There has been a trend in cinema lately with popular books being adapted into films. As a lover of both, I’m completely happy with this and hope the trend lasts. However, not every novel is right for the big screen. If I Stay is one of them.
Based on the novel by Gayle Forman, If I Stay follows Mia, a girl who loves the cello, has super rad punk rock parents and a boyfriend to match, and overall, a pretty good life. Everything changes when her and her family are in a deadly car crash. Now in a coma, we see Mia in an out-of-body experience, along with flashbacks of her life over the past year, as she decides if she should stay, or give up fight to live.
As someone who has read the book, I can verify that it was a perfect adaptation. It told the story, from beginning to end, exactly how the novel did. If you go into this film having read this and therefore knowing what it will be like, you will love it. But for the majority that don’t, you might not be getting what you hoped for.
A big fault in some peoples let down for this film is the trailer. The people behind this movie made an excellent trailer that would get anyone excited, but it didn’t prepare people for the slow paced product that is this film. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot to it. It’s simplistic. The biggest part happens right away, with a few heartbreaking details along the way. Other than that, it’s really just flashbacks of Mia’s life.
One thing both book and non book readers can agree on is the performance from Chloe Grace Moretz. Personally, she’s one of my favorite actresses. And being so young, she has a long future ahead of her. She portrayed Mia perfectly, a shy girl trying to fit into the punk rock life. One scene in particular, one of the sadder parts, she did so perfectly I was both in tears and awe.
Overall, If I Stay is an okay movie. What you get out of it depends on your expectations. Expect your typical summer blockbuster, and you’ll be disappointed. But take it for what it is, and you might just enjoy yourself, cry a little, and think about life. And perhaps maybe try picking up the book first next time. B-
It feels like it was just a few months ago that I was writing a review for Marvel’s latest hit movie. (Oh right, it was.) But now it’s August, and the studio has done it again with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Guardians follows Peter Quill (Chris Pratt - also, another Peter?) who isn’t really doing much with his life. He’s a full time thief, not exactly our typical Marvel-hero. After one dangerous robbery, he finds himself wanted by many, very bad, people. An epic chase scene occurs, which brings our not-so-heroic protagonists together for the first time. When they discover they’re all not so bad after all, they figure it’s up to them to basically save the Galaxy.
There is a whole lot to love about this film, which is definitely one of the best movies Marvel has ever come out with. Critics love it, fans love it, and I bet if aliens were given the chance to see it, they’d love it too.
There are two major elements that make this film what it is: the comedy, and the cast.
Guardians is Marvel’s most hilarious movie yet. While the action and overall story line is nice, it’s the comedy that really sets the film apart. What I love is that nothing is over the top. It’s perfectly written, witty lines that make it so damn funny. Together, co-writers director James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (the first woman to EVER get writing credit for a Marvel film) have given us a film and a group of characters that will be remembered for how much they made us laugh.
But of course, great writing will only get you so far if you don’t have a stellar cast. Chris Pratt is our shining star in this one. Known mostly for the television comedy Parks and Recreation, Pratt has rose to stardom with Guardians, showing off his wonderful acting skills as well as his natural comedic charm. (He also lent his voice to lead character Emmett in The Lego Movie that released earlier this year.) It’s exciting to see Pratt get the praise he deserves, and it will be interesting to see how his career goes from here, with movies like Jurassic World coming in the near future.
Others worthy of recognition include Zoe Saldana, who nails the bad-ass, warrior nature of Gamora, one of the best female characters the Marvel movies have presented us yet. Bradely Cooper’s voice brings the hilarious, ill-tempered raccoon Rocket to live perfectly; and Vin Disel has his best role yet, voicing the unspoken Groot. There are loads of others to look out for as well, such as John C. Reilly, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Benicio Del Toro, and Glenn Close. Put simply, Guardians is packed with a group of all stars.
The film lacks in spots that many other Marvel movies do as well: typical action endings (all though this one has a dance-y twist that was wonderful) and less than impressive villains. Nebula (Gillan) could have been better used; Ronan (Pace) was good, but not great, either; and Thanos (Josh Brolin) was alright, but lacking. However, I’m looking forward to how they use a certain villain in the future.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel’s best, and certainly one of the best movies this year. A good sci-fi film with lots of wit and just the right amount of action, the movie has something for everyone. Marvel has really done well this year, and I can’t wait to see things get better and better. A
Have you ever wondered what life may be like if the Earth completely froze over and the survivors of humanity all lived on the coolest train ever? Chances are you haven’t, but Snowpiercer gives its viewers an idea of such a world.
