Tag Archive | book to movie

Before I Fall Movie Review

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”

Before I Fall, which comes out in theaters in a couple of weeks, has been one of my favorite books since I read it in ninth grade. It tells the story of a girl named Sam, who is a member of the most popular clique in her high school. She’s sweeter than her three best friends, though; she’s different. (Yeah, yeah, joke about YA I dare you.) It’s set over the course of one day. This happens to be Valentine’s day, but it is also the day that Sam dies, and the day that she relives, seven times, until she can fix what went wrong. Throughout the story, there are mean girls, bullied girls, snubbed boys, popularity contests, and high school parties. It has all the makings of a cheesy YA book to movie adaptation. But it wasn’t one. Aside from some questionable music choices, it was absolutely perfect.

before-i-fall-movie-images-zoey-deutch-halston-sage-21The whole premise of Before I Fall is that you never really know how long you have to live. You don’t know how your actions and choices will impact either your own life or, and sometimes especially, those of the people around you. Sam and her friends do not know how their words and actions impact their peers, until horrible things happen because of them. When Sam keeps waking up, she decides to change things; she is kind, embraces and appreciates what she has had but took advantage of. I love this concept, and when I read the book I thought, holy shit, this is serious, this is real. The movie did the same thing, and in a no less impactful way. Whenever Sam narrates, she is reflecting too, working through all of her thoughts and actions and what they mean. Through her life, we are called to think of our own too, whether they are as glamorous and dramatic as hers or not.

“It amazes me how easy it is for things to change, how easy it is to start off down the same road you always take and wind up somewhere new. Just one false step, one pause, one detour, and you end up with new friends or a bad reputation or a boyfriend or a breakup. It’s never occurred to me before; I’ve never been able to see it. And it makes me feel, weirdly, like maybe all of these different possibilities exist at the same time, like each moment we live has a thousand other moments layered underneath it that look different.”

For that was definitely one thing that was interesting to see: how exactly Sam’s life was transformed onto a screen. We lost a lot of details, obviously: we never learned what kind of falling out she had with her mother, nor how horribly her relationship her relationship really was. But we did get to see her friends. The dynamic between Lindsay and the others was extremely authentic. They listened to music, made fun of each other, gossiped and laughed. It was accurate, it was fun and funny to watch, and it reminded me of me. It only felt forced when they mentioned Snapchat or said “bae.” Even then, though, they went right back to being believable high schoolers. (I mean, as believable as the twenty-something year olds and their supposed “senior party” could be.) The movie, though, did this really well.

In fact, the acting in and of itself was really good. I was impressed and pleasantly surprised. Not only were the relationships believable, but the characters were too. Sam was just how I imagined her, as were Lindsay and even Skye. Kent was perfect too, though I don’t actually know if they ever said his name.

“I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about peopleto see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole, to see the cause and think it’s the effect or vice versa.”

Not to go all Read It and Weep here, but I also knew a Lindsay in high school. I was the Sam in a friend group, and could relate very strongly to everything that that happened on screen. This realization about some of my back-stabbing high school girlfriends probably made the movie even more meaningful and realistic to me, to be honest. Since reading the book, I have seen and experienced firsthand just how mean and two-faced girls who claim to be your friends can be. It’s horrible. I didn’t go all Kickass Black Eyeshadow Day Five or Six Sam, which would have been awesome, but I did get the hell out of there after being involved for far too long, like Sam did. I too learned from being around the wrong people, though fortunately no one suffered this much from anything that happened. (That I know of…) I should have thought about this book at the time, but I guess life is funny and unfortunate like that.

“So many things become beautiful when you really look.”

before-i-fall-hd-trailer-stillsAnother thing that I really liked about this movie though, dark serious life thoughts aside, actually has nothing to do with the characters or story per se. And yeah, this is huge media me nerding out. But I absolutely loved how the film’s shots were set up, how the lighting felt, and how time and days passed. The transitions were seamless. I was curious as to how they would repeat one day over and over, reuse the same scenes, and still keep it interesting and new. And they did it so, so well. They picked significant things to focus on, made it just tense and funny enough. Whenever they ran through the woods, I pointed out how hard the light must have been to get perfectly. And the scene where Sam repeatedly wakes up? SO GOOD.

Lauren Oliver and Before I Fall were and are perfect. I highly recommend both the book and movie to any and everyone who likes contemplative stories with surprising, occasionally funny or dark, and thought-provoking twists. Sure, they may seem and feel a little fluffy at times, but the messages certainly are not.

“I realized that time doesn’t matter. Certain moments go on forever. Even after they’re over they still go on, even after you’re dead and buried, those moments are lasting still, backward and forward, on into infinity. They are everything and everywhere all at once. They are the meaning.”

