The one aspect of the Lois Lowry's story I didn't like (and I love Lois Lowry) was her character of Jane. I got it, an old-fashion family and story calls for old fashion ways. Jane presented as an old-fashion girl: meek, mild and someone who believed she couldn't amount to anything. I was a bit worried how that would translate to a movie. Thankfully, it did not.
Jane is adventurous, rebellious and outspoken. As much as Tim tries to be the leader, the true leader is Jane. A smart contrast from the book.
While staying true to some dark elements of the book (child neglect, evil parents, etc.), the adaptation is colorful, lively and full of fun.
One of the things I loved about the book was the quirkiness of Stargirl and how she didn't care. Sure she had a moment f doubt when people started bullying her, but in the end she decided to stay true to herself. Some of this was lost in the movie.
Yes, it was still lighthearted, nostalgic and fun. But Stargirl wasn't as "over-the-top" as I had always pictured her. She still sang the ukulele (although, not to sing happy birthday to everyone, just to Leo). She still had her rat (though you only saw it twice in the movie) and she still brought team spirit to the school. But certain quirks were missing, like her happy wagon.
And the "bully/conform to norm" plot was rushed. The "bullying" was one scene at the Hot Seat show. The "conform to norm" was one outside park bench scene and a speech half scene. In less than 15 minutes, she was back to wanting to be herself. If I was a teen who saw only the movie, I wouldn't sympathize with her. "She only gave it two days," I would think. "What was so bad about those two days." And in the end, she was the one who broke up with Leo and not the other way around. This makes Stargirl the bad one who didn't give normal a chance, instead of Leo not giving weird a chance (as was the case in the book).
All in all, I think Disney could have done a little better. It's not a bad adaptation, but I felt that if they only took the time to really think about who Stargirl was in the book, the movie may have been just that much better,
To see a comparison of book vs. move, check out Elite Daily's review.
So I have to start by admitting that the Winona Ryder version of this adaptation has always been my favorite. It has this feeling of nostalgia like I'm watching the story unfold as someone is recounting a memory. It's lively and energetic, but not as if it was happening today. This version feels different.
Greta Gerwig's little women feel more in the moment. While it takes place in the past, it's shot in a way that makes it feel relevant to today. It's got hints of women rights issues, from Amy's admitting that they only way a woman can have value is by marrying the right man or Jo opening her school so girls can get a better education (even though both boys and girls can attend). We even get a publishing scene, when Jo watches on as her book "Little Women" is published (having haggled with her editor in a previous scene).
I may just have a new favorite.
To see a comparison of book vs. move, check out CinemaBlend's review.
I will say, I liked the movie better than the book which is usually NEVER the case. But I think it has to do with the fact the Greg is more likable in the movie. As stated above, I felt he was annoying in the book, but the movie had him down a notch in his selfishness and it worked. He was more careless than selfish, making mistakes that he was too scared to admit to. And that I could relate to more than the other version of him.
As this is an adaptation review, here is my list of changes.
1) Holly Hills. She had a much bigger role in the movie than the mere mention of her in the books. I get it though. There needed to be a bit of young romance in this movie.
2) Heather Hills. Now this is one change I don't like. The took her from being a simple lifeguard Greg tries to impress to a spoiled brat that Roderick wan't to impress. I hated Heather and so no point to her except to show that Holly and Greg have one thing in common: older siblings that treat them like crap.
3) Nagging Parent. In the book, it's the mother that nags at Greg for not being active enough. In the movie, it's the father. I get it. Since part of the plot line was centered around father/son bonding, it was easier to make the father the nagger. But then this meant that Rachael Harris was reduced to cameo shots here and there just to remind us that there was a mother in the story.
4) No making money schemes. Since the whole mowing lawn story line drove me crazy in the book, I was glad they took this out in the movie. Instead, the smoothie bill comes at the end and Greg's father ends up reluctantly paying the over 200 dollar bill (P.S. it was 83 dollars in the book).
5) Greg and Rowley don't have a falling out. In the story, the two boys get into a fight and are mad at each other for part of the story. I kind of liked this plot line. It showed that you can fight with someone and still be friends afterwards. It's the test of a good friendship, is it not?
In the end, though, the movie stayed true to the core theme of the book: family, friends and summer fun.
A little context before my review
Reading the descriptions of this movie, it's set 300 years after the book series. Now, by the time the movie was releases, the first 3 chapter books (out of 5) and 2 picture books (out of 3) were in the book stores. This means that technically the ending of the series hadn't even occurred yet by the time this movie was in production.
At the end of Toothiana (spoiler ahead), the 3rd chapter book, Katherine was kidnapped by Pitch. Sandman hadn't even appeared yet in the chapter books but only as the 2nd picture book and there was no Jack Frost. Now at the start of the movie, Jack Frost emerged from the lake unsure as to how he got there or who he was, just that his name was Jack Frost. Then poof, jump 300 years. This means, in the timeline of the book story, that Jack Frost emerges at the end of the series, an ending we have yet to read.
