Book to Movie: All You Need Is Kill – What’s the Difference?

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This month Cinefix’s What’s the Difference? tackles the underappreciated Edge of Tomorrow, and it’s source material, All You Need Is Kill. I’d so watch a film called All You Need Is Kill, even if it did have Tom Cruise in it.

Unfortunately I haven’t read the Manga, which appears to have some differences between it and the novel. I read the light novel of All You Need Is Kill before watching the movie. Whilst there are major similarities between the two, they are quite different. Edge of Tomorrow flirts with comedy, while anything with the title All You Need Is Kill is clearly going to have a darker tone. A film starring Tom Cruise is always going to have a Hollywood glamour to it that a novel can dispense with.

The biggest difference between the two is the ending. I said in my review of the film that they should have stuck with the book’s ending. The way the movie ended was the equivalent of “it was all a dream”, whilst the book ending had consequence and substance. Admittedly, watching Tom Cruise kill Emily Blunt would have had audiences outraged (#TeamBlunt) but I’m sure they could have deus ex machina-d something better than what was served up.

Interestingly, Hiroshi is writing a Manga sequel and they’ve announced a movie sequel. I wonder how similar those two will be?

Movies that entertained me in 2014

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Following on from my last post about my favourite music from this year, today I present the movies I watched that were released in 2014. Unlike my music list, this list is a review for the movies I watched, not just the ones I really enjoyed. As such I get the chance to highlight a couple of films that everyone should avoid watching, if they haven’t as yet been sullied.

There were a lot of good films released in 2014, especially in the action genre. But I will note that more films are suffering from the dreaded PG13 rating, whereby horrific violence is glossed over to save us from harm. All this really does is mean that we have violence without consequences portrayed in film. And no nudity. At least the DVD versions often have a more mature cut of the film available. Still no nudity. FSM forbid there be nudity. Won’t somebody think of the children!

By release date:

Snowpiercer
Technically released last year but only made it to Australia (US, etc) this year, as it was a South Korean production. I have been very impressed with the films coming out of Korea, with visuals and camera work that belie the production costs. Snowpiercer is no exception to this and managed to attract an international cast. Unlike many Hollywood films, Snowpiercer, and other Korean films I have seen, are not afraid of going for the hard ending to the film. Expect to see more from the Korean film-makers and their influence spread.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Inspired by, or based upon, or royalty check paid to, Tom Clancy for his Jack Ryan series of novels; Shadow Recruit is the latest take on the character. Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford (who killed Sean Bean) and Ben Affleck have all brought Ryan to the big screen, with adaptations of a series of books I gave up on back in my teens. There was nothing particularly wrong with this movie, it was entertaining enough, but there was also nothing that was going to see this franchise have another instalment soon.

The Raid 2: More Arse Kicking
You could be forgiven for thinking that there wasn’t further story to be had from The Raid. Given that the first film was pretty much one long fight scene that the hero won, what more was there to do? Aside from visit the hospital and spend months recuperating. But when a film that awesome is made there is always going to be a sequel, no matter how tenuous the narrative link is (although apparently the sequel is based upon a discarded script used in early development by the director). Where The Raid was flat out action, The Raid 2 has more suspense and plot, and plenty more awesome action. Can’t wait for the next Judge Dredd film to be based on it.

Non Stop: Taken on a Plane
Liam Neeson beats up bad guys on a plane. This time he’s an alcoholic and not really sure who he should be beating up. Not a patch on Taken but has a better plot than Taken 2.

RoboCop
It is hard to remake a classic film, especially in Hollywood, which generally requires writers and directors to gather up copies of the old classic to burn in a fire pit and then piss on the ashes in order to develop a script. When judged as a brand-new movie with no baggage from Verhoeven or the 80s (not one bad 80s suit or haircut appeared in this film), then Robocop is actually worth watching. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it is worth watching the film just to see Samuel L Jackson’s performance as a loud-mouth, arrogant, douchebag cable news anchor (you know, Bill O’Reilly). But we can’t ignore the baggage, so this comes off as a pale imitation. Still superior to the other Verhoeven remake, Total Recall.

The Lego Movie
Honey, where are my paaaants? The Lego Movie has grabbed a lot of attention and it is well deserved. The movie isn’t without its faults, but it is a kids film that doesn’t silently make parents wish they had decided to be ‘just good friends’ a decade ago.

3 Days to Kill
There were a lot of ingredients in this film that suggested it would taste fantastic. Instead it was a bit bland and made you feel guilty about eating all those calories for no reward.

