The Magicians (TV Review)

I did something stupid and watched the special preview of The Magicians and as expected I loved it and now I am angry with myself for having to wait so incredibly long. I will only roughly mention what happened, because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but I cannot help needing to talk about it.

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For all of you who still don’t know, I’ve read the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman this year and it’s left quite the impression on me. I already did a little trailer talk for the show, but I honestly have to say that I am relieved that I actually loved it as much as I did in the end! The series is about Quentin Coldwater, a guy who never felt like he belonged until he got invited to study at Brakebills University for Magic. In a way it’s Narnia with a dash of Harry Potter but for grown-ups (and I really mean that last part!).

The pacing in the first book was a little strange by rushing through Quentin’s education and now the show definitely isn’t wasting time either. I think it’s even more extreme than the book in some ways, but to go into detail would mean that I have to spoil you for the premiere and I don’t want to do that. Somehow they have managed to stay very true to the story and change almost everything at the same time. They’ve stayed faithful with so many details, but then they just up and went to change the timeline, names, the whole story of some characters. It’s odd at first, but because they’ve done it in such a great way, it simply works!

Another thing I have to commend Syfy for is the casting! Okay, not everyone looks the way they did in the book (I’m looking at you Penny!), but I think they made the perfect choice anyway. Jason Ralph as Quentin is this cute dork and just so much more likable than his book-version. My favourite character, Elliot, looks exactly the way I pictured him and Hale Appleman gives him exactly the right attitude. And then Julia! Stella Maeve seriously knows how to portray her despair! I could swoon over the rest of the cast just as much, but maybe you should just take a look at yourself.

The first episode pulled you right in, was funny, intriguing, extreme and fast paced. It left with a huge cliffhanger so I am happy to hear that the actual Premiere on January 8, 2016 will be a double-episode. As an enthusiast of the books, I have to say that the show gave me everything I wanted and so much more! I hope you’ll give it a try in 2016 so we can all gush together! Did anyone else watch the Special Preview?

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Movie Review)

Once again Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a movie where I have actually read the book beforehand, but can’t remember it in much detail. Maybe I should really start reading them closer to the movie release date …

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Genre: Drama/Comedy
Length: 105 min
Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal …
DirectorAlfonso Gomez-Rejon
Writer: Jesse Andrews (for both, the novel and the screenplay)

Greg Gaines tries to survive High School by being on good terms with everyone but friends with no one. He usually spends his time making parody-like remakes of classic movies with his co-worker Earl. That is until his mother forces him to hang out with Rachel, a girl who just got diagnosed with cancer and who will profoundly change his life.

Me and Earl was originally a YA novel and reeked quite some havoc at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, igniting a bidding war for the movie. I have to say it is definitely one of the the better Indie movies out there and after the whole The Fault In Our Stars hype an original and refreshing take on the cancer-topic. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon puts his own spin on the story and makes every scene feel either beautiful, comical or deeply relevant.

I remember not liking Greg very much in the book and maybe he still isn’t the most likable character out there. Greg is just such a freaking liar, most of all to himself I think and that broke my heart. However, this time around I just felt so much more with him. And with Rachel as well. And also with Earl. I really have to say that all three (Mann, Cyler and Cooke) did a brilliant job with their respective characters. The adults were also cast very well, but they are just not the focus of the story.

I like that Me and Earl wasn’t pretentious or over the top. It had a beautiful cinematography, but often in the most simple ways. I can tell you that I was just crying by the end – the final message was just brilliant. I hope that this movie will get a bigger audience over time and won’t get stuck in the art-house or indie sector, because it does have commercial potential.

Fazit: I am glad that I’ve watched the movie. It made me feel so much more than the book.

What’s your take on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl? Do you prefer the book or the movie or like them both equally?

Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List (Movie Review)

A month or so ago I wrote about the trailer release of Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List and I can’t believe it’s already time to talk about the movie itself. There are not really any Spoilers in the review itself, but as always, I can’t promise the same for the comments!

naomiNaomi and Ely are best friends and they are both into guys. The “No Kiss List” (a list of guys neither of them is allowed to hook up with) has been their insurance against a Naomi and Ely break-up for all their lives. Yet everything changes when Ely kisses Naomi’s boyfriend.

So let’s start with the basics:

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Length: 89  minutes
Cast: Victoria Justice, Pierson Fodé, Matthew Daddario, Monique Coleman, Ryan Ward, Danny Flaherty, …
Director: Kristin Hanggi

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I am just going to say it again: I have read the book of the same title written by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, but it’s been a while. I mostly remember a ton of emojis that replaced words and that confused me sometimes, but other than that I am not sure I could give the most accurate account of what happens in the book. However, I will try and mention things that were different if I noticed them.

So, now to the real review. I LOVED IT! I even liked it a whole lot more than the book. While the different POVs weren’t as balanced and more focused on Naomi, it just all felt right. I very much liked the casting (and not just because Matthew Daddario is absolutely swoon-worthy). While Naomi was never my favourite character, Victoria Justice really showed her development and there couldn’t have been a better Ely than Pierson Fodé. Bruce 2 was adorable and Ryan Ward looked exactly like the Bruce 2 in my head. I forgot everything about the Robins, and even though I would have liked to see them more, they were a great addition as well. The rest of the people from the apartment complex were just hilarious as well.

