Posted in adaptations

Book To Movie Talk | To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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*This post is not spoiler free*

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a book that I’ve been aware of for years due to passionate fanbase it holds. However, it was never a series that I felt I would enjoy as I had moved on from YA contemporaries and thrown myself into fantasy. When the news came out of a movie adaptation, I covered the announcement and found myself swayed by the fact that Janel Parrish (well known for her role in Pretty Little Liars) was in the cast line-up. I indulged in the entire trilogy via audiobook and never looked back. I was completely hooked.

The newest addition to Netflix’s roster of teen rom com films, the story follows Lara Jean who write loves letters as a way to close the chapter on previous crushes. She never sends them but one day these secret declarations of love find their way into the hands of the boys – including the popular kid, Peter Kavinsky. This charming Lacrosse player sees Lara as an opportunity to engage in a bit of fake dating in an attempt to make his ex jealous and win her back.

To focus briefly on the stylistic aspects (this is the part where I pretend I know what I’m talking about), the film just looks good: I love the colour palette and the shots worked where needed and I don’t know who was in charge of styling Lara Jean’s outfits but I need their number!

Again, in terms of looks, everyone seemed like a perfect fit for the characters they were meant to play and it was nice to view it through this lens as I hadn’t read the books when I did my initial announcement. Lana Condor plays  Lara Jean as the witty sweet character book fans will be familiar with and the arc over the film shows that she is willing to stand up for herself when needed and knows her worth: see the contract scene when she writes “no kissing.” Also a moment of appreciation is needed for the state of Lara Jean’s room. A seemingly small detail but worked! The preparation for the skype call with Margot had me really laughing as it just showcased the ridiculous situation Lara Jean had found herself in.  Oh, and kitty’s digs were just so on point: my favourite was when she put on her helmet before getting in the car with Lara Jean to go to school.

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Given the nature of the plot progression, a lot rides on making Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo, stand out. In the books I loved his charm and self-assuredness and that certainly comes through on screen. The chemistry between him and Lana felt like watching a real couple fall in love as they start to learn more about each other and see how similar they actually are when you strip school social standing away.

The family dynamic is one of the real gems of the book, and one I was looking forward to seeing on screen. It certainly has its moments but I wish there had been more scenes of them all together before Margot disappeared to college.

From an adaptation view, there are a lot of changes. Some of the attempts to streamline the story make sense when you’re confined to a feature length film. However, there’s been a big buzz around the fact this film has an Asian female lead (Lana is Vietnamese but book Lara is Korean-American) and in the book Lara’s heritage is a big part of who she is as an individual because she feels that connection to her deceased mother through cooking Korean food and baking. In the book there are scenes where she cosplays only as Asian characters to emphasis her points of the lack of representation and she is quick to beat others to the punch about her ethnicity. But in the film, there’s a mention about a yogurt drink and that’s it. I get that the angle they were going for was to just have this character exist with making it all about her being “other” to the teen female leads that viewers often see in the mainstream but it just felt almost like she’d lost that link to her mother. Especially when author Jenny Han said she included those aspects because she never saw herself in books growing up.

Josh was a character I really loved in the books and unfortunately in this adaptation he left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t stand boys who feel like they own a girl and the way he stands up to Peter to assert his dominance to look after Lara made me feel uncomfortable. In fact, most of his scenes just involve him turning up and being angry.

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The storytelling just felt a bit messy: the big reveals such as the culprit of the letter (which is made really obvious by a shot of a character while Lara Jean is freaking out about the missing box) and the aftermath of the infamous hot tub scene were really quickly skimmed over and instantly forgotten about in favour of focusing more on the development of Peter and Lara’s relationship. Those big moments that play a part of her narrative were so glossed over that her character just felt a bit flat despite all the great aspects of her in the books. In fact, the only character to really stand out to me was Peter Kavinsky who felt well rounded and it’s easy to see how much he started to care for Lara Jean. He commanded the attention when on screen which was great but often made me forget that Lara Jean was even there.

I’ve left the viewing experience feeling a little dejected. All the reviews and comments and trending hashtags have fans and new fans gushing over the story, so hopefully this will come up good and the sequel will be picked up for production. I just feel like a lot of the drama was lost and the characters were very flat at points. Maybe I’m too attached to the books. Maybe I’m too attached to the audiobook narrator for Lara Jean. But I am going to give it another watch.

Have you watched it?

What did you think?

