After We Collided, the sequel film to the 2019 romance, After, was released in the United States on October 23. Originally based on Anna Todd’s popular One Direction fanfiction, the After series had a huge following prior to being published in 2014. The fanfiction had been read nearly 1.6 billion times on Wattpad and fans even garnered the name, “Afternators”.
The huge following guaranteed the movie’s success, but also meant that expectations for the film were high. Unfortunately, After was swiftly labeled as frustrating and predictable. After years of waiting to see their favorite characters brought to life, some fans were devastated by the film’s lack of depth and character development.
Despite the backlash, fans were still hopeful that the sequel would redeem the series. With a different director, Anna Todd promised that the sequel would better reflect the essence of the book.
Why Was After Such a Disappointment
Let’s be honest. Fans are not watching After for the riveting plot; they are there for the steamy scenes depicted in the book. Perhaps, that’s why the film was reviewed so poorly. In the process of transforming the written story to the screen, the exciting, dangerous, and sexy aspects of the story were left out.
In the first few minutes it is clear that some characters lost their most noticeable traits. For example, the book explained Tessa’s mother as judgemental and sometimes outright mean. However, the movie shows her as an overbearing, yet caring mother, leaving plot holes throughout the film. If you have only seen the movie, you have to question why Tessa hated going home if her mother was as nice as she’s portrayed.
Minor changes, like the mother, are expected with any film adaptation, however, Hardin’s (the male lead) character change completely altered the story. After has been heavily criticized for downplaying Hardin’s incredibly manipulative and emotionally abusive personality. In the book, Hardin is written as an extremely possessive person. A few weeks into their relationship it’s revealed that Hardin’s attraction to Tessa originally stemmed from a dare he received to take her virginity. The book ends leaving Tessa devastated by Hardin’s betrayal.
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In the movie, Hardin appears, at best, condescending and rude. He comes across as a typical bad boy, sporting all black attire and numerous tattoos, but his toxic traits seem to be lacking in his on screen character. Which, fans argue, is the heart and soul of the book. Not only are the complex traits stripped from the character, but the start of their relationship was also altered on screen. The dare was changed from taking her virginity to making Tessa fall in love with him. While this doesn’t drastically change the story, it emphasizes the movie’s attempt at making the story less explicit.
It’s obvious this was done in an attempt to make Hardin more likeable, but fans are left feeling that their once thrilling love story was transformed into a cheesy romantic movie: an innocent, goody two shoes falls in love with a rebellious heart throb.
After was even labeled “Fifty Shade of Grey for teens”, which is a little confusing for those who have only seen the movie. While the book doesn’t engage in BDSM, the fanfiction origin, explicit deptictions of sex, and posseive men are all common themes between the two stories. However, these themes were completely stripped when hitting the big screen. While these changes were most likely made to attract a younger demographic, fans of the original fanfiction are left disappointed. Without the raunchy sex-scenes, violence, and adult themes, the exciting romance turned into a bland and basic love story.
Initial Opinions on the Sequel: After We Collided
After We Collided has had undeniable success. In just two weeks, the sequel has grossed $20.9 million at the international box office. With no marketing strategies, the film’s achievement comes as a surprise; especially considering theaters have been struggling due to the pandemic.
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Even before the movie’s release, there were a few indicators that After We Collided would improve the film series. First, the sequel is rated R, compared to After’s PG-13 rating, which meant viewers might get the steamy romance scenes they have been craving. Another positive addition was adding Dylan Sprouse to the cast. Dylan’s already established acting career will add a whole new demographic of viewers, outside of the fanfiction readers.
The film was released in several European countries on September 2nd, and most recently in the United States on October 23rd. So what are fans and critics saying about After We Collided?
To be honest, there are a lot of mixed views. Fans were pleased that production made an effort to spice up the movie with several (not necessarily raunchy) sex scenes and scenes featuring Hardin’s complicated personality. Some argue that the best scenes in the book were left out in the film, but understand that’s expected in book to film adaptations. Critics, however, still slashed the movie for its lackluster storyline and underdeveloped characters.
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While largely criticized by professionals, fan’s opinions are far more important in comparing the movie’s success. With ticket sales high, it’s hard to deny that the After We Collided has received good reviews from fans.
Obviously, the film is geared toward a teenage/young adult audience. The small changes made to the sequel has pleased fans and left them wanting more. Thankfully, Anna Todd has confirmed that two more movies will be released as a part of the After series.
After We Collided is available on a number of video streaming services, including: Amazon Prime, ITunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, Microsoft Store, Fandango and Redbox.