As any story written by Levithan and Cohn, it was a sort of love letter to New York City, showing off its quirks and awesomeness. The music was great and for real hardcore fans like me, take a closer look at the T-shirt of the drummer from Gabe’s band – he wears a “Where is Fluffy?”-shirt from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. I wasn’t sure they’d connect the stories like they did in the books, but I almost shrieked when I saw it.

I think I hugged my pillow during the entire movie and really felt with the characters when their relationship seemed doomed. I don’t know why exactly, but it just touched me a whole lot more than it did in the book. It portrayed the complexity of friendships and that change is inevitable. Yet, it managed not to be heavy at all. If I could change one thing, I would want it to be longer. It would mean more time for the Naomi-Gabe-story to develop and maybe more glimpses at the adorable awkwardness of the Robins.

Fazit: I loved it! And while it may be short, it’s definitely sweet and worth a watch.

Have you read or watched Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List as well? What were your thoughts?

Allegiant Official (Teaser) Trailer Release

So the first Allegiant Teaser Trailer is out!

I don’t think there is much to talk about. For those of you who didn’t know it already, I have read the entire Divergent series by Veronica Roth and while I did enjoy it mostly, I absolutely disliked Allegiant as a book. I don’t want to spoil anyone, so I am not going to go into detail of why I didn’t like it.

However, the movies are a whole different story. I love the movies! I think they are really good so far and diverge from the books (see what I did there?). So far there have been a couple of changes, which I am surprisingly okay with, and I actually don’t know if they’ll stick with the storyline from the book or not. Either way I am excited to see what they’ll be doing. But I am mad that they once again decided to split the final part into two movies – I guess they must really need the money.

Also, I am excited to see Jeff Daniels (who’ll forever be Will McAvoy from the Newsroom in my head) in the movie. What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to the movie as well?

UPDATE: Here’s the Official Trailer

The Magicians TV Show Trailer & Thoughts

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As I mentioned in my last post, The Magicians by Lev Grossman (click here to read my full book review!) got adapted as a TV show by Syfy. You can watch the Trailer below and then I’ll share some thoughts about the differences and similarities between the book and what I saw of the show so far. This will include Spoilers for the book though!!

So, first off, I imagined this all VERY differently. None of the people look like I thought they would, but maybe that’s for the better. The cast is mostly unknown or at least not super famous and includes: Jason Ralph, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Stella Maeve (is that why you left Chicago PD Nadia?), Hale Appleman, Summer Bishil, Arjun Gupta, Rick Worthy and Anne Dudek

For those of you who know the characters, will be happy to hear that Quentin, Elliot, Alice and Julia exist and Julia plays an even bigger role than she did in the first book. As for Janet, she’ll be called Margo now (apparently because there were already too many names with “J”!) and Penny is there too but is Q’s roommate (that so can’t work …) and he’s not a punk at all. There’s no Josh or Anaïs though …

I think the show will focus a lot more on Quentin’s time at Brakebills, the College for Magical Pedagogy he attends. We can already see Quentin’s entry exam in the trailer, which looks fairly accurate to me. There is not much trace of Fillory yet and the blurb on imdb doesn’t mention it either. BUT it was said that we’ll get an early glimpse at it because Quentin will daydream about it a lot and obviously he’s reading the books. I have no idea when exactly it will come into play, because I could imagine that they just loosely based it on the novels and want to make it a more adult Harry Potter instead. I don’t know that for sure though.

There really can’t be much more deduced from the trailer, what are your thoughts? Either way, I am excited for the show simply because it’s about magic.

The Martian Book Review & Movie Anticipation

I’m really making progress on my August TBR and The Martian by Andy Weir has easily become one of my favourite books ever! I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you guys, but I promise to keep the review as spoiler-free as possible (can’t necessarily say the same for the comments!)

The Martian

Mark Watney is one of the first people to have set foot on Mars and he will be the first to die there. At least that’s what he thinks when he finds himself stranded on the desert planet with no communication and running out of food. But Mark isn’t ready to give up just yet and uses everything he’s got (including his mad botany skills) to try and survive what Mars throws at him. Will it be enough?

There is not one moment where you’re not rooting for Mark Watney! He is such a great character, insanely smart and he never looses his humour which makes for some moments that will make you laugh out loud no matter where you are (even on public transport – I speak from experience!). The story is so engaging and exciting, I was often at the edge of my seat, wondering with what he would come up next.

Some people didn’t like the different POV’s that much but I really enjoyed Weir‘s style of writing. It starts out with log entries of Watney, but a few chapters in you also get to see what’s happening on earth in the meantime and at some point even the crew’s POV is added.

From what I understand, there are very few inaccuracies (aside from the tragedy’s initiating storm) in the story concerning the science. I am really no science or even technology buff, but everything explained made sense to me and was very understandable too. All the more credit to Weir, since he researched it all himself and didn’t have contact with NASA until after publication.

