Pretty Little Liars – A Pretty Little Television Adaptation

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the US. The show’s third season has just finished and is going from strength to strength with ABC picking it up for another two seasons. There’s also a spin-off show, Ravenswood, in the works.

Based on the captivating book series by Sara Shepard, the show follows four girls who are tormented by the disappearance of their best friend Alison. Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) are all stereotypical teenagers with different interests. The girls are fundamentally different yet pulled together by Alison, the glue of the group. They share secrets like all best friends do, but Alison seems to have dirt on everyone in town so when she disappears and is never seen again there are many suspects who could have been involved.

Alison’s disappearance causes the girls to drift apart and they believe their secrets are buried with her… until a mysterious person starts sending them intimidating messages revealing things only Alison knew, signing off the messages with “-A.” Initially the girls think Alison is still alive but when her body is found buried under the gazebo of her old house, the girls regroup to find the perpetrator.

The original book series has proved to be extremely popular, with twelve novels published as well as a companion novel. Two more books are planned for release by the end of this year.

Due to the loyal fan base of the novels, there has been a lot of controversy about the production of the television adaptation. Whilst certain elements remain the same, such as the characters names and the general plotline, some viewers have complained about more major differences. For example, some truly sinister characters in the book series have been transformed into love interests and well-received characters are still featured in the television series despite being killed off or leaving in the novels.

Whilst it’s fair that dedicated fans get frustrated about the differences in the adaptation, it’s clear to see why the production of the show doesn’t follow the same narrative as the original series. Most of the novels only span a timeline of a few days, which wouldn’t transfer easily onto a weekly television show of 20 or so episodes a series. New plotlines need to be introduced, or drawn out, to have enough material. The pilot episode, for example, was based entirely on the first book. If the show continued at this pace, there wouldn’t be enough material to make one series.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The issue with television adaptation is that suspense needs to be built in every episode, which usually only focuses on a few plot points. In the case of Pretty Little Liars, with four main characters, it is essential to address a number of different plotlines in each episode. Due to the amount of content that needs to be addressed, fans often become frustrated when questions remain unanswered and sub-plots are forgotten about.

Marlene King, the executive producer for the show, constantly comes under fire on social networking websites for the show’s direction. Fans either criticise her for digressing away from the books or for leaving too many unanswered questions. But that’s surely what good television is all about – Intrigue, suspense, shocks and debate.

Fidelity to the source text is important to some extent, but with television adaptations, you never know how long the show is going to run for. To remain popular, producers will respond to what audiences want.

It can be frustrating as a viewer when questions remain unanswered and characters disappear for a number of episodes and it can be annoying when promos are edited to suggest viewers will receive answers when they don’t – but is fidelity in adaptation as important when it comes to television?

With Pretty Little Liars’ incredible fan base, and the go-ahead for at least two more seasons, it’s likely that producers will be able to plan ahead for what needs to be revealed and when. They have many hours of content they need to fill with plots so it is clear they will need to bring in new ideas rather than remaining entirely faithful to the books.

After all, if the show followed the exact plot of the book series surely we’d all be passive viewers, never excited about character developments and never intrigued about what would be happening in the next episode. It’s far more exciting to be an active viewer, continually being shocked by characters and wondering what will be revealed next. Pretty Little Liars is, in my opinion, a great example of how adaptation should be done for a continuing series.

What is your opinion on adaptation for television? Is fidelity less important for a continuing series?

 

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Preview: Gavin and Stacey’s US Remake – Us and Them

Cast of 'Us and Them' [Image: Independent]

Cast of ‘Us and Them’ [Image: Independent]

The pilot of the American Gavin and Stacey adaptation, Us and Them, has officially been picked up by Fox TV.

I previously wrote about the remake, originally under the working title of Friends and Family, over on Yuppee Magazine but the trailer for the pilot has finally arrived:

Some things are clear from the trailer, there are new jokes but the general plot remains the same – a pair of young lovers start a relationship whilst dealing with their eccentric families. Gavin (Jason Ritter) is now a city slicker from New York and Stacey (Alexis Bledel) is from small town Pennsylvania.

