Archive for the ‘ Adaptations ’ Category

James Dashner did what seems to be increasingly popular in Young Adult fiction–he wrote a dystopian trilogy. I have only read The Maze Runner so far, since I wanted to read it before seeing the movie.

The Maze Runner, as many books do, seems to draw on previous stories and change things about them. I specifically felt there were similarities to Lord of the Flies. That’s not a bad thing, since Lord of the Flies is one of the classics.

Where The Maze Runner differs is in the setting, the time period, and the conflict. The kids in The Maze Runner are stuck in a glade that’s inside a giant maze, and the main conflict results from them trying to find a way out and avoid the monsters in the maze. In the movie, a lot of this action–the time spent studying the maze–is either fast-forwarded or not even discussed. I understand movies have to be condensed, but it didn’t seem to be handled well. I walked away with the feeling that the director was banking on people having read the book.

The movie is still entertaining, even if the fighting action sequences were too blurry to follow well. It does stick to the book in most essentials. Of course, it has a cliff-hanger ending since it’s based on the first book of a trilogy. This was still a novel (no pun intended) thing way back when Peter Jackson directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Is it going old? Well, it’s making money, so I don’t see the practice changing anytime soon, but it gets tiring sometimes.

The book has interesting ideas and presents them in an entertaining format. I wish the movie had followed it a little better, but it was still entertaining as well. It remains to be seen how strong the whole trilogy will be.



Divergent–Book Review

Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy has been compared to Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy. So far, I’ve only read Divergent, but I can see why people would make that comparison. However, I don’t think the two are similar much beyond the fact that they are both young adult dystopian trilogies.

In Divergent, there is a world that is both more familiar and more unique. What makes it familiar are the location–Chicago in the future–and what is different is the idea of all people being divided into five factions, and each faction having a specific set of jobs.

The main character, Beatrice or Tris, changes factions, but finds she still doesn’t fit in. This is something that most people can relate to, at least in some point in their lives. Roth may play the concept up a lot, but it’s important to the story line. What is interesting is that the “outsiders,” those who don’t fit in, are also those who can’t be controlled like everyone else.

Maybe being the odd one in the crowd is better than you think.

The Giver–Movie review

The Giver, directed by Phillip Noyce, is based on the book of the same title, written by Lois Lowry. The book is an early young adult dystopian novel, but it seems much different from the typical dystopian YA novels written today. For one thing, it is more similar to something like Brave New World than it is to The Hunger Games. Why do I say that? Because in The Giver, everyone thinks they are living in a utopia, even though the reality behind the facade is quite chilling. No one, except perhaps some of those in The Capitol, would ever think that in The Hunger Games.

The movie version of The Giver follows the book well in the important areas. As usual, there are a number of changes, but most of them are understandable due to the issues of compressing a book into a movie length.

The actors were well-suited to their parts, especially Jeff Bridges as the Giver. It seems that he has gotten much better over time. Even if he isn’t as old as I imagined the Giver, his performance is thoroughly convincing. The movie also contains some good cinematography and photography.

If you are looking for a movie that combines action with thought-provoking ideas, you should check out The Giver. After all, you might be curious to see a portrayal of what happens when everything is decided for you. Would you be in the majority living in the utopia, or would you be on the fringe, be different?

Warm Bodies – Movie Review

Warm Bodies is an adaptation of a novel of the same title, written by Isaac Marion. The plot-line could be summarized by saying it’s a modern-day Romeo and Juliet–with zombies. That makes it sound ridiculous movie, but it’s actually quite humorous.

Nicholas Hoult plays R, a zombie who can’t remember his life before being a zombie, but still clings to aspects of his humanity. He encounters Julie, and ends up saving her life. The movie may sound silly, but the writing is humorous and the story is rather unique.

An interesting aspect of Warm Bodies is the discussion of things that emphasize our humanity, things that R has mostly lost but still longs for. It’s not a movie for everyone–after all, some people don’t like zombie stories–but it was far more humorous and engaging than I thought it would be.

Warm Bodies was released in time for Valentine’s Day, and why not? Who needs to see a typical romantic comedy when there’s one with zombies to watch?

Les Miserables – Movie Review

As a general rule, I do not like musicals. The lyrics are often sappy, and it seems ridiculous how, in the middle of a life-changing event, the characters will burst into song and dance around. The new version of Les Miserables does not fall neatly into the musical category. Yes, there is singing; however, it is not typical. In some instances it’s not even that good. And yet I liked it, far more than most musicals I’ve watched.

What is good about Les Mis is that it follows the book fairly well,which is saying something, since Victor Hugo could be long-winded. But the heart of the story is intact in this movie. The cinematography and costuming are wonderful, too.

The singing is the part that most people are talking about, though. Most of the dialogue of the movie is done through singing, which has an interesting effect. It actually adds emotion in parts, like Fantine’s song “I Dreamed a Dream.” Anne Hathaway was brilliant in the role of Fantine, and her version of “I Dreamed” was heart-breaking.

