Thursday, 26 March 2015

Insurgent: Film Review

It's taken me quite a while to gather my thoughts about Insurgent. The film as already been out for a week, and I'm still confused about what I want to say. I think I'm going to have to have another visit to the cinema and watch it again so that I can properly consider my views.

I was initially worried about how Insurgent would turn out. It's my least favourite of all the books, but I still really enjoyed reading it, so I wanted greatness. The trailers and teasers made the film look really different to the book. All of the trailers seemed to be completely centred around Jeanine and her box; a box that wasn't explained properly and didn't seem to be included in the book. However, the film turned out quite different to what the trailers made it out to be.

Spoilers ahead... 
You have been warned....

Insurgent starts out with a message from Jeanine regarding how dangerous the Divergent are. We then see Tris, Four, Caleb and Peter seeking refuge with the Amity. It's clear at this point that Tris is in a bad state (and possibly has PTSD) after having to kill Will and watch her parents die. From this point on, the film pretty much follows the same (or similar, at least) storyline to the book. It really surprised me how faithful the film actually was to the book. Of course, they have to make some changes otherwise they wouldn't have fit it all in, but as book to film adaptations go, this one wasn't bad.

There were, however, quite a few problems with this film that I think I ought to discuss. 

First up, I didn't like the choice of actors for some of the roles. While I'm sure Naomi Watts is a great actress, she looked more like Four's sister rather than his Mum. It just didn't work. I had expected more of an 'Alma Coin' (From Mockingjay) approach to Evelyn, but she just didn't work for me. She's supposed to be the leader of the Factionless, but she didn't really seem the type. I have no problem with Watts' acting, though. Like a lot of the faults in this film, it was down to the screenwriters or director rather than the actors, who were only playing the roles they were given. 
I felt this way about how Four and Tris were in this instalment, too. It seems they were acted brilliantly by Theo James and Shailene Woodley, but just some of the things they did seemed out of character. For example, when Tris wakes up from being 'dead', her and Four stand hugging for a good minute, all while they're being hunted down by the Erudite, and it's Peter who has to step in and tell them to get a move on. They just wouldn't have done that. They would have sprung into instant action and stated running. 

I feel like a lot of vital information and detail was excluded from the film, too. The first bit that hit me was the fact that Tris was carrying a gun throughout the whole film! What happened to her fear of guns after she killed Will? She had a lot of dreams about him, but it just didn't seem as important in the film.
I thought that the whole conflict with Christina was just skimmed over and not done properly in the film. This is a really big part of the book and leads to Tris making a lot of decisions, so to just move past it as if it wasn't much of a big deal was a bad decision.
I also thought that the situation with Caleb wasn't done in enough depth as it needed. In the book, Caleb essentially delivers Tris to her execution and is happy to see her die, whereas in the film, he merely watches Jeanine putting her in simulations. It just didn't have the same 'betrayal' effect. This is making me wonder how they'll pull of Part 2 of Allegiant (if they do still split it) because Tris makes her decision at the end (you know the one I'm talking about) because she wants to forgive Caleb and is refusing to deliver him to his execution.

Another point, or person in this case, who wasn't in it as much as they should have been was Uriah. Uriah wasn't in Divergent at all, so I was glad that he would have an actual role in this film. I had hoped that he would have quite a big role, though, so that his fate in Allegiant would actually mean something to the audience. He only seemed to be in one scene though, having only a tiny part. I'm now starting to doubt that he will actually have a role in Allegiant, which would be a shame.  

I thought the 'scanning for Divergence' was so cheesy. It honestly made me cringe when Eric and Max were scanning people and it showed their percentage of Divergence. It made it even worse when Tris got 100% Divergent. I know she's less damaged than most people, but her test only gave her aptitudes for Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. Not Candor or Amity. It really confused me how Tris unlocked the box's tests for these factions, because it's clearly stated that she's not Amity or Candor.

