Page to Screen: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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I’m back with another edition of ‘Page to Screen’ and today we’re looking at the new Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Having just recently finished the series for the first time, I was very eagerly awaiting this release. There are definitely some changes but was I disappointed? That would be a no.

TATBILB centres around sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Covey. For every intense crush she experiences, LJ writes a highly personal love letter which she keeps locked away inside a hat box in her closet. One day, all five letters are mysteriously sent out, leaving LJ in an awkward position as one of the boys happens to be her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. In order to convince Josh she’s moved on, LJ makes a deal with Peter, another of her letter receivers.  By them pretending to be in a relationship, LJ can throw Josh off the scent and Peter can make his controlling ex, Genevieve, jealous.

What’s Different? (Beware – Book Spoilers!)

  • The End: One of the biggest changes from the book here is that the last third of the movie meshes in a few elements from book two in the series, PS. I Still Love You. This includes the drama resulting from a dodgy hot tub video taken at ski camp but also the ending of the film. If you’ve read the first book, you’d know that its ending is quite abrupt and really forces you to read on to find a happy ending. The movie, thank god, doesn’t do this and in true rom-com fashion ends with the reunion that kicks of LJ and Peter’s relationship in book two. I was very much on board with this change. The only thing I wish had been included was Lara Jean’s reconciliation letter to Peter which is pretty dang sweet. Why you gotta deprive me of my aww moment Netflix people?
  • Less Filler: Due to time constraints a lot of the activities that Peter and LJ do together during the novel, like baking and antiquing, which help cement their bond have been cut, but this is easily forgiven. I mean, it’s only a 1 ½ hr or so movie. However, we do get to see them watching movies together and going to parties. There’s also a lovely conversation regarding the death of LJ’s mum and Peter’s father walking out on him which lays some huge groundwork for their changed feelings.
  • Kitty’s Motivations: In the novel, Kitty spitefully sends out LJ’s letters after a heated argument. Here, she mails them with more positive intentions, in the hopes it’ll help her sister connect with someone. This was another change I really loved and it was nice to see Kitty acting with more pure intentions which seemed much more in tune with her ‘I know what’s best’ kind of personality.
  • LJ’s reaction: Unlike in the book, LJ has a much stronger reaction than a mere shrug to finding out Kitty sent her letters. It’s more realistic but still manages to remain sisterly and amusing.
  • Josh x LJ: In the novel, there’s a love triangle between LJ, Peter and Josh in that LJ’s letter pushes Josh to tell her that he’s previously had feelings for her as well. This creates a lot of confusion for LJ as she’s unsure if she still likes Josh but at the same time, she has to consider the fact that he’s her sister’s ex. The focus in the movie is much more on Peter and LJ’s relationship, and in a healthier approach, Josh simply accepts it when LJ tells him that she’s over him. No awkwardness and no messy kiss that causes major problems between LJ and Margo.

Other Thoughts

  • The Cast: Whoever did the casting for this movie was spot on and in my opinion, each of the actors fit their roles perfectly. Lana simply is Lara Jean; she plays her with the perfect combination of sweetness, romanticism, strength, and vulnerability – exactly how I imagined the character to be. Likewise, Noah does a great job in capturing Peter’s cockiness and charm while still doing justice to his softer side. The two have good chemistry and watching them interact with one another on screen is very enjoyable, especially when they’re taking photos of each other with silly faces. I also have to give points to Anna Cathcart as Kitty (straight off the page with all the necessary sass) and Madeline Arthur as Chris.
  • Hallucinations: One of the things I wasn’t such a fan of was the film’s approach of occasionally having Josh, and at one point Peter, talking to LJ as almost hallucinations to help her sort through her feelings. Yes, LJ is a bit dramatic at times, but I felt like this inclusion was perhaps a bit odd and silly. It also just randomly stops out of nowhere making me wonder why they bothered with it at all.
  • Slow Start: The movie takes a few minutes to get into the swing of things and find its groove. For those of us who know the story and characters, this is fine, but for others who don’t, it may be a bit slower to get into the feel of things.
  • Comedy?: TATBILB is marketed as a rom-com and while I do agree with this, it’s more of a high school coming of age, romance film than a comedy. Think John Hughes (Sixteen Candles is actually referenced in the film). Sure, there are a few amusing moments but it’s not something you’ll burst out laughing at, as infectious as Lara Condor is as LJ.
  • Representation: YAAAAS an Asian female lead in an American Romantic Comedy. WOOO!

