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.
Some of you may remember my OUAT Sunday Soup where I talked about the importance (and my obsession) with complicated, layered villains. If not, read it after you finish this post.
Anyway, "I must say, I felt quite" elated to hear about this movie. I mean, come on, it's Angelina Jolie playing the "Mistress of All Evil" and mother of Disney Villains. Like the star, I never identified with Aurora. She sleeps for more than half the film and has fewer words (sung and spoken) than Maleficent according to this awesome post about why the character Maleficent is amazing. (search "words" and read the paragraph in this article).
I loved this movie. It was a visual spectacle, Angelina's performance blew me away, and the plot was moving (albeit different from the animated Disney film). In all actuality, Maleficent was more along the lines of the original Sleeping Beauty tales (minus the princess becoming impregnated in her sleep—Disney does have a reputation to keep) where the "Evil Fairy" has agency (which back then was considered bad). You can read a whole history lesson on that.
One of my favorite YouTube reviewers, Grace of Beyond the Trailer, said that this was another example of Linda Woolverton's feminist agenda... I don't necessarily agree. Strong women do not necessarily equate to feminism in the sense of an angry woman protesting all the sins of men (although there certainly is that aspect in the movie).
As a PG film, even the darkest elements of this film remained brief. I do agree with Grace in her wish that we got to see the iconic villain we loved from the animated film. Again, the audience is treated to some episodes of her reveling in the terror she causes, but not as much as I would have liked. Which goes back to the film's relation to its Disney source material.
The marketing team portrayed this film as the classic told from Maleficent's perspective. And while it is her story, it is not merely a flip-side account of the animated tale where Maleficent curses Aurora, Aurora goes to live in a cottage, meets a prince, falls asleep, prince fights & kills dragon. The two really only overlap as far as the curse, Aurora's life in the cottage, and meeting Prince Phillip in the woods. People who were expecting a Disney-fied Wicked (where the reputation of the Wicked Witch is false, but the events still seemingly happen) will be somewhat disappointed. I can't blame them for that. But, if you take it as an adaptation, not a "retelling" as they kept saying in all the promos and interviews, then one will thoroughly enjoy this new Disney masterpiece.
Below are my Top 10 YA movie adaptations. My rankings are not always by how faithful a movie is to its source material. It's whether they accurately capture the essence of the book and make an unforgettable impression as their own cinematic entities.
10. Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement. Though this movie had very little to do with its source material, I always love watching this movie (better than the first). And how can you not? It has Julie Andrews (who is my favorite elderly actress, quickly followed by Dame Maggie Smith), Anne Hathaway, and Chris Pine. Not only are all beautiful on screen, their acting chops make this slightly ridiculous and definitely kooky story remain in my heart (even though the film wasn't considered a success).
9. I love Bridge to Terabithia. It made me weep on the page and screen. Also, who can resist a young Josh Hutcherson? Not me. Some people were disappointed with this adaptation, feeling it glossed over some important book material, but I disagree and think it was very well done. Everyone should see this movie (after they've read the book, because I'm all for "book first, film later"), but bring tissues.
8. Okay, clearly I like Jim Carrey (he's a great actor when he's not Green—and apparently even then). This movie is actually an amalgam of the first three books in the Series of Unfortunate Events (in a really long series): The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window. I think they glossed over some stuff, but the movie makers did an excellent job of linking the three together in a cohesive, 2 hour movie. I was very disappointed when they never made a sequel. Now that the "girl" playing Violet is now too old, I doubt they will. Everyone should still see this movie, though.
7. Divergent. If you haven't read the book. Get off this blog (after you finish reading this post) and read books 1-3. I don't care what people say, you have to read all 3. In this very faithful adaptation (albeit changing the climactic scene and some other stuff), this movie kept the heart of Veronica Roth's book alive while the packaging changed. And since they did it well (in my opinion), I'm not going to begrudge them box office success. Sidenote: Theo James is the perfect Four, and he's British.
6. I expected this movie to give me horrible nightmares (I had a really bad track record with "scary" movies. I'm looking at you Jim Carrey (The Grinch). Anyway, my fears were unfounded. I loved this movie and slept like a baby afterwards. Very Alice-in-Wonderland-y,Coraline is a dark spin on wish fulfillment and the dangers of an alternate world. As much as I loved the book, the published drawings were much more frightening, and this is the one movie I'd be okay with people just skipping the book. It's faithful enough not to cheat them of the book, and not as scary as the illustrations.
