February 9, 2007

Blood, chocolate and disappointment

Before I get to the movie, I should explain something about my taste in movies. While I am capable of recognizing cinematic quality, I don’t usually enjoy “good” movies. To me, movies fall into five simple, if eclectic, categories:

- “Good” movies: I feel like I should get kicked out of the elitist liberal wanker club for saying this, but there are a lot of movies I should watch and enjoy, movies like Taxi Driver, documentaries and many indie films. And once I can be convinced to sit down and watch a “good” movie, I might like it, but I will almost never actively seek it out.

- “Awesome” movies: most anything prominently featuring leather-clad chicks kicking undead/demonic ass, and science fiction spectaculars with lots of explosions and (when especially awesome) a scantily clad, well-muscled hero glimmering with sweat and bristling with weaponry. Zombies, werewolves, comic books, video games and other 30-year-old-guy-who-still-lives-in-his-mom’s-basement-type fodder usually shows high awesomeness potential. Coherent plots, nuanced or believable characters, and good cinematography are a bonus, but certainly not a prerequisite for being awesome. Starship Troopers, Gingersnaps and Resident Evil are all fine examples of the “Awesome” genre.

- Movies so bad they’re good: the Evil Dead trilogy, Krull, much of Christopher Walken’s oeuvre. There is a substantial overlap between this and “Awesome.”

- Teen movies: these can be good (Breakfast Club, Say Anything, Saved), bad (almost anything with Julia Stiles), and everything in between. Almost without exception, my love for them is both uncritical and shameful.

- Everything else: from romantic comedies and earnest dramas to Adam Sandler movies and gruesome serial killer flicks. In general, I’d almost rather watch a good movie.

Given my penchant for “Awesome” flicks, I actually expected to enjoy Blood and Chocolate. Werewolves, explosions, an ass-kicking lady, AND menacingly hot men with intricate goatees and unplaceable European accents? Dude!

And the movie did have its moments – Bucharest was beautifully photographed, and many of the rooms had this artfully impoverished faded glamour thing going on that made it look like everyone lived in an Anthropologie catalog.

And there were moments where it almost, almost achieved awesomeness: when the pack gathered to hunt, a fantastic skull and legbone-festooned church interior, and almost any scene with Vivian’s villainous, swaggering, absinthe-swilling cousin. Plus, there was a smoking hot brunette with enviably pert boobs and my dream haircut.

But these flashes of near-awesomeness really just made the rest of it more disappointing. It wasn’t the low budget, as you can make a stellar werewolf movie with almost no budget (see Gingersnaps). And it wasn’t the setting. Or the actors. Or even the silly dialogue.

Normally, I try to evaluate a movie on its own merit, separate from the original source, so I find a few liberties forgivable. The problem was the kind of liberties the movie took. The resemblance to the book ended with the characters' names. The central conflict, the arc of the romance, and the ending (among other things) were all radically different.

And if the central conflict of the novel is deciding between being a demure, gentle human girl that speaks softly and only makes tender Sarah McLachlan love, or being a badass, slutty werewolf, you had better not be fucking around with the central conflict.

Because from that decision point, everything changes. The story is no longer about becoming comfortable with one's power in a world that is supremely uncomfortable with any kind of female power. Instead, the story is about a cringing girl who whispers "please don't kill me" and "I'm afraid of what you think of me."

And that was unforgivable.


Marge said...

That sucks. So I guess this means I'm not the only one who is dreading the new Bridge to Terabithia movie. Hmm . . . we have a quiet and tender story that's so moving and sad it can make you cry until you want to vomit. Why not turn it into a big budget, CGI extravaganza?!? Akk. And ugh.

Deb said...

Sounds like we have fairly similar taste. I too, must be dragged to see "good" movies, and yet find myself compelled to see "awesome" movies...even if I know ahead of time they're going to disappoint. They're still awesome, and I must see them!

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed in the movies because I liked the ending in the book and the ending in the movie kind of made me want to throw up.