Tag Archives: trailer

Movie vs. Book: The Girl On the Train

Rachel cannot move on from her former life with her ex-husband, Tom. She drinks. She rides the train past his home and stares. She is so depressed that she not only stares at her old house with her former husband and his new wife, Anna, but she also stares at the house a few doors down — the one where a seemingly happy couple lives and reminds her how awful her life has become.

So when Rachel learns that the woman who lives there, Megan, has gone missing, she becomes shocked and then later, obsessed. She cannot understand what would cause Megan to run or someone to do something to her. But soon, Megan’s body is found, and it is announced that she was pregnant when she was killed. Rachel cannot move on from this story and quickly inserts herself into the world of Megan and her husband.

What starts as a story about sad women turns into a thriller and murder mystery. It’s one of hte best in recent years. In fact, it was famously referred to as “the next Gone Girl” when the book was first released last year. That explains why it didn’t take very long to be made into a movie — and with an outstanding cast at that.

Luckily, just like the “Gone Girl” movie, the movie version of “The Girl On the Train” lives up to the book. It follows the book to a tee, even down to the rotating narrators of Rachel, Megan and Anna. Title screens appear throughout the movie to explain whose perspective we’re about to see and during what time it’s happening, just like the start of each new chapter in the book.

The movie of course leaves out a few things including  Rachel sleeping with someone involved in the investigation (probably because it’s too intertwined and mildly disgusting) and Anna’s obsession with being a mistress (also off-putting in the novel). But the movie felt a bit long as it was, and including those plot points that weren’t entirely vital to the story would have only made the movie longer.

For all my worry that Emily Blunt was “too pretty” to play the frumpy, alcoholic Rachel who’s let herself go, Blunt’s acting was exceptional. It’s a role unlike any other she’s played, and it hooks the audience in her character’s first drunken scene. Justin Thoreaux, too, is excellent in his maniacal role, and the movie includes just the right about of suspense and sexiness.

Get The Girl On the Train in paperback for $9.60.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

1 Comment

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews

Movie vs. Book: Allegiant

allegiant-by-veronica-roth**Spoiler Alert: this is your warning that if you have not read the actual book, you might not want to read the following review. Spoilers are included. 

Let me start by saying this: Before seeing Allegiant in theaters, I was not aware that producers decided to split final book in the Divergent series into two movies. So naturally, I was shocked at the state in which the movie ended — clearly setting it up for a fourth movie. That said, the movie adaptation of the final novel in the Divergent series was terrible.

Allegiant is one hell of a book. I was skeptical when I started reading it since I was told by many that the third book in the series was the worst because of something Tris does. Her self-sacrifice in the novel’s third act was a bold move by author Veronica Roth, no doubt. So it’s understandable that readers — especially YA readers that the book targets — would be upset by the dark, sad ending. But I found her actions to be brave and powerful — those of a true tragic hero, sacrificing herself for the greater good, despite the dangers that lie in her wake.

In addition to that, the multiple rebellions and serums in the novel make Allegiant sometimes confusing, but mostly exciting and overwhelming in the best way. For the first time, parts of the novel are told through Four/Tobias’s voice instead of solely Tris’s, and he faces his own dark plot line. Both their stories move with power.

While the Insurgent movie changed some things from the book, the Allegiant movie changed almost everything. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it an adaptation, but rather a movie “loosely based” on the novel by Veronica Roth.

To start, characters Cara and Uriah are cut from the movie, which thereby means the entire “Four accidentally putting Uriah in a coma because of the explosion he helped plan against the bureau” storyline is cut from the movie. That is a huge part of the novel, so it was extremely disappointing to see it  left out of the movie. The movie also made the bureau headquarters much more futuristic than the raggedy image that’s portrayed in the book. The movie also makes it seem like it was Tris’s idea to form the Allegiant, when it’s actually Johanna’s idea — a device to make Tris even more heroic, I imagine.

The movie also adds things the book doesn’t include. For instance: Tobias’s father receiving the memory serum; Four participating in a group that helps bring children from the fringe back to the bureau; a head council to which David must report; and the characters having jobs and duties within the bureau. Some of these changes may seem minor, but because of them, other plot lines and character motivations in the movie had to be adapted, and suddenly it was hard to tell where the story was going since it veered so off course from the novel.

