Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a 2013 American romantic zombie comedy film written and directed by Jonathan Levine, and stars Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, and John Malkovich. The movie is based on Isaac Marion’s 2010 novel of the same name, which in turn was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. When the movie opens, the viewer learns there was a zombie apocalypse roughly eight years ago and the main character R (Nicholas Hoult), who is a zombie, spends his days wandering around a deserted airport with others of his kind. This includes his best friend M (Rob Corddry), who he is able to communicate with through grunts, moans, and rudimentary conversation. One day R and a group of other zombies go hunting for humans to eat and they encounter Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her group of friends, who are on a supply run for the human survivor group they live with. When R sees Julie for the first time his heart starts beating again and he is drawn to her. But when Julie’s boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) starts shooting, R kills him, and eats some of his brain, getting the boy’s memories of Julie and making the zombie more attracted to her. He takes the rest of Perry’s brian to eat for later, then goes to a scared Julie and puts some of his blood on her, so the other zombies will think she is dead, and takes her back to his home at the airport. R lives in an airplane by himself, which is where he takes a thoroughly freaked-out Julie, telling her he is going to keep her safe and that once the other zombies forget about her he will let her go. As he eats more of Perry’s brain, he learns about the relationship between the dead boy and Julie, which makes R start to fall in love with her. A few days later, Julie tries running away, having grown impatient waiting, and gets caught by several zombies that want to eat her, including M. R comes to save her and they try to escape together, not realizing the two of them have set in motion the end of the zombie apocalypse. In this blog post I will be looking at the world building and the mythology given to the zombies for this story, as well as the change in the ending between mediums.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science-fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and stars Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, and Neil Patrick Harris. It is an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel of the same name. The movie drops the viewer into the middle of a battle between humans and an alien bug species as a reporter is giving news on the progress of an ongoing war. It is complete chaos and the Earth’s military is being quickly killed off by the bugs, including the reporter and his cameraman. After this, the movie jumps back in time one year, to before the battle where the audience is introduced to Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer), and Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick) who are high school seniors in Buenos Aires. The four high school students all end up deciding to join the military after graduating high school, with Johnny and Dizzy heading to Mobile Infantry basic training, while Carmen becomes a starship pilot and Carl joins military intelligence. Johnny performs well in basic training and is soon given leadership over the soldiers in his group, but after an accident kills one of his men, he decides to leave the military. As he is about to go, the training base gets word of an attack from the aliens, which included the destruction of his home, Buenos Aires, and the deaths of his parents. This prompts Johnny to stay with the Mobile Infantry and service in the war against the bugs. In this blog I will be looking at the use of female characters in the adaptation and how the film dealt with themes presented in the book.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth is a 2008 American science fantasy action-adventure film directed by Eric Brevig and stars Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, and Anita Briem. It is an adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1864 novel of the same name. The film starts with volcanologist and lecturer Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) as he finds out that his late brother, Max’s, lab is being closed. While trying to deal with this, his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) comes to visit him for 10 days. When Sean’s mother drops him off, she gives Trevor a box of his brother’s things, which includes a copy of Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. In the book, there are extensive notes and Trevor, along with his nephew, go to his brother’s lab to figure out what the notes mean, and the two soon realize they will need to travel to Iceland to get answers for themselves. When they get there, the two meet a woman named Hannah (Anita Briem) whose father believed Verne’s books included factual accounts, like Trevor’s brother did. Hannah agrees to be Trevor and Sean’s guide up the mountain where an instrument used by Max is strangely working again after being inactive for 10 years. When they get up to the site, a lightning storm starts and the three end up trapped in a cave system, and with no way out are forced to go further into what turns out to be a mine system. The three find themselves going deeper in the Earth, and eventually reach the center. In this blog post, I will look at how the adaptation is different from other films based on books and how this affects the characters and their actions. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Sherlock – The Hounds of Baskerville 