5. The Book Thief. I found the movie better than the book. There, I said it. The book's narrator, Death (it's not a spoiler, I promise), is always interrupting the narrative flow and kind of whiny. The movie almost completely removes him except from the beginning and end. Sophie Nélisse is a perfect Liesel Meminger and I started crying halfway through the film. I think everyone should see this touching movie (and bring tissues while they're at it)
4. Everyone in my class thought I was too "innocent" to read The Lovely Bones. I had to remind them that I read Speak the summer before 5th Grade (a decision I regretted, but whatever). I loved this movie for it's poignant adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel, though there was one particular creative choice that did not sit well with me. When I first saw it, I thought they had ruined the plot, but I won't say what it was. Besides that, it was a very good film (though it didn't do well in the box office), and it was nice to see Stanley Tucci be mean for a change.
3. First, let me explain why I did not choose The Hunger Games: I got nauseous from the shaky, hand-held camera, and felt some other directional choices were ill-advised. But I loved the production design and casting, and obviously the books, so much that I still went to the theater to see Catching Fire. The second installment of the Hunger Games movie adaptations exceeded my expectations. Possibly the most faithful film adaptation I have ever seen. The reason this didn't rank as #1 is that even so, I feel certain integral foreshadowing details were cut from the script.
2. My best friends and I love this movie. Another example where the film was more cohesive than the book, Perks of Being a Wallflower, tells the story of a teenage boy who doesn't quite fit in—something we can all relate to in some way. What makes this movie awesome is that the actors breathe life into their characters in an amazing way. And it's Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, people. It can't get much better than that.
1. I bet you thought I forgot about Harry Potter. You would be mistaken, however. How could I forget the book series and movie franchise that defined a generation? My friends are divided into 4 groups on this book-to-film adaptation: some who only watched the movies (I still insist they read the books, but whatever), some who refuse to see the films, those who know both but hate what was lost between page to screen, and a few who like both within their own entities. I'm with the last group. I honestly think the Harry Potter films are among the best book-to-film adaptions—not because of their 100% adherence to the source material, but because they stay true to the heart of JK Rowling's famous series.
And there you have it! Did I get to any of your favorites? If not, feel free to comment below.
I just saw the film adaptation of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. And many tears later, I have decided I am completely in love with the book and film. I highly recommend this for everyone of all ages. The timing of reading it during my History unit on Nazi Germany only added to its powerful impact.
The Book Thief tells the haunting story of the titular character, Liesel Meminger, a ten year old girl growing up in Nazi Germany. After her brother dies and her Communist mother leaves her with the foster care system, Liesel feels alone in her new home with the Hubermanns. Before long, she begins to make new friends and finds comfort in learning how to read from stolen books. Seven years after its original publication in 2006, this critically-acclaimed young adult novel is now a major motion picture.
Narrated by Death, who proves to be loquacious and charismatic, the reader is shown many snippets of Liesel’s life, and of those surrounding her. Zusak artfully evokes the emotions of Nazi Germany, especially those of more reluctant residents like some of the Hitler Youth, who don’t understand the hatred being taught. The author also populates his story with a wide range of colorful characters like Hans and Rosa, Liesel’s foster parents; the next door neighbor Rudy, who harbors a crush on Liesel; and Max, all of whom are portrayed very faithfully in the film.
In the book, the story’s events unfold with little regard for a linear timeline. The author often fast-forwards and summarizes a future event before returning to the past or present in order to provide a fuller explanation of a given circumstance. The movie adaptation, however, presents the audience with a smoother narrative without the many, arresting asides that frequent the novel’s pages.
The transitions are not the only differences. As with most book to film adaptations, some details and back-stories are glossed over or in other cases, completely eliminated. Despite this fact, the screenwriter and director do not sacrifice any of the novel’s essence.
Based loosely on the author’s grandparents’ and parents’ experiences during the Holocaust, The Book Thief presents the audience with a powerful image of how everyone on Himmel street, both Jews and non-Jews, were impacted by the Nazi regime.
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I'm a self-published author— because being a college student wasn't hard enough! I write YA multi-genre fiction for young adults or the young at heart. I love This Is Us, NCIS, BBC's Sherlock,