Twilight: The Graphic Novel Vol. 1

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I thought I would kill two bird with one stone by also publishing this review of Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1.

When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerising voice and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret…

This graphic-novel rendition of Twilight exists solely for the purpose of milking the cash cow – how many young women who devour the Twilight Saga books have picked up a comic book or graphic novel in their lives? I would bet not many, if any. However, there is a method to the madness, and Young Kim’s rendering of characters is beautiful, but cheapened when you notice backgrounds or establishing frames are photographs Photoshopped to look like drawings, as well as the confusing placement of images and the lettering of text (Times New Roman – really?!)

At about double the weight of the original novel, Twilight: The Graphic Novel Vol. 1 feels lofty and glossy. Save for a few sequences that are coloured, Twilight GN is almost entirely in black-and-white, however it is printed on a glossy paper that distances itself from manga printed on rough paper (which was probably the intention).

Kim’s artwork is beautiful, to say the least, and amplifies the feelings one may experience while reading Twilight – beauty, isolation, confusion – Kim’s captured it all to great effect. Of course, this being the first volume (at the time of this writing, it seems to be the only volume) it doesn’t cover the entire first novel, going up to the famous meadow and sunlight revelation scenes.

Perhaps I may be biased, but I felt this was better than the original novel – despite the fact Stephenie Meyer has to have her name in large letters on the front and spine and was probably breathing down Young Kim’s neck while she was working on this. There is a short dedication from Ms Kim at the back of the book (where, of course, most dedications are [end sarcasm]) where she writes, and I quote:

“To the reader, I sincerely hope that your own unique nature is loved, particularly by yourself… – Young Kim”

I was supremely touched by this and will buy anything I see with Young Kim’s name printed on without second-guessing. Not only is it such a broad yet personal remark that is moving to the reader, but also speaks of Edward’s feelings, especially throughout Twilight, being a monster but wishing to be loved. It’s that why I believe Twilight is popular – Edward finds happiness with Bella after a century of loneliness. It’s that loneliness I believe that is extinguished once someone like Bella can come into one’s life. It’s finding happiness just before you give up looking.

I have become lost, swirling around in the reasons why Twilight could be popular, but the graphic novel iteration is something of a mixed bag. Kim’s drawings are beautiful and romantic, the book’s layout, however, leaves much to be desired, especially with Meyer’s text being adhered to so strictly, however, for any Twilight fan out there, this is surely a no-brainer. Four skulls, half a star more than the novel version due to Kim’s fantastic artwork, but barred from five stars (don’t scoff, it could have been five stars) due to the poor layout and Photoshopped backgrounds.

 

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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

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Twilight by Stephenie MeyerBefore I get into the meat-and-potatoes of this review, I would like to begin by providing a small back story this writer went through up until purchasing all four Twilight books earlier this week.

I remember seeing the trailers for Catherine Hardwicke’s adaptation of Twilight, and was coloured slightly intrigued, despite saying off-hand that vampires were out in the day and flew around like Superman, I let it slide because, come on – this is Catherine Hardwicke! A great director and a great female role model for all creative women out there (I am of the opinion more women need to be in the film industry). I never went to see Twilight in cinemas because there just never was a chance. I picked the Blu-Ray disc up when it was released and watched it with interest, ending up with the whole “Well, it was good, but it’s highly over-rated” opinion.

Then the trailer for the Hardwicke-shafted New Moon appeared on the internet, and I immediately went “Woah. That was cool.” to Jacob transforming into a wolf. It was pretty much then on that, despite my reluctance to admit it, I became a Twi-hard. I still haven’t seen any films in the saga at the cinema (screaming females for two hours isn’t my idea of relaxation) so I’ve bought or received all films on Blu-Ray, and look forward to seeing both parts in the Breaking Dawn saga, slated to hit cinemas this and next November, respectively.

When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerising voice and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret…

I, too, along with many others, cried foul at Stephenie Meyer’s version of vampirism. My only problem with the sparkling vampire aspect of Twilight is that is doesn’t serve a plot purpose besides visualising how beautiful Edward is (which happens so many times in this book – I dare people to have a drinking game whenever Bella says Edward is beautiful and finish the book in one go). I can believe a great many things in a story, be it a novel, film or television, as long as it serves a plot purpose, which sparkling vampires does not (although was used cleverly in the Eclipse film adaptation, showing vampire’s insides as white crystal).

My main problem, having bought the film tie-in edition ages ago was Meyer’s writing. It’s criminally elementary – and I’m pretty sure the concept of a thesaurus doesn’t exist in the Meyer household. Besides her writing “style” (if you want to call it that), Twilight is safe, harmless romantic fun. There is actually a point where Bella stops being this whiny, ungrateful, admittedly nasty person (which is who she is until about chapter ten, “Interrogations”, 172 pages in). However, she goes from being a whiny, ungrateful, admittedly nasty person to being a girl with a one-track mind about how beautiful Edward is.