300: Rise of an Empire
I am an unashamed Eva Green fan. I could happily spend 2 hours watching her stare at the camera, she is that good an actor (more on that in my 2014 in TV). All the ingredients that made 300 awesome are back (except Gerard Butler) with a more expansive stage. The director was clearly going for epic and almost made an action flick that got there. Unfortunately the cool visuals have been copied by too many other movies since the original, so much of the impact is lost.

Need for Speed
I played a lot of Need for Speed when I was younger, so it was awesome to watch the game being brought to life in the movies… Is that an oxymoron? Aaron Paul holds this film together, since the material is paper thin, and NFS wasn’t exactly weighed down with plot as a game. Enjoyable whilst being nothing amazing.

Captain America: Winter Soldier
This was just such an awesome film. The script was inspired by the classic run of comics by Ed Brubaker, with the writers and director managing to capture so much of what a good superhero comic is all about. Without much doubt, Captain America: Winter Soldier, was my favourite film of the year.

Sabotage
Just awful. There is virtually nothing to like about this film. All the characters are unlikable, the script doesn’t make sense, the ending feels like a let down, and not even Arnie’s charisma can stop this steaming pile of elephant crap from being one of the worst films I’ve ever watched.

Transcendence
Not many people liked this film, yet it wasn’t as bad as most claimed. The hate is probably a hangover from the last Johnny Depp vehicle, The Lone Ranger, which will haunt him to his deathbed. That doesn’t make Transcendence a good film, as it is slow, predictable, and crammed with undeveloped characters. But it has Cillian Murphy in it and Paul Bettany does his Paul Bettany thing, so the movie is watchable.

Brick Mansions
Brick Mansions is a remake of the French film District 13. They even got the original star, parkour legend David Belle, to play the same role again. There is nothing to like about this film, they even managed to ruin the parkour scenes with terrible camera work and editing. Watch the original, this was pitiful.

X-Men Days of Future Past
The problem with watching an X-Men movie is that we have seen The Avengers, Iron Man, and the previously mentioned Captain America. There is nothing particularly bad about this movie, but we have just had a slew of excellent comic book movies (which is a rarity), so this pales in comparison. X-Men suffers from being far too serious, lacking humour and interesting dialogue. Also, Hugh Jackman is a tad too lean and veiny in this film.

Edge of Tomorrow
I don’t know that I’ll ever forgive Tom Cruise for making Jack Reacher a foot shorter than he should be. But Edge of Tomorrow goes some way toward making amends. This was an excellent movie and was not the usual Cruise fare. The only thing that annoyed me about the film was the ending, which was the typical Hollywood rubbish. If they had stuck with the ending from the book then they would have had something remarkable.

A Million Ways To Die In The West
Family Guy is one of my favourite TV shows, despite having gone off the boil in recent seasons. Seth MacFarlane made a successful transition to movies with Ted, but some people aren’t enamoured with his brand of humour. I am and this was the funniest film I’ve watched since Ted. It isn’t as good, however, as A Million Ways To Die In The West suffers from being about 20 minutes too long. It seems all recent films are clocking in at 2 hours long, which is 30 minutes too long for a comedy, in my opinion. And A Million Ways could have retained most of the material and come in shorter, just by utilising tighter editing.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Of all the comics to become a blockbuster movie, Guardians is not an obvious choice. But everything about this film is done just right. Everything about Guardians says that it has to walk such a fine line that it should fail miserably. Instead the humour hits its marks, the acting stops the characters falling into Batman & Robin territory, the action is awesome but not overdone, and there is a sentimental note to the film that could have easily become soppy. My second favourite film of the year.

Lucy
It is hard to get past the ridiculous premise of this movie when it is a well known brain myth. But even if you dismiss that, Lucy is a rubbish film, so the use of the 10% Myth is the least of its problems. The main thing I hated was the problem that many of these “I’ve just become super smart” themed movies have (Transcendence had this as well to an extent), and that is the idea that the smarter you become, the more inhumane you become. Smart people = jerks, apparently.

The November Man
This was a solid action movie starring Pierce Brosnan (who killed Sean Bean) showing that he hasn’t lost his action chops. Nothing amazing about this spy-action-thriller, which means Brosnan carries the film. One thing I did hate was the ending, which seemed really odd. I’m sure there is a director’s cut that will be released that will make more sense, as clearly there was a scene missing.

