Paper Towns - the book vs the movie

Way back in April 2014, I read and reviewed John Green's Paper Towns. As soon as the movie was announced, I knew that I was going to see it. My daughter (who also read the book), my husband (who did not), and I went to see it Saturday afternoon. I wanted to take a couple of days to fully digest the experience but now I am ready to talk about it. Needless to say, there are spoilers below. 

Before I go picking everything apart, I'd like to say that I did thoroughly enjoy the movie. While there were a few moments that jarred me out of the plot (more on that later), it didn't interrupt the entertainment value. Now let's get into the nitty gritty.

There are a lot of differences between the book and the movie. Some of them, in my opinion, change the story a lot. Some of them do not. One of the big changes is the Sea World adventure. In the book, Margo convinces Quentin to break into Sea World during their revenge rampage. This doesn't happen in the movie. As a matter of fact, Margo explicitly states that they have 9 things to do (instead of 11 in the book) that night but I can only count 5...6 if you are super generous and count their shopping excursion. But maybe I'm mis-counting something. Either way, the Sea World thing is a fairly big thing in the book - after all, this is the first real illegal thing Q has done - and it isn't even addressed in the movie. The reason is understandable (no one wanted to give good press to Sea World) but it would have been nice to even have a throwaway line or maybe a discarded pamphlet or something to insinuate they did it anyway.

The movie also downplays the importance of the Omnictionary. In the book, editing the Omnictionary is Radar's LIFE. When he isn't in school or with Angela, he's editing the website. However, in the movie, the site is only used as a reference when looking up the term "paper towns." We don't see any of the characters editing it nor do we see it being leaned on heavily.  I don't know that this is a huge change in the book. But it may have shown the boys as the  social outcasts they were. Otherwise, it seemed like they didn't participate in social activities because they didn't want to.

However, the biggest change, in my opinion, is the road trip and everything that happens afterwards. In the book, Q, Ben, Radar, and Lacey skip graduation to take the road trip to Agloe to find Margo. The prom already took place. Quentin skipped the prom to go check out pseudivisions (abandoned housing divisions...also not discussed in the movie) by himself. In the movie, Angela comes with them and the gang (minus Q) insists they must be back to Orlando in time for prom. This is a very important part of the movie. So important, in fact, that the gang leaves Q in Agloe when they don't find Margo within their time limit. Yes, his best friends abandon him in New York for the prom. That is messed up. 

After his friends abandon him, movie-Quentin makes his way into the nearest town and buys a bus ticket home. While waiting for the bus, Margo happens to walk by. He chases after her and the two have a couple of milkshakes and talk it out. Margo kinda pats Q on the head and gives him a "silly boy, I'm not coming back" type of speech. Then Quentin gets on the bus and joins his friends at prom. Happy times ensue. 

BUT

In the book version, Margo is in the barn in Agloe. And Ben, Radar, Lacey, AND Quentin all find her. Margo rails at Lacey for dating Ben. Then she argues with Q about his perception of her.  The gang doesn't leave Agloe until the next morning. Quentin goes back to Orlando with his friends and Margo goes on to New York City. 

I think that the book version of the story is much more powerful than the movie version. Book-Margo decided to disappear from everything and everyone and she is angry that people still sought her out. She lashes out at the few people who truly showed concern for her. Movie-Margo comes off as an overly mature woman setting off on her own. But she's not. She is still a young woman trying to figure out who she is. Yes, she says this in the movie but that isn't how she looks or sounds or acts. 

As I said earlier, none of these changes made the movie less enjoyable for me. Though I was thrown out of the plot every time they talked about the prom. But, for once, I can truly say the book is better. If only because it had a more emotional journey for the characters. Without them missing graduation or prom, the movie left out that heavy emotional impact. 

(Side note: My husband said Margo was selfish and wasn't worth trying to find.) 

Movie review: Big Eyes

My husband, knowing that I wanted to see Big Eyes, rented the movie from Redbox over the weekend. We didn't get a chance to watch it until Monday night but I'm glad we did.

In case you are not familiar with the movie, Big Eyes tells the story of Margaret Keane, an artist who is famous for painting children with large eyes. After she left her first husband in the 1950s, Margaret did what she could to support herself and her young daughter, Jane. She found a job painting art on children's furniture. But she never stopped painting the big eyed children. It was during an outdoor art exhibition that she met Walter Keane, who would eventually become her second husband. 

Walter was an artist himself. However, where Margaret painted people, Walter painted Parisian streets. When Margaret's first husband threatened to take custody of their daughter, Walter proposed to Margaret. Now there would be a stable home for Jane. 

