Tag Archive: adaptation


Slated for an October release in the UK, Seventh Son becomes the latest book series to be adapted into a film. However, you will probably not recognise the name of Joseph Delaney or his series The Wardstone Chronicles. This series of books is not as famous as the Harry Potter series, Twilight or even Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider saga, so it may be a bit of a risk choosing to adapt these books (for more than just this one reason which I will go into later). Even with a best seller you’re not guaranteed success, the failure of Stormbreaker put to bed any ideas that Point Blanc or the other Alex Rider stories may get the big film treatment no matter how much I hope and pray for it to happen… anyway, tangent ended, back to Seventh Son. Here’s the trailer:

Set in the 18th Century, the story revolves around young Thomas (Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame), the seventh son of a seventh son which in this world grants Tom with the ability to see things that others can not: boggarts, ghosts and other fantasy beings. Tom finds himself apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight against the evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

As you can see, in the trailer you get the carefully worded “inspired by the acclaimed series” rather than “based on…” which suggests Seventh Son is not going to be a straight adaptation. Although this decision has already angered some fans (but you always get the few who can’t stand to see any change to source material), I believe this is actually a smart choice: The Wardstone Chronicles does not carry the same fan base other book series’ do so this is an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. The story of a boy being trained in his craft has been done (Harry Potter, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Percy Jackson) and to attempt to place another origin story into a saturated market would make no sense at all, therefore, taking elements from other books in the series as well will help speed along the story. Hopefully it won’t be a case of too many ingredients just thrown in with no time given to story or character development.

The Wardstone Chronicles

The other promising factor for Seventh Son is the acting talent attached to the project. Of course, Ben Barnes is relatively new but making steady progress in his career, however he is supported by Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, four time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and two time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou just for good measure. The director is Sergei Bodrov who is a Russian filmmaker who has twice had his features nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Prisoner of the Mountains, Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan). At one time Jennifer Lawrence was also attached to star, meaning that the script must have some merit to it. Now this is not to say that I think Seventh Son is going to clean up at the Oscars, far from it, but I do believe that with this talent on board there is definitely potential and it has more chance of being a good film than a bad one.

So it’s based on an acclaimed book series, has huge talent starring and directing, the trailer is action packed and exciting. So why would it be a surprise hit? Well first of all: it’s fantasy. And unless you happen to be bringing out a new Harry Potter film or The Hobbit then fantasy is a no go genre, that’s been proven time and time again. The trailer brings back memories to me of Black Death and Solomon Kane, two films I actually very much enjoyed but both fared poorly at the box office and with critics; when making fantasy you have to KNOW you have a hit, otherwise it’s all been a waste of time.

Other problems involve the dreaded moving of the release date. While it doesn’t sound like much the moving of a release date can be a sure fire signifier of a flop. In this case Seventh Son has been pushed back all the way from February this year to January next in the USA, I’m still skeptic that we’ll even get it in October in the UK. This move has been due to post production needing finishing, the same reason that The Lone Ranger is currently flopping on it’s stomach in the States (one of MANY reasons if early reviews are to be believed). This is not always the case, The Great Gatsby became a hit despite the moving of that release date but that has Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, Seventh Son does not.

Problems continue when you look further below the surface and see that the script has gone through a couple of rewrites. Again, never a good thing as when a script gets re-written you can see that the film has been dragged in several different directions by people who come on board with a separate view for the story and no respect for the work done by their predecessor (the most recent example of this being World War Z where the ending was rehashed). Even worse, Rhythm and Hues Studios who provide the visual effects for Seventh Son actually went bankrupt while working on the film; Legendary Pictures agreed to give $5million to the company to help them finish their work so this may or may not have hindered the project.

As you can see, Seventh Son is not without it’s problems. But upon it’s release people won’t be looking behind the screen at the difficulties the film has had getting there; they will be looking at the quality that is being presented to them. Ever since I first heard about this film I have been silently excited; the story, the genre and the theme is right up my street and something of a geeky pleasure for myself. I have been excited by the trailer and think that there is clearly plenty of potential here. To release on a quieter week in summer may have been a risk but it is one that could have paid off. Now, however, I can only see this being a flop and it pains me so much to say that.

