Valentine’s Marathon: Before We Go (2014)

If you missed the announcement on My Weekly Adventures, I’ve decided to extend the Valentine’s Marathon throughout this month. For one, Twilight being the feature is already going to be watched throughout this month. With the blogathon overlapping Valentine’s Marathon, its slowing down my normal posts so to highlight all the fantastic entries we’ve gotten. I’ve honestly been slacking on watching romances and rom-coms in general so I do have a lot of stacked up to be watched so its a good time to work on that.

With that said, the next movie is one I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while and Chris Evans’ directorial debut called Before We Go. Its had pretty mixed reviews but I remain hopeful based on a few elements that I know about.

Let’s check out Before We Go!

Before We Go (2014)

Before We Go

Director: Chris Evans

Cast: Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Emma Fitzgerald, John Cullum, Mark Kassen

Two strangers stuck in Manhattan for the night grow into each other’s most trusted confidants when an evening of unexpected adventure forces them to confront their fears and take control of their lives. – IMDB

As I was looking through how other people felt about Before We Go, I don’t quite understand why it has such low ratings, particularly on Rotten Tomatoes (which isn’t surprising since I rarely feel that similar to what they think, I’m odd that way, I suppose). With that said, Before We Go has a lot of great elements going for it but it does stumble a little on everything. It does have a decent run time on its side and the mesmerizing New York landscape along with a one night run through town. It is nowhere near the fun and joy that Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist has since it is a more mature type of story and some might even wonder whether it would be considered a romance as its not exactly a romance between these two strangers so much as they are working through their feelings about a little bit of everything. I’m a sucker for one night, chance meetings sort of stories. I love the spontaneity and the discovery and the character development elements and it feels like a journey to learn about someone else as you see the two characters grow. I also love movies with a small cast so that it really gets a chance to zoom into the people element. So, Before We Go had a lot of elements that I liked before I even started watching it. It may not have entirely delivered as I would have liked however, it still has its charm.

before we go

Before We Go is quite a small film. It is set in one location, over one night and focuses on two people. Usually, these movies depend highly on the characters and how the actors take on the roles. In this case, I have a bit of pros and cons. For one, Chris Evans is fantastic as Nick. He is very enlightening as he works through his feelings and faces destiny and how his connection with Brooke (played by Alice Eve) grows throughout this spontaneous meeting as they hunt down her purse and he tries to at least be her hero in what he feels is a somewhat unsuccessful life. There is a ton to love about the character of Nick, both in the way he thinks and the way he acts. His script is really charming to watch and mixes in some lighter dialogue which truly does help a lot with making him a really great character to love. Playing opposite him is Alice Eve, who plays Brooke. I have to be honest that I wasn’t a huge fan of Brooke to begin with. She packed on these personality traits that didn’t quite click with me and it was what make the start of the movie feel a little bit contrived. I understand that the entire situation here is set to be contrived however, it felt much  more deliberate especially for her character. Over the course of Before We Go, Brooke does get quite the character development and turns out to be much more tolerable. In fact, she might seem lost and confused in where she stands in her love life and the decision she has to make at the beginning but in the end, Brooke seems to learn a little more. Perhaps, the better way is that, maybe this is where the realistic elements are where they do meet each other and there is some skepticism and some simple good deeds element but as the night goes on, their chemistry also builds up as their connection strengthens as they learn more about each other and talk to each other about their own little dilemmas that they need to resolve. And that really does work out here.

Before We Go

The one night adventure journey also has a decent pacing. On one hand, it all starts with trying to chase down Brooke’s stolen purse with Nick’s New Yorker schemes and knowledge. Then it turns into the hunt for a way to get her home. They end up with quite a few dicey situations: both bad and good calls from both the characters. They meet some friends and strangers who also end up lending them a hand here and there to better understand their own situation. The pacing here is nice because the script slices in these dilemma heavier moments to some funnier moments when they do have their many situations that occur. Perhaps one of the best parts of the film are when they sit down or walk around just the two of them as they talk. We learn about these characters just as they do and surprisingly, they feel fairly realistic. I mean, in a real life situation, probably  we won’t start spilling our relationship problems to a stranger completely, but as a movie, somehow it still manages to keep it real because they don’t just spill everything in the first scene and it takes time for their trust to set in.

