Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Paper Towns: Film Review

The film adaptation for John Green's amazing novel, Paper Towns, hasn't actually been officially released in UK cinemas just yet, but I managed to see it early on 1st August (which is actually quite a long time ago, looking back, so sorry for the delay!) at an advance screening, and I can tell you, it was a pretty incredible film!

I posted a collection of thoughts on Paper Towns back in March, just after the first trailer was released, and you can read my initial views by clicking here!

Paper Towns is a 2008 YA novel by the incredibly talented John Green and has been one of my favourite books ever since I read it. Despite the film rights being sold years ago, it wasn't until after the huge success of The Fault in Our Star's film adaptation that a Paper Towns movie became a real thing.

Nat Wolff (who plays Isaac in TFiOS) was cast to play Quentin, the main character, and Cara Delevigne (a model turned actress whom I had not heard of before Paper Towns) was cast to play the 'love of his life', Margo Roth Spiegelman. After admiring her for years from his bedroom window, it isn't until Margo climbs through Q's window one night and takes him on a wild night of revenge that he discovers how much he really loves her.
But the next day, Margo doesn't turn up for school and before long, she is declared missing. Along with his closest companions, Quentin attempts to hunt down Margo and discover who she really is, and what happened to her...

I read Paper Towns a couple of times last year and started rereading it again before I went to see the film, but I wasn't actually able to complete it before hand, so I went into the cinema with the basic plot line, but couldn't remember some of the details. I can't actually remember doing this ever before, so it was quite a strange experience for me to not fully remember what went on.
Obviously with it being an adaptation, there were going to be some things changed from the book, but it wasn't until I finished the book after arriving back home that I realised how different the film actually was.

*Spoiler alert for both the book and the film!!*

To begin with, Margo's 'night of revenge' differed quite a bit from the book. For some of the aspects, I am glad there was a change, such as for the Sea World scenes, which were still included in a great way, just in a different location. There were a few changes in Margo's revenges too, such as bubble wrapping Lacey's car, not visiting Karin and not letting Quentin choose to 'assault' Chuck Parson. 

Prom was actually at the end of the film, instead of near to the middle, as it is in the book, and unlike in the book, Quentin actually attends. I'm not too sure how I feel about this change, since it did make quite a bit of a difference and gave the road trip a different sense of urgency - instead of rushing to make sure Margo hadn't left Agloe by the time they arrived, they were rushing to rush back home to make it in time for Prom. However, it did add quite a lot of humour to it which wasn't all in the book (don't get me wrong, though. It was still a very funny book!)

Angela (Radar's girlfriend) was quite a lot more involved within the film than she had been in the book. Only Q, Ben, Lacey and Radar go on the road trip to find Margo in the book, whereas Angela was there the whole time in the film. Again, while this ended up changing quite a few things, it did add more humour (and also a little more romance!) to the film. 
Ben and Lacey's relationship was also quite different in the film. In the book, they get together quite early on and attend Prom together near to the middle of the book, whereas in the film, despite Ben being shown as having feelings towards her, he does not get with Lacey until later on. 

Another big difference was the ending, or, rather, the last half-hour or so.
For those of you who don't know or can't remember, in the book, the group find Margo at an abandoned barn in Agloe and everyone but Quentin becomes angry and leaves her when she says she didn't expect them to come and explains that she didn't really want to be found. The book ends shortly after, when Margo explains that she cannot return home and Quentin declines her offer to go with her, wherever she goes. 
In the film, however, the gang pull up at the barn but discover that she is nowhere to be found. 
On a tight schedule, Ben, Lacey, Angela and Radar return home to go to Prom, without Q, who refuses to leave without finding Margo. Eventually, after wandering aimlessly for a while, Quentin spots Margo walking along the side of the road before he's about to catch a bus home. They then have a similar discussion to the book, and Quentin eventually leaves her, just in time to get home, where he shows up late to Prom. The film then ends just after graduation when Q, Ben and Radar are leaving for college.

Normally, I would be fairly upset over this quite big change of events, but even though they each show different tones to the story, I like both endings to Paper Towns. The film's version is less abrupt than the book was, yet I do feel like the book had a more realistic approach. Would you really leave your friend stranded in the middle of nowhere just to get back home for Prom?

