Book vs Movie: City of Bones

Honestly, I probably won’t be talking about the book much.  Only that it’s better.  I know, weird considering its very cliche and has some horrible one liners and Clary is the worst version of Batman ever (even George Clooney and the bat credit card beat her).  This review will mostly be talking about what might be Cassandra Clare’s swan song in the movie universe.

Because God this is a stinker.  It’s worthy of being reviewed by the likes of the Nostalgia Critic in a few years it’s that bad.

And I really do feel for the actors.  Because there are a few good actors here.  Lily Collins isn’t horrible.  She made Clary at least more likable than Bella here.  It’s not that the Clary character was really great, but Collins limited the dumb assery of Clare’s Mary Sue.  And I thought her parents weren’t that bad either.  Though, Valentine’s role was performed with little gusto but given the actor’s past work I can’t blame him for not putting any heart in it here. The script sucked ass.  And Isabelle was good.  I actually liked her better here than in the book.

Usually when I watch movies, I watch them as an escape.  I like bad movies.  In fact, I love bad movies.  But movies like this just give me a headache because if I hadn’t read the book I would’ve been wondering WTF was going on.

And for that matter, I was still wondering what the deal was with the climax and I read the book less than a week ago.  It’s like they were trying to make the movie more complex than the book which a cardinal sin in adapting books to movies, at least in my opinion.

I’ll admit it, making a decent adaption is difficult you have to factor in lots of different factors but this one flopped big time and I think it’s in part because it tried to follow too closely to the book.

Despite what she may claim now, there is evidence that Clare played a large role in the making on the film.  She helped with casting.  With props.  With even the occasional line or two.  Which is fine.  I get why her input was needed.  But Cassandra Clare is not a film maker.  And I feel like the filmmakers relied too much on her.

And seriously, seriously, why out of all the scenes to leave in the movie do they decide to leave in that stupid falcon scene.  That was directly ripped off of Clare’s Draco Trilogy.  Stupid much?  I mean, with the amount of controversy that went on with that fan fic and the fact she borrowed it for her original fiction was bad enough.  But to put that scene in the movie it’s essentially an f you to anyone who witnessed plagiarism gate.  And is it really necessary to say I won five billion times?  And to include Draco Jace in leather pants?

We get it Clare, you’re the EL James of the Harry Potter world.

Rolls eyes.

It still doesn’t help the fact that this movie sucked.

The changes that they did make to the story just don’t make sense.  For example, the climax.  It goes on forever and ever and ever…At one point, right before we reach the epilogue I was like this would be a good ending spot.  Actually I thought that several times throughout the entire climax.  But they just kept continuing.

And that ending…Uh, eighty-five percent of the audience doesn’t know that Jace and Clary aren’t exactly brother and sister.  Um, having that quasi romantic moment between them at the end is more than a little gross.  Couldn’t you know, make it a little less obvious they’re in to each other?

Just saying.

The special effects were horrible again. I get that they didn’t want to rely a lot on CGI but this is worse than some of the things I’ve seen in the 80’s.  The old Indiana Jones movies effects look state of the art compared to this crap.  And this movie had a sixty million dollar budget.

Most of it, I’m sure, went to recreating Hogwarts but putting it in America (Side note, I thought about going to the theater dressed as Hermione Granger but then I realized no one would get the joke and just went in my college t and shorts instead).

You just don’t put Hogwarts in America.  It doesn’t work.  And how can you explain how the Institute which expands in size fits in a compact city such as NYC.

Oh, and as for NYC you feel no soul to the city at all.  They couldn’t even use any stock footage, save for the Brooklyn Bridge.  New York in itself is a character.  It might’ve been cool, you know, having a random demon attack near Times Square or something for exposition.  But nope.

As I said before the performances were a mix bag, while I liked Collins portrayal of Lilly, Bower never sold me on Jace.  He isn’t Jace.  He’s never going to be Jace.  And it’s not because I don’t find him to be that appealing to look at-seriously, dude, the 90’s are over by some L’Oriel already and clean that greasy mop of yours-its just that I don’t think he embodied the character or is that great of a romantic lead.  Yes, he’s saying the lines and sometimes they are somewhat successful, but for the most part…he’s just not doing it.  And I really think he did try.  I just think he was miscast.

