Beauty and the Beast Adaptations to Look Out For

So we’ve all seen (or at least heard of) the Disney adaptations – animated, a Broadway musical, and now a live action starring Emma Watson – of this classic fairy tale, and it’s one of my favourite stories of all time. What I wanted to do today, though, was list a couple of other interpretations of the story that may have slipped your notice! In no particular order:

Beastly (2011) Shamefully, I haven’t read the book, so I’ll just say a little about the film. This is the modern-day Young Adult movie version of the story, starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen and Neil Patrick Harris. Pretty heavy-handed with its morality, and uncomfortably obvious in soundtrack choices, it is at least a creative twist on the classic story.

A Court of Thrones and Roses – Sarah J Maas I guess I would call this a New Adult Fantasy interpretation; although it sticks reasonably closely to the fairy tale, it’s set in a world with fairies, and I think it works hard to step outside expectations.

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh Potentially my favourite on this list (find my review here), this is a Young Adult novel set in a sort of Fantasy, Pre-Islamic Middle Eastern world that puts a whole new twist on the story, and that embellishes the core story elements into a whole new fairy tale.

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter This is a collection of short fairy tale re-tellings, two of which are direct re-tellings of Beauty and the Beast. This book is pretty graphic, and uses fairy tale tropes to discuss feminist and gender issues. Carter certainly doesn’t pull any punches.

The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux Last but not least, we have The Phantom of the Opera! (I reviewed this here) I watched the musical multiple times before realising the connection with the story, and I think that’s what I like about this gothic Parisian re-telling: it is very liberal with its interpretation.

Those are all of my top picks, but I know there are loads more books based around Beauty and the Beast! Are there any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

The Huntsman Winter's War

I saw The Huntsman: Winter’s War! I’m counting it as a loose book to film adaptation, as the concept was originally a retelling of the story of Snow White.

While the film has come under a lot of criticism, and there are some – shall we say shaky? – elements to it, I want to start by saying that I did definitely enjoy a lot of it.

There were some things in particular I thought this film did fantastically, and the first was the casting. Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna is utterly terrifying, and although Chris Hemsworth’s face now has a lot of Marvel baggage to it, he did a great job as the Huntsman – to the extent that you could almost brush away the image of Thor. For me, though, the real star of the show was Emily Blunt. She brought a really thoughtful and nuanced ‘villain’ to life, and the way she portrayed the character as both damaged and powerful, vulnerable and untouchable, was a huge part of what made this film not-intolerable.

I also loved the British-isms in the language of the dwarves: they were humorous without being mocking, and I thought they were a nice – if not completely original – interpretation of the dwarf trope. My only confusion was about the accents of Eric and Sara: was that meant to be Scottish?

So the film was promising. It was also painfully derivative from the very start. Images from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; The Golden Compass; and The Lord of the Rings were generously scattered throughout, and one of the main characters was a white-haired, blue-dressed girl with emotional baggage and ice powers, who ran away from her sister to build a ‘kingdom of isolation’…out of ice. Really, Universal Studios? Did you actually think anyone was over Frozen?

One critic for the Guardian wrote:

Now Snow White is awol, this dreary and incoherent CGI mashup of plots from Frozen, Narnia and The Incredibles really cannot justify its existence.

I wouldn’t have been so harsh; I personally didn’t pick up on The Incredibles vibes at all.

The last major thing that tainted this sequel for me was the complete absence of Snow White. Surely they should have found a replacement actress? Or…not made the movie at all? The subplot about the mirror causing problems for Snow White was fascinating, and could really have been developed.

Honestly, the mirror is one of my favourite things about these films. I think the design is stunning, and I love the dark – if completely unexplained – powers that surround it.

So to conclude: there’s a lot about The Huntsman that could have been wonderful. Unfortunately, it did end up a little bit like a messy and extravagant tour of high fantasy tropes.

To end on a positive note, did you know that one of the writers was called Evan Spliotopoulos? Now that’s a surname.

 

If you’ve seen the film too, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

The Maze Runner Movies [are on point]

The Scorch Trials (book)The Maze Runner by James Dashner has become one of those really hyped-up YA books. If you’re at all up to date with anything remotely young adult, you’ve heard of it. You just have.

