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young adult

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

DIRECTOR: Tim Burton

CAST: Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Finlay MacMillan, Lauren McCrostie, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Kim Dickens, Terence Stamp, Judi Dench

REVIEW:

If you’ve ever wondered what X-Men might be like filtered through the bizarre sensibilities of Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children might give some idea.  An adaptation of the novel by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine is sufficiently off-kilter to represent a more fresh and engaging fantasy adventure than much of what populates the young adult genre, although it’s somewhat less than the sum of its parts. Continue reading

The Giver (2014)

giverDIRECTOR: Philip Noyce

CAST: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Swift

REVIEW:

The Giver has taken a long, winding road to seeing the inside of a theater since Jeff Bridges (who serves here as both star and producer) bought the movie rights to Lois Lowry’s 1993 young adult novel (which won the 1994 Newberry Medal).  Bridges’ original casting for the title role (his father Lloyd Bridges) passed away in the meantime, and funding was difficult to find.  But, over twenty years later, Bridges’ determination to get the film adaptation made has paid off, and while sticklers for accuracy to the book, a staple of middle school literature classes (I have vague memories of being assigned to read it in school), may grumble at some changes, overall it was worth the effort.  The Giver, while with some narrative weaknesses, is a thought-provoking and visually striking motion picture that proves “young adult” doesn’t have to be synonymous with the vapidity of something like the Twilight series.  In fact, this is a thoughtful movie with well-developed themes and something meaningful to say.  While the film soups up the book’s thin narrative with some tacked-on action and suspense, with mixed results, it gives equally important focus to the book’s messages of the dangers of conformity, the importance of individuality, and the need for emotion, even with all the pain it can bring, to live a truly full life. Continue reading

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence

CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Amanda Plummer

REVIEW:

Unlike inferior book-t0-screen cousins like the Twilight series, The Hunger Games, adapted from the popular book series by Suzanne Collins, proves that “young adult” does not have to be synonymous with vapid.  Halfway through the planned onscreen four-part saga, Catching Fire deepens and expands on themes in the first installment and takes it in darker directions.  Like The Empire Strikes Back, this is an example of a sequel that surpasses the original. Continue reading

The Hunger Games (2012)

DIRECTOR: Gary Ross

CAST:

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones

REVIEW:

The first onscreen installment of the popular book trilogy, The Hunger Games deserves to be viewed and judged on its own merits, not by misleading media comparisons to the Twilight series, which has more to do with trying to drum up the same mania for the new franchise than real similarities between the films.  While both are adaptations of popular book series considered young adult fiction, The Hunger Games is more grown-up and respectable, and has more serious things to say. Continue reading

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)

DIRECTOR: Bill Condon

CAST:

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Elizabeth Reaser, Sarah Clarke, Gil Birmingham, Michael Sheen

REVIEW:

As Warner Bros. Did with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Summit Entertainment has split the final chapter of its young adult phenomenon the Twilight “saga” into two films. It’s easy to be cynical about both decisions as blatant maximizing of profits, especially in Twilight’s case, as while Deathly Hallows‘ density justified unfolding it over two films, it’s debatable whether any Twilight entry, including Breaking Dawn, really has enough that actually happens to warrant being stretched out over two movies. Regardless, Oscar-nominated director Bill Condon has done a respectable job with what he was given, helming a faithful but not obsessively word-for-word adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s novel, but as with every other Twilight entry, the content makes a mixed bag. Continue reading

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2011)

DIRECTOR: Michael Apted

CAST:

Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, Gary Sweet, Billie Brown, Tilda Swinton

voices:

Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg

REVIEW:

While it is adapted from C.S. Lewis’ beloved seven-book children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia has had a hard time attracting the same following on the screen as it has on the page. Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

DIRECTOR: David Yates

CAST:

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, David Thewlis, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Helen McCrory, Imelda Staunton, Natalia Tena, Timothy Spall, John Hurt, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Miranda Richardson, Toby Jones (voice of Dobby), Simon McBurney (voice of Kreacher)

REVIEW:

The seven book Harry Potter series is now nearing its end with this seventh of what will be eight movies. From a financial standpoint, Warner Bros.’ decision to split the seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, into two films is a surefire financial win. Continue reading

Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

DIRECTOR: David Slade

CAST:

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Elizabeth Reaser, Gil Birmingham, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dakota Fanning, Xavier Samuel

REVIEW:

It took three movies, but they’ve finally gotten it right, or as right as it’s going to be. Continue reading

Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

DIRECTOR: Chris Weitz

CAST:

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Elizabeth Reaser, Gil Birmingham, Graham Greene, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Rachelle Lefevre, Edi Gathegi, Christopher Heyerdahl, Jamie Campbell-Bower

REVIEW:

After the explosion of Twilight mania, with a more established director and an expanded budget, New Moon is a better-looking film, but does not escape problems- mostly related more to Stephenie Meyer’s source material than Chris Weitz’s adaptation- that still make it a mixed bag. Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

DIRECTOR: David Yates

CAST:

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman,Jim Broadbent, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Jessie Cave, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham Carter, David Thewlis, Helen McCrory, Dave Legeno, Timothy Spall, Warwick Davis

REVIEW:

Following in the wake of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix , which elevated the series to another level, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has managed the impressive feat of ascending another notch higher. Continue reading

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