As for Simon, the guy delivered okay.  I just felt like the character was unnecessary man candy that was just there for his abs to get stared at.  And I did stare at them.  The character, himself, is dressed like a young shorter Jeff Goldblum and acts like a hot version of Duckie.  Its a very weird combination.  And they completely ignore the rat thing (he’s just kidnapped and his shirt is taken off and he’s chained up so you get this weird BDSM allusion which is sort of creepy if you think about it since this is supposed to be advertised towards a younger audience).  And I think that’s ridiculous because him turning into a rat was one of the best parts of the first book-then again they might’ve cut that part out because it’s very Harry Potter-ish just like the flying motorbike (we do get a motorbike though, non-flying).

I think my biggest problem with the acting was with Magnus.  While he looked in character his acting was just horrible.  I’ve heard rumors that the voice was dubbed over and if that’s the case that might explain what the deal was.  But seriously…this is not how the most badass character in this lame series should be acting.  Though I’ll admit the short shorts and the smoking jacket were nice to look at.  And I liked the eyeliner.

There were other problems I had besides the acting and the story.  Most notably the cinematography.  Stop with the shaky cam already and that shot that makes all the characters distorted like they’re at a fun house.  It gave me such a migraine I’ve thrown up since I’ve gotten home.

And what the fuck with Bach?

Seriously.  I guess this is more of a plot point but I’m using it to transition to my bitch fit about the music.  Have you done any research on JS Bach?  That’s like PC and Kristin Cast claiming that every celebrity was a vampyre.  Oh dear lord…House of Night movie.  Now these people who handled this film could so handle that one it would be even…

Okay, back to the music.  I’m a bit of a score snot.  Maybe it’s because I grew up with a house full of musicians and had to buy every John Williams soundtrack ever made back when I was in high school, but I love movie music.  And I’m sort of snot about it.  Music can affect the story, the film’s tone.  Really everything about it.  Here the music seemed disjointed. Ominous pieces were used when the actual scene was hardly ominous and I just felt like overall it just didn’t work.

However, as awful as this movie was a sequel has been planned and shitty merchandise is already on its way to be produced.  Based on what I saw, they shouldn’t have been betting on a sequel.  However, at this point they might not have any choice to continue but if Clare wants her cash cow to keep milking the next movie is going to have to be a heck of a lot better.

There weren’t many people in the theater that I went to, but there was some interesting commentary.  An elderly gentleman told his wife as he was leaving the theater that City of Bones was the worst movie he’s ever seen. And that my friends that made me smile.  Of course then a fan girl went off about how hot she found Jace and Clary even after they were siblings and…

I think you can figure out what I was doing at this point.

At least I got to see the Thor trailer and Loki was in it.

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Book vs Movie: True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet

A few years ago I had the privilege reading Lola Douglas’s True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet.  The book was cute.  Not that memorable.  I mean, there are a ton of books that deal with fallen celebrities out there but I really liked the concept and Douglas’s voice.  It’s a shame that this series never got a third book because I am interested on what was to happen.  So imagine to my excitement in 2008 when I hear that there’s going to be a movie.  Of course I had to DVR it.  And at the time I was a little meh to it.  It didn’t destroy the book, but at the same time it was blatantly a Lifetime movie.

First Glance: It wasn’t terrible.  I mean, there were a lot of changes made and it had a lot of Lifetime cheesiness and melodrama injected in it but it was still enjoyable enough.  I guess.  And I did like JoJo’s portrayal of Morgan.  I thought she did a great job.  But I was glad when the movie was over when it was.  I had, had enough Lifetime cheese.  But I still remember liking it…enough.

What Lifetime is full of.

Upon Second Viewing: Like with Avalon High I liked the movie less upon second viewing.  It wasn’t that it was a truly horrific experience, per say, it was just that the cheese was a lot more noticeable than it was before.  And the movie, even though it’s only four years old, seemed sort of dated.

Like tie-die some of the references used in the movie want you to face palm at how out of date they are.

There were some good things about the movie though which I’d like to discuss first before I get into all the flaws it had.  The first thing I’d like to say is that I thought the acting wasn’t that bad.  I’ll go into that more later in the review, but the lead actors  did a nice job, save for the love interest.  I also thought Lifetime kept true to the overall story fairly well.  It wasn’t as butchered as Avalon High, though it was missing some of the essential plot twists.  There were also a couple of good one liners thrown in there as well.That being said though, the movie was extremely flawed.  The main thing was that it was severally Lifetime-ized.  I discuss this a lot throughout my review.  But right now, I’ll give you an essential definition of what Lifetime-ized means to me.  It means making everything as cliche as possible with enough melodrama and cheese to make you actually like watching the Will and Grace reruns that come on after the show.




