Book vs. Movie: The Giver

giver_bookvmovieThe Giver is an award-winning book written by Lois Lowry about a futuristic dystopian community of “Sameness.” The book was written in 1993 – before the teen dystopian literature era took off so I guess you could say it was before its time in two ways!

Because most middle-schoolers end up reading The Giver as part of their curriculum, I don’t want to go into the novel or movie details. However, I will share that the novel was originally written by Ms. Lowry as a result of realizing her father was losing his memory. This sad, negative situation was developed into imagining a society that had lost its memory; that is, it had no past. Eliminating a “history” means that many ingredients making up that “history” must also be eliminated. The protagonist in The Giver is Jonas, an 11-year old who lives in this resulting community known as “Sameness,” a seemingly utopian society where everything is the same and everything is equal. Jonas, through a developing uniqueness, is able to see past this “sameness” and perceived utopia.

After 18-19 long years of hoping and trying to bring the novel to the big screen, Jeff Bridges, who plays The Giver in the movie, successfully premiered the movie on August 11th and opened it nationwide on August 15th. I have seen it twice: I attended a special showing on premiere night and then saw a regular showing about a week later. I had been anticipating the release of this movie since last August when I first learned that Taylor Swift was going to play a small, but important character role of “Rosemary.”   As a Swiftie and a lover of Lois Lowry’s Giver Quartet (of which The Giver is the first novel), my excitement was barely containable!

So because I saw the movie twice within one week, you probably think I LOVED the movie the first time and went back to enjoy it a second time. Not exactly . . .

I was actually disappointed when I saw The Giver movie the first time. I thought the beginning was very rushed. I was annoyed by the changes made in the movie. I sort of expected the movie to be a bit more accurate because I had read they kept writing, discarding, and rewriting the screenplay in those 18 or so years. And I was extremely “let down” that the anticipation of the movie was over.

When I saw it the second time, I went into it expecting to be disappointed again. (I had promised my friend to see it with her.) Surprisingly, I found I liked the movie this time. I really did!! So what changed?

Yes, compared to the book, the beginning is rushed. But you can’t fit a 200+ page book into a two-hour movie. So, I guess I’m okay with that. The “rushed beginning” still set the stage for the movie which was what it needed to do.

As for the changes in the screenplay . . .all the people involved, including Lois Lowry, agreed that the movie stayed true to the book’s storyline. So who am I to get upset with the changes? Yes, the movie is different than the book.   But that’s not necessarily a bad or negative thing.

And as for being “let down” . . . I left the movie the second time feeling more satisfied, happier, seeing the positives more, and appreciating the movie for its differences. I actually LIKE the movie and hope that the other Lois Lowry books in The Giver Quartet also find their way to the big screen!

-Danielle L., 7th grade

Book Review: The Giver, by Lois Lowry

giver_coverAuthor Lois Lowry does an amazing job in the unique, science-fiction novel The Giver. The highly-anticipated movie adaptation just released on August 15. Have you seen it?

In the novel, we are introduced to a boy named Jonas, who lives in a utopian society that has eradicated conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, and inequality. In the annual Ceremony, where every twelve-year-old gets a life assignment prearranged by the Elders, Jonas is selected to inherit the position of “Receiver of Memory.”

When Jonas spends more & more time with the Giver, he learns the power of wisdom. Even though the people in his community have been shielded from life’s many problems, Jonas realizes that they do not know about the things that give life meaning such as sunshine, color, music, and love.

Becoming wiser everyday, Jonas doesn’t want to bear all the memories, both joyful and painful, by himself. He wants to share the many freedoms with his community, even if it means disrupting the safe, current life of innocence and order. Together the Giver and Jonas formulate a plan that will have instant, severe outcome on the entire community, especially on Jonas himself.

Jonas, portrayed by Brenton Thwaites in the movie, is naïve in the story and I like how he matures during the course of the story. One main reason I liked this book is that it is unlike other dystopian novels I have read. The Giver is one of the books that I have read over and over again because it is so well written. This is truly Lois Lowry’s masterpiece and in my opinion she totally deserves the John Newbery Award for it. The ending of The Giver was not the best, but I have not read all the books in the Giver Quartet. It might make more sense in the latter books. I am especially excited to see the movie because I loved the book. It’s been hard waiting for the movie to be released, but I am going to see it for sure.

