The DUFF & The Scorch Trials Movie Reviews 

Welcome to my “Young Adult Movie Adaptation Review Special“! I read one of these books (the movie was awful) and didn’t read the other book (the movie was surprisingly fun). Let’s see which was which…

The DUFF (2015)

Directed by Ari Sandel

Based on The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Nick Eversman, Skyler Samuels, Bianca A. Santos

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts.

My Opinion:

Even at my advanced age, I still enjoy a good teen comedy. Obviously, nothing will ever compare to my 80’s John Hughes classics but there have been a couple post-1989 ones that haven’t been too bad (Clueless, American Pie, etc). But the majority are bad and full of hateful teens (like in stuff such as Project X and, sadly, Dope – a movie I was hoping to love). However, The DUFF is easily one of the better ones I’ve seen from this genre in a long time & I really enjoyed it.

Mae Whitman (the voice of Tinker Bell in all those Tinker Bell movies! You’ll know them well if you have a daughter 😉 ) plays the DUFF, aka the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”. I liked her in the fantastic The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and she’s a lot of fun in this & totally relatable as a “real world girl”. I hate saying that as it sounds so rude but, yeah – unlike the girls in all other Hollywood movies, she looks like a normal person. Hollywood movie girls are too ridiculously attractive and it sets a bad example (especially in teen movies).

Whitman’s two best friends in this are of the unrealistic ridiculously attractive variety but I suppose they were trying to make her look less attractive in comparison. But, anyway! That’s not entirely relevant as this movie isn’t really trying to make as big of a statement on superficiality as I was expecting. Whitman’s character is, at first, entirely content with how she looks & dresses – she only changes when someone calls her a “DUFF”. So I guess the main message is more about how we treat people but there’s a bit of a moral about accepting yourself the way you are.

Anyway… Forget I said all that! This isn’t some annoying teen movie that thinks it has an important message or something – it’s just a lighthearted comedy & actually quite funny compared to a lot of current teen flicks. The humor is a tad on the raunchy side (fine by me) so this is probably aimed more at the mid to late-teen age range. Although certainly not at the same level as something like Heathers (nothing is!), The DUFF is smart & sassy like a lot of the 80’s teen classics. Hopefully more teen movies go in the same direction as this one since I’ll probably still be watching this genre when I’m 90.

My Rating: 7/10

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Directed by Wes Ball

Based on The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot of The Scorch Trials takes place immediately after the previous installment, with Thomas (O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers battling the powerful World Catastrophe Killzone Department (W.C.K.D., or WICKED), while facing the perils of the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles.

My Opinion:

WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!?!?! I’m so damn confused by this movie! I’ve read The Maze Runner trilogy (I did a recap & review of the final book HERE last week) and, although I have some major issues with it and it often annoyed the hell out of me, I thought it was a decent enough story overall. I read the books after seeing the first film, which I found quite enjoyable (much more enjoyable than the books, actually). So I finally watched The Scorch Trials after finishing the books. IT BARELY EVEN RESEMBLES THE BOOK!!! ??? Why ???

I would assume that books can be quite hard to adapt into films, especially long books that must be reduced to a roughly two-hour running time. The Scorch Trials isn’t a long book, however. Plus, the first movie was faithful to the book so it’s even more confusing that they’ve decided to take things in such a different direction in the sequel. I’m not overly bothered about a 100% faithful adaptation as I know things sometimes need slight changing or need to be left out due to running time. As long as there are no major changes that completely mess with the storyline, characters’ intentions/personalities, or the overall themes, I’m fine with them.

Well, The Scorch Trials has major changes. No, wait – that’s not exactly right as you can’t even really call them changes… It has completely new stuff added in. It’s so drastically different that it feels like the screenwriter(s) didn’t even read the book & instead based the story on its back cover synopsis or on some weird ass “Chinese whispers” version of the story.