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Lara Croft is the most recognisable female video game character in the world. At the beginning of this century two Tomb Raider films were released with Angelina Jolie taking on the role and, despite the original film still being the most successful film adaptation of a video game in the United States, both this and its sequel were not too well received by critics. Also, in recent years, the video game side of the Tomb Raider franchise has been waning. Until 2013. Earlier this month a reboot of the video game series hit the shelves, simply titled Tomb Raider. It received huge critical acclaim, is one of the best games I have ever played and obviously went on to sell more than a million copies in less than 48 hours. So it seems the time is right to reboot the franchise on the big screen, but who should play Lara Croft?

Here are my candidates:

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Gemma Arterton

Arterton has had experience in big action films before: Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans. While none of these films were exactly brilliant it has given Arterton the skills necessary to be let loose on her own big action franchise. She is currently one of the best British actresses working today and her talent is undeniable. I would definitely like to see her given a chance as Lara Croft.

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Hayley Atwell

Atwell is more of a television actress but made her break in Hollywood recently in Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger where her performance as Peggy Carter won her a lot of fans. She has shown her skills in Pillars of the Earth and The Duchess. However, her stock as a leading lady is yet to be tested and helming the Tomb Raider franchise could be a leap too far so early in her film career.

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Camilla Luddington

You may not know who Camilla Luddington is but she is the voice behind Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot of this year. On screen she has been in Californication, True Blood and Grey’s Anatomy but is yet to make her break in the film industry. However, depending on how closely involved the game’s publishers and producers are in making the film (my guess being not very) then she may have an outside shot at landing the role.

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Alice Eve

This is a long shot and probably won’t be considered. She is set to appear in Star Trek Into Darkness later this year so will be getting a lot of exposure both on screen and off it (if you’ve seen the new trailer you’ll know what I mean) and so she may be worth the risk?

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Bryce Dallas Howard

As the only non-Englishwoman on the list she would probably be my least favourite for the role (I just think that as Lara Croft is English it would be nice to see an English actress take the part this time) but Bryce Dallas Howard could be a nice fit. Previously appearing in Spider-Man 3, Terminator Salvation, 50/50 and The Help she has shown off her action credentials as well as her acting abilities.

For me, it’s between Gemma Arterton and Hayley Atwell with Arterton just winning in my mind!

Now, the reason for writing this blog is not to just slag Nicolas Cage off, I actually quite like him. I have enjoyed a lot of his films, old and new, including Con Air, Adaptation and Kick-Ass. But I never realised how many really big hits that Cage has been linked with but either turned them down or didn’t come to fruition (thankfully in the end) so that he could make the likes of Ghost Rider, G-Force and Drive Angry. So what are the biggest roles Cage could have starred in but didn’t?

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Shrek

Cage may be voicing a character in the DreamWorks animation The Croods but a few years ago Cage was approached by executives for the role of Shrek. However, this never came to light because of Cage’s self-professed vanity. His reason for not playing Shrek? He didn’t want to look like an ogre. This turned out okay in the end though as if we had got Cage then the loveable ogre may not have his famous Scottish accent that he is known for now.

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Lord of the Rings

Among the fellowship there were no real Hollywood stars; Ian McKellen perhaps the most famous among the cast. So things would have looked slightly different and it may have been marketed differently if Nicolas Cage had accepted the role of… Aragorn. Cage turned this one down citing “family obligations” and Viggo Mortensen will thank him for that and so will fans of the trilogy: Mortensen’s Aragorn became one of the most popular characters in the film.

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The Matrix

The Matrix is quite an iconic film. It’s sequels divide audiences but the first film is usually regarded pretty highly. And Nicolas Cage could have been in the leading role as Neo. Cage turned down the role due to the fact it was filming in New Zealand and he was committed to raising his children at the time. Of course, eventually Keanu Reeves got the role and enjoyed his career for a few weeks.

