Robert Pattinson as Jacob
Reese Witherspoon as Marlena
Christoph Waltz as August
Hal Holbrook as Old Jacob
As a stand alone film Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants is an enjoyable romantic drama that showcases some quality acting however having read the novel first I could not help but feel the ending was rushed and some of the quality storyline glossed over.
The omission of some of the friendship storyline with Jacob, Walter and Camel and also the portrayal of Jacobs life at the retirement home was probably necessary from a film sense but it gave the story such depth in the novel that it was difficult to build a relationship with the film version of the characters.
Adaptation issues aside Water for Elephants is an admirable drama with quality acting from the star studded cast especially from Christoph Waltz who plays August the paranoid schizophrenic circus owner with impressive ease. Reese Witherspoon shines as Marlena the tortured wife of August but really comes into her own when her character falls in love with the young stowaway vet Jacob played by Robert Pattinson.
Pattinson breaks away from his moody Twilight fame with his portrayal of Jacob, proving his worth as an actor as he shows an array of emotions and a believable chemistry with Witherspoon that heightens the enjoyment of this film.
So with some clever costumes, set design and quality acting Water for Elephants ticks all the boxes for its genre just try to view it as a separate entity as opposed to an adaptation of the Sara Gruen hit or you may be a little disappointed.
Julia Roberts as Charlotte the Spider
Steve Buscemi as Templeton the Rat
Dominic Scott Kay as Wilbur
Dakota Fanning as Fern
Charlotte’s Web is a very successful novel written by E.B White aimed at children but beloved by adults alike so it is no surprise that the film adaptation was also a complete success. The screenplay is as charming and inspiring as the original novel and is largely kept true to the story, there is no sense that this has been modernised to capture the interest of the masses. It simply lets the integrity of the message and some quality storytelling take centre stage.
This adaptation blends the live action with cgi elements seamlessly to create a genuinely enjoyable movie for both children and adults. The characters are very well cast, Julia Robert’s Charlotte is a forever calming influence to the excitable Dominic Scott Kay’s Wilbur and Dakota Fanning gives an admirable performance as the caring Fern. The loving message of friendship, trust, loyalty and adventure that is so clear in the novel translates so well on screen that this is quite simply a lovely feel good movie that everybody can enjoy with the odd tear jerking moment thrown in for good measure.
John Malkovich as Lennie Small
Gary Sinise as George Milton
Casey Siemaszko as Curley
Sherilyn Fenn as Curley’s wife
Some film adaptations of classic novels run into problems when they try to divert too far from the original story, in their desire to set themselves apart they can lose the very essence that endears them to the masses. Gary Sinise’s version of Of Mice and Men however steers clear of that pitfall, the plot sticks faithfully to Steinbeck’s original and the result is a triumphant homage to the novel.
John Malkovich gives an incredible performance as Lennie, the gentle giant with a penchant for soft things and getting himself and loyal friend George into trouble. It is a true testament to Malkovich’s talent as an actor that he can play Lennie’s simplicity with such a depth that it tugs at the audiences heart strings.
If Malkovich is exquisite as Lennie then Gary Sinise is equally so in his portrayal of George, the eternally loyal best friend doing his best to keep Lennie safe. Sinise plays the character with a strength and dignity that allows the inner turmoil George faces shine through whilst still encouraging love and forgiveness from the audience. It should also be noted that in his role as director Sinise helped to craft the noble adaptation.
One of the main themes throughout Of Mice and Men is the strong bond of friendship between men, this is brought to life in every aspect of the screenplay. The subtleties that Gary Sinise brings to his character when he is dealing with Lennie, and the clear turmoil when he has to make that final heart breaking decision, brings to life that sense of love between the two men. This adaptation is impeccably presented and the brilliant performances from Sinise and Malkovich make it well worth a watch whether you have read the novel or not.
Emma Stone as Eugenia Skeeter Phelan
Viola Davis as Abilieen Clark
Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson
Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook
Director Tate Taylor never loses sight of the casual racism so openly practised in the South during the 1960s whilst still managing to create a witty, moving and emotionally charged adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help.
The screenplay for this movie runs as close to the storyline of the book as viewing time will allow but the real hero of this adaptation has to be the casting. Viola Davis gives an incredible performance as Abilieen Clark, the maid raising her seventeenth white child while still dealing with the pain of losing her own son. She portrays the heartbreak of Abilieen’s circumstances in such a subtle yet emotionally powerful way that the pain etched on her face as she utters her goodbyes to little Mae Mobly is completely heartbreaking to watch.
Octavia Spencer provides the comic relief to all the drama as the outspoken Minny Jackson with her revenge against her former employer bringing the light hearted break that is needed amongst all the anguish. Although she delivers a largely comedic performance Spencer’s ability to show a more serious side as Minny deals with her own battles in her abusive marriage is commendable. Emma Stone holds her own as the college graduate Skeeter Phelan, with her ability to show the naivety of the aspiring journalist she brings the character to life in a way that only she could.
From the brightly coloured posters and the movie trailers The Help may give the impression that it is a comedy however although highly entertaining it is centred around the trials and tribulations of people who dealt with racism and discrimination on a daily basis. Between the heart wrenching script and the superb performances from the leading ladies the result is a heart warming, emotional and worthwhile movie which deserves to be celebrated.
Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre,
Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester
Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers
Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre has seen it’s fair share of film and t.v adaptations, some managed to capture the essence of Jane whilst others failed miserably in the attempt. When I first heard that it was to be remade for release in 2011 I was quietly optimistic that this version would succeed in bringing to life the world Bronte had so artfully created. I was not disappointed, the screenplay by Moira Buffini is so close to the original novel that under the direction of Cary Fukunaga this is undoubtedly the best adaptation of Bronte’s classic.
Mia Wasikowska inhabits Jane’s essence so perfectly that she breaths new life into such a beloved character, her ability to portray the dignified stillness of Jane whilst allowing for flashes of emotion makes the story seem all the more personal. The decision to cast an actress closer in age to Jane than in any of the other adaptations worked incredibly well as Wasikowska masterly balanced the self-respect and restraint with the passion within the character.
Every Jane needs a Mr. Rochester and Michael Fassbender exudes just the right blend of brooding, charisma and charm to give a performance that compliments the character in a way that has never been achieved before. Fassbender has a quality about him that demands screen presence and does a remarkable job at making the audience care for him even at his most unlovable. Both Wasikowska and Fassbender deliver such strong performances that they have truly cemented their status as the perfect embodiment of Jane and Rochester in my eyes.
Overall this movie is a resounding success as an homage to the classic novel and will certainly stand the test of time as it is so artfully crafted and beautifully told.