Yeah, it’s that bad. The book itself already bordered on cliche.  Thankfully, the author though was successful in presenting the book in a matter where you didn’t find the predictable plot groan inducing.  So, it could’ve easily been done.  Did Lifetime go this route though…. Hells to the no.  They went as cliche as they could’ve  possibly gone. I guess in their defense though 2008 was at the height of Hollywood meltdowns.  A couple years before Britney had shaved her head and was having issues that was getting her on the cover of People every week and Lindsay Lohan was always having a BAC that was above the legal level.  So, maybe Lifetime just wanted to generalize Morgan as much as they could so that she could be any of those girls.

I get it.  But at the same time by doing this, Morgan lost a huge amount of her character development.  The same goes with the love story that took place in the movie. In the book, the love story is a gradual thing.  And Eli isn’t this guy that everyone wants to date.  Okay, he is cute and there are girls that want him but he’s not like prom king material.  Here though, I don’t know what Lifetime was thinking when they casted this guy but we’re talking about a guy who’s so forgettable I forgot how he looked before I watched the movie.  He didn’t do a bad job, per say but as far as Lifetime hotties go he’s no Dean Cain.
 

Besides, simplifying two aspects of the book there were many Lifetime inserts that just made you want to groan.  What is a Lifetime insert……well, an example of a Lifetime insert would be an irrelevant subplot that is only put into the movie to interest fans of say Valerie Bertenelli.  Not that I don’t like Valerie.  I really do.  Hot in Cleveland has it’s moments, I just don’t like the way Lifetime used her.

 

The Casting: So.  So.  While I did like JoJo as the lead, I had issues with most of the other casting.  Valerie Bertinelli’s role especially.  This is probably my biggest complaint about any Lifetime movie the introduction of the hip, wise, parental figure.  You know, Lifetime just because someone is above the age of twenty-five  doesn’t mean they’re not cool and doesn’t mean we as audience members need to be told that they’re cool because they’re not cool every five minutes.  Seriously, what’s wrong writing a character naturally?  The same goes with the love interest in the story as well.  Lifetime is notorious for making the romance just as cheesy as the drama is melodramatic.  The relationship between Eli and Morgan doesn’t work here.  Rather, it seems forced.

 

The Acting: JoJo’s acting was really great and for what Valerie Bertenelli had I thought she did a relatively good job (even though I hated her character).  The supporting roles…meh.  Especially when it comes to the love interest.  The chemistry between these two characters was ridiculously lacking.  I sort of wish they cut the whole love story plot out if they were going to go this route. The Story: The story is your classic riches to rags tale.  And yeah, I know it’s predictable.  But predictable can be enjoyable.  Lifetime’s adaption, however, is very face palm worthy. The cringe moments in this are amplified.  While there were a few groan inducing parts in the book, I liked it a lot.  However, it seemed like the movie version took these groan worthy parts and amplified them.  One thing that surprised me, especially for Lifetime, was that they took the whole rape subplot out.  This was a big plot point in the book that I thought Lifetime would include because they like melodrama.  But upon reflection, I think they took it out to emphasize that fame is bad and will make you a drunk (Nice, Lifetime.  Really nice).

Writing:  There were the occasional good one liners, but honestly this movie excluded a lot of cheese and of course there’s the big Lifetime moral compass that underlays the book that we see so often in these sorts of movies.  Yes, I get teen drinking is bad.  Yes, I get addiction is horrible and that all these celebrity teens getting drunk is bad for young girls who idolize these stars, but it doesn’t have to be thrown in my face.  In the book, Morgan is a snarky character.  Her addiction is an issue, but it’s not what the book is about.  It’s more of a riches to rags tale.  And I also have to say this, after being in law school for two years I think my whole outlook on this book/movie is more cynical. As ridiculously unrealistic as this book was before it’s even more ridiculous now especially considering that most celebrities like Morgan are emancipated by this point so all the tough love crap that’s thrown out in this movie would be moot.

Overall Rating: I liked this movie a lot less than the book (go figure).  But as far as made for TV movies go, especially made for TV Lifetime movies,  it’s about average.  So I’m giving it five out of ten stars.

Book vs Movie: Avalon High

One of my favorite books is Meg Cabot’s Avalon High.  I think if anything because it combines two things I love 1) Meg Cabot and 2) The Arthurian legend.

I know weird combination, right?