Whilst adaptations are always exciting to watch, part of the beauty of Gavin and Stacey was the simplicity of its scripting. Catchphrases from the show weaseled their way into common phrasing and whilst the representations of characters were stereotypical, they were always relateable.

I think the main contribution to the success of the remake in America will be how viewers warm to the characters. In the original version of the show all of the characters were likeable and hilarious so hopefully with Ruth Jones and James Corden on board as executive producers this will be the case with the remake.

I’m excited to see the show when it airs but as a huge fan of the original I can’t help but be dubious about how it will translate on American television and whether it will do the show justice. I know that this has been the general feeling amongst UK viewers (and even American fans who have watched the original series) but others have expressed their excitement on social media at seeing the show being reinvigorated, stating it will fill the void left when Gavin and Stacey finished.

What are your thoughts based on the trailer? Will it be a tidy remake or a big mistake?

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Why the world is going gaga for Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga features creative levels and challenges building on the traditional match-three formula

There has been an invasion of games on Facebook in recent years. From Farmville to Bejeweled, the inclusion of game apps on the social networking site has had a Marmite effect – you love them or hate them.

The game of the moment is undoubtedly Candy Crush Saga. Following months of resisting signing up, I am now hooked.

Candy Crush Saga is just like Bejeweled before it but with added twists. To advance each level, the player is tasked with different challenges. Not only do you have to get high scores, but you need to unblock certain squares or drop certain tokens to the bottom of the grid.

Interaction is important in Candy Crush Saga – you need to engage with your Facebook friends in order to advance or pay a small fee to unlock more levels. Whilst there was once a sense of “oh god another game request” when you logged into Facebook, now people are writing statuses asking for help and it’s incredible to see the amount of people playing via the on-screen map.

There are a number of reasons why Candy Crush Saga has remained one of the top played games virally over the last few months:

It’s Goal Orientated

Candy Crush Saga has its own narrative and doesn’t follow the same formula with every level. Whilst you might be against the clock on one level, the next will challenge you to break chained blocks of ice to free candy pieces. These differences stop the game from becoming monotonous and intrigues the player to wonder what challenges will appear next.

It Allows Synced Platforms

The game doesn’t standalone on Facebook as it is also a downloadable app. One of the biggest problems with gaming apps on Facebook is that they don’t captivate users to a full extent – not everyone logs into Facebook everyday and if they do, they might not have time to play a game. By creating the app to connect with smartphones, users are able to sync their accounts so that they can engage with their Facebook friends without ever having to log into a computer. If they have a spare five minutes, they’re far more likely to play on their mobile.

The Game Map

Competitiveness is a natural aspect of life, so Candy Crush very cleverly includes a game map. Players will want to get further than their friends and will want to beat the high scores displayed, what better way to motivate them than including their friends profile picture over the level they’re on?

It’s Not Endless Gameplay

Most would see this as a fault, but I think it encourages a return to play. Each player only has five lives at a time. If they run out, they can pay for more or ask their Facebook friends to send some but if they want to wait an hour or so, the lives will return. This not only encourages competitiveness to advance but motivates yourself to progress in the next five lives.

What are your thoughts on Candy Crush Saga? Do you love the app or do you hate the influx of requests?

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more! Magazine Suspended after 25 years

More Magazine Suspended

This week Bauer Media announced that it was suspending more! Magazine after 25 years of publication. Some embraced the news saying that these women’s magazines promote negative lifestyle choices but others stated their fears that this wouldn’t just be the beginning of the end for young adult magazines but of the production of print magazines in general.

Reports have stated that more! Magazine was suspended due to a significant drop in readership over the last year. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (cited in The Guardian), for the final half of last year the magazine had an average weekly circulation of 92,459, compared to 200,000 in 2007 and 300,000 in 2000.

There’s no denying that the decline in print sales is due to the increase in online writing. Bloggers and online magazines are now prominent outlets for the 24 hour news (or gossip if you will) cycle. If people want celebrity news, it’s now readily available online from a number of popular blogs. News hits Twitter quicker than anywhere else and with increased engagement with readers, online writers are far more personable than an unnamed person in a magazine.