Things drag on for a while (there is a lot of talking about the logistics behind being a Meyer-vampire) until a vampire baseball game (in the movie, I too, went “What?!”) where three vampire nomads rock up to ruffle some feathers. It is here Bella becomes more of a character, thinking for herself and arguing with the Cullens about hers and her father’s safety. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last for very long. Chapter twenty-four is almost entirely Bella telling Edward how much she loves him after being attacked by the main antagonist, James.

This is also a rare occasion where the film and book on which it is based sit comfortably side-by-side. Books, adapted 100% word-for-word never work because novels and films are two completely different beasts. However, despite a one or two small concepts (like where Alice came from), the film did a good job of staying faithful to the source material while being its own creature. Thankfully in the film the antagonists are introduced earlier and we have none of the pathetic Bella internal monologue.

Stephenie Meyer’s writing does have an advantage, however: one is able to glide through the book at a break-neck pace (I rarely finish books, if at all), so that is one small advantage to the book, however it still doesn’t excuse Meyer from being a poor writer. Plot points don’t necessarily mesh well, exposition is handled sloppily and girl seriously needs a thesaurus. However, if you have seen the film and wish to read the book on which it is based, take your expectations of or your reaction to the film and apply it to the book – both are similar, so if you see the film and not read the book, you’re not missing out on much. I still have three sequels (and a spin-off novella) to plough through, though…

Three-and-a-half skulls.

Låt Den Rätte Komma In (2008)

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I remember hearing a bit about this little Swedish vampire movie called “Let The Right One In” and how it was amazing and fantastic. A love story between two children, one being a vampire, and the world they live in being changed as their characters change. It’s a haunting film, a depressing and painful film, as well as being a beautiful and entrancing film.

Lonely, 12-year-old Oskar is an outsider; bullied, struggling to fit in at school and left alone to fend for himself at home while his mother works nights. One evening he meets the mysterious Eli, a pale young girl, who has moved in next door. Coinciding with her arrival is a series of inexplicable disappearances and murders…

The film is a bit slow, but having watched it twice now, it’s also worth every minute. I picked up things I missed prior, and I was also able to enjoy the film more the second time around. The performances, especially those of the children – all the children, not just the two main leads – is fantastic. But the girl that plays Eli, Lina Leandersson, is quite possibly the best out of all of them. She oozes pain and wisdom and age for such a young person that you genuinely believe she’s been twelve years old for a century or so. All the actors in the film are fantastic, and it’s a shame that the big bucks get spent on actors who can’t act in Hollywood when there’s such talented people all over the world who can do the job a billion times better.

This film is beautifully shot. There are many instances where you go “Wow, that’s cool.” It’s a film that has imagery that will stick in your mind for days after you watch it, imagery that will haunt you in your sleep and in your wake. It’s an absolutely entrancing film and you can’t do anything but be absolutely pulled into this world. It’s almost like a graphic novel – every shot is specific, the camera hardly moves. It’s also a very sterile and cold looking film.

There’s two ways you can view this film, and I’ll try to describe it without ruining anything. You can watch it as a straight up love story between two people, or you can see it as something more sinister happening to the main character, and it’s films that are able to have different perspectives that make them successful, because each person comes out of the cinema with their own interpretation of the story.

This film could, and should, be studied. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on that I still haven’t noticed, but it’s an important film and a film that people should go out of their way to see. This isn’t Twilight, this isn’t Underworld, this is a tragic, haunting love story between a vampire and a boy. And if that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. Three-and-a-half skulls.

Audio:
Let The Right One In is a very quiet movie; a subtle sound mix provides an unnerving experience to accompany the imagery. Rarely is music used as it is in Hollywood horror movies – the scenes of horror linger on the sound effects and screams alone. It’s a clear mix, in Swedish 5.1 (and also in DTS 5.1), with the central speaker doing most of the work. The front two speakers spit out the music while the rear speakers also deal with the music and environmental sound. Four skulls.

Video:
Let The Right One In is a bit of a bleak and depressing looking film, but it’s also one of the better looking ones I have seen on Blu-Ray. There were a lot of instances of grain, but every strand of hair was visible, you’re able to tell what fabric people’s clothes are made out of. It helps the image quality when the film is beautifully photographed, as well. Four-and-a-half skulls.

Extras:
A very tiny amount of extras made up for with an English audio-commentary and all features being in high-definition. Four skulls.

