Monday, August 18, 2014

The Inevitable Movie Post

I'm only going to do the one because I'm legitimately that excited about it.

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
IT'S HERE! IT'S FINALLY HERE! You need it in your life! NEED it. You have no idea. I might need to go reread it now, or maybe the whole trilogy...

This is the time for YA books. Not only that, this is also the time for YA movie adaptations. It seems like every time a YA book gets a decent following some studio or another is grabbing the rights. It seems like a good bet, I mean these are films with built in fan bases. What could go wrong?

Oh, so much.

If you're adapting existing text with existing fans into a movie that you've put so much money into promoting how do you mess it up? Is it bad casting? Bad screenwriting? Really bad CGI? We all seem willing to forgive the writers of the books for a multitude of sins, why not the screenwriters? Is it because the characters aren't their creations? It's not their world to play with? Whatever the reason we are all over bad movies.

But what makes an adaptation good? I know it's pretty subjective but there's usually some form of semi-consensus about the quality of the movie. People like it and stand up for it for the sake of their favorite book but they know it's not really that good.

I'm going to talk about and sort of rate some of the more recent attempts to find the next big YA adaptation.

The Fault in Our Stars
For a story like this one casting was essential. There are no big action sequences or wild plot twists to drive this movie. The weight of the entire story rests on the shoulders of whoever is playing Hazel and Augustus. They drive the story. Just them. I was skeptical when the casting was announced but they really won me over. They were exactly what the adaptation needed to be successful.

The Hunger Games (both)
These have a lot more going on in them. This is a blessing and a curse. There's so much plot that it's easier to hide any casting missteps (I'm still not sold on Kravitz as Cinna). The downside to this is that there's more material to cut. There are plenty of things that I really wish had been kept, a lot of world building and examples of just how terrible the Capitol is but I see why they cut what they did. Aside from Kravitz I think the casting is pretty solid. Lawrence owned the first movie and Sutherland is delightfully sinister as Snow. The movies are definitely flawed but they're still some of the best adaptations to pop up.

Vampire Academy
I can almost feel the eyerolls. If you saw the trailer for this you know how ridiculous it looked. It's true. It is definitely ridiculous in parts but, funny story, so are the books. The books cover all sorts of ground without taking themselves too seriously and the movie manged to do that. Sure, there are a lot of high school politics but the characters are 17 and in school, there should be. I was surprised when I saw it how awesome of a choice Zoey Deutch was for Rose. She was perfect. The movie didn't do well as a whole but it's a great adaptation. Unfortunately the plot of the series really starts in the next couple.

I love these books and the movie is decent. It's more than decent and the cast surprised me, again. But I had a major problem with how the end was handled and how much they softened Tris' character. If it weren't for that I would have loved this one much more (but seriously, she doesn't hesitate)! They took a major plot point for the series and blunted it to make it more palatable for audiences and I think that was a mistake.

City of Bones one wasn't the best and that really surprised me. The Mortal Instruments fanbase is pretty rabid (I mean that in a good way, I swear). They were all over this movie. All over it and they're not small in number. No one in the cast was what I imagined but they were all the same sort of off so they worked as a whole. But they changed too much in the story to make it outside audience friendly and I think that made them lose people that should have stuck with them. Also, the humor in the series is all in Clare's fast-paced snarky dialogue and they tossed in too much slapstick to make up for the lack of snark.

Beautiful CreaturesThe tricky thing about this movie seemed to be translating a book where there's a male protagonist into a movie that would appeal to it's primarily female fanbase. I don't know why this is tricky. Ethan is a great protagonist. He's, hands down, my favorite character in the series. But the movie somehow managed to become more about Lena, which would be okay, but I never felt like it was quite as much her story as it was Ethan's and then completely changing the end, pretty much doomed the last two books in the series. They managed to take this great story with this amazing setting and mangle it. And they had such a great cast! Jeremy Irons! Emma Thompson! How do you mess that up?

I used to be one of those hardcore "BUT HE DOES'T HAVE GREEN EYES!' 'THAT'S NOT WHO SAYS THAT' people. Admittedly, the movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban ruined that for me. After that, nothing felt quite so bad (admittedly, I have a soft spot for Marauders and they were just gone). Now, I hope that they cast well and do the spirit of the book justice and try not to hope for too much.

And I think that's where adaptations sink and swim. Fault in Our Stars is such a good adaptation because the filmmakers knew who their audience was. They kept in the lines and the jokes that people wanted (I honestly think that helped Twilight too). They made the movie for fans of the book and the fans of the book (while already numerous) responded to that. They didn't try to make something that clearly already had wide appeal different to give it wider appeal (that rarely seems to work). They trusted their audience to take care of the project and the audience did.

So, here's to hoping that the filmmakers of If I Stay (friday!) and Maze Runner (September 19th) chose to trust the audience to take care of the film (I've already heard mixed things about The Giver).


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