You know what? I don’t care. I’m not going to waste my time reviewing this. It lost my interest after it started going so completely off the rails that I went & did other things around the house while it kept playing in the background. I’m not sure what the hell was going on. After this movie, I’m not going to bother with the next one since I sure as shit can’t be bothered to re-watch this one to figure out what the hell was going on. BAH! What a stupid waste of time. Either be faithful to a book or, if that fails, don’t follow it AT ALL & just steal the name (like World War Z). At least I knew beforehand with that one that they ignored the book….

My Rating: 4.5/10 (Not lower than that since I guess I still like the characters and think Dylan O’Brien & Thomas Brodie-Sangster are good in these films)

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Kids From Classic Christmas Films – Where Are They Now?

I knew what had happened to most of these “Christmas movie kids” but there are a few interesting facts in this NME article HERE.

I figured I should mention Jake Lloyd as I hear there’s some new Star Wars movie coming out this week (which, by the way, I will try to review here on Thursday afternoon if I can stay awake long enough to write something about it!). The Phantom Menace was disappointing but, to be fair, I have to say that Jingle All The Way was far worse. I don’t think I ever even bothered to watch that all the way through. Well, the last any of us heard of Jake Lloyd was when he was arrested for reckless driving this year. Hopefully he can sort his life out – it’s a shame how fame ruins the lives of so many child stars.

It’s surprising that Nicholas Hoult has ended up being one of the more successful “Christmas movie kids” (he was in About A Boy. was that a Christmas movie?? I clearly don’t remember it now). You can’t top being in Mad Max: Fury Road! Peter Billingsley (from A Christmas Story) is strangely attractive now & we all know Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone!) went a bit weird but I loved this little tidbit: “He rarely acts these days, but recently took to the stage in his pizza themed Velvet Underground cover band, The Pizza Underground.” Ha! Seriously? Do they do a song called “I’m Waiting For The Pizza Delivery Man“?

Well, you can also read about Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Taylor Momsen (from The Grinch – probably my most hated movie of all time), Corey Feldman, Kieran Culkin, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Olivia Olson, Mara Wilson, Eric Lloyd, and Daryl Christopher Sabara HERE.

Oh – and I have to quickly mention this: Apparently, these life-sized Victorian dolls are roaming around London to promote some new Derren Brown attraction opening in Thorpe Park. Egads! NO THANK YOU!!!! Creepy as hell.

The Maze Runner (2014) Review

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The Maze Runner (2014)

Directed by Wes Ball

Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Starring:
Dylan O’Brien
Kaya Scodelario
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Will Poulter
Ki Hong Lee

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Maze Runner is a science fiction dystopian action thriller film. The story follows sixteen-year-old Thomas, portrayed by O’Brien, who awakens in a rusty elevator with no memory of who he is, only to learn he’s been delivered to the middle of an intricate maze, along with a slew of other boys, who have been trying to find their way out of the ever-changing labyrinth — all while establishing a functioning society in what they call the Glade.

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My Opinion:

I actually quite liked this movie. As I said in my review for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I, I do love my “YA post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi books” but I’ve not read The Maze Runner or Divergent. Of those two movies, I definitely enjoyed The Maze Runner more than Divergent and will possibly read the books now. So, obviously, this review won’t be comparing the movie to the book (which will be a relief as I can get pretty picky if I’ve read the book first, as you can see in my review of The Giver. Not too happy with that adaptation!).

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I liked that this was some sort of sci-fi Lord Of The Flies. I liked the mystery of the maze & not knowing who had put these kids there and why. If I had any complaints, they’d probably be that I’d liked to have seen even more of the maze and its mysteries (I’m assuming it’s even more complex in the book?) and that I’d have liked more character development of the girl, who doesn’t seem to have much to do in this film. Other than that, I liked the relationships that formed between the characters and that they each had very distinct personalities. There’s a pretty generic “bad guy” but that’s to be expected as you need two different groups wanting to deal with their predicament in different ways. It just seemed to work as a movie much more than Divergent but I’m not sure why.

