It's happened! I read Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (book 1) of James Patterson's NYT Best-selling series back in 2005. 11 years ago! Even though I know that the prose isn't amazing, it's engaging (same as the Twilight saga, whether you like it or not), and Max was one of my first literary role models in addition to Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) and Lyra Belaqua (The Golden Compass).
And when I first joined MoviePilot as a staff writer 4 years ago (before it became an open-source platform), Maximum Ride was listed as "in development." And then, there was radio silence. And more silence. So much so, that I gave up hope it would ever happen.
But then... a poster popped up in my instagram and Facebook feeds.
Halloween is right around the corner which means it’s movie time! Some of these movies are available on Netflix while others require you to buy them on Amazon. Netflix makes it particularly easy to find their recommended Halloween movies with this nifty category. I’m not someone who likes to be scared easily, so any scary movies will be noted and will have been recommended through friends or the internet (if they suck, don’t blame me, I haven’t seen them for myself). I think a general rule of thumb should be anything Tim Burton is a good Halloween movie. In my mind, he’s the King of Halloween all-year ‘round. You’ll see a few of his creations on this list for sure.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
2. The Addams Family (1991)
Sorry this review is SO late. A lot has been happening in my life, but since Into The Woods is being released on iTunes today, I thought it was about time to post my thoughts on the movie adaptation of my favorite Sondheim musical. You can also get a filmed version of the original Broadway production on iTunes.
You may remember a while back I posted about "evil" characters and how evil isn't born, but made. Given it was tied to the OUAT finale, I think it's a good "companion" post of sorts since Into The Woods is an amalgam of multiple fairytales with the new storyline of the baker and his wife. While I would never call The Witch in this musical evil, she definitely does some not so nice things. But, as Meryl Streep sings in "Last Midnight," she says: "I'm the hitch, I'm what no one believes, I'm the witch!" Basically, she's the jaded-mostly cynical (but annoyingly realistic) force in life that pushes people to action and makes them deal with the consequences. The last song of the musical says, "Wishes come true, not free," which I think perfectly encapsulates the show.
So! My actual review: I loved it. I cried, laughed, and everything in between while watching this star-studded cast belt out some of my favorite musical theater numbers in awesome costumes (designed by the legendary Colleen Atwood) while being directed by the best (in my opinion) musical-to-movie director, Rob Marshall. If you're not a fan of the same-old girl waits for a prince trope, but still want to experience some of the "classics," this movie is for you.
On a random note, I got super excited when I saw the movie alluding to the original Broadway poster.
Also, enjoy this cool GIF of Meryl Streep as The Witch:
Based on Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, The Imitation Game centers on the life of the British mathematician who created the Bombe, the giant machine that broke Germany's Enigma code (or “The Nazi Code”) in World War II. He is credited as the father of computer science. In the movie, the machine was called “Christopher” to be more sentimental and reminiscent of Turing’s first love. When it broke the code in real life, the name was changed to “Victory.” For those who don’t know what Enigma is, it was the supposedly unbreakable cipher used by the Nazis during World War II to encrypt all of their messages.
The name of the movie is derived from Alan Turing’s post-World War II work, mainly the Turing Test, which tried to answer the question of what makes the human mind uniquely human and how closely can artificial intelligence imitate it? The film focuses on three distinct time periods of the genius’ life: his secondary education at the Sherborne School (1928), his work in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park (1939-45), and when he was arrested for being a homosexual in 1952. Bletchley Park (or the code name “Ultra”) was the home to the British Government Code and Cipher School (GC&CS) where cryptographers worked on breaking the Japanese and German codes during World War II. Hut 8 was where the Nazi Code was finally broken by Turing and his team. The movie opens with a scene from the latest chronological time period, which was mostly vague with one piece of foreshadowing. It was an interesting decision, but one that seems to distance the audience from the main story before it has really begun. The film is well edited, almost seamlessly transferring between these epochs, though the mental transition was still sometimes a bit jarring.