Before We Go

There’s not a whole lot to talk about for Before We Go. Its a very simple movie, set in one night, one city, two people and a few supporting characters. There are adventures and situations and heart to heart chats. The movie relies heavily on its two main characters. Chris Evans, probably because he is also the director, grasps his role incredibly well. Alice Eve, on the other hand, left a little to desire in the beginning but does truly see the character grow throughout. There are some odd dialogue and some things that don’t quite feel right in the beginning but once you get past that part, the story and Nick and Brooke’s city adventure is thoughtful and fun. It might not be as deep or even thinking harder about it, work completely, but for myself, its a nice simple movie thats fun. I’m a sucker for these sorts of movies with these kinds of premise so maybe that is why I found it intriguing in its own way. Let me just say that the ending though..not sure how I feel about it. Before We Go definitely isn’t for everybody but if you are like me and like movies with this kind of premise (Already  Tomorrow in Hong Kong is another example), then you might want to check this one out.

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Valentine’s Marathon & TV Binge: What is Love (2012)

Happy Valentine’s Day! We made it here sadly with very little posts so you will see tomorrow that I will most probably be extending the marathon throughout the month. The stars really didn’t align for us this month with the PC issues and such. However, we will deal with the blog stuff later.

Today, I have lined up such a fitting TV Binge to add into the Valentine’s Marathon and that 2012 Taiwanese drama, What is Love. I just wrapped it up over the weekend and maybe I will even start doing a ranking of Taiwanese series soon. There is an incredibly small amount of photos for this show online since I am working with a computer that can’t read Chinese so I went back to the series to screenshot some pictures. Hopefully you will like it. I apologize if the quality isn’t that great in advance.

Lets check it out!

What is Love (2012)

What is Love poster

Cast: Chris Wu, Jade Chou, Duncan Lai, King Chin, Kimi Hsia, Gina Lim

Thirty-two-year-old Li Yi Hua (Jade Chou) is longing for a romantic relationship and wants to marry a good man. Along comes Bai Zong You (Chris Wu), who breaks women’s hearts with one-night stands. Bai Zong You sets his sights on wooing Li Yi Hua next. What she doesn’t know is that she might have true feels for him. – Wikipedia

I’d like to think that I am fairly picky when I watch Taiwanese series mostly because I have been watching them a long time and with it, comes the expectations that there are so many better ones and hoping to find ones that truly find a nice balance of romance and comedy depending on the story they deliver. Of course, I have also fallen out of the loop for a while since I stopped watching them for a few years until they started appearing on Netflix last year. These series fall into their own tropes but they also have some nice silly bits that usually help with the story. I went into What Is Love having no knowledge of what the story is about and a little bit skeptical on how this would turn out. Let me tell you, it was definitely a very pleasant surprise. There are many plot points here that break the normal perception of what these characters would act and somewhat flips the typical story on its head a little. Plus, it creates a lovely balance of romance drama and romance comedy as well as comedic breaks with both its dialogue and its characters. At the same time, the story never forgets that when the journey of love includes a lot of factors, be it your best friends, your family and all kinds of elements and these characters play a decent role in how these two main characters approach their decisions.

On top of that, this is a completely new cast to myself. The only person here that I wanted to watch was Chris Wu (aka Kangren Wu) who is the main male role Bai Zong-You who was in Autumn’s Concerto which I loved quite a bit as well. You can check out the TV Binge here. In that one, he played the supporting male character which was the total opposite of this role. I have to say, while I liked that role, this role was really fun and matched his handsome and charming appearance.