Book: 5/5 stars

Movie: 9/10 stars

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Movie Review

But…what the heck did I just watch?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies promoted itself as a horror movie, as a kick*ss, female empowerment film loosely based on Jane Austen’s classic. What I found instead was a shell of a story, the lines and tension and character development replaced with dramatic, frequent, and pointless zombie battles.

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I didn’t not like this movie because I’m a Jane Austen purist. I love her books, but I’m not some fan who would be rap your knuckles for misquoting her, or be aghast at a movie director making alterations from page to screen. I love Clueless, love Joe Wright’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice. I’m not a zombie person either, but I don’t even think that was my main issue. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies just wasn’t right. It was shallow. The actors delivered their lines flatly. They weren’t characters; they were unmemorable people, reading from Jane Austen’s book because they had to. They spit out Austen’s glorious words, quickly, so as to add another zombie attack or battle in the upcoming scenes.

Everything was focused on the zombies, and even that issue wasn’t very realistic or well-developed. There was no story, no characterization, no chemistry. It felt as though they assumed that the audience would know everything already, which you can’t do if you’re directing a movie. You can’t forsake the fundamentals of storytelling for the sake of entertainment. (I mean, Hollywood does this all the time. But they shouldn’t.)

You also can’t just throw a bunch of actors into the shoes of Elizabeth and Darcy and Bingley and Jane. There need to be genuine interactions and tensions between them, especially if you are going to attempt to put this story forward as a love story at all. Darcy and Lizzy didn’t even get to dance at the Netherfield ball! And she never wandered around or awkwardly ran into him at Pemberley? (Wait did Darcy even have a Pemberley in this movie?) These are two of my favorite scenes in the entire story, so I was very disappointed. Their absence made me realize how crucial they are to the development of Darcy and Lizzy’s relationship.

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The major problems really were the lack of depth, development, and characterization. However, this movie is perhaps not so horrible if approached much less seriously. Pretend it’s a comedy. (It’s so over the top that this is easily done.)

Matt Smith (cough Sherlock cough), for starters, was HYSTERICAL as Mr. Collins. His irrational little quips were different, but just as uncomfortable, just as ridiculous, just as true to form.

“Before we know it [the zombies] will be running for parliament”

His dance with Elizabeth was perfect and horrid at once—he reminded me of Weselton from Frozen, dancing like a chicken.

Another comedic saving grace was Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) herself. She was some famous kick*ss zombie hunter, apparently? (Not sure why SHE wasn’t out fighting zombies too, then…) Her eyepatch cracked me up. She snorted and rolled her eyes at everyone and everything and I related to her very strongly each time. I wish that she had actually fought Elizabeth, but I thought that they did that confrontation scene very well. I especially like that she approved of Lizzy afterwards, for fighting, for holding her own and being so brave.

“I do not know which I admire more, your skill as a warrior, or your resolve as a woman.”

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There were a couple of other lines, not necessarily comedic, that I particularly liked as well:

Elizabeth: “I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring.”

Charlotte: “For the right man you would.”

Elizabeth: “The right man wouldn’t ask me to.”

There should have been more of this!

“What’s right to be done cannot be done too soon.”

(This, I have just learned, is actually a quote from Jane Austen’s Emma. Cool!)

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village she must seek them abroad.”

(OH MY GOD AND THIS ONE IS FROM NORTHANGER ABBEY??)

Bravo, scriptwriters. Very clever.

There were a few other things that I have to nod at as well. They so smoothly turned war and soldiers into zombie battles and fighters; it oddly fit into Jane Austen’s story, in other words. The actual hand to hand combat was impressive too. I’m sure endless training went into making these duels so sharp, quick, effortless-looking. Some were more obviously rehearsed, but Lily and the guy who plays Darcy in particular did a convincing job of masking this. And, okay, so maybe I did like the proposal scene a little too. It was a nod to the book, but was turned up a few notches into a full out brawl when Elizabeth started swinging at Darcy.

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The desire for the Bennet daughters to find husbands definitely took a back burner to trying to survive the half-thought out zombie apocalypse. And as odd and over the top and simultaneously dull as this movie was, it was, for the most part, entertaining. Only, don’t make my mistake. Prepare yourself for comedy, for something truly ridiculous. And then, I daresay, you will find Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fairly tolerable.

Rating: 5/10

Me Before You

I don’t usually read what all of the BookTubers and Bookstagrammers are reading—at least not when they’re currently raving about and reading it. This isn’t on general principal, I just rarely have time, and am usually already reading something else anyway. But when I needed a new audiobook, I ran to the supposedly special and uber hyped-up little red book with swirly white letters on the cover. Especially since I had heard there was a movie coming out “sometime soon”—a movie starring none other than Daenerys Targaryen and Finnick Odair themselves.