I thought the end of this film was great. It was different to the book, yes, but it was a really effective ending and had me going 'Oh my gosh! Wow!'
Yet this also confused me. Why did Evelyn get to kill Jeanine when it was Tori's role? Why was the projection of Edith Prior shown to everyone in Chicago? And why isn't Edith named? The whole cliff-hanger at the end of the book was the fact that Tris was related to her.
I'm slightly concerned how they will do Allegiant now, because it was only Tris, and a small group of her friends and the factionless who discover that there is life outside the walls. How will it work if everyone knows and is headed to search for it?

I have absolutely no problem with the acting in this film. I like, if not love, all of the actors in it, even if some of them aren't completely suited to their roles. Yes, some of their lines are a little cheesy and possibly out of character, but they were still acted out well. My main issue with it, which ties all of its problems into one, is how it was adapted into a film, written as a script and directed as a whole. I think I would have preferred it if Neil Burger has carried on and directed the rest of the series, as he did a brilliant job with Divergent. I just didn't like the way Insurgent was put together. The scenes didn't fit with each other; things were mentioned in one scene and then completely forgotten about in the next. Having both simulations and dream scenes was a bit too much, and it made it confusing. I just didn't like the way it was put together and it definitely could have been done in a different way. 

What annoyed me most about Insurgent was the way it was marketed. As I've already said, all of the trailers seemed to focus on Jeanine's box, which wasn't introduced as such a huge thing in the book. From the start of the film, Jeanine introduced the box as a message from the founders, but you couldn't tell this from the trailers. I had assumed that the box would just contain Edith Prior's message, but this was not clarified!
There was so much speculation over the character Edgar, who was introduced by the director, Robert Schwentke and wasn't in the books. There was a rumour going around for a long time that a love triangle would be introduced, with Edgar as the third person. I was really worried about this, as I loved Divergent for its individuality, and the fact that, unlike most YA books, it didn't have a love triangle. However, it wasn't until I had left the cinema that I remembered about Edgar, and I hadn't heard his name in it. As it turns out, Edgar was a replacement for Edward, as a part of the Factionless. I'm slightly annoyed that this wasn't clarified as I know a lot of people were concerned about it. By just announcing that it was Edward with a different name, it would have cleared a lot of things up and avoided all the concern!

I know this has been a bit of a moany review, but I honestly loved the film still. I would probably give it 7.5 out of 10, because I did really love it! There were a lot of problems with it, but it still was an amazing film, particularly if you don't compare it with the book. I love the soundtrack for Insurgent; there are some great songs on it and they really fit with the film!

So despite my complaints, I did enjoy Insurgent and am looking forward to seeing it again!

That's all for now!

Charlotte xxx

Friday, 20 March 2015

Paper Towns Trailer Thoughts...

The trailer for Paper Towns was released yesterday and I was so excited to see it! I had been so worried that it had got to March and we still didn't have a trailer, even though the film is set to be released in the UK in just under three months!
For those of you who don't know, Paper Towns is a 2008 novel by John Green, half of the famous Vlogbrothers channel, and the mastermind behind The Fault in Our Stars.
After TFiOS's huge success as a book to film adaptation, Paper Towns was given a director and it started to be put together...
I really enjoyed the Paper Towns book. While I still preferred The Fault in Our Stars overall, I still loved Paper Towns and all of its characters, so I was extremely excited when it started to become a film.

However, after the poster was released last Thursday, I was a little sceptical. I honestly think the poster looks really cheap and fan-made. I don't exactly know why I think that or how I was expecting it to look, but I don't think it suits the film very well. This made me really worried about how the trailer (and film, for that matter) would turn out.
In the same way that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover (even though we all do!!!), we shouldn't a film by its poster. The Paper Towns trailer was AMAZING. I loved every aspect of it. From what I saw, which wasn't all that much, the acting seemed great. I've seen quite a few of Nat Wolfe's films and love him as an actor but I was new to Cara Delevingne, having not heard of her before she was cast as Margo. I was nicely surprised to see them playing their roles so well!
I loved the music in this trailer. I don't know what it was about it, but it fit in so well! I really hope that the official soundtrack is just as good.
Above all, it does actually seem to be fairly faithful to the book. It's been quite a while since I read it, but I'm pretty sure they've kept most things the same. I did notice how they changed the number of 'tasks' Margo wants to carry out on their night of revenge, but obviously they're going to cut a few things out, so I can forgive them!
I also just want to add how surprised I was when Q said Margo's full name! I did not expect Spiegelman to be pronounced like that!!

