Fucked Up YA Adaptions: Beautiful Creatures

Unlike most of the films I view, I haven’t actually read Beautiful Creatures.

I’m actually surprised it’s sort of got past my radar. Especially after I watched the movie, because something that God awful my curiosity streak would be like MJ totally check it out at the library.

Yeah…don’t plan on doing it anytime any soon.

Unless the book is a dramatic improvement from the movie.  Because God…dear lord.

This film makes City of Bones look like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Vampire Academy look like it should be Oscar nominated worthy.  And it even makes me long for the days of the cringe worthiness of The Princess Diaries 2 and Avalon High just because it would keep me awake.

Oh, yes.  Beautiful Creatures made me want to go asleep the same way Twilight did.  But  The Twilight Saga is an overall better film franchise (not that this one will ever get a sequel).

So, what went wrong besides the use of Twilight boring cinematography and a script that look like it was written by Maleficent?

Lots of things.

I think what really bothered me, before we continue this discussion any further.  Is the fake Southern accents.

I like in Texas.  While it’s not a full forced Southern drawl here, I can still tell what a real deep South accent sound like and most of the cast does not have it.  Unless they want to be an extra from the Sweet Evil trailer.

 

Also, other Southern stereotypes really had the eyes a rolling.

Just because someone lives South of the Mason Dixon line does not mean they are backwards.

However, try telling this movie otherwise.

The actors were pretty bland.  While there were some famous faces peaking through as supporting roles, the leads though were just, well, boring.  I couldn’t connect with these characters.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I guess the best way to describe Beautiful Creatures is Twilight with the gender roles flipped.  And oh, witches and magic are involved instead of vampires (hence, the Maleficent reference).

Or at least that’s what I got out of the movie.

Of course, there were subplots that I didn’t really pay attention to.  Because this was one of those movies, you just couldn’t pay attention to.

Which is sad, because from what I got I think the subplot could’ve been the most interesting part.  Besides, all the historical inaccurate Civil War flashbacks that looked like they came right out of of Eclipse (well, hello Major Whitlock).

Honestly, from what I saw the movie really felt phone in.  It was like all you need to sale a YA movie is starcrossed love.  Some lame magic.  And two teenagers that are relatively attractive.  Get some big names to make some cameos and instant success.

It didn’t work though.

Honestly, when Beautiful Creatures first came off I had to run a GoodReads search to remind myself just what book this was.  Maybe if I read the series, I would’ve felt some more engagement to it.  But just as a movie, it didn’t work.

This is actually a shorter review than I usually give, but I really don’t have a whole lot to say about this movie.  Save for the horrendous accents, there’s nothing remotely interesting about it.  Or really anything to talk about. Just Boring.

Overall Rating: Snore. D. Look, it didn’t offend me or anything but it didn’t interest me as well.  Paying attention to this one was more difficult than it should be.

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Fucked Up YA Adaptions: What Makes a Successful Versus a Flop YA Adaption

I’ve watched several YA adaptions and I’m now sort of seeing a pattern in what makes a successful transition in media versus a flop.  So, today I thought that I’d discuss what sticks out to me with the more successful adaptions versus (well, the flops):

1) Choose the Right Medium:

This is where I think a lot of poorly received adaptations failed. Let’s face it, some books are better off as TV shows than movies and vice versa.

Two particular adaptions stuck out for me in this category, those being Vampire Academy and City of Bones.  Both of these books had multi book series and spinoffs built off of them.  Trying to condense that into ninety minute segments for multiple times might not be the way to go.  Sure, there are some large series (Harry Potter) that were successful movie wise.  But really besides Potter, most of the successful adaptions have been smaller series.  Trilogies.  Four book series.

So, what’s the deal?

Larger series are harder to fund for one reason.  Keeping the cast is more difficult.  And staying true to the original script is even more difficult.

A TV medium would allow more flexibility and while it wouldn’t be an exact derivative of the series, it would allow such an adaption to do more with the series.  While the special effects might be cheaper, more could be done.

And it has been done.  The CW has taken a lot of long going series and turned them into big market shows such as The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl.  Lifetime has adapted Melissa de la Cruz’s adult witchy spinoff of the Blue Bloods universe into a show of its own as well.  While there have been certain changes made from the original series (Witches of East End), the TV show format seems to be a better fit for the universe because it allows this growth.  Movies can limit a series since their suppose to be more compact.

