Film vs Novel – Before I Fall

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Reliving mean girl teen rudeness.

It’s been well over six months since I’ve done a book to film comparison, and given there have been a plethora of titles released recently I thought I’d better pull my finger out 😉

I started reading ‘Before I Fall’ a few times, abandoning it and returning before making any head way. All the immaturity, the teen girl snarkiness and bullying was just so tiresome. Plus the Groundhog styled repetition of the same day lagged the pacing. However I didn’t get that same lengthiness and drag from the film.

Before I Fall FvN Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI didn’t particularly like Sam for most of the novel. She wears the moniker ‘bitch’ unapologetically and seems to pinball from one social scene to the next, swaying under the banner of peer pressure and grasping to remain at the top of the social hierarchy. Then about halfway through the novel things changed. Sam became much more interesting, her choices became more altruistic. I laughed so hard in her ‘rebellious’ day it added a much needed punch to a novel I was starting to find boring. In contrast the film version of Sam (played by Zoey Deutch – and the main reason I wanted to see this film) seemed to be more of an observer and the quiet one of the group, where in the book she is much more involved in the bullying and teen drama.

Additionally, the sex scene with Rob (her teacher) was messed up – didn’t even know if they have sex, but it is heavily alluded to in the film, whereas the novel kept it at heavy flirtation.

One big difference in the plot was in the book she only repeats the day seven times – it’s much more in the film with numerous versions of the day being flashed up on the screen montage-style.

The supporting cast felt all “very teen” – wrapped up in their own dramas and self-importance. So the characterization was bang on, though I had little patience for their carry on. Sheesh I felt so old reading this book. It didn’t have quite that impact on me with the film version – while they were still representing teens drinking, partying and being rebellious, it didn’t feel as frustrating. Possibly because that behaviour was given less screen time in comparison to the dominance in the story line.

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Before I Fall’ has a pretty easy writing style, a plain melodic beat that once the pace picked up in the second half of the novel, I flew through. I liked the tone the novel set: it glances at repercussions of behaviour, atonement, bullying, suicide, depression, compassion, and acceptance. For such a wishy-washy teen babbling premise, it alludes to some much more serious issues. The movie kept the concept and tone (and the message) but overall the narrative felt flat and drawn out (but better than the written version). It took a while for the story to get its legs and many of the characters really aren’t that nice of people. But they redeem themselves in increments… something I didn’t really get from the novel.

I found there was also some missed context in some of the scenes of the film – they did not make a whole lot of sense, where in the book there was always an explanation. I think those who have not read the novel before viewing the movie may not quite grasp the relevance of some scenes.

I’d recommend the novel to lovers of YA who don’t mind a slow developing story. Plenty of drama and hijinks. Weird in some places, but the cyclical structure of the story resolves everything nicely. And like the proverbial light in the opening scene, you see it coming and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. The movie was fun – and if you only thought it was okay – and don’t attempt the novel. The visual summarisation is slightly more entertaining in my opinion.

Id’ give the novel 3 ¼ out of 5 stars, and the film a 3 ½ … close, but the film for the win.

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Film vs Novel – Fallen

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Where some angles fear to read.

I read the book over three years ago, and wasn’t overly impressed, but was interested to see if the movie could improve on my opinion.

On the surface, ‘Fallen’ is a thrilling story about forbidden love. And I enjoyed all the supernatural elements in the novel, though its execution was burdened with over-used tropes glutting the YA market. The movie did little to fix this, the characters still felt two dimensional, and it even managed to create a worse insta-love scenario between Luce and Daniel.

The whole age-old mythology of angels vs demons and reincarnation lost its edge.