Anyway, to sum up, I'm really happy with how this trailer has turned out. I really hope the film is just as good!!
To have a look at the trailer, click here!

I'll have another post up soon about Insurgent's film adaptation!!!
Bye bye for now

Charlotte xxx

Sunday, 8 March 2015

We Were Liars: Book Review

That pretty much sums up all of my thoughts and feelings for E. Lockhart's incredibly stunning novel, We Were Liars.
I really don't think there is much to say about this book, to be perfectly honest, so I'm not entirely sure why I'm writing this post! But if you haven't read it, you need to.
I'm serious. Pick up this book right now. If you don't own a copy, get on Amazon and do next day delivery. Every single person needs to read this book. It was one of those jaw-dropping novels that creep up on you and make you completely entranced by the story.
If you haven't read the book, the less you know about the story, the better, really. This is one of those books that can be spoiled extremely easily, and it's one of those spoilers that you'll never forget or get over. All that you really know about We Were Liars is that it's about a rich yet dysfunctional family who own an island, which is where the story is set.
And that's really all you need to know. Now go and pick up the book before I spoil anything and ruin your existence... You have been warned!


I went into this book with high expectations. I've read so many amazing reviews for it, but there have also been a lot of bad reviews. It seems people either love it or hate it.
This book is widely known for the 'plot twist' ending. So while I didn't know how the story would end, I knew something big was going to happen, which almost made the ending less significant when I did get to read it. I mean, it definitely shocked me and I hadn't anticipated it, but I'd been waiting for something big so it wasn't as much of a surprise.
I hadn't read any of E. Lockhart's other books before We Were Liars, so I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of the writing style, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's a really short book; only 200 or so pages, so when I began to read about this huge family, I doubted that I would remember who all of the characters were. I don't know how it was pulled off so well, but 50 pages in to the story, it felt like I'd been reading about the characters for weeks and I knew them almost as well as I know my other favourite characters. The book really felt a lot longer than it actually was, but it didn't boringly drag on either, which I loved.
I really liked the use of the fairy tale style stories within the book as it really emphasised what was going on and how Cadence reacted to things. So while some of them were a little strange, they fit in really well with the overall book.
I guess that leads me on to the ending. I'm not going to put down how the book ended because it's really important that you go into the book without knowing how it ends, but those who have read the book will know exactly what I'm talking about. Before the end was revealed, I knew something was strange. I didn't trust Cady's mum and could tell that everyone was hiding something from Cady. It confused me why the Liars only seemed to be in one house all the time, why Cady's Granddad was calling everyone Mirren, why nobody other than Cady seemed to be conversing with the other Liars. But I never even considered the plot twist. My immediate thoughts when the book ended were 'Ugh? What? Wait... What just happened?' But looking back at the story, hints were dropped and I'm amazed I didn't figure out the ending before.
I was desperate to go back to the very beginning and work out how I missed it! The ending made perfect sense yet no sense at all. I really loved it though.

Like all books, We Were Liars did have its faults. I personally thought that metaphors were used too frequently and sometimes it wasn't obvious that they didn't actually happen (like Cadence's dad 'shooting' her at the very beginning). Nevertheless, I gave this book 5 stars. You can't really get better than that. I really loved it and the story fit together so well. I will most definitely be picking up other books by E. Lockhart, in the hope that they are just as spectacular.
I would recommend this book to absolutely everybody. I know some people absolutely hate the book, but I personally think it is such a clever little thing and it has really changed my way of thinking. Please pick it up!!

That's all for now. Goodbye!

