Movie Updates from Dystopia

Maze on abstract screenThe news has been disappointing lately for fans of YA dystopian novels, at least when it comes to TV adaptations. When it comes to the big screen, however, the news is much better. Four bestsellers hit movie theaters in 2014.

  • Divergent (Veronica Roth): March 21
  • The Giver (Lois Lowry): August 15
  • The Maze Runner (James Dashner): September 19
  • Mockingjay Part 1 (Suzanne Collins): November 21

There are sequels to come, and an adaptation of Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing is also in the works for 2015, so dystopian fans should be in good shape for a while.

Have you heard of any other YA dystopian novels being turned into a movie?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Book to Screen Adaptations

I always feel a thrill of anticipation when I hear that a book I’ve enjoyed is coming to the movie or TV screen, but apprehension quickly follows. It’s a tricky thing to capture the essence of a book for film, and I don’t envy the screenwriters who are given the task. Sometimes the things that make a book such a great book get lost in translation.

Some adaptations are downright tragic. (Don’t even get me started on Eragon.) Some I actually end up liking more than the book. (Two thumbs up for Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.)

ID-10038497
Image courtesy digitalart: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Big screen adaptations this year include Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Catching Fire, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Ender’s Game. I think a movie is the way to go with those adaptations. The books have an epic feel that will be best communicated by a big screen.

Some books are better suited for the small screen. TV is the perfect place for Kiera Cass’s The Selection considering its reality TV storyline. I’ve also heard a rumor that Lauren Oliver’s Delirium has been optioned for TV, and I think it’s the right choice in that case. Delirium has a lot of subtlety that will benefit from a slower, weekly reveal.

What’s your favorite book to screen adaptation? What adaptations are you looking forward to?

©2013 Kim Vandel

The Amazing Thing About Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man came out on DVD last week. When I took my boys to see the movie this summer, I was very impressed, but it wasn’t the special effects or action scenes that impressed me. What caught my attention was Peter Parker. I instantly thought he was a Peter Parker my boys could relate to, and the proof came when we left the theater. My boys announced they liked the 2012 Spider-Man better than the previous version.

Image courtesy Ian Kahn: freedigitalphotos.net

This time around, Peter Parker isn’t some nerdy genius. He’s a punk with a skateboard, baggy sweatshirt, and attitude. His jeans are hanging so low that we all know what brand of boxers he wears. He has family issues. He gets picked on at school. He’s the kid everyone thinks is a waste of space, that angst-filled kid sitting in the back of the classroom plugged into his iPod. The kid who wants to be something more but doesn’t know what that something is or how to get there.

The Amazing Spider-Man gave audiences a vivid picture of an imperfect hero. It showed that heroes make mistakes—sometimes really big ones—but heroes also learn from their mistakes. They keep trying until they discover something inside themselves that isn’t defined by family circumstances, report cards, or a bank account.

A hero isn’t someone who gets it right every time. A hero is someone who makes a choice to step beyond their circumstances and do something extraordinary, and that’s the most amazing thing about The Amazing Spider-Man. It showed that even a punk kid can find a purpose. Anyone can become a hero.

I can’t honestly say that I like the 2012 Andrew Garfield version of Spider-Man better than the Tobey Maguire version, but it was pure genius to update Peter Parker and make him someone teens could identify with. Movie-makers found a way to connect with an entire generation of young adults, and they might just inspire a few of them in the process.

©2012 Kim Vandel

The Truth About Men in Black

It’s been fifteen years since the original Men in Black hit movie theaters. Over Memorial Day weekend, Men in Black 3 brought Agents J and K (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) back to the big screen. Their odd couple chemistry was just as amusing this time as it was the first time around, and Josh Brolin’s portrayal of a young Agent K was fantastic. His performance made the movie worth the price of admission.

The thing that caught me totally by surprise was the movie’s theme. More than once characters were encouraged to speak the truth, and Agent J tells a group of bystanders not to lie to their kids. The entire movie was an example of how hiding the truth can damage a relationship.

A Hollywood blockbuster promoting honesty? I mean, this is Hollywood we’re talking about, right? The land of “fake believe” is lecturing us on keeping it real.

Hollywood sign
Image courtesy porbital: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Maybe it’s a sign of where we are in America right now. With a new scandal hitting the headlines every other day, we’ve grown tired of being lied to and manipulated. We’re tired of being treated like we “can’t handle the truth.”

But I hope it’s more than that. I hope it’s a sign of where America is heading—a place where people aren’t afraid to admit they don’t have all the answers. They’re not afraid to say they made a mistake. A place where flawed people work together to make things better. It could happen. We’ll just have to scrounge up some of that famous American bravery and take a step in the right direction. If the Men in Black can do it, so can we.

©2012 Kim Vandel