[BOOKTOFILMFRIDAY] About a Boy

About-a-Boy-TV-Show-ImagesTHIS POST AND THE COMMENTS BELOW CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR ABOUT A BOY.

So before I begin it’s only right to confess that About a Boy may be my favourite film of all time. I mean, it’s a tough group up there at the top but About a Boy is certainly hanging. I had watched the film dozens of times before I even realised it was based on a book, and I only recently got around to finally reading Nick Hornby’s novel. It may make me a little biased, but hey, I’ll try my best to be impartial (Spoiler: I don’t do a good job).

Both the book and film capture a charming story, where the lives of young but wise Marcus and old but childish Will become unexpectedly intertwined. Marcus, having just moved to London with his hippie mum, is having a pretty rough time at school and home. His mum is suffering with depression and he has no where to go when the bullies target him; he just tries to be invisible. Will, however, is living a life of luxury from his one-hit wonder dad’s royalties – no responsibility and certainly no inclination to take any on. Some how, life pushes them together and the story is, to me anyway, all about letting love in.

About_a_Boy

The casting of the film is practically perfect. Hugh Grant is the epitome of a selfish and suave British gentleman, and he plays Will exactly how I imagined. Even though I saw the film first, it’s extremely easy to see why he was chosen for the role. Nicholas Hoult, even though super young, is wonderful too. He’s completely adorable in an annoying and persistent kind of way, and does a really good job of creating a believable portrayal of a troubled kid with unusual tastes. Even down to the minor characters like Rachel, Ellie, and Marcus’ mum, each character is brought to life in a way that is evidently inspired deeply by the book. I love to see this in a film adaptation, as it shows a real respect for where the characters came from.

Generally, the story of film stays true to the novel, however the plot deviates majorly in the final sections to create a completely fresh take on the ending. It seems as though the entire climax of the book is ripped out and changed, so while the final scene is almost exactly the same as the book, how we arrive there is totally new. The ending feels different too, even though the setting and outcome are largely the same.

About-A-Boy_640

Rather than make the journey with a drunk and violent Ellie to cut his useless dad loose from his life, the film Marcus enters a school talent show to sing for his mum to show her how much she means to him. It’s immediately obvious that this film plot is the lighter, fluffier version of events. Ellie really takes a backseat in the film; swapping the development of Marcus as a teenager, for the development of his relationship with Will and mum. I get that there isn’t time for everything, so if any of the emotional ties from the book were to be left out I would have chosen this one too. Marcus’ interactions with Will and Fiona are much more important in my eyes.

This is definitely the kind of change that would usually irritate me, but I honestly massively prefer the films version of events. Maybe this really is because I saw the film first, but by the end of the book I couldn’t help but feel this great sadness that just ate away at me. It wasn’t quite the happy ending I was expecting; the original message of the importance of sticking together and growing to accept and support each other simply disappeared on the final page.

I hate that after all Marcus has been through in the novel, in the final chapter he decides to change who he is and how he behaves in order to be liked. I felt cheated that I’d stuck by Marcus as an eccentric but sweet little boy for the entire book, to then just have him brush his life away and decide he doesn’t like Joni Mitchell anymore. He does like Joni Mitchell, he just knows he has to keep it a secret because it’s not ‘cool’. And that broke my heart.

About-a-Boy-Screencaps-about-a-boy-14329614-620-320

In the film, Marcus stays true to himself but ends up with a much better support network. The end is hopeful and positive, rather than bittersweet like the book.

I will probably read Nick Hornby’s book again, as I definitely enjoyed seeing more of the story and characters I’ve loved for so long on screen. It surprised me how different the film really is in those final scenes, and experiencing the story the way the author intended is always great. I think Hornby’s About a Boy leaves me with such a strange feeling because his writing is so uncomfortably realistic, cutting straight to where he knows it’ll hurt.

nbc_boy_pro_030X221AAB1104H_Exp221_ComingOfAge_20140124

I’ve just started watching the new television adaptation too, and so far I am loving the American Will! I’ll definitely have to do an update including my thoughts on it when I’m all caught up.

