On Books and Their Film Adaptations

On the eve of the release of the film “The Fault in Our Stars,” I’ve elected to re-read the book one more time. This has always been a habit of mine — read the book before the film, and usually read it once more right before I go see the movie.

Here’s how I see it. The first time I read a book, it’s a completely new experience. I know nothing about the characters and rely solely on the author’s descriptions and my own mind to shape how I envision them. I don’t know what happens in the book, how it ends or who dies or who moves away or anything else like that. It’s a pure experience, and there are many books that I wish I could go back and read for the first time again.

When a book is becoming a movie, I start to see trailers of it online and elsewhere. I start to see photos of the actors and actresses in their parts, see clips of different scenes and piece it all together in my head. It starts to align the written version of the story with this other version that’s being put together in front of us. Then, when I go to read the book once more before I see the film, it almost becomes a jumble. I read the descriptions of the characters and try to see if they match up with what I’ve seen in the previews for the film. I hold on to the purity that the book has, savoring every word and enjoying it because I know that once I’ve seen the film, my experience in reading the book will change.

Once I see that film, it will become a challenge for me to read the book the same way. My perspective will be different. Instead of seeing my own visions of what the characters look like, I’ll start to see them as they appear in the film. I’ll start to notice the differences, the things that were left out or changed for the big screen. It may even anger me or upset me. I know the movie company and everyone involved has done their best possible job to maintain as much as they can of the book, but even so, it can’t be exactly the same.

Now, as I re-read TFIOS before going to see the film, I find myself reading it and wondering how they’ll do this scene or that one; will they keep this part in, or edit it out? Have they really captured the true essence of Augustus Waters’ personality? What does the author of An Imperial Affliction actually look like? Can they do this scene justice, or will it become a hurried moment, kept in for the reader’s sake but rushed through due to time constraints? There are so, so many questions, but I guess for now, I have to focus on enjoying the book one last time in this way, because in the future, I’ll still enjoy it, but not in the exact same way as I do now.

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“Divergent” – A Movie Review

“Fear doesn’t shut you down, it wakes you up.”

One amazing book that has recently been made into a film adaptation is Veronica Roth’s “Divergent,” the first book of the trilogy. I loved the book the first time I read it through, so naturally I was super excited about the film. I ended up re-reading it again in the days before the movie, so that I could recall all the little details & remember what happened in the first book, and where it left off.

It’s hard to watch a film adaptation of a book you love so much. It’s hard because you have all these expectations, and some of them may be fulfilled, while others aren’t. But I have to say, the Divergent film was nothing but a pleasant experience for me.

Note: There may be spoilers below, so be aware!

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“The Spectacular Now” Review

I’ve wanted to write this review for some time, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But alas — here we are. I’m going to try and keep things separate as best I can, focusing first on the story as a whole and the book, and then a separate section at the end to address the film and how I felt about that. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet – be forewarned there might be some spoilers in that section when we come to it.

The Spectacular Now is, first and foremost, a 2008 young-adult fiction novel written by Tim Tharp. It tells the story of Sutter Keely, a high-school senior who is serious about… nothing. Absolutely nothing. He’s constantly “buzzed” – as evidenced by the constant plastic cup in his hand containing a mix of alcohol and [some other drink.] The story begins as Sutter tries to help his friend get a girlfriend. Sutter’s girlfriend, Cassidy, sees the supposed “double-date” and breaks up with him. Fast forward to Sutter waking up in the middle of someone’s lawn.

That’s when he meets Aimee. Sutter offers to help with her paper route, as driving around the neighborhood will help him (hopefully) find his car… wherever he left it the previous night. A bond of some sort forms between the two, even though Aimee is a social disaster. Sutter decides to take her under his wing, to make Aimee his special project. They start hanging out. He learns more about her, she starts drinking, and soon… they appear to be a match made in heaven. A screwed-up match, that is.

Aimee gets attached, something Sutter didn’t expect. He figured she’d get sick of him after not too long, as all girls did… but Aimee’s different. Eventually, she convinces him to reach out to his father, someone he hasn’t spoken to in years. Behind the mystery… is there a happy ending? Things get tense, tense, even more tense, between Aimee and Sutter, with the premise of college lying ahead. Heck, Aimee even plans to move away after high school and hopes that Sutter will come with her. For once, he’s making plans…. but will he keep them? Or will he end up being exactly who everyone thinks he is: someone who’s only serious about not being serious?

Alright, so there’s the basic plot. I tried to be as short as possible, but gosh, that was tough.

My thoughts on the book: The story was alright. The message behind it, however – now that’s something I can get behind. Sutter was all about living in the now, living in the moment, appreciating life for what it is right NOW. I think that’s something a lot of people don’t do. We focus so much on the past, or so much on the future, that we don’t enjoy the present. Life truly is spectacular, so appreciate it.

Now… my thoughts on the movie. Again – if you don’t want some spoilers, stop reading here.

I’m so torn about how to feel about The Spectacular Now movie. It was good, but there were a lot of little things that just ticked me off enough to annoy me. Parts of the book were translated for the movie, but they were made to be cuter or more “attractive,” it seemed, and that annoyed me. For instance, there’s a scene in the book where Aimee and Sutter go to a party and Aimee’s wearing a big, puffy purple coat. She doesn’t look attractive in it, people laugh at her, and Sutter probably goes “d’oh. Jeez.” a few times. It was part of what affirmed that Aimee was a social wreck…. she had no idea how “uncool” the jacket made her look. She was always reading space novels, etc. Yet in the film – that puffy, unappealing coat is nowhere to be found. Almost as if they removed it because it wouldn’t be “cute” enough for Hollywood…. to reel Aimee in. Okay yes, she’s socially awkward, but in the cute way that makes it attractive for movies. Well, that ticked me off.

I also hated, hated, HATED the ending. They tacked that on – it wasn’t in the book. Sutter never goes off to find Aimee after he ditches her without a word. Yet in the movie, he decides to step up and go find her? WHAT? Are you kidding me? It’s a half-assed attempt to give it some semblance of a happy ending, but that’s NOT HOW THE BOOK WENT. Okay, I’m rambling now. I apologize. Even though we don’t know what happens after they meet again – if Aimee totally rejects him, or they get back together, or what – it gives viewers some idea that hey, maybe Sutter changed! Maybe he’s actually a good guy. But that’s NOT HOW THE BOOK WENT, and adding a scene like that completely changes everything!

Okay. I’m done now, I swear. My point is: it’s a decent book and a decent movie. Miles Teller & Shailene Woodley are great. If you take anything away from this, be it this: Life is spectacular. Live in the now. Enjoy the present. Don’t live in the past or the future; live in the spectacular now.

Movie Review: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

One of the newest films in the movie industry today is the just-released Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters film, starring (among others) Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Jake Abel and Stanley Tucci. This movie is a sequel to Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which was released in 2010, and is based off the second book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Overall, I thought the film was good, but I was definitely thrown off at parts that were changed or eliminated from the book, and select scenes that seemed completely overdramatized for the film. Please note that this review is not completely spoiler-free, though I’ll try to keep it spoiler-free as much as possible & will note when a spoiler is coming up.

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Movie Review: The Internship

I’m not a huge fan of paying $10 to go sit in a theater for two hours to watch a movie that may be great or may very well be awful, so it’s got to be a pretty special occasion when I do go. Last week, I went to the movies one day and saw two films, back-to-back. The first movie I saw was The Bling Ring, which you can read my review of here. After a short break, I then went to go see The Internship.

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