Sherlock is a BBC television series that ran from 2010 to 2017 and starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson. In the series, the screenwriters often referenced the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and sometimes they even adapted whole stories for a specific episode. This is the case for season two, episode two, “The Hounds of Baskerville” (2012), which is a modern retelling of the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902). In the Sherlock episode, Holmes and Watson are contacted by a man named Henry Knight (Russell Tovey), who believes that he saw a “gigantic hound” kill his father when he was a young boy 20 years ago. The way Henry says “hound” instead of “dog” convinces Holmes to take the case and go to Dartmoor to uncover the truth. Once there, Sherlock and Watson find out about a top secret military research base, Baskerville, adjacent to the place where Henry’s father was killed, Dewer’s Hollow. Finding out that the hound is a local legend, the two detectives visit Baskerville using an I.D. card stolen from Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, as it appears that the hound might have escaped from there. Eventually they are forced to leave because Mycroft finds out what they are doing and an alert is sent through the military base. Given the limited information acquitted from Baskerville, Sherlock decides there is only one real way of figuring out if the hound is real, and that is actually finding it. So that night, he has Henry take himself and Watson to the place where his father was killed. Watson gets separated from the two but soon hears growling, forcing him to run and find the others. When he does, they are frightened and in shock after believing they have seen the hound, and Sherlock is forced to consider a possibility his mind can not rationally believe. In this blog, I will be looking at how the tv series adapted the original story for a modern audience. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: True Grit

The novel True Grit (1968) by Charles Portis is a highly regarded western, which has been adapted to film twice. The more recent of the two adaptations was released in 2010 by the Coen brothers and starred Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, Jeff Bridges as Deputy U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, Matt Damon as the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, and Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney. The film starts with narration from 14-year-old Mattie Ross, telling the viewer how her father was killed. It then cuts to her on the train, going to see her father’s body and have it sent home to her mother. When Mattie talks with the town sheriff about arresting the man, Tom Chaney, responsible, he informs her that there was nothing he could do because the killer fled into Native American territory. Not happy with this answer, she asks the sheriff if she could hire a U.S. Marshal to arrest Chaney, and he points her in the direction of Rooster Cogburn. After much convincing, Rooster eventually takes Mattie’s deal and agrees to track down Chaney for her. It turns out that Chaney is also a wanted man in Texas, and a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, is attempting to arrest him for his crimes in the other state. Mattie doesn’t like that if LaBoeuf catches Chaney, he will not be held accountable for her father’s murder. The two men decide that they don’t want a young girl to get in the way of their search for Chaney and attempt to leave her behind. Mattie is determined, though, to see justice for her father, so eventually, Cogburn and LaBoeuf give in and allow her to come with to catch Chaney. In this blog, I will be looking at how fidelity, the essence of the medium, and story elements contribute to the effectiveness of this adaptation. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The Hunger Games        

The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction action film directed by Gary Ross and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland. It is based on Suzanne Collins’s 2008 novel of the same name, with Collins also writing the screenplay with Ross and Billy Ray. The film starts with Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) interviewing the Gamemaker about the Hunger Games and how it is an important part of the dystopian society. The mostly quiet scene is then cut through with a little girl screaming, which is when the main character Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is introduced as she comforts her sister after a nightmare. Katniss then leaves home and goes into the woods outside District 12 to hunt with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) before the Reaping later that day. The Reaping is when one girl and one boy from each of the 12 districts is chosen to fight to the death in the country’s  annual event of the Hunger Games. At the Reaping, Katniss’s little sister is chosen to fight in the games, but fearing for her little sister’s life, the 16-year-old volunteers to go in her place. After this, another 16-year-old Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutchinson) is selected out of the boys, and the two tributes are soon taken away on a train to the Capital. Once there, they are given mentors and stylists, train for the games, and are interviewed by Caesar Flickerman along with the other 22 tributes. The children have only a few days to prepare before they are sent into the arena and have to kill each other, as there can only be one winner of the Hunger Games. In this blog post, I will be looking at how the relationships between Katniss and two other characters are affected by the change from book to film. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Misery

Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film directed by Rob Reiner, starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. The movie’s screenplay was written by William Goldman and based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name. The film starts with Paul Sheldon (James Caan), a famous novelist, finishing his manuscript for a new book. While traveling from Colorado to his home in New York, he is caught out in a bad blizzard and loses control of his car. Paul loses consciousness in the wreck and breaks both of his legs. He is soon saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who sees the car in a ditch. She gives Paul CPR before taking him back to her house, still unconscious. When he finally wakes up, Annie introduces herself as a nurse and tells him that she can take care of him until the storm passes because all the telephone lines are down. Annie also tells him that she is his biggest fan and has read all the books in his “Misery series” multiple times. Paul lets Annie read his untitled manuscript because she saved his life, the book angering her because of the profanity. She quickly calms down and apologizes for her outburst, but from this event Paul begins to realize that he might not be safe. Soon after though, she reads his latest Misery novel, in which the main character Misery dies, which sends Annie into a rage. She reveals to Paul that no one knows where he is, having never called a doctor or his daughter and lying to him. Annie locks him into the room he is staying in, and given how badly he is injured, he can not leave.  Paul realizes that he needs to figure out a way to escape from Annie before something worse happens. In this blog, I will look at how the events of the book were changed when being adapted to film. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Jumanji