Some publications have adjusted to these changes – Company Magazine place a lot of emphasis on fashion bloggers, promoting them on their website and in their magazine, but it remains to be seen if this will be enough.

Whilst I’m the first to admit that it’s easy to fall into the trap of visiting a magazine’s website then not feeling the need to buy the magazine itself, I’ll be sad to see more! Magazine go. Regardless of what people say about the influence of the magazine industry on young girls, for me, more! inspired positive career choices, embraced women from all walks of life without judgment and looked at sensitive issues that many women struggle with whilst always maintaining the magazine’s infamous witty humour.

Hopefully other magazines will be motivated to adapt following the news of more!’s cease in production by embracing the digital age and working on what readers want and what will encourage them to remain loyal to the print format.

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Crowd Funding: How Veronica Mars Could Change the Film Industry

Crowd Funding

Crowd funding is the process in which individuals can donate money to people and organisations to help them achieve their goals. It has long been associated with the arts, specifically with unsigned musicians or filmmakers, who ask their fans to help fund their projects.

These funding websites, such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, frequently reward donators with perks and rewards for their financial contributions.

In the past, these websites were predominantly used by those who were relatively unknown, but recently they have become a source of backing projects made by well known organisations and filmmakers.

Since the cancellation of television series Veronica Mars in 2007, fans have been campaigning for series creator Rob Thomas to make a film version of the show. Both Thomas and actress Kristen Bell had expressed their interest in doing so but Warner Brothers, the show’s production company, opted not to fund the project.

Following persistence from Thomas and Bell, Warner Brothers agreed that should they find a way to provide funding for the film, they would back it. The pair organised a profile on Kickstarter with an objective of raising $2,000,000, the highest ever goal on the website, to be reached by April 12th. At the time of writing this article, with 18 days left to go, they have surpassed their aim and $3,872,624 has been pledged.

Due to the Kickstarter funding campaign, a Veronica Mars film is going into production this summer [Image: Kickstarter]

Due to the Kickstarter funding campaign, a Veronica Mars film is going into production this summer [Image: Kickstarter]

With the target being reached, the production of the film will now happen, with contributors winning rewards including scripts, limited edition t-shirts, DVDs, signed posters, twitter follows, premiere tickets  and even a speaking role in the movie.

Due to the support of the Veronica Mars movie project, the rumour mill has been going wild with the possibility of other defunct television shows being able to make films through fan funding. Shows including Pushing Daisies, Chuck and Firefly are now all being rumoured for revival.

The biggest issue with the increased interest in fan funded films is the fact that, should these higher budget films be successful, it will be a more frequented method of covering production costs and smaller independent projects may get overlooked.

When big production companies are already involved with the film’s development, it does feel like an elaborate ploy for these corporations to earn extra money and it is a shame that people are likely to be more willing to contribute to these ventures than those with absolutely no means of funding their projects without extra support.

Furthermore, this method of funding changes the whole viewing experience for film fans. Rewards are there to ensure that financial contributors aren’t taken advantage of, but the process still holds great risk – what if the production doesn’t deliver with its promises and, more importantly, what if the fans who contribute towards the project aren’t happy with the final result?

Fans will be donating a lot of money to the film, what with the initial funding pledges, cinema trips and the purchase of dvds and merchandise, these contributors will therefore expect a lot from the final product and so they should.

I guess it comes down to Veronica Mars to set the precedent but, because of the media attention of the project and the persistence of fans, it seems likely to be a commercial success, which may mean film fans could soon have a more active role in the production of higher budget films, whether this is for the best or not.

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Top 5: Invaluable Web Tools for Bloggers and Online Journalists

[Image: Zoomzum]

[Image: Zoomzum]

Web tools are essential for bloggers and online journalists, whether for generating traffic, sharing articles or enhancing your skills. There are numerous free tools on the web that are invaluable for these writers in order to make their posts, and websites, the best they can possibly be. Here are my picks of the best of these web tools:

Google Trends

Sometimes it can be so difficult to decide what is newsworthy enough to be written about. Whilst I’m a firm believer that as long as you are writing about something that interests you it will be worth it, publishers don’t always think in the same way.