It’s a shame the Divergent movies have increasingly gotten worse and are now out of touch with the great novels upon which they’re based. But if this weekend’s poor ticket sales are any indication, maybe producers won’t make Allegiant Part Two after all and save us the disappointment.

Get Allegiant in paperback for $7.92. 

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

3 Comments

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews

Movie vs. Book: Dark Places

Libby Day didn’t have an ordinary childhood. She grew up alone — not because her parents both died, nor because she was left behind, but because her mother and two sisters were murdered by her brother. “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas” is her claim to fame even 25 years later, and in many ways, the murders still rule her life. She spent decades surviving off money earned through life insurance policies, donations and book sales from the memoir she wrote. Now her money is running out. Her brother is still in jail. They still don’t talk. And Libby hasn’t started a new life because she can’t let go of her past.

But she then learns a “Kill Club” exists, where people investigate some of the nation’s most infamous crimes and murders. The Day murders are a favorite in the club. When Libby realizes she can take advantage of the club by accepting money from them in return for speaking to other people associated with her brother’s murders, she does it. She is desperate for money. But she soon realizes that most members of the “Kill Club” think she’s weak and a liar. They believe her brother isn’t the killer. Being seven at the time of the murders, Libby doesn’t remember much, so she sets out to re-investigate the murders herself and encounters an entire secret history of the Day family that she never knew existed.

Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places includes many of the same things that readers liked about her more famous bestseller Gone Girl: rotating — and untrustworthy — narrators and perspectives, suspense, mystery, a big twist and general creepiness. Gone Girl has its bloody, gory moments, but Dark Places trumps those. The killing scene is gruesome, and there are sections about sacrifices to Satan that can’t help but cause goosebumps. Generally speaking, the film does a good job of portraying the same creepiness the book offers, but still doesn’t compare.

The casting is a little off. Charlize Theron as Libby Day is all wrong; she is too beautiful, too confident, too “cool” to be the unconfident misfit that is Libby Day. Similarly, Chloe Grace Moretz is too angelic to play a Satan-worshipper. But it’s more than just the casting. The flashback scenes including killing scene is hokey. Shot in black and white and shaky, it looks more “Blair Witch Project” than “Psycho.”

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with the movie, other than to say it just doesn’t feel right. There are a few characters that are left out or killed off, including Libby’s Aunt Diane. Some of the interviews Libby conducts are also excluded. I understand those choices were made for time purposes. Otherwise, the movie follows the book closely enough. But there’s something about it — maybe it’s the fact that the book is just so creepy, so dark, so twisty that it’s hard to create a visual version that can even remotely compare. The movie doesn’t allow us to connect with the characters like the book does — and suddenly I found myself more curious about when the movie would end than “Did her brother really do it?”

Get Dark Places on your Kindle for $7.99.

Or in paperback for $8.33.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews

Movie vs. Book: Paper Towns

Margo Roth Spiegelman is Quentin’s miracle. Margo and Quentin grew up next door to each other in Orlando, and though they were close as kids but grew apart during their teen years, Q never stopped pining after her. He had altogether given up on the prospect of them ever being close again. That is, until she sneaks into his room one night and wakes him up to accompany her on an adventure around the city.

Their overnight rendezvous consists of pranking all of Margo’s “friends,” who she’s recently learned haven’t been as good friends as she thought they were. It’s a night to right a lot of wrongs. It’s a night that Q imagines will change his relationship and future with Margo forever. Little did he know, he was right.

After that, Margo disappears. She doesn’t show up to school, and her parents haven’t given up on looking for her after all the random trips and disappearances she’s planned in the past. But Q doesn’t give up. He won’t. Now more than ever, he needs Margo and is on a mission to find her. After some of his own detective work with the help of his friends, Ben and Radar, he discovers where Margo is — a paper town, an unbuilt copyright trap of a town that doesn’t really exist, except on a map — a parallel to Margo’s fakeness. At this point, the friends — and one of Margo’s friends, Lacey, set out on a journey to find Margo.

