Book Watching: Upcoming scifi and fantasy shows

This week, I got TV on my mind. Book-to-TV adaptations, that is.

This is happening:

American Gods by Starz

This trailer for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel dropped last week, and it is gorgeous. Full on dramatic imagery, powerful silhouette shots, and slow-motion drama, I’m feeling a visual vibe of The Fountain (2016) and the dark drama of Breaking Bad. I also wonder if the movie will lean more towards suspense rather than special effects.

Release date: 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Netflix

They’ve already started shooting for sure, and IMDB says this series based on Lemony Snicket’s books, will premiere in August 2016. As in, this month. Except Netflix hasn’t only just finished filming and hasn’t even released an official trailer yet (though a suspiciously well-made fan trailer has been making the rounds), so I’m not stocking up on popcorn yet. The show will star Neil Patrick Harris, Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes and was rumored to be quite a bit darker than the books.

Release date: Filming just finished, so…December 2016?

A-new-series-of-unfortunate-events

His Dark Materials by BBC

Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy is coming to a TV near you (no, not the 2007 movie). I’ve been hearing about this one on and off for a while, but facts remain sparse. It sounds like pre-production has been scheduled for this fall (so, now?) and filming will take place in Wales at the end of this year (maybe). Continue reading

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[Book Watching] Summer hits and misses – The Host, The Hobbit…

The Host

hostWith this release, all of Stephanie Meyer’s books have officially been made into movies. When I got the book, I had very low expectations, and Host-the-book exceeded them by far (okay, low bar, but you know). Unfortunately, this meant that I went into the movie expecting a good movie. That it had Saoirse Ronan, who’s played the lead in Hanna and The Lovely Bones, and a great trailer soundtrack by Imagine Dragons didn’t help at all.

The movie floundered in all the places I would have expected, if I had turned on the critical thinking sector of my brain for a half minute or so before stepping into the theater. (I hadn’t). The movie struggled to convey the difficult relationship between Melanie and the alien inside her head, didn’t have the time to show the gradual and difficult way that Wanda finally achieved acceptance, and had to speed through a lot of the emotional relationship angst that I found both so incredibly annoying and riveting in the book. I say, see it if you land on it while flipping channels or scrolling around Netflix, but don’t agonize too much if don’t.


The Hobbit

the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-movie-poster-1.jpgI am still unconvinced that we need three movies to cover a 300-page book, especially when almost all of the battle scenes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey dragged on just a bit too long. That said, I will totally grant that squishing it all into one movie would have been just as bad in the opposite direction. The Hobbit was entertaining, pretty, and a lot of fun in IMAX 3D – though less impressive when I watched it on a regular screen later. The special effects, as always, were great and the extra  scenes they brought in from outside The Hobbit flowed well with the story.

I give it three canaries. Totally worth seeing once, but maybe not twice.

Beautiful Creatures

beautiful creatures.jpgI picked up Beautiful-Creatures-the-book with the knowledge that the movie was coming out in less than a month. And when I put it down, I thought, “well, gosh, how in the world are the movie people gonna pull this off?” If you’ve read the book (or our review of it), you probably know what I’m talking about. There are plots within plots, and a lot of the emotional brunt of the story is all inside small-town misfit’s Ethan’s head.

Still, the movie pulls it off – mostly by cutting characters and snipping away at pivotal scenes. But this strategy means that what is left holds together in a coherent storyline with only a few questions left unexplained. I was pretty impressed. And what the movie couldn’t do with the original story, it more than made up with the great acting. Continue reading

[Small Chirps] Books on the January Big Screen

This month’s book-inspired set of movies sure are a violent lot – but with stories that are as intriguing as they are graphic. From LA gangsters to shotgun-toting fairy-tale characters, this month has a lot of exciting movie fare to offer.

Gangster Squad

Release Date: January 11

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/03/Gangster_Squad_Poster.jpgA cast doesn’t get much more star-studded than this. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte and Sean Penn round out the cast of this gangster-sort-of-buddy-cop movie based on an eight-part LA Times series written by journalist Paul Lieberman, who expanded his true-life story in the book, Gangster Squad. The movie takes place in 1950s, when the streets of LA were overrun by gang wars. To combat the illegal underground, LAPD created their own gangster squad, cops where selected to work outside the law in order to bring peace back to the City of Angels.

I expect from the trailer alone that it will be a fairly violent film (how could it not be with a plot like that?), but for anyone who loves LA Noir or hardboiled detective novels like those of Dashiell Hammett, this movie should be right up your alley. Continue reading

[Small Chirp] Watch the First Four Minutes of Warm Bodies

Somewhere along the line, I became completely obsessed with zombies. I guess it’s not entirely surprising; the only thing that scares me more than zombies are sharks, and I eagerly anticipate the Discover Channel’s “Shark Week” with rabid fervor. The gateway drug that was Feed has extrapolated into a full-blown addiction.

And that’s why I let out a squeal when I heard that Fandango had a sneak peek at the first four minutes of “Warm Bodies,” the quirky teen romance based on the book by Isaac Marion. I have to say, after the video, I’m even more excited about the film. Continue reading

[Book Watching] Not Your Typical Hobbit

It’s been years since I read The Hobbit. I considered doing so before the movie, but then realized that since the films would be stretched over three years, I might as well wait for a bit because I’ll forget the end again by the time the final installment in the trilogy came out. As a result, I couldn’t tell if scenes were actually made up in the movie or if I’d just misremembered the book so poorly.

“Was Saruman in The Hobbit?” I asked my roommate as we were leaving.

“No!” she – a rabid Hobbit/Lord of the Rings fan – replied. “No! They were just making stuff up!”

So not just me, then. Continue reading

TV Tuesdays: What happens in the library…

Community is a strange show. There’s almost no other adjective that describes the comedy. Except maybe kooky. Or crass. But mostly, it’s strange.

 Community follows a study group at Greendale Community College and the downright zany situations they find themselves in. (Paintball, anyone?). And luckily for us during this wonderful Library Week, a large part of the show takes place in the library, perfectly fitting our theme. But choosing books for Community fans is no easy feat. Based solely on the people who I know watch the show, we’re a really eclectic group. But there is another book-picking solution.

A big part of Community‘s charm is the characters. The NBC staple is full of people who have such over-the-top characterizations that it’s impossibly easy to pick out a book for each of them to love and cherish. Ever think you are just like Annie (or Troy or Shirley)? Then these books are for you: Continue reading

TV Tuesday: Person of Interest–and books of interest

Each week, we’ll spotlight a current television show that we love, and the books that you just might like. Here are this week’s reading suggestions based on…

Person of Interest:

This show stands out for having an incredibly silly premise with a mind-blowingly fun execution. Reese (Jim Caviezel) is a modern-day Batman running around New York City battling crime bosses, saving lives, dodging his ex-CIA handlers, and hiding from the police. Oh and he stops cars full of bad guys with his rocket launcher.

In the meantime, his paranoid genius sidekick and tech support, Finch (Michael Emerson), uses a supercomputer to come up with the names of the people who are going to be killed in the next few days. It’s Reese’s job to stop that from happening.

And if Reese just happens to end up shooting a bunch of bad guys in the process, well, looks like the job has perks.

In books too, I have it bad for badass killer characters with traumatic pasts. Ever since Salvatore’s Drizzt D’Urden and Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, I’ve been infatuated with smart-talking, quick-thinking, fast-stabbing characters like Reese. There aren’t a lot of well-written badasses out there, so in my reading habits, I often default to other storylines to get my fix.

Here are a few character-driven book suggestions involving some seriously awesome protagonists:

Continue reading