Saturday, August 12, 2017

Once Upon a Time Movie Review/ 三生三世十里桃花

Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms is my 2017s can't let it go. I’ve read the book, watched the drama, and finally seen the movie. There was something about the story that was able to hit all my needs. I cried, I laughed, and I was angry. There have been some great dramas this year, but Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms has destroyed me for all the other dramas.
My local theatre was lucky enough to get Once Upon a Time. I’ve been excited for weeks knowing I was going to get to see this on the big screen. I had worried my expectation would ruin my movie experience, but I don’t think it did in the end.
The movie is 1 hour and 48 minutes which had to condense a lot of the characters and plot points of the original. The movie is set up much like the book with a few minor details changed. The book is all told from Bai Qian/Su Su’s point of view and the movie for the most part follows her. There are a few scenes where the audience is giving glimpses into the villains or Ye Hua’s conflicted emotions, but in the end, we the viewer are learning about the mystery past of Su Su through Bai Qian.

I don’t think the movie did a bad job adapting the main source material. There were a lot of adapting choices to make on how to compress the original story down. I can understand people feeling rushed by the story as we the viewer are moved to scene to scene. It can be a bit jarring and at times scenes can feel hurried to get to the next plot point. I did enjoy being able to learn about Bai Qian’s past as Su Su through the other characters. I can see Ye Hua’s love for Su Su when he’s accounting his first meeting and their marriage together. You can also see Su Jin’s hate and her manipulation when explaining Su Su’s life in the palace and her death.

The film has only 7 main characters compared to the original story - Bai Qian, Ye Hua, Zhe Yan, Su Jin, A Li, Xuan Nu, and Qing Cang. The film did keep Si Yin and Mo Yuan’s background story with a minor change. It appears that Ye Hua and Mo Yuan aren’t twins, but the same person. I could nitpick this minor detail, but if I did it would make me hate the ending more. I’m a bit annoyed by the choice, but it’s not the worst adapting choice the movie could have made.

Su Jin in the film version is the main villain and will do anything to claim Ye Hua for herself. She’s a monster who works with Xuan Nu to kidnap A Li and Mo Yuan. She’s not just a lady who plays palace politics, but is willing to kill Bai Qian knowing she is royalty and the ramifications of her actions could mean for her in doing so.  Heck, she’s the one who opened the bell and release Qing Cang to bring about destruction to the Heavens. A Li never liked Su Jin and to allow her to hug him was ridiculous. It was by far the weakest plot point in the movie.

Ye Hua is much like his book counterpart and it’s hard to read his emotion or motivations. He’s playful, but also fierce towards Bai Qian. He is conflicted about Bai Qian learning her past as Su Su, but he does the right thing by giving her memories back. Once the truth of Su Su’s past comes out, it takes Nai Nai to explain to Bai Qian the sacrifice and protection Ye Hua made on her behalf. It’s a quick hail mary but it does work.

Bai Qian is a frustrating character in all versions. She may be 140,000 years of age, but there’s a childlike quality in her and the film gets that. Yet, she’s able to take care of herself in any battle. I like the scene when Su Jin’s spirit animal tries to push Bai Qian off the platform and she just dodges it. It’s a nice moment to show Su Jin, she’s a powerful immortal who won’t be beaten by cheap tricks. I was irritated with Bai Qian being stuck in the pity party stage of grief for most of the remainder of the movie. A bad adapting choice on the movie’s part by not having Bai Qian get her revenge on Su Jin by taking her eyes back. It’s my favorite part of the book to see Bai Qian just be pissed at the world for her love calamity always ending in tragedy.

Unlike the book and the drama, I wasn’t given the heighten emotions. The punishment scene for Su Su’s eye always makes me cry, but the movie failed to give me the tear jerking emotions. I blame the director on the scene not living up to the original source material. Point goes to the drama for executing the scene just right.  

Point goes to the film for seeing Bai Qian and Ye Hua bonding/fighting together. I’m actually a fan of this change from the original source material. I like that Ye Hua isn’t facing this battle alone, but with the love of his life. He’s willing to lose his life and possible Bai Qian by gaining the plant. Bai Qian choses Ye Hua over her Teacher coming back in the end is a powerful moment. It’s a big change from the original material, but I find it plays well for moving these lovers togethers.

The look of the movie is very fantasy like and very pretty. Clearly this isn’t out world but the world of immortals and gods. The CGI was appealing and well done. The 3D was actually nicely done too and I’m one who hates 3D. The costumes were either hits or misses in my book. The Heavenly Palace look was silly and at times bizarre. As for the soundtrack, here’s my money so give it to me now. The main theme song is beautiful but the score I would love to listen to it.

My evaluation of Once Upon a Time: It was Good.

The book, the drama, and the movie all did things better than the other, but they all got the point of the story about love. It’s a sad story of love and sacrifices. My friend tagged along with me to my second viewing and was impressed with the film. As someone who didn’t know anything about the plot, I was surprised by their reaction and review of the movie. Books are hard to adapt to begin with as there isn’t restrictions on what you can and cannot do. But if you want a deeper look at the story, stick to the drama. If you want to see a fantasy world that gets to the heart of the story, the film is for you. In the end, I have many different ways to relieve this story.