Google Trends allows the user to not only see the “Hot Searches” in their country of choice; it allows them to see the most searched terms on any subject of their choice. This is a great way of seeing what subjects are of interest, and will potentially bring traffic to your website, and what trends people are interested in at the moment.

Google Alerts

This goes hand in hand with Google Trends but is of more use to the a subject-focused journalist. For example I have alerts set for Film, Literature, Music and Television as they are the subjects I enjoy writing about most.

You can set alerts to be emailed to you however frequently you want (with broader topics like mine I would suggest getting updates less frequently).

With Google Alerts, the best articles of your subject of choice are sent directly to your inbox so you are kept up to date with trends and interests.

Dropbox

I tend to work using numerous devices, so it can be really frustrating keeping track of a master document. I’ve had bad experiences using USBs in the past and as I frequently use my tablet for editing, the Dropbox app is a great find.

Dropbox is user friendly and simple to use. It creates a folder to save documents in on the computer, which is then synced to the tablet’s app. When using a different computer, documents can be accessed by logging in online, making work accessible whenever and wherever needed.

Bitly

Sharing posts is a great way to drive traffic to your blog, especially when you can use social networking websites, like Twitter, to reach like-minded people. However, with a limited amount of characters to use, it is often essential to shorten URLs in order to be able to say everything that needs to be said.

Bitly not only shorterns URLs, it allows you to organise URLs into bundles to save, and share, all over the web. Once links have been shared, you can go back onto bitly and get their stats– when they were clicked, the location of the viewer and the referrer of the link.

Codecademy

Whilst many blog hosts don’t require knowledge of HTML and CSS, it’s still a great skill to have as an online writer. Codecademy offers simple lessons on Web Fundamentals (as well as many other programming topics) in an easy to do format.

Instructions are relatively straightforward, with hints available when needed. The layout of the website is great, you enter the code you’ve learned into the box on the left and it appears in a result tab next to it.

As well as teaching the fundamentals of coding, it offers productive tutorials that can be applied straight to the user’s personal website, such as the design of a button.

 

Whilst these may not suit all writers, I’ve certainly found them to be useful. Are there any tools you would suggest for an online journalist or blogger?

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#danceponydance – Social Media Influences Ad Campaign

Advertising agencies are now embracing social media to the full. Nowadays it is rare to see an ad without the familiar ‘hashtag’ (#) symbol in the corner, inviting viewers to discuss what they have seen on Twitter.

The latest viral ad to take the world by storm is Three’s #DancePonyDance, featuring Socks, the moon-walking Shetland pony. Created by Wieden and Kennedy, the ad sees Socks shimmying across the Scottish Highlands to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’. Watch the ad below:

As a brand, Three are trying to put more emphasis on their Ultrafast network and as a result are encouraging people to share the things that they enjoy via networking websites:

Three want to let the world know that all the seemingly stupid, funny and downright daft stuff we look at online on a daily basis…is not silly at all. Their point of view is that this stuff connects us to one another through the simple act of sharing it. Which is why as a network they do everything they can to help you live up to their brand line ‘Keep on internetting’. The commercial ends with the line ‘Silly stuff. It matters’.

[Source: Wieden and Kennedy London]

The brand have even started a “Sharing Stuff” section on their website where they discuss the top online sharing habits of the week:

[Source: three.co.uk]

[Source: three.co.uk]

As well as encouraging viewers to discuss, and share, the ad campaign using the #DancePonyDance hashtag, a web-hosted app was also released to further inspire online sharing.

The remixing tool, The Pony Mixer, allows people to make their own customisations of the ad by adding different backgrounds and props as well as changing the music genre. Once the user has remixed the viral, it can be shared online again via social media. Some of these user-generated ads are now being televised alongside the creator’s twitter name. The @ThreeUK twitter feed even has a promoted post sending tweeters to The Pony Mixer, making it unavoidable to connect with the brand.