Jumanji is a 1995 fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston and stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, and Bradley Pierce. It is loosely based on the 1981 children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, who also co-wrote the film. The film is the first installment of the Jumanji franchise, which includes two sequels and a spin-off, Zathura, which was also adapted from a Van Allsburg book. The movie starts in 1969 and follows a boy named Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) who finds a game, Jumanji, after hearing tribal drums in a construction site; the game was buried 100 years before by two brothers. After arguing with his father, he takes it home, and Alan takes out the game to play. Before he can start, his friend Sarah (Laura Bell Bundy) comes to visit him and the two start playing the game together, but on Alan’s turn, he is sucked into the game, and Sarah is chased away by bats. The story then fades to 26 years later, 1995, when siblings Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into Alan’s abandoned house with their aunt. The two discover Jumanji in the attic after hearing the tribal drums and decide to play it, releasing giant mosquitoes and monkeys on their first two turns. Since Peter rolls a 5, the game releases a now-adult Alan (Robin Williams) as well as a tiger. Alan realizes that the siblings have been playing his original game instead of a new one, and the three find the now grown-up Sarah (Bonnie Hunt). Together the four of them attempt to finish the game, but with every roll, it becomes harder and more dangerous to win. In this blog post, I will look at how the two characters from the book translated into the adaptation and how the story was expanded to make a children’s book long enough for a feature film. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Gone Girl

Gone Girl is a 2014 American psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher and stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay based on her 2012 novel of the same title. The movie starts with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) coming home to find his wife missing, and he quickly becomes the main suspect in her disappearance. The first part of the film switches between current events and flashbacks, told from the perspective of Nick’s wife, Amy Elliot Dunne (Rosamund Pike), as she writes in her diary. Initially, viewers suspect that Nick has not killed his wife, but from Amy’s memories and the evidence given throughout the investigation, it becomes clear that he is responsible. When the diary entries, which span from their first meeting to their fifth wedding anniversary, reach present day, the viewer sees that Amy is alive. It is revealed that for the last year, she has been framing Nick for her murder as a result of his infidelity. This included making over five years’ worth of diary entries detailing the first two happy years of their marriage, all true, to Nick’s eventual abuse of his wife, which was a lie. While Nick attempts to prove his innocence against insurmountable odds, Amy eventually realizes that she wants to return home and make Nick the man she wants him to be. In this blog post, I will discuss Nick’s character and the differences between Amy’s diaries in the two mediums.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is a 2013 urban fantasy film directed by Harald Zwart, starring Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, and Jemima West. The film is based on the first book of The Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. The story takes place in contemporary New York City and is centered around a 16 year old girl, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), who has believed for her whole life she and her mother were completely normal. Then one night when she goes to a club for her birthday with her best friend, Simon Lewis (Robert Sheehan), Clary believes she witnesses a boy get murdered by three people covered in tattoos. The next day two men come to her house looking for a special cup which her mother (Lena Headey) is hiding. To protect this secret Ms. Fray drinks a potion that puts her to sleep. Just before poisoning herself Clary’s mom calls her daughter and tells her to stay away, but she doesn’t listen and runs home. Once there, she finds what appears to be a dog which ends up attacking Clary. She is saved by one of the tattoos people from the night before, Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower). He kills the dog and explains to Clary that what just attacked her and the boy he stabbed in the club were actually demons. Jace explains to Clary that he is a Shadowhunter, and the two start the search for Clary’s mother and the secrets she has been hiding. This leads Clary down a path where she learns about the hidden world full of supernatural beings and a past she can not remember. In this blog post, I will be looking at how the adaption keeps, changes, and enhances certain aspects of the original story. 

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