Likewise, some YA TV adaptations or attempts at TV adaptations might be better off as a movie.  Remember, The Selection?  Oh, you wouldn’t since it never got past the pilot stage (twice).  And the thing is, had they tried to adapt this as a movie instead of a TV show I actually think it might’ve succeeded.  Because the plot and the world seemed to be more contained to a movie than a TV show.

Really, how many seasons can America whine over Maxon versus Aspen?

Definitely not eight.  I don’t even think I could watch one season.

2) Looks Matter:

Sometimes these adaptations are just hideous to look at.  Everything just seems off.

Yes, but everyone’s imagination different and it’s not like you’re going to find an entire cast  of how you imagine the characters.

Yeah, but sometimes the shallowness goes beyond having Edward Cullen played by Henry Cavill’s hotter younger brother. Sometimes the movie or TV show just looks off.

In paranormal YAs this is often seen with poor CGI.  I can still remember the first time those wolves came out in New Moon all the fangirls in the theater glared at how much laughing I did.

And Vampire Academy, don’t een get me started at how wrong everything looked.

When your love interest immediately makes you think Professor Snape, you know there’s something wrong there.

But can looks really make up for an otherwise poorly cast movie?

Well, yeah.

Look at Twilight.

Robert Pattinson is not how Edward Cullen is described in the books (Meyer explicitly stated  that she imagined Henry Cavill at one point), but the styling made all the difference.  Well, it made him stomach-able enough where every fangirl had a crush on him that they could ignore the fact he didn’t look like Superman.

Same goes with The Princess Diaries.  While Mia didn’t look like Ann Hathaway, Hathaway was styled to look enough like Mia where I could give her a pass.

However, when styling goes wrong.  Forget it.

In addition to Dimitri’s awful Snape hair, other YA adaptations have been marred from poor visual cues.  In Beastly, Alex Pettyfer’s transformation to horrible looking beast never resonated  on me.  Because he didn’t look bad.  Just more like a bald guy with some facial scars with tats.  And honestly if I wanted to find a guy like that I’d just turn on TLC or go to my local Valero station.

3) Source Material

Yep, this one matters.  As many changes as you can make, you’re not going to be able to do a complete do over with the source material you buy.  Unless, of course, you don’t even attempt to do an actual adaptation and this has been done-see Lifetime’s adaptation of Meg Cabot’s 1800 Where R U.

However, if you try to follow the source material-at least where it’s recognizable-if the source material is bad the movie’s probably not going to be great.  Breaking Dawn  is a prime example of it.  The first half is almost unwatchable because of the horridness of the plot, and even though drastic changes were made to the second half it’s tolerable at best.

Even if the source material is arguably decent, if the book is followed too closely it can often hinder an adaptation.  City of Bones is a prime example of this.  While parts of the movie diverge greatly from the movie, there were scenes that were so faithful to the book it hindered them.

Yeah, I’m talking about that infamous falcon scene.

Knowing when to diverge from the book is important.  When done correctly it can make the film a success.  The first Princess Diaries film is a perfect example.  While that movie differed greatly from the source material, the changes that were made weren’t extreme enough to change the spirit of the story and made sense.

I mean, does anyone really think Mary Poppins could play a psycho grandma?

Though I do hate the fact they killed the dad character.  He was awesome. Just saying.

Concluding Thoughts:

Obviously, these are not the only factors that make or break a successful adaptation.  But I do think they are important to consider.

So, what do you think?  Is there anything that you notice that makes a movie or TV show version of a book better or worse from other adaptations?

Fucked Up YA Adaptions: Vampire Academy

It’s been awhile since I reviewed a YA adaption.

Well, I watched Vampire Academy this weekend-I had a sinus infection and was on a wide array of antibiotics and steroids.  I think that’s what made the movie actually tolerable.  That and I went in with low expectations.

Yes, I’ve seen a lot of hate for this film.

And I  totally get it.

But it’s honestly not the worst YA adaption I’ve ever seen.

That still goes to The Princess Diaries 2  (oh, how I loathe that movie).

