Movie Review: Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2

Image via Screen Rant

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

I’m not sure what I’m more embarrassed about: that I spent my Friday night watching “Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2,” or that it took me almost a year and a half to finally get around to watching it (see Pt. 1’s review here).

Either way, I’m glad to say that I’m finished with the series. It seems so long ago when I read the books before the movies were released and found myself on this bandwagon. While I liked the supernatural, forbidden love between Edward and Bella in the beginning, I felt that Stephenie Meyer ruined everything in Breaking Dawn.

For those who are blissfully unaware of this story, let me summarize this outrageously far-fetched, poorly designed plot:

  • 18-year-old mortal Bella Swan is celebrating her honeymoon with her vampire husband Edward Cullen, and even though vampires don’t have blood running in their veins, he somehow manages to impregnate her.
  • Bella is almost killed by her hybrid baby, who is growing at an abnormal rate, but is “saved” when Edward turns her into a vampire.

Team baby!

  • Bella falls in love with the daughter that almost destroyed her from the inside out, and names her Renesmee, because combining the names of your mother and mother-in-law is a totally normal thing to do. Nicknaming her “Nessie” is even more normal, by the way.

I know, right?

  • Bella’s other love interest, werewolf Jacob Black, imprints on Renesmee, which means that he found his soulmate in a toddler and now has to wait years before consummating anything. But don’t worry, she ages quickly!
  • The Volturi, aka the vampire mafia, hear word that a supposedly bloodthirsty immortal child has been born, and seek to annihilate it and the entire Cullen coven.
  • Things escalate into this huge battle between vampires and werewolves against the Volturi, but since Renesmee is actually only half-vampire and not immortal/dangerous after all, the Volturi discover that it was all a big misunderstanding and leave. Happily ever after ensues.

Yeah, no kidding!

Ugh, that summary was painful to write; I don’t know how Meyer could stomach the entire novel. She has a disheartening way of building up tension and then completely deflating it, whether it was ruining the highly anticipated honeymoon with a fatal pregnancy or foreshadowing an epic battle that never actually happens.

The saving grace of the film version (besides the sexy Lee Pace as Garrett!) is that Meyer changed the script slightly so that it wasn’t as downright boring. Disappointing still, but an improvement nonetheless. But young-adult fiction fans of other action-packed blockbusters like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games will fall asleep during this snoozefest.

Thank goodness for Lee Pace keeping me awake!

It’s unfortunate that authors can’t seem to find that happy medium between making the finale a bloodbath and eliminating all obstacles with little sacrifice. Because what’s frustrating about Breaking Dawn is just how easy it all seems.

Bella is blessed with powerful defensive capabilities as a vampire despite her lack of grace, intrigue, or uniqueness as a human. Like her new relatives, she becomes strikingly beautiful and strong, but without the thirst and pain of adjusting to her undead lifestyle.

It wouldn’t be that difficult for young female readers to interpret the message of this saga as “Find a prince to marry and have babies with, and all your problems will be solved! Love conquers all!”

Seriously!

And what’s more upsetting about Renesmee than her disturbing aging special effects is that she’s branded by a man since the moment of her birth. Sadly, she inherited from her mother a lack of autonomy; instead of having the opportunity of making her own decisions, she’s immediately defined by her partner.

I could go on and on about how the Twilight saga needs a hearty dose of feminism, but I’d be writing for as long as vampires live. All I’ll say is that I’m relieved that this bandwagon has finally come to an end. “Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2” was better than the book, but given how bad it was in print, the silver screen couldn’t make a significant enough improvement to warrant recommendation.

Self-explanatory

Movie Review: Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1

Rating: 1 out of 5

I’m about half-way done with Kafka’s The Trial, which keeps getting stranger and stranger. The gist of the story is that the protagonist has been accused of a crime that he doesn’t even know if he committed, since no one will tell him any details of his case. At one point, he complains about the incompetency of a few officials, only to find them being tortured while at work.

You know what else was torture? Having to watch the latest Twilight film.

Earlier this month, my younger brother, his girlfriend, and I were messing around and playing games when we decided to watch the movie, ironically, of course. We’d have a laugh making fun of the whole thing, and then I’d be able to blog about it for all of you.

I just want to say that I hope you’re grateful that I watched this horrendous movie, so you don’t have to. I apologize for the review being so late, since it debuted last November, but how can you muster up enthusiasm for a film that you know is going to suck?

I’m not insulting it because I hate Twilight. In fact, I read the series in 2007, the summer before my freshman year of college. I gobbled up the first three novels before Twilight’s adaptation even premiered, because I’m such a sucker for romance. This is embarrassing to reveal, but I also went to the midnight release of the fourth and final novel Breaking Dawn.

And that’s where my hatred of Twilight started. If you don’t know the story, let me sum it up for you: Bella is madly in love with vampire Edward and wants to consummate their relationship, but Edward, being the old-fashioned guy that he is, wants to wait until they’re married.

You mean to tell me you couldn’t make a better dress with this movie budget?

So at 18-years-old, Bella marries Edward, then they jet off together on a tropical honeymoon. They finally have sex, which is a rare feat between a human and vampire, because vampires normally kill their lovers due to their bloodlust.

And because she didn’t think she could get pregnant by a vampire, Bella didn’t concern herself with contraception. She becomes impregnated with a hybrid baby, which develops rapidly and is essentially destroying her from the inside out.

I hope you learned your lesson, Bella…

As if this story couldn’t get any more self-righteous, Bella and her vampire family fight about whether to abort the baby, but Bella decides to keep it and realizes that drinking blood helps the situation a bit. When she finally goes into labor (her father-in-law’s a doctor, conveniently), Edward is forced to turn her into a vampire before the baby breaks all her bones and kills her.

That’s where “Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1” ends. Director Bill Condon decided to copy the “Harry Potter” series and divide the last installment into two films, the second of which will be released this November. Thus, I gave this movie only one star not just because it sucked, but because the book also sucked.

I’ll admit that I’m a socially liberal feminist, so I did not appreciate how author Stephenie Meyer’s Mormonism influenced Breaking Dawn. I felt like it was a poorly-written glorification of teen marriage and parenthood. Instead of throwing her whole life away for a guy, why couldn’t Bella go to college, find a steady job, and meet someone who doesn’t have anger and control issues? That wouldn’t be nearly as popular with the Twihards, but I question the values supported in this series and their effects of these impressionable fangirls.

Besides the dangerous piety, the movie was just plain boring. There was absolutely no reason to split this story up, because there simply wasn’t enough action to warrant it. This film drew out the wedding, honeymoon, and pregnancy to excessive lengths–two hours to be exact. I’m afraid that all movie adaptations of books will imitate the “Harry Potter” strategy (“The Hunger Games” is already on board with the idea), whether it’s needed or not. Hollywood should care less about profits and more about creating an engaging finale.

All in all, “Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1” was dull, slow, cheesy, melodramatic, and accompanied by an obnoxiously loud and annoying soundtrack. It deserves its 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Not to mention, I watched it after the Kristen Stewart cheating scandal broke it, so her romance with her co-star/now-ex-boyfriend Robert Pattinson was not very convincing. That’s not saying much, since Stewart’s acting abilities were never convincing.

The only Stewart that Robert Pattinson needs!

I’m sure that I’ll watch Pt. 2 when it comes out on DVD, just to be rid of this overrated series. It’s sad that I was such a huge supporter of the books before the bandwagon exploded, but this last novel completely ruined the saga for me.

However, there is a silver lining. Meyer must be aware of how much Breaking Dawn sucked, because she’s changed the ending for the last movie. It’s going to be super awkward to watch Stewart and Pattinson make their rounds on the talk shows for publicity amidst their real-life drama, but who knows? Maybe their characters will be obliterated in some sort of freak accident.

Here’s to hoping, anyway.

Book Review: Crossed

Rating: 2 out of 5

Ok, well that was underwhelming. I just finished Crossed, the second book in Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy. Sometimes I think I’m just too nice to a book series. I think to myself, “Oh, it’ll get better…I’m sure it’s just building up to some action-packed scenes…Ok, then maybe it’s more of a character novel…” etc. etc.

This book fails like many sequels, because it follows the notion that the second novel is allowed to be the least exciting of trilogies. Just the bridge from beginning to end! But honestly, if you write like that, why have the bridge at all?

In this installment, the chapters flip-flop between teenage love interests Cassia and Ky’s perspectives. They’ve escaped the corrupt Society and are desperately looking for each other while discovering answers on how to join the rebellion called the Rising. During their travels, they meet a few other ostracized youth and bond together through their turmoil.

If it sounds interesting, sorry, it’s not. It takes half the book for Cassia and Ky to reunite, and all they do is spout off melodramatic drivel and kiss every now and then. This series will obviously be compared to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, because both authors are Mormon and cater to the high school girl demographic. However, at least Meyer understands sexual tension! Mormon or not, if you’re going to write about teenage love, throw in some raging hormones at least, sheesh!

This book is just straight-up dull. Much like Meyer’s sequel New Moon, it sucks when you present a love triangle and then don’t include the entire triangle in the book! Why should I care about characters like Xander, if they’re not going to stick around? However, whereas Meyer created a passionate rivalry between Teams Edward and Jacob, I don’t feel the chemistry between Condie’s characters. She suffers from too much telling and not enough showing–just because Cassia and Ky say they love each other, doesn’t mean I’ll believe them.

Basically, all these characters do is run around in the wilderness. I was greatly disappointed, but I feel I’ve invested enough in the series to finish it when the last book comes out at the end of this year. This series better not go from great to horrendous like The Hunger Games trilogy did–otherwise I might stop reading YA fiction for a while.

Next on my to-read list is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night…I need to take a break from fluff for a while. And be on the lookout for my audiobook review of Mindy Kaling’s autobiography!

Do Novelists’ Personal Beliefs Affect Your Opinion of Their Work?

Orson Scott Card at Life, the Universe, & Ever...

Orson Scott Card (Image via Wikipedia)

So I’m about 50 pages into my 20th book of the year, Ender’s Game, and coincidentally I ran across this column on the Huffington Post about the author Orson Scott Card. Since I’ve never read Card’s books, I had no idea that he was a Mormon who was staunchly against same-sex marriage. Given what I knew about Ender’s Game, that it was a sci-fi story about a boy genius soldier, I didn’t think Card’s religious views would play much of a role.

And yet, in Chapter Three, Graff tells Ender that his mother was a Mormon and his father was a Catholic. Because of their upbringing, they love their third son even though most families are permitted to only have two children. But they also hate Ender, because he is an everyday reminder that their family does not fit into this society.

I admit that after reading the HuffPo column, I am more aware of traces of religious bias than I would be if I hadn’t read it at all. For example, when bully Bernard is ridiculed for supposedly watching the other boys’ butts, I wondered if this scene promoted homophobia by declaring that being attracted to the backsides of the same sex is somehow wrong and worthy of mockery.

Am I reading too much into this? I just started the novel, so those who have finished it probably have a better idea of its themes. But at least this article got me thinking: Do I like or dislike certain books, just because I like or dislike the author’s personal beliefs?

The answer for me is sometimes. I love pre-modern literature, which is mostly written by racist, sexist, homophobic men. But I just chock it up to the time period and take their words with a grain of salt. And because I can’t go back in time and get to know them personally, how am I to be sure that people like Joseph Conrad or Mark Twain were racists? Anyone who has taken any literature courses knows that autobiography definitely plays a role in a person’s writing, but that you cannot assume that every word of theirs is autobiographical.

On the other hand, I can either love or hate a story whether or not I like that writer’s opinions. My favorite novel is The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, who is a devout atheist. You cannot ignore his anti-religious messages in the story, which is exactly why I adore it. His modern adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost demonstrates that churches are corrupt and that there is absolutely nothing sinful about experiencing puberty and sexual awakening, despite what the clergy brainwashes children into thinking.

And because I’m secular myself, I am extremely wary of books with religious messages. I enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia as a child, but I agree with Pullman that the books send the wrong messages to kids. I refuse to read explicitly Christian literature now, even if it’s disguised as fantasy.

This is why I have a hard time swallowing The Twilight Saga. As a hopeless romantic, I gobbled up this forbidden vampire/werewolf love triangle. But anyone who claims that Stephenie Meyer’s Mormonism doesn’t affect the story is sorely mistaken. If I had a young daughter, I don’t think I would want her reading a story in which the female protagonist marries at 18 to have sex with her overly controlling, jealous boyfriend. Not to mention, Bella gets pregnant after said sex and refuses to terminate the pregnancy even though the vampire-hybrid fetus is killing her from the inside out.

Feel free to agree to disagree, but Meyer’s anti-choice, anti-premarital sex viewpoints, as well as Twilight’s inherent misogyny, do not an excellent novel make in my humble opinion. And I realize that Pullman’s atheistic epic turns a lot of people off as well. I guess the point of this post is that we should be grateful that we possess the freedoms of speech and press, because even if we disagree with an author’s values, that author has every right to include those values in their novels. And nobody’s forcing you to read books you don’t agree with.

So what about you? Do novelists’ personal beliefs matter to you? Are there certain books you can’t stand or just can’t get enough of on the basis of values alone? Let’s get a debate going, guys!

30-Day Book Challenge Update

Cover of "Kittens in the Kitchen (Animal ...

Cover via Amazon

Well, today is a day of celebration, because I finally reached 1,000 views!!! I’ve only been blogging for nine weeks, so I’m pretty proud of this little accomplishment. I love sharing my thoughts and reviews, as well as hearing from others. So before I jump into this long list, I just want to say thanks so much for reading!!!

Okay, back to the book challenge:

Day 9: Book that makes you sick = Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Unplanned vampire pregnancy, pedophilia, don’t even get me started!)

Day 10: Book that changed your life = His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

Day 11: Book from your favorite author = Sally Lockhart series by Philip Pullman

Day 12: Book that is most like your life = *Not applicable*

Day 13: Book whose main character is most like you = Mia from The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Day 14: Book whose main character you want to marry = Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Day 15: First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child = Kittens in the Kitchen (Animal Ark #1) by Ben M. Baglio

Day 16: Longest book you’ve read = Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (870 pages)

Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read = Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (77 pages)

Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like = Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (NOT Breaking Dawn, see Day 9)

Day 19: Book that turned you on = Any book from the Nerd series by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Day 20: Book you’ve read the most number of times = The Epic of Gilgamesh (at least 3 times in college)
         Feel free to fill in the list yourself or ask more about my own entries! And thanks again for reading!!!