Posted in adaptations, discussion

Losing Characters To Adaptations

I have always been the person to read the book before seeing the film. Regardless of whether it’s something I’ve heard of before like Harry Potter or something entirely new like Divergent,I always have to pay a visit to the original material. I love comparing the two as my Book-To-movie segment on this blog will verify. While hard to stomach at times, everyone has different interpretations when they read the same story. As we seem to have entered a new phase of book adaptations called -only by me- the “YA Contemporary era” with Everything, Everything and  Love, Simon on the big screen, and The Hate U Give and To All The Boys I’ve loved Before soon to follow suit, it’s left me thinking once again about the power of adaptations.

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More recently, I saw the adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s best selling novel Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda. Despite having read it back in 2015, I revisited it so that I could do a book-to-movie talk. When talking to a friend after seeing it, I mentioned that when Nick Robinson was cast in the staring role, I was a bit put out as, after all, he didn’t LOOK like Simon to me. My friend said that she didn’t think Logan Miller was the right person to play Martin. However, to me I thought it was a perfect casting.

Reader, it was like I had  a sudden epiphany. I realized that the reason I always feel I have to read the book first is that an adaptation is someone else’s interpretation of the source material. Stories are streamlined, events are changed because films have a much tighter time constraint than its paper counterpart. As for characters, reading that book before seeing the film, if it’s one you truly love is the last time to see those characters in your own way before the film essentially taints your own perspective.

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I remember when I started reading the Harry Potter books and I cried when I saw Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role. (Yes my mum had a lot to deal with and admittedly I was eight at the time) Now whenever I re-read the books, I always picture him as Harry. The film actors now occupy the pages. Peter Pan has me imagining Jeremy Sumpter as the boy who will never grow up and captain hook as an amalgamation of Jason Isaacs and the Disney cartoon.

The only exceptions tend to be when I’ve seen the trailer so already picture the actors as the characters. Examples for this include The Maze Runner, Divergent and City of Bones. When I joined the fandom for the latter I was instantly asked what I thought of Jamie Bower as Jace and was met with screeches when I said that he was “Jace to me.” Apparently it was a sore subject for a lot of book fans.

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Looking back, I can’t help but feel like I had a little bit of magic stolen from me. But then again,without some of those films, I may not have discovered characters.
and worlds I loved so deeply.

But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to picture them my way… one last time… right?

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Posted in adaptations, discussion

Book To Movie Talk | Love, Simon

“You get to exhale now, Simon.”

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*This post contains mild spoilers*

Love, Simon is an adaptation of the bestselling novel Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda, written by Becky Albertalli. When I read the book, I instantly fell in love with it and held the story close to my bisexual heart, having related so much to a lot of Simon’s narrative. Naturally, like many readers, I was over the moon to hear that it had been picked up for a movie and secretly prayed that it would eventually make its way onto the big screen. (Given there are many instances of rights being bought and things never happening)

It’s a coming-of-age and, well, coming out story of a gay teenage boy called Simon Spier who is threatened to be outed by a school bully, armed with screenshots of private emails between Simon and the mysterious Blue.

This film is so important for many reasons that you’ve probably already heard about a million times. To be “that adult”, if I’d seen this film when I was a confused 13 year old girl, maybe my own story would be different  But anyway, back to the film. I liked that it emphasised that no one comes out once. There’s always going to be friends you have yet to tell, new people in your life and every time is met with the same hesitation; Simon even uses the “I’m still me” line. Every scene is met with the same intake of breath as he waits to hear their response and I felt it so deeply.

I was unsure about Nick Robinson as Simon when the casting was announced, but I didn’t need to worry at all. Simply put: he is Simon. I was completely invested in his portrayal from every little smile when reading his emails, to every laugh and cry. The “that was supposed to be my thing” scene hit me like a ton of bricks. You could just feel the pure rage oozing from the character and the following sequence left me quietly sobbing into my popcorn. Katherine Langford, known for 13 Reasons Why, was another stand out for me. Leah is a quiet force in the overall drama of the story but Katherine managed to capture the essence of her character: feeling lost, overwhelmed with the possibilities open to her. But when she gets her big moment, my god she shines.

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I loved the contrast between the first and second halves of the film. The former felt slightly darker and like there was a restraint to Simon and the interactions he had with his friends. As Simon’s mother (played by Jennifer Garner) points out: it feels like he’s holding his breath. In comparison, the latter feels much brighter, Simon smiles more, he feels closer to his family and friends. After his first coming out scene, when he finally lets go of that breath, his character moves in a different direction and it’s beautiful to watch.