Pressed with a global warming crisis, a chemical is released to try and eliminate the problem. However, the plan backfires, causing everything to freeze and all life extinct, except for those on this one very special train. Eighteen years later, Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) is angry and ready to strike a rebellion against his oppressors, the elite that live in the front of the train, while he and the other have-nots are stuffed in the tail.
I absolutely loved this film. It was thrilling and kept me on the edge of my seat with a pressing need to know how it would end. It was even comedic in parts, as the team moves through the various sections of the train. Be warned though, if you are weak at heart, the violence is heavy and it can be somewhat gory at times.
The characters are a big part of what makes this film work. While we receive little to no background information on them, I felt such a strong connection to the ragged group of rebels. Of course, this is in part to the ridiculously talented cast. We get to see Chris Evans like never before in this, and he’s absolutely astounding. Kang-Ho Song masters the drug addicted genius. Octavia Spencer, even with a smaller role, is brilliant as a mother fighting to get her baby back. Jamie Bell plays the perfect goofy, kid sidekick. John Hurt is as good as ever in his Gandalf-like role. Ed Harris as the laid back villain is wickedly cool. And Tilda Swinton, who shines more than possibly anyone else in her role as a worker for Harris’ character, keeping the train in it’s necessary balance. She’s the character that you love to hate and she does an impeccable job.
The other part that makes this film so wonderful is the set. You would think that a movie set entirely on a train wouldn’t have much beauty, but that is not the case. The tail section of the train is dirty and rundown. But as our rebels travel closer to the front, they see just how privileged the front members are. Bright, spacious rooms, party rooms, even a sushi bar are available for the elite of the train. One scene in particular shows a classroom for the privileged children, and it’s like stepping into a new world, giving off a magnificent, yet comical, yet eerie vibe. This film would simply not be what it is without its beautiful set designs.
One of the problems I had with this film was the lack of background information. Besides one heartbreaking confession from Curtis near the end of the film about earlier days on the train, we don’t really know what it was like when everything first happened, or why these particular people boarded the train in the first place. And yes, it does have a few plot holes, but none of them are big enough to take away from what is given.
Overall, Snowpiercer is an excellent sci-fi flick that deserves more than its limited theater and video on demand release. While not perfect, it still gives its viewer plenty to be satisfied with. I will definitely be watching this film again in the future, as it is one that you need a few watches to fully intake everything it has to offer. A
In the world of quirky, indie-feeling films, there is an endless sea of both good and bad. Likely, there are more bad. But Begin Again shines brightly in the wave of these types of films, gasping to catch your attention.
For those of you that have seen and liked the movie Once, you will love this movie. For those that have seen it and hated it, well, you probably won’t like this, but I would still give it a shot, if only for getting to watch the charm of Mark Ruffalo and Kiera Knightley.
Directed by John Carney, who also directed Once, Begin Again follows two different lost souls with a passion for music. One is a producer who has just lost his job, his family, and has acquired a bit of a drinking problem. The other is an independent musician from England whose boyfriend became an overnight hit and left his indie sound, and her, behind. They discover each other by chance one night, and head out on a self discovering, musical journey throughout the streets of New York.
As soon as I heard the premise for this film and that John Carney was making it, I immediately put it on my radar. Going into it, I had very high expectations. And this movie met all of them and more.
I think a worry of many for this film is that it would be too similar to Once, but be rest assured that is not the case. While it shares the quirky, indie, musical vibes, it differs in everything else.
What makes Begin Again stand out from others is its ability to fill you up with a sense of nostalgia while also delivering a sense of joy and hopefulness. It’s optimistic even in its moments of melancholy. The optimism is so present it even shows up in the title of the movie. Begin Again, as if saying, another chance, a fresh start. During the films one hundred and four minute run time, it feeds the viewer a variety of emotions and excellently satisfies the hunger for each.
Normally, I’m not one to fall for the apparent charm that the city of New York seems to glimmer with in every movie in which it’s set, especially musical ones. But this time, I fell. The idea of making an album on the streets of such a huge, and while sometimes overrated, yet still, iconic city; watching the main characters walk around with a “splitter” to listen to music together, was beautiful. Setting the film in New York really did give it a certain magic that another location wouldn’t have provided.
The leads of the movie, Ruffalo and Knightley, are simply brilliant. Who knew that Knightley could sing? Most surprisingly was Adam Levine’s performance. While I’m not saying it was anything award worthy, his ability to hold his own with some of the best in the business was something I didn’t think he would be capable of. Perhaps he just had an easy time relating to his character.
One last factor that needs to be discussed for a movie like this is the music. While it didn’t completely blow me away, I still quite enjoyed it. (And played it on repeat as I wrote this review.) The melodies fit the film excellently and perfectly portrayed the emotions of the characters throughout the duration of the film.