And while I think about it, Ella Enchanted was pretty shitty too.  But, Vampire Academy  has a breed of foul all to itself.

It doesn’t know what it wants to be.  Half of the time its trying to be a bad copy of Mean Girls.  Half of the time it’s channeling its inner Harry Potter.  And then swirl in a little Twilight in there and you get this mess.

When your movie can’t decide what it wants to be, how can your audience watch it?

It also doesn’t help that there were a lot of styling and bad action sequences and CGI to boot.

I think one of the biggest issues though was the casting.

Why are you making poor Dimitri look like Professor Snape, stylist?  You know, I’m already weary enough with that relationship.  But throw in the Snape hair and I have some flashbacks to some rather dicey Hermione/Snape fanfics I accidentally read.

Well, you do get a nice hair flip with the Snape.

And they were quite bad by the way.  Not Snarry or Snaco bad.  But bad.

Look, I get that Dimitri is older than Rose in the books, fully accept that.  But in the movie he seems a lot older than her than he does on paper.  At least on paper, I have leeway.  But in the movie, I just can’t accept it.  There was one scene I was just wanting to hit the panic button and get Sexual Harassment Panda all up their ass. I blame the Snape hair.

I did like the Lissa and Christian relationship though.  Though Lissa’s accent drove me crazy.  Who did she think she was, a reject of The City of Bones movie?

The accents in this movie were hilarious.  Just like the movie itself, it seems like it just doesn’t exactly know what it wants to be.

The writing was more or less in the vein of Mean Girls which for the most part worked.  Oh, sure the series doesn’t have that tone.  But I sort of like some of the quips that were in there.  That being said though, a lot of times it just didn’t work.

Why?

Because for one rather lame dance scene, the setting and everything else about the movie didn’t scream Mean Girls.

Still though, when you’re on a heavy dosage of antibiotics and steroids and the rooms spinning around and you smell like Vicks, it’s not that bad.

Not that great either.

In fact, it felt rather fragmented to be honest.

And that I blame on the rather lame special effects that they used all their budget on.

I got to tell you that opening action sequence with Rose and Dimitri.

 

That was pretty much how I reacted to every special effect thing they tried to do with this one.

I think the thing that probably was the most upsetting to me (and to a lot of people) about this movie is that this should’ve been the one.  Vampire Academy is a pretty good book.  And I enjoyed it’s sequel.  I finally actually have bit the bullet and just bought the rest of the series so that I can do a binge read on it, sooner than later.  But the movie just doesn’t do it justice.  It almost belittles it.

Odd as that sounds.

I mean, shouldn’t a movie adaption promote it’s source material.  But in this case, it doesn’t.

I don’t know, if you’re a die hard Vampire Academy fan you might want to give it a try just so that you did, but personally it just sort of leaves a weird aftertaste on my view on what otherwise has been a rather enjoyable series.

Overall Grade: C-

DID for Aliens: The Host

Yes, I know it’s technically not YA.  When it was published it was considered adult, but probably now it might be considered New Adult.  Well, maybe.  I could probably spend a whole blog entry on talking about what to classify this book as, but since many Twilight Saga fans read this book and saw this movie I think it’s fair to review it.

To be fair, I actually enjoyed the book version of this film more than I did the Twilight Saga.  It wasn’t the greatest book ever, but unlike Twilight, I thought there were lots of issues that if Meyer wanted to spend her time on could’ve made for a compelling story.  And I thought about that during the film version as well, especially during the ending.  Only,  these issues are swept aside for the romance.

And as you probably already know already, I am a fan of romance, so I really shouldn’t have a problem, right?

Well, I wouldn’t if the movie wasn’t trying to present itself as being something more.

Or at least it was stylized as such.  To be honest though, the movie didn’t really focus anymore on the issues than the book did.  And the romance….well, it wasn’t even that much a part of the movie even though the guys they casted were nice to look at. The romance and chemistry itself bland as hell.

Even this fantasy sequence was much more romantic than anything in The Host. And it’s a fantasy sequence.  Though it does have Benedict Cumberbatch in it, so that explains a lot.

Instead, this movie was a hodgepodge of poor decisions.  That when it’s all put together it’s just a fucking mess.