What I Loved:

  • The Songs and Opening Theme Clip: I usually don’t talk a ton about music around here except for the music obsessions segment but I thought this opening clip was adorable, especially that surf board balancing part. Not just the opening theme clip was really nice but the songs were all very fitting to whatever scene they were playing in.
  • Chris Wu & Jade Chou: Chris Wu (aka Wu Kangren) plays Bai Zong-You, the playboy who becomes mesmerized by the challenge of proving his love to Jade Chou’s character, Li Yi-Hua. A lot of the “romance” is in the beginning because the course of the film is about them both realizing what is love. They are at the opposite spectrums in many sense. However, consider the chase and the enlightening moments for Bai Zong-You being the really great parts, whether he does it through revenge or plotting or slowly finding the way to approach his love interest and acknowledge love with her. At the other end, Li Yi-Hua is one of those rare characters in Asian TV series that really shows a strong sense of a woman that acknowledges her loneliness but will not compromise her love for someone who is undeserving no matter how much pain she feels in having to go through the heartbreak. what is love
  • The Guys: One of the best points of the series is its ability to create a balance of characters. Even if you look at these guys here who are best friends. They have varying personalities as well and their own lessons to learn. Each of them fit somewhere else in how they see love and a lot of the humor is in their silliness. This links heavily to the next point that I liked. 

What is Love

  • The Ladies: Just like the guys, the ladies here are quite fun to watch. Our main character of course has already been talked about before, but her best friends are equally diverse in personality from Xiao Lu on the left who plays a young divorcee with a kid who is really silly to the opposite, Lan Jun who plays the mature friend who reasons and sees through a lot of the bullshit.

What is Love

  • Love Interest: I’ve always been the type that finds it funny how the supporting character that you know the main character won’t end up with is always very perfect and deserving to be loved. Taiwanese series loves to do that and this one honestly gives Yi Hua a worthy man in Shao Qian (played by Duncan Lai). He’s quite the gentleman. what is love

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Too Many Flashbacks: One of the biggest pet peeves I have with TV series, especially of the Korean and sometimes Taiwanese nature is their love for flashbacks. I get flashbacks especially when it helps elevate an emotion but when you get the same flashback every episode just to emphasize on a character’s hooked onto this moment, its okay to drop a few of those.
  • Lengthy Episodes: While this didn’t really turn me off so much as its inconvenient to find a place to stop watching, the 1.5 hour long episodes are quite abnormal to me. I wasn’t sure if it was just a Netflix choice but as I was researching the show, it seems it was aired with that episode length, a little baffling in my mind but what do I know. Since this was quite binge-worthy, I didn’t quite mind the lengthy episode since the power of the pause button and Netflix saves my spot whenever I take a break.

what is love

Overall, What is Love was quite the pleasant surprise. It delivered a really fun story. Not only did it give a rather strong female character with a lot of personality, it also gave an array of cast that were unique in their own way but impacted the story as well to create a nice balance. Taiwanese TV series like these are romantic comedy affairs but somethings it forgets to find that balance and while there were some odd ends here and there that went a little overboard, this one achieved that balance really well. It always remembered to toss in some funny moments to never let the drama last way too long. Plus, just like Yi-Hua needed to learn to accept a playboy and Bai Zong-You had to gain her trust, we saw both sides of the story and was able to at least feel like he could be trusted also. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of “What is Love” because it differs in so many ways and isn’t always just romantic and this one does tackle all of it. There is no formula but at least, its a really fun journey thats us on a nice ride as the characters all figure out their version of love and thats pretty awesome in my book.

Valentine’s Marathon: Splash (1984)

Sorry for taking a little while to get back to the Valentine’s Marathon.

The next movie is Splash! Ultimate 70s blogathon has just started up and as I go and rewatch my 70s choice, I was thinking about last year’s blogathon and a few movies that someone else chose and I hadn’t seen. Luckily Splash landed on Netflix recently so I got a chance to check it out.

Let’s check it out!

Splash (1984)

splash

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman

A young man is reunited with a mermaid who saves him from drowning as a boy and falls in love not knowing who/what she is. – IMDB

I think about this movie and I start wondering about how I’ve never actually disliked Tom Hanks, in fact, I usually like a lot of his films but then, I also never seem to watch a lot of them or do I make any deliberate move to see his films and then they always turn out to be surprisingly entertaining (or of late, quite grim and intense like Bridge of Spies). I have been meaning to catch up with a lot of older movies of late and Splash is just the start of it all. Splash is a fun little movie, in fact I think that it was fun mostly because I love movies like this where someone who doesn’t understand the human world enters it and then learns about it and in turn does a lot of funny things. Do I think that the romance between the two characters were incredibly unforgettable? I wouldn’t say that but the journey through it was fun enough and it had a lot to do with what was scripted for the mermaid here to do.