One year after the movie, the Sandman chapter book comes out. Now I image that the "why/who" of the character isn't confusing in the movie, since the picture book was available before hand giving a small background into him. However, three years after the movie comes out, the Jack Frost picture book is released. The book describes (spoiler ahead) how Jack Frost started out as Nightlight, the first Guardian and protector of the Man in the Moon. This means he didn't start out as a mortal boy before becoming Jack Frost. He started out as Nightlight. Now, conceivably, he could have been a mortal boy before Nightlight, but that's not how the movie portrays it. It was this part I found a pit confusing. Even if the movie was supposed to be 300 years after the series, the origin of Jack Frost seems a bit misleading. However, there is still one final chapter book left which is set to come out in October, so maybe answers will come then. In the meantime, my review below will be based on the 300 year jump forward and how I feel the growth of the characters was presented.
My review of the movie
Just as I enjoyed the books, I enjoyed the movie, despite the Jack Frost story-line confusion. I thought the Guardian vs. Pitch battle was just as intense as it was in the books. It has it beginning triumph followed by it's middle losses and low moral and ended with confidence and good beating evil. It was fun to watch. But as with all adaptations, here is my list of differences:
1) No Katherine and Ombric. Ombric I can kind of understand, but Katherine is the reason Nightlight starts his journey to becoming Jack Frost. He kisses her and begins the growing. Maybe the final book will cover this.
2) No village children. I always like the village children and their energetic spirit. I get why they are not present though.
3) E. Aster Bunnymund. The movie portrays him as a fighter, a warrior. But in the books he sort of a wise man, a monk in a sense. He's seen it all, been through it all, that emotions are lost on him. I don't really believe in 300 years his whole personality would change like that. I think he would have definitely opened up more but not to the extent the movie has him. Also, two of my favorite things in the book, his chocolate rage and bickering with North, are not present. Does 300 years have to change that much stuff?
And we have made it. Here is my review of the final Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay Part II.
I definitely liked this movie better than it's predecessor. I think if they had just made it into one movie instead of two, it would have been so much better. Oh, well.
I have to admit here that the 3rd book was never my favorite. The same goes for the movie, both parts. That prestige goes to Catching Fire, on both fronts. But I will say, that this fourth installment of the Hunger Games franchise is at least better than the first movie. I've always said that it should have been the one split into two. But, we're not here to talk about the first movie. I've already done that. We're here to talking about this final one.
Overall, the final movie stayed true to the themes of the book. The destruction, the death and the politics are all there. You see the effects of war and how people are compromised because of it. So as an adaptation, I think it stuck true to the book in it's story line and plot points. However, there was still something off about it and I'm not sure if it's the movie itself or my overall feeling about the franchise as a whole and the uneven work they've done with the movies. It is nothing against the actors or writers. I just think the decision makers lost something here.
Anyway, here is my usual list of notable differences:
1) Peeta's recovery. It was non-existence. In the book, there were strides taken to help Peeta recover. He takes therapy and really tries to become better and remember who he was. Non of that was in the movie, which made his back and forth struggle in the battlefield seem off. Why would he be struggling if he didn't know who he previously was?
2) Prim. Most reviews I've read mention that Prim was the one to visit Peeta instead of Delly Cartwright, but they leave out the fact that Peeta's therapy was her idea. She was the one who came up with the plan to reverse the effects of the Tracker Jacker torture. In Catching Fire, we see how string and capable Prim is becoming, something that shows even more in Mockingjay with this plan of her's. That was missing in the movie.
3) Katniss kills a capital citizen. This one is also mentioned frequently in other review, but I find this to be important if we think about Katniss in District 2. She wanted to save the citizens, fight for their lives saying that innocent bystanders should not be treated as the rest. Yet, when her own life is on the line, she doesn't think twice in killing an innocent. I think this speaks to the depth of war and how compromises to oneself happens on the battlefield.
As I said, not a bad adaption. But the whole movie franchise fell flat for me.
With Mockingjay Part II coming out this month, I have decided to review all the previous Hunger Game movies, and their book counterpart (look above), in preparation for the conclusion to this YA franchise. So here is my review of the first part of the Mockingjay movie.
I am going to be blunt here about this: I did not like this adaptation and I know why. It's because in order to split this book into two movies, they had to add scenes and story plots to the movie. In my opinion, they really didn't work to the story's advantage. My hope is that the second half is better as the meat of the story happens after Peeta is rescued.
With Mockingjay Part II coming out in November, I have decided to review all the previous Hunger Game movies, and their book counterpart (look above), in preparation for the conclusion to this YA franchise. So here is my review of the second movie in the series.
The movie makers did a much better job this time around. Not only did they stay truer to the book, but the major themes of the book remained in tack. They even added some of the humor (even though they still cut my favorite Peeta joke "They saw her shoot. Actually, I saw her shoot, for real, for the first time. I'm about to put in a formal request myself")
Even though they had to change a few things with Peeta, they did a much better job with him as well. In the first movie, I felt they made him too wimpy (having him cry on the way to the train, pa-leese). This time they showed off the charismatic side to the character and gave him the boldness he demonstrated in the books. All while still being him.
