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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Room

Probably one of the films of 2015 I was most curious about was Room. Based on a novel of the same name by Emma Donaghue (who also wrote the screenplay for the movie), Room has a unique concept that is difficult to imagine on screen. The result though is triumphant, a haunting but surprisingly beautiful portrait of survival, adjustment, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and son.

Room tells the story of Joy “Ma” (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who after being held captive for seven years in an enclosed space, finally escape and are forced to experience and adjust to the real world they have been hidden from.

The performances in Room are really what kept the film up. Brie Larson was fantastic as she navigated such a fragile yet strong character with great ability. Her acting prowess is powerful in the film and I do believe she deserves the Oscar. What I liked about her character in particular is that while Joy is resilient, she is also not perfect. She has her bad days, deservedly so with the horrid situation she is in, but she also tries to be optimistic for her son. Joy strives to be a good mother and provide Jack with a complete childhood, but one must still remember her young age. Larson is able to personify all of these elements into her performance.

Now let’s talk about Jacob Tremblay though. Why was he not nominated for an Oscar? His performance was so amazing in this film that it easily rivals any of those from the other nominated actors. His is young but in many ways he even outshines Brie Larson due to his incredibly natural and heart-tugging actions. Pretty much all of my favorite scenes simply had Jack being the wonderfully adorable and curious little boy he is. The chemistry between Larson and Tremblay is undeniable and their strong bond as mother and son in the film is ever present.

Probably what I liked about Room the most was not its tale of perseverance and survival, but rather the struggles to adjust to a normal life shown. The pair’s escape does not lead right away to a happy ending. In fact what they must face next, the real world, is what might be the most daunting of all. The screenplay of the film was strong overall, though I feel like the relationship between Joy and her father could have been developed more. Nevertheless, I thought the movie flowed nicely. Led by such strong performances, Room is the kind of film that you can not stop thinking about afterwards, at least it was for me. Room is simply beautiful.

ALL IN ALL: With unforgettable performances from its two leads, Room tells a harrowing but radiant tale of survival and love.

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridges, William H. Macy

Year: 2015

poster from: http://cdn.traileraddict.com/content/a24/room-2015.jpg

 

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Confession time: I actually saw this movie over Thanksgiving weekend but I have just been so busy lately that only now am I finding time to write my review. Though its been a while since I have seen it and the movie probably is not on many of your minds anymore, I nevertheless have to stay true to my commitment to review every movie I see in theaters. I also think The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 deserves a review as it is the last film of my one of my favorite book/movie series.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 serves as the final installment of the Hunger Games film series. In Mockingjay- Part 2, the story continues as leader of the rebellion Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) travels with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and others to the Capitol in order to win the war against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and save what holds dear to her.

Let me start off with a small complaint about the splitting of the last book into two movies. While I get why they did it and it is also nice to not have to rush through anything or have too much of the story omitted, I still do not think it was completely necessary especially since I feel like the split affected the audience attendance and reaction. I honestly forgot what happened in Mockingjay going in to the theater simply because it had been so long since I saw the last movie or read the book. My stance is that if they were able to fit all of Catching Fire into one movie, then Mockingjay is easily doable but no worries, it really is not that huge of deal.

I thought overall that Mockingjay – Part 2 was a very well done film and I enjoyed it. It was not my favorite of the series (for me it is still Catching Fire), but Mockingjay – Part 2 provided a satisfying ending. One of the reasons I disliked Mockingjay Part- 1 was that it felt like rising action most of the time. The great thing about Mockingjay Part- 2 though is that it starts right off into the storyline and action (a reason why Part 1 is necessary to watch). The length of the film felt like nothing as the pacing was fast and well-managed.

The great supporting cast though was not featured much at all which was very disappointing. I would have loved more screen time for characters like Johanna, Beetee, Effie, etc. Meanwhile the main cast gave some great performances, in particular Josh Hutcherson. He was fantastic and his performance is severely underrated! In the books and in the past films as well, the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale was more emphasized, but not in Mockingjay Part- 2, which I appreciated. The action and the war against the Capitol was the main focus of the movie and rightfully so.

I would say that if you are a fan of the Hunger Games series, watch Mockingjay – Part 2 because you will not be disappointed. It is an enjoyable film and very well done, a conclusion the series deserves.

ALL IN ALL: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is a satisfying final installment of the Hunger Games series with the right focus and direction needed to conclude a great film series.