I also really like how Blue’s email sequences were littered with a different person each time, alternating with whoever Simon suspected to be Blue based on little things he dissected from the emails. It kept it interesting and tried to give a face to the person behind the emails before it’s eventually revealed.

From an adaptation point of view: it’s solid. The best internal narrative bits of the book are littered in voiceovers and all the major plot points are there. There is a big addition to add more drama to the story but it makes sense in the context of the film. The book is a quiet story, and on screen it needed that extra push to keep viewers interested. I was fascinated to see how the emails would be shown and it’s pretty much like in the book: you’re reading them along with Simon which I thought was a nice touch. You really are following Simon on his journey. I don’t feel that Martin was emphasised as much as he was in the book. One of the main points of his character was that he didn’t know/understand that people cared about other people’s sexualities and the result his actions would have. (Not that it excuses his idiot behaviour) In the film it felt like he very much knew what he was doing and trying to take the heat off himself. Which, I guess in its own way, kind of worked. The essence of Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is in very single frame of this film. If you love the book as much as I did, you’re not going to be disappointed.

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However, this film isn’t without its faults. The “trying to be down with the kids” head teacher is a trope that I’ve never been able to get behind in teenage comedies, and in Love, Simon it really took me out of the film. It was just forced humour that didn’t really work and the most hilarious moments happened in a more natural way; they just felt part of the conversation. The beginning is very disjointed, like we’re rushing to establish Simon and his relationships. The film really finds its feet when Simon sends his first email to Blue and after that it’s plain sailing.

The stand out scene for me was Simon and his mother having a heart to heart after he comes out. It’s heartfelt and beautiful and apparently Nick Robinson didn’t know that Jennifer Garner was going to cry as it wasn’t scripted… which then made him cry in the take. But I mean, who wasn’t crying by that point?

The ending fell to some romantic, teenage cliché but you know what? As Jacques a dit: everyone deserves a good love story.

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Posted in adaptations, discussion

Are The Harry Potter Films Good Adaptations?

Recently I made a post discussing adaptations along with sharing some of my favourite adaptations along with others that are better left forgotten about. I didn’t talk about the Harry Potter films because I felt they warranted their own spotlight.

Everyone I know has experienced Harry Potter in their own way and as someone who grew up in the “potter generation”, I was able to grow up with both the books and films coming out each year. But little me, who is the first to jump up and down while screaming “that didn’t happen in the books” hasn’t really considered the films for what they are: adaptations.

I wondered if other people had thought about this too and naturally I took to twitter.

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As you can see, the majority believe they are but I was intrigued by the people who said no. I dug a little further. Those who said no felt that too much had been cut out in order to streamline the story into its main “good vs evil” plotline. Many felt that things that could have added extra substance to the films had been stripped away; which I understand and agree with. (I’ve said many times that Order Of The Phoenix is the longest book but shortest film.) Those who said yes felt that they are good because the most important part of an adaptation to them isn’t accuracy to the source material, it’s the feel of it and whether the purpose is still clear. If the message of Harry Potter has been transferred to the screen, can it really be considered a bad adaptation? If changes made still feel like thoughts and actions characters would make, is there anything to complain about?

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What I found interesting was that I got a lot of responses saying that they actually view the films entirely separate to their counterparts.

This made me realise I think in very much the same way. Of course I find myself rereading the books, baffled at some bits that never made it past the pages. Of course I have bits that infuriate me (do not mention the Half Blood Prince film in my presence). But it’s not often I find myself pulling the films to pieces while watching them. I just enjoy the ride.

As I’ve said before, adaptations are subjective. So what do you think?

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Posted in adaptations, children's fiction, discussion, review

Book To Movie Talk | Wonder

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*This post contains spoilers*

Wonder is another one of those books that I’ve heard about on and off over the past few years but never really had any desire to delve into it… until I saw the trailer for the film adaptation.

The story follows ten year old August Pullman who has been living with a facial disfigurement from the day he was born. He’s been home-schooled but his mother can only teach him so much and decides to enrol him in fifth grade as August will not be the only new kid starting. August battles through stares, whispers and outright abuse while gaining true friends along the way.

