How many times have you heard someone say "well, it wasn't as good as the book," after you've immediately finished watching a movie? How many times have you said it yourself? Exactly. It's probably the most common complaint about movie adaptations of books, no matter how good or how bad the original source material is. That's because people have a nostalgia towards it. They're fans, and there was no way that the movie was ever going to compare to their favourite book. Even if it was an improvement, I doubt book fans would admit that. They might not say "it wasn't as good as the book," but they'll never say "I think I preferred the movie more." That's because books and movies are two very different things, and so, when they try to tell the same story, things change. There's never once been a movie adaptation that's 100% word for word loyal to the book, but that's a good thing. Or at least I think so.
Another common complaint you hear about movie adaptations is "that was so different to the book," or "so and so was different to how I pictured them," or "they left out my favourite part." Well, that's just unavoidable. Movie adaptations don't have the freedom of the book, and the version of the book that plays out in your head is going to be drastically different to the one put on screen. It just will be. But personally, I think changing things up is a good thing. I don't believe that films have to say loyal to the books all the time, and Mockingjay Part 2 proved that. If you haven't read my review for that movie, you can check it out here. In the review, I promised a spoiler discussion. Well, here it is. This right here will be my Mockingjay Part 2 spoiler discussion, as well as a rant on films staying too loyal to the books.
It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the Mockingjay book. I think I've brought it up in just about every single conversation I've ever had about the Hunger Games. It's just not a good book. It really isn't. It's a rushed, poorly paced, uninteresting and lazy installment in what is an otherwise great trilogy. The writing in this franchise was never THAT amazing, but in Mockingjay, it really took a step down. That's why the Mockingjay movies really surprised me. They were exciting, investing and brutal. They were entertaining. Flawed, but entertaining, although many of these flaws were inherited from the books. I talked about most of the problems in my spoiler-free review, but now it's time to talk spoilers. So, if you haven't seen Mockingjay Part 2 yet and wish to watch it unspoilt, maybe just stop reading this article now.
There's really only three sequences I wish to discuss that contain spoilers. The first is Prim's death. Prim gets about 4 minutes of screen time throughout Mockingjay and 3 and a half minutes of that is during the first twenty minutes of the film. Then, all of a sudden, we see her charge in to rescue bombed children at the end of the film and BOOM! She's dead. That's it. It's not mentioned again until one of the final scenes in the movie. The death felt forced. There was no emotional build up, and hence, I didn't really feel sad when Prim died. It was just another death that happened. Kind of like Finnick's death. Granted, that sequence was my favourite moment in the entire film, but again, there was no emotional impact.
The second spoiler-filled moment from Mockingjay Part 2 that I wish to discuss isn't necessary a moment, but is instead the treatment of a character. Gale. Thor's brother just doesn't get treated that well in this installment, and here's a tweet that sums it up perfectly:
Gale doesn't have an awful lot to do in this movie besides whine, and then, once Prim has died, all of a sudden he's blamed for the bombings. Why? I don't know. So what does Katniss do with her lifelong friend? She tells him to leave.... and then she never sees him again. Ever. Like, come on. He wasn't the one that bombed Prim. He didn't want Coin to rise to power. He didn't want to betray Katniss. Yet Katniss tells him to go away anyway. Sure, she's upset, but is she so upset that she never wants to see him again? The same thing happens in the book and just like with the movie, it's dumb. Peeta straight up tried to kill Katniss and everything she loves, but hey, look at them. They got married.
And that brings me to my third spolierific problem. The epilogue. It's pointless as fuck. We get it. Katniss and Peeta fell in love, but did we really need to see them hanging out with their kids, explaining the events of the hunger games? Not at all. What would've been a perfect ending, however, was the final scene before the epilogue. Katniss sneaks into Peeta's room, snuggles up to him and he asks her "you love me. Real or not real?" To which Katniss responds "real," and we cut to black. That tells us just as much about their relationship as the epilogue did. The epilogue just hits us over the head with the fact that they're in love and it was only in the film to please the book fans. It took away from the impact of the ending.
So why are these problems with Mockingjay's ending relevant to the article you're reading? They're all loyal to the mediocre book. Nothing is changed in order to make a better movie. The filmmakers behind Mockingjay Part 2 felt as though they had to stay true to the book plot point for plot point, and like I mentioned in my spoiler free review, they never even do anything with Peeta's bursts of anger. Nothing comes of it. Just think about how much better of a movie Mockingjay Part 2 could've been if they had deviated from the books, exploring certain aspects of the movie that weren't in the books. Adaptations of books aren't made just to please book fans. They're made to create quality cinema and Mockingjay Part 2, while enjoyable, could've been so much better without the restraints of the book.
