A movie review for a change!
Director: Felix Fuchssteiner
Writers: Katharina Schöde (screenplay), Kerstin Gier (novel)
Release date: 14th of March 2013 (Germany)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Drama
Stars: Maria Ehrich, Jannis Niewöhner, Veronica Ferres
Gwendolyn Shepherd is actually a very normal 16-year-old teen. What's annoying is that her family definitely has a tad too many secrets. They all have to do with the time-travel gene that is passed down in the family. Everyone is certain that Gwen's cousin Charlotte has the gene, and so everything is all Charlotte, all the time. Until the day Gwen, out of the clear blue sky, suddenly finds herself in London at the end of the 19th century. She knows right away that she, and not Charlotte, was born to be a time traveler - even if she could certainly do without it. Just as she could do without Charlotte's arrogant boyfriend Gideon de Villiers, with whom she now has to forge an alliance in order to clear up the biggest secret of her family history. One thing is clear: she will do everything possible to solve the ancient mysteries. What isn't clear is that one should not fall in love between the times. For that really makes things complicated!
I speak German… ok, not that well, but I definitely understand pretty much 99% percent of it. So, I’m lucky because when I accidentally saw an ad for Sapphire Blue, the second book from the Ruby Red trilogy, then I simply had to see the adaption for the first book asap. I still can’t believe I missed it! And since it’s a German movie then I didn’t have issues with understating and got my dirty little hands on it the next day after seeing the ad.
I’ve read the first two books in the series and while with many faults, I genuinely like the story and characters and was very excited on how the book was translated onto screen.
Firstly, they changed sequence for several scenes, eg. the end was basically in the beginning and as far as I remember the movie ending didn’t even happen in the book. Nevertheless, the reorganizing and additions gave a smoother flow to the movie and it all worked quite well. Still, a part of me was slightly irritated by the Twilight-esque end, for some reason that movie was what came to mind and comparisons were easily drawn.
I really liked visual of the movie. The sets were spot on, modern yet going well with the scenes in older times and even during the nowadays scenes you could feel the ancientness of the secret order and all the time travel looming over the characters – the appropriate atmosphere was definitely there. I also liked that the scenes were actually shot in London with many of its bigger or smaller landmarks occasionally visible. The length was also something I appreciated, they didn’t have to cut much so the story felt fulfilling and the details were still present, and due to it being about two hours long it didn’t start just to already be over in the next blink of an eye. I was a little iffy about the costumes for the time travels, they felt odd and out of place during those scenes and compared to the background. One dress felt like a carpet was thrown over Gwen, it didn’t fit her at all being all weird shaped and lumpy on her.
Something I notices that didn’t work well for me was that the whole essence of the book being now visible on screen changed somehow, because suddenly I couldn’t really ignore how much childishness and juvenile behavior was in the book, especially regarding the characters. Somehow the book had more mystery and was somehow more serious, but the movie made everything slightly superficial, too simple and silly. I’m not sure if I make sense.
Gwendolyn – I thought the actress playing her was nicely cast. She fit the part and had Gwen’s special mix of awkward, funny, uncoordinated, straightforward down quite skillfully.
Gideon – I didn’t like the guy playing him and it wasn’t because he wasn’t good-looking enough or something like that, but he just didn’t fit my understanding of this proud, solemn, brooding, icy gorgeous diamond he was supposed to come across as. The actor was too much of a boy from mannerism to presence. It wasn’t awful, but it bothered me quite a bit. Maybe it gets better in the upcoming movies. The chemistry between him and Gwen was, however, clearly there, so thank god for small favors.
Other cast – No one really stood out so I can definitely say that no other casting choice bothered me yet because of that no one was overly excellent as well.
I think this is a successful, entertaining and quite faithful to the source material adaption, it had its setbacks like everything else, but the bigger picture works wonderfully together. Plus, it’s always pleasant to watch movies that are not only made in the US, a little variety is always appreciated. I bet children, especially young girls, will love and devoured it!