Having just read the book, the content was still very fresh in my mind. So straight away from an accuracy point of view, Wonder is the most accurate book to movie adaptation that I think I’ve ever seen. It can seem like a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but straying too much from the source material is the easiest way for an adaptation to lose me completely. Wonder was also directed by Stephen Chbosky who wrote and directed The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and there are many stylistic similarities between the two.

A film with a focus on child actors always makes me nervous as  a bad child actor can really derail a film. The role of Auggie is played by Jacob Tremblay (known for his lead role as Jack in Room) and he blows the part out of the water. He captured the true essence of Auggie’s personality and in the sadder moments, it was almost impossible to believe that he was just a child acting and now actually crying his heart out.  The absolute standout actor for me was Noah Jupe who took on the role of Auggie’s best friend Jack Will; who was my favourite character from the book. Noah did a brilliant job of facial acting and his chemistry with Jacob made the friendship between these two characters feel believable.

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I had a lot of issues with the use of multiple perspectives in the book and that’s one of the few aspects where I think the film did a better job of executing the intention. The different narratives are explored through voiceovers while the characters go about their day and the combination of that with the aerial, third person view of the film aided the experiences of the characters. For example, it was a lot easier to pick up on Viv being pushed aside as her parents focused on August in the film than in the book because the viewer can physically see Viv being side-lined and lounging around in the background.

Other actors that surprised me were the Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts who played the parts of Auggie’s parents. A clip of Owen Wilson in the trailer, along with an interview he did, are what really pushed me to devour this story and he pleasantly surprised me in this film. He is the typical, almost cliché “funny dad” there to break the tension at just the right moments and he really portrayed the loving father just trying to do the best to help out his child, along with paying Viv some attention unlike the preoccupied mother. When I looked into casting, Julia Roberts was the first one that I wasn’t I recognised but wasn’t too bothered about. Again, she surprised me and I found myself caring out – and appreciating the efforts of – the mother a lot more. Her chemistry with Owen did a great job of projecting that happy marriage and it was nice to see scenes of them together without the children.

I know that I’ve focused a lot on my thoughts surrounding the character portrayals, but in a heavily character driven story it’s too easy to focus on their efforts than anything outside of that. I will mention that I did love that the helmet featured a lot more in the film as it was an extra little thing to reflect Auggie’s character development throughout the story.

I left the cinema feeling emotionally drained but also overwhelmingly happy and satisfied. This adaptation keeps the real spirit of Wonder alive and showcases the importance of just being kind to others.

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Posted in adaptations, discussion

What I Look For In Adaptations

More and more we’re starting to see adaptations dominating the new releases at cinemas. It’s starting to feel like almost every day there’s an announcement of another book – primarily Young Adult – that’s been picked up by a film company. This is a good thing on many levels because it feels like Young Adult content is starting to be taken seriously. Fancasting is a common thing in the book community and many of us openly say we would love to see our favourite story in a visual format (I personally cannot wait for the A Darker Shade of Magic TV show). A phrase that’s batted around a lot is “the book is always better than the film.” I am the absolute worst for watching an adaptation with someone and going “you know in this book…”

In my final year of my undergraduate degree I took a module titled “Film and Literature” where, you guessed it, we read a book and watched its subsequent adaptations then discussed them in classes and essays. In my exam, the highest marked question was “All good books make bad adaptations. All bad books make good adaptations. Discuss.” I remember starting at the paper in horror. How was I expected to write a minimum of three pages about how this is entirely subjective? (I tried and failed miserably I still don’t know how I passed the module at all)

I still firmly believe that this is subjective: what may be someone’s favourite adaptation may be the worst thing ever to someone else. So I put the question to various people on social media sites to see what they thought. I was surprised that a lot of the responses I got focused on the feel of it: people seemed rather happy to have the adaptation veer off from the original material as long as it was true to the story. Capturing the real essence of the world and characters was naturally the overwhelming response I received. After all, how can you enjoy it if the meaning of the tale is lost? Naturally another common response I got was about accuracy: as long as everything is exactly as it happens in the book, it’s sure to be good. But with a need to streamline stories, a lot of seemingly unimportant stuff gets cut. For example, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series but the shortest film out of the franchise. (Come on, did you really not expect me to slip Harry Potter in somewhere?

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I am the traditional reader who will pick up the book before going to see the movie. Mainly because I like to imagine everything for myself before that is permanently tainted by someone else’s interpretation of the same story. When I watch the adaptation, I am one of those people who lives for accuracy; even the smallest change can completely take me out of the world. It’s a curse.

