The latter months are always prime time for film debuts, and this year is no different. Some of the best movies of 2014 are based on books, and though I almost always believe the literature is better than its film adaptation, I’d have to say it’s the opposite for the following blockbusters:
1.) The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins certainly knows how to create a compelling dystopia, but the Hunger Games films take her trilogy to a whole new level. The costumes alone are so magnificent they should be on display in a museum, and Jennifer Lawrence adds another dimension to Katniss Everdeen’s personality by her glares alone. The movies incite a passion in me that the books did not. Because the riots and injustices hit so close to home in this war-torn world, watching the revolutionary action unfold on screen, and knowing it’s an Orwellian warning, makes me appreciate these films even more.
2.) Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn’s novel is selling like hot cakes due to David Fincher’s haunting take on this suspenseful story. Like The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher knows the specific plot points to highlight, or darken rather, with a soundtrack by Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. His camera cuts and screenplay are nothing short of award-winning, and Rosamund Pike’s performance of an increasingly unstable wife is breathtaking. What starts as a mystery of a missing woman who has framed her husband for murder, slowly turns into something much more complex – a media study, the tribulations of economic downfall, and the vicious cycle of trust and mistrust that plague all relationships.
3.) The Hobbit – I may be unpopular with this statement, but I’m not a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing. His ideas are genius, but the writing itself is mediocre. To actually see The Hobbit played out is much more enjoyable. It’s easier to keep track of the characters, and the special effects are worth their weight in gold. Ian McKellen rocks the role of Gandalf and the set designs are impeccable. Although dividing the story into three separate films is disagreeable to most movie-goers, I respect their attention to the book’s details and very much want to witness as much of the plot as possible from the directorial mastermind, Peter Jackson.
4.) Exodus: Gods and Kings – Unless you’re one of those rare people that actually likes reading The Bible, I’m willing to bet this Ridley Scott version is more entertaining. With colossal effects the size of, well, the Red Sea, Exodus is sure to at least be jaw-dropping. Though the biblical accuracy may not be quite on point, would you rather linger over impossibly small print trying to pronounce names like Bithiah in your head or shove popcorn in your mouth whilst watching Christian Bale as Moses? That’s what I thought.
5.) The Theory of Everything – Based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen written by Stephen Hawking’s first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, The Theory of Everything is a remarkable film that allows the audience to visualize the slow atrophy of Hawking’s body from motor neuron disease. It also shows a side of Hawking that the world is unfamiliar with – his life before he became handicapped. Eddie Redmayne captures Hawking so well that Hawking himself said, “At times, I thought he was me.” To truly understand how much of an impact Hawking’s disease had on his life and body, it is vital to see it acted out on screen; The Theory of Everything manages to be both heartbreaking and inspiring at once.