Novel to Film Challenge

Review of Divergent (2014)

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First off, I am a huge fan of the Divergent series and was very excited to hear that it was making it’s way to the big screen. Second off, I was one of those fans who, when casting was announced for the film, thought that Theo James was too old to beDivergent Poster playing an 18 year old Dauntless leader. I was also one of those people who immediately shouted: “Hey! that’s Mr. Pamook from Downton Abbey!” Both of those things being said, I was very impressed by this film.

Shailene Woodley is a phenomenal actress and I can see her career as huge and bright. I always know that I’m in for a good time whenever I see her on screen. Her, in contrast to Theo James, whose natural chemistry exploded off screen, did exceptional justice to the unforgettable characters of Tris and Four. I was very impressed by how the broken down world of Chicago was brought to the big screen and how well the story was played out. Although there were some crucial scenes taken out that I would have liked to see, it didn’t take away from the general story.

I thought the casting was great and the film did very well with what it was given. But most of all, I thought the film stayed true to book and that’s all a fan could ask for.

Verdict: 1o/12

 

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Review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

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When I first heard that this movie was coming out, I was really excited. I, honestly, didn’t fully know what the story was about but plenty of other people did, and the thing that most people said was: “Why is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe the first story they’re making into a movie? It’s not the first one in C.S. Lewis’ collection”.TheChroniclesofNarnia

This statement is very true. This tale is not the first in Lewis’ collection. It is the second. It is, however, the first tale he wrote about Narnia. The novel was published in 1950 but when the collection came out, there was a specific order that Lewis wanted his stories to be told in. The tales of the Pevensie siblings do not even follow each other back to back. There are other stories in between the sequels, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Lewis had a specific idea about which story should come before others and that’s the order that his collection goes in. I did not do as Lewis wished and skipped to the second story, but I will, without a doubt, be reading the others in the very near future.

Now that that’s all settled, I absolutely adore this film. From the first time I saw it when I was 14, until this very morning when I was, and am still, 22 years old, this movie will never cease to amaze me. The cast of the Pevensie siblings is just perfect and I would love to see more of these young actors (I suppose not so young anymore) on screen. The digital affects are beautiful and has thus caused me to have a desperate desire to find a way to enter Narnia myself. The film sticks very close to the novel and that’s what makes it so wonderful. Lewis’ magical land is in no way demeaned. I simply love it.

Verdict: 11/12

Reviews of The Great Gatsby (1949-2013)

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So I just spent the last two days watching 4 different versions of The Great Gatsby and as you can imagine, all 4 versions are very different and bring their own essence of the beloved novel to light. The novel, written in 1925, is and will always be my favorite novel. It’s a story about taking the present and desperately trying to make it into the past. It’s about greed, lavish parties and the ability to hold on to an effervescent dream that may have already slipped away through your fingers.

The Great Gatsby (1949), directed by Elliott Nugent

  • Starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field, and Macdonald Careygreatgatsbyposter1949

In this black and white, 92 min, adaptation of the novel, the biggest difference I noticed was that this film added more from Daisy’s perspective than in any other. Scenes capture her driving the car that actually runs down Mertle Wilson,  a scene with her confessing the crime to her husband Tom, and a final scene with her being present when Wilson confronts Tom about who was driving the car. I found these scenes to be unnecessary. Maybe I feel this way because I wasn’t really interested in her point of view since the book originally takes place from Nick Carroway’s point of view, or possibly because Daisy never actually admits to the crime. The other changes that I noticed were that Nick and Jordan Baker knew each other before they meet in that first scene at Daisy’s house and Jordan was also the only other person who came to Gatsby’s funeral and there is, in fact, no mention of Gatsby father. I, honestly, just couldn’t get past all of the changes that were made. It totally changed the story.

Verdict: 8/12

 

The Great Gatsby (1974), directed by Jack Clayton

  • Starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, and Sam WaterstonGREAT-GATSBY-THE-1974-006

I found this, 143 min, adaptation of the novel to be much more enjoyable than the previous one. However, I wasn’t completely taken by the casting. Don’t get me wrong, Robert Redford was a great Jay Gatsby, he had his total look of precision, money, and light in his eyes. The other actors, however, did not. I felt Mia Farrow’s Daisy Buchanan to be flat and unemotional. Sam Waterston, as Nick Carroway, grew on me, but I still did not really feel his connection or dedication to Gatsby as I would have liked. Despite that, the film captures the story in a way that makes you want to have just as much hope as Gatsby did.