So to turn these thoughts I have into something a bit less hypothetical (and probably make this post much longer than it needs to be) I’m going to share two adaptations I really enjoyed and two that are better left forgotten out.
Allegiant (2016) 

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I absolutely adore the Divergent series and the final book is my favourite. I was amazed at how well done the first two films were and often find myself re-watching them. But watching Allegiant felt like being trapped on a train that had derailed over a bridge. Not one once of this adaptation reflects the source material. Nothing was really explained and it felt like the real message Veronica Roth was trying to get across had been muddled in all the changes that were made for the sake of more action scenes. I did a full spoiler review of it on my channel which you can find here if you want to hear me rant.

The Fault In Our Stars (2014) 

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It’s only writing this that I noticed I have coincidentally used two examples where Shailene Woodley is the main actress but I had to talk about this film.  I’m sure everyone has heard about this book regardless of whether they’ve read it or not. I remember sitting in the cinema as the credits rolled, tears rolling down my cheeks while I breathed a sigh of relief. This one of few adaptations to me that really got it right; so much so that I didn’t mind the minor changes. Everything about this is perfect, from the  soundtrack to the aesthetic, to the acting. As I said in the introduction, keeping the message is important and you really do feel it in this film.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016)

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My tolerance for horror and anything creepy is almost non-existent which makes it odd that Tim Burton is one of my favourite directors. So when I heard that he had signed on to work on a story about peculiar children and there was a book… you can see where I’m going with this. I ended up loving the overall series more than I ever thought I might as it is out of my comfort zone ins some respects. The adaptation is very mixed more me as I really didn’t like some of the actors, and for the life of me can’t understand why the roles and names of Emma and Olive were swapped for the film, but it has some redeeming element to it; mainly the aesthetic. I feel like enough of the world is there and that information is presented in a way that makes it easy to follow (whereas Ransom Riggs’ prose gets difficult to follow at times) but I think it did the right thing in changing the ending as I don’t think it did well enough to work on Hollow City. 

The Book Thief (2013)

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If you watch at least one adaptation in your life, please make it this one. The book is a very dark, haunting read. (What could you expect from a book narrated by death?) With such a strong narrative voice, I felt this might be lost once it was changed for screen and in a lot of ways it is but the acting is absolutely beautiful. I think it’s impossible to watch this film and not feel with every ounce of your being for these characters and the unfortunate situation they’re having to endure. The message is clear, visually it’s gorgeous and while a very slow burn, it’s so worth it for the re-evaluating of your life you’ll definitely do after.

And there you have it. You’ll notice that I didn’t use Harry Potter and that’s for a good reason: I plan to do a whole separate post about the franchise. Stay tuned for that!

What do you look for in adaptations?
What are some of your favourite adaptations and why?

Posted in adaptations, discussion

Movie Announcement | The Hate U Give

Edit: Since making this post, there has been a recast and I have updated this accordingly.

The Hate U Give was always going to be big. Given the current political situation and an ever growing push for diverse books in Young Adult, when Angie Thomas burst onto the scene with her debut, it got people talking. The book crashed onto the New York Times Bestseller list in the top spot and, several months later, still remains on the list.

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The story is about a teenage girl called Starr who witnesses her best friend get shot by a police officer. In the media frenzy and outrage from the community that follows, it is down to Starr to stand up, seek justice, and more importantly make her voice heard.

So let’s get into the current casting:

Starr Carter played by Amandla Stenberg 

 

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Amandla Stenberg was the first actor to be cast for this film. In fact, they were cast in the lead role before the book was even released. Which shows how much Fox believes in the source material. When I first saw them as Rue in The Hunger Games I could never have predicted that they would be a child actor that goes on to have a real career in acting. But with their recent role as Madeline in Everything Everything, it seems that Amandla may well be someone to watch. I have to admit, when the news broke that they would be taking on the lead role I did a fist-pump. I cannot wait to see them bring this character to life.

Lisa Carter played by Regina Hall

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Taking on the role of mama Carter is Regina Hall, most known for her role of Brenda in the Scary Movie franchise. For the moment I don’t really have an opinion on this announcement as I haven’t seen any of her TV or film work. But I really hope she does the character justice.

Big Mav played by Russell Hornsby 

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Daddy Carter comes in the form of Russell Hornsby. He’s most known for his roles as Hank in Grimm and Lyons in Fences. I’m a little unsure, since at this point I can only go off his look unless I decide to venture into his previous works, I just pictured the father to be a little older for some reason. But again, both parental figures in the film could really prove me wrong.

Seven Carter played by Lamar Johnson

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And finally, completing the line-up of the Carter family is Lamar Johnson. Yes. Quite simply, yes. In terms of credentials, Lamar is due to play a role in the upcoming X-Men film X-Men: Dark Phoenix so he’s another one worth keeping an eye on! I cannot wait to see him bring one of my favourites from the book to life.

Chris played by K.J. Apa 

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A recast sees K.J Apa taking on the role of Starr’s boyfriend. His main credit is Riverdale which, admittedly, I haven’t seen a single episode of. But after Fox took the decision to remove the previous actor from the film, I’m interesting to see what K.J brings to the role.

The fact that this book is being turned into movie and definitely going to hit screens -unlike many YA adaptations that end up stuck in the mud – is so important. I feel like this film, given the current state of the world and raw, brutal, honesty of its message will really get people talking. Hopefully, talking about change. Because things really do need to change. And this being put out there in a visual format may finally get the conversation moving in the right direction. And with conversation comes action.

Let me know your thoughts on the casting. Who would you like to see take on the role of Khalil or Starr’s school friends? Are you looking forward to seeing The Hate U Give on the big screen?

 

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Posted in adaptations, discussion, young adult

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before | Movie Announcement

Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase of Young Adult books making it onto the big screen. From Everything, Everything to Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda, the newest addition to the list is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, based on the best-selling series by Jenny Han.

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The story follows a girl called Lara Jean who has just started her junior year of High school. Everything is going fine until her box of letters written to her crushes is delivered to their doorsteps.

I have to admit, I have seen the massive love for this trilogy but I haven’t read it myself. (Though that is soon to change due to this announcement!) As a result of this, I can’t speak for the accuracy of the actors cast so please express your opinions! With that being said, let’s get into the casting:

Lana Condor as Lara Jean Covey

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Lana Condor made her debut appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse and is now going to be taking on the lead role in this adaptation. As Jenny Han highlights in her announcement, this is massive news. The casting directors could have easily gone down the white-washing route which happens all too often, but instead they decided to go with a Vietnamese-American actress.
Janel Parrish as Margot Covey

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Probably the most recognisable from the cast announcements, Janel Parrish’s popularity stems from her role in the hit TV series Pretty Little Liars. It’s nice to see moving on to other acting roles.

John Corbett as Dr Covey

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John Corbett is taking on a fatherly role. From a quick look through his roles, it doesn’t seem like he’s made many big-impact appearances.

Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky

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There’s another recognisable face in the form of Noah Centineo who’s most known for his role in the Disney Channel Original Film How To Build A Better Boy.

The film is also being directed by Susan Johnson and the screenplay is by Sofia Alvarez, so there’s women taking on roles behind the camera as well!

I’ve made a post in the past about strong female characters and the role of women in both books and film. Since then, we’ve had the likes of Wonder Woman, a female Jedi in Star Wars , and a woman taking on the lead role in Doctor Who for the first time in the show’s history. While these are all monumental achievements, it’s important not to forget about women of different ethnicities getting their representation too.

As I said in the section on Lana Condor, they could have easily white-washed this film and come up with some terrible reason for doing so. But they haven’t. They’ve stayed true to a fundamental part of the character which, from seeing the outpouring of love and support, is already making a huge impact.

And I hope that this film is a success. Not just because it’s loved by so many, but also because if it does well, it really could pave the way for more POC women taking on leading roles in films.

Posted in adaptations, Dystopian, review, young adult

Book To Movie Talk | Allegiant

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*not spoiler free*

When I saw the first trailer for Allegiant, my expectations were low. As more trailers and teasers were released my expectations continued to sink. I doubted the film itself would be good let alone accurate. I knew going into the cinema screen that this adaptation would not be the Allegiant I hold close to my heart so of course I was apprehensive.

Here’s a breakdown of the important new characters added to the cast for this part of the series:

David played by Jeff Daniels

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Matthew played by Bill Skarsgard

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Nita played by Nadia Hilker

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Starting off with the existing characters, Theo James failed to impress, yet again, as Four. I’ve always found Four to be a painfully boring character in the books so if Theo intended to transfer that to screen then I guess you can say he was successful. I used to enjoy Shailene Woodley as Tris but in this film she is surprisingly underwhelming. Despite the fact that the existing characters find out in Allegiant that everything they know is a lie and that people have been watching them through cameras their whole lives, they seem content with this in the film, while the book versions go through a massive adjustment period. It just completely threw the tone off in the film, getting rid of any possible tension.

