Thanks to the two-week free trial of Netflix I have been able to see a plethora of movies that snuck past me. Even my patience worked against me as their stay in the dollar cinema eluded me due to a busy schedule and possible apathy toward them. The two movies in question were based on novels, which can be a mixed blessing. One was by all accounts a children's book from a popular series and the other could be argued either as a "young adult" book or simply light reading. If I'm not mistaken there are some fans out there of each of these series that will argue quite strenuously that they were NOT children's books, maybe because they might feel embarrassed about reading them. As I've noted before, I have no problem with people knowing that I watch kids movies and read novels that my have been targeted at kids or young adults.
The first was about a young man who felt he was an outcast all his life and didn't really know why. That is, until he found out he had magical powers and then a whole world opened up to him that, until then he thought was just a make-believe world of historical fantasy. At first he was an outcast even in the magical world until he proved himself with amazing acts of heroism with the help of his new friends!
The other book, which was aimed at a broader audience, dealt with a more dark subject matter. The story included young love that we knew, at first, must be denied. Deep heart-ache was the mainstay of some of the characters that weren't quite human. We learned that one of the main characters must choose between the love of two who are of very different races. All the while, outside forces threaten their very way of life.
Both of these novels were destined to become movies since Hollywood's decision to just give up and let other people do the thinking when it comes to new ideas. Besides, each was part of a series of successful books so the studios knew they had a veritable cash machine on their hands as long as the first movie did mildly well. By now I'm sure you've guessed the movie about the "outcast boy" is Percy Jackson, The Lightening Thief and the darker movie with the love triangle is Dragons of Autumn Twilight.
The Lightening Thief bugged me because it was a book I read with my children and although it wasn't great writing, it was entertaining and the story flowed pretty well. The movie kind of felt like the production of someone who had an enormous budget and was determined to use every penny of it, even if it made the movie look plastic and garish. The good story and the knowledge that the director was Chris Columbus probably encouraged me to set my sights unreasonably high for this one. I mean, Columbus directed the first two Harry Potter movies so it shouldn't have been a stretch to think this would be a keeper... right? Hey! Now that I think about it, Harry Potter was also about a boy who... um, nevermind.
The film version of Dragons of Autumn Twilight was actually little known even to those who read the novels. Apparently with good reason. Since I read the books as a young teenager I was very interested in how it was adapted into a movie. Kiefer Southerland even lent his name to the voice acting credits! Did you catch that? "Voice" acting credits. It was made into an animated film, one in which Hanna Barbara would have been ashamed to produce, good thing they didn't. It was a mix of over-the-top voice acting and clumsy computer animation mixed with traditional ink animation. The early, animated Lord of the Rings movie (remember that one?) was awe-inspiring compared to this. If you've read the books then don't waste your time on it. Unless you have some morbid curiosity about it then knock yourself out. I mean it. Knock yourself out instead of watching this because it's that bad.
As I think about it, there was another movie about a love story involving strange semi-human races. I'm pretty sure it also involved the word "Twilight" in some way but the name escapes me.
trailer for The Lightening Thief
trailer for Dragons of Autumn Twilight
trailer for The Lord of The Rings (1978)