Let's look at other examples of book to movie adaptations, in case I haven't proved my point already. Say what you will about the Hobbit trilogy, but I loved it. Just like Lord of the Rings, it was an epic tale and by the time it had finished, I honestly felt as if I had gone on an adventure. The thing is, the Hobbit book is not very long. It could easily have been one movie, but it wasn't. It was three. They deviated from the book, exploring plot points that they thought would make for a better movie, all while remaining loyal to the source material. They don't do anything disrespectful to J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel, but instead, they build upon it, making it their own thing.
Another example is Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece, The Shining, based on the book of the same title by Stephen King. The Shining is my all time favourite book and I'll be honest, a completely faithful adaptation wouldn't work. The film would be well over three hours and quite difficult to adapt, but I'd watch it. I'd be more than happy to watch it. Stanley Kubrick took the ideas, the characters, the locations and the basic plot of The Shining and transformed it into the greatest horror film of all time. He made it his own thing, deviating from the book and creating a cohesive and terrifying story that still has audiences transfixed to this day. The same can be said for every comic book movie ever made, minus the terrifying part, obviously.
That being said, you can deviate all you want, but you still need to make a good movie. If you take the ideas and characters of a book and put them in a film that's garbage, nobody's going to be happy. Recent examples of this are the Maze Runner and Divergent franchises. I haven't read either of those books, but from what I hear, they're nothing like the films. I have friends who are really invested in those books and try to convince me that if I read the book, I'll understand (and hopefully enjoy) the movies. Well, no. That shouldn't be the case. I should be able to watch and understand the movie without reading the book. These two franchises are examples of books failing to translate to film. Deviating from the books isn't all fun and games, but when it works, it works.
So there you have it. That's my reasoning behind why I don't think movies need to stay loyal to the books, and it was really Mockingjay Part 2 that sparked this article. When a filmmaker goes to make a movie, the most important thing should not be staying loyal to the book. It should be to make a good movie, and sometimes that means deviating from the beloved source material. Sorry, folks, but such is life. And I love it. Plus, it allows me to enjoy two different versions of the same story, so now there's even more entertainment available for everyone to enjoy.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Is In Theatres Now And My Review Can Be Found Here
No Spider-Man, no Ant-Man, no Vision, no Baron Zemo, no Crossbones. Still one of the best trailers of the year. The 'Captain America: Civil War' trailer finally landed last night and it seemed appropriate to share my thoughts on it, like I will be doing with other trailers in the near future. This was a trailer I was eagerly anticipating, not just because it's the latest installment in what must be one of the greatest franchises of all time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also because Civil War, the comic this film is based on, is my favourite comic book run of all time. The comic is just so epic in scale, so many things happening, yet none of it dull. I have high hopes for this film and I had high hopes for this trailer, and it sure did deliver.
The trailer opens with an alternate version of the post credit scene we got in this year's Ant-Man. Instead of Cap (Chris Evans) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) discussing how Falcon "knows a guy," Cap communicates with Bucky, trying to get him to remember him and then going on to warn him about the men coming up to kill him. While this discovery didn't have that big of an impact on me the first time I saw it, what dawned on me after a couple of viewings was that, when asking if Bucky remembers Cap, he started talking about how he remembered Cap's mum, and I, for some reason, just found that hilarious. The scene feels really cut down and I'm sure it'll be much longer in the actual film, but the way it's edited just made me laugh.
What I loved about this trailer was how it dealt with the relationship between Cap and Bucky, and this is in there right from the opening scene. We last saw Bucky leaving Cap unconscious and running off, later catching up to him at a museum, trying to remember who he was. Clearly it worked because their relationship seems to be in full effect, just like it was back in the first Captain America. Their friendship is also what seems to be the catalyst for this war, as evident in the next twenty or so seconds of the trailer.
It's here that we get a glimpse of General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross for the first time since 2008's The Incredible Hulk, and this is really the first notable time where the MCU seems to accept that that film happened. He's approaching Cap, Falcon and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), explaining how some see Cap as a hero, whereas others see him as a vigilante, presumably because of his friendship with Bucky, who's a known criminal. I really like this dynamic as, in the comic book, the civil war was started because of an explosion in the aftermath of a superhero battle, and the government forced all superheroes to publicly announce their identity. While this could've worked in the film, we're talking about a Captain America movie, and so making this film more personal to him, I feel, is a very wise move.
The next portion of the trailer shows us the tension building up between the various Avengers, particularly between Cap, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Black Widow. Widow, who was a key alley in the previous films, is unsurprisingly siding with the government on this one, and they make that abundantly clear in a conversation she has with Cap, warning him about only making matters worse. I got the sense that they're not enemies, they're just opposites, and this will obviously be resolved by the time we get to Infinity War, but I doubt that will be a surprise to anyone.
