This was easily one of the best adaptations I’ve seen this year; the movie does the book justice and puts it’s own cinematic and original spin on the source material.

The Book:
This book is a great read no matter what kind of reader you are. If you’ve ever enjoyed a fairy tale, a love story, happy endings, whimsical characters, or compelling action, then Stardust is for you. It’s a short, fun, and exciting fantasy novel that depicts an epic journey and a beautiful love story with some really colorful characters. Tristran Thorn journeys into the land of Faerie when he promises to retrieve a fallen star to impress the object of his affection, the much admired Victoria Forester, and win her hand in marriage. Tristran is shocked when the star turns out to be a beautiful woman, Yvaine, who is not thrilled about being given as a gift, and he must embark on his journey home with her avoiding others who seek the star for more malicious purposes. Only from the magical mind of Neil Gaiman can this story of immortal witches, greedy princes (both deceased and living), sweet and caring pirates, helpful trees, and a wall that contains such a world truly come to life. In Gaiman’s depiction of both the village of Wall and the world of Faerie, every character and setting is easily visualized and there is a sense that everyone we come across has a story to tell, whether we hear it or not. Where Gaiman could have been wordy and detailed in the journey of Tristran and Yvaine, he often offers just the broad strokes of everything they encounter, such as their time on the pirate ship described by Tristran simply, “…as one of the happiest periods of his life.” Leaving so much up to the imagination of the reader is quite a different style than other classic epic journeys such as those of Tolkein, but fits in such a whimsical story as Stardust. I don’t doubt that we will see Tristran and Yvaine again on their journey home, crossing paths with another’s story, as Gaiman is far from finished with the spectacular world of Faerie and the interesting village of Wall. check website load speed The story is complete and satisfying, with the details left for many others to tell.

The Movie:
In this visually exciting adventure into Faerie, the movie depicts the characters of Tristran, Yvaine, and the witch-queen, here called Lamia, as the stars of this beautifully conveyed journey. The book’s six month trek is condensed into a week, though it feels as epic as the book has written it to be. Gaiman’s source material gave director Matthew Vaughn a lot to work with, and also offered room for elaboration, which is done well. The pirate ship and it’s captain (deemed Captain Shakespeare in the movie) was the perfect place to expand on these interesting characters that could have had their own novel. what is a proxy server . Robert DeNiro brings his comedic shtick that he has been perfecting over the last decade to a tough pirate captain with a not so tough secret. The climatic ending, which brings Lamia, Septimus, Tristran and Yvaine together for a final showdown, is derived wholly from the minds of the filmmakers and gives the movie a cinematic ending that the book was lacking. Michelle Pfeiffer’s depiction of the witch-queen Lamia is deliciously evil and allows the character to have more laughs than the book had given her. She gracefully glides through the role, even as her beauty so rapidly declines throughout the film. Also to be noted, when reading the book I wondered how it would look to see the living princes being followed so dutifully by the ghosts of their brothers, but the film illustrates the murderous princes in a wonderfully comedic light. The scene in the inn with Primus and Yvaine, while the ghost brothers marvel at their brother’s stupidity, is downright hysterical.

What’s Missing:
The rest of Tristran and Dunstan’s family: Daisy Hempstock, Tristran’s reluctant mother, and his sister Louisa. In the movie, however, there is a stronger bond between father and son since they only have each other. The lone traveler who gives Dunstan his heart’s desire in exchange for a place to stay. The little hairy man who met Dunstan in his youth and accompanies Tristran on the first part of his journey and obtains the Babylon candle for Tristran to find the star. The irony that the witch-queen’s attempt to make Ditchwater Sal forget the star is what allows the star to pass by her once more unharmed. Septimus’ attempt to attack the witch-queen. Una as Lady of Stromhold in the years of the rightful crown holder’s absence as he travels the world of Faerie.

What’s New:
Captain Shakespeare and his big secret that he hides from his crew. Tristran undergoes a major makeover aboard the pirate ship and comes out a much hunkier version of himself. Tristran and Yvaine’s share a special night at an inn before Tristran returns to Wall. The new climatic ending brings together Tristran, Yvaine, Una, Septimus, and the three witch sisters for an exciting ending. Another Babylon candle is used at the end (and makes for a much happier ending than the book had, in terms of the fates of Tristran and Yvaine).

Overall Adaptation:
Like I said, definitely the best I’ve seen this year, and a strong contender in my book for Adapted Screenplay. It’s movies like these that display the very practice of adaptation, by doing justice to the source material while cinematically expanding the story to create the beautiful world depicted in the words, changing only what needed changing in the translation process.

I have long since admired Warren Ellis’ sick, dark, and twisted style of writing, but until now it was only available in the form of comic books and graphic novels. Which is why I, amongst many others, was really looking forward to this book release this summer, second only to Harry Potter. I was slightly disappointed by the length of the book (at 277 pages, and only 7 inches tall, it’s an easy, one sitting read), but that was pretty much the only thing that disappointed.