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But then I actually started reading Me Before You. And I fell in love. And there is nothing fleeting or flippant about it.

Me Before You tells the story of a young woman named Louisa Clark who needs to find a job—and herself. She finds the former as a carer for quadriplegic Will Traynor, a man who has lived and loved and lost. He teaches her to embrace everything she has, everything she could have, and everything she could be.

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This sounds super cheesy—like, almost worthy of being photographed for social media but ripped apart in reviews. But it’s really worthy of so much more.

Yes, Louisa and Will fall in love. Spoiler alert. But the book doesn’t focus on this aspect of their relationship. It focuses on them as people, helping one another, living together and caring for one another in the limited ways that they can. It also focuses on their clever banter, which absolutely killed me. Louisa is hysterical—so awkward, so adorable, so relatable. Will is smart, sharp. Moyes’ characterization of them was impeccable. By the end of the story I felt like both characters were part of me. Or at least my children or something.

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Anyway, I absolutely adored the book. I loved the conflicts, the jokes, the message to live boldly. I easily forgave the pointless perspective changes, the sometimes annoying excess of sister drama (I hated Trina so this was amplified). I cried while listening to it. In my car. While driving down the road. Yeah. It was that good.

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So you can see why I was a little surprised when I didn’t shed a single tear when I saw the movie last night. I went to the screening at the Regal Theater in Atlantic Station, hosted by Warner Brothers and Harper’s Bazaar (thank you so, so much!). It was a good movie, but was nothing compared to the movie in my head, nothing compared to the book.

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Want some, Lou?

My main disappointment was due to how much of the story was omitted in the film. The backstory about why Lou isn’t as daring as she once was, why she hates the castle? Nope. Moving in with Patrick, fighting with the Traynors about taking Will places? Nothing. The freaking BUMBLEBEE TATTOO? NADA. Too many crucial, interesting, and character-bonding conflicts are smoothed over and erased.

Other than this, the movie was great. In fact, it was probably great to anyone who hadn’t read the book. Why so great? I don’t know, ask the Mother of Dragons and the darling of the Capitol. They were brilliant. Emilia WAS Louisa, and Sam WAS Will. She was so bubbly, so happy, so Lou. He was so rough and quick-mouthed, but later so kind. They were exactly what I imagined the characters to be like, right down to the facial expressions and costumes.

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This was the best part of the movie to me. Despite the simplified plot, despite everything happening so quickly, despite the imperceptible but pointless tweaks here and there, the movie Me Before You was mostly true to the book. But more importantly, it was true to the characters. Right down to the sparkly Wellies and bumblebee tights.

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Live boldly, all. “Just…live.”

Book: 5/5 stars

Movie: 7/10 stars

The Martian

the-martian-reviewWhen the Oscar nominees were announced, my mother and I set to work watching the Best Picture films. We struggled through The Revenant and sat enthralled by Spotlight and squirmed throughout Room. We watched them all—all, that is, except for The Martian.

We deftly avoided The Martian because—you can probably see this coming—I wanted to read the book.

And the only problem with this was that…I was reading four other books at the time. Four! Oh school.

While sitting boredoutofmymind in traffic one day, however, the solution was painfully clear: I should try an audiobook. Youtubers praise them, bloggers are mad about them.

So I tried it. And I am oh so glad that I did. The 300+ page book, of course, became a ten hour long story, but this is my only complaint. For I truly enjoyed hearing about Mark’s adventure from his own perspective, and the narrator’s voice became his voice to me.

So yeah, the audiobook, my first actual novel audiobook, was excellent. But I’m also pretty sure it was so great because the story and characters themselves were too. Bravo, Andy Weir.

rs_560x415-150608110132-1024-the-martian-cm-6815_copyThe Martian is such a good story—no matter what form it is told in or read from.

For those who don’t know, The Martian in a nutshell: really funny spaceman and crew travels to Mars, something goes wrong, crew leaves funny spaceman on Mars because they think he’s dead but spaceman really survives keeps surviving until he almost dies like five times and finally Earth realizes he’s alive and then they communicate and—Okay that’s all you get. No spoilers, right?

I loved Mark. I liked his optimism, his sarcastic sense of humor, his love of duct tape. I admired his “I better get to work so I don’t die on a planet by myself” attitude. I enjoyed every joke about disco, every panic-filled stream of curse words.

The story was constantly exciting—something kept going wrong, a canvas kept tearing, things kept depressurizing. And yet Mark never gave up.