The new characters don’t leave much to be desired either. Remember Nita in the book and the role she played? She might as well not exist in the film. David didn’t seem nearly as desperate and evil, appearing laid-back more than anything else, and Matthew plays a considerably smaller role with the humour and charm that made me appreciate him in the book vanishing into thin air.

The only actor to give a good performance was Miles Teller, returning to the role of Peter, who had screen presence and made the terrible dialogue he was given funny, even eliciting a few laughs from me.

But the lack of emotions from any of the characters led to the events of the film not feeling believable which is key to a story with this kind of concept at its core.

I was already aware from the promotion prior to the film’s release that things would be different; the main factor fans picked up on being the changes to the “world beyond the wall.” That 21st century, modern day Chicago from the book seems like a pleasant dream when you set your eyes on what they have done to the world.

 

Everything beyond the wall is a wasteland. The world is split into 4 places:

Chicago – the city ruled by factions that the characters believed to be the world

  • The bureau – genetic welfare headquarters
  • The province – essentially the government that the bureau has to report to
  • The fringe – a place where those who survived what ravaged the world are living in poverty.

Neither the fringe nor the province exists in the book and I am still trying to understand why they needed to add it. I would have found this slightly bearable if the locations looked real and less like a soft play centre. The source material doesn’t lack the information or action to make this watchable and not seem stagnant so why the creators felt the need to include such massive plot changes just seems redundant to me, unless they were trying to purposely destroy this series, in which case they’re doing a fantastic job.

Natalie’s diary is given to Tris by Matthew to help her understand the important role her mother played and come to terms with her new surroundings. In the film, David gives Tris memory tabs that allow her to relive parts of her mother’s life in the fringe, before she willingly entered the Chicago experiment. Another unnecessary change.

The only part I saw of book Allegiant depicted on screen was the trials.

 

This scene opened the film and showed a sense of madness that had taken over the city as everyone rallied to see the deaths of those that had persecuted them. I will admit, the only moment that elicited any emotion from me other than disappointment was when Caleb was in the cage waiting for his trial and screaming to Tris “please don’t let them kill me.” Even Evelyn with the devastating fear that crippled her in the book fell utterly flat on screen.

There just seemed to be a lack of conviction in all the information given and it felt that none of the cast really wanted to be there, not that they were given much good direction in this script.

I reached a point during the viewing process where I tried to look at the film as if I hadn’t read the book before and even then it just didn’t make sense. Making Tris out to be someone who is a “chosen one”, not fully explaining what makes people genetically damaged or pure. Frankly, it’s just a mess.

But in the end, I am a fan of this series and I will see the final part titled “Ascendant” when it is released next year. I just hope to the book adapting gods that the ending stays the same.
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Posted in adaptations

Book To Movie Talk | Pan

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*Warning: this post is not entirely spoiler free*

If anyone was to ever ask me what my all time favourite story is, the answer would without a doubt be Peter Pan. There is something just so beautiful about this place called Neverland, the people who live there, and the adventures you can go on that makes me cling to it with everything I have. The original novel, written by J.M.Barrie, is the reason I decided to become a writer. While this is obviously a book blog, Peter Pan has always been so precious to me that, even though this is a “loose adaptation” it would be silly for me to ignore it.

When I initially heard that this movie was in the works I was so excited because it’s been a very long time since we’ve had a Peter Pan movie. As I waited with bated breath for more information, it was finally announced that the movie would be called “Pan” and would be an origin story. An origin story you say? Surely that hasn’t been done before? Well you would be right, imaginary other half of this discussion. There is no “canon” origin story to Peter Pan. So this had me very interested.

So first, let us take a look at the main cast:

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Peter played by Levi Miller

There’s not really much you can gauge from looking at a child actor. But at 13 years old, he’s roughly the right age for Peter and from what I saw in the trailer it seemed like he was going to be right for the part.

Hugh Jackman

Blackbeard played by Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman is well… Hugh Jackman. He’s just such a fantastic actor. When I first heard he was going to be in the film, I was convinced he was going to play Captain Hook for some reason, but then as more details of the story came out I discovered he would be playing Blackbeard. Also he shaved his head and grew a very styled beard for the role.