The Arthurian legend, admittedly is pretty depressing.  Meg Cabot books not so much.  However,  the two of them combined sort of works.  The book itself is not a retelling of the Arthurian legend (thank God), but rather it uses the Arthur mythos to help accelerate various aspects of the plot.  I also have to give kudos to Cabot for using aspects of the Arthur legend that aren’t normally used in retelling (a.k.a. The Lady of the Lake).  Overall, it’s one of my favorite Meg Cabot books of all time.

The book itself has three manga sequels which I honestly do not care for.  I thought the story itself was weak and the artwork was subpar.  However, the manga sequel in hindsight was a lot better than that the crappy Disney movie I’m about to review.

First Glance: The first time I watched this film, I was excited.  I had set it to record on the DVR as a treat for myself to watch after I finished writing my memo for LRW I.    So needless to say, I was overly exhausted when I watched it for the first time and a lot of the crap that I’ll later mention got by me.  But it still wasn’t my favorite.   I understood that a lot of things change from book to movie, but there were two things that really made me dislike the movie: Miles and the ending. Let’s talk about Miles first.  He’s the self insert character for Merlin.  In the book the Merlin reincarnation is this cool, quirky English teacher.  A character I actually liked and wanted to see in the movie adaption.  He really did remind me of Merlin.  This Miles insert character not so much.  He’s as cliche as you get for the high school nerd that becomes the MC’s b.f.f.  And you know what, while I usually like nerds I didn’t like Miles.  He thinks rather highly of himself throughout the film and it doesn’t help matters that Disney totally made him a Gary Stu (i.e. he has these super psychic visions).

However as bad as Miles is, he’s definitely more tolerable than that ending Disney decided to give the audience.  Disney states the ending was changed to give the movie more of a female empowerment edge.  And you know what I say, bull shit.

My sentiments exactly, good queen Bess.

The ending itself doesn’t make sense on several levels.  I won’t go into spoiler specifics here but that little twist ruined an entire subplot of the movie and book.  Plus, honestly it just doesn’t make sense.  While the twist that the book had did.  Cabot’s use of the lady of the lake was brilliant.  Simply brilliant.   I guess some people could say that the Mouse dumbed down the book so that it’s targeted age group  could watch it, but I disagree.  I think most kids this age aren’t as stupid as Disney seems to think they are.  A little exposition on who the Lady of the Lake is would be all that is needed.

Note, this image was found on Wikipedia.  I’m sure curious viewers of the movie could easily Wiki Lady of the Lake if they really were that confused.

Upon Second Viewing: In preparation of writing this post I watched the again so I could give it a more proper analysis and review some more of it’s technical elements.

The Casting:  I seriously think the Disney Channel casting agents just looked at who they had on contract and went from there.  No joke. None of them fit.  Not even Britt Robertson, who I think is a fairly decent actress but not Elle.  And let’s not even get started with Greg Sulkin…..

The Acting: Horrible.  Just horrible.  Okay, Britt Robertson does a fairly decent job as Elle Allie, but the rest of the cast with the exception of Jen sucked.  For example, Elle’s (I refuse to call her Allie, even though that’s what Disney changed her name to) parents were over the top.  And did not come off as parents at all.  Then there’s Miles a character that is suppose to be the funny nerd that everyone loves, well he came off as pompous and condescending to me.  And while a lot of that was the writing, the actors mannerisms were off as well.  Then there is Greg Sulkin’s performance as Will.  Poor, poor, Greg.    I feel bad that he even got casted in this movie, but that still doesn’t excuse his British accent from slipping several times throughout the movie.

 

Story:  I would say that the movie kept true to the book about fifty percent of the time.  The bare bone story is there, but as previously stated there have been some major changes.  And these changes are what robs the story of it’s moments of brilliance.  I’m going to be honest here, if Meg Cabot wasn’t such a skilled writer, then Avalon High would’ve been a cliched Arthur retelling like…well, the movie.

Writing: Piss poor.  The dialogue itself often felt fake.  I at first blamed the actors, but after a second viewing I noticed just how bad the writing really was and it just made the relationships and consequently everything else in the movie fail.  I really wish they would’ve bought Meg Cabot or her screen writing counterpart, Amy Sherman Palladino, to write the script.
 

Overall Rating: Three out of ten.  I think if you’re a Cabot fan and for that matter a Cabot fan who really likes Avalon High, you’re going to have some issues with this movie.  I get that movies differ tremendously from books, but I think this adaption took too many liberties.  Then again, some fans I’ve talked to really like the movie.  I guess it depends on how critical you are.