Friday, April 29, 2011

Movie Review- Water for Elephants

After going fast and furious style all the way to the theater when we decided to leave the restaurant 5 minutes after the start time of the movie, my friend and I were able to find a seat immediately following the last preview. Wow...that means there were 25 minutes of advertisements. Ridiculous! Anyways, I'm glad I didn't miss any of the film so it turned out okay. Unfortunately, seating was limited so I ended sitting next to a group to teenage girls. This was going to be an interesting experience.

So after more than a year of anticipation on my side, I finally got to see Water for Elephants! I always try not to get myself too excited over movie adaptions of books I loved because I know I'll most likely be setting myself up for disappointment. Maybe it was the fact that I read this novel three or four years ago, but the entire movie seemed pretty accurate to what I remembered. If you look at the post below, it's a synopsis and my review of the Water for Elephants book- so for the sake of not repeatingmyself, I'll just mention the big differences. Well the first big difference is the fact that the film combined the characters of August and Uncle Al. The film version featured August who is still married to Marlena, but instead of being the animal trainer, he's the owner of the Benzini Brothers. He takes on both August's paranoid schizophernia and Uncle Al's taste for violence, corruption, and enjoyment of red-lighting his employees. Basically he's an all around psychopath, but who better to play a part like that than Christoph Waltz?

Both Jacob's and Marlena's characters were also a little different. Jacob certainly was not the unattractive ginger he seemed like in the book, and Marlena wasn't the meek soft spoken girl the book featured. Everything else was pretty much there, except obviously they cut out all the small stuff (like all the flashbacks to the nursing home), changed around some events for the sake of pacing, and added a few things for a drama effect. Even with those changes, I still felt like the film had a bit of a pacing problem. Things were dragging a bit towards the late middle of the film. Too many scenes of August and Marlena having dinner and Jacob observing enviously; and events I thought they would take their time with flew by. If you didn't read the novel, you might not notice the pacing being on the slower side, unless you have a short attention span.

But let me talk about the actors a bit more. First off I thought both Christoph Waltz and Reese Witherspoon shined in their roles. Christoph Waltz does an amazing job playing a character that can be incredible charming one second, then suddenly turning a 180 and becoming a sadistic animal beater. In the beginning of the movie, the audience can easily see the charming man Marlena must have fallen for; then he progresses into a dangerous monster that is unleashed more and more as the film goes on. Reese really dazzles and steals the screen as an amazing circus performer, captivating both the on screen audience, and out of screen audience. She adds a great depth of life and character to Marlena that was absent in the book. Her affinity towards the animals is clear and she really captures the essence of a woman who is feels imprisoned. I also like how the film had her standing up again August more and also how she actually witness his murder. The fact that is was always a secret Jacob held from her in the novel really bugged me.

And of course, everyone is wondering about Robert Pattinson. I thought he did a fine job as Jacob, but was a bit overshadowed by Reese and Christoph. One big complaint however is the incredibly awkward chemistry between Robert and Reese. Robert is fine on screen, and Reese is fine on screen, but stick them together...ehhhh, you can just feel the stiff, dead air between them. No matter how hard both of the actors tried to make it look authentic, you could sense the mutual damp feeling they had towards each other. The last movie I saw Reese in was Walk the Line and she and Joaquin Phoenix blew up the screen with their together...not so much with Robert. It could just be a problem with Robert (does anyone actually think he and Kristen Stewart have any chemistry together?).

Other things I liked about the film was the gorgeous cinematography, the cool circus acts, and the costume and set designs. I also loved the elephant Rosie and thought the film was able to capture very human like emotions from her. Overall, I thought the film was a good adaption of the book and made good calls with the changes. The one unfortunate downfall was the forced romance between out two main characters. Unfortunately that causes a big loss in points on my side.

Final Score- 7/10

Side comment: I've decided that annoying teenage girls is another demographic that needs to be banned or segregated from the general movie viewing population. The group of girls I mentioned earlier that I got the privilege of sitting next to was chattering non-stop through the entire movie. Loud, mutual gasp the second Robert Pattinson walked on screen, and irritating sighing and squealing every other scene he was in. Additional stupid, shocked comments about every little thing and sounds of panic at every mildly violent or intense moment. That was my theater experience for the night. The stupidity of these obvious teenage Twihards made me lose a few IQ points I'm pretty sure.

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