Book v Film: Howl’s Moving Castle

“In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”

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From the amazing Japanese animation film studio, Studio Ghibli, and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Howl’s Moving Castle is based on British author Diana Wynne Jones‘ 1986 fantasy novel, the first in a series of three, that follows a young, unconfident girl called Sophie Hatter (voiced by Emily Mortimer) from the fairytale land of Ingary.

For Sophie, being born the oldest of three is only the beginning of her troubles, since the oldest child is doomed to fail first. When Sophie’s father dies, her stepmother, Fanny, takes Sophie and her two sisters out of school. But whilst Lettie and Martha go off to become apprentices, Sophie is left with no one to talk to but the hats she creates. One day, the Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall) makes a visit to Sophie’s shop, and leaves Sophie under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady (Jean Simmons). Her only chance of breaking it is to find the ever-moving castle in the hills, and plead with the castle’s owner, the heartless Wizard Howl (Christian Bale). To untangle the enchantment, Sophie makes a deal with Howl’s fire demon, Calcifer (Billy Crystal): if Sophie can break his contract with Howl, then he will fix her curse. Finding herself caught up in Howl and the Witch’s conflict, Sophie soon discovers that there’s far more to Howl — and herself — than first meets the eye.

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Book v Film: The Girl On The Train

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts. Who was it said that following your heart is a good thing? It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all.”

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Directed by by Tate Taylor and based on the book by British Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train follows an alcohol divorcee, Rachel (Emily Blunt), who takes the same train to work every single day. As Rachel passes by the same houses, she comes to recognise the people she sees and begins fantasising about the relationships and lives of those that reside there. One of these houses belongs to her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), who now lives with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), who he cheated on Rachel with, and their baby daughter. A few doors down, Rachel spends most of her commute fantasising about the seemingly happy lives of Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett). But everything changes when Rachel witnesses something from the train window and Megan is later found to be missing, presumed dead. Becoming entangled in a missing person’s investigation, Rachel’s involvement promises to send shockwaves throughout both her past and future.

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Book v Film: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”

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Based on Ransom Riggs‘s debut book and directed by Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children follows teenager Jacob (Asa Butterfield), who sets off to a mysterious Welsh island, using clues from his grandpa’s old photographs, to find out who his grandpa really was after his unexplained death. Led to a large, abandoned orphanage, run by the mystical Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), Jacob begins an adventure that spans different worlds and times. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and about their special powers, as well as the powers of their enemies. Chosen to protect the Peculiar Children, Jacob must discover his own power to save his new friends from the nightmarish Hollows and Wights, who are led by the mysterious Mr Barron (Samuel L Jackson).

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Film Review: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Directed by David Lowery and a reimagining of Disney‘s 1977 musical family film of the same name, Pete’s Dragon follows the adventures of an orphaned ten-year-old boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley) and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a giant, green dragon. For years, old wood-carver Mr Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), a forest ranger, these stories are little more than a folk tale… until she meets Pete, living in the woods with no family or home. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father, Jack (Wes Bentley), owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about his dragon.

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Film Review: Suicide Squad

The third instalment in the DC Extended Universe, following on from this year’s Batman v Superman, and directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad follows a group of imprisoned supervillains who are recruited by a secret government agency, led by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), to execute a dangerous black ops mission to save the world from an enigmatic, insuperable entity in exchange for leaner sentences. Bringing together some of our favourite DC supervillains – including Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), The Joker (Jared Leto), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) – will the mission lead to success or chaos, as the squad realise that they weren’t picked to succeed, but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail?

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Book v Film: Me Before You

“I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”

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Based on Jojo Moyes‘ 2012 best-selling book and directed by Thea Sharrock, Me Before You tells the story of a 26-year-old girl from a small English town, Lou Clarke (Emilia Clarke), who has just lost her job in her local cafe. With only one option left at the job centre, Lou is employed as a carer by the wealthy Traynor family, despite having no skills or experience, to help support her struggling family. Here, Lou is placed in charge of Will (Sam Claflin), a once successful man who enjoyed all aspects of his life, who is now a quadriplegic, paralysed from the neck down after being involved in an accident. As Lou attempts to show Will what life can be like if he opens his mind, Will encourages Lou to live her life to the fullest as an unexpected relationship blossoms.

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Film Review: X-Men – Apocalypse

The ninth instalment in the X-Men film series, following on from 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, and again directed by Bryan Singer, X-Men: Apocalypse is set in 1983 when the first and most powerful mutant, En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), awakens after thousands of years. Amassed with the powers of many other mutants, which has enabled him to become both immortal and invincible, Apocalypse plans to wipe out modern civilisation and take over the world, and recruits a team of powerful mutants – including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Angel (Ben Hardy), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) – to help him cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Professor X (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters), return to lead a team of young X-Men – including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) – to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

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