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Monday, January 21, 2013

A little extra reading to do at the movies this year


With a brand new year of movies comes a brand new set of books made into movies,some of which you may or may not have read yet.

Granted,plenty of fans are already lining to see how Catching Fire and the second installment of The Hobbit stand up to their sources but there are a few other book based films arriving this year that you might want to check out,either at the library or the multiplex,before those two show up.

First up is the potential summer blockbuster World War Z,based on Max Brooks' novel of a worldwide zombie invasion. Since the story is told through a series of oral interviews from dozens of characters,the screenplay adaptation has distilled most of that down in order to have a leading man to focus on(played by Brad Pitt).

No doubt,many of the readers will be less than thrilled by that change but it might work out for the best here. Plus,having Brad Pitt on board does ensure a wider audience both in the US and overseas,so this genre breaking zombie epic could make waves beyond the horror movie pond:




Coming much sooner to a theater near you,Parker is adapted from a Donald Westlake thriller entitled Flashfire. Jason Statham plays the title role,a thief with Robin Hood type morals,who is double crossed by a gang of thugs(with Michael Chiklis as their leader).

After being left for dead,Parker takes up the mantle of revenge and teams up with Leslie Rogers(Jennifer Lopez),a real estate agent also taken in by the gang. This isn't the first Westlake novel featuring Parker to be turned into a film(earlier efforts include 1967's Point Blank and Payback in 1998)but this one may succeed where the others faded into film history. Statham's pretty popular with the action movie crowd and this film seems to be much smarter than his usual fare:




A bit more on the female friendly side,Admission stars Tina Fey as Portia,an admissions officer for Princeton who gets more than one surprise when invited to meet some potential applicants at an off beat high school run by former school mate John(Paul Rudd).

John believes that one of his students is the child that Portia gave up for adoption a long time ago and hopes to reunite them(not to mention get the kid a better chance at entering the Ivy League). The Jean Hanff Korelitz novel that this romantic comedy is based on did receive some solid positive reviews and the material does seem right up Fey's alley there:




Since Twilight has had it's last film chapter,there is more room for another teen fantasy series to come alive at the cinema. Hopes are high for the first installment of Cassandra Claire's Mortal Instruments series,City of Bones ,due to arrive in late summer.

Lily Collins stars as Clary,a NYC girl who discovers a hidden world of danger and magic hidden from the "mundanes" and that she and her mother play a vital role in. Clary's mother is a demon fighting Shadowhunter,who has hidden a powerful object from the clutches of Valentine,in whose power she is now in.

In order to save her mom,Clary must tap into her undeveloped powers and work with a team of experienced Shadowhunters lead by Jace(Campbell Bower)in order to protect more than one world. This YA series does have a strong following and could be a smash hit,provided the film lives up to the high standards set by the fans as well as be enthralling to a fresh new audience:




There will be other literary fare at the movies,no doubt,but these four are good enough to start with in book form,I think. How well they will reflect on their original print versions is debatable yet at least they will be a welcome break from the nearly endless chain of remakes and reboots that Hollywood seems bound and determined to offer us at every turn.

True,some remakes are decent and particularly,remakes of renowned literature can shine a new light on old themes there. However,I do have my doubts about putting the likes of The Great Gatsby in a 3D format.

Don't get me wrong,I'm not a big Fitzgerald fan to begin with and I like Baz Luhrmann's zippy takes on the classics. It just feels to me like a extreme version of gilding the lily here(plus,making those halfhearted high school book reports even more confusing than ever before):










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