The Equalizer
Denzel Washington is a Man On Fire…. Wait, different movie. Denzel Washington is a man with a particular skill set… Sorry, that’s Liam Neeson. Denzel Washington kills some Russian mobsters using hardware supplies and Sony product placement. The Equalizer is a pretty standard vigilante action movie. What sets it apart, or makes it worth watching, is Denzel, because when is he not worth watching, and the understated story-telling. A lot of films like this go out of their way to beat their audience over the head with various plot points, The Equalizer just pokes their audience in the face.

A Walk Among the Tombstones
Liam Neeson doesn’t beat up nearly enough people in this film.

Book Review: All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

All You Need Is KillAll You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure that there are enough sci-fi thrillers out there. Maybe we should get James Patterson to churn out a few dozen this year, or maybe someone can point me in the direction of a few dozen authors like Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

People may be aware of All You Need Is Kill because of the film adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, retitled Edge of Tomorrow because ‘kill’ had such negative connotations. I haven’t watched the film yet, but have heard very good things, which makes sense, since this is a very good book. The premise for the book (and film) is that Earth has been invaded by terraforming robots – Mimics – who are preparing the planet for an alien race to come live here. These robots have a special trick they use to help them win battles: they can send a signal back in time to allow time loops to play out until they win. Keiji Kiriya is a new recruit, but in his first battle he gets caught in the loop, and he is able to alter the future by learning from his mistakes.

Obviously this sounds a lot like the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day, just with less Bill Murray and more giant robots trying to destroy the planet. The story never lets up, despite the fact that the two days (the day before and day of the battle) are on an endless loop until either Keiji or the Mimics succeed. And the twist ending caught me somewhat by surprise. I recommend this book to any fans of thrillers, unless you can’t stand the idea of people in robotic suits fighting alien robots for the future of the planet – which is, of course, impossible not to love.

View all my reviews

Mini-me Jack Reacher sequel announced

According to a reliable source – well, a book blog for a bookstore I like – there is a sequel in the works for Jack Reacher.

That’s right, Tom Cruise will be reprising his role as Jack Reacher. It is unclear whether he’ll wear stilts in this adaptation of Never Go Back, the most recent Reacher adventure. For a reminder of the first Reacher film:


It seems odd to me for Cruise et al. to leap so far forward in the series, the previous movie being based upon the Lee Child novel One Shot. I’d have said there are some fantastic novels in between that would make fantastic movies, even with a half-sized Reacher.

The first movie was kinda average. The story was faithfully adapted, with the changes making sense, Cruise brought his star power, but I don’t have any kind words for his co-stars, who were generally flat and lifeless. So the “sequel” really needs to be better cast….. Maybe fill the cast with good child actors to get the star’s proportions right.

Either way, I’ll watch it.

Book Review: One Shot by Lee Child

One Shot (Jack Reacher, #9)One Shot by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is something really great about Lee Child’s novels. There is also something about Jack Reacher that we all just know Tom Cruise is not going to be able to deliver on screen.

The last book I read took me 10 days to read. That is a long time for a thriller. This one took me 2 days to read. Clearly Lee serves up a more engaging and involving story, a novel that I will actually make excuses to stay up and read, rather than check my email and go to bed.

It will be interesting to see how Tom Cruise and Hollywood adapt this story for the big screen. This isn’t the sort of plot that would be easy to adapt unless you left half of it out. Not that I would accuse Hollywood of butchering just about every book to movie project they have every done. Never.

Read this one before Cruise brings his step-ladder and this novel to the big screen in December.

View all my reviews

Jack Reacher One Shot Movie

Jack Reacher – 1:2 scale

As any Lee Child and Jack Reacher fan knows by now, Tom Cruise is bringing the book One Shot to the big screen. What some may not be aware of is that Hollywood has had a few financial issues of late. They’ve had to scale back productions and advertising. Paramount Pictures didn’t want to cut back on advertising or budget for the Reacher film, so they halved the size of the main character – Jack Reacher 6’5″ 220-250lbs, Tom Cruise 5’7″ 147lbs.

The good news is that Reacher has been bumped up the release schedule and will be coming out in cinemas in December. This should be great for Lee Child fans, especially as A Wanted Man, the new Reacher novel, will have been released a month prior.

Lets hope that they film Cruise from some very low angles, because I want to see Reacher kick some ass!

Book to movie

If there is any one thing that Hollywood does well, it is taking terrific books and turning them into terrible movies. When was the last time someone said “Well the movie was better than the book”?

