The 5th Wave (2016)

The first chapter in a book-to-film young adult franchise has to balance telling a complete story with setting the stage for future entries. The 5th Wave is the latest to attempt that challenge, but it never finds its footing – the story is plodding, anti-climactic, and never gives any sense of the world needed for emotional investment…

Me, John Green and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Unfolding Paper Towns

The opening minutes of Paper Towns, the latest instalment in the John Green Cinematic Universe, aren’t especially promising. Our middle-class white teenage protagonist explains, in faux-profound seriousness, that “everyone gets a miracle.” Maybe you win the lottery, maybe you “marry the Queen of England.” Said middle-class white teenager, Quentin (Nat Wolff), has already found his…

The Hunger Games (2014)

The Fault in our (Movie) Stars – The Lack of Social Media in the Cinematic Medium

The Fault in our Stars is a Young Adult phenomenon, combining healthy box office receipts with a generally positive critical reception, but it’s yet another example of a mainstream movie that fails to engage with modern teenagers’ reality. Despite flaunting contemporary technological trappings – X-Boxes and iPhones (with increasingly popular texts-appearing-on-screen imagery) – The Fault…

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The Fault in Our Stars is carefully constructed to tear plaintively at your heartstrings. It works best not as a weepy, but as a gentle evocation of romance through the subjective perspective of teenage protagonist, Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley). Hazel has cancer, yes, and the story is in many ways about that. It’s also about…

Saoirse Roman and George MacKay in How I Live Now (2013)

How I Live Now (2013)

How I Live Now is a good movie whose potential greatness is squandered by a staggeringly wrong-headed romantic plotline. The set-up of the film is engaging – sixteen year-old American teenager Daisy (Saoirse Roman) moves to England to stay with her cousins just as the country is embroiled in a devastating nuclear war, the details…

Shailene Woodley and Theo James in Divergent (2014)

Divergent (2014)

The consensus on Divergent, the latest piece of young adult literature to be rendered onto the big screen, is that it’s a watered-down Hunger Games ripoff (often accompanied by an uninspired pun on the title and the film’s lack of originality, and an underlying assumption that art directed at teenage girls is inherently inferior). I’m…