Multiple beheadings, one impaling, and an omnipresent necromancer—these are just three indications that director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1937 adventure/fantasy The Hobbit has taken a dark turn. The short novel has been expanded into what might amount to a nearly nine-hour-long trilogy—turning what seems a fireside yarn in print into an overlong saga on the screen.
In this second foray into Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy, the filmmakers approach Catching Fire’s dystopian derring-do with deadly seriousness. Though a new director, Francis Lawrence, has taken over the franchise from The Hunger Games’s Gary Ross, it has been a smooth transition.
How does a filmmaker adapt Markus Zusak’s bestseller The Book Thief, written in Death’s candid point of view? Director Brian Percival tackles that question and more in this atypical family movie set in Nazi Germany. Starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nélisse, the adaptation expands to theaters nationwide in the coming weeks.
For those who can’t wait two more weeks to see Catching Fire, relief is at hand. The taut How I Live Now offers a slimmed down dystopian world at its most bucolic—a survival tale meets hot-and-heavy first love with a punkish swagger. The screenwriters have tweaked the snarky-but-soft-hearted narration of Meg Rosoff’s absorbing novel (Random, 2004), but given the heroine a still-defiant voice.
There are moments in the sleek-but-not-too-flashy adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game when the film takes flight. It feels like child’s play, and the audience forgets briefly that the on-screen kids, the smartest in the world, are being groomed to kill at a Battle School in space. The screenplay hews closer to the book than a potential franchise template.
The first movie adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s popular series, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, is out in theaters on August 21. Lily Collins as Clarissa “Clary” Fray and Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace star in the action-fantasy, which provides the thrill of the chase and a sprinkling of the romance for its core audience.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Sea of Monsters comes roaring into theaters on August 7. SLJ reviews this page-to-screen adaptation of the second installment of Rick Riordan’s ultra-popular series.
Director James Ponsoldt’s sharp take on Tim Tharp’s 2008 novel (Knopf) gives The Spectacular Now a higher level of maturity and complexity than most young adult book-to-movie adaptations. The film, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, arrives in theaters on August 2.
More than 30 years after it was published, Judy Blume’s YA novel Tiger Eyes has been adapted for the big screen. Directed by Lawrence Blume, the author’s son, the quiet film stars Willa Holland as Davey and Amy Jo Johnson as her mother, both reeling from the results of a tragic shooting. The gorgeous landscape of northern New Mexico serves as a perfect backdrop to the long-awaited adaptation, also available via video on demand. Kent Turner reviews it for SLJ.
Girls with supernatural powers, rumors of demon-worshiping, and of course, romance, are all to be found in “Beautiful Creatures,” the film adaptation of the popular YA paranormal series.
In “The Hobbit,” Peter Jackson’s follow up to his epic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Bilbo Baggins begins his journey to defeat the dragon Smaug.
A friend of mine recently forwarded me one of those emails. I’m sure you’re familiar with them: lots of cute photos, and when you scroll to the bottom, you typically see some kind of humorous statement. This particular email had several pictures, all of teenagers—at the park, in a restaurant or car, at a baseball game. And in every image, the teens wereahunched over, totally engrossed in their cell phones. The very last photo is of Albert Einstein, and it’s accompanied by a quote from him: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
Film Review: ‘Life of Pi’ Offers a Menagerie of 3D Delights, While Conveying the Book’s Heady Themes
In the 3D film adaptation of Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi,” a teenager named Pi squares off with a hulking and hungry Bengal tiger, the the only other occupant of a lifeboat adrift in the Pacific Ocean.
In the final Twilight movie, Bella Swan, now a vampire, wields her newfound strength, adjusts to motherhood, and with her vampire brethren face a new enemy.
K.L. Going’s engrossing novel “Fat Kid Rules the World” (Putnam, 2003) takes a modest and gritty route to the big screen. Following on the heels of another smart YA adaptation, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” this movie also deserves to find its audience.
The ’80s comes roaring back in Stephen Chbosky’s sensitive adaptation of his coming-of-age novel, The Perks of a Wall Flower (1999, MTV Books). Though the book and film take place in 1991, there’s a distinct pre-hip hop, early MTV vibe, thanks to the soundtrack, dominated by the likes of Dexys Midnight Runners and the Smiths.