Charlotte xxx

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Februray Reading Wrap Up

February, my month of Harry Potter, has been really productive month of reading for me! It had been such a long time since I read the Harry Potter series and I had been missing it terribly! I had originally dedicated February to just reading the 7 books in the series, but I read them a lot faster than anticipated and got a lot more books read then planned!
These were the books I read in February...
Yep, that's a total of 11 books! Well done me! Amazingly, I have somehow managed to get through a whopping 4256 pages!!! This is about 152 pages a day, which is great for me! I'm still in shock that I managed to read so much... I've come to the conclusion that I unknowingly acquired a Time Turner and spent the extra hours with my books!

Right, on to the reviews!
I have already posted a Series Review for Harry Potter, which you can see by clicking here.
I will review the other books now.

Having read the whole series 24 times now and having watched the films more times than I'd like to think,  I have classified myself as a Harry Potter Super Fan (or Potterhead) for a very long time. I got this book as more of a souvenir, than an information book because I assumed it would be a lot like other books of the same kind, repeating information you can just as easily find online, in the books, or by visiting the Studios. I was so wrong! Despite me having visited the Studio Tour in the UK and the theme park in Florida, watching every documentary on the series there has ever been and reading almost all of the fact books on the series already, this book was packed with information I never knew!
I scoured through every single one of the 531, A4 sized pages, absolutely fascinated by it all! While there was still basic information about all of the characters, animals and settings in the films, which I already knew, there was loads of information on the casting process, how they filmed different scenes and how the different things the four directors brought to the films. I absolutely loved this book; it was far better than I had anticipated and I now feel so much more knowledgeable about Harry Potter (which is really saying something!). The author, Bob McCabe, must have really done his research to produce this and I'll be sure to pick up his other books if he writes anything similar! If you're a fan of Harry Potter and have read the books and watched the films, this is the book for you!

I am lucky enough to own the gorgeous hardback box set of the Hogwarts Library Collection, which is made up of Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
While these books aren't really story books and don't have a general plot, they're great resources of information for any Harry Potter fan! For anyone who doesn't recognise these books from the series, the first two are text books, used by Harry and his friends for research, and the last one is a collection of children's stories; sort of the equivalent of Cinderella and Snow White, but for young witches and wizards instead of Muggle children.

Quidditch Through the Ages is the duplicated version of the book found in Hogwarts' library, much to the discomfort of Madam Pince, the school librarian. It is complete with odd games of 'Noughts and Crosses', doodles, and scrawled in information from the students, which makes it quite funny to read. As the title suggests, it is about the wizarding sport of Quidditch (a sort of football cross basketball, played on brooms). It contains everything you need to know about the origins of the game, how it's played, the different positions, modern day teams and the rules of the game. While some of the information can be found in the Harry Potter books themselves, this book is a great collection of all of the information and includes even more! I really enjoyed reading about the history of Quiddtich and how it came to be. It was really interesting, even though I've read it before.

In a similar way to the first book, Fantastic Beasts is a duplicate of Harry's copy and is filled with his, Ron's and Hermione's notes and scribbles inside. I found it so interesting to read all about the creatures the series didn't elaborate on much. In the books, we hear a lot about Centaurs, Unicorns, Flobberworms and Hiffogriffs, but less about the creatures like Plimpies, Nogtails, and Billywigs!
Like Quidditch Through the Ages, this book was another great insight into the Wizarding World and is great for all Potterheads!

The last book of the three, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, is a collection of five short stories for children of the wizarding world, including The Tale of the Three Brothers, which is included in Deathly Hallows. Not only were the stories really creative and meaningful for children, but Albus Dumbledore's notes on them really helped you get a greater understanding of their significance.
All of the stories were fun and cleverly written (even if The Warlock's Hairy Heart was a little shocking, even for me!), but I think my favourite was The Fountain of Fair Fortune as it was the kind of story I liked to be told as a small child. The morals of the stories were great for children, even those of the muggle kind! I really loved them.

Well, that's February sufficiently wrapped up now. I'm hoping to read a couple of stand-alone novels before re-reading the Divergent series so that I'm all ready for Insurgent's film release later in March. Hopefully I can keep up this great pace!

I'll be back for more reviews soon, but bye bye for now!

Charlotte xxx