Alan Dee’s cinema preview

ONCE upon a time the Hollywood moguls didn’t give a second thought to crunching down chunky and complicated source texts to fit the movie model.

Friday, 18th November 2011, 4:09 am

The list of classics that have been pared down for a silver screen version is long and not necessarily that distinguished – the works of Dickens, James Joyce’s impenetrable Ulysses, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 all spring to readily to mind.

Gone With The Wind went on a bit, to be sure, but at least you got the whole seeping story in one bite.

Even The Bible has been subjected to the Tinseltown cut and shut treatment, and in the past authors who sold the film rights to their work were wise enough to bank the cheque and look away.

Not these days - either because bestselling authors have much more muscle, for fear or offending obsessive fans who can turn against an unfaithful film rendition of their favourite work or because they’ve realised they can soak the saps for two tickets instead of one, these days you get films at part-works.

We saw it with Harry Potter and now we see it with Twilight – the books in the series got progressively fatter and flabbier and the films followed suit until there was no option to chop the tale in two.

So vampire and werewolf fans can pay their money this week to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 with the reassurance that the second half will be following next year.

It’s easy to be sniffy about this High School Musical-style horror – even if you’re undead you look gorgeous, and while leads Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart still look comely enough they haven’t yet learned how to command the screen.

But respected and veteran director Bill Condon is calling the shots on both films and there’s no denying that – despite being daft and skin-deep – this first instalment has been reliably well-crafted.

Fans of the series will know that there’s a wedding, a threatened unborn child and a difficult decision to be made.

Whether the Twilight bandwagon still has enough followers to make this effort and next year’s grand finale anything more than nine day wonders remains to be seen – if it’s still showing come Christmas, I’ll be very surprised.

> There’s not much else on offer this week as most movies have stepped aside to allow Twlight full rein, but as Nicolas Cage ploughs on through project after project to sort out his finances you can always bet on another bonedead thriller being available.

So after last week’s Trespass, say hello to Justice – here narcoleptic Nic is married to January Jones, which is nice, but she is badly injured in a sickening attack and Guy Pearce pops up as the representative of a vigilante group who offers to sort out the offender.

With the crook croaked, Nic finds himself being drawn into the instant justice gang.