The Huger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1

Shoutout to Aimee J for taking me to see Mockingjay for my birthday! Here is a link to the review podcast we did together for Aimee J’s site! Okay so let’s talk. Out of all The Hunger Games books, Mockingjay was my least favorite. I am going to try super hard throughout this post to not give any spoilers whatsoever for those shameful people who have not yet read the books, but let’s just say the book was too different than the other two and much more political for my liking. I was not expecting much going in to see the movie, but I am pleasantly surprised with the result!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) after she has survived the Hunger Games twice and finds herself in District 13. Becoming the symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol, she must unite the districts and save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the hands of President Snow.

Overall it was a good movie. Not the best, I still like the previous films more, but it was a surprisingly well done adaptation of the novel. Kudos Francis Lawrence for making such a dislikeable book into an enjoyable movie. I was always on the edge about Mockingjay being split into two films because honestly if they were able to fit Catching Fire into one, then Mockingjay would definitely work as one too. However, it is nice to see them not have to rush or take too many scenes out. The changes that were made were fine. It was a great move to make Effie into a much more prominent character. However, I am not sure how the change in President Coin (Julianne Moore)’s character will play out because it really is much different than that in the book. Not to give anything away, but it also surprised me where the movie decided to end. You won’t be disappointed but it was interesting to see how it foreshadows Part 2.

Let’s talk about my favorite part of the movie. The Hanging Tree. Readers of the book will recognize it as a song Katniss sings in Mockingjay briefly but the movie took it to a whole ‘nother level. First of all, Jennifer Lawrence did a great job singing along with whoever laid down the track because you just get goosebumps when you start to hear the music rise and the actions in the movie being played out to the tune. It is simply haunting, beautiful, and worthy of praise. In all seriousness though, it reflects the tone of the film. Mockingjay is not at all similar to the last two films. The games are gone, and this is war. The one person who I really thought encapsulated this shift into darkness was Josh Hutcherson. What a great performance! His visible and emotional downfall is really powerful though he has substantially less screen time.

Critics of the movie: I get where you are coming from. Mockingjay Part 1 does feel like mostly rising action but it does a great job of leading into the events of Part 2. Fans of the book will be pleased overall and it is a well done adaptation. Yes, I am still not a fan of Mockingjay in the series but the film was satisfying. Also, it was a nice tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman so I do recommend that you see it!

PG 13, 123 minutes

The Fault in Our Stars

I’m sure many of you have heard about this phenomenon of a book/movie. I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green earlier this year and absolutely loved it. The writing was superb and the emotions run high. Perhaps it was a bit too philosophical for its young protagonists, but still enjoyable. High expectations were given for the film adaptation and they were met when I finally got to see it, along with some annoyance.

The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) tells the story of sixteen year old cancer patient Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) who is forced to attend a cancer support group. Here she meets the devilishly charming Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) and subsequently falls in love.

I thought the film was great! Perhaps I am a bit biased because I fall in the film’s young female target audience, but I still thought it was a good adaptation of the book. The actors played their characters perfectly. Shailene Woodley’s performance was beautiful and natural. Ansel Elgort (who fun fact: played Woodley’s brother in Divergent) was simply Augustus. There were so many moments between the two characters were I just felt myself beaming. Their chemistry was palpable and refreshing, as was the story. A few scenes were left out, but you don’t really notice until afterwards. I personally liked the soundtrack as well. There is one criticism I have but it lies outside of the movie.

Practically everyone I know who has seen this film always claims to have cried. It’s a sad story no doubt about it. No, I did not cry (though I did tear up during the book). My lack of emotion during the film can be pointed to two reasons. One: I read the book already so the plot was not much of a surprise to me. “What?”, you say, “How can you have no heart?!”. I know, I know. Seeing some more of the emotional scenes on-screen should have done the trick but nope. My focus was not on the movie but on the large group of crying girls in front of me, reason #2.  I do not cry much during movies anyway but I could not enjoy TFIOS fully with these sobbing girls passing tissues to one another and choking so hard that you would think they too went through the same ordeals. I cannot fathom what it would have been like if I saw this movie opening day. A word of advice to those with little patience who also like silence during a movie: skip the theater for TFIOS and watch it at home.

Aside from that little rant, I truly did like The Fault in Our Stars. I think I need to see it again, by myself, to truly appreciate it more though. It is kind of targeted for young girls but I think its’ abundant warmth and humor can be enjoyed by many. By many, for years to come.