Verdict: 8/12

 

The Great Gatsby (2000), directed by Robert Markowitz (TV movie)greatgatsby2000

  • Starring Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino, and Paul Rudd

I found this 100 min adaptation of novel to be my least favorite. Now, I don’t want to start bashing tv movies because there are plenty of tv movies gems out there, but I have to say that this just falls short of that. It captures all of the main plot points of the novel to a T. In fact, it was almost too exact. All of the iconic lines from the novel were said just as they were in the book and it felt like they were just reading from a script. I, honestly, didn’t feel much heart in this adaptation. I’m a total fan of Paul Rudd and will always be, but even he couldn’t help the film capture the beauty of the novel.

Verdict: 6/12

 

 

The Great Gatsby (2013), directed by Baz Luhrman

  • Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Toby Mcguiregreatgatsby2013

This, 142 min, adaption is lavish, upbeat and breathtaking. The costumes and scenery are at their highest point and it’s one of the most beautiful renditions I have seen of the novel. Leonardo DiCaprio is a dream as Jay Gatsby and pulls off the essence of a man driven by hope in the best fashion I have seen yet. It captures all of the most moving moments of the novel in a way that will keep you rooting for Jay Gatsby. I know most people did not find that this adaptation lived up to all of the hype of the novel, but this is by far my favorite adaptation. It could, honestly, just be how visually appealing this version is or it could just be Leo, but I thoroughly look forward to watching this movie multiple times.

Verdict: 9/12

Despite the fact that all of these films try desperately to capture the spirit of Fitzgerald’s novel and, in some cases have gotten closer than others, I have yet to see an adaptation of the film that does the novel justice.

Review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

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First off, this film is extremely well done and the acting is phenomenal. It is completely worthy is it’s 3 Academy BenjaminButtonAwards. The biggest difference between the short story and this film is the story line. The film is dramatically different than the book. Basically, the only similarity they share is the fact that Benjamin ages backwards. Everything else in the film is of complete original creation.

That being said, it is a beautiful story about love, life and trying to find yourself. Brad Pitt is a dream beside Cate Blanchett’s acting prowess. I was very impressed by the visual affects and the make up job. It’s no wonder that it won Oscars for those very things. The ability to make Brad Pitt look even younger and older in an incredibly believable way is sheer magic.

The only downside to this movie is it’s length. At 2 hours and 45 mins, it gets a little hard to stay focused after a while. But I am impressed by the way the writers and director made a 20 page story into this long of a movie and did it in a brilliant fashion.

Rating: 9/12

 

 

Review of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

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Being as the film is based off of one of my favorite books series, I had very high hopes for it. That being said, I thought that filCity of Bonesm fell short slightly. But that in no means implies that I didn’t like it. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I felt that it was cast very well and the actors brought to life my beloved characters in a new and unexpected way. Hands down, Jamie Campbell Bower is Jace Wayland and then some.

There were just a few things about the film that could have been better. A few crucial scenes were changed in order to make the movie work and I felt that those scenes were played out fine. Besides the changes there was just something about it that left me wanting more and it wasn’t the fact that the movie was left with a cliff hanger. I just felt that it had so much potential, had so much that it could have elaborated on and expanded on to truly make it great.

I still have hopes that the 2nd film will be made and when and if it does hit theaters, I will be right there watching and enjoying every minute of it. But even if  it isn’t made, I will still be a huge fan of this series and encourage plenty of people to see the film, whether they’ve read the books or not. (Although you really should read the series).

Verdict: 8/12

Review of Ender’s Game (2013)

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Now, I literally just got back from seeing this movie so my thoughts are a little scattered still. My apologies.

That being said, I loved this movie. As per usual, things had to be changed from the book in order to adequately adapt into a well-working film, and Gavin Hood did his job well. It was a very well acted representation of the book and if you’ve never seen Asa Butterfield in action, now is the time to do so. He is the perfect representation of a young boy who becomes a commander in a war fought far from home.

It is visually stunning and thought provoking and it’s emotional counter parts will have you rushing back to the theater a second and possibly, a third time.

Rating: 10/12

Review of Dorian Gray (2009)

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This film looked very promising when I first saw the DVD cover simply because Ben Barnes’ lovely face and luscious hair were starring back at me.

That being said, that was the most promising part of the film. The film grasped the general ideas, sure enough, but there was definitely something missing. And although it was very visually appealing, the production lavish and well done, it just did not live up to the vision that Oscar Wilde entailed from the novel.

Rating: 7/12 Extra points for beauty in my book. We always want a visually stimulating movie, and visual stimulant we got.