So of course, I was intrigued. I picked up the book from my local library, and got stuck in. It’s an ingenious – if deeply disturbing – concept: children are placed, memories wiped, in a maze. They don’t know how they got there, why they’re there, or how to escape. If you think about it, it’s really sick. These kids are not just trapped, but taunted with the hope of freedom; they just need to solve the crazy killer maze.

It saddens me to say that the ingenuity ended there. The book is riddled with irrelevant and useless clutter that adds nothing to the story. The narrative is drab, and the narrator is wildly inconsistent, and by extension impossible to relate to.

That’s why it makes me so happy that the movie adaptations are freaking awesome. I feel like the producers have been perceptive and ambitious enough to pick up on the promise in the premise (please excuse the awkward wordplay.) They’ve taken what is cool and exciting about the books, and slapped them on a big screen, and guys – it looks good.

The writers have been really thoughtful in the way they portray the story; they’ve cut out a lot of faff, and focused in on the core issues that the books dabble with. The mystery is more intense, the ethics are more confusing, and the result is a fast-moving, kick-ass and yet thoughtful cinematic experience.

I love what the actors and sThe Scorch Trials (film)cript writers have done with the characters. They took flat, superficial characters and made them into living, breathing humans. I’m not just talking about the visuals here (although they help!); characters’ motivations, personalities and strengths become clear in these adaptations, but most importantly – and most poignantly – their devoted brotherhood.

One of my favourite moments in the first movie is when Newt looks Thomas in the eye, and forgives him. He can forgive this former employee of WCKD, even though he played a part in getting them all into this maze, and the forgiveness is so complete that he’s willing to follow him to what is very probably going to be his death. That’s powerful, and I think it’s that concept of unwavering loyalty, selflessness and friendship that makes these films more than just a series of cool shots and fantastic graphics.

Speaking of graphics – I can’t miss out the fact that these films are visual stunners. The cinematography in the movies is breath-taking; while it would have been easy to entertain us all with blood, gore, and the same old dystopian settings, I really felt like care had been taken over the design of the settings. It felt creative, imaginative, and I really appreciate that.

I also love the way the second movie – The Scorch Trials – advances the story. Admittedly, they’ve strayed pretty far away from the book, and yet – I could not care less. The plot twists and turns and the whole thing is graceful and just about makes sense. That’s something I can’t really say for the books.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want this whole post to be about bashing the Maze Runner books. I have to give Mr Dashner full credit for his ideas; for his story, imagery and characters. Kudos to him. All I’m saying is that while they were born in book form, they’re all grown up and have their crap sorted out in the films. Like Neville Longbottom, or the Ugly Duckling.

Here’s my conclusion: I like the books, more because they are the reason these fabulous movies were created than for any literary brilliance. I can forgive them for being marginally below average.

If you’ve read or seen the Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

The Fifth Wave Trailer

And we have a trailer!

The thing about The Fifth Wave is that it’s a really interesting concept, with a slightly less interesting book. I’ve been hoping that this will be like The Maze Runner and translate really well onto the big screen, but the trailer…well, I don’t know.

I like the look of Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie. I’m really hopeful that she’ll do a fantastic job and bring this character to life. I also like the look of some of the shots – especially the first scene, where she encounters the man in the supermarket. Obviously it’s hard to tell, but it looks like it’s been pretty well done.

The main thing about this is I didn’t feel like it was a great trailer. I’m not a huge fan of the very generic and unspectacular soundtrack, and although I think the whole concept of the ‘waves’ needs to be explained, it would be nice to see it done more creatively than as a glorified PowerPoint.

The clips we do glimpse seem really promising though, and I’m looking forward to going to see what this movie’s really like. It’s not out until next year, so they have time to sort out a cooler soundtrack…right?

What do you think of the trailer? Are you excited for the film, or do you think it may be disappointing?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

I Saw the Paper Towns Movie!

Paper Towns (Movie)I read Paper Towns (John Green) roughly…last Thursday, and it didn’t exactly blow me away. A lot of people say that John Green’s characters are really similar, and I tend to agree. The sad thing is that the books have such great stories, cute humour and interesting philosophies, and I find that the repetitive characters sap my enjoyment of them.

The movies are another matter. I LOVE the John Green movie adaptations. They pick up on the overall feeling of the book, and then they bring something new to it. I loved The Fault in Our Stars movie, but I think I love Paper Towns more.