There was one thing that really made me angry about the film ending of Paper Towns, though, and it almost made the whole road trip pointless. Towards the end, Margo reveals that she had been secretly talking to her little sister, Ruthie, every day. This definitely wasn't in the book! It actually makes me angry towards Ruthie, who I absolutely loved until this point! Could she not just have let people know that Margo was okay, even if she didn't reveal her sister's whereabouts, and couldn't she have let Margo know that Quentin was coming to find her? The little stirrer! 

I feel like this review has actually seemed quite negative so far. There were actually a lot of changes made in the adaptation process, however, I think this is one of the first films I have seen where I haven't been too concerned about what it has been turned into. 
When the film ended and the credits started rolling (with one of my favourite songs - To The Top, by Twin Shadow - playing in the background) I felt really fulfilled by the adaptation and really happy with what the book had turned into. Let me tell you, this is a rarity!! 
Throughout the whole of the film I was either laughing or welling up (surprisingly, I didn't actually cry!!) or just flapping and fangirling in my seat! 

I loved all of the characters so much but I think Ben has got to be my favourite. As many of the cast members have already said, Austin Abrams found a side of Ben that I didn't pick up on in the book, but made his character so much better. His jokes towards Q's mum cracked me up every time and I just loved his whole personality. 
In fact, all of the characters were really brought to life in such an amazing way, and were all so different to characters in nearly all films. Each one of them really made you question how you perceive things, or people. 

My favourite part of the film was definitely the road trip. The 'wall of cow' part was so funny and I really just enjoyed the characters bonding with each other. I really, really loved the petrol station (or gas station, as it is in America) scenes. It was hilarious seeing them just grabbing things from the shelves, seeing the t-shirts that Q had managed to pick up, and having Ben needing to pee for the goodness-knows-how-many-th time!

Oh, and then this happened...


Ansel FREAKING Elgort had a cameo!!!!

I'm not kidding... As soon as Ansel's beautiful face appeared on the screen, the WHOLE cinema let out a huge gasp and most of us (including me!!) sat flapping in our seats!!
I did have a suspicion that Ansel might end up playing the minor role of Gus (get it?), who lets Margo and Q into the Sun Trust building, but I never once expected him to be at the 'Gas station'.
I loved his tattoo, as well, and while his short but effective lines were hysterical, I couldn't help but miss him saying something along the lines of 'Do I know you?' or 'You look kind of familiar' to Q!!
By this point, the film was already amazing, but Ansel's cameo made the whole thing just incredible!

And on the subject of cameos... John Green (the author of the book) said in one of his videos that he would definitely have a cameo in Paper Towns that would be included in the film (unlike his cameo for TFiOS!!), however, he also mentioned that his own wife couldn't spot him in it, which made me a little dubious that we would be able to find him.
Unfortunately, I was right. I went through the whole film hardly daring to blink in case I missed him, but we couldn't see him anywhere. A few days after watching the film, I was hunting through the Internet to see if anyone else had noticed him, and finally discovered that his cameo was voice only, and he was, in fact, playing the father of Becca, who actually tries to shoot Margo and Quentin when they break into Becca's house! I can't wait to go and see Paper Towns again when it is released so that I can listen for him!

I guess that kind of wraps up this review, but I'm so, so glad that I managed to see Paper Towns early, and I cannot wait to see it again when it is properly released. I am actually fairly surprised to see that it hasn't done all that well in the box office for America since I would rate it a 9 out of 10.
Although I absolutely loved it, I can see why it hasn't quite reached the incredible high bar TFiOS set for it and why people haven't liked it as much, and to be honest, I don't feel that as many people will enjoy or understand Paper Towns as much.
The Fault in Our Stars did have something that Paper Towns doesn't, which is a proper love story. Yes, it had many things as well, but the people who wouldn't appreciate John Green's incredibly talented way of telling stories about people who could very easily be real, and didn't acknowledge the hidden messages and true meanings, still had the devastatingly heart-breaking love story between Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters.

Paper Towns, on the other hand, still had aspects of a love story, but it wasn't as prominent and had so many other meanings and important questions we should all be asking ourselves in it. So despite its story, in my opinion, being almost as good as TFiOS's, it will have lost some people. But, in a way, I feel this is for the best and that the story itself would benefit from this. After all, isn't that what a part of the story is about? People liking something because of what it really is and not what they perceive it to be without looking into it further?

With that note, I will say goodbye.

I hope to be back with more reviews soon!

Charlotte xxx

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