splash

Taking a look at the cast here, its a pretty nice one. For one, I always liked to watch older Tom Hanks movies because they were more light-hearted and much more fun to dive into. Splash is absolutely no exception as he plays Allen, a man who honestly doesn’t really know much about loving someone but somehow this unknown beautiful creature that is incredibly forward pops up in his life and suddenly, even her weirdest things makes him curious and feel love. In that sense, both Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah give off really fun and genuine performances for their characters. There were awkward and funny moments and that was really where all the charm was. I’m going to say right now that I don’t think I’ve actually seen John Candy in anything until this movie and his role wasn’t really significant but he’s a fun character and same goes for Eugene Levy as Walter Kornbluth who tries to prove the existence of mermaids in any way possible, many times making a fool out of himself.

Overall, I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on Splash. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and had a lot of fun watching it. The love story was pretty cute but the comedy here definitely stood out more than the romance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that since its some fun comedy and that works well for my preferences. I actually thought that the mermaid here worked so well. It was pretty believable and not to mention the star here does go to Daryl Hannah in her role as Madison who has some really hilarious scripted parts.

Valentine’s Marathon: Twilight (2008)

Twilight’s kind of our highlight feature for February so I’ll group it in with the Valentine’s Marathon since its really a love story more than its a vampire story. So we’re getting back on track. The love and Valentine’s theme has definitely been there even if I haven’t been reviewing as many movies as I’d like.

Funny thing about Twilight is that I actually watches about 85% of New Moon on a flight and it was the reason that solidified why I honestly wanted to stay away from this franchise. It doesn’t help that I have stood in the bookstore on more than one account over the years and tried to read Twilight and never made it past the first two pages. I chalk that up to Stephanie Meyer’s writing style not being my cup of tea.

Let’s get right into it and check out Twilight!

Twilight (2008)

Twilight

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Cam Gigandet, Rachelle Lefevre

With what I said in the opening, I have never read the source material and probably never will seeing as my love for YA has diminished over the years. I went into Twilight expecting it to be bad and having really low expectations. While I have a bunch of criticisms which I will get to in a moment, Twilight’s faults were actually having nothing to do with the faults I originally thought it would have based on my experience of New Moon. Maybe its the low expectations of the film going in, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

I am going to go into the strengths of the film first. The original faults that I thought the film would have was Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the beloved Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, the stars of the show. In fact, they have quite a lovely chemistry (when they aren’t talking and we will look at dialogue in the next paragraph) except for that scene above which let’s just say was both cheesy and over the top. The cast here also has some great moments and characters like Bella’s dad is Billy Burke (who I like quite a bit) and the ultimate villains are a trio but the standout here is Cam Gigandet and Rachelle Lefevre. The latter having a short but still quite sinister role. The whole Cullen clan has some familiar faces and they are a fun group for the little time we do spend with each of them. Then, Bella’s friends include Anna Kendrick who I have never seen play such a teenage role like this one but does pull it off fairly well. Twilight has moments that work to be a lot of fun to watch: the baseball game, the treetops, saving Bella moments and then a few scattered here and there.

twilight

A movie however should be made up of more than just moments and chemistry. The dialogue here is where Twilight falls apart the most. It had a nice cast of characters which seemed okay for their set-up so that future instalments could explore more in-depth but the moment they started talking, particularly the moments with Bella and Edward which had the most weight was also incredibly cringe-worthy. This is coming from me who enjoys and tolerates Nicholas Sparks movies. It brought up a lot of eye-rolling and face-palming moments. Then the dialogue also brings up the story here. On the surface, it works alright in the nice quiet moments then Edward will go and say something like “I like watching you sleep” or “I feel very protective of you”. Look, I’m a romantic and all but if some random dude (meaning just some guy I don’t know much about), no matter how mysterious he seems, that I just started dating said those things to me, the stalker and possessive alarm goes off in my brain (sure, maybe a little less alert when I  was in high school probably). Something else that bothered me was the constant desire to spin the camera around a scene or cut through a scene abruptly from one angle to the next. It mostly got really frustrating and annoying. And, while this is from the original source, I couldn’t help but finally know what the deal with sparkling vampires were and its quite lame. I get the desire to give a new twist to the traditional vampires as many different vampire stories over the years have attempted but sparkling vampires have got to be the one that I can’t buy into and then Bella goes and says that Edward is beautiful or something and I’m like, nope.

twilight

Overall, Twilight was better than expected. Still very much flawed in many ways, story, dialogue and camera work didn’t quite work for myself but there are some nice characters here which could use a little more development but the chemistry between Bella and Edward is quite good (even if they look awkward a ton which kind of grew on me). I already know what to expect in New Moon and knowing that the franchise started better than the second one at least hopefully links some plot points together but who knows, I don’t remember much of New Moon other than where it was set.