Up until this point, Paper Towns, the film, follows Paper Towns, the novel, closely. The casting for the movie on pointe, and the teenage coming-of-age feeling of the book is captured on screen. The last act of the film is where the changes from the book set in — for instance, Radar’s girlfriend also accompanies the group on the road trip to Margo. The novel uses prom as the deadline for the road trip, as opposed to an urgency stemming from Margo moving around. But the very end is the most dissimilar.

Without giving anything away, the book’s ending is open for interpretation. It doesn’t feel final, and it’s up to the reader to decide or assume what happens next. The movie shows what happens next. The movie portrays what happens after the Margo meeting. The movie also does it in a way that only Q sees Margo again, and not the other friends. The movie explains how each of the characters winds up several months down the road. And let me tell you something — that ending is far more satisfying than that of the book.

I’m not usually a fan of a movie over the book on which it’s based. But in this case, I didn’t particularly love the book. The ending of the novel was a let-down after all I felt I’d “been through” with the characters. The movie’s ending was not. It was also more focused on friendship than chasing not-so-real love. It was more in line with what would really happy. Plus it gave me the satisfaction of knowing that everyone and everything ended up alright — better than alright. And when you’re talking about such fake things as paper towns, it was refreshing to see an ending that was real.

Get Paper Towns in paperback for $5.72.

Or on your Kindle for $3.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews

Movie vs. Book: Insurgent

**Spoiler Alert: Because of the popularity of both this book and movie, this review does include spoilers. 

Insurgent picks up where author Veronica Roth’s Divergent left off — with Tris, Four, Caleb, Peter and Marcus living in the Amity faction, waiting to decide their next move after narrowly escaping the attempted takeover and attack lead by Jeanine. Tris is still reeling from the death of her parents, and tensions continue to run high between Four and Tris and Peter. But when Erudite and Dauntless traitors arrive to search for Abnegation, Tris, Four and Caleb escape and meet up with the Factionless. After that, all hell breaks loose as factions try to combine to either fight off or fight for Jeanine and whatever plans she has. But Tris learns Jeanine has an important secret that involves her parents — one that she must find while also protecting the lives on the innocent.

That general story holds true in the movie version of the bestselling novel. That said, I have never seen a movie that veers so differently from the novel upon which it’s based. First of all, the movie leaves out Marcus almost entirely. As Four’s father, Marcus is the one from whom Tris learns how important her parents’ secret is. Much of the book involves Tris backing Marcus and working to get her hands on that information — a move that causes some friction between Tris and Four. But with Marcus barely in the movie, all of that friction is gone.

Not to mention, the movie objectifies that secret into a box, which Jeanine is working hard to unlock. It seems like we’re to believe that Jeanine doesn’t know what the secret is and needs a Divergent to open it by passing simulations for all five factions. In the book, Jeanine does make Tris do simulations, but it’s not to unlock a box of secrets. In the book, the reason is so she can figure out a serum that will actually affect Divergents.

The way the secret comes out is completely different in the movie than In the book. In the book, Jeanine has the secret information hidden on her computer. The information is accessed near the end of the novel as part a team effort between Tris, Christina, Marcus and several others infiltrating Jeanine’s facility and computer. But that entire section is left out of the movie.

On top of all this, three of the four major deaths in the book are either left out or changed in the movie. Lynn’s death is left out entirely. Four kills Eric in both, but in the book, Eric is put on trial and then killed. There is no trial or Dauntless leaders in the movie. Then there’s Jeanine’s death.  In the book, Tori kills her, despite Tris trying to fight Tori on it. But in the movie, Evelyn kills Jeanine, with no fight from anyone.

These are just the major changes. There are lots of other minor ones. Not having read the third book in the series, Allegiant, it’s hard for me to determine if and how these changes may affect the third movie. And granted, the movie was still excellent, action-packed and exciting. But it was so different from the book, I found myself having a hard time cheering at the end.

Get Insurgent in paperback for $10.68.

Or on your Kindle for $3.99.