Ever the businessman, Walter tried to get both his paintings and Margaret's into art galleries. When that failed, he rented wall space at the local jazz club. People would frequently ask about the children with large eyes and Walter began to tell them that he painted them. Margaret was angry when she found out about Walter's lies, but he somehow convinced her that this would be better for sales. 

Years passed. Margaret continued to paint the "big eye" paintings and Walter's fame continued to rise. Profits soared, allowing them to open their own gallery. 

One day, Margaret came upon a shipping box with Walter's name on it. Inside, she found dozens of Parisian street paintings with a different artist's signature. She suddenly realized that she had never seen Walter actually paint anything. After scraping the Keane signature off of one of his paintings, Margaret confronted Walter. 

Despite knowing about Walter's false life as a painter, Margaret continued with their "big eye" ruse. Walter had convinced her that no one would accept a woman as an artist and that business was better if everyone thought he created the paintings. It wasn't until the 1964 World's Fair in New York that Walter's lie began to unravel. An art critic, John Canaday, rejected the piece Margaret painted for the Hall of Education. Canaday called the piece "tasteless" and Walter just lost it. 

Eventually, Margaret tired of the lie and how much of her life she lost to Walter. She took Jane and moved to Hawaii. It was here that she was introduced to the Jehovah's Witnesses. With some support from the community, Margaret sued Walter for slander. Since the case was he-said-she-said, the judge decided that, in order to figure out who was telling the truth, both parties needed to paint a picture. Walter claimed he had a shoulder injury that left him unable to paint while Margaret completed a painting in 53 minutes. Margaret won the case. 

Big Eyes is a very difficult movie to watch in 2015. Since it takes place in the 1950s and 1960s, there is a lot of misogyny and male dominance in the story. Margaret stays with Walter, despite the fact that he is taking credit for all of her work, for ten years! Even when she knew what a con man he was, she still stayed. The viewer definitely needs to keep in mind that, at that time in history, it was very difficult for a woman to leave her husband and be independent. Thankfully, the movie does a fairly good job of setting that up early on.

This is also one of the few movies where I could forget who made it and who starred in it and just lose myself in the characters and story. Amy Adams did a wonderful job becoming Margaret and Christoph Waltz was scarily good at being Walter. On top of that, it didn't have all of the telltale signs of a Tim Burton movie. It is obvious that Burton loved the film's subject and took a lot of care to tell the story properly. If you get a chance to catch Big Eyes, I would definitely recommend checking it out. Margaret Keane's story is an inspiring one, even if it took her a long time to make it happen. 

 

Why I think the new Godzilla movie is BS

Spoilers ahead!
It has almost been 2 weeks since the latest American Godzilla was released. A lot of people loved the movie. My husband, who is a huge Godzilla fan, is one of those people. I, on the other hand, thought the movie was total bullshit. Since I seem to be the only person who thinks this, I am going to put my reasons in a nice, easy to digest list. As I have already said, there will be a lot of spoilers ahead. If you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading right now.

OK?

1. Cutting away from the fights

So, this is a Godzilla movie, right? I get that the movie can't be 100% Godzilla. You need some characters that can actually speak. However, except for the final battle, none of the other battles are shown on-screen. Godzilla starts fighting with one of the creatures (stupidly called MUTO) and the director just cuts away to one of the humans.

"Godzilla's gonna fight....Godzilla's gonna fight...." *a door slides shut and we cut to the Olsen sister that isn't a twin*

Annoying.

2. The Brian Cranston connection.

In the trailers, it looked like Brian Cranston, who is currently a hot commodity in Hollywood, would be the human star of the movie. Nope. He dies in the first act, before any of the monsters are actually shown. (Well, I think we might have seen a foot of the MUTO...that doesn't count.)

I get that his name is hot right now. There are people that went to see this movie for him. Won't they be disappointed when he dies a third of the way into the 2-hour film.

3. The "bad" monsters should have real names.

Godzilla gets a name. There's a Mothra cameo. Yet the two big bad monsters of the movie are both called MUTO, which stands for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism. What? Give Ken Watanabe a use. Let him give those baddies some names.

4. They made Ken Watanabe useless.

His entire purpose in this movie was to stand around and watch other people do things. He is supposed to be a scientist. What scientist just stands by and lets everyone else do the work? Even the Japanese scientists in the old Godzilla movies were all "Screw this! I'm going to help Godzilla myself!"

5. Kick-Ass specialized in everything.

Brian Cranston's son, Kick-Ass, is an explosives specialist in the Navy. Yet he manages to get himself hitched onto an Army Special Force team, which gets him from Hawaii to California. Then he talks his way onto a Navy squad that is setting up an explosive to kill the MUTO. Then he parachutes into the scene of the Godzilla battle to disarm the explosive the MUTO stole from them.