Check back soon-ish for the sequel soon! 🙂

Valentine’s Marathon: What If (original title: The F Word, 2013)

And we are finally here! The first random movie to kick off the Valentine’s Marathon is a romantic comedy. I have honestly taken a huge break from these the last few years mostly because a lot of them didn’t seem that appealing. However, Daniel Radcliffe post-Harry Potter phase and the lovely Zoe Kazan sounds like a fun time. So here we are!

Lets check it out!

What If (aka The F Word) (2013)

Director: Michael Dowse

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan , Adam Driver, Megan Park, MacKenzie Davis, Rafe Spall

Wallace, who is burned out from a string of failed relationships, forms an instant bond with Chantry, who lives with her longtime boyfriend. Together, they puzzle out what it means if your best friend is also the love of your life. –IMDB

What If is adapted from a play called Toothpastes and  Cigars. Honestly, I’ve never heard of the original source material so obviously, I have nothing to compare to. With that said, the original title of The F Word seems to be more fitting for this story because we do spend a lot of time with Chantry and Wallace as really good friends. But then, I guess What If works on the level like the all time question, “What If  *insert good friend’s name* was my boyfriend or girlfriend?”  The story itself being a romantic comedy and all, is somewhat familiar and if you are looking for some breakthrough unpredictable story, then you probably aren’t looking for that. However, if you are like myself who enjoys a fun little romantic comedy, What If does deliver on it because of its fun and sharp dialogue between the characters which brings me back to something like why I love Gilmore Girls so much along with a lovely chemistry between the two main characters. There are some annoying parts in What If and we’ll talk about that as well. Plus, the setting is in Toronto. I love Toronto and go visit it at least once each year and always have a great time so let’s say I’m slightly biased as well.

what if 2013

With that said, the setting being as charming as it is, the true bright light of What If is its two main characters. Zoe Kazan has caught my eye since I saw her in In Your Eyes (Review) which is probably one of my favorite movies that I watch at least once a year. She’s very natural in her roles and in this one as Chantry, she’s incredibly charming and silly to watch. Its easy to fall in love with her character. Opposite her is Daniel Radcliffe who plays Wallace. I’m going to admit that post Harry-Potter Daniel Radcliffe, there’s only been one film that I saw and that’s The Woman in Black (review). The fact that I’m a decent fan of Harry Potter even if the movie adaptations at times did fall short from the novels themselves, it really is hard to break away that image. However, something about him playing Wallace seems to work quite well here. Maybe its the weirdness he has or just having the right person to act with. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan bring Wallace and Chantry to life especially when paired up with their fun dialogue back and forth with random responses that truly are quite amusing. Most romantic comedies start off with characters that loathe each other and then see another side and then realize they fell in love with each other (most rom com scenarios, there are exceptions, I know), but this one builds them up as really good friends first and I think that is much more realistic.

What If 2013

Adam Driver, aka all you Star Wars fans’ Kylo Ren, was in What If as one of his roles. Putting Star Wars aside and whether you think he’s adequate as Kylo Ren, he plays Allan, the cousin of Chantry and something like a good friend of Wallace. He gives some good and bad advice and has this somewhat of a sleazy goofball sort of expert thing going on here as Wallace is more of a closed and introvert guy who needs a bit of guidance due to his many failed relationships in the past. While some parts worked, I wasn’t a huge fan of the character here. A few of the things felt so over the top that it seemed to break out from the friendship/relationship between Chantry and Wallace that felt quite believable and grounded. I know that a lot of the character of Allan and his girlfriend, Nicole (played by Mackenzie Davis) was meant to be funny however, it felt much less sophisticated that seemed to throw off the balance a little. Like I always say, humor is subjective.

With that said, What If is one of those romantic comedies that I really did enjoy. Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe really give some great performances that cancel out the negative things I felt about the film. A pleasant surprise is always a great way to start a marathon.

Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.

Valentine’s Marathon: Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a tale really as old as time and probably one of the first Shakespeare plays I had to read in school but super renowned and adapted a ton of times and that is Romeo & Juliet. This version is the 2013 one with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.

Let’s check it out!

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Director: Carlo Carlei

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke

Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each other. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever.-IMDB

 Its always hard to review Romeo and Juliet adaptations. We all know how the story will go and the tragic fate of these lovers. It becomes even harder each time to feel moved by the characters and the story somehow because of that familiarity. I’m not sure if this is the most recent movie adaptation but I think so with these young stars playing the popular roles. In reality, it feels like quite the task and one that I’d eventually like to do to talk about the play and all adaptations (or as many as I have access to). Maybe I’ll give that a go one day. However, we’re here to look at this adaptation and to be fair, it was fine. There were some familiar faces, some good performances, the set was pretty decent and so were the costumes. I’m not a Shakespeare extreme connoisseur so I don’t know the play front and back. It been a long time since I’ve read it but from what I remember, its seems pretty close (if not the same) in dialogue.  However, something seems missing which I can’t quite pinpoint so maybe as I write this out, I’ll figure it out.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are played respectively by Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld.  I haven’t seen a lot of Hailee Steinfeld but I have seen Douglas Booth in few of his previous roles, probably the one I remember most is LOL and Jupiter Ascending (review HERE). To step into Romeo and Juliet is a big task (like I mentioned before), there was to be passion and believability in their roles. Perhaps one of the things I didn’t quite feel was their connection. Sure, they were passionate in their lines and I could see it working but when they were together, something just didn’t click. Although, I feel that it progressed a little fast also. I get that its supposed to be a few days of events like most Romeo and Juliet movies are set in but it took two seconds to jump to seeing each other, dancing and then going to to the back and kissing. I never felt like other Romeo and Juliet movies progressed the love arc that fast for them and maybe its why those movies had a more impactful performance. Oh, and I actually did like Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I feel that she has potential to do more and that’s where I think I probably should check out The Edge of Seventeen from last year.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Talking about the Montague boys now, we’ve already discussed Romeo as the lover boy but possibly a great bromance trio goes to these guys who felt naturally good together. Somehow they worked well in showing their different personalities of Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio. It was easy to believe that they all held different views of the rivalry between the Montague and the Capulets but also that they each also had different values. Mercutio is played by Christian Cooke, who is a familiar face and I liked him in the role. However, I love Kodi Smit-McPhee ever since I saw him in Let Me In (review HERE). This guy has some really great acting chops. He did a great job at Benvolio even if it was just a supporting role.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

The Capulets are much more individual but also has a lot more screen time. We have Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick who is incredibly known to me as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl and I loved his character there. Ed Westwick does have some good acting and in the right roles, he can do quite a bit. As Tybalt, he really just does the cocky guy with a ton of anger issues who has incredible hate for Montagues who can barely keep his actions in control. Plus, he does a whole lot of odd grunting angry voices and always has a grimace, which I get is in character but something about his character felt a little overacted perhaps. I can’t say that its his best performance in my book. The other part of the Capulets is Damien Lewis as Lord Capulet. I honestly haven’t had much contact with Damien Lewis but he seems like a really powerful actor because Lord Capulet’s role really carried especially when he was having the whole scene with Juliet and making his point clear of her marrying Count Paris. That was a fantastic scene.

Overall, Romeo and Juliet in this 2013 adaptation was okay. It probably won’t be memorable but its not horrible either. The pacing of the script could probably use some work to help make us care more about Romeo and Juliet especially when everyone already knows how this all works out and pretty much knows what to expect. There are some decent performances that I haven’t even mentioned other than Hailee Steinfeld, Damien Lewis and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also we have Paul Giamatti who plays as the Friar and as always, he does a nice job in the supporting role. Its hard to not compare Romeo and Juliet adaptations to each other especially since there’s already been so many but here’s my shot at it.

Have you seen this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Which adaptation is your favorite?