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Tag: book to screen adaptations

Monthly Monday Polls: September – Screen Adaptations; Yay or Nay?

Monday Poll @ YALSA's The HubHappy Labor/Labour Day, everyone!

Last month, The Hub asked which recent page-to-screen adaptation you were most stoked about, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children took solidly half the vote, followed by A Monster Calls with 26%, and Me Before You with 12%, and then Alice Through the Looking Glass (6%), Nerve (3%), The Queen of Katwe (2%), and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life(1%). Thanks to everyone who voted!

In researching the screen adaptations (projects already released and those on the horizon) it is abundantly clear that, where YA lit is concerned, film-or-tv rights are big business. True, many projects may languish “in development” for years (I’m looking at you, Lunar Chronicles!), but it can sometimes feel like everything YA that readers have loved on the page has a screen adaptation in the works, or has at least been optioned.

So…how do you feel about the deluge of page-to-screen adaptations? Do you find film/tv adaptations to be an awesome tool for expanding the potential audience for a story, offering a strong incentive for readers to try the book version, OR do you dread the inevitable bungling of beloved character nuances and rich, complex details that get cast aside in favor of time and clarity on the screen?

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From Page to Screen Review: Insurgent

insurgentThe second entry into the planned four part film series that is adapting our favorite Veronica Roth source material, known as the Divergent trilogy, has finally arrived. Insurgent made its debut last weekend amidst mixed reviews (31% rotten according to critics, 71% liked among fans) but still managed to top the box office with an estimated $54.03 million. Now the question that we are all clamoring for, how did the new director do with our beloved series’ second book? Let’s break it down by the top three questions that I get every time someone asks me about my thoughts of a book-to-movie adaptation.

Was it entertaining?

The film was entertaining, and it was very enjoyable as a fan of the series. The simulation sequences were action packed and intense. They were definitely created to be viewed in 3D, but you’re probably not missing too much if you’re cheap like me. Probably one of the best sequences is the first Dauntless simulation where Tris is fighting to get to her mother who is trapped in a rotating, burning box. This was probably the most visually interesting sequence, the one that managed not to go too over the top, and one of the few simulation scenes that didn’t feel like it was overtly pandering to the 3D technology.

And most importantly when it comes to entertainment, have no fear shippers, the relationship between Tris and Four is still squee-worthy in this installment. There are some weird moments that happen concerning our central couple, one that involves a dream and Four’s mother to be specific, but aside from that the filmmakers really focus on how much these two trust and love each other. It’s pretty stinking adorable.

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From Page To Screen: A ‘We Need Diverse Books’ Wish List

image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/)
image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/)

As the number of film adaptations set to be released  in the 2015 illustrates, Hollywood seems firmly committed to turning to the world of young adult fiction for inspiration–and box office success.  While this trend is exciting for YA fiction fans, the lack of the diversity present in the stories selected remains disheartening. While planning a recent movie night at my library, I was freshly reminded of this problem and as usual, I took to Twitter to share my frustration.

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The ensuing discussion was vibrant and, inspired,  I polled friends & colleagues to develop a wish list of diverse young adult novels we’d like to see on the silver screen.

everything leads to youEverything Leads To You – Nina LaCour (2015 Rainbow List, 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Talented young set designer Emi is spending the summer before college with her best friend Charlotte in Emi’s older brother’s apartment when an estate sale & a mysterious letter brings Ava into her life. But despite their immediate, electric connection, Emi & Ava each have pain in their past and their path to happily ever after will be far from simple.  Between Emi and Ava’s “will they or won’t they” chemistry, great supporting characters and an intriguing setting, you’ve got the perfect rom-com of the summer!

One Man GuyOne Man Guy – Michael Barakiva (2015 Rainbow List)

Alek Khederian assumed that summer school will be an extension of his horrible freshman year; he never expected that it would lead him to Ethan.  Alek can’t imagine why someone like confident skateboarder Ethan wants to hang out with him and when romantic sparks start to fly between them, Alek will have re-evaluate everything he knew about himself. This novel isn’t just a lovely coming of age tale–it’s a love letter to New York City and Alek’s Armenian heritage featuring a built-in soundtrack of Rufus Wainwright songs.