  • Audio Commentary is presented with author and screenwriter John Ajvide Lindqvist, and director Tomas Alfredson, spoken in English, much to my surprise. The commentary is informative and Lindqvist and Alfredson have a great rapport with each other, which shows in the finished film.
  • Deleted Scenes Four deleted scenes are presented. They are simply called “Scene 1”, “Scene 2” etc. Scenes two and four are sweet moments between Oskar and Eli, scene one shows Oskar being bullied and scene three is Virginia rejecting human food and drink.
  • Photo Gallery is a high-definition motion gallery with some beautiful pictures taken during production. It goes for almost four minutes and is worth a watch for budding photographers.
  • UK Trailer
  • Traitor Trailer A forced trailer at the beginning of the disc for the Don Cheadle film Traitor

Overall:
An American remake is on the way for those who are to lazy to read subtitles, but if you’re open minded and don’t mind a film outside of the safety zone of Hollywood, check this out, at least before you see the American remake. I can only rehash what I’ve already said – a bleak and beautiful film with fantastic performances, especially from Andersson. Four skulls.

The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe (2008)

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While many people wanted a sequel to The Lost Boys when that original film was released, as well as producer Richard Donner and director Joel Schumacher thinking up ideas such as vampire politicians and “Lost Girls”, it seemed most fans cried foul when The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe was announced, and cried even more foul when the trailer was released, and then lambasted it when it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray. They were right and wrong, but let me get to why that is.

This sequel takes us to the shady surf city of Luna Bay, California, where vampire surfers quickly dispatch anyone who crosses their path. Into this dark world arrive moody Chris Emerson and his shy sister, Nicole. Having lost their parents in a car accident, the siblings move in with their eccentric aunt Jillian and become new prey for the local surfers. When Nicole unwittingly drinks the blood of a vampire, Chris must locate and destroy the gang’s head vampire before his sister’s transformation is complete.

The problem this sequel has is that it’s grittier and more serious than its predecessor, and loses the fun and innocence the original film had and uses the mythology set up in the first film to make generic horror movie. Where there was hardly any blood in the first film, whereas it’s an absolute bloodbath in this film. It’s an absolute step away from the tone of the original film, which is why many cried foul, but it’s also a decent direct-to-video film if you have an open mind.

The performances in this film aren’t anything special, but the film has pretty decent production values. The sales of the disc obviously helped make the film’s budget back to warrant a third film, entitled Lost Boys: The Thirst which I’ll be looking forward to. Call me generous but I didn’t think this was that bad, it just wasn’t The Lost Boys we know and love. Three skulls.

Audio:
The audio is pretty pumping on the disc, however there is only one track in English. No TrueHD or PCM, just English Dolby Digital 5.1. I didn’t notice much sound coming from the rear speakers. When music was played, however, it sounded pretty sweet. Three skulls.

Video:
Much to my surprise, The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe is a lot more grainy compared to its predecessor. Especially in darker scenes and on darker colours of walls clothes. The grain adds to the gritty feeling the film-makers were obviously going with this sequel, but the image itself is crisp, however the colours are a bit dull, again obviously being intentional for the feel of the film. Three-and-a-half skulls.

Features:
Only a few features are presented for The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe, and all are pretty short, and not really worth it besides the alternate endings. Two-and-a-half skulls.

  • Lost Boys: The Tribe: Action Junkies is a very short featurette about the stunts in the film.
  • Edgar Frog’s Guide to Coming Back Alive is a short featurette with Corey Feldman in character as Edgar Frog teaching the audience what methods and weapons to use against a vampire.
  • Alternate Endings are interesting – they are both pretty much the same, with slight variations in the editing and lines, and obviously setting up the third film.
  • Cry Little Sister Remix Video – the less said about this the better. It completely rapes the original song.
  • Downfall, Hell is Full, It’s Over Now music videos by Yeah Whatever – not my cup of tea, and with these music videos and tone of the film it’s obvious the makers were targeting a goth/supernatural audience for the film.

Overall:
A giant step away from the charms that made the original film so much fun and so enjoyable turns this sequel into a generic horror movie complete with gore galore as well as the obligatory boob shots and lesbian kissing shots. It’s an alright movie, but the original is far better. Let’s hope the third film, entitled The Thirst improves upon this sequel and goes back to its roots. Three skulls.

The Lost Boys (1987)

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Vampires are currently on top of the world, but have been existing in cinema since its inception. The Lost Boys, a film by Joel Schumacher made in 1987, is arguably a cult classic twenty-three years later with a large fanbase, and with good reason. It’s a fun film with great metaphors and very cool imagery.