Although Benedict Cumberbatch shares little physical resemblance to his character, he expertly portrays the complicated and fascinating man. Working from oral reports about Turing’s speech patterns, Cumberbatch created his own type of stutter that was both high in pitch like Turing’s, but not so much that it grated on the audience’s ears and patience. One can easily believe that the actor who plays Sherlock Holmes on BBC’s Sherlock is the brilliant, but sometimes unlikeable man responsible for ending World War II at least 2 years earlier than expected. As Sherlock, he indirectly referenced breaking the Enigma code in one episode (Season 2, Episode 1, “A Scandal in Belgravia”) when he mentions the controversial Coventry bombing.
The ensemble consists of strong actors including The Good Wife’s Matthew Goode, Gosford Park’s Charles Dance, and Mark Strong from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy among others. In the midst of all the testosterone on screen, Keira Knightley shines as her character, Joan Clarke, a brilliant woman working in a man’s world.
Movie Description: In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world.
Book Synopsis: Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
Read my book review of The Giver.
I will admit that I was initially very worried about this movie. I know that the star power of Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgård should have put me at ease, but the trailers seemed so bland and too futuristic when compared to the book that I was still freaking out. The title treatment also reminded me the alien TV show V, so that didn't help. My skepticism didn't abate when Lois Lowry herself, said:
I had seen Brenton Thwaites in Maleficent and wasn't too impressed, though I think that had to do more with the dull role of the prince than his acting skills. (Sidenote: you can read my movie review of Maleficent and my post on villains.) In The Giver, however, he shines.
I had never heard of Odeya Rush before, but her portrayal of Fiona was captivating. I liked her character much more because of her acting than in the book. I thought she was kind of shallow in the original source material, but the movie also developed her more to serve as a viable love interest for Jonas. I despise the need to add romance to every YA story (book or movie), but it surprisingly didn't bother me as much as I expected.
Another change that I assumed would ruin the movie was the aging of the characters from 12 to 16 (again to follow the YA dystopian trend), but I think it works very naturally. 12 and 16 were very pivotal years in my life (more so than 13 and 17) so seeing a 16-year old Jonas facing these dark themes resonated with me.
What was also really great was the larger scope of the movie that wasn't shown in the book. The book is told from Jonas' POV so a lot of behind the scenes in the Community went unseen in the reading experience, but the movie can easily switch from Jonas' POV to the Chief Elder's, who is played Meryl Streep.
The Chief Elder's role (and tension between her and The Giver) was expanded for the movie. Understandable, since it's Meryl Streep we're talking about here, but the change was so seamless that for those who haven't already read the book (or read the articles talking about the changes made), you would never have guessed it had ever been otherwise.
The style of the movie showed clear parallels to The Hunger Games (The Communities resemble the District logos and Capitol) and Divergent (The Graduation—"Ceremony of Twelve" in the book—looks like the Choosing Ceremony). Despite this, The Giver is unique in its own right as a movie. The main reason is the way they portrayed the memories. And, if anyone says The Giver is copying plot elements, remember it was published in 1993—years before either of the modern dystopian trilogies. I already wrote a post on how The Giver is responsible for the current trend of YA dystopian novels like The Hunger Games and Divergent.
Overall, I loved this movie and agree with Lois Lowry's assessment (see image quote above). You can read my book review of The Giver, or buy the book yourself.
And finally, for those of you who have already read the book and seen the movie, here is a good review on how faithful the film was to its source material (it has spoilers, so again, read and watch–in that order).
FYI, The Giver was inspired by the author's father's memory loss. Here's another interesting interview with Lois Lowry. And here's one where she more strictly talks about the page to screen adaptation.
Jeff Bridges originally intended his father to play The Giver, but his father died a few years later.
On a random note, the girl who plays Fiona looks like Anna Kendrick on the poster, but really resembles Mila Kunis in more ways than one.
I'm a self-published author (because being a college student wasn't hard enough!) and spend most of my time doing homework. I write YA multi-genre fiction for young adults or the young at heart. I love NCIS, BBC's Sherlock,
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