Tag Archives: movies

Not Johnny Depp

A few weeks ago a friend and I tore ourselves away from the thrill ride that is legal scholarship to check out the new(-ish) movie version of The Mortal Instruments. (Sidebar – I just realized that we have never reviewed this series, which is weird since we’ve all read at least some of them. We’ll put it on the to-do list. I know you’re clamoring for our opinions on all things YA fantasy.) The usual spoiler alerts apply.

mortal instruments

I was hoping this movie would be good because the books lend themselves to the screen, but I had heard that it was mediocre at best, so I both braced myself and girded my loins for disappointment. The critics were right. This was not life-changing cinema. Some things were good – I thought that Simon was perfectly cast, and Clary fit the description, too, although she looked very different from my imaginary Clary. HOWEVER. Casting FAIL for Jace and Valentine. Jace was too old and he didn’t have the right swagger and he’s not exactly the panty-dropper that Cassandra Clare described. Maybe this is all just personal taste, but I was not buying it. VALENTINE, though. Jonathan Rhys-Myers will always have a special place in my heart due to his role in the seminal film Bend it Like Beckham, but he is not right for this part. For starters, he is only ten years older than the kid who plays  Jace, and since both of them look their age, it was not believable at all that they would be father-son. But what I really want to talk about is the look. The hair, the makeup, the costuming – it’s like they were trying to make him into a Mortal Instruments Jack Sparrow, but something went horribly awry. The lesson here is that you can’t even be a good imitation of Johnny Depp. Johnny is a special snowflake swathed in scarves, and it’s pointless to think that other people can achieve the Johnny Depp-ness of it all. JRM’s PR people are good, too, because I can’t get the internet to cough up a decent picture of this travesty. Picture Jack Sparrow, but settle for JRM. There’s a weird braid-ponytail weave at the back of his head. Leather vest, no shirt. Leather pants. (All of the Shadowhunters dress almost exclusively in leather, and no one made ANY jokes about it. Missed opportunity.) Kohl around the eyes. Addled in the head. You get the idea. If I hadn’t already been choking  back laughter after the Clary/Jace kiss, this would have been the trigger. And speaking of said kiss, we should discuss it. The setting: a weird CGI rooftop garden. I can let this setting slide because I know they need to spend their special effects money elsewhere for this movie, but there is no excuse for the score and the love song. I have tried to think of a good analogy or a witty quip, and my vocabulary fails me. I can’t do it justice, so instead I’ve provided a link so that you can experience the scene and accompanying music in all its glory.

Someone wrote this song for a 90s teen movie, surely. I can’t think of another reason that we would have this epic piece of music.

Overall, I will say that this movie is worth it for the unintended laughs, but if you want a legitimately good movie, you will want to steer clear. This would be perfect for airplane-viewing.


Five Reasons You Should Read & Watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Many moons ago (like, many MANY moons ago, wow is this post overdue), after Sword Mistress tracked down the one theater in Atlanta playing the movie, she and I, along with Captain Awesome and our friend M, went to see the must anticipated (at least by us) movie version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I remember reading this book when it first came out and loving it, but I hadn’t read it since. This is mostly due to the fact that I loaned it out to someone about ten years ago and never got it back. (FYI: Don’t be that person. Return books.) Happily, my local library had many copies, so I got to fall in love with these wonderful characters all over again.

(Another person you shouldn’t be? The person that passes up about fifteen perfectly good seats at Starbucks to come sit right next to me, the chick alone in the corner on her computer, and then proceed to have loud cell phone conversations. FIFTEEN OTHER SEATS.

Ahem. Sorry about that.)

This was going to be an analysis of how the book is awesome and the ways in which the movie did or did not stack up, but honestly, the movie was FANTASTIC. Seriously, one of the best book adaptations I’ve ever seen. It helped that the book is so short, meaning that there wasn’t much that needed to be cut. It also helped that author Stephen Chbosky was at the helm, both writing and directing it and pretty much making sure that his baby didn’t suffer in its transition to the big screen. The movie comes out on DVD on February 12 and the book is available pretty much everywhere, so here are five reasons why I think you need to pick up both and have yourself a Perks-fest.