You may not believe it, but this book started out as a self-published science-fiction serial that the author used to publish for free on his website. Look where it’s now! It’s on top of Bestseller lists all over the world and about to be released in movie theaters! I’m so happy I decided to pick up this story!

Book Fazit: Solid 5/5 stars!

Talking about the movie, I am massively excited about it. I prepared (or rather just took an existing) playlist from YouTube including the Trailer and some prequel web exclusives (introduction of the crew and psych eval) to watch for you at the end of this post.

The cast includes Matt Damon as Mark Watney. Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Donald Glover and Mackenzie Davies will be among the ground staff. Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña and Aksel Hennie conclude the team by portraying the rest of the Ares crew. I am really happy with the selection of actors and actresses, except maybe for Aksel Hennie as Alex Vogel. Why couldn’t they have picked someone who’s actually German to portray the role? I don’t have anything against him, but Hennie is Norwegian and while his accent does sound sort of German I suppose, he has to say actual German phrases or words and they do not sound right. Also, for some reason they changed Dr. Kapoor’s first name from Venkat to Vincent. Why? I have no idea.

Other than that I think they stayed really close to the book which makes me glad. Re-watching the trailer after reading the book,  I just recognise so many scenes. What are your thoughts? Let’s talk in the comments!

Paper Towns Movie Review

Originally I planned to do one of my typical Book vs. Movie posts for Paper Towns, but it’s been so long that I’ve read the book that I couldn’t remember the details even if I wanted to. Instead you’re getting a simple movie review (with Spoiler-free and a Spoiler section)!

So, I got to watch the UK Preview Screening which did not just include the movie, but also footage from the Q&A that was done with John Green, Nat Wolff and Cara Delevigngne in June. They talked about their similarities with the characters, what the audience should take away from the movie and whether they ever did something as crazy as the road trip in the movie. It wasn’t very long, but it was the perfect way to start the movie.

Now, I don’t know how many of you read the book or watched the movie or just generally know the story, but this is like a little plot summary:

Ever since Margo Roth Spiegelman moved in next to Quentin, who everyone just calls Q, he’s been in love with her. But their lives developed differently and while Q made safe choices and led a fairly sheltered life, Margo threw herself into every possible adventure, becoming a myth herself in the progress.
We are in their Senior Year at High School and Q’s optimism for ever being part of Margo’s life again is low, until one night, when she enters through his bedroom window and makes him her revenge-plot-accomplice. The next day, Q has the feeling that everything has changed, but has to find out that Margo is gone. Now he has to decide whether he’ll continue his uneventful life or if he’ll go searching for her, following the little clues she’s left behind.

First, I want to say that Paper Towns is one of my favourite books of John Green. I know that a lot of people prefer Looking for Alaska, but in my opinion the books are very similar and I read Paper Towns first, so I have a feeling that that impacted my opinion. However, when I heard that the same people who adapted The Fault in Our Stars would do this movie, I was massively excited, because they did a great job with TFIOS. I wasn’t entirely sure about the casting, but ended up really liking everyone they picked! Cara is like a real-life Margo to me, Nat is perfect as Q and I never thought I cared that much about how the others looked but they were also a perfect fit! Especially Justice Smith and Austin Abrams had mad chemistry with their female counterparts as well as a strong bromance with Nat Wolff!

Another thing I absolutely loved was the Soundtrack! Again, the music (just like in TFIOS) was brilliant and I cannot stop listening to it. Whoever chooses the artists and songs, I applaud you!

Now, on to the not so great part. While I did really enjoy myself during the entire movie, it did not have the exact same vibe and emotional impact as the book. I get that they had to make changes and, as I mentioned above, I cannot remember it in that much detail anyway, so I don’t care about that. I liked the ending even though it’s supposedly different from the book, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I was really bothered by how quickly Q and the others figures out Margo’s clues. I do understand that the film might’ve been way too long if they showed the real struggle, but it seemed so easy. They found a clue and within a couple of minutes they knew what to do. From what I could remember those clues were so vague sometimes, Q racked his brain for days sometimes.

This is only a minor issue though and other than that I laughed a lot (who wouldn’t when Black Santas are involved) and generally enjoyed watching the friendship of everyone on screen evolve and grow. The road trip could’ve gone on forever if it were up to me!

SPOILER AHEAD!!!!!! DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE MOVIE

I don’t really want to talk so much about the plot in the Spoiler-section as I want to talk about some cameos!
So, it was announced that John Green would have a cameo in the movie, but I didn’t see him. The thing is, you wouldn’t either. He doesn’t actually physically appear in the movie, he just voices the father of Becca’s father. That was not the cameo that nearly stopped my heart though. I read on Twitter that Ansel Elgort stopped by on set and now it all makes sense, but I did not even think about him being in the movie. I seriously started grinning from one ear to the other, I was so happy to see him.

SPOILER OFF 

All in all, I laughed, I almost cried and I really enjoyed the movie even though it has some flaws. People need to stop comparing it to TFIOS because of course those movies aren’t going to have the same emotional impact. One of them is about teenagers with a terminal illness, whereas the other movie is about not putting people on pedestals, taking risks and finding out who you are. What are your thoughts?