Obviously, this is a couple of weeks late. Honestly, I was having second thoughts whether to post a review or not but since I'm writing this now, we know which side won that internal argument.
I've mentioned before that I'm still curious about this series so I am still keeping up to date with the development. Another reason is, I'm the kind of Hana Yori Dango fan who like it so much that I've seen every adaptation there is of this manga. Yes, even the unlicensed Chinese version.
Now, we have the American version - Boys Before Friends. Production-wise, it is already different. This adaptation will not be backed up by any network. It will be shown online through Viki and their official website (and apparently, Youtube too).
In line with that, I know I will be expecting a different feel to it. I've seen a couple of webseries and they actually do feel different. I also know that since they don't have a huge budget, I shouldn't be expecting a lot. But, the people behind this project claim to be fans of the original work so I'm also hoping that they'll do everything they can to give justice since they are fans themselves. So, I dived in to the pilot episode with an open mind.
Below are my major comments (I think they are gripes, actually) of the episode. If any of the staff happen to stumble upon this, I hope they'll take this as constructive criticism.
- I've seen a couple of shots/scenes that seem out of place. It felt like they were put there as fillers. I did not get the purpose.
- Lighting and the audio. Seriously, the audio was so bad that I had to keep the arrow of my mouse on the volume. It goes from normal to high to really low that I have to strain my ears to hear what they were saying.
- The F4 are so mellow, they are not scary and seriously, why is Liam sporting a George Washington-esque hairstyle?
- The acting was awkward. I know almost all of them do not have a lot of acting experience. I do hope they improve.
- I do get the "six months later" and "two months ago" part but the editing was a bit sloppy, no wonder a lot of people were confused. And did they actually used the same footage of Zoey when she went for audition?
- It's a school and there should be students but a lot of scenes only have a handful of students walking by. They should get a couple more extras.
- I know Claude Racine was re-casted but for this purpose, I'm also gonna review her. Acting-wise, I think she did okay although a bit awkward and it came out a bit too strong at times that it doesn't show the essence of Makino's character. I also know she's a professional dancer and a choreographer so I know she can dance but for some reason, her dancing here did nothing for me. So, what was it? I'm not sure if the problem was the choreography or because sometimes, the dance moves did not fit the music that was used. I think she was either dancing to a different music while filming or dancing to no music at all; and then they just lay over the music during editing.
A couple of things that I like though:
- I like the opening scene. When they were showing the different places, it really looked promising there.
- I like the theme song. Hook Up Hotline by Wordsmith.
- I like that it is a multi-racial cast.
- I like that they gave Zoey a passion which is dancing. This is one of the things I also liked in the Korean version. Jandi in there have swimming as her passion. Atleast, her world doesn't revolve around the F4 guys.
- The F4 vs Z3 thing was obviously their addition to the story and I like that they gave Zoey friends who have her back and willing to get revenge for her.
We'll see if they will improve in the next episodes.
*pics from Google