The story itself is interesting, although nothing new or surprising, and if it hadn’t been such a lumbering read I would have rated it higher. You could predict the plot easily and I was a little disappointed how the climax (battle) of the book took place off screen. There were some unique devices within the novel, like the use of shadows to glimpse a window into the past, I really liked how this was done. But amnesia and flashbacks are two of my pet hates in a novel – they are cliché and overused.  The film watered down the story line so much – dropping out the roles of certain characters that teach and interact with Luce to the point that I just about wanted to puke. The reason/role the school of the Sword and Cross was also omitted. By the end of the film, I felt like I’d only gotten half of the story. The film failed to do a lot of the set up established in the novel, and did a gross disservice to ‘Fallen’ in my opinion.

The SPFX, especially that of angel wings, was pretty impressive though – it was my favourite aspect of the movie. ‘Fallen’ is aesthetically beautiful and melancholy. The visual tone is executed really well. But that old saying about polishing a turd…. with such a problematic story to begin with, there wasn’t a great deal you could do with it and remain true to the original novel. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if it had a much darker, biblical tone, given the characters some depth and attitude that wasn’t steeped in an ancient battle of good and evil.

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Having said that, there were some scenes that felt like an ‘80’s music video : lighting effects, camera pulling in and out of focus, hair blowing in the wind… cue the ‘Heart’ soundtrack.

Luce, the main character, was too insipid for me in the novel. She reacted to the circumstances around her, and lacked strength. I can understand what Lauren Kate was trying to convey with this story, but neglected to give her main cast any sort of edge. Similarly Daniel and Cam, fighting for Luce’s affection, were equally two-dimensional. Both had strong chauvinistic attributes and I failed to connect with any of the characters or their love story. The film managed to give Luce an edge I was hoping for – I actually liked Addison Timlin’s portrayal of her. Daniel was played well by Jeremy Irvine (*swoons*), but I still found his character too aloof and brooding to care about. Cam felt much more dynamic on the screen (played by Harrison Gilbertson.) I had mixed feelings in the novel with him being painted as the tempting villain, but in the film, a layer of genuine concern of Luce’s well-bring shone through.

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Lauren’s writing is easy to read, and I enjoyed her style – she just kept losing me. I feel if you cut the book down to half its size to ensure the pace pulled you through the story, Luce would have been seen as a survivor rather than someone who simply endures. By the end of the novel I was more interested in the periphery characters: they had powers and attitude that stirred my curiosity. In the film I sat there blinking at the screen when the end credits rolled – I did not know what was going on with the periphery characters at all. And Penn – what happened there? Blink and you miss it, and none of the cast seemed concerned or affected by what went down.

Many of the reveals in the novel are slowly released, where in the film, much of it is dumped on the viewer in the first fifteen minutes and I was left wondering where the story had to go. If it weren’t for the digital effects I would have gotten really angry.

I do know the studio bought the film rights for all the books – and some sequels could help redeem this series, because this movie debut did feel like the first instalment of a series or a tv pilot… so there may be more to come.

Given the movie managed to interest and entice me much more than the books, it definitely surpasses the written version; though I felt it missed out on some important elements of interest from the books – and the pacing was a little off.

But if you love epic love stories, and angels, and don’t mind a passive protagonist then you will love this book or film. I had rated the book two stars on Goodreads, and in comparison, I’d rate the movie 2.5… an improvement, but still, no cigar!

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – Nerve

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The novel ‘Nerve’ had the distinct tone of a toned-down horror movie – the film, however, was a completely different creature.

I found the book compelling. I giggled at some of the dares the Players of the app are put through, and my pulse raced in others. I also liked the interactivity of the Watchers. The concept of the game gave me that silly high you get when you do something stupid as a teenager. That thrill of breaking the rules and giving into abandonment. Some of the dares are lame, but it is to be expected for building tension. The film highlighted different motivations for the main characters – redemption, money, or breaking out of the box people keep labelling you with. I found the movie much more thrilling, and the complexity between the cast more interesting with tension and jealousy coming in to play. It also added an air of mystery around the origin and reason for the game, and the introduction of the Watchers (and Controllers). Where the book is fun and innocent, the film is intricate, daring, and foreboding.

nerve-film-vs-novel-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleOur protagonist Vee is a cute, bookish and unassuming girl – very much how I was in high school. She has a strong moral compass which is what kept me reading. She was crapping her pants, but stuck to her morals and always found a solution she could live with. She remained true to this impression in both the film and the novel. I loved Emma Roberts portrayal of her. She nailed the shy yet determined aspect of Vee to a tee. You could also see the uncertainty and excitement come through a lot more with Emma Roberts’ interpretation of Vee.

Ian, one of the men in Vee’s life, felt a little stereotypical, and a lot of eye-rolling went with his story, but by the end of the novel I actually thought he was pretty decent and genuine. The same goes for Sydney, Vee’s bestie for the experience I got reading the novel. In the film we get a more possessive Ian and a self-absorbed Sydney. I felt it added a better dynamic and allowed our protagonist Vee to shine. Praise goes to the screenwriters!

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Tommy, the love interest for the book … well I’ll let that one go. He’s a bit of a mixed bag and I think there is still more of his story to tell. This can be said for many of the cast as well. They all have their motivations for joining the game NERVE – to better their lives, to become famous, to have an adrenaline rush… but the snippets into their lives was truly interesting. Like peeking into the lives of strangers, grotesque and fascinating. The movie explored this much more deeply with the interpretation from actor Dave Franco. We get a horrific and tragic backstory for Tommy. Also there is a nefarious element to the game not present in the novel that I felt added something extra – leading up to a more satisfying climax.

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The ending for the book, though I loved the intelligence and strategy of it, did not have the thrill of the beginning dares. It devolved into a clichéd Mexican standoff. But I did like the twist ending. I love a bit of cheesy, in-your-face tone that leave the reader/viewer saying WTF? The movie, though still remaining true to the concept of the book, added a layer of social responsibility.

The pacing is top-notch, I found myself reading three-quarters of the book on one sitting, until my eyes started drooping. The storyline isn’t what is so attention grabbing, it’s more like the anticipation of what comes next… and that’s the whole book in a nutshell. It’s done really well for what it is. It reminds me of those campy cult classics people love, where substance is low, but it connects to something primal that we find impossibly entertaining. The movie did it all better, but the storyline felt flawed to start with, but the big screen version certainly redeemed ‘Nerve’ in my eyes. Still cliché, but entertaining.

The whole book was a wonderful satire on fame, and what it costs you. It was also a sanatised poke at all these ‘Saw’ movies… Surprising to find layers like this in ‘Nerve.’ I’m glad the film departed from this element, instead focusing on the core motivations as to why someone would choose to partake in the game, as either a Player or a Watcher.

Jeanne Ryan, had a wonderful writing style. I felt like I was thinking the words as I read them. No grand descriptions or lengthy inner monologues. It was simple and to the point – which is what you need to build tension and move the pace along. The treatment of the film was as equally thrilling, entertaining and funny, though I am confident in saying it pulled it off with greater finesse than the book.

I would have enjoyed the novel far more if we got to get to know the characters better (like the film), had dares with higher stakes (like the film), and more adrenaline inducing scenarios (like the… well you get the point). Additionally, a bigger conspiracy and a bigger peek behind the curtain – and that is in the film! It’s as if the screenwriters read my mind and added all the little things I felt were lacking from the book. Even though ‘Nerve’ is a standalone, it sets things up enough that it could be considered the start of a series. I liked the open-ended tone that both film and novel conclude on. Enjoyable, silly fun.

Book 3.5 stars, movie 4 stars

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ghosts of boyfriends past

What fictional boyfriends have taught me vs. actual boyfriends …

I’ve met some outstanding men through my reading habits, so let’s have a fun look at how their attributes (and tropes) stand up to their real life counterparts:

Ghosts of Boyfriends Past by Casey Carlisle

If only I could do some Weird Science and construct a man on my own….

Who is your favorite fictional boyfriend and how well do any real life boyfie’s stack up?

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.