So let's take a look at the nigger differences from book to movie:
1) No Twill and Bonnie. The refugees from District 8 never appear and tell Katniss that District 13 is still around. This then doesn't spark Katniss to pay attention to the new cast and realize that the footage of District 13 is a fake.
2) Darius doesn't exist. This is the peacekeeper that defends Gale. He's later turned into an Avox and assigned to Katniss' and Peeta, most likely as a way of getting under Katniss' skin and shaking her up.
3) Plutarch Heavensbee never shows Katniss a watch. In the book, the watch is his way of showing he's on her side. It has a mockingjay hologram. It also signifies the design of the arena, to give Katniss a heads up as a new mentor. In fact, the movie set Plutarch up as having manipulated the Quarter Quell with president snow, slightly suggesting that they bring the victors in a tributes in a ploy to kill Katniss and "her kind". There's even a deleted scene of him switching the Quarter Quell envelope. This is not in the book as Plutarch specifically says he didn't know Katniss would be back in the arena.
4) Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch training as Careers. When it was decided that the victors were being brought back into the games, these three begin training and studying up in the other victors so they can be prepared and possibly win the games again. It's due to this that Peeta and Katniss watch the Quarter Quell in which Haymitch won. Katniss sees that he also defied the capital by using their own force field against them to kill a fellow tribute and ultimately win the game.
Even with this changes, nothing is taken away from the movie. This is how I like my adaptations.
Let me start by saying, that the over-arching themes were there: family, first love, tragedy and what do you do when you at the one left behind. But there was something lacking in this movie adaptation. Yes, there were difference from the book to the movie. I feel like that wasn't the problem. This movie had so much emotional potential, but I found myself with wet eyes that never actually formed tears.
I cried with the first book and I mean cried . . . like hard. My review above mentions me having to control myself while on the train. But there was no controlling myself with the movie. I felt like those emotional punches that the book had was lost in the film and I have one theory as to why. Instead of my infamous lists of changes, I'm going to focus on my theory. Which is this: Adam is everywhere.
I get why they focused on the first love theme of the story. My review above is pretty much about that nostalgic feeling I got from reading about Mia and Adam's journey. But when the family dies and Mia realizes she has a choice to make, the ramification of that is just so overwhelming in the book, you feel it in your chest. You saw first-hand the bond this family had: from Mia's over-protectiveness of her brother Teddy which starts at Teddy's birth and Mia being the first person baby Teddy sees when he opens his eyes, to how her grandfather actually loved his sons’ lyrics and her grandmother believed in angels that looked over you. There is a lot about Mia's life you see before Adam came into the picture. Unfortunately, you don't see that in the movie. So when her family dies, and she mourns them, you're left wondering why you should care. You never got to see why they meant so much to her. All you see is Adam or Adam with the family.
Even in those small glimpses of family time without Adam, what are they talking about: Adam. It was like nothing else mattered now that Adam was around. And I get it. It's like that with teenage love, all you can think about is that other person, all you want to be with is that other person. But this book was great, in that it didn't only focus on him. It focused on all love: familiar, friendship and romantic. I just wished the movie did the same.
The movie makers took a lot of leeway with the story. There were numerous amounts of changes from the book to the movie. Some worked and some, in my opinion, not so much.
Let’s take a look at my list:
Please note: spoilers are a foot.
1) Starting with the most obvious change, Lena’s removal of Ethan’s memory. I’m still not sure why the movie makers decided to go this route. Except for showing Lena’s love for Ethan, I didn’t see much reasoning behind this plot device. I felt that it made Ethan much more of an outsider in the castor world. True he was an outsider in the book, but his devotion to Lena and the fact that he was her protector of the influences of Sarafine made him much more important to her than just her loving him.
2) The physical relationship of Lena and Ethan. There is this point that comes across about Casters falling for mortals, how it’s forbidden and even dangerous for mortals. In the book, this is brought to the surface by the fact that every time Lena and Ethan got physical with each other, Ethan’s heart would stop and he would almost die. This was not in the movie and I felt that removing it made the whole caster/mortal thing less important.
3) No Marian Ashcroft. Marian was the keeper of the Caster library in the book and Ethan’s mom’s best friend. While her removal in the movie didn’t change any of the plots, I was sad to see her gone. I liked her and her kooky was in the book.
4) No telepathy. In the book Lena and Ethan can here each other’s thoughts and would constantly speak to each other as such. This was not in the movie. It didn’t affect the plots, but it did lose the affect of showing just how connected the two were.
Because of the length of the novel and the movie maker’s having to shorten it to fit into a 2 hour film, I did feel Lena’s and Ethan’s relationship was rushed. There were times where I thought “why should we care?” We don’t get to see the development and therefore invest the time in them before the action starts. But, unfortunately, sometimes this is the case with most adaptations.
P.S. My book club reviewed this book as our first introduction to the club. Check out our thoughts here.
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