Are there any films adaptations that you enjoyed more than the original book? Let me know in the comments!

Charlotte x

Advertisements

[BOOKTOFILMFRIDAY] The Maze Runner

the-maze-runner-5402ff05453e4THIS POST AND THE COMMENTS BELOW CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE MAZE RUNNER (BOOK #1)

I made a point of reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner before I would even consider going to the cinema; I’m fussy like that. In the end, because I enjoyed the first book so much, I completely inhaled the trilogy in a matter of days and had to take some time to sit and recover. This series has definitely taken the top spot in my list of unexpectedly incredible trilogies of the year, without a doubt! Needless to say, after falling in love with the books, I was a little nervous over how the film would compare.

At first I noticed that a number of the smaller details had changed, which didn’t really phase me in any way. In the film, the Gladers were deposited in the maze one at a time from the beginning, rather than one large group at the start and one a month since. To account for this, they have been roaming the glade for a year longer than in the trilogy. A few other minor details were different, but nothing really to get excited about.

It wasn’t until further into the film that I realised the whole escape from the maze had changed. I don’t want to reveal too many specific details about the major changes, but the general sense of the escape is the same with a huge battle against the grievers and jumping through the griever hole, however almost every other aspect is different. I think the most likely reason for the change in the escape is that with the all the maps and codes in the novel, it’s just far too detailed to convey properly within a film. This really didn’t bother me too much though as I enjoyed the film as a completely separate entity to the book, and felt like I was just re-experiencing the story in a new way. The Maze Runner as a film doesn’t use the novel as a crutch; it has its own life and these changes work because of this.

While I definitely prefer the novel’s method because it feels as though the Gladers were supposed to work it out rather than stumble across the solution, the film doesn’t do a bad job with its alternative and it was still exciting, dangerous and fun to watch.

tumblr_nc5zle4Wpe1tzrw6to3_500

The whole film was visually stunning and filmed in that same gritty, up-close way that I love about The Hunger Games. It really represented the maze and the glade beautifully. I sometimes struggled while reading to picture the sheer scale of the glade but the film captured it in a way that just felt right. The special effects were brilliant too, I couldn’t tell that the grievers weren’t real creatures about to kill us all. Seriously, those things are the stuff of nightmares.

The-Maze-Runner-poster-image

I thought that every single actor was fantastic. From Thomas to Gally to Chuck, each one was a perfect representation of the characters I imagined in the books. I especially loved how Chuck was cast to look slightly younger than the other boys to evoke that feeling of brotherly responsibility in Thomas. He was sweet and kind and portrayed that annoying but devoted little brother excellently. I was pleased that the Gladers in the film were kinder to him than they were in the book too, he deserved it!

Gally surprised me too. He made sense and seemed almost reasonable compared to his constantly angry persona in the books. Even though he was still clearly against Thomas and had suspicions over his arrival, this slight personality shift made him more believable and complex as a character. Alby was played with a kinder heart and he explained much of the maze to Thomas, unlike in the book where he was harsh and secretive. I liked these little changes as the characters were still the same people but slightly more rounded and real versions of them.

One thing that confused me, however, was the way Teresa took a huge backseat in the film compared to her role in the books. She doesn’t bring with her the exact same message, instead shouting Thomas’ name and falling back to sleep. She doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on anything in the film and only seems to be a bit of a novelty, with no real memories of why she’s there. I’m hoping that she’ll regain her importance in the later films as I really love her complicated and devastating story arc throughout the trilogy. Most disappointingly, the telepathic link between Thomas and Teresa has been completely axed in the film. I’m assuming this was a choice made for suspension of disbelief purposes, but it worked really well in the books for me and I’m sad it’s not there to strengthen their relationship and connection in the film.

The-Maze-Runner-Stills

Finally, I was a little disappointed that the characters didn’t make much use of the Glader slang. There were only a handful of shanks and klunks and I really wished I’d heard more of them in the film, as it made the Gladers unique and bonded them together as a community. There was a lot of actual real-life swearing for a 12A though, which surprised me.