I’ve opined on this issue before: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher; why movie studios bother with buying a book when they make a movie that doesn’t resemble the book in any way.

And here it is happening again:

Any movie starring Katherine Heigl is always doomed. She ranked in my article on actresses you don’t want in you book adaptation. Clearly Janet Evanovich signed the movie rights before she read my article. So you have to ask what is happening in Hollywood, aside from the hookers and blow?

Clearly the first thing that is happening is the movie rights. Author agents are clearly trying to make some money for their authors so that the author can give up the day job and write more. Sorry, that should read, they want a commission. The movie studio hands over some spare change they have lying around and grab the book. Then they ask a script writer to give them a script, usually in the same amount of time it would take the script writer to actually read the book. So the script writer hands over a script they already have lying around, after changing a few of the character names to match. The studio then launders finds some money from “business associates” to start casting and shooting. The casting agent looks at the budget and sorts through the least desperate actors in the appropriate pay scale, to find the person who least embodies the main characters.

By the time the movie hits cinemas there have only been two people in the entire process who realise the movie is based upon a book, one of whom may have read it. This, of course, doesn’t really matter because the ten people who have read the book that go to see the movie are sitting in a packed cinema with people who don’t read and are generally confused by plots that can’t be explained in a one-to-two sentence monologue from a minor character.

Clearly Hollywood knows what it is doing, I mean, they cast Tom Cruise as Lestat. And authors love getting money from Hollywood, they can actually afford to pay the rent that month. So maybe it is time writers started writing for Hollywood. Oh wait, they already do that….

Actors you don’t want in your book adaptation

In a previous post I raised the fact that Tom Cruise would be bringing Jack Reacher to the big screen. Now fans of the Lee Child books will be familiar with the 6’5″ Jack Reacher and the general differences he has from Tom Cruise, the most noticeable being that Reacher isn’t crazy. Of course Lee Child isn’t particularly worried because “the movie isn’t for the fans of the book, it is for movie goers.”

This all got me to thinking, I could really do with a nap. When I woke up I was thinking, “which actors would I hate to see playing the lead role in a book adaptation?” I present my list, do you have any others?

11) Nicolas Cage
Vampire's Kiss

Cage wasn’t always a horrible actor, he has an Oscar to prove it. But after he started buying castles and octopuses, his work got weirder and weirder, just watch The Wicker Man. He seems determined do his unique combination of drug-fueled mania and totally inappropriate character choices in most every movie.
Update: Conan O’Brian has got in on the joke.

10) David Caruso
David Caruso

David Caruso will be forever remembered as Lt. Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami. It isn’t because of his superb acting, no, rather it is his stunning array of bizarre tics and horrible one-liners he crams into 42 minutes of television every week. Caine is just pure corniness, and Caruso’s just getting worse. Whether he’s doing it on purpose or he’s just given up, this is some spectacularly horrible acting.

9) Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jean-Claude-Van-Damme
I have seen Van Damme act just the once, playing himself, in JCVD. The rest of the time he is in films because he can kick high and do the splits. In fairness most of his movie roles have only required him to kick high and do the splits, but bringing a book to life takes a bit more than that. In JCVD’s favour is the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, having had guest star roles taking the piss out of himself on various TV shows.

8) Hugh Grant

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We have a TV channel in Australia called SBS. They show movies from around the world, rather than just Hollywood. They have a great advert that sums up Hugh Grant. They show the same bumbling, um er, insipid, um er, acting he does in every, um er, that is to say, role. I am simply baffled by his popularity. He is a weak, dull, uninteresting man.

7) Ben Affleck

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Lets face it, any book adaptation that stars Ben Affleck will be fraught with budgetary over-runs due to acting class costs, hair product and dead hooker disposal. 

6) Steven Seagal

Steven 3
He’s played one role – the wise, astute, noble, ass kicker, who only resorts to violence when necessary – for his entire career (except in Machete). He also founded the Steven Segal School of Acting, which prides itself on producing one facial expression for every occasion. As Sean Connery will attest, you shouldn’t try to piss Steven off by suggesting he learn to act.

5) Orlando Bloom

Orlando-Bloom-Photo-Orlando-Bloom-2-05052007
Orlando “one look” Bloom has managed to make a career out of the same facial expression. “Orcs are killing everyone” is the same as his “I’m in love with you Elizabeth Swan” look. He and Kirsten Stewart clearly went to the Steven Segal School of Acting. The only reason he brings characters to life is that he has a heartbeat and can walk, as proven by his work on the LOTR book adaptations.