Sam and his older brother Michael are all-American teens with all-American interests. But after they move with their mother to peaceful Santa Carla, California, things mysteriously begin to change. Michael’s not himself lately. And Mum’s not going to like what he’s turning into.

It’s hard to take this film seriously, especially nowadays with 80s hairstyles and clothing, but it’s also intentionally funny, it’s not set out to sweep the Oscars, but at the same time it’s antagonists, The Lost Boys, are forbidden – the group that everyone wants to be apart of but they know they really shouldn’t.

I’m not a giant fan on Keifer Sutherland but he obviously relishes the role of David, the leader of the Boys, and turns what could have been a very cardboard cut-out of a character into a manipulative and sly bad guy. Jason Patric, as the main character Michael has fun with his on-screen younger brother, Corey Haim (rest in peace), and makes his character likeable and vulnerable. Of course, all the fun comes from Haim as the young brother Sam, Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander as the Frog Brothers, taking the job of killing vampires too seriously for their own good.

Produced by Richard Donner, who also directed The Goonies, and directed by Joel Schumacher, The Lost Boys is a great entertainment that should satisfy anyone of any age, whether they like horror films or not – this is not a straight-up horror film either, it has humour and is more fun than your usual vampire movie. It has scares, laughs, romance, action and death by stereo. One of my favourite films in glorious high definition! Four skulls.

Audio:
There’s many Dolby 5.1 tracks presented on the disc in many languages, but there is an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track presented as well, but I didn’t notice much difference between the two English tracks besides the TrueHD track being slightly louder. The soundtrack seemed quite front-heavy with most sound playing in the center and front left and right speakers, with music in the rear right speaker and ambience/environment sounds in the left rear speaker. A bit disappointing, but it gets the job done. Three-and-a-half skulls.

Video:
For a film that’s almost a quarter of a century old, it looks pretty freakin’ good. Sure, it’s not as clean as modern films out on Blu-Ray, and there were quite a few instances of film artefacts, but it’s a significant improvement over the DVD version, and makes the movie even more tantalising to watch. Some scenes, however, do have quite a large amount of film grain – but that’s up to the viewer to decide whether that’s a good thing or not. Four skulls.

Features:
There are quite a few features presented on the disc, but most are quite short and to-the-point. Three skulls.

  • Commentary by Joel Schumacher is a bit of a dry track, and Schumacher talks more like a fan than a director, sometimes resorting to describing what’s on the screen with a few silent spots. It’s informative, and he is constantly thankful for the actors he got and constantly praising what’s on screen from the art direction, to production design, costume design to performances.
  • The Lost Boys: A Retrospective is a half-hour mixture between a retrospective and a making-of. Somewhat generic but interesting nonetheless.
  • Inside The Vampires’ Cave: A Four-Part Making Of is just under twenty minutes with cast and crew talking about Joel Schumacher’s vision, the concept of doing the film as a horror-comedy, recreating vampires for this film as well as talk of a sequel ranging from “The Lost Girls” to “Vampire Politicians” (this featurette was made prior to The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe).
  • Vamping Out: The Undead Creations of Greg Cannom is arguably the best featurette on the disc, showing Cannom’s work as make-up and prosthetics designer as well as telling stories from production like how uncomfortable the vampiric contacts were.
  • Haimster and Feldog: The Story of the Two Coreys is a five minute piece exploring the two Corey’s relationship and how they were met on The Lost Boys and became very close friends, working together on many films.
  • Multi-Angle Commentary with Corey Feldman, Corey Haim and Jamison Newlander is just under twenty minutes with a standard definition presentation and multi-angled videos of the commentators. They were recorded separately and have a light time watching the film, with such comments like Feldman querying why he didn’t get an Oscar nomination.
  • The Lost Scenes: Deleted Scenes is comprised of mostly character pieces before Michael (Jason Patric) falls in with the Lost Boys, showing the family moving into their grandfather’s house in Santa Carla, with a few hints foreshadowing the ending of the film.
  • The Vampires’ Photo Gallery is presented in high-definition, and contains pictures of all actors who played vampires in various incarnations of their make-up.
  • The World of Vampires: An Interactive Map is merely a sub-menu where you can click options to find out about vampire legends from all over the world. It seemed to be made especially for the release of The Lost Boys on DVD, but it’s too creepy and seems out of place but is interesting nonetheless.
  • Lost in the Shadows music video by Lou Gramm is a promo music video to advertise the film, and is great for those who like 80s music videos (like me)
  • Theatrical Trailer

Overall:
The Lost Boys is a staple of vampire films and should last a long time to come. It’s fun, scary, very cool and very silly. Thirteen-year-old Rambos against vampires never loses its awesomeness. Highly recommended to all. Four skulls.