1. The book is awesome. If you’ve never read the book, please go remedy that right now. It is one of the best books about life in high school I have ever read. For such a small book, Chbosky really digs into his three main characters and fleshes them out. It would be easy to shove many of the characters into the typical high school stereotypes, but Chbosky does an excellent job of sidestepping this and instead letting his little band of misfits shine as individuals. I won’t say too much about the story because if you’ve never read it, you really should go into it without knowing anything, but I promise it won’t be a book you forget.

movies_perks_of_being_a_wallflower_32. The cast is awesome. Being the Harry Potter nerds fans that we are, we were beyond thrilled to see Emma Watson in her first post-Potter roll. I’ll admit that she was not the picture I had in my head of Sam, but she did an amazing job of capturing the character and making Sam her own. But as much as I love Emma, it was Logan Lerman as Charlie and Ezra Miller as Patrick who stole the show for me. Both were amazing, and made me fall in love with the characters of Charlie and Patrick even more than I originally was. Lerman captured Charlie’s shyness and complexity so perfectly – there was an underlying layer of tension in everything he did, and yet you could see his big heart shining through the whole time. And Miller as Patrick was equally outstanding, conveying both the character’s charm and pain beautifully.
3. The supporting cast is awesome. In particular, Mae Whitman was just perfect as Mary Elizabeth, balancing a fine line of keeping the character real and sympathetic while still making her annoying enough that you understand why she’s not the girl for Charlie. Also, PAUL RUDD.

the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-12-600x3994. This scene. How could you not want to watch this scene?? Also, ALL THE MUSIC EVER IN THIS MOVIE. But yeah, this little dance number is basically the standard to which I am now holding every high school dance scene in every high school movie until the end of time. (It also may have been one of the scenes where Captain A, who has been known to leave the room during particularly awkward moments on The Office, buried her face in her shirt because she was in the middle of the row and could not physically leave the theater. Which makes me love it even more.)

5. “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” Hands down, one of my favorite lines from any book EVER. Is there any line that more perfectly captures the feeling of being sixteen?

So go read it! And watch it! And then come back and we can talk about our feelings and sob together.


Harry Potter Goes Out In Style: Movie *SPOILERS*

First poster for DH

As with every previous Harry Potter movie, I was with my friends at the midnight showing checking out people in costumes, overly excited and chock full of caffeine to stay awake (It is way harder to stay up until all hours at 27 than it is at 16). This time, however, was accompanied by a tinge of sadness, as this would be the last HP movie (unless Hollywood keeps up its ridiculous “we have no more ideas, so lets keep re-making old movies” thing. In that case, we will be back at HP midnight releases in about 20 years). On top of my nostalgia over the end of an era, I was also filled with dread, as I was not sure if I could ever be prepared for so many deaths that I knew were coming.

We’ve held off discussing our opinions with each other until now, so enjoy!

Sword Mistress: Ok… I have to say it. Why didn’t Fred get a better send off?! And what about Lupin & Tonks? I was hoping that in the movie they would get to go out in a blaze of glory! I was also really sad that there were no house elves with kitchen knives hacking at Death Eaters ankles and crazy Trelawney chucking magic balls at people! Maybe scenes like this will be in an extended dvd version…

Princess Consuela: Yeah, they cut pretty much everything that wasn’t directly Harry-related.  Fred was barely in the movie at all!  Of course, had they reproduced the scene from the book, I would have been reduced to a sobbing  mess in the theater, and I would have missed the rest of the movie due to the uncontrollable weeping.  I managed to hold it together as it was.  I can’t believe that Emma Thompson didn’t have any lines AT ALL.  How do you get Emma to be in your movie and give her NO LINES?  I think she got a couple of passes with the camera, and that was it. (ETA: I saw the movie again, and she does get a line.  Clearly it wasn’t memorable enough to make an impression on me the first time.  But I am very glad that she got to speak.)  Also, can we take a moment to discuss how awesome McGonagall is in this movie?  LOVE.

