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 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

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

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

My Top 5 Up-coming Books-to-Movies

These are exciting times for book-y people with book-to-movie adaptations popping up left, right and center. Here’s my top 5, in no particular order:

  1. The City of Bones – Cassandra Clare. This series is incredibly popular – and for good reason. The movie (apart from one or two questionable casting choices) looks perfect and I can’t wait to see the Shadowhunter world brought to life. Starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell-Bower, here’s the official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHlwRsl2uFk
  2. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green. I, along with pretty much everyone who has read this book, am completely in love with this story. Warning: this film will be weepy. Although there’s no trailer out to date, we do know that it will star Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters.
  3. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins. The second instalment of the Hunger Games trilogy looks to be as good – if not better than – the first, and words cannot describe my excitement. Here’s the teaser trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyPnQw_Lqds
  4. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (based on the books by Cressida Cowell). I admit to not having read these books (I plan to, though!), but the first movie was incredible – I can’t wait for the next!
  5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (based on the novel by J R R Tolkein) Okay, which Lord of the Rings fan is not stupidly excited about this? Watch the teaser trailer and I will say no more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnaojlfdUbs

Which movie adaptations are you most looking forward to?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani