2014: Best Movies

I’ll be writing a few posts recapping 2014 and listing my favorites of different categories of entertainment. To be honest, I don’t watch many movies. There were some good ones I remember seeing on TV this year that released in prior years, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. So I’ll just stick to theater releases of 2014.

1. Maleficent
This film was absolutely amazing. Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning blew me away. I loved the retelling of a classic fairytale from the perspective of the antagonist or villain. And the twist- how the film portrayed Sleeping Beauty as a false version of the story rather than just showing Maleficent’s side of things- was unexpected and refreshing, making me think.

2. If I Stay
I read this book years ago and to this day it is one of my favorite contemporary young adult novels. I thought the film represented the book very well. The film starred Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley and I wrote a whole review of it here

3. One Direction: ‘Where We Are’ Live from San Siro Stadium
Being a huge One Direction fan, this film obviously made the list. The first half hour was an exclusive interview that I found both interesting and entertaining. The other hour was a well-made film of the boys’ concert in Milan from June of this year. I went to the concert in my city, but it was nice to relive the experience. The filmography was fantastic; I talk about it in this post.

4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
The Hunger Games movies are, in my opinion, some of the best film adaptions of books out there. Watching these movies is like watching the books and Mockingjay Part 1 was no different. The part of the book that this film represents is slower and less action-packed than the first two books. But I was surprised at how captivated I was for the two hours and some minutes the movie played. I thought the adaption was incredibly accurate, interesting, and well done. The soundtrack and acting were also phenomenal.

5. Into the Woods
I love musicals. The cast of this movie had so much depth and was extremely talented. I loved the combining of various fairy tales, the morality, and the acting. Daniel Huttlestone is one of my favorite child actors. The singing was beautiful. While there were some slow and, arguably, unnecessary parts, I still loved the film and would probably purchase it.

Well, there’s my list.

Movies are listed in order of release date.

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If I Stay

If-I-Stay-2014-Movie-Poster-Wallpaper-2048x1536Where to even begin… I read If I Stay, a young adult novel by the incredibly talented Gayle Forman, around three years ago while I was still in middle school. Immediately after finishing it, I read the sequel, Where She Went, because it had just released and I needed more. More Mia, more Adam, more Mia and Adam, and most of all, closure on everything following the ending of the first novel (I’ll try to keep this post spoiler-free).

I absolutely love this duology. I love the realness, the rawness that Forman manages to evoke in the flow of her story and in her characters in a seemingly effortless manner. When I found out (a bit belatedly) that If I Stay was being turned into a movie and would release this year, I was beyond excited. But I was also nervous- I worried that the storyline would be over-romanticized and changed to make teenage girls who don’t read swoon. And when I first looked up the cast, I was ambivalent about Chloë Grace Moretz playing Mia, because she just isn’t the way I pictured the protagonist in my head. Jamie Blackley looked much more the part of Adam immediately to me. However, as more and more previews played (and I couldn’t avoid them any longer, as much as I wanted to retain my mental image of Adam and Mia), I grew used to the idea of Chloë-as-Mia and made my peace with this minor issue. It also helped to discover that Gayle Forman was an executive producer of the film, and she helped write the script.

Well, I saw the movie last night with my fellow blogger friend, Grace. We both read the book for the first time years ago (and have obviously reread it multiple times since it’s so great). I can only speak for myself, but I thought the film was a hit. I loved it, all of it, and I am normally very critical of book to movie adaptations. The movie stayed true to the book it’s based on, but was easy to follow for those who have not read the novel (shame on them!). I thought the acting and character representations were spot on, and the wardrobe, sets, and film locations were perfect. It was such a pleasure seeing the characters come to life. The Hall family was is so cool, Mia is so wonderfully awkward at times, and Adam should be a role model for all boyfriends.

The movie also gave me all the feelings that the book gave me. I laughed because it was funny, I shed tears because it was devastating, and I got chills because it was heart-wrenching. There were so many “aw” moments because Mia and Adam’s relationship was so lovely, and realistic to the extent that true love and soul mates exist. They are perfect for each other, they love each other so much, and they have common interests, yet they still have to battle through rough patches and rocky decisions. Their love story is perfectly imperfect (as further proved in Where She Went). For me though, the movie was not just about the romance. Yes, that is a huge aspect of the book, and therefore the film. But I think that love in general is what ties everything together- love of music, love of family, love of friends, and love of life. If I Stay– both the novel and the movie- champions life. There is so much to live for, and love is what makes a good life.

I would not change this movie. I do wish that Mia’s relationship with and deep love for Teddy was shown more. But with the switches back and forth between the present (comatose Mia in the hospital) and the past (Mia’s budding career as a concert cellist and Mia’s relationship with Adam, including bits and pieces of her family and friends), it might have been overwhelming to explore another relationship in-depth. There were parts of the movie when I would begin to tear up, and then a happy flashback would occur and I wouldn’t have time to cry. Sometimes the switches back and forth were a little quick or choppy, but I thought the timing was pretty good overall. The movie also omits Mia’s struggle to make Kim and Adam friends, but I didn’t feel it needed to be included. And on a side note, Adam’s band was renamed from Shooting Star to Willamette Stone (some of their songs are on the movie soundtrack). Minor, minor changes, guys.

If I Stay is a fantastic novel and a fantastic film. I highly recommend seeing it, even if you’ve read the book. Especially if you’ve read the book. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Lovers of the book will love it, and hopefully those who have not yet read the novel will after seeing the movie. The movie stays very true to the book, doing it the justice it deserves. It has received positive reviews by critics (an A- from Entertainment Weekly and a 7.1/10 rating from IMDB) and is number one in the box-office since it’s release Friday. I rarely see movies and I’m always wary of page to screen adaptions, but in my book (no pun intended), If I Stay was a huge success. Well done.

If I Stay: the book | If I Stay: the movie | Grace’s Blog

Frostbite Film

I am a huge fan of Richelle Mead. She has written two of my favorite series: Vampire Academy and its spinoff, Bloodlines. The wit and charm of the characters, action-driven plot, and fantastic settings of these series, particularly Vampire Academy, make them stand out to me in young adult literature. They are addicting. Rose Hathaway is one of my favorite female protagonists: she’s loyal, impulsive, and extremely strong-willed. And while I love Dimitri to death, I really do, Adrian has my heart in Richelle Mead’s world of Moroi, dhampirs, and Strigoi.

Vampire Academy was adapted to the big screen and premiered earlier this year. To be blunt, the movie was a failure in the box office. For many fans, it failed to tell the story smoothly and accurately. And for me, it was laughable. However, VA fans have made their opinions heard, and the producers lined up for the sequel, Frostbite, have made the necessary changes. We have been assured that the script of Frostbite reads like the book (yes!). We can also expect that Frostbite will capture the same humor and irony that its predecessor did, only in a more effective way that doesn’t disappoint/enrage fans- in other words, the movie won’t be a silly, drama-and-action-packed movie that flows disjointedly and doesn’t deliver. Hopefully, the cast, directors, producers, screenwriters, etc. will make a smooth transition from the book to the movie, keeping elements of drama, humor, and action, but not overblowing the audience with too much of everything. That is what, for me, made the Vampire Academy movie hysterically bad- I couldn’t take any of it seriously.

But not all of the Vampire Academy film was unsatisfactory. The cast, for example, well-represented the characters they portrayed. The sets and filming locations realistically depicted St. Vladimir’s. The book has drama, humor, action, and wit, and the movie had these elements, too (although, as previously stated, perhaps too much of them). I saw huge potential in the first film, and I think with the adjustments that have been promised, Frostbite could be a wild success for the box office and the book lovers.

Now, I’d like to point out the most important part of Frostbite: Adrian Ivashkov. Yes, yes, the other half of my OTP (with the first half being Sydney Sage) makes his debut in the second installment of the series. Swoon. The biggest reason Frostbite needs to become a movie, other than correcting all the mistakes made in the Vampire Academy film, is that Adrian needs to come to life! Even if you haven’t read the series, trust me: you want to see this.

But when will Frostbite be released? Well, that is up to us as fans. Most of the budget for the film has been raised. The script has been written, the producers have been picked. However, in order to get the green light to start production, the film’s financiers have asked that the fans raise $1.5 million to show that there is enough interest in a Vampire Academy sequel. This is an effort called crowdfunding. We have been given less than a month- August 6th to September 5th- to meet this goal. And there are incentives. Fans can choose from the packages on IndieGoGo how much they would like to contribute, and in return they will receive some pretty awesome prizes.

Currently, with two weeks to go, only 14% of the goal has been met. We need some help. Anyone who would like to see a film adaption of Frostbite can help by donating, spreading the word, or both. Together, the VA Family can do this! (If, by chance, we in fact cannot do this, all funds raised will be returned to the donators.)

Final Thoughts

  • Anyone who wants to see Adrian on the big screen should take this cause very seriously- this might be our last chance to bring Adrian to life.
  • Frostbite is an even more exciting story than Vampire Academy, in my opinion.
  • I’d also like to point out that a Frostbite film will bring us closer to a Shadow Kiss film. Think on that.

If you are able and willing to help in any way, please do so. It would mean the world to VA fans to make Frostbite a reality. Thank you for your time.

Donate here.

Video Post | Crowdfunding Post | Another Frostbite Post | VA Movie | Richelle Mead