Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, June 09, 2014

Paging through a few fantasy stories in the Movie Trailer Park

Literary adaptation fever is running high at the box office these days, as the biggest surprise at the multiplex this weekend was how well The Fault in Our Stars did against the promotional might of Edge of Tomorrow.  TFIOS made more than double it's money back with a nice hefty take of nearly 50 million while EOT barely managed to reach the third place spot on the list.

The low key ad campaign for TFIOS(which consisted of a couple of trailers and a strong social media presence) seems to be a key factor, not to mention the intense fan love for the heartfelt yet not overly sentimental novel by John Green which has both adults and teens in the mix.

However, Hollywood has not given up on sci-fi/fantasy stories for the young and the young at heart, as these trailers will show. Granted, a couple of these films are aimed at a slightly older audience but all of them can trace their origins to the previously published written word.

First up is The Giver, based on Lois Lowry's iconic YA novel(which has been on a number of banned books lists as well over the years). 16 year old Jonas( played by Benton Twaites) has been selected to become the next Receiver of Memory in his seemingly perfect society run by a group of Elders(one of which is played by Meryl Streep). During his time with the appointed Giver(Jeff Bridges), Jonas learns the dark truth about the price paid for living in such a conflict free world and is encouraged to strike out on his own to bring back what was lost.

I've never read the book but have heard certain major changes were made to the film that greatly differ from the source material. No doubt fans of the novel will want to see it regardless and hopefully those switch-ups don't take away from the intended tone of the story. We shall see this August, I suppose:

Another teen novel based flick on the horizon is The Maze Runner,adapted from the first book in James Dashner's series about a group of young men in a post apocalyptic world who are left to fend for themselves in a wilderness  outside a mysterious maze.

A newcomer to their realm,Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) has no memory of his past or why he was sent to this place.  When the first and only female arrives to their enclave, tensions mount up even higher and Thomas becomes more motivated to rediscover his lost memories in order to survive.

There's a lot less star power in this film, which I consider a good thing since it will allow more focus on the story for new audiences and probably please a good number of the fans for this series as well. The Maze Runner is set for September, a big back to school month, so with any luck it's target audience will have a chance to catch this sci-fi suspense movie in between homework assignments and school supply shopping:

Fortunately for Marvel comic book readers, the next big adaptation coming their way is set for a sweet spot in August. 

Guardians of the Galaxy introduces a rag tag team of intergalactic misfits such as Peter "Star Lord" Quill (Chris Pratt), former hit woman Gamora( Zoe Saldana) and Rocket Raccoon( yes, a talking raccoon with the voice of Bradley Cooper and a tree like sidekick with a limited vocabulary supplied by Vin Diesel) who band together to save the universe from scheming bad guys.

The comic book has a bit of a cult following and this film will tie into the next Avengers movie(due to the main villain Thanos) and yeah, it's for somewhat older audiences but I can see parents and kids both enjoying this funky fantasy flick together:

Definitely meant for grown people is the long awaited follow-up to Sin City(also appearing this August), A Dame to Kill For. Director Robert Rodriguez and writer/artist Frank Miller team up again up to bring to cinematic life stories from Miller's gruesomely gritty graphic novel series.

The title story, plus the segment entitled "Just Another Saturday Night" are adapted from Miller's published work while the latter two tales were written directly for the film, one of which takes place after the Yellow Bastard section of the first movie with a more mature Nancy (Jessica Alba) seeking revenge.

We also get some prequel looks at characters who perished in the first film(Marv is back!) and a different actor playing a character from an earlier storyline(Josh Brolin takes over for Clive Owen's Dwight, the explanation being that Dwight had plastic surgery later on).  Since it's been awhile between Sin City films( the first one came out in 2005), I'm not sure if the vibe for returning and new audiences is strong for this one but let's keep a few non severed fingers crossed, shall we?:

 Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see a solid teen story become a successful film that doesn't involve dire futuristic worlds for once and I do plan to read The Fault In Our Stars this summer.

However, I still like fantasy features, whether they're for kids or adults, and want good adaptations as well(and yes, comic books do count!). I'm just concerned about Hollywood's either/or attitudes when it comes to these things and while it is a business, the show part is just as important there.

Then again, if any genre has a strong shot at bucking the bandwagon mentality of the big studios, it is in the comic book adaptation section. No matter how many folks complain about the number of movies made from the ink and paint pages of comics and graphic novels, they still seem like a sure bet to producers. Plus, some of them are and can be pretty damn cool when done right:

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