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From Page to Screen: Mockingjay Part 1

mockingjayYou know it’s the end of November because, as anticipated, the latest installment of our beloved Hunger Games films was released this past weekend. November might never be the same after Mockingjay Part 2 comes out next year. What will YA lit lovers do when our beloved trilogy, which has become a four part film franchise, is all over? Thankfully we have another year before we have to really think about such things, so let’s get to the task at hand and talk about the first installment of Mockingjay.

Mockingjay Part 1 landed into our film watching universe this past Friday making quite the splash with the year’s biggest film opening weekend, earning a whopping $123 million. Even with the impressive feat of the year’s biggest opening, this is actually the lowest the franchise has performed. To be fair, Catching Fire set a really high bar for these last two films in the franchise, because not only was it critically acclaimed but it was fan approved and a moneymaker. So why the “light” opening? Is this more of the feared YA lit-to-movie fatigue people seem to be so nervous about? Probably not. Mockingjay is controversial for most fans of the Hunger Games trilogy and there is almost always a love it or hate it quality to the final book in a series. Also, it was the biggest weekend of the year! Not too shabby, even if it is the lowest opening yet for one the Hunger Games films.

It’s always fascinating to watch all of the excitement and hype leading up to these movies. There was a lot of chatter about the decision to make this final book into two movies and a lot of discussion around how to keep the final, most violent book PG-13 appropriate. So with all of that in mind, how did the filmmakers do with Mockingjay Part 1?

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The Giver Movie: A Reader’s Perspective

The_Giver_posterAs a reader, I’m not sure if I went to the movies because I wanted to watch The Giver or because I wanted to hatewatch it.

I did a little of each. I’ll try to explain my reaction to the film, while also leaving out enough information to keep the movie surprising if you’d like to be surprised. That may leave this post incomprehensible until after you’ve seen the movie. I’m not sure. You’ll have to let me know. But be forewarned: this post either has spoilers or is impossible to understand.

I think your liking of this film will depend on how passionate you are about the book. I’m not someone who thinks movies have to stick to the book word-for-word; different media require different approaches. But I’m also not someone who likes it when a movie slaps a book title on its poster and does nothing else to base it on the novel. The Giver is somewhere in between, and it’s not really a bad movie so much as a film that suffers from the glut of dystopian movies, TV, and books and designed itself to be attractive to people just catching on to that genre, not people curious to see Lois Lowry’s beloved book come to life.

That’s not to say that readers won’t enjoy this film. The creators did a brilliant job of dealing with the colorless world. The slow transitions and back-and-forth from plain to color and back again, as Jonas learns new colors and as he goes back and forth between the colorful world of the Giver’s home to his own bland dwelling, is just perfect. The set design is spot-on, and the costumes and props are stylized but not too corny. This film has excellent trappings, but it didn’t do much to translate the power of the book to the screen. 

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From Book to Television: Phoenix Island to Intelligence

phoenix islandPhoenix Island, the debut novel of author John Dixon, packs quite the wallop from the actual storyline in the book to the story surrounding the book itself. Dixon is an interesting case of a first-time novelist, if only for the fact that a major television network bought the rights to his first novel before it was even published! I’m adding that exclamation point because that is a huge deal. Actually, it’s beyond a huge deal. It is a rarity in a business that usually only shells out money for surefire moneymaking hits. I mean it’s hard for published book series with established fandoms to get these kind of deals, and Dixon knocked a home run on his first try. His first book and the television show based on Phoenix Island, CBS’s Intelligence (airing Monday nights at 10/9c), were almost simultaneously released to the world at large back in January.  Serious kudos goes to this guy.

Dixon talks more about this incredible story in an interview with his hometown newspaper here.