6 Comments

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews

Movie vs. Book: Unbroken

The life of Louie Zamperini is an incredible one. He’s a man who seemed to live nine lives before finally dying at the age of 97 just last year — mere months before the movie about his life came out. Unbroken, the movie, is based on the bestselling book by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s a look at the amazing life and courage of Zamperini, who not only ran in the Olympics as a young man, but then went on to fight in WWII, have his plane crash in the ocean, survive on a raft for 47 days only to be captured and tortured for the next two years in a Japanese POW camp.

The book tells the story of his life in extraordinary detail — including passages about his friends in the war, about the duck with whom he becomes friends, and about the evil Japanese soldier, nicknamed “The Bird,” who focuses much of his energy of torturing Louie. While the Angelina Jolie-directed movie exudes the right tone and properly tells the general story of his life, it does leave out some memorable moments and important details from the book, and certain things feel watered down.

For instance, there are two other men on the raft with Zamperini after his plane is shot down — one of whom, in the book, eventually gives up on trying to stay alive and subsequently dies. But that is not portrayed well in the movie. In fact, the person who saw it with me asked how he died. He found it hard to follow what caused his death, and I had to explain that ultimately he gave up and his body gave out. The same goes for the portrayal of Louie’s arch nemesis, “The Bird.” While it’s clear that he’s evil, it wasn’t inherently clear in the movie that “The Bird” specifically had it out for Zamperini.

The movie also leaves out the duck — a detail that takes on more significance when the duck is brutally killed in the book.  As it turns out, that was a specific choice made by Jolie, according to Entertainment Weekly. And what’s worse — the movie leaves out the entire last section of the book, which delves into Zamperini’s struggle with PTSD and alcoholism after returning home to the war — an element which only added to the laundry list of things the man had been through and survived, an element that makes him only appear greater.

Of course, the movie would have been far too long with that section. And of course, Louie Zamperini would have been proud of and happy with the movie no matter what. Could it have used some work? Certainly. But the feeling of hope and optimism along with the sense that if the human spirit can overcome anything and everything is still there at the end of the movie, and that’s arguably the best and most important thing to take away from both the book and Louie Zamperini’s life.

Get Unbroken in paperback for $9.60.

Or get it on your Kindle for $4.99.

1 Comment

Filed under Movie vs. Book

Movie vs. Book: Still Alice

It takes a lot for a brilliant college professor like Alice Howland to forget her words in the midst of a big speech. But she does. It takes even more for her to get lost just blocks from her home in the middle of her regular run. But she does. It’s then that Alice decides to go for testing. And it’s then — at the ripe age of 49 — that Alice learns she is suffering from early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. It doesn’t feel like suffering then. But it does soon, after she clues in her husband and three grown children.

Still Alice tells the story of Alice and her family as they cope with the disease over the next few months. Two of Alice’s children use that time to take a test to determine whether they have the gene associated with the disease — one does, one does not. Alice’s husband spends a lot of that time away from Alice. Her youngest daughter is the one that uses this time to get to know her mother, especially since their relationship has always been somewhat strained.

The movie Still Alice does not stray far from the book. In fact, the way it’s filmed beautifully parallels the way the book is written. In the book, author Lisa Genova writes from Alice’s point of view. As the novel continues, the writing becomes more and more disorganized and confusing to keep in line with Alice’s brain and the effect Alzheimer’s has on it. In much the same way, part of the movie includes blurry, hazed shots — to help show what things look like through Alice’s mind. The movie also becomes disorganized toward the end. Certain plot points are not told to the viewer. We, instead, must figure it out ourselves, similar to the way an Alzheimer’s patient who can’t make sense of things would have to do. It’s messy. There are gaps in time. But that’s what it’s like inside the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient.

It goes without saying that Julianne Moore’s performance as Alice is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. She portrays that hazy glaze effortlessly — showing that Alzheimer’s is much more than just forgetfulness; it’s a state of desperate confusion and incapability to understand. It is difficult to see onscreen how careless some of her family members are, and Alice’s oldest daughter (Kate Bosworth) and husband (Alec Baldwin) portray that well. However, in the book, her husband does a lot of research on Alzheimer’s and still has a hard time coping. In the movie, we don’t see any of the research or willingness to try to understand. We mostly see her husband giving up on trying altogether.