The scienceaustronautchemistbotanist lingo and tech speak were plentiful, sure. A lot of people who reviewed the book thought that it was “so boring” because of this. However, I didn’t think that it was too much. I appreciated the fact that all of the science and math was accurate. The author? Yeah, he’s like a legitimate computer programming math wiz. I thought all of this information, in fields so foreign to me, was truly fascinating. I think I learned a little bit too.

the-martian4-1940x1289I made it through the book in a couple of weeks, diligently and eagerly listening to Mark’s misadventures as I drove to and from work and school. I watched the movie the very next night. It too was excellent: well-paced, great characters and casting, exciting, funny. And very, very Oscar worthy. I would know, I’ve seen all of this year’s Best Picture noms now!

Anyway, I genuinely enjoyed the book and the movie and I would highly recommend it to anyone who asks (or doesn’t).

Book: 4/5 stars

Movie: 8/10 stars

(Side note, I completely ship Johannsen and Beck and want to read the story from solely their POV. They literally fall in love in space and everything. Bless you Hollywood for adding the ending where they are happily married and have a baby but oh my goodness.)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

IMG_4199I committed the unforgivable book sin of watching the movie before reading the book.

Who can blame me though – I got free tickets! (Thank you, Fox Searchlight!)

The movie was playing at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta. It is the cutest little arthouse, complete with flowering trees and twinkling Christmas lights. I went with my mom, and we were completely prepared to cry.

We were not prepared to laugh our heads off. It was so funny I wanted to punch myself in the face.

(Not really, of course. Greg just says that a lot in the book and I find it humorous. I mean, just picture it.)

I know that laughing during a movie about a girl who is dying from cancer sounds morbid; I’ve gotten several strange looks while referring it to people for its comedic value. But I’m not kidding. It was mostly funny because of Greg and Earl, but comedians such as Nick Offerman (Greg’s dad) and Molly Shannon (Rachel’s mom, Denise) lit up the screen as well. Nick Offerman walking around in a robe holding Cat Stevens – don’t get me started.

It was the kind of movie that makes you cry with laughter and with sadness. But I didn’t really mind looking like a mess in a movie theater – it was that good.

It was so good, in fact, that I read the book solely to compare the two story formats.

First, there’s “me” – Greg, the novel’s brutally honest and extremely apathetic narrator. He’s flawed: he doesn’t care about the future, is lazy, and has a very low self-esteem. (In the book, this is sometimes exaggerated to an obnoxious extent. I was less annoyed with him in the movie.)

This isn’t to say that I hated Greg, or that he’s a bad character. He’s actually a really good character, one who is startlingly real. He makes bad jokes and has girl problems. His family is a bit odd, and school stresses him out. He felt like one of my brothers.

Greg’s tone throughout the novel is the kicker. It’s laced with humor, completely off-the-wall (but weirdly accurate) analogies, and his unfiltered thoughts about people and situations that he observes.

Then there’s Earl.

Earl is probably my favorite character. He’s so funny – crude, but funny. It takes a while to realize this, but Earl is much more mature and thoughtful than Greg. He calls Greg out on his crap, makes him take responsibility, makes him think. I felt like I knew Earl too, like he was someone I go to school with.

And we can’t forget about the dying girl.

I mean, even though the book seems to.

Seriously. I could easily count the number of chapters that Rachel is actually in. There are very few of them. Reading the book, I didn’t know her at all. It’s told from Greg’s memories and mind, and he’s so caught up with himself and conversations and making the film that, as a reader, I don’t even feel like Rachel was a real person. She was a shadow character.
me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girlThis is where the movie shone. The movie brought Rachel to life. It brought us out of Greg’s head and into his school, into Rachel’s house, into Mr. McCarthy’s office. (Why does the history teacher have an office? Whatever – respect the research.) The movie added humor (the scene in class where Greg discovers how he got high – not in the book) and took away useless factors (like Greg’s sisters, and the fact that he used to date Rachel). The movie was also nice because it showed bits and pieces of the films that they made. Because let’s be honest – it’s weird to read about someone doing stop motion.

Finally, the film added a level of depth and emotion that the book lacked. Like I said, everything in the book is told directly from Greg’s perspective, while in the movie you can see him struggle with things and see people interact with him. It’s less biased, in a way. You grow to love Rachel, and cry when it’s time for prom (also not in the book). The Greg in the book never would have done what Movie Greg did in this scene. Movie Greg does learn from Rachel’s situation, while Book Greg just seems to sort of move on.

(If that was vague, my apologies. Spoilers and whatnot.)

Long story short, the movie was perfect, and the book was pretty good. Weird as this sounds, I might like the book more because I saw the movie first, and because it was so good. I definitely would (and have) recommend(ed) this book and movie to others.

Who knew that a book/movie about a girl with cancer could be so funny?

Book: 4/5 stars

Movie: 9/10 stars (IMDb scale)