I adore the books for their complexity and fine details but love how the film stands out as brilliant too. I enjoyed every aspect of the film and was surprised at how successfully it has been adapted. I’m hoping that future book to film developments can take a leaf from The Maze Runner’s book; no narration, exciting story, believable characters and gorgeous scenery all in one exhilarating package! I really can’t wait for The Scorch Trials!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Charlotte x

[BOOKTOFILMFRIDAY] Divergent

divergent-banner-new-76THIS POST AND THE COMMENTS BELOW CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR DIVERGENT (BOOK #1)

When I first read the Divergent series, I absolutely fell in love with the story, the characters and the writing. Since revisiting the books and seeing the film, however, I can’t help but feel a little differently. At first, I was definitely swept away and thought it was all super original and exciting, but now I’ve had a long time to think about it, I’m not so sure.

Initially, I enjoyed the film but going back and re-watching made me realise just how long it feels. A great deal of nothing happens for well over an hour and a half, and it’s so exhausting to watch. I was really impressed with how closely the film followed the book, but it actually seemed to highlight the fact that neither book nor film have a great deal of plot driving it forward. All the action is bunched up into literally the last 20-30 minutes of the film, and up until this section the whole thing feels more than a little pointless. Maybe the story was like this in the book too, only less noticeable since we also have Tris’ narration, thoughts and feelings to keep us entertained too, but the film just felt like it would never end.

The info-dumping at the beginning of the film infuriated me. There is little worse in a film than a huge pile of back-story being shoved in the audience’s face through narration, and then that narration suddenly disappearing until the end. It drives me crazy. Either find a way to weave the exposition naturally into the film or be consistent and have the narration throughout. It seems to happen a lot with young adult and dystopian/scifi films, probably due to the sheer amount of world-building that goes into these books, but it would be lovely if this vital information could be given to the audience in a different way. It just feels a lot like cheating.

I loved nearly all the characters in the book because they all seemed to be pretty well-developed, especially Tris’ Dauntless friends and her family, but felt that some of them really didn’t translate well on-screen. Theo James really didn’t work for me as Four/Tobias; I thought he was too cold and hard to portray the Four that I envisioned in the trilogy. I wasn’t convinced by the romance between Shailene and Theo whatsoever. I think Shai is a great actress but after seeing her on-screen chemistry with Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars, there is just no comparison here. To me, Four felt far too detached and emotionless and it made the romance with Tris feel random, unwarranted and even out of character. The book definitely wins out in the romance department as it’s a gradual, creeping realisation between the two which develops in a much more logical way.

four and tris

I thought Shailene in particular was brilliant. I love how you can see every emotion pass across her face and the way she’s able to convey Tris’ inner emotions without even speaking. One of my favourite scenes is the Choosing Ceremony purely down to Shailene’s performance. She’s clearly agonising over the choice the way it’s depicted in the book, and it just feels so real. This is the moment where Tris struggles over the decision over who she is and who she’s going to become, whether she is selfless enough to choose Abnegation or brave enough to be Dauntless. It’s a hugely important scene that sets up the entire movie and, in my opinion, Shailene nailed it.

choosing ceremony

I did enjoy reading the Divergent trilogy, mainly down to the exciting story and Veronica Roth’s easy to digest style. The books really do make for a good read and while I could definitely have been kinder about Divergent, I actually did enjoy the film for the most part. A number of scenes could definitely have found their way to the cutting room floor, but it’s always fun to see a book you enjoyed come to life.

Now that the story and background are set up properly, the rest of the films should be much more dynamic, action-packed and interesting to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the series translates to film, and only hope we get more sustained excitement throughout rather than cramming it all at the end!

Did you enjoy the book to film adaptation of Divergent? Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve mentioned? Let’s chat in the comments!

Charlotte x

[BOOKTOFILMFRIDAY] The Hunger Games

HungerGames_Banner01THIS POST AND THE COMMENTS BELOW CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE HUNGER GAMES (BOOK #1).

For my first Book to Film Friday I thought it would be best to start with the YA Dystopia that, in my opinion, kicked off a whole generation of book to film adaptations; The Hunger Games. Since its popularity exploded seemingly overnight, The Hunger Games appears to have inspired a huge number of similar dystopian, blood-thirsty plots, with every new addition to the genre being compared to it. I really enjoyed this series of books and I remember being impressed with the way they were (and are still being!) adapted to film.

