By The Book

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The modern YA craze that started with Harry Potter and Twilight isn’t slowing down. Studios are pushing forward making movies of the most popular young adult fare. But for every The Hunger Games there is a Beautiful Creatures.  The movies can’t always live up to the original material. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is one such film.

The-Mortal-Instruments-City-of-Bones-Book-CoverThe City of Bones follows Clary an ordinary human with an ordinary life. But when she sees gorgeous and dangerous Jace, her life changes forever. Jace is a Shadow Hunter, a group of human who have angel ancestry and fight demons who wish to do harm the human realm. Clary is one of the few people who can see the Shadow Hunters, and she joins Jace one their journey in an effort to unlock a secret past and a part of herself she is never known.

The book looks at the coming of age story through a magical lens. Instead of teenage angst, the books focuses on Clary as she learns that she is a demon hunter and possesses the talent to wield magic and take out the unwanted of the supernatural world. Learning about her true self is a perfect allegory for teenage life without being overly depressing. She must deal with learning her true talents, learns her mother isn’t perfect, and falls in love-all typical teenage life events. The script takes no time with these ideas. Even the most complex ideas, like sexuality, are pared down into a few lines and then forgotten leaving the movie without any emotion. Either the ideas should have been explored in greater time or left out completely.

Another huge difference between the book and the movie is that the film depicts all the characters one dimensional. Isabelle is always uptight and bitchy, Alec is cowardly, and Simon is Nerdy, and so on. By downplaying the emotional material from the books the characters are not able to be fully formed. And many of their roles are down played. Magnus Bane is truly the source from which Clary was able to train her powers; he gets about five minutes of The_Mortal_Instruments_-_City_of_Bones_Posterscree n time and is only responsible for her lack of memory. Plus, the casting director didn’t bother to read the descriptions of some of the characters when casting it. Isabelle is described as gorgeous, raven haired with brown eyes so dark they seem black, and tall-taller than most of the boys. Her actress is none of these.   While Jamie Campbell Bower was the perfect Jace, the other characters were miscast. Lily Collins and Lena Headey both lacked any drive or used any skill to portray their characters (that surprises me of Headey). The only change worth making was the local palm reader: it is never a mistake to cast CCH Pounder in anything.

The most unusual thing about the movie version of the books, it that is spoils the rest of the saga for anyone who hasn’t read past City of Bones. While most fans have read the saga, some viewers like me are just getting into the series. You learn in the film the Star Wars like twist has even another twist later in the series. As a reader, this will make my experience with the books less enjoyable. But, honestly, if you’ve the movie you will be discouraged from reading the book.

This is the saddest things when movies based on books are badly done; people are less likely to pick up the book. This is a shame because the book is better 99 percent of the time.

Watch This Not That

Reboots

Watch This….

Mortal Kombat Legacy

untitledWhat do you do when one of the best video game movie adaptations is ruined by a horrible sequel? Let the idea simmer for several years and then bring it back as webisodes! Kevin Tancharoen started the web series when no one would fund another Mortal Kombat movie. The web series focuses on origin stories and looks deeper into the characters we know and love. Throw in some great sci-fi actors (Tahmoh Penikett, Jeri Ryan) for Season 1 and give the tale some love and BOOM! Mortal Kombat is awesome once again.

…Not That

Star Trek

J.J. Abrams has put his messy hands all over this franchise making spectacle a priority and qualistar%20trek%20into%20darkness%20650%20paramountty takes a back seat.  I am not a huge Abrahams fans. He often starts with great ideas and then goes crazy with them. The first in this reboot series was a subpar film with at least some science fiction fun with a nod to the old generation. Into Darkness begs the question is this reboot or remake? The movie also stereotypes the basic characters giving them no depth. The films try for growth with Kirk and Spock and each falls short because it does not go along with the universe they are in. Overall it’s Star Trek with a younger cast, lots of visual effects, but no heart.

British Book Adaptation

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Wuthering Heights

master_heights_rain_450_252This Masterpiece Classic version of Wuthering Heights stars two British men who are currently on the American hot list: Tom Hardy and Andrew Lincoln. Hardy is Heathcliff an orphan welcomed into the home of British money and falls in love with the man’s daughter. Circumstance leads to rivalry between Heathcliff and Linton (Lincoln) and many tragic deaths ensue. This adaptation really explains the book though it changes some aspects. It made it possible for me to actually finally read the book and understand it. Plus, this adaptation adds a little sweet to the end of the tragedy.

…Not That

Atonement

First, it has Keira Knightly in it–in a main role.  I have a strong distaste for her as an actress. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy Atonement movie imageI don’t think she has much range and she is often a character that plays some sort of bitch. She’s good at that really, to the point where I don’t like her or her characters. The second issue is the story itself. It has a horrible ending. You think the characters all live happily ever after but no, they all die tragically.  I can handle tragic deaths (see above) but after I thought there was a happily ever after? No way. Not even James McAvoy makes me want to watch this again.

Prisoners: Viewers Really Feel Like One

I have trouble understanding professional critics. In fact it seems that if the critic loves a film, then I hate it. This pattern still stands with Prisoners.

prisoners-2013-_144655-fli_1379324512Prisoners stars on an idyllic Thanksgiving Day.  Close friends and neighbors, the Dovers and Birchs meet for lunch. They each have teenage children as well as young girls, and the family is the best of friends. When the two girls slip out to head for the other girl’s home, they are abducted from their quite neighborhood. The girls had been playing on an old RV earlier in the day and this leads the police to their first suspect. It is when he is released because the police find no evidence of the girls in his RV or home that things get interesting. Mr. Dover takes matters into his own hands.

One of the biggest issues with the film is that it is not out what the trailers portray. The trailers make the movie seem like it focuses on Hugh Jackman’s character and how he deals with the loss of his little girl. Viewers are prepared for psychological pain and torment and to see a really in-depth look at how parents react in an impossible situation. But it’s not about that. It’s a cops and robbers movie. Something bad happens, the cops try to catch him, deal with a few red herrings, and ultimately catch a killer. The majority of the movie focuses on Jake Gyllenhaal’s twitchy Loki, the detective who works the case. Minimal time is given to the suffering parents and their form of justice.

Next is the fact the movie is absolutely unbelievable and overly complicated. While the movie tries to point out flaws in the justice systems, it doesn’t even get the standard procedures for finding missing children right. The search party doesn’t start until they find the RV, the parents are out searching for their children’s bodies, and the police allow a person of interest to be kidnapped because they did not provide surveillance/protection. Add a convoluted conspiracy story with religious fanatics, murdering priests and unexplained escapes, the movie doesn’t manage to do any kind of deep psychosocial exploration of anything. It’s a poorly written version of CSI on the big screen.

The best part of the entire movie is watching Jackman at work. He is a brilliant actor and plays the gambit of emotions flawlessly. He can give a gut wrenching performance with tears one minute and then fly off the handle in anger the next. His acting is organic like those of a real parent dealing with these issues.

Critics have touted Gyllenhaal’s work as well. But I find his acting over rated and overdone. He takes a character’s tic and 8f10b365f2bbd2424b_w4m6iv6hpmakes it overly apparent. I even thought he was the killer at one point and the twitching was a psychological symptom of his guilt. The film truly needed to spend more time with Jackman.

Finally, the ending is horrible. My boyfriend and I had called all the twists along the way. Nothing was a surprise. The ending itself was a “The Lady or The Tiger?” ending given to resolution to the plot’s last twist.

Not much about Prisoners is very enthralling, entertaining or deep. Viewers are left with a depressing subject manner with a shadow that never lifts.