Les Miserables may not be the easiest or most comfortable movie you could watch, but it’s an important one, and the story is well-told. I would recommend watching it in the theater, too, to get the grand scope that Victor Hugo had in his book, and Tom Hooper was able to keep in the movie.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I love history, and Abraham Lincoln is probably my favorite president. So I had very mixed feelings about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I found it jarring (both in the book and the movie) that the author, Seth Grahame-Smith referred to Lincoln as “Abe,” apparently not bothering to learn that Lincoln disliked that nickname.

Using a nickname the person disliked isn’t a big deal for a movie, but when it comes to history, details do matter, and many of the details in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter were wrong. For example, Lincoln’s step-mother, who had probably as much of a positive influence on Lincoln as his mother did, is left out entirely. So are Lincoln’s sisters and brothers. Lincoln also had four sons later in life, not just the one. Very well, you might say, but this is supposed to be an entertaining story of revisionist history, so it’s okay if not everything is accurate.

I did enjoy the fact that Lincoln was a vampire killer. At least Grahame-Smith went that route instead of the sparkly undead route, which would have been intolerable. However, I think the best thing I can say about the movie is that it’s clear that Grahame-Smith is canny. He used one of the most popular stories to write his own book (Pride & Prejudice and Zombies), and now he has capitalized on the popularity of one of the most loved and respected leaders in the world. My fear is that many people, not caring to read history, will accept much of what happens in the story (minus the vampires, I dearly hope) as accurate, when it’s at best similar to the truth.

I really wanted to like the movie. After all, it is about Lincoln. However, it was just too ridiculous for me to really enjoy. There were moments when the story was entertaining, but it was rather predictable. Should a story about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires be predictable? I’m not sure. I left the theater wanting to read some of Lincoln’s writing, to remind myself of his wit and intelligence. Lincoln was a great man, a strong leader in a troubled time. It is not necessary to add vampire-hunting to his repertoire to make him cool. After all, he’s Abraham Lincoln, and that was more than enough.

One of my friends sent me a link to a message board posting. The author is saying that he’s disappointed that Tolkien ripped off Harry Potter. As most people in the comments say (some of the comments are pretty bad), the person must either be a troll or really, really out of touch with reality.

Either way, it’s actually rather humorous, mostly because everything is so wrong. I thought I would share, so you all can enjoy it or be angered by it!

Dark Shadows

If you’ve been reading my posts long enough, you might have guessed by now that I’m not a huge fan of vampire movies, mostly because so many of the recent ones mess with the original vampire “mythology” and seek simply to glamorize them.

Dark Shadows is a vampire movie, but it returns more to the original ideas about vampires (they can’t be in the sunlight, they have no reflection, they are soulless creatures). It is also rather campy, since it is a remake of the TV show from the 60s. This remake of Dark Shadows certainly has the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp quirkiness (especially in the visual effects), but it wasn’t quite as funny as I thought it would be. It was still funny, though, which is a giant step forward from most recent vampire movies.

The story is predictable, but that’s okay. Most Burton movies are, despite their quirks. Dark Shadows, as other Burton movies, also has a tortured love story, a central character who is at least partially misunderstood, and a lot of bizarre characters. However, it does have a hilarious depiction of 70s-era hippies. And the way the risen vampire has to learn to live in “modern” times is funny.

Despite some flaws, Dark Shadows was an enjoyable movie. And it isn’t a typical vampire movie, which is a good thing.

Wrath of the Titans

The movie Wrath of the Titans picks up the story of Perseus a number of years after where Clash of the Titans left off. Since the mortals have stopped praying to the gods, they are losing their power and becoming mortal. Some of them decide they won’t abide this and make a pact to release the titans into the world. Perseus must step in to stop this from happening.

All of this is very far from the original mythological stories. About the only thing that is the same are the names and character traits of some of the people. It’s an entertaining story, but it’s certainly far from accurate. So if you enjoy the original stories, you might not enjoy this movie. I do like mythology, especially Ovid’s stories, but I still found Wrath of the Titans enjoyable. Much of my enjoyment, honestly, came from Bill Nighy as Hephaestus, the crippled smith-god and husband of Aphrodite.

The movie is really about the special effects, and they are well done. The story is a bit odd and tortured, but still generally enjoyable.

Mirror Mirror

It’s always interesting to see how the newest retelling of a fairy tale is going to turn out. Mirror Mirror was one of the more entertaining versions of the Snow White story that I’ve seen.

It always helps to have a convincing villain, and Julia Roberts was excellent as the wicked step-mother. I also liked the twist of where her magical powers came from. Also good was Nathan Lane as her “resident boot-licker.”

Lily Collins, as Snow White, did a good job of being able to seem both sweet, innocent, and tough all at the same time. And her relationship with the dwarves was entertaining, even if bordering on the ridiculous at times.

I enjoyed that the writers seemed to realize that fairy tales are a bit ridiculous, and went along with it. There were definitely cheesy moments, but they seemed played up and dealt with humorously instead of being taken too seriously. One thing that was jarring was the Bollywood-inspired dance number that ran during the credits. It didn’t fit with the rest of the movie, but it made me realize that a Bollywood version of Snow White could be a really good idea.