Something tells me that his ass would still be stuck on Hawaii. The military isn't in the business of giving people, even other military people, rides home.

This movie was bullshit. For serious. I won't say it wasn't any fun. The end of that big battle was awesome. But I'm not going to fool myself into thinking that one awesome scene from one fight scene is going to redeem the entire film. If even half of these issues were fixed, I wouldn't be so hard on the movie. If they made the Godzilla movie about Godzilla instead of about The Other Olsen and Kick-Ass, I might have liked it more. As it stands, it is just plain bullshit.

Review: Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D

Since I am a super-nice mom, I took my 10-year old daughter to see the Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D movie on Friday night. Even though it was a Friday night, our area was smack dab in the middle of a massive heat wave so I was expecting the theater to be rather full. On the contrary, besides the two of us, there were about 9 other people there. I kept expecting more people to pour in but it just never happened. Though I will admit that I was happy that I didn't have to be squashed by over-enthusiastic Katy Perry fans.

The movie itself was not awful but it seemed to gloss over absolutely everything. The backdrop of the movie is Perry's California Dreams Tour, which began on February 20, 2011 and ended on January 22, 2012. Despite the fact that this gives the documentarians almost an entire year worth of material to use, the film itself runs only 97 minutes. As a result, you only get blips and soundbites about her life. I would have loved to have an extra hour of footage to see more about the girl behind the Katy Perry persona.

If they didn't want to talk about her personal life (poor Russell Brand is shown giving a few kisses then it's nothing but text messages...I'm sure there was more to their relationship), they should have gone the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus route and just filmed the concert with a few background rehearsal snippets. It would have been infinitely more interesting since her concert looks like it was a ball of fun.

Sadly, I can't recommend this movie to anyone. I think even die hard Perry fans would be disappointed. Wait for the Blu Ray. From what I hear, there will be additional footage in the extras. Maybe there will be something good in there.

The Avengers

I can't believe I completely forgot to post my review of The Avengers. I am a bad geek.

For those of you that live under a rock, The Avengers is a team of superheroes consisting of Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Thor. Most of these characters have had stand-alone movies on their background. Poor Black Widow and Hawkeye are the exceptions. (Though Black Widow is quite important in Iron Man 2 and Hawkeye makes a cameo in Thor.) If you are going to see The Avengers, you need to see the previous movies to understand everything. The main villain comes from Thor while the major 'artifact' comes from Captain America.

First, let me say that this movie is awesome. I almost didn't want it to end. One of the reasons that I liked the movie is that it did require you to watch the previous background movies. That means that there wasn't time wasted on questions like "Who is this Thor guy and why does he carry around a hammer?" The movie was able to get right into gathering the heroes together and establishing why they couldn't fight this battle separately. Since we already know that they are powerful on their own, it is very important to show why they need to work as a team.

That said, there are a few little nitpicks I had. I always have a problem when they have a character on the screen for long periods of time without naming them. Nick Fury had this female 'sidekick' in S.H.I.E.L.D. that they don't name. My husband claims that they said her name once in the very beginning of the movie but I don't remember it. She goes through the entire movie as 'that chick that is the second in command or something.' Things like that don't detract from my enjoyment of movie. I would just like someone on screen to say her name more than once so I can remember who she is.

So, in the end, if you enjoy superhero action movies, you'll love this. There is a reason that the movie has been a blockbuster hit. I'm just sad that it'll take a long time before we see another Avengers movie.

Movie Review: The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty is a Studio Ghibli animated movie based on the book, The Borrowers. Fourteen-year old Arrietty lives with her mother, Homily, and her father, Pod, under the floorboards in a closet. See, Arrietty and her family are "Borrowers," tiny people who live in the homes of human beings and 'borrow' items (or pieces of items) that they need to survive. However, since they are so small, there are many dangers. Besides cats and crows, the humans themselves are seen as a threat. If a Borrower is seen by a human, they must pack everything up and find a new place to live.

I adore Studio Ghibli movies. Our DVD shelves are stocked with a variety of their titles - My Neighbor Totoro, The Cat Returns, and Ponyo, just to name a few. So when we heard that Arrietty was being released in theaters, my family was pretty excited to see it. (The constant commercials on the Disney Channel were no help either!) I didn't think we would find the time to see it opening weekend, but we managed to fit it in.

