Monday, 23 October 2017

The Princess Bride: Book vs. Movie

I don't remember when I first saw The Princess Bride movie, but I remember loving it and it feels like I've loved it forever. I actually didn't realise it was a book until years after I'd first seen it, and it's one of those ones I've been meaning to read for such a long time but I kept putting it off because I was afraid it would be a disappointment in comparison to the movie.

When I was contact about doing a post for the 30th anniversary of the movie, I figured now was the time to finally read it and stop putting it off.

If you don't know what The Princess is about, here's a  summary:
What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

Or, you could just watch the trailer:


So... Let's start with the easy part, shall we? The movie:

I don't have adequate words to fully describe my love for this movie. It's one of those movies that just makes me smile so much. The cast is fantastic, and it manages to simultaneously mock and celebrate fairytale tropes, getting the balance of each just right.


It's funny, it's fun, it's sweet. It's a love story, a fairytale, an adventure story, a pirate story, a revenge story -- basically, it's ALL OF THE THINGS. And it works as each thing individually but also as a perfect combination of all of them.


And the side characters? I adore the side characters so much. Few side characters win me over quite so thoroughly as Inigo and Fezzik did.


I think what I like most is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, and I loved that. You can accuse it of being ridiculous or cheesy or unrealistic, but it's supposed to be, it is all of those things and it's knowingly so. For some reason that makes it easy to not only forgive, but enjoy, things that would annoy me in other movies.



And it's timeless. Even the technical side of it...the special effects are comically dated now, but that actually really works in the movies favour rather than against it (see: the trailer for R.O.U.S's scene). And I think that's enough gushing specifically about the movie now.


The 30th anniversary edition DVD? It includes a bunch of extras that I really enjoyed. I particularly loved the behind the scenes documentary that went over their casting decisions and things (all of the Andre stuff made my heart hurt).

Now... The book:

(Answer: Yes. Yes it is. But that's not all it is.)


My thoughts on the book are a little bit more complex than my adoration of the movie. I will start off by saying this though: I did love it.

What I didn't like, at times, was the narration. 

Basically, in the book, the author has written a fictionalised version of himself into the story...and The Princess Bride is supposed to be a book by S. Morgenstern that he loved as a child and wrote an abridgement of. Of course, in reality, S. Morgenstern doesn't exist and Goldman is the author of the entire thing, and the version of himself in the book isn't the real version.

It's an interesting narrative style for sure, but where it went wrong for me was that Fictional-Goldman was really, really hard to like. 

The Fictional-Goldman is cynical and bitter. He would frequently body shame fat people (including his fictional son -- although in reality, he has daughters) and there's a couple of racist remarks, homophobia and a load of misogyny on his part. Fictional-Goldman seemed like a crappy human, is what I'm getting at (I'm sure Real-Goldman is a lovely dude though, because it seemed like he was deliberately writing his fictional self as unlikeable).

So. Having to read through his perspective and having him chime in on the story from time to time irritated me (his mid-story commentary wasn't all bad though, I'll admit, but some of it wasn't necessary).

But the actual Princess Bride bit? I still loved that part. Really, really loved that. And I went into it not expecting to gain much more from the book than I got from the movie, but I was proven wrong. 

We get more backstory on how Buttercup ended up engaged to Prince Humperdink, more info on Humperdink himself and the country. And we get more of Inigo and Fezzik too, more backstory, more scenes and I loved all of that.

So. Book vs. Movie: which is better?

Well...


I genuinely loved both. I think the execution of the narrative style worked better in the movie than the book, but the book also added a bit more depth to the story and characters that the movie couldn't manage to do given time and budget constraints.

I think that the movie is still my favourite, if for no other reason than I loved it first and it was so perfectly cast.

Also, as a side note on the book: personally, I adore the cover of this edition, but if you're going to buy a copy I'd recommend getting this one instead because it includes about 80 pages of extra content (sort of an epilogue/snippets of a would-be sequel called Buttercup's Baby).

Ratings:
Movie: 5/5 stars
Book: 4/5 stars (it really did just lose points due to my intense dislike of the narrator in the beginning of the story)

Later.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins


There's Someone Inside Your House

by Stephanie Perkins
Summary: Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
I've been looking forward to this book for years, ever since Stephenie Perkins first announced she was writing a YA slasher story...and I really liked it, it just didn't live up to the expectations I had for it.

I loved the cast of characters (particularly the fact that the main character is mixed race and one of her best friends is trans* -- though I can't judge how good the representation is), but I also feel like that's what held it back from being a 5 star book for me. So much effort and page-time was put into character development and character back story, that it didn't totally deliver on the Scream-like slasher plot.

Like Makani's secret -- great for adding depth to the character, but it was more drawn out than the murder plot and didn't feel necessary for the story. And her relationship with Ollie, while I loved it, it definitely made it feel like this was primarily a romance story most of the time with a slasher subplot rather than the other way around.

Generally, well developed characters are a good thing, but with this genre, I read for the plot, not the characters.

The plot wasn't bad, far from it. It did keep me hooked, but part of the entertainment of these types of stories is trying to guess who the killer is and all of the red herrings that try to lead you down the wrong path, and the build up to the final reveal, but there was none of that in this. You don't even get a hint at who the killer might be until quite far into the book, the identity is revealed way too soon, and the ending is rushed and abrupt (this is one of those books that could've really benefited from having and epilogue) and the motive fell a bit flat.

Again...that's not to say it was bad, it just wasn't really what it was hyped up to be. There were some slasher vibes to it, but it still felt lacking in that area.

Overall, it is a really good book. It kept me hooked right from the start, I was never bored while reading it...I just wouldn't recommend going into it expecting a novel version of a good 90's slasher movie, because for the majority of the book that takes a backseat to the relationships between the characters.

I'd rate it 3.5 out of 5.

Later.

*In the ARC version of the book, there is a passage with harmful trans representation (dead naming), but it was brought to the author attention and she apologized and promised it would be fixed for the final printing.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Book & Movie Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten
by Gretchen McNeil

Summary: Shhhh! Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island. You do not want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
So I've been meaning to read this book for ages and finally got around to it because I wanted to watch the movie adaptation that Lifetime did. And, well, the book was a pleasant (or not so pleasant, given the genre?) surprise but the movie was a let down.

Let's start with the book: it had me thoroughly hooked right from the start and it kept me guessing right the way through, even when I'd guessed right I still didn't lose interest. The book was pretty much what I was hoping for when I read There's Someone Inside Your House but this one really delivered that 90's slasher movie feel in a way TSIYH didn't quite pull off.

Basically, I really enjoyed the story. I read it in one sitting. The only thing I kind of hated was the mental health representation in the book, I felt like that aspect was kind of done poorly, but other than that, it was good.

Now...the movie. I loved the cast (especially Meg, TJ, Kumiko and Gunner), but the rest of it was kind of a hot mess. 

It stayed pretty true to the book but the script was kind of mediocre and the direction was pretty terrible (the pacing was all off, the transition between scenes wasn't done well and in the book, a lot of the story takes place during a storm and yet in this, it was all bright and broad daylight, which didn't really give the story the atmosphere the book had). Large parts of it had a very high school class project vibe to it rather than professional movie.

It is worth watching for the cast or if you like the book, or you just want something quick and fun to watch, but I wouldn't recommend going into it with high expectations.

Overall, the book gets 4 stars out of 5. The movie gets 2 out of 5.

Later.

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