I dare say, in some ways it might be worse than City of Bones.  Though to be honest, a lot of the problems that The Host has are similar to those in City of Bones.  In City of Bones, I believe that a lot of its problems were purposely caused in this film not so much…which is what gives it a slightly better rating from me.  Slightly being the objective word, because even though I felt sympathy for the people behind this movie, I still can’t help say that this movie sucks.

The movie was soooo boring.  Once again, not so much the film makers fault since they were using the book.  And since this is a Stephenie Meyer book, it’s really hard for them to veer off that much without the fan girl’s going ape shit crazy.  That being said, something had to be done with the source material.  Either develop the romance further or explore the issues that the book has that Meyer farted over. Did they do this though…nope.

Must have been watching this movie.

Even the exciting parts of the book were just sort of, well, rushed in the film version.

I always knew that The Host wasn’t a perfect book.  I knew that there were plot holes.  Lots and lots of plot holes.  But in a book you can sort of glance over them. Not so much in a movie.  Especially if said viewer is an Ancient Aliens aficionado and wonders why  such an advance civilization uses human technology to seek out a fellow alien.

Seriously, where was the cool alien technology?  The only thing that signaled these guys were aliens is they all had John Stamos eyes, wore white, and drove fancy sports cars.  And that is something you don’t want to wear or look like when you go undercover.

Not that John Stamos colored eyes are a bad thing, they’re just not inconspicuous.

See conspicuous

I suppose the white outfits and fancy cars were also used to give this setting a futuristic vibe.  Again, this has me laughing.  Maybe it’s because I’ve done some research on the history of fashion, but plain colored clothing was generally worn by the lower class.  I find it difficult to believe that the higher class in the future would be wearing clothes that once were worn only by peasants and for that matter, that  such an advance society would still be driving cars powered by fossil fuels.  But hey…

It makes Nicholas Cage’s girlfriend from National Treasure look bad ass.

Seriously, I think that’s what they thought on a lot of these choices.

As for Diana Krueger’s performance of The Seeker.  No.  Just no.

Horrible choice in casting and while I like Diana Krueger and think she can act, this is not the part for her.  She can’t do menacing.  Or at least bureaucratic menacing.  It probably didn’t help her so called bad assery being limited to her sitting in a helicopter trying to find Wanderer in the desert.

Hasn’t anyone heard of GPS trackers?

Paging Michael Westen for backup here.

Another offensive eyesore that this book had was Melanie’s accent.  I’m from Texas and have been to Louisiana several times, my sister works there.  People from both states do not talk like that.  The only person I have heard who remotely speaks that way is Macy from Teen Mom and that’s a stretch since her Tennessee (not Texas, not Louisiana) accent is not as thick as Melanie’s.  Honestly, Melanie’s accent bordered on offensive the way Dick Van Dyke’s accent was offensive to many in Mary Poppins.

And I’m pretty sure the only reason she even had the damn thing was to differentiate between the two characters.  I mean, I’ve seen DID stories on soap operas before that’s what they do too. However, using a different accent is really a cheap trick other tricks could’ve been used-slight change in word choices, mannerisms, how Wanderer dresses could’ve been used to show the difference.  Also, I have to mention this, once Melanie gets ahold of her body again her accent apparently goes away.

Oh, and if the accent isn’t offensive enough to fellow Southerners we get to see Melanie’s uncle who looks like he came out of a Western.

Okay, film producers, being a life long resident of Texas I can tell you that people usually don’t dress like John Wayne unless: A) They’re a John Wayne impersonator, B) The rodeo is going on and it’s Go Texan day, or C) they work at a dude ranch.  Uncle Jeb didn’t do any of those things.  Instead, he manage to create things that I’m not even going to touch on because it would give me a headache trying to talk about how many laws of physics are being broke.  It’s at times like these that I seriously think I need to invest in a Sheldon Cooper coblogger.

Anyway, my overall thoughts on this fuck up is sadness.  I think they really tried, but in the end it failed from basic mistakes.  Perhaps they thought they were safe because they had The Twilight Saga’s coattails to ride on, but in the end it just didn’t work. Overall rating D- (hey it doesn’t get the full blown F because there was some effort).