With only a 94-minute running time, Arrietty is a fairly short movie. Unfortunately, the lack of any real characterization or conflict due to the time constraints is noticeable. Most of the movie is spent showing how Arrietty and her family borrow things from the 'human beans.' We don't really get to know any of the humans. As a result, the climax of the movie doesn't bring out the emotions that it should. Instead of caring about whether a character lives or dies, the audience is forced to just float along with the story. But don't think that this makes it a terrible movie. On the contrary, it's a nice journey we are taken on. The lovely artwork and gorgeous soundtrack make the blandness of the plot worthwhile. It would just be nicer if there was a bit more meat on this story's bones.

Movie review: The Muppets

My family took a break from the hecticness that is December to check out the new Muppet movie. My husband and I were fans of the original Muppet Show. We've even shown a few of the episodes to my daughter. (I think it was, specifically, the Star Wars episodes.) Needless to say, this movie was right up our alley.

Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) are brothers that share a love of The Muppet Show. Years later, even after the show has gone off the air, the two of them continue to watch old recorded episodes of the show. When Gary decides to take his long-time girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to Los Angeles for their 10th anniversary, he decides to take his brother with them to see The Muppet Studio. Walter accidentally finds out that oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is going to buy the studio in order to tear it down so he can drill for oil. Together, Gary, Mary, and Walter help Kermit the Frog get the gang back together to raise $10 million to keep their studio and the Muppet name.

Despite a tiny candy problem (my daughter lost a tooth in a Milk Dud), we all had tons of fun. As usual, there were a bunch of cameos that we giggled over. The songs were extremely fun, if a little cheesy. My favorite was Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You" sung by Camilla and her chickens. And there was even a montage for finding some of the Muppets. Miss Piggy got a "let's travel by map!" (Even though some cheap conferencing could have done the trick.) Everything was perfect for a Muppet movie. Jason Segel hit this out of the ballpark.

Jmovie review: Space Battleship Yamato

Title: Space Battleship Yamato Release date: 12/1/10 Genre: Space Drama Cast: Kimura Takuya, Kuroki Meisa, Yamazaki Tsutomu Plot: Earth has been destroyed by an alien race called Gamilas. The only hope to save Earth is a radiation reduction device on planet Iskandar. What is good: Surprisingly, Meisa Kuroki's acting is pretty good! What is bad: On the flip side, Takuya Kimura doesn't live up to his potential. Letter rating: C

My husband is a big fan of the original Space Battleship Yamato anime from the mid-70s. I enjoy watching KimuTaku so I figured this would be perfect for the both of us. Since it was our 10th wedding anniversary, this is what we watched as we snuggled close.

Maybe it's because we're so familiar with the original anime that this seemed to fall short. It's not an awful movie, but it definitely seemed to rush things. When the ship arrived at Iskandar, I turned to my husband with a surprised "Already?!" At the same time, my husband missed the noise from the original Wave Motion Cannon. My husband was also uncomfortable with the changes made to Mori Yuki. In the original, she was a rather feminine nurse, though she did get additional responsibilities later in the series. In the movie, she's a brash ace pilot. Quite a huge different, to say the least.

In all, both of us liked the movie. I would probably sit through it a second time. However, hardcore Yamato fans should be careful. This isn't the same old battleship anymore.

Jmovie review: My Darling is a Foreigner

Title: My Darling is a Foreigner Release date: 4/10/10 Genre: Slice of Life Cast: Inoue Mao, Jonathan Sherr Plot: Saori (Inoue) strives to be a manga artist. She has fallen in love with an American man, Tony (Sherr). This is the story of their relationship. What is good: Inoue Mao is still adorable. What is bad: There isn't a lot of substance. Letter rating: C

I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. I love Inoue Mao and I thought the plot seemed cute. Unfortunately, at the end, I realized that there wasn't a whole lot there. What the movie claims as cultural differences are sometimes just the differences between men and women. At one point, Saori laments that she does all of the housework while Tony does nothing. So, being the nice man that he is, Tony starts washing the dishes and doing the laundry. However, he doesn't really know how to do these things properly. Instead of taking him aside to show him how to do the chores, she just kinda grumbles through it. I don't see this is a cultural difference. I think men all over the world don't know how to wash dishes.

As a matter of fact, there are only a few cultural differences shown. When Saori introduces Tony to her family at her sister's wedding, Tony doesn't understand how the family communicates. The parents jokingly put down their children but Tony doesn't get the joke. It isn't until the end of the movie that he understands her family dynamic.

Despite wanting to enjoy the movie, I found it somewhat boring. It's basically the story of their day-to-day life. If you have nothing better to do, it's not an awful movie to sit through. At least there's the adorable Inoue Mao to save it!