Begin Again has easily just become one of my favorite movies - not only this year, but of all time. Others may not feel as strongly, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. This film made me laugh, cry, laugh some more, laugh and cry at the same time, and even it’s fair share of happy tears. Packed with raw feelings, a talented cast, and beautiful music, this is a film you won’t want to miss out on. A
Mysteriously thrilling. Mind blowing, and mind opening. Beautifully written. These are just a few ways to describe the latest novel from author E.Lockhart, We Were Liars.
I am going to try to review this book without going too much detail of the plot, as the mystery around it is one of the best parts of the story, and something you certainly don’t want ruined for you.
We Were Liars centers around the extremely rich Sinclair family. Every summer, the family comes together to spend the warm months on their island, owned by Harris, the grandfather of the family. (See, I told you they were rich.) While they seem like the perfect family on the outside, on the inside they’re breaking, fighting over who gets houses and trust funds and other money related things.
We follow the perspective of Cadence, also known as Cady, granddaughter of Harris. She sets up the families typical summer for us, before we learn that some kind of accident happens the year she is fifteen, but as it involved a head injury, she can’t remember what happened. We are also introduced to Cady’s best pals during her summer trips, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat. Or, as they call themselves, the Liars.
The novel will leave you guessing right along with Cady about what exactly happened during Summer Fifteen, as she calls it. All the while, it disgusts you to hear how greedy and power hungry this family is. For me, I never really felt a connection to the characters, and I didn’t really care about them. However, I still cried quite a lot at the end.
One thing I never really understood was why exactly the group of four called themselves the Liars. Lie seems to be written all over this book, yet, there wasn’t that much actual lying. I can’t say much without giving away the plot, but I feel you will agree with my confusion after finishing it.
No doubt my favorite part of this book was the writing. The way E. Lockhart structures her sentences, the way she uses metaphors so intensely that for a moment you aren’t sure if it actually happened, is beautiful. And I loved the little fairy tales she wrote in every now and then. It was an excellent way to transition, and just give small breaks from the story with a different viewpoint.
A book about family, friendship, and love, We Were Liars will conjure up a slew of emotions throughout its short time in your hands. It’s the kind of novel that sticks with you, utterly unforgettable. And, as the book tells you, if anyone asks you about what happens in the end, lie. A
Whether you are a fan of Lana Del Rey or not, there’s one thing that no one can deny: the music she makes is nothing like any other artist is making today. This deems especially true for her latest record, Ultraviolence.
Coming off her album Born To Die, the sound of her latest record takes a completely different turn. Her voice is doubled, giving it this glazed sort of feeling to each track. It feels incredibly raw, from the lyrics she’s singing to the pure emotion laced in her voice. And, there’s that ever present sense of nostalgia, a classic, cool feeling that no other artist is bringing to the table.
Del Rey sings about her ever complicated and pretty problematic relationships, which she is known for, but it’s never been quite as emotional as it is on Ultraviolence. Nothing shows that like the title track, penning lyrics such as, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss” and, “I could have died right there, because he was right beside me.”
Some like to criticize Del Rey for her lyrics and the message she portrays with them. But that’s what I love about her. The depth of her lyrics are endless. They take you back in time, to the days of the greats, while still keeping you glued in her world. She sings about things that no other female artist really dares to touch on. She’s honest and she’s real, and I believe every word she’s saying.
And speaking of criticism, Del Rey certainly had a lot of it back in 2011-2012, right around when Born To Die was released. I personally loved her previous album, and I even think she displayed more of her vocal talent there opposed to Ultraviolence, but she no doubt has her moments here too. Specifically, on the track “Money Power Glory.” The power laced in her voice when she sings that chorus is undeniable.
One of the reasons this album is so different from her previous is her help from The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach. Del Rey is classic enough on her own, but Auerbach brings in more of that old rock feeling, taking out the heavy orchestra and R&B sounds that Born To Die had so much of. I was thrilled when it was first announced he’d be working on the record, and it has certainly turned out magnificently.
Most people are only talking about the regular version of Ultraviolence, but I highly suggest getting the deluxe version. It has some of my favorite songs on the album, such as “Black Beauty,” which is sort of Del Rey’s version of The Rolling Stone’s ”Paint It Black.” And “Florida Kilos,” which is much more upbeat than the rest of the album, and simply a fun song to sing along to.
As much as I’ve tried to here, I’m not even sure I can put into writing what Lana Del Rey has created with Ultraviolence. I already know I’m going to be listening to this album for a while, immersing myself in the lyrics, because there is so much there, so much to look into and try to understand. But can any of us truly understand the inner workings of such a brilliant mind? Perhaps not, but we can try. And try I will. A
On Thursday night, I got to experience the special fan event The Night Before Our Stars. This event included a screening of the film, a poster, bracelet, and a live Q&A afterwards with some of the actors, filmmakers, and author of the novel the movie is based on. It was a wonderful experience, and if you ever get the chance to do something like this for a film you are really excited for, I highly suggest you attend!