But what both the movie and book have in common is the power to raise awareness, the power to make us feel, and the power to — hopefully — make a change.

Get Still Alice in paperback for 2.97.

Or on your Kindle for $6.99.

9 Comments

Filed under Movie vs. Book

Movie vs. Book: Fifty Shades of Grey

Contributed by: Christine Anderson

“More” is a word that echoes so much through the book Fifty Shades of Grey and its film adaptation. Fifty Shades follows the journey of a young, naïve college student named Anastasia Steele, who’s on the verge of graduation and starting a new life. Instead of typical post-grad problems, Ana stumbles into a man and a relationship that prove more daunting than finding a job. Christian Grey beguiles Ana. He is immensely attractive, and for the first time in her life, she wants to be kissed. In fact, she wants “more” with him. But falling in love isn’t always “hearts and flowers,” and Christian isn’t your typical boyfriend. He’s a well-known, billionaire CEO whose lifestyle is bizarre, scary and confusing.

The story isn’t just “mommy eroticism” as some have speculated. If the story were solely about a dominant/submissive relationship, it would not have the worldwide acclaim and support it has today. The story shows that love isn’t always simple. It isn’t always about making easy choices. You have to ask yourself what you are willing to change, give up, perhaps even open yourself up to for the person you love.

With a phenomena like Fifty Shades of Grey and the controversy and awe that goes with it, the next step — naturally — is a film adaption. But this isn’t your typical screenplay transformation. This project had the possibility to be a lose-lose scenario when you consider the disappointment dedicated fans could potentially face if the movie was not handled properly, as well as the countless moral, religious, judgmental groups that would be chomping at the bit to condone its very existence. As an educated Fifty Shades fan, I consider the film a tremendous success.

While significantly trimmed down from the book, the movie says so much more than the dialogue on screen, speaking volumes about the story and the relationship between Christian and Ana by not speaking at all. Jamie Dornan proves a master of the closed-off, guarded Christian Grey, conveying pages of dialogue with a series of looks. Christian Grey, at his center, is an often unreadable persona. Reactions of a “lack of chemistry” between the stars demonstrate the lack of understanding that comes from knowing the character of Christian Grey. This is a man who doesn’t understand love. He’s damaged and broken. Key components and quotes from the book were not left out, and fans should feel very satisfied.

As both a fan of the series and someone who understands the moviemakers’ desire for a large profit, the ending was perfection. You are not meant to feel at peace after this movie because that’s not how their story is. It’s wrapped in ups and downs and a lot of layers and this movie needed to set the stage for everything that comes down the line, and it did that perfectly. The movie is witty, and Dakota Johnson (Ana/Anastasia Steele) was perfect for the role. She brought comedic timing to an often dark story and lightened the mood many times. Jamie Dornan brings Christian to life. He is the perfect combination of steely and endearing. Fifty Shades of Grey was made for the fans, and that shows. If you know the story you can’t help but love this movie. People will judge what they do not understand. I never imagined I’d be a part of something so doused in controversy, but I am extremely hopeful that reviews like this take the stigma and the shame out of this story that shows love isn’t always black and white; sometimes it’s grey and on even rarer occasions it’s “fifty shades” of grey.

Get Fifty Shades of Grey in paperback for $8.97.

Or on your Kindle for $2.99.

1 Comment

Filed under Movie vs. Book

Movie vs. Book: Mockingjay (Part 1)

**Spoiler Alert: Because of the popularity of both this book and movie, this review does include spoilers. 

Mockingjay picks up shortly after where Catching Fire left off. We see Katniss shaking, crying, having a nightmare as she so often does now in her post-Hunger Games world. She’s suffering from PTSD as she tries to make sense of what happened in the Quarter Quell and as she wonders if Peeta is even alive.