-Anmol K., 7th grade

Book vs. Movie: Divergent

divergent_bookvsmovieThe night Divergent was released, I was there, excited and anxious with anticipation.. I went in with high expectations, as I have been in love with the book series since it was first released in 2011.

So perhaps it was my unrealistically high expectations of a book that I am thoroughly devoted to and invested in that contributed to the fact that I thought the movie was a big disappointment. People who I have talked to that did not read the book first before watching the movie have told me that they thought it was great, and maybe if I’d never read the books before watching the movie, I would have felt the same way.

Let’s start with how startlingly different it was from the book. I know book to movie adaptions are difficult to accomplish, but in this case it was significantly different. First off, they left out very important scenes from the book- scenes that are pivotal and important for the rest of the series. They also changed scenes– and not little scenes. Major scenes that, too, would affect the whole series.

-Edward. He barely has a presence in the movie (I think his name shows up on the scoreboard for a second?) and there is no book scene where he gets stabbed in the eye by Peter.

-Will and Cristina?!! It hardly shows their relationship, they’re pretty much portrayed just as friends, which is problematic, because in the books, it affects the plot and characters (especially Tris and Christina) in major way.

-There’s no Visiting Day in the movie, and some important information is found out from that scene. In the book, Tris never meets her mom in the shipping yard.

-Rachel L., 10th grade

Saving Mr. Banks: The Making of Mary Poppins

Saving_Mr_Banks_posterI recently saw the Saving Mr. Banks movie and I thought it was fascinating! I feel that what this movie unveils is unprecedented in the multimedia world because it actually takes you into the making of the movie. However, the movie was really more about the author of Mary Poppins, and her struggles in maintaining control over her story in the film making process. I read the original Mary Poppins this past summer, and I was shocked at how different the book is from the Julie Andrew’s nanny figure we all know.

First of all, how does one put music to a book? That is amazing that the Walt Disney musicians could actually make the book into a musical‼ In the movie, P.L. Travers (played in this film by Emma Thompson) explicitly states no singing or dancing in her movie. But by the end of the process, well… let’s just say that she was inspired. You’ll have to watch the movie to see what happens!

The most important part of Mary Poppins is not the Mary Poppins character, however- it’s Mr. Banks, the father of the Banks children whom Mrs. Poppins watches over. The movie really went into the depth of Mrs. Travers’ childhood inspiration. Throughout the movie, Mrs. Travers has flashbacks to her childhood and it is revealed to the viewer the hardships her family underwent. In the current time of the movie- around the 1960s- it was very common for authors to take a pen name, especially ones that did not reveal their gender. P.L. Travers adopted her father’s name as her own because it is obvious that she greatly loved and respected him. During a few flashbacks, her father tells her to never stop dreaming despite her mother’s practicality. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) tries desperately to understand why this woman is so hard to please in the movie room-all of their suggestions fail in the eyes of Mrs. Travers. Towards the end of the movie, Walt shows up at Mrs. Travers’ apartment in England, where he shows her that Mary Poppins is family to him also. He finally connects Mrs. Travers’ father to Mr. Banks and understands why she was having such trouble with their portrayal of him.

I love how Emma Thompson portrays this abrupt, posh English author. She does such a phenomenal job at showing the transition from this uptight woman into a fun, emotional lady at the end of the movie. I can easily connect P.L. Travers to Mary Poppins, because they are both proper, British, and inwardly kind. I really enjoyed the movie and the “behind the scenes” of one of the most classic stories of all time.

-Kelsey H., 10th grade

Movie Review: The Hobbit Part 2: The Desolation of Smaug

hobbit_smaug_posterLast month, The Hobbit Part 2: The Desolation of Smaug was released into theaters. The movie was a continuation of An Unexpected Journey and set the stage for the next and final installment of The Hobbit trilogy. Since The Hobbit was such a short book but the film was split into a trilogy, much was added into the film that was not a part of the book.