If you have been living under a rock, The Fault In Our Stars follows sixteen year old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who meets a boy in her cancer support group. Based on the hit novel by John Green, the plot follows their unique little love story.
If you haven’t read the book, you may be wonder why so many people care about this movie. Personally, it’s one of my favorite books. The story is told so well, both in the novel and film, the characters are fresh, witty, and the love story isn’t cheesy or fake. It’s beautiful.
For fans of the book going trekking out to see it, I have no doubt that you will love it. It’s one of the most faithful adaptations I have seen. Nearly all of it was direct book quotes, and they didn’t leave many scenes out.
Director Josh Boone made so many great choices when making this film. The tone fit the tone of the book, the flow was excellent, there was just enough voice overs from Hazel, and the flashback scenes were perfect.
Another thing I loved were the music selections. Because this is a contemporary set film, it’s one of few that I don’t mind hearing actual lyrical songs instead of only instrumental. The songs fit the mood of each scene excellently, and really helped bring out the emotion in each scene.
Lastly, I have to talk about the acting. Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Augustus) had perfect chemistry. Which was good to see, considering we’d just seen them on screen a few months ago as brother and sister in Divergent. Woodley’s portrayal of Hazel was so spot on, exactly how I imagined the character in the book. Who really surprised me was Elgort. From the first trailer we saw for the movie, I was a little worried that he wouldn’t get Gus right, but he was incredible.
And I can’t not talk about Willem DaFoe’s portrayal of Hazel’s favorite author, Peter Van Houten. I don’t think anyone had doubt that he wouldn’t be perfect, because it’s freaking Willem Dafoe. But in case you were wondering, yeah, he was amazing.
Fans of the novel can rest assure: The Fault In Our Stars is everything you could ask for and more. For the skeptics that haven’t read it, give it a shot. This isn’t your typical cancer film. It’s incredibly beautiful and heartwarming, a story that is going to live on for many generations. A
Hello all! I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’m not sure what’s been keeping me from this blog, but I’m ready to get back into it.
But I’ve also decided to change a few things.
As much as I love movies, I also really love books, music, and television, too. So, I’ve decided to incorporate these into the blog as well. I hope you don’t mind!
I have a feeling there will be a name change in the future (if you have any suggestions, let me know!) But for right now, I’m still thefilmfollower (as you can see)
I hope you all enjoy the new things coming to the blog! And now, I’m going to write a review of TFIOS for you all.
Could Steve Carell win his first Oscar? Check out the newly released teaser trailer for “Foxcatcher.” The film had its world premiere at Cannes this year and critics are already talking about its Oscar possibilities, despite how early in the year it is. This one will definitely be one to watch! The movie is set for a November 14th release date.
The second installment in a franchise is arguably the most important. It’s a make or break situation. It doesn’t have to set up background information like the first film, and it sets the tone for where the series will go from there. Despite what a lot of other critics seem to think, I think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made it.
The film starts off with a flashback of the night Peter’s parents died, giving us more insight to what happened since the first one left us in the dark about the details. As the movie progresses, we watch as Peter struggles to keep the promise he made to Mr.Stacy, becomes an icon (in his suit, anyway,) reunites with an old friends, and in the end, faces not one, but two different villains standing in his way.
I’ll get the negatives out of the way first, because while I enjoyed the film overall, there were definitely some parts I didn’t like.
First of all, the overall flow of the movie could have been better. Certain scenes just seemed to drag on. One that comes to mind is the scene with Max, aka Electro, when the doctor is testing his capabilities.
Secondly, the action scenes, which also ties in with the flow of the movie. A lot of the action sequences seemed to drag on a lot, especially with Spider-Man having two full on battles at the end of the movie.
Despite these things, there was a lot I liked about it. The acting from everyone was top notch, which wasn’t much of surprise looking back on the first film. The emotion was fantastic, and I don’t need to clarify what I’m talking about for those that have already seen it.
With all considered, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a pretty good movie that I think everyone will enjoy. As for the whole second installment thing goes, as I said before, I think director Marc Webb did well with it. The plot was interesting, it added in many aspects from the previous film, and kept the audience entertained through most of it, especially with the silly-funny lines that Andrew Garfield spews so genuinely. However, I think it could have done a better job at setting up the next film, but I wasn’t completely unsatisfied, either, and I’ll definitely be heading back to the theater for the next one. B