Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The adaptation of Emma Donoghue's Room is phenomenal!

Room is one of those books that has such passionate fans that an adaptation is something that fills us with a heightened level of both excitement and terror. In this instance, the book's author wrote the screenplay which is also a bold move and one that could go dramatically either way.
The film arrived earlier than its January 2016 (earlier in the US you lucky things!) release date, thanks to the London Film Festival and my book vs film review can be found over at Novelicious.
Suffice it to say, I doubt any fans of the book will be disappointed.
Here's the link.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Final Mockingjay trailer and clip prepares fans for the end of Hunger Games

We’ve had four years of trailers, posters, clips, images, films, premieres, interviews… We've seen Katniss's journey progress, watched as she was sucked in to more of the Capitol's games and somehow found the will to carry on.

And now, the Hunger Games films are coming to an end with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. And we have the final trailer which, for fans of both the books and films, is certainly an exciting and emotional 1 minute and 47 seconds. There's also a clip of the Star Squad to whet your appetite if you needed any more...

Based on the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 finally arrives in UK cinemas on 19th November.

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Martian: Book vs Film

Based on the novel by Andy Weir, The Martian is a film about one man’s fight for survival after he is mistakenly presumed dead by his fellow astronauts and left behind on Mars. He has a large amount of food and other supplies but not nearly enough to last him the years it will take before another space ship is scheduled to arrive back on the planet. Knowing this, Mark Watney must get to work and ‘science the shit’ out of a planet where nothing grows and his only ‘company’ is the abundance of disco music left by his commander, Melissa Lewis.

Andy Weir's phenomenal book is a great mixture of peril and laughter, as Watney is a man who uses humour to cope with stress. He is self-deprecating and witty and stops the book from ever being too miserable. Yet there is also A LOT of science in the book that many reader's have found slows the reading process down dramatically.

The film adaptation of The Martian is riddled with drama and peril, just like the novel. Will he manage to grow enough food? Will he manage to make water? Will another storm arrive to finish him off after he somehow survived the last one? Will he ever make contact with the people back home at NASA who believe him to be dead? These dramas make for a tense viewing experience that could have proven too much for some viewers – were it not for the fantastic sense of humour our hero Watney brings in the face of adversity. None of that humour is lost.

Watney leads the entire story and in that is its greatest treasure. He is bold, taking insane risks because there is no other way. When something fails, he gets back up and tries again. He does what he has to in order to survive, and that includes finding things to laugh at. Matt Damon does a phenomenal job of capturing the many sides to this brilliantly complex character, meaning that audiences will quickly come to love him and support him – and hope against hope that he finds a way home. Screenwriter Drew Goddard has understood the importance of Watney, allowing time in the screenplay for the viewer to really understand who he is and what drives him forward. This could so easily have been lost in the adaptation process because, of course, the book has plenty of time to explore it but the film does not.

The ensemble cast assembled for the film – including Jessica Chastain, Jeff Bridges and Chiwetel Ejiofor – are also a thing of wonder. There are all sorts of actors involved, of different age, gender, nationality and race. But the brilliance is that this is not done to be a gimic of any kind. There is no political correctness here, just a representation of the wider world in which we live – something many would argue is seriously lacking in cinema today. There are numerous relationships explored throughout the film – that of family, friends, work colleagues, etc. – but these are secondary to the goal at hand: get Mark Watney home.

Throw all of this against a Ridley Scott backdrop and you have something spectacular. There is an established human heart to this story but the Mars landscapes, the shots of his fellow astronauts travelling home without him, and the impact their stories have on the people back on Earth, throw this story out to a wider, more cinematic, film experience. Watney’s world becomes that much bigger as the film progresses, transforming this solitary story of survival into a wider tale of human connection and helping someone in need when all seems lost.

The Martian is a flawless adaptation that captures all the humour and drama of the novel. It trims down the science part of the novel and makes everything just a little bit 'nicer' but apart from that it works superbly well. The cast are fantastically honest in their performances, and Ridley Scott and Drew Goddard make for an exciting filmmaking team who clearly understand how to combine great character development with stunning scope. The film is best savoured on a large screen and, with the added 3D, it becomes truly immersive. This is a cinematic delight you’ll want to experience over and over.

Book: 5/5
Film: 5/5

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

LFF Highlights: Three Phenomenal Adaptations To Look Out For

The London Film Festival always brings great variety, including the weird and wonderful, the provocative and explosive, and the sweet and endearing. This year, LFF has brought audiences some staggeringly good adaptations for both book and film fans to enjoy, with three of these adaptations, in particular, really standing out. 

Firstly, there is the beautifully romantic Carol (The Price of Salt), based on Patricia Highsmith's novel. Cate Blanchett plays Carol opposite Rooney Mara and the production is completely breath-taking in all aspects. The direction is flawless, the script magnificent, the performances all spot-on and mult-faceted, and the gorgeous costumes and styles of the era entirely nostalgic. This is brave story-telling and a film that will stay with the viewer long after they've finished watching it.
(Carol is due for UK cinematic release on 27th November 2015)

If love-stories aren't your thing and you prefer weird and wonderful, then the brilliantly bonkers High-Rise may well be one for you - though this seems to be greatly dividing its audience with many either loving or hating it. Based on the JG Ballard novel from the 70s, the all-star (mostly British) cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Keeley Hawes, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss. The story, about an apartment complex where the rich live at the top and the poor live at the bottom, starts relatively calmly and soon descends into chaos, violence and general debauchery. The soundtrack is something unlike anything you will have heard before and includes a Portishead cover of Abba's SOS, among other delights.
(High-Rise is expected in cinemas in early 2016)

Alternatively, the stand-out adaptation of the festival (and other festivals by all accounts!) has to be the gut-wrenching and magical Room, with a screenplay written by the book's author, Emma Donoghue. Brie Larson plays Ma along with young Jacob Tremblay as Jack and the film - much like the book - manages to capture all the innocence, horror and familial devotion of its characters. Larson's performance is riveting and, if there's any justice, she'll be a hot favourite come award season.
(Room is slated for UK release in January 2016)