Fortunately, the same can't be said for Iron Man, as it really didn't feel like they're going to play friendly. Obviously, this is exactly what the film needs. Conflict. We're talking about a film where Avengers take on other Avengers. I don't want them playing nice. I want them to kick some ass, and this trailer straight up shows us that nobody's holding back. That end fight with Bucky and Cap taking on Iron Man? Um, fuck yeah. That's what I want. That's the type of insanity and thrills I want to see in this movie, and I hope it delivers a whole lot of it.
This end fight scene is epic and all, but what made it even better was the dialogue between Cap and Iron Man. "But he's my friend." "So was I." It was at this moment that my heart was ripped from my chest, beat mercilessly and then thrown down a drain and washed away. It hit me right in the feels, and I hope it has an even bigger impact on me in the context of the movie because by the looks of this trailer, the footage and the audio are taken from two separate scenes. I really don't feel as though that line of dialogue takes place during that end fight, but it's certainly edited that way.
Among the battle montage is our first glimpse of Black Panther, and damn, he looks cool. Black Panther is an awesome character and I'm a fan of his comics, but he's never been in my top 3 superheroes or anything like that. I don't obsessively read his comics, yet for some reason, I'm insanely excited to see him appear in the MCU. It's about time the on-screen universe got some diversity as their Netflix universe, which has only been going for about six months, is already more diverse. Not only is the diversity side of things a step in the right direction, but he's Black fucking Panther. He's badass. I wouldn't mess with him. He could kill me in a heartbeat. I'd be more scared of him than I would be Captain America if I were to ever be put in this scenario. HE KICKS BUCKY IN THE FACE! NOBODY KICKS BUCKY IN THE FACE! NOBODY!
However, what I loved most about this trailer is how little it showed. Like, sure. The trailer showed a considerable amount of footage, but it's just a teaser. It doesn't give away any big plot points, it doesn't show some characters at all and it has just a second or two of others. As we get closer to the film's release date, I'm sure we'll be getting glimpses of these other characters, and I'm almost certain that Spidey will be making an appearance in the next trailer, but if they don't, I have no complaints. This is a Captain America movie. The trailer doesn't need to focus in on all the supporting characters. But yes, Spidey would be nice.
As a whole, though, I adored this trailer. It's everything I wanted it to be, and I hope the film is as well. From the money shots to the score and even to the little moments, this trailer delivered. Can we appreciate for a second that Captain America manages to hold a helicopter with his left hand? Can we? Or that Bucky attempts to pull out the one thing keeping Iron Man alive. It's just insane. This movie is going to rock. After the trailer was released, James Gunn, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, went to Facebook to say that he's talked to people who have seen the film and they say it's incredible. James, I have faith in you. Don't you go and lie to me.
Check out the trailer below and let me know what you thought of it. The film opens in Australia on April 29th, 2016.
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS.... OBVIOUSLY....
Spectre, the latest entry into the James Bond saga, has been out in the US now for almost a week, and with the Australian release today, I thought it was about time I got around to discussing that film in a little more depth. Be warned, this article is going to spoil everything from the latest Bond film, so if you don't want to know anything, stop reading now. Or if you'd prefer to hear my spoiler-free thoughts on the film, you can read my review here.
For the most part, I really enjoyed Spectre. While it wasn't nearly on the same level as Casino Royale or Skyfall, my two favourite Bond films, it was an entertaining spectacle, full of action and humour, including one of the funniest lines from all of the Craig Bond films. "STAY!" I don't know why, but that line is just perfect. It works so well. In my review for the film, I tried to cover as much as I could, but of course, there are things you just can't discuss when you're trying to avoid spoiling the whole thing, and since I have a lot of things I still wish to talk about, this article exists. Let's start by discussing Christoph Waltz, and what his character means for the rest of the Bond films.
As many fans guessed, Christoph Waltz is in fact playing Ernest Blofeld. For those unfamiliar with the classic Bond movies, Blofeld is a reoccurring villain, making appearances in both the Sean Connery and Roger Moore Bond films (and now the Craig ones as well). He's a bald headed villain who's constantly seen stroking a white cat, which was famously parodied in Austin Powers. Blofeld is the head of Spectre, the organisation which, again, reoccured in the original movies. Whether he's planning on staring another world war or if he's not too busy being dropped down chimneys, Blofeld always served as a worthy opponent for Bond.
With Spectre, Christoph Waltz gives a phenomenally sinister performance. Or at least he did to begin with. His character, while short on screen time, is shown to be this big, villainous presence, watching as everything unfolds. Waltz is tremendous, and I praised him in my review. The problem is, once his character is revealed to be Blofeld, the writers of the film really do fuck him up. They don't give him any depth or motivation, relying on the character's identity to provide a sense of danger. For the casual Bond fans, ones that aren't familiar with the character of Blofeld, this twist means nothing, and so the reliance on his name just isn't good enough.