One of the major things I loved about the book series was the way the style really made me feel like a part of the action. I must admit, while at first I found the first person and present tense narrative a little jarring, it really grew on me as I realised the effect it was having. For me, this was a really clever move from Suzanne Collins as it draws the reader straight into the novel, making them really relate to Katniss in a deeply connected way.

I was so happy with the way the movie managed to capture that same feeling. The up-close camera angles and the sometimes shaky filming created that notion of being part of the action and really pulled me in to the story again. I loved how raw and candid the film felt, and for me the whole style and tone worked incredibly well. This was especially apparent at The Reaping; it was scary and way too close for comfort (especially that Capitol film – shudder).

hungergamestruth-3
I thought almost all the actors chosen to play the characters were just perfect. I especially loved Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss; she was mature and strong and captured those complex emotions hidden by a stoney exterior so, so well. She’s a brilliant, talented actress and The Hunger Games really kicked off her career. I remember some people not being happy with Jennifer as she wasn’t ‘skinny’ enough, which drove me crazy. I despise this notion that women have to look a certain way to be successful and Jennifer has said some really poignant words about this very topic. To me, while Katniss was struggling I never pictured her as painfully thin, and even if that were the case I would never expect an actress to put their health at risk to achieve that.

I really enjoyed seeing Woody Harrelson as Haymitch too, brilliant light-relief and just how I pictured him in the book. However, his alcohol issues were resolved more than a little too easily for me. The film kind of diminished his complexity by undermining the way he had learned to cope with the horrors of his own Hunger Games experience and I felt a bit cheated by it. I realise some things need to be sacrified in the process of adapting a film from a novel, but I feel like it shouldn’t have been this.

My favourite scene of the movie has to be Rue’s death. It was handled so sensitively and beautifully that yes, I definitely did cry! Jennifer was brilliant in portraying that raw, sisterly emotion and caused mass heartbreak across the world. It was done exactly how I pictured it in the book and couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out. It’s such an important, pivotal moment in the story, as Katniss experiences loss and realises what is at stake, and it was perfect.

hunger-games-quotes-32
At the opposite end, I really didn’t connect with the bread scene where Peeta throws Katniss food as she lies starving in the rain. In the book it was a moment something Katniss was truly ashamed of, hating Peeta for seeing that weakness in her, whereas in the film it wasn’t nearly as important. The scene didn’t feel significant or potent in any way, and without the explanation and insight into Katniss’ emotions that comes with the novel it just didn’t come across very well.

katniss-starving
My only real annoyance in terms of deviating from the plot was the story behind the Mockingjay pin. It pains me how different the film version made this; its origins don’t mean anything significant in the film but the pin has such a wonderful back-story in the books. Not only this, they cut out a whole character to make this change and the only person Katniss was friends with! I get the desire to isolate Katniss and make it all about Prim and Gale, but damn does it annoy me!

I hope you liked my first post for this feature! I’d love to chat about your thoughts on both the book and the film and even the rest of the series, so let’s start a discussion in the comments!

Charlotte x

[BOOKTOFILMFRIDAY] Introduction

Starting next week, every Friday at fireflyreads is officially Book to Film Friday! I’ll be posting about films that are based on counterpart novels, comparing the two stories and hopefully inspiring some discussion in the comments.

I’ve noticed recently that a huge number of fantasy, scifi and dystopian novels are being snapped up and made into films; every movie is touted as ‘The New Hunger Games’ and I wanted to explore how these films compare to their origins. But it’s not only fantasy that’s getting the Hollywood treatment, since the success of The Fault in Our Stars YA book covers are awash with ‘Soon to be a major motion picture!’ stickers (which are a nightmare to peel off, may I add).

Book to film developments are usually met with either excitement or horror from fans and I want to get in on the discussion! I’m currently reading The Maze Runner and plan to finish it before I see the film; keep an eye out for a post in the coming weeks!

Hope you like the idea, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Charlotte x