The Book Thief & Paper Towns Movie Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two movie adaptations of two books that I read recently. Since I read the books, I figured I better finally watch the films. I never really enjoy a movie much after reading the book and, in the case of one of these, I pretty much hated the book so I wasn’t hoping for much from the movie. Here we go!

Paper Towns (2015)

Directed by Jake Schreier

Based on Paper Towns by John Green

Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Jaz Sinclair

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

My Opinion:

I did a very short review of the Paper Towns book HERE (I rated it 2.5/5). Full of hateful characters, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. The main boy (played by Nat Wolff in the movie) was okay but a bit bland. The girl he loves (Margo, played by Cara Delevingne) & his best friend (who is a sexist little shit & calls all girls “honey bunnies”) are annoying as hell. Seriously, Margo isn’t interesting & mysterious – she’s a bitch. But I liked the story, which involves Margo’s friends trying to track her down through a series of bizarre clues she’s left behind.

Once I’ve read a book, I always try to watch the movie adaptation but it’s never that exciting to me since I already know the story & get a bit bored. This one is a pretty straightforward & faithful adaptation. If you like the book, you should like the movie. I think this is a rare occasion where the film is better & I’d say it’s mainly down to them making Margo seem a little more human & less hateful. I also thought Nat Wolff did a good job as Quentin & made the character less dull than in the book. If you’re interested in the story, I’d actually recommend watching the movie & skipping the book as the book doesn’t really flesh out the characters any more than the film does and the movie doesn’t leave out anything important (from what I can remember).

Even though I’m WAY past “Young Adult” age, I still really enjoy reading/watching YA stuff as I can still relate to most of it. Trust me – when you get old like me, it’s very likely that it’ll still feel like you only just finished high school yesterday. It’s a traumatic time in life & I remember more from that time than I do from when I was a twentysomething. However, Paper Towns was one I couldn’t relate to at all. Maybe I’m finally out of touch? Or maybe John Green just doesn’t quite capture what teens are really like? The characters didn’t feel real to me, unlike the ones in things like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic film & book!). But that one was set in my own era of high school with an awesome soundtrack while Paper Towns is set now & the characters refer to things from their own youth that mean nothing to me (like singing what I assume is the Pokémon TV show theme tune). No, I think the characters are weak and are the real reason I can’t connect with Paper Towns. At least the movie improves on the book slightly so I can’t give it a low rating as it’s a good adaptation and I think plenty of teens/twentysomethings probably really like it. But I’d recommend other YA stuff to people my own age before I’d recommend this one.

My Rating: 6/10

The Book Thief (2013)

Directed by Brian Percival

Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Heike Makatsch, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home.

My Opinion:

I reviewed The Book Thief novel HERE (along with all 14 books I read last year – I ranked this one my 8th favorite out of 14 & rated it 3.5/5). Unlike Paper Towns, this book had strong characters & I really cared what would happen to them. The book was actually let down slightly by its unnecessary gimmick (it’s narrated by Death aka The Grim Reaper) and did feel overlong. I really liked the book but didn’t love it like I was hoping, despite loving the characters. Still, I’m glad it got the characters right as that’s really important to me.

In this case, I’d definitely recommend reading the book before watching the film. It’s a good adaptation with fine performances but they’ve had to leave things out (as to be expected with a long book). The characters are just so richly developed in the book, which rarely gets captured as well in a film. They did come close, however – both Sophie Nélisse (Liesel – the main character) & Geoffrey Rush (Hans, her foster father) are fantastic & exactly as I pictured. Emily Watson (Rosa, her foster mother) & Nico Liersch (Rudy, her best friend) are also very good but have far less time spent on them than in the book. Rosa is a complex character so it will have been hard to capture this but I was most upset with how little we got to know Rudy in the film as I absolutely loved him & his beautiful friendship with Liesel in the book. Ben Schnetzer (as Max, the Jewish refugee they’re hiding) was also very good & as I had pictured but, again, he sadly doesn’t get enough time devoted to him in the film.

Luckily, the movie leaves out quite a lot of the Grim Reaper’s narrative. It’s done well & not distracting, whereas it kind of threw me out of the story every time they came back to it in the book. But don’t let that criticism talk you out of reading the book as I’d definitely recommend it if the story interests you. I’m not sure how to rate this movie… I thought it was quite good but, knowing the novel is better, I couldn’t help but be just a little let down despite great performances & some perfect casting. If you’re someone who really doesn’t like to read, then by all means watch the movie instead & probably add an extra point to my below rating. It’s a good film & they’ve done the best they possibly could with a somewhat difficult novel to adapt but, ultimately, the film doesn’t deliver the same emotional punch as you don’t get to know some of the characters as well as you do in the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Okay, I admit to knowing the Pokémon song very well now since my kid has become addicted to the show….