Audience members only familiar with the Craig Bond films, or even the Pierce Bronson ones, won't have a clue as to who this guy is and why the twist was treated as such a big deal. It's just another name of another villain. In the context of this movie, ignoring the continuity of the earlier films, Waltz plays a rather undeveloped character. He invites Bond into his base, yet there's no reason why. It's established that they're adopted brothers and I liked this aspect of the movie, but that's literally the only explanation as to why Blofeld acts the way he does. He wants to cause as much pain to Bond as he can, yet he never does.
Blofeld goes from trying to kill Bond to trying to torture Bond to straight up playing a game of cat and mouse with him, ending with Blofeld begging for Bond to shoot him. It just doesn't make sense. Like I mentioned in my review, during the scenes where Waltz is not present, he has the potential to be one of the most fleshed out and devious Bond villains of all time, even giving Skyfall's Silva a run for his money. Then he starts to get a lot more screen time, and it's here that his character lost me. He's a villain for the sake of having a villain, and unfortunately, I don't think this is the last we've seen of him, but I'll get to that very shortly.
As for the actual reveal of Blofeld, I wasn't really a fan of that, either. The reveal, which takes place just under two hours into the movie, is not handled well. Bond has been knocked out and tied to a chair, and when he opens his eyes, the first thing he see's is...... a cat. A small, fluffy, white cat sitting on the floor. It's Sam Mendes dangling the name Blofeld right in front of your eyes, and I let off a sigh after seeing this. Was the cat necessary to the film? Absolutely not. Did it improve the impact of the reveal? It took away from it, as a matter of fact. It's there as homage to the originals, yet it felt so random and out of place.
After we get this reveal, Bond is then tortured, and boy does it look painful. It's a simple, yet ferocious way of causing pain, although it didn't look nearly as painful as the torture sequence in Casino Royale..... that scene is still difficult to watch. But enough comparing torture sequences. What really baffles me about this scene is that Blofeld apparently drills into an area in Bond's face that will cause memory loss. He won't remember a single person. Yet he does this and it doesn't affect Bond in the slightest. I mean, obviously he's in pain, but there's no impact after the drill has been removed. It's not a major complaint, but it's a small moment that just took me out of the film a little bit and I figured now was as good a time as any to bring it up.
In typical Bond fashion, he obviously finds a way to escape captivity, along with Madeleine (Léa Sedoux). We then get to witness what is officially the largest practical explosion in film history, and the video explaining that is linked below. While the explosion is cool to look at, it raises some more questions about Spectre's finale and about the character of Blofeld. Well, the only real question I have is one I honestly can't answer. How the hell did Blofeld get out of that with only a cut to his face? Like, seriously, dude. How? Is he immortal? I don't know. There is no explanation. The explosion clearly blows up the entire building, yet Blofeld and his men make it out unharmed.
The finale takes the film down a notch, attempting to make it a more personal attack on Bond. Madeleine is abducted, Blofeld tying her up somewhere in a building that's about to explode. This really pisses me off. I'm not mad at the lower scale or that Blofeld managed to survive the explosion. I'm mad at the treatment of Léa Seydoux's character. She's a kick ass woman who knows what to do and how to handle this deadly and action packed environment (something I do not know about. I would be dead five minutes into starting my job as an MI6 agent), yet she's put into a hostage situation, in need of Bond's rescue. It just takes away from her character. She doesn't get a lot to do in the finale, although this wouldn't be the first time women haven't been represented well in Bond movies. Except it's not that she's represented poorly. Until that point, she's a pretty kick ass character. She doesn't just serve as an object for Bond to sleep with, unlike Monica Bellucci's character.
Unsurprisingly, Bond and Madeleine both make it out of the trap alive, and so does Blofeld. There's an exciting boat chase through London before Blofeld is finally crippled, which I'm going to presume is foreshadowing for his return. Now, is a return something I'd like to see? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, the character of Blofeld was completely wasted in this movie and seeing another attempt to bring him back to the big screen just doesn't seem like a good idea. Craig's Bond films have always been something different. Something new. There's no need to keep returning to plots of the old movies. I'd like to see them tackle something original, much like they did with the last three instalments.
On the other hand, however, I'm curious to see Blofeld's return. I'm interested to see where they take this character as there's so many possibilities. Let's hope none of these possibilities involve going to the moon, though. If he were to return, hopefully the writers are capable of fleshing him out some more, and perhaps making him more than just an evil face. Blofeld is so much more than that. Seeing him wasted like this is such a disappointment, although Spectre is far from a perfect movie. There's so many places the Bond story can go from here. Maybe the best option is to let the Blofeld story dry out and return a few movies down the line. Or even have him make a surprise appearance at the end of the next film. Whatever way they go, I'm still going to be there opening night.
SPECTRE IS IN THEATRES NOW AND MY REVIEW CAN BE FOUND HERE