Fucked Up YA Adaptions: City of Bones

Here’s a link to my actual review of this movie.  Because of my new miniseries “Fucked Up YA Movies” and a poll I put up, I decided to rewatch this movie.  I’m not going to write an actual review again because that would be monotonous, but I am going to take a critical look at the movie and point out some of the major faux pas that killed it and other YA adaptions:

1)  Poor Direction: Without a doubt, that’s what I really noticed about this film the second go around.  And I notice that this is an important factor in any YA adaption.  The director affects the mood of the movie.  You can see this very prominently in the Harry Potter films.  While the director that the film studio hired has done some decent films, I just don’t agree with his vision for City of Bones.  It was almost as if he wanted to do a throwback to the 80’s.  Which is fine, but City of Bones is not the film to do this with.  If you want to throwback anything, throwback Harry Potter.  That’s how Clare made her killing.

 

Hermione trying to get the two hours of her life back.

2) Author Control: The amount of control Cassandra Clare has is debatable, based on what you read from Clare’s blog before and after the film aired.  Regardless, of what version you believe, I think having too much or too little control in a book vs movie adaption makes a horrible movie.  While it is true authors know their world inside and out, they don’t know film making.  I think having a balance between director and author control is essential.  While I do think an author should have some insight in the casting, I don’t think they should say be there for the casting.  Perhaps someone who might look the part might not act the part, and while a casting director might recognize this an author who has ideas of her characters based on numerous fan art posted on her Tumblr probably won’t.

3) Use of Special Effects: I read somewhere that the director wanted to use old school effects and this actually made me excited.  I hate some of the newer CGI stuff, see the wolves in the Twilight movies.  But, and this is a big but, they didn’t utilize what made old school effects great.  Instead, the special effects that were given were down right cheesy.  Case in point: the big kissing scene.  Those effects just added cheese onto more cheese.  It’s a kissing scene.  A kiss is supposed to be magical on its own accord.  Having to use some cheap lighting, a rain machine, a fake bird, and some flowers that suddenly bloom when the two characters exchange saliva is just pushing it.

Even K Stew’s right hook look more realistic.

4) Miscast: Let’s face it, this film was seriously miscast.  Especially when it comes to Jace.  I don’t have anything against Jaime Campbell Bower, but he is not leading man material for a teeny bopper flick.  That’s not a bad thing.  He does have an interesting face.  A very interesting face where he could be very successful at doing films that actually have value.  But to be a teenage item of lust, not so much.  Though that’s what they try to push him as in this movie.  Also, I just really couldn’t see him and Collins as a couple which is sad because they were dating in real life. To be fair to him though, he made the best out of the script he was given.  But dude, get some shampoo on that head of yours, pronto. Interestingly enough, miscasting seems to be called out every time a YA adaption is made.  However, I don’t think it happens that much.  Sure, Robert Pattinson might not look like Henry Cavill (Meyer’s ideal Edward),but he was able to embody the part and the studio helped enough by styling him as Edward and giving him something to work with.  Poor Jamie though, he never had a chance.

5) The Score: Oh.  Dear. Lord.   I don’t think people often realize the importance of the score.  It really can make or break a movie.  Especially when you take the score and use it at inappropriate times.  The music is supposed to compliment the movie not overwhelm it like in the case of City of Bones.  Often I feel like music is used to hide the flaws in these movie.  Once again, I’m going to refer back to The Princess Diaries 2 and its five thousand montages.

Time for another song.

6) Sour Script: To be fair they didn’t have much to work with.  But some of the dialogue was so unnecessary and just bogged down the movie I wanted to get a red pen out and start marking things off the script.  It’s actually a problem you see in lots of YA movies, but other movies are able to hide their atrocious

7) It shouldn’t have been adapted in the first place:  I really believe that the Shadowhunter series never should’ve been a movie in the first place.  Just like I believe that there are many YA series out there that should not mean that all of them should be adapted into a movie.  This is one of those series that I think has way too much going on where it couldn’t be a decent adaption,unless major alterations were done.  It probably also doesn’t help the series that it is essentially a watered down version of Harry Potter+Twilight.  Even people who were unaware of Clare’s fandom past, commented on how the series tried t ride the coattails of other popular YA series.  People go to the movies to watch something new, watching a poor cardboard copy of something that’s already been released and sadly that’s what The City of Bones is.