And here are some of the best Pokémon we’ve caught (I love annoying people with this!) 😉


19 thoughts on “The Book Thief & Paper Towns Movie Reviews

  1. I remember being disappointed by The Book Thief, which is an odd reaction given I had no reference point for it (i.e. this stupid fuck couldn’t be bothered to read the book like he always does…). But I took away the same things from it as you have: Sophie Neliese was wonderful and her chemistry with the much older, more experienced Geoffrey Rush was super heartwarming. I also liked how the frost on Emily Watson’s Rosa eventually melted and she became a strong support in the end. But yeah, the narration by Death….. really?

    I am never watching Paper Towns. That seems like the epitome of teen angst. Unearned teen angst, at that.

    • Yeah, The Book Thief is kind of a weird one. The film should be more emotional than it is. Great acting but overall a fairly forgettable movie. Rosa was great in the book – she was pretty damn horrible in the beginning & it was amazing how they managed to turn that around by the end. She’s possibly the most complex character in the book – Watson did a good job with her. You’d probably find the Death narration too damn annoying in the book since there’s a lot more of it. Lol! You hit the nail on the head with “unearned teen angst”. I can handle a bit of teen angst but the “unearned teen angst” gets annoying. Like, what are these middle class American teenagers so damn angsty about?! I think the characters in Paper Towns would definitely get on your nerves. Avoid! : )

  2. I haven’t watched The Book Thief, but that is because I want to rad the book first. One of those “I can’t believe I still haven’t read it” books. As for Paper Towns, I was not a particular fan of the book (probably my least liked JG novel), so I couldn’t be bothered to check out the movie.

    As for Pokémon Go? Gosh, my husband, my friends, all of them are all over this. Heck, my husband is even back to playing the old school Game Boy ones on his phone now. It’s madness. It has unleashed the inner child of them all xD

    • I’d really like to know your thoughts on The Book Thief (book). It’s good but not as good as I’d been hoping. Strong characters, though. Well, you don’t really need to watch Paper Towns since it’s so faithful to the book. Your life won’t be incomplete without seeing it! Lol – glad I’m not the only (older) person playing Pokémon Go! I mean. I’m not. I’m playing for my daughter. Yeah. That’s it. (I’ve caught 90 now!) 😁 ; ) 🔴

  3. These don’t strike a lot of interest in my. Well, maybe the film Paper Towns but the books sounds like it ought to be skipped. I tend to be the exact opposite in that reading the book ruins a movie for me so I wait until after the film. In fact, I was so amused and entertained by one movie that I never read the book. I had purchased it and latter that day saw the first trailer for the film so I set it aside.

    • Watching Paper Towns may be worth a shot if you’re bored one night & want a simple film to stick on. : ) That’s interesting – I think most people prefer to read the book first. However, I know it ALWAYS means I won’t enjoy the film as much since I’ll have the book in my mind the whole time. I often wonder how I’d feel about Stand By Me (an all-time favorite of mine) if I’d read The Body first (I read it after seeing the movie).

  4. I’ve never read either book, but I liked both of these. The Book Thief had some great acting, but I didn’t find it very memorable. Paper Towns, though, I enjoyed much more than most people seem to. I wouldn’t say it sums up the present generation of teens, but I thought most of the character interactions were fun and realistic, even if Margo was unlikable.
    The scene with the Pokémon theme was the best part! Seriously, that song has a weird nostalgic power for people like me who grew up with it. There are videos out there of convention crowds breaking into song when that theme starts playing. That was the most memorable bit of the whole movie for me.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure why The Book Thief film doesn’t QUITE work as the acting was great. I think I’d definitely like Paper Towns more if I was a teen/twentysomething. It’s not a bad film (and better than the book) – I just couldn’t really relate to the characters like I can with some other current teen movies. Lol – I understand the feeling of nostalgia you can get from something you grew up with. : ) Obviously the Pokémon thing was after my time but, thanks to Pokémon Go, my daughter has gone mad for the show so I hear the theme song all the time. So it’ll have nostalgic meaning for her when she’s older too, I guess. : )

  5. I agree with your reviews… although I think I liked both the book and film of The Book Thief more than you did. I also don’t get the hype about John Green. Not sure if it’s an age/generational thing.

    • Yeah, I did like The Book Thief but both the book & movie didn’t QUITE work for me. Although I’m not sure why… As for John Green, I don’t feel he does teenagers right. Or, maybe he does & I’m just too old. Teens certainly do seem to go for his stuff so I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about! : )

  6. I really disliked Paper Towns (movie), and thought Margot Roth Spielman was the worst character to have ever been on screen. I guess I better not read the book if she’s worse there 🙂

    As for The Book Thief, I haven’t seen or read 😦 Will get to that someday!

    I thought my sister would divorce her husband because of Pokémon Go 🙂 People are going crazy for it!

    • Oh, she’s definitely even worse in the book! Skip it. : ) The Book Thief is worth a read, though. Lol – luckily my hubby likes Pokémon Go as well so we might stay married. ; )

  7. Pingback: My Blog’s August 2016 Recap | Cinema Parrot Disco

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