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The Wrestler

The Wrestler is the only film on this list that I am genuinely interested to see how Nicolas Cage would have played it. I think that this is a role that Cage could have done a wonderful job with. However, the role did go to Mickey Rourke afterwards and he won for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, as well as being nominated for an Oscar and I loved it. But Cage would have been very interesting in The Wrestler.

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Superman Lives

Before the abomination that is Superman Returns was made, Superman Lives was in development. The script was written by Kevin Smith and was set to be directed by Tim Burton with Nicolas Cage in the lead role as Clark Kent/Superman. The film never got off the ground and Cage of course went on to play another comic book character Ghost Rider. I can’t imagine that it would have been a good thing seeing Cage in the red and blue spandex.

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Eric West, David Morse.

Plot: A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.

With the success of The Walking Dead bringing zombies back to the forefront of mainstream television it should come as no surprise that Hollywood is looking to take advantage and make some money from the zombie industry. World War Z has been in the works for a long time and finally we have a trailer.

There has already been a lot of negative reaction to the trailer from fans of the original book on the internet but I think that it actually looks pretty good. I like Brad Pitt and I’m sure he will do a fine job in this film. World War Z (the film, not the book) is essentially an apocalyptic-save-the-world type thing and, as far as the trailer goes it will certainly grab the attention of audiences.

The CGI is not yet fully polished and we don’t really see enough of the zombies to gauge whether they look good or not, but I have no doubts that everything will be sharpened before it’s release date in another six months. I think that the fans of the book need to stop moaning and just accept that certain themes/characters/story lines from novels always get dropped when Hollywood wants to make a film from it, that’s just how it works.

As we know, there is a trend of bringing fairy tales to the big screen at the minute. So far there have been Little Red Riding Hood, Mirror Mirror and Snow White & The Huntsman. There is a Beauty & the Beast film in the pipeline but here we have Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, which is not by the same people as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, although it sounds as though it could well be. When this update of the classic fairy tale was first announced it did worry me a little as the title sounded a little corny and the set photos didn’t inspire much confidence. However, now that the trailer has been released I have changed my mind completely.

The casting for Hansel & Gretel does look very good, despite the big age difference between the actors playing the title characters even though they are both shown to be around the same age but we can overlook that. Jeremy Renner is the ‘it’ man around Hollywood right now and has recently given a restart to both the Mission: Impossible franchise and the Bourne franchise (I think he was a great replacement for Matt Damon) and he also played fan favourite Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers. Alongside Renner as Hansel there is one of my favourite British actresses Gemma Arterton playing Gretel. Arterton has shown over the years how incredibly versatile she is and just how wonderful an actress she can be. Now we finally get a chance to see her kicking ass and in real fight scenes which is good news.

Unlike the previous adaptations of fairy tales what we have in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not a retelling of the original story. This is why I think it could be better than all other fairy tale films that have been recently. Whereas both Mirror Mirror and Snow White & the Huntsman both told the origin story of Snow White so people knew what was coming, however Hansel & Gretel takes place 15 years after the fairy tale, fifteen years on from when Hansel & Gretel were almost killed by an evil witch. This means that there is a lot of space to play with as there is no specific end in mind as there are with other fairy tale stories.

The trailer has filled me with excitement about this film. There is a voice over from Jeremy Renner which isn’t your ordinary emotionless narration that you often get in trailers. The whole film looks like it really has got it’s genre nailed on, the scenery looks fantastic and it visually is a treat for the eyes. The trailer is action packed and you can clearly tell how the event fifteen years prior to the film affected Hansel and Gretel and it is fantastic to get a taste of the fight scenes that will appear in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

 

 

How well Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters will do when it is released in January is difficult to estimate. I think that it could go either way but if marketed correctly it could go well, especially with Renner and Arterton in the main roles. Hopefully it will pick up the teenage audience which it appears to be aiming for but I know that I will be looking forward to it. I just hope it is as good as I want it to be!