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AS AN ADAPTATION: Pretty good! Changes are for valid reasons and mostly good deviations.

AS A FILM: The adaptation of ATBILB has the charm and adorableness of the novel. If you’re looking for something short, fun, breezy and sweet, this is a great choice. 7/10

You can find my review of the book here.

Love Ashley

 

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Page to Screen: Ready Player One

Image result for Ready Player One

Today I’m adding a new segment to my blog (woo hoo!), ‘Page to Screen’, where I’ll look at book adaptations, compare them to their source material, evaluate what worked and what didn’t, determine which medium reigned supreme, and so on. First up to the plate is Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s, Ready Player One.

Let me say, first and foremost, there are some huge changes from the book in this one. So, if you’re a purist or massive fan of the novel, you’re likely going to be uncomfortable or mad for at least the first half hour or so before you adjust. Prepare yourself.

THE CHALLENGES

The biggest change from the book was the clues and challenges to find Halliday’s egg. In the book there are three keys and three gates, each with its own test. In the movie there’s one gate and the tests are limited to the keys ONLY. This cuts down a lot of the book but for time constraints, it’s perfectly reasonable. Additionally, almost none of the challenges in the movie are taken directly from the book and it’s for one obvious reason: to make the movie more understandable and marketable to the masses.

The movie begins with the test for the first key which is, believe it or not, a freaking car race. I almost spat the dummy right then and there. But once Wade actually had to do some thinking and research to beat the challenge, I calmed down a bit. By the time we’d reached challenge two, which involved a fantastic sequence set inside the film, The Shining, I began to realise that these changes were probably a good thing. While they aren’t a direct adaptation of the book, they remain largely in the spirit and tone of it.

THE WORLD

As this is a movie, there’s a lot less time to spend describing the conditions in the real world or the nature of The Oasis in lengthy detail. The film does its best through the use of Wade’s voice over and a short, flashy sequence at the beginning but the book has the one up on this one purely due to available time for exposition.

Also, in case you weren’t aware, ¾ of the movie is CGI Oasis. The real world is showcased a bit more in the second half but you’re going to be looking at the characters’ avatars A LOT, so get used to it fast.

CHARACTERS

Wade

I’ll be blunt: Wade’s character is lacking here. The degree of  credit he’s given in the film is increased but at the same time, the amount of stuff his character actually does is less. There’s no period in which he re-evaluates his priorities and shapes himself into a mentally and physically stronger person, and no infiltration of IOI (the bit from the book that really does show him off as the hero Cline wants him to be). And still, we get a scene in which Art3mis tells Wade he’s the best of them all and that he’ll win because of it. I mean, really?

Art3mis

On the flip side, Art3mis is given a lot more screen time and things to do, taking over some of Wade’s roles. Compared to the book, we see her in the real world far earlier and it’s Arty that ends up stuck in IOI. At first this seems like it’ll just be a rescue situation but then she starts kicking ass, and I’ve come to see it as another solid deviation choice. Extra depth is also added to Art3mis’s back story regarding IOI and her father. She’s given motives aside from simple altruism and a role in the film’s so called resistance (an unnecessary new element that isn’t really developed or explained).

The Other Top 5

Diversity was maintained here and one character survived where their book counterpart did not. However, notably, Shoto and Daito do get short changed in the development department as the section of the book in which they go questing with Wade has been cut. It’s a sad but understandable loss but then again, even with more screen time, some of the other major characters are still somewhat difficult to connect with at times.

IOI & Sorrento

IOI and Sorrento remain very much the same – they’re still complete dicks and very much the greedy corporation, desperate for power and money. Sorrento comes off as a bit of a lame villain at times and is perhaps given maybe a touch too much screen time whilst his side kick of sorts, Zandor, is a tad wooden for my liking.

OTHER MINOR POINTS

  • Time constraints also restrict the development of Art3mis and Wade’s relationship, with him dropping the L bomb ridiculously and creepily early in the time line.
  • The climax of the movie drags on too long. Sure, giant robots fighting and watching IOI goons get wiped out is fun, but there is a limit.
  • I liked how the film dealt with James Halliday’s character – he’s a sad figure with good motivations behind his actions but I wish we’d been able to see more of his history

Overall, the film manages to improve on some of the weaknesses of the novel but it comes with new flaws of its own. Yet, despite its problems, Ready Player One was an entertaining way to spend a few hours and I’m glad I went to see it.

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AS AN ADAPTATION : Not good, a lot of changes from the book.

AS A FILM : Entertaining, but not amazing. 6.8/10

You can find my review of the book here.