She has so many questions, but without receiving answers, she is quickly thrust once again into the spotlight as Plutarch Heavensbee and President Coin, the president of District 13, choose her as the symbol of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. With most of the districts in disarray or completely destroyed after the rebellious move Katniss makes in the Quarter Quell, President Coin and Plutarch work hard to take the lead in the rebellion and join forces with the other districts to take down the Capitol. That means having Katniss star in several propaganda videos to air across Panem. The videos come in response to the Capitol’s propaganda videos, starring a brainwashed, angry Peeta, who has lost the support of the rebels.

Katniss agrees to help under certain conditions — that Peeta and the other tributes will be saved and pardoned once they are freed from the Capitol. Despite her concerns, President Coin agrees, and Katniss and a video crew shoot several videos that air across the country. eventually leading to the rebels gaining enough control that they’re able to free Peeta from the Capitol. But when Peeta returns, he is not the same. He is brainwashed and enraged by Katniss, causing him to try to kill her.

The book and movie are mostly the same, but there are a few slight changes. For instance, in the book, Katniss agrees to be the face of the rebellion only if Peeta and the other tributes are freed and pardoned, and if she can be the person to kill President Snow. But in the movie, the demand to kill President Snow is cut. It’s not a huge change. But in the book, President Coin responds by saying “I’ll flip you for it.” The demand and the accompanying dialogue serve to display the extent of Katniss’s anger toward Snow and that she and Coin have now connected.

Other changes include minor ones about District 13 — the details of the district’s daily schedules have been cut. So has the insight into District 13’s treatment of Katniss’s prep team. Again, not a huge loss, but it certainly eliminates some of the most important foreshadowing about District 13 and the people who are in charge.

Whereas Mockingjay, the novel, has an ending, Mockingjay Part 1 does not. Yes, that’s obvious, but the movie ending with the freeing of Peeta only serves as further build to the next movie — and because of that, the movie doesn’t have its own plot. It’s more of a series of scenes and happenstances with not much more than build and foreshadowing. The movie isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty dead-on and fantastic. But when your movie tells the story of half a book, it’s going to feel like half a movie.

3 Comments

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews

Movie vs. Book: Gone Girl

The morning of Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth anniversary starts off normally enough. Nick heads to work at the bar he owns in a small Missouri town, leaving his wife, Amy, at home to do whatever it is housewives do. But this day is unlike any other. Nick comes home to find Amy’s missing. The house is in disarray, as if there were a struggle, and no one seems to know where Amy is.

Suddenly, Nick and Amy’s anniversary turns into a police-assisted hunt for Amy. The story about the beautiful missing housewife quickly goes national, and as time passes, the media and people across the country peg Nick as a killer. He smiles when he should appear sad. He’s kind to others, instead of pissed off or upset. Not to mention, his alibi is shoddy, and police determine that the crime scene looks staged.

While all this is going on, we get a glimpse into Amy’s version of the story through flashback scenes dictated by Amy’s diary entries. We see both the happy times Nick and Amy had together (their first kiss! Nick’s proposal!) and the bad times (Nick hit Amy! She wants to buy a gun!). So what happened to Amy? And did Nick have something to do with it?

What I’ve detailed for you is a summary of both the novel and the movie. I say that because the movie stays so true to the book, thanks to the fact that Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn also wrote the film’s screenplay. Not only does the movie follow the book to a T, the casting is also incredibly on point. Ben Affleck is a natural at Nick Dunne’s aloof, smug charm. A relatively unknown Rosamund Pike plays Amy in an exceptionally sharp, twisted, scary way. Neil Patrick Harris as one of Amy’s former lover’s and Tyler Perry as Nick’s lawyer round out the perfectly-casted bunch.

There are a few minor changes, but it’s hard to describe them and not reveal any spoilers about the story. I do, however, think it’s safe to say that one thing the movie does differently is make the viewer hate Amy more than Nick at the end. The movie makes you sympathize with Nick and feel bad for the poor bastard. But when I finished the novel, I hated both Nick and Amy equally by the end. Aside from that, the casting, the direction, the music and sound, and the overall opportunity to see this story rather than picture it your head might make it even more twisted and creepy than the book. And I mean that in a good way.

Get Gone Girl ( Movie Tie-In Edition) for $7.86.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews