Mini Movie Reviews: Frozen and The Book Thief

I’m still catching up on some movies from 2013, so recently I FINALLY saw Frozen and The Book Thief!

Frozen

frozen_poster2I’ll tell you, I only became interested in Frozen because everyone was raving about it. The trailer for the movie really did not do it justice. My husband and I thought it was a movie that centered on a silly snowman, but that turned out to not be the case at all. It’s a story about family and love and sacrifice, and Olaf the snowman was sweet and funny, not ridiculous as the trailer made him out to be. And the big twist in the story surprised me!

kristoff-surprise

I thought overall, the characters were pretty good. And I love that Disney is able to poke fun at itself and its usual formula when it comes to love at first sight and all that. Though the relationship in this story doesn’t have the chance to develop as well as Rapunzel and Flynn in Tangled, in my opinion, I still really liked what we got of it.

meltingI will admit I was also a little concerned going into this movie about the hype over the music. I had heard “Let It Go” several times before watching the movie, and I honestly didn’t get what the fuss was about and why it was “the song” of the movie. In the context of the movie, I did enjoy it more, and I liked the other songs as well. For some reason, overall, the music felt less forced than it did in Tangled, but maybe it was because I was expecting it from this movie. I think “Let It Go” could have been a bit grander, but still, it’s a nice song. I also really like the ice song at the beginning, which Lesley Marie and I conversed about on Twitter.

It was a fun, well-done film, but I would have liked it more if it could have been just a little longer to develop the story just a little more. I rate it four stars.

4stars2

The Book Thief

book_thiefWith The Book Thief, I was curious to see how everything would be adapted. I had heard pretty positive things so I was optimistic, but also aware that there is no way it could meet all my expectations. But overall, The Book Thief did a good job of hitting the highlights of the story and capturing the spirit of it. Though Death does not speak up much, he does narrate the film, and the movie ends with the same words as the book.

All the actors did a great job in their role: Sophie Nélisse as Liesel, Geoffrey Rush as Hans Hubermann, Emily Watson as Rosa Hubermann, Ben Schnetzer as Max, and Nico Liersch as Rudy… they were all pitch-perfect! Sophie and Nico especially, as Liesel and Rudy, respectively… well, just look at them!

The-Book-Thief-Liesel-Rudy-CROPThey were completely adorable, and I absolutely fell in love with little Rudy all over again. While watching the movie I didn’t think of it because they were doing so well that I was just completely into everything, but in hindsight, it’s amazing that these child actors were able to display the complexity of their characters and of emotions that they needed to, and I believe they truly held their own against the adult actors. And Geoffrey Rush? Just so perfect.

book-thief-fam

I only have a couple of small complaints. Obviously, it’s not a perfect adaptation because they couldn’t fit everything in, but I so wish they could have! But mostly, that they *SPOILER* changed Rudy’s death so that he survived the bombing for a short period of time before he died in front of Liesel (after he starts to say “I love you”) was not a good change in my opinion. First off, that meant he suffered a lot, and secondly, how traumatizing for Liesel! I mean, more so than already with everything she experiences. I just wish they hadn’t done that. *END SPOILER* My husband, who has not read the book, liked the movie, so I think it was a success in appealing to fans of the book as well as others.

4stars2What are your thoughts on Frozen and The Book Thief? 

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My Top 10 Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday topic is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

AKA, dang Suzanne Collins, you sure know how to write secondary characters.

Seriously, I am going to apologize upfront that nearly half of these characters from The Hunger Games trilogy. But you know what, I’m not really that sorry, because they’re awesome and deserve to be seen as such! I could easily do a Top 10 Hunger Games secondary characters, but I refrained myself. Here they are, in no particular order…

1. Haymitch, The Huger Games trilogy

haymitch&katnissHaymitch starts out as the old, drunkard Victor who feels trapped by the system the Capitol has set in place, but with many thanks to Katniss, grows to believe change is possible.

Haymitch takes the seat across from me. “We’re going to have to work together again. So, go ahead. Just say it.”
… All I can say is “I can’t believe you didn’t rescue Peeta.”
“I know,” he replies.
There’s a sense of incompleteness. And not because he hasn’t apologized. But because we were a team. We had a deal to keep Peeta safe. A drunken, unrealistic deal made in the dark of night, but a deal just the same. And in my heart of hearts, I know we both failed.
“Now you say it,” I tell him.
“I can’t believe you let him out of your sight that night,” says Haymitch.
I nod. That’s it.

2. Cinna, The Hunger Games trilogy

Cinna is an incredible secondary character, who shows great strength and great restraint, quietly rebelling against the Capitol in his own way and loving Katniss the way she needed someone to love her.

“Don’t worry. I always channel my emotions into my work.  That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.”

3. Effie, The Hunger Games trilogy

At first Effie seems as flighty and silly as Capitol people come, but through Katniss and Peeta, we see her change and as she comes to  realize just how truly evil the Games are. Unfortunately, however, we don’t know how her story ends.

4. Finnick, The Hunger Games trilogy

Just like Katniss, I was suspicious of Finnick at first. I mean, “Do you want a sugar cube?”? Really? Creepy! But he proves to be so much more than the famed hunky Victor Katniss believed him to be. He proves to be someone who loves deeply and will fight for what he believes.

“Did you love Annie right away, Finnick?” I ask.
“No.” A long time passes before he adds, “She crept up on me.”

5. Iko, The Lunar Chronicles

Iko is Cinder’s robot companion, but she’s far from boring, bursting with a fun personality regardless of whether she is talking to Cinder about Prince Kai or if her program has been re-routed into a ship where she laments getting used to her new “body.” Iko definitely made me smile several times while reading Cinder.

“Prince Kai! Check my fan, I think I’m overheating.”

6. Max, The Book Thief

Max is a Jew in Nazi Germany who hides in Liesel’s basement. Liesel comes to befriend him and they talk to each other about words and nightmares, helping each other through their own tragedies.

7. Rudy, The Book Thief

The-Book-Thief-Liesel-Rudy-CROPThe story of Liesel’s best friend seriously gave me all the feels. What is not to love about a rambunctious young boy who relentlessly pursues and teases the girl he’s crazy about?

The only thing worse than a boy who hates you. A boy who loves you.

8. Repicheep, The Chronicles of Narnia

Reepicheep, the most daring and courageous mouse of all, starts off a bit prideful, but in the end is humbled as he enters Aslan’s country. I love this feisty mouse and his story.

Reepicheep: I can eat and sleep and die for my King without one [a tail]. But a tail is the honour and glory of a Mouse.
Aslan: I have sometimes wondered, friend, whether you do not think too much about your honour.

9. Bean, Ender’s Game

Bean is one of the very few people Ender can rely on in the middle of his chaos of trying to discover who he is when the weight of the world is literally upon him. It’s neat to see their friendship develop and it made me interested in reading about Bean’s point of view in Ender’s Shadow, but I have not yet.

“They can’t break you.”
“You’d be surprised.” Ender breathed sharply, suddenly, as if there were a stab of pain, or he had to catch a sudden breath in a wind; Bean looked at him and realized that the impossible was happening. Far from baiting him, Ender Wiggin was actually confiding in him. Not much. But a little. Ender was human and Bean had been allowed to see.

10. Valentine, Ender’s Game

ender&valentine

Ender’s sister Valentine is also a very interesting character. She is incredibly smart but is considered too compassionate for the role of saving mankind from aliens, but she is exactly who Ender needs as he is falling apart. But Valentine is not perfect, as she allows their other brother, Peter, to manipulate her into exercising out his political schemes. It’s interesting to watch her reactions to Peter and Ender in the novel, and I am really looking forward to seeing how Abigail Breslin portrays her in the movie.

Ender: I didn’t want to see you.
Valentine: They told me.
Ender: I was afraid that I’d still love you.

What do you think of these secondary characters? Who are your favorite secondary characters? 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: An Awesomely Twisted Adaptation

Awesome Adaptations is hosted by Picture Me Reading, and is a focus on book-to-movie adaptations that we think are awesome! Today’s topic is an awesomely twisted adaptation.

I learned a few weeks ago from the Top 10 Tuesday topic of Best/Worst Book-to-Movie Adaptations that a lot of people don’t like this 2005 movie at all. But I am a proud fan of this movie, and I want you to hear me out!

charlie&chocolate

First off, I do really like the original adaptation, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. I like some of the songs (some others… not so much) and there are a lot of fun elements of it. And of course, it was my introduction to Willy Wonka’s world, since I never have read the book (I think I’ll have to remedy this sometime though). But there are some things I don’t like about it. Mostly, the oopma lommpas. They scare the crud out of me. I mean, seriously, look at them:

And their songs… *Shudder*

And the whole thing with Charlie and the fizzy lifting drinks, where technically he broke the rules like the other kids but didn’t get caught right away and made things right in the end… I just don’t like it. It’s interesting because even Freddie Highmore (who played Charlie in the 2005 adaptation) said, “I think the original film is good, but I think it’s better now because Charlie is kept more pure.” I love the Charlie in the new film so much more. I sympathize with him much more and root for him much more. I know it’s great to have flawed characters, I’m not trying to say it’s not, but Charlie is a good kid who loves his family and works hard to do the right thing, and I think that shows so much more in the 2005 film.

The theme of family is the other big reason why I think this film is great. We get Willy Wonka’s back story of his childhood and with his dad, and Charlie is actually able to help the Wonkas restore their relationship. Tim Burton said of his version of Wonka: “You want a little bit of the flavor of why Wonka is the way he is. Otherwise, what is he? He’s just a weird guy.” I can understand the appeal of the mystery of Willy Wonka, but I like this take too.

I know Johnny’s Depp’s portrayal of Wonka is strange (twisted, you might say), but he’s oh-so-quotable…

And he does have a nice character arc, which I always appreciate in a story.

And I think all the kids were done just as well in this movie as they were in the original, though I was a little sad that I didn’t get to see the new Veruca Salt sing, “I Want it Now.” Fave part of the original movie!

And for my last argument, apparently Ronald Dahl actually disapproved of the original film. And when there was discussion of rebooting the movie before 2005, it stalled out due to producers/directors and the Dahl estate not seeing eye-to-eye on the vision of the film, wanting a movie that better reflected the author’s true intentions for the story. When Burton came around and talked to Dahl’s widow and daughter, he entered Dahl’s writing shack and exclaimed it was the Bucket home, to which Lucy thought, “Thank God, somebody gets it.”

(All quotes taken from the Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Wikipedia page)

So give it a chance! Maybe you saw it once and disregarded it, but I like it better now than I did the first time I saw it myself.

Tell me what you do like about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Or why don’t you like it?

Also, on the related note of adaptations, The Book Thief trailer is out! It looks good, but it’s a little sad without the whole Death narrator element. I guess we’ll see…

EDIT*UPDATE: Death will be narrating the movie!: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1460683-death-will-narrate-in-the-movie

YA Books That I Think Should NOT be Adapted for Film

It’s a common thing for us to read a wonderful book, take a big sigh, and imagine what it would be like to see the book on the big screen. Then we yell and scream and cry when our favorite books end up on the big screen and they ruin everything! (They cut out my favorite scene! She never did that! Why did they add this scene?! They cut out my favorite line! I never pictured him to look like that!)

Beyond the idea that a filmmaker may or may not handle your favorite book with the care you desire, there is also the simple fact that just because the book is good, it doesn’t mean it would make a good movie. In college, I took an Entertainment Marketing class, and we had a project where we had to read a book that had not been adapted to film yet and then market it like we were going to make it into a film. Since this was a group project, we all had to agree upon a book to read, and we picked The Shack, which was on the tail-end of its popularity then. I found the book to just be so-so, but what was worse was that while reading it, I realized it would be a terrible movie! Needless to say, the project ended up being much less fun since I had no idea how to market it!

Not all books would make good movies. Here’s a few young adult books that I just don’t think should be adapted to film.

The Kill Order

The Kill Order is the prequel to The Maze Runner series, which is in the works for adaptation to the big screen. I already feel sketchy about this, as a lot of weird stuff happens in these books and I’m sure it’s going to be a CGI fest for the movies (not to mention the series ends TERRIBLY), but if they adapt the prequel too that will just be the last straw (the last straw to what exactly I am not sure). There’s so much bad things happening, lulls in action, zombie-like people invading, and just general hopelessness. Really, let’s not adapt The Scorch Trials or The Death Cure either. Sigh.

The Book Thief

Unfortunately, this is happening. I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I just don’t think it’s right. Now, if you’ve read my posts for the last couple of weeks, you know I recently read this book and really loved it. So this is nothing against the book itself. But the thing is, half of what makes this book as amazing as it is is the prose. And how can that possibly be translated properly onto the screen? I admit, it’ll probably still be good and interesting to see the story of Liesel and her Papa and Rudy and Max and everyone else, but it won’t have the same resonance without the prose and without Death’s narration, especially the end. (P.S. voice over narration is usually annoying, so this would not be the fix either!)

But Liesel is awfully cute here...

But Liesel is awfully cute here…

The Matched Trilogy

If this series were to be adapted… Well, there is simply not enough action in these books to carry a trilogy of films. And while not all movies require action (for example, every Jane Austen adaptation ever), there ought to at least be a plot that continually moves forward and interesting character development. Man, I did not realize how much bitterness I had towards these books until I started blogging… ha ha. I actually enjoyed reading all of them in the moment at least some of the time, but then when it all ultimately ended it just fell flat. And the series would make for flat movies as well.

What do you think? What books (YA or otherwise) do you think would not make good movies? What book to movie adaptations are you looking forward to? (Personally I’m looking forward to Ender’s Game, Catching Fire, and Divergent.)

My Top 10 Books I Have Read So Far This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013. Well, I’m an extremely lightweight book blogger, so I have read exactly 10 books so far this year (if you don’t count a couple of really short companion e-books). Though this isn’t much for some, this is actually pretty big for me as it means I am on par with my goal of reading at least 20 books this year (though I would love to pick up the pace and read a few more!), which will put me at reading more books this year than I have in a single year since… before high school. So there you have it.

Since I have read only 10 books this year, I thought I would rank each book from least favorite (which thankfully I still didn’t hate) to most favorite, and why I ranked them accordingly.

TTT

10. Reached by Allie Condie (2 Stars)

This book, as the end of a series, was fairly disappointing. The beginning of the book showed potential, with a plague outbreak caused by the Rising, who we had believed were supposed to be the good guys, but then it went downhill. For starters, since this was the first book of this trilogy I had read since reading The Giver, I suddenly realized that the Society in this series was a little too similar to that of The Giver. Also, I thought most of the characters felt out of place. I don’t want to re-review the book; you can see my thoughts on it by clicking on the the book title.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (3 Stars)

I loved the concept of this one… a girl who is cryogenically frozen wakes too early on a spaceship still years from its destination. The execution of it… was just OK for me. It featured a really creepy mating season among humans on the ship, a lackluster romance, but some interesting twists. I plan to finish the series one day as I’ve heard it gets better, but let’s just say I wasn’t rushing to buy the second book after finishing this one.

8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (3 Stars)

The Last Battle turned out to be neither my favorite nor least favorite in The Chronicles of Narnia, with a story that was part boring, part interesting, but wrapped up with a beautiful ending.

7. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (? Stars) 

I still haven’t figured out how to rate Till We Have Faces, because it left me with more questions than answers. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, as I know C.S. Lewis was much smarter than I am, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Still, there was a certain captivating quality to it. Watch for my review to come soon.