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Hook played by Garrett Hedlund

Here we have the actual Hook. This is what made me nervous for the film. Based on the footage of Garrett in the trailer, his accent is just terrible. I don’t know who told him to put that accent on but bad move.

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Tiger Lily played by Rooney Mara 

And finally, we have our Tiger Lily. This was one of my bigger concerns. The Indians in the original story are Native American and suddenly in the trailer pops up Rooney Mara. A white woman.

I’ll come back to what I thought of the cast based on the actual movie later on.

The film has a really pretty opening with a voice over talking about how everything has a beginning and how sometimes not everything is the same as it was at the start: “those who start as friends become enemies, and those who start as enemies become friends.” (A possible link to Hook maybe?) This then cuts to a woman running down a street and leaving a baby outside a door with a necklace. After this brief scene – in which the viewer can identify the actress as Amanda Seyfried- it cuts to a few years later, during World War 2.

Levi Miller finally makes his appearance as Peter, the boy who was abandoned in the previous scene. He’s in an orphanage and the only way I can possibly describe this place is that it’s like the orphanage in the musical film Oliver! Food is rationed, the nuns are nasty, the conditions aren’t great and they’re forced to do work. I half-expected the nuns to start singing when Peter asked if there was any bacon.

Anyway, one night while the boys are sleeping, the nuns put up a pirate flag. A pirate ship arrives and those on board begin stealing some of the orphans. The army sends fighter planes after the ship believing that it is an attack from the enemy. Why on earth you would think the enemy in the 1940’s would use a flying pirate ship to launch an attack, I’m not sure, but I admired the slightly comic scene that ensued.

The ship makes it back to what is assumingly Neverland and this segment of film is what got me really pumped for the rest of it. As Peter looks over the side of the ship he sees thousands of people looking up at him, all chanting, believe it or not, some of the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit. It seems like a cult gathering and the chanting reaches it climax when Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) makes his entrance and welcomes the new arrivals to Neverland. This scene just made me want to grab a sword and start kicking things and stabbing things because it was just such a badass and epic build up.

Initially I thought that the boys getting stolen by the pirates would end up being the lost boys from the original story, especially since Peter’s best friend was called Nibs. However, after the intense chanting scene and seeing how many boys were actually there, it seemed my guess was very much wrong.

Blackbeard tells the boys to get mining and Peter learns that they are looking for fairie pixim (fairy dust). Along this way Hook (Garrett Hedlund) makes his on screen debut as the rather bitter adult who’s all “I’m not your friend, kid” but then ends up being stuck with the kid anyway. Peter is determined to find his mother and believes that she may be on the island and that the natives might know where she is. With the help of Hook, they escape and so the cat and mouse chase begins.

And of course, what would a film be without some ancient prophecy?
The people of the land know of a prophecy which tells of a boy, born from a human woman and a fairy prince, who will come from another world to kill Blackbeard. Also, the boy has the ability to fly.
This couldn’t possibly be our little protagonist now, could it?

So there’s the basic plot laid out for you.

I was very surprised by this film. I expected it to be good but it just went beyond that. There were so many wonderfully clever links to the source material which actually answered a lot of the questions I had about the story such as how Peter can understand fairies, how he actually got the name “Peter Pan” and links to Hook becoming the captain we know.

Going back to Rooney Mara whom I mentioned earlier, I tried really hard to put aside the fact she was white and pay attention to her acting. She was very good in this film. Although I’m sure Tiger Lily is closer to Peter’s age in the book, she took on more of a mother’s role with Peter in this film and it was really lovely to see someone guiding him, and believing in him when he didn’t believe in himself. I still would have preferred someone Native American to take on the role though.

There was one aspect to this film that literally had me eye-rolling so hard you could have probably heard me. When Hook meets Tiger Lily, it’s not really hard to see that she’s rather attractive and a kind of sub-plot was the tedious Hook attempting to flirt while Tiger Lily having no interest but eventually kind of softening to him. It just wasn’t needed at all and kind of detracted away from the importance of what Peter was facing.

Levi Miller was utterly incredible in the main role. Dare I even say it, he may be my favourite Peter Pan to date. I can’t even put into words his acting in this film, but if this boy doesn’t have a long film career ahead of him, I will be shocked.

To top the film off, you have breath-taking visuals of the island, brilliant CGI and the score music , composed by John Powell (known for How To Train Your Dragon scores), just adds that extra bit of magic.

I highly recommend you see this film if you haven’t yet. Or if you have, let me know what you thought about it!

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings