16 December 2008

"Twilight" Sequel Movie

I am a big fan of the "Twilight" saga by Stephenie Meyer, a series of books about vampires, werewolves and true love, the first of which was recently made into a movie. I read all of them over about two weeks, and also saw the movie, and I am well on my well to reading them twice. The saga deserves its own post at some point.

The movie "Twilight" was not horribly done. The casting of the principal characters, with the exception of our heroine's father Charlie, was on the whole very well done, although some of the minor characters were ill cast, the school set could have been better, the special effects were merely medium budget, and the over correction of the plot in the action direction slightly overdid it.

Still, I love the series enough, and the first movie was good enough, that I consider it to be good news that the second book in the series, "New Moon" is going to be made into a movie which will open November 20, 2009. "New Moon," plotted with vague reference to Romeo and Juliet, is particularly notable for having a portrayal of the catastrophic emotional impact of a true love lost that rivals that of any in modern English or American literature, since Romeo and Juliet.

The bad news is that Summit Entertainment, which is producing the film, says "New Moon" will be directed by Chris Weitz of "The Golden Compass." Weitz's involvement with "The Golden Compass" was torrid, and most of the movie that is laudable (it has a delightful and visually lush steam punk world where it plays out), was done during the tenure of an interim director of the film. Ultimately, "The Golden Compass" was a seriously fumbled adaptation of a critically acclaimed book (yes, I've read all of that series as well). So, needless to say, I am more than a little concerned that Weitz is not up to the job.

Unlike "The Golden Compass" or many other vampire/werewolf flicks, "New Moon" is primarily an introspective, emotional tale in a more or less contemporary setting. The particular elements of writing trade that Meyer uses to get her intense story across, moreover, can not be translated in anything approaching a direct way. To tell the same story, it must be told with very different means on film. The story also has action sequences, melodramatic moments and supernatural elements, but they are trimmings, not the core of the story. Moreover, in the narrative, the supernatural elements have a strong allegorical and sympolic character.

It is possible to do this film. But, I'd be far more encouraged if it was directed by someone with a background writing compelling, more conventional romatic dramas, instead of someone whose background is in putting on a lush science fiction alternative world. Portraying someone's inner life takes real directorial talent, and is a usually underdeveloped aptitude of someone coming primarily from the world of melodrama.

Then again, giving Weitz's track record, the film may end up being completed by someone else anyway.


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The collapse of "The Golden Compass" was so bad that it is given credit for bringing down an entire studio.

A cast change involving the fairly well cast actor playing Jacob Black in the first film is contemplated (to fan ire) apparently by someone who doesn't even look Native American (another bad sign).

Scuttlebutt on the web has it that the director of the first film, Catherine Hardwicke, which was wildly profitable relative to the quality of the film, left because the reduced time line didn't allow enough time to do a quality job on a second film.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Informative analysis of the directorial change is found here with the most troubling part being that the director of the first film, in addition to thinking that the time frame and $50 million budget for a sequel were insufficient, also thought that the script for the second film done by the same person who wrote the first script (less than a strong point of the first film) didn't like the script.