "The Golden Compass." Okay, I'm done now.