The characters look wildly different to how I imagined them (especially Ben and Quentin), but that didn’t bother me at all. There were a lot of discrepancies with the book – for example, Radar wearing glasses rather than contacts, but honestly? I really didn’t care. I didn’t think the book was good enough to warrant an exact, totally ‘accurate’ film adaptation. Personally, I loved every single actor in this movie. Every. Single. One. That’s kind of a big deal.

If I had to pick a favourite thing about this movie, I think it would be Nat Wolff. I just love what he brought to the character – the constant, reluctant smile when he’s with Margo is the cutest thing in the world, and it’s just so Quentin. You nailed it, Nat.

The other thing that warmed my heart was the sort of three-way bromance between Radar, Ben and Quentin. It looked so natural on screen, I like to imagine that the actors are besties off-set as well. The part when they all start singing because they’re scared? SO CUTE.

There were some fairly major changes in the movie, for example the fact that Angela (Radar’s girlfriend) gets to join in on the road trip. It’s nice, and I don’t mind it – she and Radar are a cute couple – but I wasn’t sure how much it added to the story.

I did approve of the film’s pacing of Lacey and Ben’s relationship though; I found it much more believable, and in the end, much sweeter. Thumbs up, film director people.

Overall, this film made me like the story more. The actors brought something new to the characters, and while I’m 99% sure I won’t be reading the book again, I can now actually distinguish between these people and every other character he’s ever written. It’s given me happy memories.

I’m not really a movie reviewer because I know nothing and am too easily pleased, but if I was going to rate this, it would be a five star sort of deal. I really liked it.

If you’ve seen the movie too, I’d love to hear your thoughts! How did it compare to the book? What did you think of the casting choices?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Upcoming Movies That Were Books First

Is it fair that the YA book-to-movie adaptations get all the attention? No. Here’s my list of movies I’m looking forward to seeing, that were originally books.

  • Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)

Unbroken FilmThis film comes out in the UK on 26th December 2014, and was based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand. Time magasine named it their top nonfiction book of the year, so it sounds like it’s worth a read! It’s a survival story set during World War 2, following young lieutenant Louis Zamperini. The movie is directed by Angelina Jolie, and features music by Alexandre Desplat.

  • Paddington (Michael Bond)

Paddington FilmPaddington! I’m never sure what to expect from this sort of film, but if it shares David Heyman with the Harry Potter movies, and stars Nicole Kidman, Julie Waters and Peter Capaldi, maybe we can afford to be hopeful? Michael Bond’s famous little bear is techincally already on the big screen (it came out in November) but I’ve yet to watch it so it still makes the list!

  • Spare Parts

Spare Parts Film

This is a total cheat, because this film is based on an article by Joshua Davis rather than a book, but I just loved the premise too much not to talk about it! “Four Hispanic high school students form a robotics club. With no experience, 800 bucks, used car parts and a dream, this rag tag team goes up against the country’s reigning robotics champion.” What? That sounds amazing. Here’s hoping! The American release date is 16th January 2015, but it looks like that’s not set in stone.

  • Still Alice (Lisa Genova)

Still Alice FilmBased on the novel by Lisa Genova, ‘Still Alice’ is – from what I’ve seen – a big Indie film based on the life of a mum who receives a serious diagnosis. This movie comes to us in the UK on 6th March 2015.

  • Child 44 (Tom Rob Smith)

Child 44 Film(Please note I have no idea what this picture is, but it was on imdb, so I rolled with it). This story is set in the Soviet Union, during Stalin’s rule, and is based on a trilogy by Tom Rob Smith. It’s due in UK cinemas on 17th April 2015.

And that’s all I have for today! What are your picks for up-coming book to film adaptations? Have you read any of the books mentioned here?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

(Also I hope you all had a really lovely Christmas!)

~Dani

Review: Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern

Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern – 5 stars

Love, Rosie

When I realised that almost the entirety of the book was fragmented into letters and emails, I wasn’t sure I’d make it all the way through. As it turns out, I devoured it in a day!

This novel follows the life of Irish girl Rosie. It’s a raw and honest portrayal of her loves and losses, and all of the things that didn’t exactly go to plan. It’s a contemporary romance, but the originality and the willingness to think outside of the box makes this story really special.