ALL IN ALL: The Fault in Our Stars really has no essential faults and can valued as the Love Story of this generation.

Rated PG-13, 125 minutes

 

 

Catch-up!

Well where has the time gone? Ticket Stub Love has been extremely busy lately and we probably won’t be able to get back into full swing until summer but we’re doing our best to still bring you some reviews.

So I recently went on vacation to Barcelona and on my way there I watched some movies of course. Right when I turned on the little TV in front of me, I got really excited because it was full of pretty up to date ones too!

Now these aren’t full reviews but a few thoughts of some of the movies I watched:

American Hustle (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner)

I have wanted to watch this for a while so I immediately selected this as my first choice. Got to say though, kinda disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the cast. Every single actor did a great job but the story was so bland. I enjoyed the beginning where you got introduced to everyone and it went through some of the past cons of Christian Bale’s and Amy Adam’s characters, but when they got into the full Abscam storyline, I quickly lost interest. It got good again near the end, but still a downer.

Gravity (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney)

Sooo remember my trailer review of Gravity back in August where I made fun of the movie (I later too back some of this in follow-up post). Yeah, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Gravity was AMAZING! No wonder it won 7 Oscars! Everything was great: cinematography, score, direction, performances. I mean Sandra Bullock’s character has pretty much everything go wrong on her in space, but the audience is still tethered to her because it’s just that thrilling. I loved this movie and thought it was fantastic!

The Book Thief (Sophie Nélisse, Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush)

I am a huge fan of the book so I was naturally curious to see how the movie pulled off the movie. Overall I would say it was well done. Nothing compared to the book though because there are some aspects of the book that don’t have the same impact when transitioned to the big screen, such as the narrator being Death-you just can’t do that well on-screen.

 

Divergent

Earlier this year I read the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth and totally enjoyed it! It brought me back to my Hunger Games days and my reading got so bad that I had to tie the book up in a drawer so I could focus on my work.  Naturally when I heard about the movie, I was pretty psyched and I finally got to see it this past weekend. Though there were flaws, Divergent was overall pretty entertaining.

Divergent takes place in a dystopian world where people are divided into factions by human virtues. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) though discovers that she is Divergent and will never fit into any one faction. Soon she and the mysterious Four (Theo James) learn about a sinister plot looming in their seemingly perfect society and must find out a way to stop it before it’s too late.

As always, I recommend to always read the book first. However, I went to see it with some of my friends who had never before heard about the series, but still understood and enjoyed the movie. Divergent has gotten many mixed reviews and though I agree with most of it, I feel that many people are comparing it to The Hunger Games. Yes both take place in a dystopian society with a strong female lead, but the stories are very different (however I still liked Hunger Games better).

Fans of the book will be disappointed with some aspects of the film such as the nonexistent appearances of some crucial characters and multiple missing scenes. For me, though the film was pretty long (139 minutes), it flew by way too fast and you hardly got to know any of the characters. Shailene Woodley and Theo James (very handsome by the way!) fit their roles perfectly and I enjoyed their screen time, but the supporting cast, many of whom are very important to the plot, were overlooked. Kate Winslet, who plays a faction leader names Jeanine, did great too but her character was much bigger in the film than in the book. I also hated how all the action seemed to take place in the last 20 minutes of the movie. Better timing was needed.

This is a very non significant complaint but I thought the sets could have been more impressive. The Dauntless faction’s compound was described in the book to have this huge underground cavern and ravine, but in the movie, it just looked like an empty warehouse with some boxes and tarps. Many of the sets seemed too drab.

To conclude, the film did feel a bit weak overall, but I still enjoyed it. Teens and some fans of the book would probably like it the most, but it is still worthwhile to see (maybe not in the theater though if you’re an adult).

ALL IN ALL: Divergent, though a bit weak and rushed, is an entertaining film that combines several genres (action, sci-fi, romance) into a pretty satisfying mix.

Rated PG-13, 139 minutes

 

The Spectacular Now

One of the many films this year that garnered critical acclaim was The Spectacular Now. It did well at Sundance, it received a 92%  on Rotten Tomatoes, naturally I was intrigued. Then I watched the movie. I’m really confused, was it supposed to be good?

Based on the book by of the same name by Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now tells the story of Sutter (Miles Teller), a charming hard-partying high school senior whose outlook on life changes when he meets Amy (Shailene Woodley), the “not so typical nice girl”.

