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!) 😉

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The Fault In Our Stars (2014) Review

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The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

Directed by Josh Boone

Based on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Starring:
Shailene Woodley
Ansel Elgort
Nat Wolff
Laura Dern
Sam Trammell
Willem Dafoe

Running time: 125 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Shailene Woodley plays Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen-years-old cancer patient who is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she subsequently meets and falls in love with Augustus Waters, portrayed by Ansel Elgort.

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My Opinion:

I read this book last year (you can see my review HERE) and I liked it a lot. It was my first John Green book and I thought he did an excellent job bringing these characters to life and making us care about them (I’ve just finished my second John Green book, Paper Towns. Hmm… Not as much of a fan of that one. He’s a very talented writer, though – I’ll certainly read more from him).

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It’s annoying when they don’t do a good job adapting books into films but, at least as far as YA books go, they’ve been doing a damn good job with some of them lately. I think The Hunger Games films have been great so far (especially Catching Fire) and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is still one of my favorite films of the past few years and was an extremely faithful adaption (helps that the author made the film himself – I also reviewed the book HERE). Well, I’m very happy to say they did an amazing job with the adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars and I really have no complaints. Some things were left out as usual due to length, such as a bit about Augustus’ life prior to meeting Hazel, but I don’t think it was necessary for the film anyway.

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Shailene Woodley was good as Hazel (when I reviewed Divergent I wondered if maybe this movie would suit her better. I was right – The Fault In Our Stars feels more like the right kind of role for her). However, the true star here is Augustus Waters (played by Ansel Elgort). I’m an old lady reading YA fiction but can TOTALLY understand young readers falling completely in love with the character of Augustus. He’s charming, funny, cheeky, confident, handsome… the kind of boy teenage girls dream of, in other words. Luckily, I think Ansel Elgort captures this character and I’m sure he has loads of young female fans now. And there’s a great chemistry with Woodley so it’s very easy to get sucked into the story and believe that they’re a couple. I really can’t find fault with anyone cast in this film – they all played their roles well. The best friend of Augustus was made maybe a little too “funny” for the movie but that’s a very minor complaint – he was kind of the “comic relief” in the book as well.

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Summary:

If you loved the book, you’ll love the film. It’s an extremely faithful adaptation and, having enjoyed the book, I’m very happy with what they’ve done with the film. I don’t think anyone was miscast and I’d find it very surprising if you’re a YA-aged female who doesn’t fall in love with the character of Augustus Waters after watching this movie (and/or reading the book). However, although I love reading Young Adult fiction, “teenage melodrama” isn’t normally my genre of choice for the most part (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower being an exception). So the film probably deserves a slightly higher rating than what I’m going to give it but I rate based on a combination of personal opinion as well as “worthiness” (I feel I have to explain myself after you all picked on me for my Godzilla rating). 😉 It’s not a movie I’ll necessarily ever watch again but if I was a teenager right now I’d probably watch it over & over & over and declare it the best movie ever. It’s a very good YA film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**I’ve become a member of The Stone Cold Bitch Club as I shed no tears while watching The Fault In Our Stars (I do find some movies to be tearjerkers, though – you can see my list HERE).

Here are some reviews of The Fault In Our Stars from other WordPress bloggers:

Stone Cold Bitch Club:

Me!
Zoe
Cara
Abbi
Rob

Crybaby Club:

Melissa
Tom
Box Office Buzz
Natalie
Natasha
Anna

In Between Club:

Mike

Which club do YOU belong to? Let me know! If you’ve reviewed this, I’ll add a link to your review above under the correct category. 🙂

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First Look: Shailene Woodley Is Sick, Lovesick in The Fault In Our Stars

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Link to full article here: SlashFilm

It’s going to be a big year for Shailene Woodley! I’m looking forward to The Fault In Our Stars (I’ve not read Divergent). I really enjoyed the book (my review is HERE). I do love all the great young adult fiction that’s around these days. Here’s hoping this movie can be even half as good as The Perks Of Being A Wallflower film (which I loved as much as and probably even more than the book). 🙂 Now if only they’d release The Spectacular Now in the UK so I could finally see it…

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Book Review)

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The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is the story of 16-year-old Hazel, who’s had Stage 4 Thyroid cancer since she was 13. An experimental drug is helping to keep her alive but there’s no cure for her cancer. She attends a support group for kids living with cancer (when her mom forces her to go, that is). One day at support group, she meets a new boy named Augustus Waters. He’s charming & intelligent & there’s an instant attraction. As to be expected, she soon falls for Augustus Waters (as did I!).

To say much more about the story will give too much away. Yes, this is very much a typical “young adult” novel these days but it’s one of the GOOD ones. (What I’m saying is that it’s no Twilight). The characters are strong, which is what I always find most important in a book. Hazel & Augustus are both funny & very intelligent. I liked the relationship between Hazel & her mother and the relationship between Hazel and both her parents seemed realistic. Another good character is Isaac, a boy in the cancer support group and best friend of Augustus. They have a great friendship & keep each other’s spirits up & are both able to maintain a sense of humor through some very difficult times.

Hazel is an avid reader (funny how female characters in young adult fiction ALWAYS are!) and her favorite book is one about a girl her age who also has cancer. The book is called An Imperial Affliction & she shares her love of this book with Augustus, showing how much she trusts him & wants to open up to him. Again, I can’t say any more about this but it’s an important part of the plot & leads to the introduction of who I suppose was one of the book’s more interesting characters.

This book takes a serious subject & I think it handles it pretty well. Those who are suffering aren’t shown as always being “strong & brave”, a point which is made in the book. Because that’s what’s always SAID about people with cancer. Augustus is the one who is able to stay strong for everyone for the longest – I totally fell in love with Augustus Waters! We’ll just pretend he’s not half my age. And fictional…

The only TINY complaint I’d have about the characters of Hazel & Augustus is that they’re TOO intelligent. They don’t talk like teenagers of today. They use full sentences & BIG words & have very deep thoughts. Um… Okay – I admit to not really knowing any teenagers at the moment but that’s not how I see any of them. Don’t they all use txt spk? (Did I abbreviate text speak correctly? I’m rubbish at text speak!). I think this is why young adult fiction seems to be so popular with women of my age (30s). The books are written by people in their 30s so all of us 30-somethings can relate to them. They’re written in a way we WANT to see teenagers or maybe how we saw ourselves when we were teenagers. It was exactly the same way with the characters in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (which I loved). These books are obviously doing well with actual teenagers too, though, so there must be enough things in these books that they can relate to. Maybe I’m not giving teenagers enough credit. I suppose it’s only the obnoxious and mouthy ones making duckfaces into their camera phones that you notice, not the ones reading quietly in a corner… 😉

Summary: The Fault In Our Stars is an excellent and well-written book with smart, funny, and sensitive characters that felt very “real” (although maybe a little too beyond their years). Although living with cancer at such a young age probably does make you wise beyond your years… I recommend it to anyone of any age who likes this sort of YA fiction. It’s my first John Green book & I’ll happily read more of his books now based on how much I enjoyed this one.

My Rating: 4/5

Now Reading: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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Anyone read this? I’m about to start it.

I’ve only managed to read one book so far this year – not good! (That was The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Loved it). I’ve been trying to read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson for about two months now and I just CANNOT get into it for some reason! So I figured I’d try another book for a while then maybe come back to it.

I keep seeing John Green books in the young adult fiction section and they all sound like my type of thing. So I figured I’d start with The Fault In Our Stars to see if I like his stuff. Anyone else read any of his books?