7-10

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

This follow-up for Cinder did not do as much for me as the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, but I still found it enjoyable overall. I do love the characters and world Meyer has created, and I am looking forward to Cress!

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4 Stars)

Reading this book was me dipping my toe into science fiction waters. It’s an interesting story about a bright boy who is sent to train for a war when he is far too young, and the secrets kept from him. I enjoyed it overall, but there were parts that were slow and that did not enjoy as much. By the recommendation of a friend, I do plan to read at least one of the follow-up books, Ender’s Shadow. I’m also looking forward to the movie later this year!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

I absolutely adored this first book of The Lunar Chronicles, especially the friendship/blooming relationship between Cinder and Kai. Truly the most swoon-worthy romance (even though it was really a pre-romance) I’ve read this year! The only real reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was because it was just way too predictable. Still, this was a great debut by Meyer!

6-4

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 Stars)

A heartbreaking book filled with beautiful words. I’m not sure what else to say without writing another review.

2. Start by Jon Acuff (5 Stars)

If you’ve been on this blog long enough or read my About Me, you know I have been influenced by author and speaker Jon Acuff, who has this idea that anyone can work towards their dream, but it may not always happen the way you expect it. I can’t really do his words justice, though. But if you’ve had a dream banging around the back of your mind, if you’ve ever wondered what your next step in life should be, if you wake up every morning wishing you could quit your day job, read Quitter and Start. They are five star books for me because if you follow his advice, it’s life-changing. I’m still in the middle of the process of working on my dream, and starting this blog has played a role in that. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (5 Stars)

Unbroken, the true account of a WWII fighter pilot’s life before, during, and after his incarceration at multiple Japanese POW camps is simply a stunning tale. I don’t read much non-fiction, especially long historical books like this one, but it always kept my interest, and Louie’s story never ceased to amaze me. If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one. I would recommend it to EVERYONE.

3-1

What have been your favorite reads this year so far? 

Review: The Book Thief

bookthiefB

Where do I even begin?

First, I am going to steal like Liesel and post the beginning of Goodreads’ user Tamara‘s review of The Book Thief (Is it stealing if I credit her? I mean, I don’t actually want to steal her words and her be mad at me should she ever see this!): “I give this 5 stars, BUT there is a disclaimer: If you want a fast read, this book is not for you. If you only like happy endings this book is not for you. If you don’t like experimental fiction, this book is not for you. If you love to read and if you love to care about the characters you read about and if you love to eat words like they’re ice cream and if you love to have your heart broken and mended on the same page, this book is for you.”

I have to say, if I had read those words before reading the book, I might have been more hesitant to read it. But the choice to read this was actually a whim, based solely on the fact that I found I could borrow it as an e-book from my library without having to wait, so I thought, Why not?

But… Not a fast read? Maybe I’ll read it later when I have more time. Not a happy ending? I definitely don’t want to check that out. Experimental fiction? Well, I don’t know how I feel about that.

But wow, the words… the way Markus Zusak crafts words in this story is truly magical, and as an aspiring writer, that alone makes this book a worthwhile read. But then there are the people inside, whose story is so simple and tragic and believable and you cannot help but root for them.

bookthiefA

I could quote so much of this book, because the book permeates beautiful imagery that you experience with all five senses, but I will let you discover the words yourself when you read them. What you need to know is that the narrator of the book is Death, and despite what you might think, he’s not all bad. In fact, he’s fascinated by colors in the sky and by the spirit of humans who are living and dying. And he is particularly taken by the story of Liesel, a young girl sent to live with a foster family while living in Nazi Germany.

Her brother has died, she has been separated from her mother, she never knew her father, and she feels all alone in the strangers’ house with an empty bed beside her. But she grows to love her new Papa, she makes a best friend named Rudy that the people in town find strange, and she makes it her personal mission to learn to read the book that she stole at her brother’s grave site.

I won’t delve any further into the story, except to say that books, reading, and words all play an important part in Liesel’s life throughout the story. This is what carries her through hard times and what bonds her with certain people. I love when a book focuses so much on words.

I will say, however, that The Book Thief is not a perfect book. I actually found the pacing slow at first, because the story is so simple (and the first chapter or two is confusing I think because of Death’s narrative), but the more you read, the more you care about the people. Also, about halfway through the book Death gives you a major spoiler alert for the end. I guess in a way this was good, to soften the blow as he even says (plus he hates suspense!), and it made it less hard later. Yet, it also made it maybe a little less emotional as well. But don’t get me wrong, I still cried at the end.

And then there’s the language. There’s a lot of it, a lot more than I prefer. I considered knocking off a star for it, but it felt wrong to give this book the same number of stars as other books I did not feel nearly as inspired by, so I give it five stars with that caution of language. There were not any f-bombs, but there was a large amount of “moderate” language.

This book is very stylistic. If you can’t get on board with what the author is doing, you won’t like it. But I hope you give it a chance if you haven’t yet. And while the book is incredibly sad, there is some hope in the epilogue (without it, this may have been a four star review instead). Though it’s small and I wish there was more, it was poignant and was probably just the right amount for proper closure.

Stephen King once said: “There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words–the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.” I believe this book is both good story and good words, a book to treasure.

5stars

Content Advisory

Language: A large amount of moderate language, as mentioned above. You can also read more about it at Rated Reads.

Sexual: None, except a mention of imagining someone naked, but there is no description.

Violence: Mild/moderate. There is death in this book, but it’s not described in too much detail. There is also some other violent incidents, some which are mentioned with some detail, but nothing too graphic.

I know this is a favorite for many. If you’ve read The Book Thief, what were your thoughts?

Round-Up: Suzanne Collins, Justice League?, and Captain Kirk

Suzanne Collins

Good news for Hunger Games fans! Suzanne Collins is going to start writing another young adult series! Hooray! We don’t know what’s is about, but if these characters are as engrossing as those in The Hunger Games, it hardly matters. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what she has to offer us next!

suzanne-collins

Justice League?

Though my favorite superhero is Batman, I have been really enjoying Marvel’s offering of The Avengers and the various movies for their characters. Justice League? Eh, I mean, it might be good, but I hard time imagining that I would like it as The Avengers. But let’s face it, if you attach Christoper Nolan’s name to it, my interest level will increase by 1000%. Many have wondered if Christopher Nolan would be involved with a Justice League movie should one be made, and/or if Zack Snyder (the director for the upcoming Man of Steel movie) would be involved. And all these questions have been answered! OK, not really, but they both did comment on the matter. And they were both nice and vague about it, saying basically, “Mmmm… maybe…” I won’t even know how much I care until I see Man of Steel and see if I enjoy Zack Snyder’s incarnation of Superman (since I’ve never been interested in Superman before). And then there’s the matter of Batman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt please. Or Christian Bale. But no one else would be right, not now, not so soon after The Dark Knight Trilogy. What are your thoughts on a possible Justice League movie?

MAN OF STEELNew Kirks Judged by Old Khans

This is an interesting article that compares Star Trek Into Darkness with original Star Trek films, as well as Abrams’ Kirk with the original. Does J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek betray what Star Trek stands for? Believe it or not, similar questions were asked about the second original Star Trek film over 20 years ago. And how is new Kirk learning lessons versus how old Kirk learned his lessons? If you read the article, let me know your thoughts on it!

kirkx2In other news, I finally finished The Book Thief. It is, without a doubt, the most heart-breaking fiction story I have ever read, but so amazing at the same time. The way it is written is beautiful, and just… wow. I don’t know what else to say. I’ll just save it for the review, which I hope to post later this week. My books from Amazon are supposed to come in later this week (finally… I think their shipping has gotten slower… and one of the books is the aforementioned The Book Thief now that I finished my library e-book of it… oops…), so I’m not quite sure what I am reading next yet until then.

Any book or movie news/points of interest been on your radar lately?