I know, from that summary, this movie sounds like every other high school movie. However, I felt like the writers were trying too much to make the whole story real. Have it relate to actual high school students and show life as it really is, etc. I, on the other hand, was not pleased with this attempt. The story was weak and did not make sense at times. Not every high school student drinks, parties, and is promiscuous! I understand they were trying to portray this dimension on the character of Aimee but she just turns out to be smart girl who does not seem to have any judgmental common sense. She forgives Sutter for terrible, terrible stuff and depends on him like a drug. I hated her character. She’s also supposed to awkward? Uh Shailene Woodley is a very pretty girl casting people. The climax had a good shock factor but its aftermath left me frustrated. To add to that, the ending left me sitting in my seat, wondering why I even decided to watch the movie in the first place.

The only good thing about this film was the performances. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley did great jobs as their respective characters. Kyle Chandler, who I never even knew was in the film, gave a surprisingly emotional and understated performance as well. After I watched the film, I was very confused of all the acclaim it received. I was actually thinking about watching it again to see if I missed something, but then I figured it would be a waste of my time because if I have to watch a movie more than once to analyze its themes and hidden messages, then it has not done it’s purpose as a film. I did like the portrayal by the main characters of feeling like you are losing time and trying to live every moment, but this seemed to determine all of their decisions. Not too sure if I would recommend The Spectacular Now.

ALL IN ALL: The Spectacular Now is a disappointing film with unlikable characters and a weak story that overshadows the otherwise well done performances.

Rated R, 95 minutes

image from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/18/The_Spectacular_Now_film.jpg

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

After about a month of waiting while it seemed like the whole world went to see it, I have finally watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (thanks Aimee J)! The book is my favorite out of the trilogy so I was thrilled to watch the film. I even got so excited as to re-read the book before seeing it, which definitely helped my understanding and compare/contrast of the film. Joyously, the movie did the book deserved justice!

Sequel to the 2012 film The Hunger Games and adaptation of the second installment in The Hunger Games trilogy , Catching Fire follows up with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, which has not only sparked a rebellion in the Districts of Panem but also made them both targets of the Capitol.

I loved this movie. period. It stayed so close to the book and took out just the right scenes. There were some added scenes (ex. Snow’s granddaughter) and while they may not have been that necessary, the scenes actually assisted the movie in a way of showing the different perspectives of Panem. I salute director Francis Lawrence! For one thing though, there really is no point in comparing it to the first film by Gary Ross because the two had totally different budgets.  The first film had a budget of $78 million, while Catching Fire had $130 million and it shows. The special effects and the great costumes complement the film well.

The cast was great. I personally am not a fan of Katniss’ character but as always Jennifer Lawrence did a great job. Even in the beginning when they started off right away with showing her PTSD (smart move btw), Lawrence portrayed her distress perfectly. I especially love how the movie downplayed the big love triangle that is ever so present in the books because it’s so unimportant compared to the other major plots in the film. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) did a good job of portraying their respective character developments too. However, I think the supporting cast needs the most applause. Elizabeth Banks, as always, was charming and bubbly as Effie Trinkett, Wood Harrelson provided bits of humor as he perfectly portrayed Haymitch, and Stanley Tucci was fantastic as Caesar Flickerman who provided the much-needed comic relief at times. Newcomers Sam Clafin (Finnick Odair), Lynn Cohen (Mags), Jena Malone (Johanna) Amanda Plummer (Wiress), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) all really stole the show, especially Malone. Clafin was good in depicting Finnick’s ambiguous personality, and Cohen along with Plummer hardly spoke any lines but still had the audience in the palm of their hands. Wright was not exactly what I pictured as Beetee when reading the book but I still enjoyed his performance. Jena Malone was definitely my favorite new cast member though because she WAS Johanna, no doubt about it. The ferocity, sass, confidence, all there.

Not sure if I actually have too much to criticize. The film is long (146 minutes) but you don’t feel it. If anything, I was not a huge fan of the ending because I thought it could have ended perhaps a few seconds/lines earlier. Other than that, and as far as book adaptations go, Catching Fire was visually and emotionally amazing.

ALL IN ALL: With great performances and effects, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a winner for fans of the book and a must see for 2013.

Rated PG-13, 146 minutes

image from: http://oyster.ignimgs.com/wordpress/stg.ign.com/2013/09/jennifer-lawrence-catching-fire-poster-610×903.jpg