The ad has been so popular that numerous celebrities have now mentioned how much they love Socks and the first @ThreeUK tweet linking to the ad has now been retweeted 1,277 times. A parody account for Socks has also been created on twitter, @ponydanceparody.

Perhaps the biggest sign that the public are influenced by ads, and social media trends, is the fact that Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’, the soundtrack of the ad, has now re-entered the UK charts. It will be interesting to see if the new songs featured on The Pony Mixer will follow suit.

Socks the moonwalking Shetland. [Source: Creative Review]

Socks the moonwalking Shetland. [Source: Creative Review]

The ad has undoubtedly been a success for Three. Viewers are now linking their emotions towards the advert with the brand itself and the majority of tweets on the #DancePonyDance hashtag are positive.

However, there has of course been a surge of jokes relating to the recent horse meat scandal and now there is an unfortunate report of yobs forcing a Shetland pony to moonwalk off of a cliff. So it remains to be seen how long responses to the ad itself will remain positive.

Until then, I’m off to remix my own #danceponydance ad…

What are your thoughts on the ad? Love it or loathe it? Does it make you think of Three differently?

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World Book Day: My Most Memorable Books

Today is the annual event made for avid readers like myself – World Book Day. It is the biggest celebration of books and reading in the UK and Ireland and whilst when I was younger it was an occasion to dress as my favourite fictional character, it has since become a time when readers recommend new books to read via social media.

In celebration of World Book Day, I have decided to look back on the most memorable books that I have read throughout my life:

Harry Potter and the Philosophers StoneHarry Potter

I would think the Harry Potter series would appear on most “life in books” lists. The series is so timeless that it can be read over and over again (in fact I’m half way through re-reading the books again now). Whilst J. K. Rowling may not have the most sophisticated style of writing, she created a world that is loved by children and adults alike.

The characters are all unique, intriguing and relateable and as a child I wanted so much for Hogwarts to be real. The best thing about the series though is that it doesn’t shy from more negative themes that children need to learn about – loss, neglect and danger.

 

A Clockwork OrangeA Clockwork Orange

I originally read Anthony Burgess’ classic ‘A Clockwork Orange’ for my A-Level English Literature coursework and immediately loved it. It was the book that introduced me to dystopian novels and I loved the fact that the themes of the novel were prevalent in modern culture.

When I discovered that the characters all used their own language in the book, I initially thought I would struggle to follow the narrative but I found it easy, perhaps due to the influx of modern day slang terms.

The best element of the novel though, in my opinion, has to be the main character, Alex. You want to hate him, he commits vile crimes and is extremely narcissistic but he is the definition of an anti-hero because in the end you actually root for him to turn his life around.

Never Let Me GoNever Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ is another one of my favourite dystopian novels. It is set at a fictional boarding school in East Sussex where children are raised being taught the importance of being fit and healthy. It is revealed that the children are clones being raised to provide organs for “normals”.

The novel follows friends Ruth, Tommy and Kathy throughout their childhood at the boarding school, as they move to the “Cottages” a residential complex for young adults and eventually, when Ruth and Tommy become ‘donors’ and Kathy becomes a ‘carer’, looking after those who donate.

The narrative is completely captivating and emotionally heartwrenching. The book has a film adaptation, directed by Mark Romanek, which is extremely faithful to the novel.

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels has become my new favourite book series. Again, set in a dystopian future the narrative follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen from Panem, a post-apocalyptic version of North America. Each year, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts of Panem are selected at random to compete in the The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is a televised event in which the selected participants are sent to fight to the death in an arena all in the name of entertainment for the rich that live in the Capitol. After her sister Prim is selected at random, Katniss volunteers to take her place in the event.

Collins’ writing style is absolutely fantastic and she keeps you captivated on every page. The novel is carefully written in the way that there is a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter and you just want to continue reading.

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky’s ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is the last novel I read that made me feel emotionally vulnerable. The epistolary style of writing puts you straight into the mind of the main character, Charlie. By writing in first-person in a series of letters, Charlie is honest and doesn’t hold back. He is extremely easy to empathise with and you end up putting yourself in his state of mind.