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Summary:

I actually enjoyed The Maze Runner a bit more than Mockingjay even though I think Mockingjay is the superior film. I assume the following books & films will suffer from the same problems as The Hunger Games in that the first book has a great and original idea that you can’t exactly repeat in book 2 (well, except for The Hunger Games having yet another Hunger Games in book 2…). 😉 I mean, I’d assume there’s not a second maze, which is the cool thing about this first movie. But instead it’ll turn into this big fight against the evil powers in control and blah blah blah. Right?? Well, it’s the only direction these sort of stories can ever really take so I’m not really complaining – I’m just hoping it’s a more satisfying conclusion than in Mockingjay. I’m at least intrigued enough to probably read this series.

My Rating: 7/10

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Nowhere Boy (2009) Review

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Nowhere Boy (2009)

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood (Sam Taylor-Johnson now)

Starring:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Anne-Marie Duff
Kristin Scott Thomas

(How many names do each of these people need??)

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Nowhere Boy is a 2009 British biopic about John Lennon’s adolescence, his relationships with his guardian aunt and his mother, the creation of his first band, The Quarrymen, and its evolution into The Beatles. The film is based on a biography written by Lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird.

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My Opinion:

First of all – I love The Beatles. Well, not things like I Want To Hold Your Hand so much – more like Norwegian Wood & Dear Prudence. Actually, I did My Top Five Beatles Songs HERE (think they’ve changed a bit since).

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I like a lot of music but never know that much about the band members. Same goes for actors – I don’t like knowing TOO much of their real lives because I don’t want to have that affect how I may feel about their music or movies. I mean, Tom Cruise movies are ruined for me for life – no matter how serious the role, I just see him jumping around on a couch. Stay slightly mysterious, famous people! Like in the old days before Twitter & stuff – We don’t need to know what you’re doing every second of every day. And, FFS, don’t do a reality show!

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Um, where was I? Oh yeah – The Beatles! As much as I know & love their music, I know very little about their personal lives. I couldn’t tell you how accurate Nowhere Boy is but, wow – Lennon apparently had a pretty heartbreaking childhood. I knew none of that. I guess it goes to show that those with difficult lives really are often the most creative people. Why is that? People must have it too easy these days since most music sucks now.

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Maybe I should actually talk about the movie?? First of all, it was a little hard to buy into as Aaron Taylor-Johnson looks nothing whatsoever like John Lennon. His performance was fine but I just never really felt like I was watching a young John Lennon. Even more odd was Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Paul McCartney. Wait. What? That kid from Love Actually & Nanny McPhee?! Yeah, that one. Look at him:

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Huh? You’re Paul McCartney in this?

So it took me a while to get into this film but, maybe halfway through, I decided to just go with it and I ended up thinking it was a very interesting story and not too bad of a movie. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, although maybe hard to picture as John Lennon, was at least believable as a troubled & lonely boy who’d been abandoned by his irresponsible mother (Anne-Marie Duff) and raised by his stern aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas).

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Both women give very good performances and are what helped to sell the movie to me overall. But they’re also not famous people like Lennon – I suppose it’s very difficult to portray someone so well known to the world so I’ve maybe been a little harsh on Taylor-Johnson (I’m sick of typing Taylor-Johnson! I believe he wasn’t yet married to the director when making this so was just Johnson but he’s more famous now as Kick-Ass Taylor-Johnson so I better use the Taylor too). It’s a good insight into Lennon’s early life & what made him who he was. I don’t know if I’d recommend the film to everyone, though. It doesn’t focus on the music at all since it’s just showing us Lennon’s upbringing so don’t expect some music documentary – It won’t suddenly make you a fan of The Beatles music if you aren’t already. If you like a decent real life drama or are the slightest bit interested in knowing a little about Lennon’s early life, I’d recommend it. If you’re the world’s biggest Beatles expert, I have no idea if you’d love this or hate it because I don’t know how accurate it all is. (Sorry – What a wishy washy review! No one reads these things anyway, right?) 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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