Update: Orlando Bloom has apparently had the same look since he was a child.

4) Paul Walker

250460~Paul-Walker-Posters
I actually like Paul Walker, he comes across as a friendly, cool guy. Pity that is all he brings to a role. He does have the ability to do many things that Orlando Bloom can’t, but it is still hard to take him seriously in anything dramatic. Maybe it would be cool to hire him for the book adaptation just to hang out with him, but that’s the stalker in me talking.

3) Hayden Christensen

Haydenchristensen
He ruined Star Wars with JarJar Binks, enough said. 

2) Tom Cruise

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I’ve mentioned before that Tom Cruise has a habit of shouting instead of acting. I’ve also mentioned before that Tom has appeared in a number of good films, but he wasn’t the reason they were good. I’ve also mentioned that Tom will be doing his best to ruin Jack Reacher for Lee Child fans. Short nut-case closed.

1) Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves1Alt 300 400
Is this really a surprise? Did anyone watch The Day The Earth Stood Still and not think a block of wood could have contributed a better acting performance? Actually, aside from Bill & Ted, do you think there is any role he has ever had that couldn’t be improved upon by replacing Keanu with a block of wood? It was a tough decision picking the right photo for this one – on the one hand I had a photo of paint drying, and on the other hand I had a photo of Keanu. While the paint photo was a lot more interesting, I thought I ought to go with this one.

Who will portray Jack Reacher?

That’s right, Jack Reacher will be coming to a cinema near you in the adaptation of Lee Child’s One Shot. The film about the big guy with the strong moral compass and the even stronger right hook is all set, with a director, a start date, a script and of course the star: Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise has agreed to play Reacher in Paramount’s ONE SHOT; filming in Pittsburgh begins on September 27, 2011, which is the same day that Reacher novel #16 THE AFFAIR goes on sale in the US and Canada (Sept 29th is the UK, AU, NZ sale date).

Screenplay is by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) who will also direct.  The screenplay, from all reports, is truly kick-ass.  The rest of the actors have yet to be cast but we’re hearing rumors that are pretty exciting. Source.

Yes you have read that correctly. Tom Cruise will play Jack Reacher.

Lee is of course in full support of Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher:

Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way – Lee Child.

I can’t blame Lee, it isn’t like anyone will complain the movie is better than the book, and he will get paid regardless. Worst case for him is that they make a fantastic movie that generates him millions more fans. So there are three ways this will run: either Tom Cruise will completely own the role and make the fans of the Reacher books forget the 30 centimetre difference in height; or the casting director will cast munchkins in the supporting roles; or the Reacher fans will wish someone else was cast.

Lets go through some of the potential Reachers who have been raised on the interwebz, because despite the decision having already been made there is nothing like documenting the “I told you so” statements for future reference. Of course I’ll delete this post if Cruise pwns all.

Tom Cruise:

Advantages: Box office draw card, his production company bought the film rights, Cruise really needs to look manly in films, has a track history of appearing in good films.
Disadvantages: Short, too pretty, will have to shout at some point in the film regardless of the need to, despite appearing in good films he wasn’t the reason for them being good (Jack Nicolson, A Few Good Men; Dustin Hoffman, Rainman; Cub Gooding Jr, Jerry Maguire; etc).

Tahmoh Penikett:

Advantages: Tall, burly, manly, not too good looking, good looking enough to sell the film, good actor, could actually win a real fight (muay thai fighter), my choice for the role.
Disadvantages: Only had TV roles in shows no-one watched, what the hell do I know about making films.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan:

Advantages: Tallish, manly, chicks love him since he was on Grey’s Anatomy.
Disadvantages: Is he the only manly American actor? Can’t we find someone else?

Ben Affleck:

Advantages: Tall, appeared in other blockbusters.
Disadvantages: Budget blowouts would occur due to acting class costs.

Christian Bale:

Advantages: Not short, has appeared in every other film in the last few years, could actually get aggressive and violent.
Disadvantages: I think it would be good to cast Bale in every film, never a down side to that.

Liam Neeson:

Advantages: The right height, has done action films, can act, has been in a Dirty Harry film.
Disadvantages: He appeared in Star Wars The Phantom Menace, appeared in the worst Star Wars film, co-starred with the worst character ever portrayed on film, didn’t shoot his agent for letting him be involved in The Phantom Menace.

I guess we can only dream. Either way, I’ll be seeing One Shot on the opening weekend.