Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{March 7, 2011}   Beastly: The Movie Rendition, Directed by Daniel Barnz, Starring Alex Pettyfer

I enjoyed this movie for what it was, but if you’re looking for an exact representation of the book, you’re going to be disappointed.  I don’t think exact representations exist anymore—with all the emphasis on poetic license and selling of rights, I’m not surprised that the interpretations of books to movies have changed so dramatically. 

So, what’s it about?  Here’s a synopsis from the book: “I am a beast. A beast! Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster. You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And, I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell. Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.”

I felt like this movie was a little forced.  It moves very quickly, especially in the beginning.  If the characters hadn’t constantly explained the timeframe, with lines such as “I asked you to get that for me two weeks ago!” and “don’t you think five months is enough?” then the audience would be completely lost.  I was glad for the clues in terms of time, since this story is supposed to take place over the course of a year (in 86 minutes), but I think the director, Daniel Barnz, could have done a better job portraying the lapse of time.  

Of course, Kyle Kingsbury, played by Alex Pettyfer, doesn’t look anything like he does in the novel, but I think I like the movie rendition more in terms of that aspect.  In the novel, Kyle is covered with hair, from head to toe, and he has claws.  In the movie, Kyle has no hair, but instead he has tattoos, never healing cuts, scars, and boils.  These changes truly make him ugly—perhaps even uglier than hair and claws.  And, no offence to Pettyfer, but his ears just added to the “ick” feeling when looking at him.  So, I liked the “beast” Barnz chose to portray, especially because I could still see the resemblance between Kyle’s before and after persona; I think too much hair and claws would have taken away from the movie (not an easy sell), so I understand why Barnz changed it, and am glad he did. 

Of course, unnecessary aspects of the story were changed as well, such as the names.  Why?  Why can’t the names remain the same?  Kyle adopts a new name in the novel, after he’s been turned into a beast, and he begins calling himself Adrian.  But, in the movie, his name is changed to Hunter.  Perhaps the screenwriters were trying to create an ingenious name that went along with the “beast” mentality, but I liked Adrian better, and I see no applicable reason to change it.

There were some other changes as well, which disappointed me:  For instance, how Lindy actually ended up at Kyle’s house is different, and instead of portraying Kyle in an unfavorable light, like the book did, this change in the movie makes Kyle out to be some wonderful guy—too early on in the movie.  They also changed the circumstances under which Lindy ends up leaving, and the seasons in which certain events happen are different as well.  I would have liked the ending to be the same as the book—Barnz even set it up so that it could have been—but, of course, they deviated.  The magic mirror was completely missing, which is a shame since that is such a big part of the fairytale, but, overall, I don’t think any of these changes necessarily ruined the story, or took away from the plot.  In the end, the same moral theme is presented, and the boy does get the girl; it’s just different.

The acting wasn’t horrible, but I wouldn’t call it wonderful either.  There is just something about Alex Pettyfer that rubs me the wrong way—I think it’s the way he delivers his lines.  He’s a little bland for my tastes, but I think he’ll get better with time.  I noticed he delivered his lines the same way in I Am Number Four, so I guess this is just his style.  Mary Kate Olsen, who plays Kendra (the witch) was actually suprisingly good in this movie!  I haven’t seen her or her sister acting in a long time, and I think Olsen pulls this off perfectly–though in the books she’s supposed to be fat, but  her portrayal was so good that I can overlook that small detail.  Overall, I liked the movie for what it is.  Of course, the book is still better, but I think that is always the case.  It’s not going to stop me from buying the movie though.  Three stars for the movie. 

Click here to see my book review.


b. stewart says:

i like the movie and the book. i don’t know why they went with the ending they did. i saw the alternate ending and i thought it was much better. i would really like to find the dvd with the alternate ending. does anyone know were i can find it?

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