—Spoilers below!!!—

The movie begins with Thorin sitting in a pub and two bounty hunters attempting to kill him. They are however stopped by the presence of Gandalf. Gandalf convinces Thorin that he can reclaim the mountain but Thorin claims that the only way he can unite his company of dwarves is by regaining the Arkenstone which is guarded amongst others treasures by Smaug, the dragon under the mountain. Thorin and company journey to the mountain, however Gandalf leaves them to attend to more pressing matters. He senses a darkness that he discovers to be the Necromancer. He also finds that Necromancer has been leading the orcs.

Meanwhile, Thorin and company make their way through the Mirkwood forest, where they are captured by giant spiders and later freed by Bilbo. The company is soon captured by elves. Legolas was added to the plot as well as a new elf, Tauriel. Tauriel is a “non-canon” character that is captain of the guard for the palace of Thranduil. It is revealed by Thranduil that Legolas has feelings for Tauriel but he forbids his son to marry someone of her status so he tells her to discourage his feelings for her. It is also revealed that Kili, the dwarf, falls for Tauriel.

Bilbo avoids capture with aid of the ring and frees Thorin and company. They escape the palace in barrels but Kili is shot in the leg by an orc and is badly injured for the rest of the movie. Legolas and Tauriel leave the place to pursue the orcs. Once out of the palace grounds, Thorin and company seek assistance from Bard, another “non-canon” character who is a resident from Laketown and a descendent to the bowman that tried to take down Smaug long ago. Bard takes them to Laketown to get weapons and restore themselves in order to continue their journey. The dwarves promise to share the riches of the mountain with the residents of Laketown and they leave to get them. Kili is left behind because his injury is too deliberating and Fili and Bofur stay behind as well.

Tauriel and Legolas reach Laketown just in time to save the town from orcs but Tauriel stays behind to heal Kili. Thorin and company finally reach the mountain and Bilbo is sent to reclaim the Arkenstone. Biblo retrieves the Arkenstone but does not tell Thorin out of fear of his corruption. They try and kill Smaug by drowning him in melted gold but he escapes and the movie ends with Smaug going to seek revenge on Laketown.

Disney’s Frozen vs. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen

frozen_movie_posterDisney has remade many classics fairy tales into movies. Their latest animated feature is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Snow Queen.” Disney spun this tale into their newest movie, Frozen.


In Andersen’s version, the story focuses on the relationships between two childhood friends, Kay and Gerda. In the story, trolls send an evil mirror down to Earth and it breaks into pieces and a piece of it lands in Kay’s heart which will turn his heart into a lump of ice. A piece also lands in his eye, making him aware of all of the world’s imperfections. A few nights later when it is snowing he sees the Snow Queen but she quickly fades away. The next day the Snow Queen steals him away and Gerda goes on a search to find him. The Snow Queen is made out to be the villain and Gerda, the hero. She finds Kay blue as ice and dying. Gerda’s cries and her hot tears melt the ice in his heart and Kay begins to cry, too, and the mirror comes out of his eye. The story ends when they go home and summer begins.

Disney’s adaptation, Frozen, is a much more emotional tale. It is a story of sisters, Anna and Elsa of Arendelle. The girls were best friends as children but Elsa had a secret: she had ice powers that she could not control. Once, when playing with Anna, she accidentally struck ice into her head. Their parents rushed her to the trolls and they wiped her memory of her sister’s powers and that saved her life. Elsa was from then on, forced to keep her distance from Anna to protect her. The two became estranged and enclosed. Their parents closed the gate to their castle to shelter their children. They soon after passed away, leaving Elsa to the throne. The castle is reopened for the first time in years for Elsa’s coronation. Elsa becomes nervous and accidentally reveals her powers in front of the kingdom and sets off an eternal winter. She runs away and Anna goes to find her. She tries to convince her sister to come home and bring summer back. They begin to argue and Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the heart with ice and only an action of true love can save her.