Despite the sparsity of description and flowing prose that is necessitated by the structure, I found myself sucked into the story and completely enraptured by the lives of such lovely characters. I rooted for Rosie, Alex, Katie and all the rest as though they were my own friends; that’s how well Ms Ahern pulls off this venture.

What makes this novel so ambitious is that it’s a bildungsroman: it spans over fifty years, and it is easily one of my favourite ‘coming-of-age’ novels. All of the ups and downs of this completely credible life are gripping and well-handled; the plot is sharp and works fantastically. For those of you worried that any poignancy will be lost to the quirky lay-out, I assure you that I literally laughed, cried, and grinned my way through the whole book.

Each character had a unique and believable voice, and the developments and changes were so satisfying. The ending was just perfect. I can’t wait to re-read this book – and I don’t say that often!

Also, I’ve just stumbled across the fact that this is going to be a movie – I’ll link you up to the IMDb page. It’s starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, and I am so excited!

If you’ve read this too, let me know what you thought! Are you looking forward to the movie?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Places in the Pages: Pride and Prejudice

In this new series of posts, I’ll be detailing what is basically my travel hit-list. I’ve collected a lot of locations that either appear in books, or have been a part of a movie adaptation.

Today’s post is about Joe Wright’s film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (2005)There are some stunning locations that I’m just itching to visit in person!

  • Pictured is Chatsworth House (AKA, the Darcy residence). This stately home really is situated in Derbyshire, and offers a variety of activities and services (including weddings!). You can stay in one of their holiday cottages, or in one of the hotels on the estate. It blows my mind that people actually live there!

Chatsworth House

  • If it’s the ‘Bennett residence’ you fancy, try Groombridge Place. Again, these guys put on lots of events, and they have some award-winning gardens for you to stroll through. It looks absolutely stunning.

Groomsbridge House

  • And finally, sometimes you just want to stand on a dramatic rock formation and squint wistfully into the wind. You can stand where Lizzie stood! Just pop over to Stanage Edge. This is a breath-takingly beautiful bit of English countryside, not limited to handy cliff-tops for perusing.

Stanage Edge

Those are my Pride and Prejudice Locations! (Hint: click on the photos to see the sources!) I think they’re gorgeous – if you’ve already been, let me know what you thought!

Do you have a book-related travel wish-list?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

My Favourite Film Adaptations of Children’s Books

  1. How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell) Possibly the best animated movie ever made. It’s funny and cute and touching and beautiful and just everything you could ever want. The John Powell score is gorgeous, and the actors are fantastic. Just…it’s all so perfect. 
  2. Horton Hears a Who (Dr Seuss) This animated movie is one of my all-time favourites! It’s touching and funny and imaginative, which I think is pretty true to the book. Lovable elephant (Jim Carrey) discovers a town of little people living on a speck, and has to find a way to save them all. It ends in a musical number, which is always good.
  3. The Lorax (Dr Seuss) More Dr Seuss! In a way, I like this one more than Horton Hears a Who just because it’s a musical. Everything is better as a musical, am I wrong? In a Dystopian world where nothing natural grows, Ted (Zac Efron) discovers the last tree and endeavours to ‘re-grow’ the world. SUCH a good film.
  4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe [The Chronicles of Narnia #1] (C.S. Lewis) The reason this movie is so low down on the list is that the sequels were disappointing. This first one was great, though; I thought they did a great job of imagining the world and adapting the story onto the big screen.

What have I missed? Do you agree with the films on my list?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

More Favourite Book to Film Adaptations

After writing my first version of this post, I found some new adaptations that I fell in love with! So here’s my list of favourite book to movie adaptations, continued.

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) Okay, I know everyone’s talking about it and it’s not very new, but…isn’t it a fantastic adaptation? Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) Joe Wright is potentially my new favourite director. This is such a beautiful film! I loved all of the characters, the cinematography and the screenplay. After spending so long toiling over the book, it was so refreshing to watch a slightly easier-on-the-brain version.

Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) This one’s a bit of a cheat because I haven’t actually read the book! (I’m YOUNG – I have time!) Joe Wright strikes again with a really unique and breath-taking film. I loved the way the scene changes worked as though it were playing out on stage; it was all so gracefully done. In all honesty though, I think I’d have been happier watching a film solely about Konstantin and Kitty’s story – they’re the cutest thing.

What are some of your favourite book to movie adaptations? Did you like any of the ones I mentioned?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani