Movie Adaptation: Dark Places

I haven’t done a movie adaptation in awhile, but I got to see a free pre-screening of Dark Places Tuesday night, so I felt I owed a review.

First things first, before I even get into the meat of it, I want to give a warning to those who need it, because there wasn’t one on-screen:  IF STROBE LIGHTS BOTHER YOU, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. Or at least proceed with caution. There is a huge scene about a quarter of the way through, when she goes to The Kill Club with EXTREME strobing, so just be aware of it. Also, a lot of the flashbacks aren’t strobe, but they are a really funky black, white, sepiaish coloring. Almost negative filmy type effect, but whatever it was, it really hurt my eyes. I don’t have seizures but we were pretty close to the screen and I definitely left with a headache.

Ok, on with the review:

From what I understand, Dark Places was actually a French production, made before Gone Girl. But, even with the superb casting, they weren’t completely sure how it would go over in the US, so they held off on the release. Then, when Gone Girl became a smash hit, of COURSE they had to bring it out. I’ve seen nary a trailer for it though, which is sad because while I don’t think it would make near as big of a smash, I think a lot of people would go see this if they knew about it.

It’s a much different film than Gone Girl is, however. Instead of being so high impact drama, it’s more slow and steady. You get the present day plot mixed with the flash backs. Sort of a look this way while I show you something else, make you think one thing and actually the reality is something else entirely. Gillian Flynn is fantastic at this. Her sociopaths never look like sociopaths until the very end.

As I said before, the casting here, at least for the main characters, is superb. Charlize Theron was excellent…but, is she ever bad in anything? How can she be so goddamn gorgeous in greasy short hair and the same dirty shirt all movie long? Oh. Right. She’s Charlize freaking Theron. I did alter my vision of what adult Libby’s life looked like in my previous book review. I think the movie nailed what Flynn was going for–and not at all what I had imagined. It fits much more with who she would have been.

Christina Hendricks as Patty Day? I mean…yes. My friend, as we were walking out, made a comment similar to what I said about Theron. “I didn’t know they could make Christina Hendricks look so good dirty!”

But, in the end, it’s not about the beauty, it’s about the acting, and these two both got their characters down perfectly. We’ve seen them in extremely sophisticated roles, but here they are both in very raw, emotional ones, and the performances were really powerful.

At first, I wasn’t sure Nicholas Hoult was the right choice for Lyle. He’s very young next to Theron, and I balked a bit because in the book, she’s only 30. But, they expanded the time gap a bit in the movie, so it made more sense. Also, for once in, well, EVER, the writers did not make this movie about romance at all. There were plenty of openings for them to do that, and yet they refrained, and I was grateful they didn’t change that part of the story, especially in one where there was so much PTSD, pain, and recovery happening.

This movie is going to be released tomorrow, August 7. I’m unsure how broad of a release it will get, but if it’s showing near you, go see it, especially if you like brain twisters and thrillers. This one isn’t so much on the racing plot thriller type, but more of a plot twist type. Definitely worth a showing.

 

Disclaimer:  My friend got free tickets to see this screening at Angelika Theater Dallas from her work and was kind enough to share one with me.

Movie Adaptation: The Maze Runner

We finally went to see The Maze Runner this afternoon. This is probably my favorite of the big dystopian action trilogies, so I was pumped when I found out they were making a movie out of it. It’s so much different than the others–violence is not the main component. It’s rough in the Glade, sure. But the guys work together as a team, not to save their own skin. And yes, Dashner did include some females, but romance really doesn’t take much of a role. The goals are teamwork and problem solving and thinking outside the box. All really good things to have in a series about a broken world.

The movie did not disappoint. The casting, first of all, was dead on. I’m not even talking about Dylan O’Brien. He made a great Thomas, yeah. But can we talk about Blake Cooper? A more perfect Chuck could not exist in this world. He was sweet and chubby, just like he was supposed to be. And he had the balls he needed to have to back up the rest of the crew. He was one of those best friends every guy needs. I loved him.

Will Pouter as Gally–Yep. If you’ve read the book before you watch this, you know exactly who he is as soon as the box opens. He’s the absolute hard ass he needs to be. Done. Those eyebrows are scary, man.

And Newt? Um. I feel really dirty about much I liked watching Sam from Love Actually run around with leather packs and spears. Who told him he was allowed to grow up and be this fantastic actor? Couldn’t he at least look a LITTLE different than he did as a kid? All jokes aside, Thomas Brodie-Sangster was a perfect fit for the role, and he did a great job.

The landscaping and set up was really interesting. The maze looked amazing–so complex and industrial. The grievers were so freaking scary, and they really nailed the sound effects to go with them. Everything was right on pointe with how I had imagined it, only better.

I had listened to the soundtrack before seeing the movie, so I already knew it was brilliant. It was hard not to be revved up about it though…James Dashner had been talking about it for weeks on Twitter. If you thought John Green was an author excited about his movie–you should follow Dashner. That guy doesn’t stop. He’s absolutely giddy about this series coming out, and for very good reasons.

Movie Adaptation: This is Where I Leave You

When it’s my turn to choose the movie on date night, I will almost always pick a movie that originated in a book. And I will almost always read the book before I go to the theater. I don’t think I need an award for it, but I think you get way more out of a movie if you have read all the little details first.

And so, I’m going to start another segment on the blog that isn’t strictly book related, but I want to discuss the book-based movies that are popping up with regularity. I’ll mark them, so you know it’s not the book I’m referring to. I’ll post the differences, the similarities. Note that I’m writing this with the assumption that you’ve read the book….so these will contain spoilers. Still, I’ll post a spoiler alert at the top. If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read the post.

And, on we go.

 

I’ll be honest, when I saw the cast line up for This is Where I Leave You, I was displeased. My interpretation of the book was more dark and depressing than dramadey. Jason Batemen…ok. He can be awkward and dry, but I was skeptical. The entire time I was reading, I heard John Cusack in my head and it was going to be really hard to follow that up. He was the perfect image of awkwardly cute and sad in my mind. Batemen was just a little to…I dunno…clean?

Jane Fonda. Perfect mom. I wasn’t worried about her at all. That casting was dead on.

But then there was Tina Fey for Wendy. WHAT?! Noooooooooo. Wendy is not a funny character. She’s a depressed alcoholic with an asshole husband. Don’t get me wrong. I love Tina Fey. I think she’s a brilliant comedienne. But I just knew she was going to ruin this character. I wasn’t going to be able to take the movie seriously with her in that role. It was going to be awful.

I was so doubtful that I told my husband that I wanted to skip it and just wait until it came out to DVD. I really wanted to see Maze Runner last night.

But, we really wanted to try out the 21+ recliner theater last night, and Maze Runner is a young adult movie. So, we saw This instead. And I was way wrong. It was really great.

Now, it definitely is a dramadey. It’s not as depressing as I interpreted the book. But, it’s not, by any means, a romcom. There’s a lot of family turmoil in this movie, as you’d expect. And Tina Fey? She nails it.

I still don’t see Jason Batemen as my Judd, but he did a good job. I dug the beard.

They did really downplay Horry’s role, which I was upset about. He was much more of a part of the book, and he was almost background noise in the movie. He’s there, but you hardly see him.

Overall, though, I think this was a pretty good movie adaptation. Is it a good date movie? Maybe…if you’ve been together awhile. Not so much for a first or second. It’s a little hard on relationships. I probably won’t rush out to buy it, but might rent it on Redbox when it comes out.