Recently Trainspotting was voted top in a poll of best British films to be released under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

I think that this is a little bit of an injustice. Trainspotting is possibly the greatest British film released under any reign. Scratch that. Trainspotting is one of the greatest films EVER made in any language, any country, any genre. Trainspotting is as close to perfect as I have ever seen a film reach.

Released in 1996 to rave reviews from all angles Trainspotting tells the story of Renton, a guy deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene who tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends. After working together on Shallow Grave Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor teamed up to make an absolute classic based on Irvine Welsh’s novel.

Superstar director – Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is one of Britain’s greatest directors and is one of my favourite directors working today. Christopher Nolan, the Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino get the majority of attention and are perhaps the most famous of directors but Danny Boyle always has been and remains one of the best. Since Trainspotting he has churned out hit after hit including 28 Days Later, The Beach, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours and while all are very impressively filmed and are gorgeous to look at nothing quite touches all the senses in the same way that Trainspotting does.

Trainspotting introduced Ewan McGregor to the masses and he has gone on to have a very long and prestigious career in film. I am a fan of the Scot and his performance here as Renton is flawless. He gives possibly the best narration to a film ever (along with Ed Norton’s narration in Fight Club) but his presence on screen is fantastic; he really submerges himself deeply in the character’s life and his performance is both harrowing and hilarious at the same time. If McGregor is to be remembered for any film role, it should be this one.

One of the greatest friendships ever caught on film.

McGregor laid down the gauntlet for his fellow cast members to compete with and they picked it up and ran with it. Ewen Bremmer as the dimwitted and closest friend of Renton, Spud, gives a humorous turn while keeping in tune with the dark subject matter. Johnny Lee Miller has gone on to star in American television series’ such as Dexter but he will always be known as Sick Boy and Kevin McKidd manages to put in a great performance as Tommy to the extent that you feel sorry for him but you don’t really care about him. It’s strange. But Robert Carlyle as Begbie, a short tempered frustrated possible homosexual, is amazing; Carlyle always gives a safe performance but he offers up a lot of laughs in an otherwise serious film.

The friendship between Renton, Sick Boy, Tommy, Spud and Begbie is completely believable and authentic. All the relationships are recognisable and take away the drug use (or include it) and you probably know people just like this group of friends in Trainspotting. To me, one of the most important parts of a film is character interaction, development and relationships and each and every one is spot on. The friendship between Renton and Spud is probably my favourite because even though Renton lets Spud go to jail whilst he remains free and later on Renton does them over, you can tell that the only one of that group that Renton really cares about is Spud and I think that is touching really.

The realism captured on film of the drug addiction, Scottish life, friendship, death and sexuality is incredible. Trainspotting could well be real, it is filmed that well, it could well be a documentary with Ewan McGregor’s voice over warning everyone about drugs and the addictiveness of them so it is hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. Some of the scenes become incredibly hard to watch because of the haunting events unravelling but you can’t peel your eyes away from the screen; the dark images will stay with you for as long as you live.

Luckily though, Trainspotting, while dealing with a lot of serious and dark themes does manage to pack in the laughs as well. There is a lot of humour for viewers to find there and the ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene manages to be both horrible and hilarious at the same time, absolutely cringeworthy as well as Spud’s ‘dinner table accident’ scene later on.

I can’t express in words how good Trainspotting is. It’s probably not a film for the faint hearted but it’s nothing like any other film ever made.

Combine the greatness of Danny Boyle and the quality of actors like McGregor and Carlyle to name just a couple and you are in for something fantastic right from the word go.

Trainspotting IS one of the best films ever made. No question.

Hollywood currently seems to have a thing for rebooting fairy tales. In 2011 we saw Red Riding Hood released to, at very best, mixed reviews. In the pipeline are Hansel and Gretel and Beauty and the Beast, but this year we are being treated (sort of) to two versions of possibly the most famous fairytale of them all: Snow White. Snow White has been adapted many times since the birth of film and television, even being incorporated into an episode of Supernatural. For many people it will be difficult to forget Disney’s romanticisation of the classic story but Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror will be hoping to achieve this, but which is more likely to do so?

