Posted in Adaptations, Reviews

Adaptation Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train is about an alcoholic woman who witnesses something out of the window of a train and finds herself entangled in a mysterious web of lies and deceit, not exactly unwillingly. It’s based on a supposed best-selling novel but if you saw my post about my Most Disappointing Books of 2016, you’ll know that I didn’t really think much of the book. I wasn’t really planning on watching this movie after I missed it in the theaters but then I saw Luke Evans in Beauty and the Beast and I just had to see more of his work. So that was basically my sole reason for watching this movie haha.

I must say that I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I did the book. I think it’s a story that is really just better told on the big screen rather than in words. In the book, I thought the characters were incredibly irritating. They were basically suburbian white people bored with their lives so they made tons of bad decisions just to make their lives a little bit more interesting. This was the impression I got from the book. Although the movie stayed very true to the book, they were somehow able to evoke a lot more sympathy from me for the characters. Not too much because I still thought they were suffering from a case of White People Problems, but enough that I was at least able to understand where they were coming from and why they were acting the way they were. This was especially true for the main character of Rachel. I don’t know if it’s Emily Blunt’s superb acting or my own experiences with cheating that has brought me a new perspective on the story, but I definitely appreciated the character of Rachel a lot more. I could understand her motivations and where she was coming from and why she was so obsessed with the couple she was watching from the train. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she was relatable, but I definitely sympathized with her a lot more in the movie than I did in the book.

Reviews of the book have compared it to Gone Girl and that has always baffled me because it is nothing like Gone Girl. The plot twist at the end was pretty average and not as mindblowing as people make it out to be. However, if you compare the movie to Gone Girl, I can definitely see where you’re coming from. The tone is pretty much the same, interweaving images of the perfect American neighborhood with the dark and downright twisted musings of our characters. There’s always this quiet air of suspense throughout the movie where you’re expecting a physical jump scare like BOO! but in the end, what you get is a mental scare that quietly creeps up on you. Makes for good entertainment, I must admit, and this quiet, dark tone is much better captured on screen than in the book.

Overall, I thought the movie was a pretty good adaptation, one of those which stay loyal to the book yet somehow tell the story better. Those are the best kinds. I really enjoyed Emily Blunt in this movie too and if I didn’t know she was a great actress before, I do now. Can’t wait to see her in Mary Poppins next year! Extremely different from this movie, which was more a spoonful of cough medicine than sugar, but somehow still enjoyable, in a twisted sort of way.

Cheers and happy watching!

Posted in Adaptations, Reviews

Adaptation Review: Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Today I bring you my review of the Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Basically, it boils down to three words: Vastly Fabulous Delight.

After having just finished my reread of the book series and delving into the many fan theories out there, this adaptation just completely fit the bill. Not only was it loyal to the original source material, at times repeating lines verbatim, it also perfectly captured the tone of the series, not an easy feat to translate onto screen. Half the fun of ASOUE is the literary jokes thrown in, the playful use of prose, and the breaking of the fourth wall by our witty narrator, Lemony Snicket. Difficult to capture on screen, but the adaptation did it perfectly by making Lemony an actual character and narrator to the audience. Patrick Warburton’s smooth velvety voice is absolutely perfect for the role of Lemony and that casting was pure genius.

Speaking of perfect casting, Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf is a delightful take on this villainous character. NPH flawlessly shifts from snarky and humorous to scary and menacing in a couple of breaths, and it is a delight to watch. Count Olaf’s theatricality is also brought to the forefront, given NPH’s own playful acting. Overall, Patrick Warburton’s and NPH’s performances perfectly capture the tone of the series and completely steal the show.

If half the fun of ASOUE is the playful tone, the other half is the V.F.D. conspiracy and the desperate need for answers that Daniel Handler incites in his audience. I was pleasantly surprised to find that unlike in the book series where the first mention of V.F.D. only comes at the end of book 5, we get to delve into the V.F.D. story right from the first episode. There are so many little references that only avid fans would be able to spot, like references to a certain sugar bowl, and I love how the V.F.D. organization is really brought to the forefront in this adaptation. I literally squealed every time there was a reference to something that is only mentioned many books later, or even something that is only mentioned in the Unauthorized Autobiography. Perhaps this is Daniel Handler’s way of appeasing us after all these years? I certainly got a lot more answers from watching the first few episodes than I ever did scouring the Internet and rereading the entire series again. The whole plot with the parents also completely blew my mind and damn it, I should have known better than to fall for it, but I totally did. Daniel Handler, you’re breaking my heart.

I honestly think that the Netflix adaptation is as perfect as an adaptation can get. It stays loyal to the books but makes some permissible changes and provides us with some extra information. My only complaint is the not-so-good CGI and the somewhat stiff acting of the Baudelaire children. But I have faith that the acting will improve and if anything, it sort of fits with the naivety and innocence of the children in comparison with everyone else around them. As for the CGI, it does sort of go along with the quirky and sometimes purposely outrageous events that happen. It sort of fits with the idea that the entire show is sometimes just poking fun at itself. Still, it can kinda detract from my full enjoyment of the show sometimes, but not enough to make me stop loving it.

All in all, a perfect adaptation, and I am eagerly anticipating the second season!

Cheers and happy watching!