Captain Awesome: I would have liked to see just about everyone, especially the house elves, fighting a little more, but it was probably WAY too expensive to do for scenes that weren’t essential to Harry’s story.  My one big complaint was that nobody was around to witness Harry and Voldemort’s final battle!  I don’t particularly care that it wasn’t in the Great Hall, but I think we really miss out on that cathartic moment when the whole crowd goes nuts once they realize that Voldie is finally dead.  Plus I like to imagine that everybody is really confused when Harry starts going on about Horcruxes and Elder Wands.  But overall I thought the movie was great.  Especially the way that they handled Snape’s back story.  Alan Rickman is a genius.

SM: Absolutely! I loved how they did his memories. They didn’t shy away from his violent death either. If anything, it was more graphic and violent than I remember it. Snape is forever my favorite character. Please, enjoy this tribute to Snape with fan art AND BON JOVI!

Anatasia Beaverhausen: I sobbed audibly through the last 45 minutes while clutching my friend Jessie’s hand. Our knuckles were white once the movie was over. And what I missed from the final battle was Percy’s redemption. That moment is one of my favorite’s from the entire book. BUT! I thought they did a great job on including details, but focusing on the main action of the narrative they chose from the book. And I loved getting at least the nod to characters they couldn’t include. Professor Sprout!

rhymenoserous: I thought this movie was perhaps the most visually impressive of all of them.  It was really beautiful, even when the scene was just dementors floating over Hogwarts.  And I actually preferred how the movie handled some of the horcrux details.  One of my biggest beefs with the book is how Ron and Hermione get basilisk fangs off camera.  It seemed really amateur of Rowling to just mention that they went and got the fangs and destroyed the cup, and that was all done, moving on, etc.  I’m glad the movie gave us more of an even pace.

The Trio. Sniffle. WE LOVE YOU!

However, in the book you get much more about Dumbledore’s back story, and his life and the secrets he kept from Harry.  They hinted at it in the movie, but we really didn’t learn anything new about Dumbledore.  And I was really looking forward to seeing Dumbledore as a kid.

PC: How did you feel about them moving the (AWKWARD) kiss to that scene?  We missed out on Harry yelling at them for kissing in the middle of a battle, which is one of the only funny things that happens in that half of the book.  I was looking forward to that.

AB: I was ok with it, mostly because there were already enough (too many?) funny, tension-breaking moments in the battle. Which was frankly a lot more in your face and brutal than I had expected. I like that honestly, but wow, seeing the student bodies lying around was very jarring.

SM: I did laugh a lot more than I had thought. It wasn’t too much though. And yeah, I was hoping for more of the Dumbledore backstory, but realistically, it was too much to put into a movie. There was very little of Riddle’s backstory as well. I liked how they had Harry “sense” the horcruxes because he was one. It explained a lot about how they found them, Voldemort in his head, etc., otherwise, there would have been all of this jumble about Hogwarts founders and everything that would only make sense if you read the books.

CA: Another departure from the book that I enjoyed was when Harry steps out of the crowd in the Great Hall to announce his presence in the castle.  I love the scene in Ravenclaw Tower in the book, but there is something so satisfying about Harry confronting Snape face to face one last time.  Plus McGonagall gets to act like a badass and the remainder of the Order of the Phoenix (which pretty much of consist of Kingsley, the Lupins, and the Weasleys at this point) gets a dramatic entrance.  I said it before, but Alan Rickman is amazing in this scene.  You can tell he doesn’t want to blow his cover, but it is killing him that everyone else can’t know the truth.

SM: It is clear that we should all be members of the Alan Rickman Fan Club. You know there has to be one.

PC: I want to be a member of the Maggie Smith Fan Club, too.

Robin Sparkles: Indeed. And the scene where Snape died? I agree with whoever said it was even more graphic than they remembered in the book. I was a little worried that they would gloss over the violence of his death, so I was so happy to see that they went full force into that scene. Well… happy may not be the word. I believe Captain Awesome and I were in the middle of a major sobfest by this point.

And speaking of sobbing, can we talk about the scene in the woods between Harry and his parents? And yes, I do mean all of his parents, Lupin and Sirius included. This was one of the most touching scene for me in the book, because he’s had to be this big hero for the world but in that moment, surrounded by all of these parental figures he’s lost, he can be a scared little boy in the few minutes before he walks to his death. And the movie did not disappoint. I really feel like Daniel Radcliffe stepped it up a notch with both parts of this movie, particularly in the more quiet scenes. Rupert and Emma as well. I thought they all did such an amazing job.

AB: That was one of the scenes that I was most looking forward to seeing (and worrying that it wouldn’t live up to what I had in my head). Luckily, I thought they did a great job, though I wish we had gotten a shot of him walking with them through the woods, surrounding and protecting him. The other scene that I wish had been played slightly differently was Hagrid reacting to Harry’s death. He’s supposed to be a complete wreck, which is pretty much the only way he would notice that Harry isn’t actually dead. Robbie Coltrane played his silent grief beautifully, but one of the things I love about Hagrid is his giant heart and how he wears it on his sleeve.

Our boyfriend Neville, being awesome.

RS:  I actually went to see the movie a second time yesterday, which helped a lot because much of that final battle was just lost on me the first time. You know, due to all the crying.  Anyhoo. I sort of agree about Hagrid, but then I wonder if he’d been sobbing if it would have played out as to over the top for such a serious scene. But really, I hardly noticed anyone else in that scene anyway because of Neville stepping up and being AWESOME with his speech and pulling out the sword and… gah! How is he so fantastic? Love him.

One scene that really grabbed me, particularly yesterday in my second viewing, was the scene with the trio right before Harry goes into the woods. Just the heartbreak on Hermione’s face when she realizes that he’s not coming back, and her “I’ll go with you.” And then Harry and Ron just looking at each other over Hermione’s shoulder. Amazing, amazing scene.

Okay gang, we could probably talk about this movie forever, but that would be a very long and ultimately boring post, so what are your final thoughts? Mine? Loved it! Overall, I think parts 1 and 2 of Deathly Hallows are the best of the series. They are gorgeous and intense and everything I wanted them to be. They veered off canon in just the right places to give the movies a great pace and their own special scenes (dance between Harry and Hermione in part 1, I’m looking at you), while still staying true to the book. I’m so sad that this series is over, but this was the perfect ending to one of my favorite book and movie series of all time.

PC: Final thoughts? Loved this movie.  Must go see it again before it leaves theaters.  Gorgeous? Check.  Compelling? Check.  Gut-wrenching? Check.  Amazing.  I grieve for the end of the series, but there is always Pottermore to look forward to!  *hangs hopes on shiny new site*  Don’t disappoint me, JKR.  You’ve already assigned me a stupid Pottermore username, but I will withhold judgment until I get in to look around.  I hear there’s McGonagall backstory.  It could help.

SM: I not so secretly loved it… both times I saw it. Yes, I went back and saw it again. It was better the second time around. There was a lot that I missed the first time. It was a solid end to the series and I want McGonagall to be my best friend. And Nevile in his Cosby sweater. I wonder if he has a whole closet full of those?

Rhymenocerous: Sad that it’s over, but we have Hunger Games to look forward to now!

CA: I’ll miss the excitement and anticipation of a new Harry Potter movie, but the series definitely went out on a high note.  I was on the edge of my seat, despite knowing what was going to happen, and every secondary character got at least some small moment to shine.  I think I ran through a gauntlet of emotions watching this movie: joy, terror, triumph, sadness, amusement, sadness (it bears repeating.), pain, and contentment.  And I look forward to doing it all again, although hopefully with a bit less sadness.  Now, who wants to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

(Robin Sparkles here with a few little extras that you should go watch, just in case you weren’t already sobbing from the movie… Dan, Rupert, Emma, and JK Rowling at the movie’s London premiere, last days on the set, and the cast describing their past ten years in one word. Pass the tissues!)


Movie Interlude: Casting The Hunger Games

Though the idea for this blog started many moons ago, it didn’t get revived until a few months ago, in the midst of a very long email thread that dissected each new tidbit of casting news from The Hunger Games. As we’ve all been watching the casting with great enthusiasm, it seemed only fitting to take a brief hiatus from book talk to do a little research in the area… specifically, the actors playing the key roles of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. Which meant watching movies. The things I do for this blog.

First, let’s all take a moment to look at Jennifer Lawrence and repeat what so many have said before… she IS Katniss. If you need convincing, please please please go watch Winter’s Bone. About halfway through that movie, I was pretty sure that not only could she do a kickass job as Katniss, she could probably carry the rest of the roles as well if the other actors sucked. I love her, and I cannot wait to see her in this role.

As for the other key players, I’m concerned.

First up is Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. I saw The Kids are Alright before I heard the news of his casting, and frankly, it kind of shocked me. This is not how I pictured my beloved Peeta AT ALL. He was good in Kids, but he seems too young, too innocent, and quite frankly, too small to hold his own against the inevitable force of Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. I worry.

And then there’s Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth. I’d never seen Liam in anything, so I was forced to sit down this afternoon and watch the Nicholas Sparks-penned Miley Cyrus-starring movie The Last Song. You know how we feel about Nicholas Sparks around here, so I considered this a sacrifice on my part, but I wanted to research thoroughly. We are nothing here at Rampant Reads if not thorough.

(As an aside, can we talk about The Last Song for a minute? Because I had to watch it and now I think I deserve to talk about it for two minutes. BEAR WITH ME. So, The Last Song.

Genre: Nicholas Sparks, aka romance with a side of death.

Players: Miley Cyrus plays Ronnie, who is Bad. We know this because at the beginning of the movie, she is wearing combat boots and too much eye makeup. However, she has perfect hair, so we also know that she is Redeemable. Also, she is a piano prodigy who is accepted to Julliard even though she hasn’t played anything since age eleven and didn’t actually audition and doesn’t even want to go. She’s. Just. That. Good. Gale over there is the boy who falls in love with her the second he sees her, even though she is a jerk to him. Miley has an awesome little brother who is the only one who will tell her to shut it when she acts like a brat. Which is often. There are some other people too. And BABY SEA TURTLES.

Plot: Miley is Bad. She meets Gale Will. Then she is Good. They fight and make up a few times, allowing Miley to toss her hair a lot as she storms off. BABY SEA TURTLES HATCH AND ARE ADORABLE. Someone dies of cancer. It is not Miley [not even Nicholas Sparks is allowed to kill off Miley Cyrus]. The end.

Verdict: It’s actually not too bad, as far as these types of movies go, but probably because I don’t have a deep hatred toward Miley Cyrus. If you do, you might want to skip this one. Or just fast forward to the BABY SEA TURTLES. I might have teared up a little at The Death, but only because of her awesome little brother. What? I’m not made of stone, people.

I’m glad I got that out of my system.)

Where was I? Oh yes, Gale. This is the picture above is the one floating around of Liam, who is admittedly looking rather Gale-esque. However, this is how he looked most of the time in The Last Song (right), and now I’m kind of wishing he’d been cast as Peeta because this is much more like I imagined Peeta to be. He looks more age appropriate to be making out with Jennifer Lawrence, and he’s got the build to be someone who lugs around bags of flour everyday. Plus… he kind of wasn’t bad in the movie, and he played a good nice guy who still doesn’t let people walk all over him.

Also, he’s Australian. Not that that has anything to do with anything… I’m just saying.

So that’s my take on the casting of The Hunger Games – a resounding YES, a resounding eh, and a “can we please put this guy in another role? Please?” What are your thoughts?