Snow White and the Huntsman: Released 1st June 2012.

Snow White and the Huntsman is an action adventure film. It is a twist to the classic fairytale where the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White to the forest to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the evil queen.

Kristen Stewart takes up the role of Snow White in this adaptation with the evil queen being portrayed by Charlize Theron, a very talented actress. Chris Hesworth, of Thor fame, plays the Huntsman and many people will be anticipating his performance as he was recently nominated for the Rising Star award at the BAFTA’s.  Snow White and the Huntsman even manages to pack in the stars to play the dwarves, who have only been seen in set pictures so far, and famous names such as Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins and Ian McShane all take up the short mantle of being a dwarf. This film sees Rupert Sanders make his feature length debut as director, being known mainly for his work in commercials and short films so there is a heavy weight upon his shoulders as this is one of the most anticipated films of 2012.

The trailer really sets a dark theme for the movie with its beginning looking more like a fantasy war epic than an adaptation of a fairytale, which is good due to the original darkness of the Grimm brothers’ story. We are treated to the evil Queen’s narration and her conversation with the Magic Mirror really giving the storyline to the audience (needlessly perhaps as the story is very well known). The Huntsman looks particularly good and strong and we see him wielding his axes and maybe shown why he will help Snow White as he is bullied by the Queen. There is no hint at a love story in the trailer but we will have to wait and see what comes of that. There is a shot of a fantasy monster confronting Snow White which is interesting; do these creatures exist in this world? Or is it a manifestation of one of the Queen’s spells?

The trailer really focusses more on the Queen than on Snow White and this helps to give a strong indication of how evil the Queen really is. We see her torturing and sucking the life out of her subjects and her power when the Huntsman at first shows slight refusal of what she demands of him. It has been said many times that films are remembered by how well their villain is portrayed and Charlize Theron’s version of the evil Queen could be one of the best characters of the year.

 

Mirror Mirror – The Untold Adventures of Snow White: Released 2nd April 2012.

Mirror Mirror is an adventure comedy movie. An evil Queen steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

Julia Roberts is the biggest name attached to this film and she leads the cast as the evil Queen. However, before meeting the director of Mirror Mirror Roberts stated that she thought the film was a terrible idea and was a thousand per cent against it (let’s hope it’s not as bad as she thought it would be). Where Snow White and the Huntsman went for recognisable names among their cast Mirror Mirror went for more upcoming stars with Lily Collins portraying Snow White and Armie Hammer playing the Prince, who will have a more prominent role in this movie. Tarsem Singh will be directing; he split critics with his 2006 film The Fall but has failed to impress really with his last attempt Immortals receiving negative reviews from critics. This is his fourth outing as director.

From very early on in the trailer you can see this is a lighter adaptation than Snow White and the Huntsman. It gives the audience a taste of the comedy featured within the film, mainly from Julia Roberts’ character who seems, to me at least, a little more weird rather than evil. Some of the comedy in the trailer comes across as poorly written and forced at times (the ‘puppy love’ potion a fine example of poor comedy) but no doubt it will pick up a few laughs and people will find this sort of thing funny. The trailer really gets going when we get to see Snow White and the dwarves. Lily Collins looks fantastic as the young princess and looks as though she was built to play this part, so fingers crossed the film does that justice. We do get to see the dwarves in this trailer and it looks as though they will be there for comedy relief in places but their kinship and relationship with Snow White looks as though it will be worth watching for.

 

 

Whilst there is a couple of months separating the two films so that they are not in direct competition with one another it seems unlikely that most movie goers will take two trips to see what is, in essence, the same story so it will be interesting to see which film comes out on top. Will audiences choose the comedic elements of Mirror Mirror or the more action driven Snow White and the Huntsman. Either way, the successes or failures of both films will have an effect on the future of Hollywood’s fairytale adaptations.