Everything, Everything

Book adaptations can be a hit or miss in film, especially for young adult novels. Often times it is difficult to do a story justice when adapting it for the big screen, a transition that tends to lose the essence of a novel. Some young adult adaptations have been successful, few that come to mind include The Fault in Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Others not so much. I read Nicola Yoon’s novel Everything, Everything recently in anticipation of the film. While not particularly groundbreaking, the book itself was pretty enjoyable. I am afraid I cannot say the same for the film.

Based on Nicola Yoon’s 2016 novel of the same name, Everything, Everything tells the story of Madeleine Whittier (Amandla Stenberg), an 18-year-old girl who has spent her whole life confined to her home as a result of her severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). When the effervercent Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door, Madeleine’s life changes as she discovers the life outside that is calling to her to live it.

This adaptation could have been better. Much, much better. I was extremely disappointed with the screenplay, which gave a talented cast very little to work with. Amandla Stenberg is perfectly cast as Madeleine, but any pauses she gives or perceived lack of chemistry between her and Nick Robinson can be attributed to a poor script. It felt like bits and pieces of the novel were patched together quickly to make a rough outline of a story slightly resembling Nicola Yoon’s. Thus, large gaps were left that easily could have been filled. The film only runs at an hour and 36 minutes, and while I’m not saying it needs to go overboard, time should not have been an issue when crafting the story and dialogue.

The lack of development between the characters was disappointing. The relationships between Madeleine and her mother as well as Olly and his father were not built up enough. Olly’s introduction and interactions with Madeleine felt extremely rushed, along with most of the film. Characters scarcely mentioned in the novel were given unnecessary screen time, while others barely anything. Small details that should have been easy to include were left out for no apparent reason. The pacing of the film was so quick that I failed to become invested in what was going on.

While I do appreciate some additions to the structure, such as Madeleine and Olly acting out their phone conversations in the architecture models, the majority of the film simply felt weak. Again the cast was talented and Stenberg held up her scenes well, but the script could have provided some much more developed and touching interactions between the characters. Filling up the gaps with missing dialogue and scenes could have better rounded out the film. While its target teenage girl audience will most likely fall for the film and it’s attempted charm, others not so into young melodramatics might not be as pleased.

ALL IN ALL: Everything, Everything fails to offer anything new to the genre, with a rushed and patchy screenplay that provides little development for well cast characters.

Everything, Everything 2 out of 5 ticket stubs 

Director: Stella Meghie

Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera

Run time: 1 hr 36 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

 

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Wonder Woman

This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

If I’m going to be truthful, I have to admit: I am a bit tired of superhero movies. Not to say I don’t enjoy all of them, sometimes watching a superhero movie brings everyone together for a fun time. My problem is that there is simply too much nowadays. More and more heroes are being picked from the comics to have their own films and franchises with multiple contract deals and crossovers. After a while it is hard to keep track of and follow. The stories tend to feel too similar and follow the same formula. None of these films have stuck with me, until now. Not until the story of Diana Prince finally graced the silver screen. Wonder Woman is the superhero movie we needed.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (played by Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, who has been trained since childhood to be a great warrior. Her sheltered life on the island of Themyscira abruptly ends when a pilot (played by Chris Pine) crashes on the shore and tells of a “war to end all wars” going on in the outside world. Diana must leave her home and discover her true powers in order to end the war and save all people.

Right from the start it is clear that this is not your average superhero movie. Right down to even the posters, which show Wonder Woman in strong, dominant poses, the film portrays the character as nothing else but a fighter, a hero. It’s not about the fact that she is a woman, though it is both important and sad that this is the first female-led superhero film, the first to be directed by a woman at that. The film focuses instead on Diana’s journey to becoming the famed Wonder Woman. In the end, it is Diana discovering her true powers and destiny that help her become who she is and help her overcome the struggles she faces while fighting both her small and big enemies. How inspiring it is, to see such a strong woman single handedly run through no mans land from the trenches of war, fired at constantly with bullets as she deflects them all and fights back. The result is one of the most breathtaking sequences in modern-day action film.

