I feel like there’s been a definite increase of YA film adaptations appearing in the last few years since the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises made bank and The Hunger Games proved it wasn’t a fluke. Some have been good and some have been… less than good. With Divergent appearing in cinemas next week (for Australia anyway) I wanted to talk about my reactions to some of the more recent releases.
About a month ago I won free tickets to see the Vampire Academy movie, based on Richelle Mead’s novel of the same title. I had never read the books (with friends who have being completely divided about whether they were fantastic or terrible) but the preview looked pretty cool. I finally went to see it last week with my younger sister.
As far as movies go, it wasn’t a masterpiece but it was definitely enjoyable. I loved Rose’s sass and quick comebacks and the chemistry between her and Dimitri was great. I found the introduction to the world and the Moroi, Strogoi and Dhampir to be kind of hamhanded and confusing, and the first two acts of the movie were fragmented as far as plot progression and conflict went. Vampire Academy pulled it together for the last act of the movie though which I loved – plenty of action, reveals and swoon. I’m not holding my breath for a sequel but I did go home and buy a bundle of all six novels as ebooks, so I’d call that a win over all for the adaptation.
As an aside, having read the first book now I can see why this series divided my friends so much. I’m not sure I would have kept reading if I hadn’t first seen the movie. That said, I’m about two chapters into the second book Frost Bite right now and it’s off to a pretty good start!
I love these books and it’s probably the series that I judge all YA dystopia by so I had some pretty high expectations when the first movie came out. Despite the rediculous amount of shaky cam used, it’s probably one of my favourite movie adaptations.
Catching Fire kind of blew it out the water though! I mean, a lot of why I loved the most recent offering in the Hunger Games franchise is that it expands the world, builds on the characters and raises the stakes really well, which is something the book does anyway. You get a deeper view of all the major characters, as well as a bunch of awesome, complex new ones joining the ranks.
One thing I think the film does a better job of than the books is the depiction of the Capitol and the people who live there. You get a much better idea of the gargantuan gap between the haves and the have nots in Panem simply due to the imagery and costuming used. I also really loved the way President Snow uses the media and how they depicted the Games and the Victors but that’s probably thanks to my university major in communication and culture. So much material for essays! There are a lot of things that can be done better simply thanks to the medium of film and I think Catching Fire really showed off those strengths.
You could tell pretty easily who had read the books beforehand when I went to see this at the cinema. As the credits started to scroll a group of three girls sitting down the front shrieked when they realised the ending was a massive cliffhanger and the rest of the cinema cracked up laughing. Pretty sure they would have picked up a copy of Mockingjay not long after!
CITY OF BONES
The Mortal Instruments series had been on my ‘Maybe I’ll Read This Sometime in the Future’ list for ages. The only reason it was ever really on my radar, despite its popularity, was that Sarah Rees Brennan, one of my all time favourite authors, was friends with Cassie Clare. But when the announcement went out about the movie I figured I should probably put in the time and read the first book.
I really didn’t enjoy it that much. I found it to be really, really long and Clary’s almost irrational instant dislike of Isabelle was grating. With a quarter of the book to go I realised I knew how it ended. Somewhere on the Internet I had been spoiled without remembering. Needless to say, it put a dampener on the whole experience of reading the book for me and I was less enthusiastic about the movie.
But then the casting and the trailer hit and it was obvious they had spent a lot of money making this movie. I figured that the narrative was less likely to drag on in the movie, given the short span of time to tell the story and decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. Not only is it a super pretty movie to watch but it’s also fun. City of Bones is now pretty high on my ‘Movies to watch after a long day with a bottle of wine to relax’ list. Unfortunately it didn’t do as well at the Box Office as they were expecting. Word is the second book in the series, City of Ashes, will still get a movie but when it might happen is up in the air.
The Beautiful Creatures adaptation was basically the complete opposite of City of Bones for me. The trailer looked pretty cool so I made sure I read the first book beforehand. I loved the book. I really liked the magic system Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created and the idea of the curse on Lena’s family. My friends Jade and Mel also read the books beforehand and so we were all pretty stoked for the movie release.
But when we watched it… oh my. The movie is another one that looks quite pretty but the relationship that develops on screen between Ethan and Lena felt forced and awkward. The mise on scene and visual metaphors used in the film are less than subtle, culminating in a hilariously over the top scene involving Ridley and Link before the final climax. We get the point from the dialogue guys, we don’t need to have it driven home by a semitrailer of rediculous visual metaphors, speeding towards our faces with no brakes.
Add to this the fact the screenwriters basically rewrote the entire second half of the book for the film adaptation. I understand the needs of film to tell the narrative in a highly condensed form but this was just excessive. All in all, when it comes to Beautiful Creatures, I think I’ll stick to the books.
What are your favourite (and least favourite) movie adaptations?