I personally preferred Disney’s rendition of “The Snow Queen.” The movie was heart warming and magical. It brought so much emotion into the story and gave it a depth that the original story lacked. It quickly became one of my favorite Disney movies. The animation and the soundtrack to the movie were phenomenal. The cast was flawless and the film was absolutely fantastic! I’d recommend everyone to see it!

-Sarah B., 12th grade

Book vs. Movie: The Host

host_bookvmovieIf you lost everything, including your family, what would you do? If aliens came down and took over your planet, how would you survive?

Melanie Stryder thought she was alone, but she wasn’t. She had lived with her little brother, Jamie, since the invasion started. Soon after, she found another survivor, Jared Howe. It was hard to provide them with food and water, but she now had help. One night, Melanie went too far to get supplies, and she ended up risking it all. She had to escape the Souls who tried to take her. She decided to jump out a window, but only to be caught, after she landed.

Melanie woke up and found out what happened to her. Someone else was in her mind! Wanderer was the alien soul’s name. Both of them hated each other. When Melanie thought something, Wanda (her new nickname) had to tell the Seeker. Mel didn’t want Wanda to talk about Jamie, so she made Wanda run away. Mel formed a plan to find her family in the desert, but on the way, they ran into trouble. Their car broke down, and they ran out of water. Then, everything went black. They woke up to find someone giving them water. Mel recognized the face at once. It was her uncle! He led them to his cave and revealed a huge number of humans still alive! The only problem was that they didn’t like her because she was a Soul. They thought she was trying to lead the other Souls to them. Will they ever accept her?

I thought the book was better than the movie because the characters weren’t the same. Melanie and Jamie had such a strong relationship in the book, but in the movie, they barely saw each other. Also, when the author described the appearances of some characters, they didn’t look at all the same. Ian and Kyle were supposed to be identical twins, but in the movie, they looked very different. The book definitely got into more detail and really showed the characters’ feelings.

Do you like the movie better or the book better? I’d love to hear what your opinions are in the comments!

-Sabrina C., 8th grade

Looking Forward to The Fault In our Stars Movie

fault_in_our_stars_coverWe’ve all read and fallen in love with the book, but will the movie live up to our expectations? John Green’s bestselling novel The Fault In Our Stars is finally being made into a movie, set to hit theaters on June 6, 2014.

Award-winning actress Shailene Woodley has been cast to play the main character, Hazel Grace, and Augustus Waters is being portrayed by the actor Ansel Elgort, and although he isn’t as famous or well known as Shailene, he seems to fit the role just as well. And of course, many of us remember him from the Nickelodeon TV show “The Naked Brothers Band,” Nat Wolff is going to be playing Augustus’ best friend, Isaac. With this cast performing as the main characters, it’s sure to be a hit.

Not to mention author John Green has been tweeting his anticipation for the movie since it began filming. Updating us with pictures, videos, and tweets on set, it’s clear he is as excited as the rest of us.


I think The Fault in Our Stars will be quite similar to the Perks of Being a Wallflower movie. Although the two books are completely different, they both reached a wide audience and perfected the cast and movie and gave the fans of the book something to be happy with (which is usually very rare). All in all, the movie will no doubt be a success, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it.

-Sara S., 10th grade

Movie Review: Iron Man 3

ironman3_posterThis movie starts in Switzerland. When Tony Stark is in the elevator to exit the building on New Year’s Eve, he meets a guy, Kingsley, with a new idea. So Tony told Kingsley that he will meet him on the roof of the building. Tony leaves the man standing there waiting without showing up. Then thirteen years later Tony Stark takes his titanium suit as a hobby. Kingsley returns with years of therapy and tells Pepper, Tony’s girlfriend, about his excellent idea about redeveloping the brain to recover itself almost instantly. Pepper comments that it would be a great change, but it may be used for very harmful things, and refuses to work with Kingsley…

I think that this amazing movie is fun for older kids and is very entertaining. This movie is very adventurous and intense. I believe that this movie is perfect for every kind of child, 10 and older, and adults. If you enjoyed the first two Iron Man movies, go see this one, based on the Marvel comics.

-Samantha S., 7th grade