What sets Wonder Woman apart from the other DC comic films, that have not exactly been met with the same universal praise and success? First I believe having a female director makes a world of a difference, someone who can successfully guide a film to focus on a woman’s strength and ability. Patty Jenkins direction is fantastic. Second comes down to basic storytelling. Wonder Woman’s story execution is flawless. The film explores Diana’s past, with rich characters that shape her character, while also introducing new ones to transition her into the next phases of her battle. The steady but quick pacing allows for just the right amount of exposition and action to create a balance between the two that other DC and superhero films have previously lacked. Nonetheless the story still manages to provide humor, heart, and surprises all while incorporating stunning action sequences. Seriously the action sequences are amazing.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. There is no one else more perfect for the role. She is able to seamlessly blend both her lovable innocence and naivety as someone new to the human world with her warrior strength and intelligence. She views the world with a childlike curiosity and a heart that believes in the inner goodness of people. Gal’s Diana is a symbol of love, truth, and justice and it is a pleasure to watch it all unfold on-screen. Chris Pine is great in the film too, as the American pilot who acts as Diana’s link to the outside world as well as her love interest. Pine acted as the perfect supporting character to Diana with strong chemistry between the two. They played off each other perfectly.

I loved seeing Diana’s childhood and training on the island with the Amazons as well as her action packed war scenes, but perhaps what I appreciated most was Diana’s battle within herself. Her quest for justice was only made stronger when she realized the true power she held inside. Wonder Woman is the perfect superhero movie. The story, performances, direction, and action all made for an enjoyable and inspiring film that can be appreciated by all audiences. Wonder Woman is the superhero we have been waiting for and I cannot wait to see what is in store for her. I recommend everyone to go see the film!

ALL IN ALL: Wonder Woman packs a punch with fantastic action, humor, and heart.

Wonder Woman 5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston

Run Time: 2 hrs 21 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

image from: http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2017/wonder-woman#image-34095

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It’s summertime so of course it is the season for action-packed fun in the sun movies! Now the most recent installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series came out last month in May but I feel it is the perfect kind of movie on a summer day. It’s funny and fresh and a whole lot of fun, which is why I am giving it my Ticket Stub Love stamp of approval.

Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has the Guardians back as they continue to struggle to work together as a family while traveling throughout the cosmos. The mystery of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)’s true parentage comes into play and sets things in motion for new alliances, betrayals, and of course mix tapes.

I think one of the great things about Guardians is that it’s not like other Marvel movies. It’s funnier and more clever, with stories that keep you entertained and casts you grow to love more than the overdone Avengers. That’s what made the first Guardians so great: the fact that it was different. Yes it has a superhero team, but the vibe is completely different. It’s light and colorful with retro tones and humor that can’t be matched. Did I think the second installment lived up to the first? Maybe not. Maybe the story felt a bit like it had been done before and the soundtrack not quite as memorable but it’s still a great film.

The Guardians ensemble is such a strong element of the films. Christ Pratt as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot. Two words: baby groot! Definitely the highlight of the film for me personally. He’s adorable! The film had a solid story but perhaps what I appreciated most was the bigger role for the character Yondu, in a fantastic performance by Michael Rooker. Playing a new character, Kurt Russel brought great charisma and flow. Pom Klementieff was excellent as Mantis and I am excited to see what else is in store for her character in future installments.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is such a fun movie and the laughs never stop. It proves the series once again to be a sure audience pleaser with stunning visuals, lovable characters, and a story that manages to be full of action, humor, and heart all at once. While maybe not as strong as its predecessor, Vol. 2 is one that people of all ages can enjoy and one that I fully recommend.

