Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beastly, book author Alex Flinn, Screenplay and Director Daniel Barnz

Wow.  First off, I had a long, complex and beautiful rant about the place of Spike in Buffy.  Don't know what happened there, but for now I'm going to keep going forward.  I'll get you back to Spike and my Buffy poetry habit later.

Now we are talking about a very strange phenomenon.

Beastly--book and movie summaries.

Well, Beauty and the Beast, duh.  Set in modern day with a modern, absolute vain jerk high school student, Kyle, who runs into a witch who thinks he needs a change--a drastic change into a beast.  In the book he has two years to find true love--he loves, she loves--who will kiss him.  In the movie he only has one year and needs a heartfelt "I love you," not the whole kiss.  Give it to Kyle, his father is a self involved, vain, appearance bias jerk that makes Kyle look sweet.  Said father gets Kyle a large house in Brooklyn with a blind tutor, Will, and his usual house keeper so that Will cannot embarrass his father with his beastliness.

Enter Lindy, with her drug addict father and her scholarship to the private school Kyle used to attend.  She loves books.  She loves roses.  And of course (I think the Beauty and the Beast reference already spoiled this) when forced to live at Kyle's house, she grows to love the changing, redeemable Kyle.

So my big wow factor:  I liked the movie better.  I will admit I saw the movie first, so that may have affected me some, but I feel I have some solid grounds.

I did appreciate that Flinn attempted to stay so close to the fairy tale, but in my opinion he stayed a little too close.  I liked his having Kyle go quite so entirely Beastly, but some of the fairy tale aspects--the witch--clunked into corny.  It's called an adaptation for a reason.  His audience jumped around like a Mexican jumping bean.  At times, his tone would reflect an intelligent sixteen-year-old.  At other times he appeared to be trying too hard to keep his teens sounding teen, and he ended making his characters sound a bit idiot and out of date.  I appreciated the fact he tried to create most of the book in dialogue.  I love dialogue.  But the dialogue was flat and didn't tend to tell much about the characters, meaning there was very little characterization.  When Flinn did try to evoke an emotion, he tended to simply state it.  Then, as if he couldn't think of another way to get the point across, Kyle just tended to repeat the thought.

One big issue with the book is Lindy.  I know this is a retelling of the story centering on the Beast for once, and I appreciate that Lindy isn't, at first glance, a gorgeous Beauty.  However, she falls for all of the clichés and has the personality of wallpaper.

The chat room sections of different fairy tale characters talking about their woes could have been a hilarious and moving method of advancing the story.  Unfortunately, not enough context was given to most of the stories since he used old fashioned fairy tales.  I respect that, but it will be confusing.  Kids are used to Disney's The Little Mermaid, not Anderson's, and without more context, I feel it would have been jarring.  "Snow White, Rose Red" is even less well known, and an esoteric oddity here (plus, in the versions I've read, Rose Red gets the bear's brother.  But maybe I'm too contemporary).

In the end, it comes down to Daniel Barnz being a better director and screen writer than Alex Flinn is a writer.

In Daniel Barnz's movie, the character's personality's pop. Lindy has her own sass before Kyle is even a Beast. When I saAy "Beast" I do mean someone with the ink and body modifications that would make him a God in some subcultures, but it is no stretch to believe he thinks of himself as a monster. Alex Pettyfer gives a heartfelt rending of Kyle moving from sulky monster to one who cares about others before himself. Vanessa Hudgens takes the meat Barnz has given Lindy--rebellious, fiery, with plans of her own and a sense of humor--and runs with it. To my utter surprise, Mary-Kate Olsen makes an emo witch with class.  

Lindy was one of the main changes here that draws me to the movie. Kyle is bull headed, but she is ready to meet him every step of the way. It makes me respect the both of them more. I also appreciate Lindy's classic need to leave at the end more here. Flinn makes Lindy's father so reprehensible, so utterly ugh-worthy, that I can't imagine any sane human being telling her to go be with him. Not staging a major intervention would be nearly criminal. Barnz makes Lindy's father a complete mess, but a lost soul, not an ugly one.  

I will try to talk around this, but the other huge factor to me came down to the end. What Flinn's Kyle had to do involved saving Lindy. What Barnz's Kyle had to do showed the love he held Lindy in, but also that he had taken the final step to save himself.

The final sequences just simply can't compare to each other, but I won't spoil.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Lots of crazy typos there, guys. Sorry. Don't know what happened. I should proof! Those last let of names should direct you to IMdB pages.