It was also this story that really drove my desire to write about how the adaptation from book to screen ended up playing out. It seemed especially interesting to me because the television creators would have more freedom in their adaptation because Dixon’s series did not have an established fandom yet. The upside to not having an established fandom behind the book your basing your series around is that you can’t annoy the fandom. Fandoms can be relentless. Look at all the hoopla casting can cause. Twitter trends have been caused by much less. Not to mention when the adapted work finally does see the light of day there are the inevitable articles that break down everything missed, changed, or totally screwed up in the adaptation according to the fandom. CBS and Michael Seitzman, the show’s creator, did not have to worry about this pressure– so how did they do?

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Vampire Academy Movie Review: Smart and Self-Aware

To be honest, Vampire Academy has flown under the YA radar compared to, say, Twilight or The Hunger Games. In the age of supernatural teen romance, separating one series from another can be confusing. And that’s a shame for Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy (a 2008 Teens’ Top Ten winner), because there is something refreshingly snarky, self-aware and interesting about the series. In a sea of vampires and werewolves Vampire Academy stands out because of its acerbic tone and surprising focus on a strong friendship between two young women, as opposed to romance (which there is still plenty of).  And when I heard the Waters brothers (famous for Mean Girls and Heathers) were set to write and direct this film, it became even more imperative that I check it out opening weekend.

Rotten Tomatoes has given Vampire Academy a horrifying 9%, which just goes to show that I don’t care how adult men feel about teenage movies (unless they are actually the Waters brothers). However, the audience rating is 78% and gives the film an average of 4 out of 5 stars, which is exactly on point, in my opinion. It wasn’t a perfect movie, but I’m inclined to rate it somewhere near Jennifer’s Body in the tradition of “movies parents just don’t understand but that speak authentically to the teen girl experience as supernatural metaphor.” 

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Ice Cold Girl Power: The Snow Queen and Frozen

frozenThe Snow Queen is one of those fairy tales where you really can talk about “the original.”  Unlike other fairy tales, in which we use the term “original” to talk about any number of versions from various times in history we can’t really pin down, this one was written and published by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845. It almost feels not like a fairy tale at all, because if you’re used to the usual (I could say Disneyfied, but it’s really far more common than that) fairy tale structures and characters, this one doesn’t follow. It’s about children, not teenagers or adults; it’s quite long and divided into chapters; and it’s really more of a classic hero’s epic, with challenges and magical beings trying to deter the hero – only the hero is a girl, Gerda, and the person she’s rescuing is her childhood best friend, Kai, who otherwise isn’t all that interesting.

So that’s what’s interesting about The Snow Queen. It’s about a girl doing stuff. Being the boss. Having an adventure and traveling. Rescuing a boy who doesn’t even try to rescue himself because he has ice stuck in his chest, freezing his metaphorical heart. So, like everyone else, I waited with baited breath for Disney to mess it all up.

Warning: from here on out, this post contains what you may or may not define as spoilers, depending on how much you think the surprise of a Disney movie lies in the plot, as opposed to in the sound and look of it all. 

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Stephen King Adaptation Appreciation

carrie

  Carrie opens today in movie theaters across the US and perhaps this updated film version of Stephen King’s 1974 novel will bring a new generation of fans to King’s work. Carrie (1999 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) tells the story of a high school girl who is bullied at school and at home, and who fights back with her telekinetic powers. The 1976 movie version was a success, but the 2002 TV version was not critically acclaimed. The buzz about today’s Carrie film is good, and fans are hoping it will join the ranks of the many solid Stephen King adaptations. King is incredibly prolific, and many of his books and stories have been turned into well-received movies and television shows.

The Green Mile, a story about a death row inmate who has remarkable, almost magical, healing and empathetic powers was released in serial form in 1996, coming out monthly in six small volumes before being collected in one book. The 1999 movie, starring the late Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Hanks, was both popular and nominated for three Academy Awards, including best picture.

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