ALL IN ALL: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, fresh, and fun with its endearing and hilarious ensemble back again with plenty of action and even more heart.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 4.5 /5 Ticket Stubs 

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Baustista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff

Run Time: 2 hrs 16 min, rated PG-13

Year: 2017

Beauty and the Beast

The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I love the original Beauty and the Beast. The 1991 classic animated film has my favorite Disney princess Belle, but only recently have I begun to regard it as possibly my favorite Disney film. Which is why when they first announced the live action remake almost two maybe three years ago, I was absolutely thrilled. I marked March 2017 in my calendar and waited years for this film which has now finally arrived. So much waiting may have heightened my expectations just a bit as I began to feel a bit apprehensive about seeing the film and feeling underwhelmed. I have to say though, I had a magical and fun time watching Beauty and the Beast and I am sure audience everywhere will too.

Adapted from the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of intelligent and beautiful Belle (Emma Watson) who is taken prisoner in the enchanted castle of a fearsome Beast (Dan Stevens). Though at first at odds, Belle learns to look beyond the Beast’s monstrous exterior and into the kind heart and soul of the prince inside.

Beauty and the Beast was able to achieve a delicate balance between old and new. While many of the scenes and even lines are directly from the animated film, Beauty and the Beast also incorporated new elements into the story. I personally did not have a problem with the heavy reliance from the source material as I feel the live action remake was made to be faithful to the story and paid excellent homage to the original film. While a bit jarring at times, the new additions to the story brought nice depth to the characters in a novel yet familiar way.

The casting is what this film got right from the very beginning and as a result the performances were all fantastic. Emma Watson was the perfect Belle! I cannot imagine anyone else in the role as she harnessed both the inner beauty and the strength needed to play her character. My only disappointment is that I feel Watson could have brought more emotion to the table during some scenes, especially during the magical “Be Our Guest” number. This girl was just casually smiling like it was another Tuesday! Nevertheless she was great and I found her singing to be refreshing as well. Dan Stevens surprised me as the beast! He remarkably was able to let his character’s tormented yet loving emotions shine through all the CGI. His passion for Belle was absolutely palpable and electric during the Beast’s new and original ballad “Evermore”, a highlight of the film for me personally.

The supporting cast was flawless as well. Luke Evans simply was Gaston! I loved his confident performance as well his on-screen partnership with Josh Gad’s LeFou. While it sometimes felt like I was just watching Josh Gad, well be Josh Gad, he nevertheless brought great humor and surprising heart to his role. I cannot praise the enchanted castle objects enough as well! Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, all wonderful performances that stuck true to their characters.

One of my main concerns for the film before I watched it was the CGI aspect. I had no idea how to visualize all the enchanted characters in a live-action form and was worried the film would come off as coated or even fake. However, I found the CGI to be well done with the Beast and the castle’s many enchanted objects. The sets and visuals in the film were gorgeous! There were times when I felt the film to have an almost awkward feel but I honestly believe it was just trying to get its footing. It is no easy task to bring such a beloved story to the big screen in such a grand way.

Fans of the original animated film may not embrace the new look to the film as well as the additions to the story, but I urge them to keep in mind that it is a remake. It stays faithful but also offers something new to audiences. I went in simply wanting to have a good time and I did! Many times I found myself smiling from ear to ear. From Belle singing on the French country hillside, to the fabulous “Be Our Guest” number, to Belle and the Beast’s first dance, the film reminded me of why I loved the original Beauty and the Beast so much. Children and adults alike are sure to enjoy the film with its blend of romance, adventure, magic, and heart. I bid you to give into the charms of Beauty and the Beast and of course, be our guest!

ALL IN ALL: While staying true to the story and offering new elements and depth, Beauty and the Beast is an enjoyable and magical film with great performances and visuals sure to delight audiences.

Beauty and the Beast 5/5 Ticket Stubs

EDIT: After enjoying this film so much, I decided to go back and watch it again in theaters, this time in IMAX (which is totally worth it by the way). I realized once again that I simply love this movie so much that in an unprecedented move on Ticket Stub Love, I am changing my rating from 4.5 ticket stubs to 5! It’s hard to explain my reasoning, but essentially there was nothing I did not like in this film. I believe the emotions and the experience the film gave me deems it worthy of a full rating!

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline

Run Time: 2hr 10 min, rated PG

Year: 2017