This novel also has a faithful film adaptation, with the script adapted by Chbosky. I’ve already written about an article about both the book and the film on this website already. Check it out here – Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – From Page to Screen.

So there are my favourite books – are any of them your favourites? Which books would be on your lists?

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Everything You Need To Know About Monsters University

Mike and Sulley return as teenagers in 'Monsters University'

Mike and Sulley return as teenagers in ‘Monsters University’

It’s hard to believe that we were first introduced to Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc. a little over eleven years ago.

The loveable duo captivated hearts as their friendship, and careers as professional ‘Scarers’ in parallel city Montropolis, were put to the test when they accidentally let a human, Boo, through to their world. The story followed Mike and Sulley as they attempted to keep Boo secret and return her to her own world.

This Summer a prequel, Monsters University, is being released and will show Mike and Sulley during their university years and explain that, despite their closeness in Monsters Inc., they weren’t always friends. 

Here’s the low-down on what we know about the prequel so far:

It’s been a long time coming…

Plans for a second Monsters Inc. film have been in process since 2005, however, disagreements between then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs caused issues. Changes in management at Disney and renewed negotiations led to the confirmation of a Pixar-made film in 2012.

In a screenshot from the film we see villain Randall is featured in the film. [Image courtesy of www.filmofilia.com]

In a screenshot from the film we see villain Randall. [Image courtesy of http://www.filmofilia.com

Many of the characters from Monsters Inc. will be returning…

John Goodman (Sulley), Billy Crystal (Mike), Steve Buscemi (Randall), Jennifer Tilly (Celia), Frank Oz (Jeff Fungus) and John Ratzenberger (the Abominable Snowman) are all reprising their roles for the sequel. Kelsey Grammer will replace James Coburn as Henry J. Waternoose III following Coburn’s death in 2002. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Boo will be returning.

New additions to the cast include Ken Jeong as a character named Mack, Rob Riggle as a character named Jenny and national treasure Helen Mirren will appear as head of the school Dean Hardscrabble.

You can enroll too…

In order to prepare for the film release, Pixar have revealed a fully functional website for Monsters University

The website is presented as the university’s own and includes admission information, campus news and a store where you can buy merchandise.

Here are some of my favourite elements of the website:

The website features many humorous articles including "Excel at the Art of Extreme Creepiness"

The website features many humorous articles including “Excel in the Art of Extreme Creepiness”

Comments by “students” are the kind of sickingly sweet quotes found in actual university prospectuses

A short film will be released alongside it…

As is the case with it’s predecessor, Monsters University has a short attached to it for it’s theatrical release. The short in question is The Blue Umbrella, directed by Saschka Unseld and produced by Marc Greenberg.

According to The Big Cartoon Database, the synopsis is as follows:

Amidst the rain in a singing city, two umbrellas– one blue, one red– fall eternally in love. The blue umbrella notices and takes a shine to the red umbrella. Distance and natural forces halt their attraction, but objects on the street- such as construction signs and a mailbox- come to life to help bring them together again.

The film will be featured in Disney Infinity…

If you’ve yet to hear about Disney Infinityit is the upcoming video game that uses collectable figurines of Disney characters that are then virtualised into the game. These virtual characters are then available to interact with in the game.

Monsters University will be one of the worlds in the game and Sulley, Mike and the Abominable Snowman will all be featured characters. The game will see these characters interact with other Disney elements and although marketed for kids, I can’t wait to hear more information about it. Check out some screenshots below:

Sulley and Mike appear in their Disney Infinity set

Sulley and Mike appear in their Disney Infinity set

Mike and Sulley will also play alongside other famous Disney characters

Mike and Sulley will also play alongside other famous Disney characters

The UK will need to wait until 12th July to see it…

Whilst Monsters University is set to be released on the 20th/21st June in most countries, us poor Brits will have to wait a few more weeks to see the film. (Click here to see the scheduled release dates).

Until then, enjoy these trailers!!

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Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – From Page to Screen

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThis feature contains some brief spoilers from both the book and the film adaptation of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a huge success when released in the cinema last year. It is no surprise that the screenplay is faithful to the book, as both were written by incredible writer Stephen Chbosky.