The story follows a washed up private detective, Mike McGill, who is a magnet for bad luck. He meets a pretty, tattooed girl named Trix who wants to accompany him on his latest case tracking down a mysterious book for the government. Throughout their journey across the States, they run into a series of strange circumstances and characters. Ellis is known for exposing the underbelly of America in his work, and this novel is no different. He sheds light on some of the strangest, underground practices from Godzilla porn to saline injection parties and what upstanding Los Angeles lawyers really do at their high profile get-togethers. At certain points in the novel, you may find yourself stepping back a moment and thinking “That could never happen!” only to find yourself musing a few seconds later, “But, would that happen? Could it?” While I had a hard time stomaching everything that Ellis drudges up about our country, I firmly believe that this stuff is happening somewhere around America at this very moment.

Ellis’ most notable work (in my opinion) is his graphic novel series, Transmetropolitan, which tells of a journalist in a futuristic New York City that has descended into crime, violence, sex, and poverty. It is a major exaggeration of what NYC is like today, and could become in the future, though not impossible to believe. At times during Crooked Little Vein, I felt that Ellis had mistakenly thought he was writing for his fictional, future version of America, instead of present day, most especially in dealing with the government’s story line and the character of the Secretary of Defense. Even the Las Vegas hotel Trix and Mike stay in is just a bit too far fetched to be erected in present society.

Whether you accept it all as a possible reality or simply fiction, this book still offers a great detective mystery and love story for our modern age. It’s a quick, fun read that will leave you questioning what really happens in those dark alleys of NYC, the campy hotels in Las Vegas, and the lulls of suburbia in the Mid-West.

****

Posted on May 9th, 2007 by Jess | Leave a Comment (1)
Filed Under Entertainment

The Book:
John Krakauer offers a beautifully written and researched journey into the last few years of Chris McCandless- a boy born to a well off family who leaves it all behind to travel the country and live off the land, until he meets his end one summer while camping out in Alaska. Originating from a magazine article, it’s amazing to read the details and fascinating recounts that Krakauer has tracked down about McCandless’ last few years alive. McCandless proves to be a fascinating individual who touched the lives of many while traveling around the country. Whether it’s Wayne in South Dakota or Ron at the Salton Sea, everyone who knew McCandless lends a poignant story of how he entered and exited their lives and in many cases, changed who they are today. The stories are so detailed (you can see Krakauer’s blood, sweat, and tears in his work), however, a good portion of the book is stories of other individuals similar to McCandless. Often after revealing a few details about McCandless, Krakauer will tangent onto another wanderer who walked into the Mojave desert and never returned, or those who decided to mountain climb in Alaska and were never heard from again. Krakaeur even spends two chapters recounting his own journey into Alaska and his attempts to climb the dangerous slopes of the “Devil’s Thumb.” Krakauer uses these stories as frames of reference and to sew together any gaps in McCandless’ travels in which we only have speculation, however I often found myself bored and wishing I could hear more about McCandless during these points. The novel may have been better off being shorter, without these “filler” stories, or perhaps published with them, but as an aside from McCandless’ journey. Having them inserted throughout McCandless’ story, I felt, did the opposite of what was intended- instead of making the story seamless it felt slightly disjointed. sub domains . McCandless’ story is interesting enough on its own that we don’t need to hear about how many others had done it before him.

The Movie:
Perhaps the faults I saw in the book are why I loved the movie so much. Sean Penn picks out McCandless’ story and then lays it into a visual timeline (though not completely chronological) that we are simply present for. The film brings to life the wonderful characters that are sprinkled throughout McCandless’ travels and takes its audience on the journey with him. I felt as though I was sitting in the theater for hours upon hours, but that is how Penn intends you to feel- as though you were present for every step of McCandless’ journey. The carefree wanderer couldn’t have been portrayed better than Emile Hirsch’s harrowing turn as Chris McCandless, for which he deserves every ounce of the Oscar nomination (and possibly award depending on who he’s up against) that he will receive. Penn adapts the novel so well that I actually felt a terrifying anxiety as McCandless takes his last breath, as though it would be mine as well. This film does what so many fail to do: it gives it’s audience an experience; something more than just two and a half hours of sitting and staring at a big screen. The superb writing, direction, and acting, all set to Eddie Vedder’s amazing musical accompaniment, make this movie an absolute must see this Oscar season.

What’s Missing:
Not much. With the exception of the additional stories regarding other wanderers that pop up throughout the book, the film is such a direct adaptation that Penn managed to squeeze in all the acquaintances that McCandless encountered on the road. Pretty much the only thing cut for time is Chris’ second trip to South Dakota, where he works for Wayne once more before he takes off for Alaska.

What’s New:
The character of Tracy is more prominent. In the book it’s simply mentioned that a girl had a crush on Chris, but in the movie Chris and Tracy become friends and she’s used as a device to show that Chris didn’t give in to temptations and chose to be celibate. The two Swedes that Chris meets while kayaking the Colorado weren’t in the book, but served as great comic relief and broke up Chris’ reflective journey down the river.

Overall Adaptation:
A direct adaptation of a tragic story; all of McCandless’ journeys are yanked from the page to the screen. Though it will likely take you just about as long to read the book as it will to see the movie (the book is just shy of 200 pages, the movie is just over 140 minutes), the movie will guarantee you a better experience than the reading will- and that is saying something.

Posted on May 5th, 2007 by Jess | Comments Off on Book to Film: Into the Wild
Filed Under Entertainment
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