Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, September 09, 2013

Browsing thru the literary offerings at the Movie Trailer Park this fall

Movies based on books come out at just about all times of the year but fall films in particular seem to attract more than their fair share of shelf worthy adaptations. Included in that lot are films with literary themes,which also seem to be more suit to autumn audiences,according to the studios, anyway.

Let's flip through a handful of such upcoming releases,starting with Saving Mr. Banks that stars Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers who wrote the Mary Poppins series of books(sort of the J.K. Rowling of her day) and is being courted by Walt Disney(Tom Hanks) to allow the first one to be made into one of their family films.

Naturally,she is reluctant to have her work turned into a cartoonish corporate creation and puts up a good fight,only to be persuaded by Disney who is tuned into her daddy issues. While it is true that Travers resisted and then relented on making Mary Poppins a movie,she was less than pleased with the animated portions of the final product and refused to allow the three other titles to be adapted.

As someone who did read all of the Mary Poppins books as a kid(no dancing penguins in any of them,by the way) and does enjoy the Disney musical version even so,this sounds like an interesting movie. However,since this is a Disney production, odds are that certain elements will be slanted in their favor:

Nest up is a more serious story involving children,The Book Thief,based on Markus Zusak, about Liesel, a nine year girl in 1930s Germany who is taken in by a foster family(Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) begins to steal books as a way of dealing with the loss of her brother and then later as a means of coping with the rise of the Nazi party and WWII.

The book won several awards and while it does have a dark theme,there is a touch of fantasy as the story is narrated by Death,who takes a strong interest in Liesel's plight. That plot point will be present in the film and seeing how well that is pulled off is one of the reasons to check this out:

Speaking of fantasy,the next chapter of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit will be out and about in time for the holidays. Called "The Desolation of Smaug",our hero Bilbo Baggins will be encountering the title dragon as Gandalf deals with the battles between elves,dwarves and the occasional evil wizard.

I still don't see why this had to be a three part film,but far be it for me to deny Tolkien fans their epic entertainment. However,some of them are a bit peeved at the addition of characters not found in the original book(such as Evangeline Lily's warrior elf maiden) but if you're being invited to a cinematic feast in your honor,why quibble over an extra course there?:

The most anticipated book related film in this lot is the second installment of The Hunger Games:Catching Fire, where Jennifer Laurence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen,whose victory with Peeta is causing more trouble that she ever expected.

During their victory tour of the Capitol cities,Katniss awakens the spark of revolution amongst the downtrodden District citizens and in order to quell the possible uprising,the powers that be hold a special version of the games. Only past winners are called upon to play,which raises the stakes considerably. If this film is as great as the previous one, it will be hard to wait for Part Three to commerce:

Not all book connected movies are winners,but it never hurts to hope. Sometimes you get lucky enough to find a film that inspires you to read the most likely even better book and other times,it's the literary equivalent of snake eyes.  It would be helpful if Hollywood wasn't so quick to jump on the bandwagon of what ever seems to be in vogue at the moment and actually took the time to see what went right in bringing certain books to life on screen the right way. Then again,that's even more of a fantasy than any book or film could imagine there:


Thaddeus said...

I was very resistant to The Hunger Games. For one thing, I knew that if the books were actually good, the movie would probably skip past a lot of important world-building details. Bigtime redaction is a necessary evil of adapting a book into a movie, it seems.

The bigger reason to feel resistant to the movie was that I was a huge fan of the Japanese film, Battle Royale. It's a fine work, and I would so much rather that this thoughtful movie, with all this nice characterization and thematic depth, saw a release as opposed to... what sounds like the latest attempt at a new Potter + Twilight franchise.

I caught tHG on Netflix the other month, and was surprised by how easy it was to like. Doing a little research, yes, it sounds like a lot got removed in order to give the movie a decent pace. And, yes, the magical nature of this future technology was beyond ridiculous, but the pic was still a good ride.

I'm more conflicted about The Hobbit. Turning it into a trilogy sounds like a mistake - and all the reviewers I trust seem to agree on that score. And, by several flukes of fate, it was the first Middle-Earth movie that I failed to see in the theater.

I'll correct that before part 2 comes out. I just hope that the 48-fps thing doesn't bother me so much, and that Jackson, Walsh, & co manage to improve upon the tonal issues that sounds like Hobbit 1's biggest weakness.

lady t said...

I've only read the first book in the Hunger Games series(will check out the other two soon enough!) and found the film version to be a well honed adaptation that did justice to the source material.

Haven't seen the Hobbit either but do have Part One in my Netflix queue. Since I have fond memories of watching the Rankin-Bass animated version from my childhood,my hesitation comes from feeling that however good the new live action one is,it's an overblown retelling of this tale. Hopefully,I'm wrong about that!