Although an over-used phrase, the book is truly a coming-of-age story that focuses heavily on the disillusionment so frequently felt by teenagers. The plot revolves around Charlie, an apprehensive freshman starting the new school year. He has communication issues and struggles to connect with people following the suicide of his best friend, Michael, the year before the novel begins.

Charlie initially struggles to connect with his family and explains that the only family member he has ever felt close to was his aunt Helen, who died when he was younger.

I read the book for the first time last year when the film was announced and was so captivated by Chbosky’s writing style that I managed to read the whole thing in a day. It’s uniquely written through a series of letters to an undisclosed person meaning that Charlie’s first-person narrative is honest and he doesn’t hold back. As the novel is written in this way, it is so easy to find yourself empathising with Charlie.

There are many themes to the novel, from abusive relationships and sexuality to drugs and adolescence. However, I felt the main theme was loss. Charlie is not only suffering from the loss of his best friend, but also the loss of his youth and, as the novel goes on, his innocence.

Throughout the story, we see Charlie befriend the eccentric Patrick and Sam and adapt to his new, more social, life. Patrick is openly gay and secretly dating popular quarterback, Brad. Sam is his step-sister and has a troubled past, Charlie is immediately besotted with her, but feels he isn’t good enough to do anything about it.

Initially, Charlie is heavily juxtaposed to Patrick. Patrick is over-the-top and obnoxiously loud to teachers whereas Charlie doesn’t have the confidence to participate in classes. As the plot develops and Charlie feels more comfortable with his new friends he gains more confidence and feels free to voice his true opinions.

The novel features many great quotes

The film adaptation of the novel has been a long time coming. The novel was first published in 1999 and has gained a cult following since. It is considered a modern classic by many and features some amazing quotes, including one of my personal favourites “we accept the love we think we deserve”.

The film is extremely faithful to the original novel, which I feel is because Chbosky adapted the script himself. Chbosky has stated in the past that the novel is semi-autobiographical and he can relate to Charlie which may play a part in why the characters do not digress from their original representations.

Usually I find film adaptations don’t live up to the novels they are based on and whilst I still think in this case the novel is better than the film, there isn’t much in it at all.

I think one strength of the film adaptation is that the characters are established much quicker than in the book. When initially reading about Patrick and Sam, I wasn’t sure what kind of people they were as I was only finding out about them at the same speed as Charlie, but as soon as you see the pair on-screen, you understand they are eccentric outcasts.

Logan Lerman is fabulous as wallflower Charlie, especially during party scenes, where he portrays Charlie’s naivety brilliantly. One stand out scene is when Charlie has started dating one of Sam’s friends Mary-Elizabeth. During a game of Truth of Dare? Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, but instead of choosing Mary-Elizabeth, he chooses Sam. Lerman’s performance when he realises the mistake he has made is great, as Charlie is slowly seeing himself turn back into a recluse as his friends stay away from him.

Emma Watson is also surprisingly good as Sam in the film. Although at times her American accent leaves a lot to be desired, her performance is much better than that in any of the Harry Potter films and after seeing the film, I believe she has the potential to continue as a successful actress for a very long time.

However, it is Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Patrick which is truly exceptional. He is able to go from over-the-top clown to emotionally vulnerable in a matter of seconds and you understand why the character is able to draw so many people in. One outstanding scene is when he is confronting Brad about their affair in front of his friends. The dispute turns violent and Patrick completely breaks down. It is no surprise that Miller received a number of accolades for the role.

The production of the film is also well done. Music is a big part of the book and this is conveyed on-screen as the film has an excellent soundtrack. Additionally the editing is extremely clever, with many sound bridges used for transitions, particularly as Charlie recollects about his past. This allows the audience to see the links he makes in order to remember these events.

My only issue with the film itself is that I think it hints too heavily at the films climatic twist, something which was quite shocking and unexpected in the book. However, I often find this to be the case with adaptations.

Overall, I would highly recommend both the novel and the film, but would suggest reading the book first in order to fully embrace and understand Charlie as a character.

 

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