Tag: Hollywood

Book or Movie? Your answer Does matter

Image from devantart.net

A new movie trailer revs your adrenaline. The title sounds vaguely familiar. Right. It echoes from the bestselling book list – New York Times or Amazon.

Sometimes this is a good thing. I’m thinking about Catching Fire, which moved along quite well on the big screen. Things were still lost; many of them had been cut from the first movie. Overall, I experienced the same thrill ride during the movie as I had reading the book (except for the shock at the end was no surprise since I’d read the novel first).

Many times it would be better for movie makers to leave the story alone. I wonder if authors are so eager to make a buck that they don’t care about what a movie does to their story. Maybe they give away their right to approve the script before any filming happens.

I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it is the second answer. Who would want the true message of their story buried beneath special effects and poor acting?

“Have you read the book?” is one of my favorite questions when someone raves about the latest and greatest at the box office. More and more blockbuster films are adaptations from a bestselling novel.

Most of the time, I get one of these three responses:

  1. “No, but I’ve heard it’s really good.”   So they are basing their decision to see the movie on more than just the movie trailer. Someone in their circle of friends has a literary bone or a craving for reading. The reader has done what all authors wish they would – bragged to others about how lost they got in the story. Do they take that final step and tell their friends, “You should read it”?
  2. “No. Have you?”  I respect people for this avoidance tactic. Most of the people who use this response haven’t read a book for pleasure in their lives. Maybe they’re too busy, too tired or too something. Most likely, they never learned to love to read. After all, reading engages your brain. Watching a movie lulls it to sleep. (I wrote an entire post about this that may or may not see the light of day at a later date – if I can keep it from sounding like a rant.)
  3. “I started it, but I know I’ll like the movie better.”  I’m saddened by this answer to my question. This indicates a deeper issue that could bury the market for books beneath the cry for movies. The reader can’t visualize the words and concepts shared on the page by the author. Maybe they aren’t a fluent reader. Perhaps they just have no imagination. Whatever the reason, they are content to let a filmmaker somewhere decide what aspects of the story are important.

keep-calm-and-read-the-book-before-the-movie-3All of these responses thrill those Hollywood executives with their Maseratis and $1000 suits. They gladly take your $8 – $10 at the box office and don’t care if you ever read the book.

What about the original creator of such a fantabulous story? Yes, I’m talking about the author. Most people who love the movies, don’t even know the names of those original architects. Can you say Nicholas Sparks, Suzanne Collins or John Green?

When I’m asked if I’ve read the book, I have one of three responses:

  1. “No, but I put it on my ‘to be read’ list when I saw the movie trailer.” Two books that come to mind are The Help and The Fault in our Stars. I haven’t heard negative tales of the movies doing the book a disservice.
  2. “Of course. I’m worried the movie will completely destroy the story.” Eragon, Christopher Paolini’s bestseller was completely misrepresented and befuddled in the hands of movie makers.
  3. “Yes and I wish they wouldn’t try to make a movie about this. It’s a book everyone should read.” This was my response to The Book Thief. I haven’t seen the movie, but literary people I respect tell me the movie holds true to the book.

What do you think about books that later become movies? Do you feel people should always read the book? Are there times the movie is a better representation of the author’s purpose?

Sequels: Good, Bad and Ugly

There’s nothing new under the sun. This is actually a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Hollywood isn’t the only clown in town that seems to think if something was a blockbuster, it should have a sequel. Books in a series are more popular than ever.

In fact, I enjoy reading a series. After all, if I love the characters, I happily follow their trials and triumphs. Unfortunately, “happily ever after” isn’t much of a story.

Recently, we went to see Red 2 at the theater. I will agree that Red wasn’t a stellar movie, but it was funny and lots of things got blown up. Those two elements keep the men I live with enthralled, entranced and engaged.

The story in Red seemed fresh. A retired CIA man gets bored and starts flirting with a girl via phone. Unfortunately, there’s an old case that he worked on that people are getting killed over (because of political aspirations). The targets unite, discover the root problem, blow up plenty of cars and buildings and ride off victorious. Each character has their own sub story, as well, which keeps things interesting.

None of these things can be said of Red 2. The relationship seems stale until there’s a threat to the retired agent’s life. The team thinks they’re completing one mission, but instead, their mission has a mission of his own. Thankfully, there was humor and lots of explosions because the story was dreadful.

This is a problem with sequels. It isn’t enough that we love the characters. They need to be involved in something we can find believable. It can’t be a lame “I liked it better when we were running for our lives” theme. At least, not if you want to engage me.

Another series that seemed to fail to rise to the occasion was The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. This irked me because I looked forward to each successive installment as much as my son, who was in the target audience.

I’m not going to rehash the plot of this series. Let’s just say that he could have told the story in two books. Very few people I spoke with appreciated the addition to Eldest of the cousin’s story. Was it essential for the whole town to move and become Eragon’s army?

Also, this was a case where the hero got a sucky deal. Seriously. I despise when an author ends a series by having the person who saves the world end up with – nothing, nada, zilch. He doesn’t get to be with his family, he loses his brother, the girl he loves can’t love him in return and he leaves the land he just delivered from oppression. Wow. “You’re welcome. I’d love to save your day and then lose everything I worked for. Happy day!”

In fact, I would rather see the hero dead if he’s not going to get anything. I disagree that Eragon having the dragons and being the one to train future riders redeemed the ending. I don’t care if it was prophesied to end this way in the first book.

A hero should walk away with more than the knowledge that he did the right thing. Even if that’s all we earn in real life for some good deeds, it isn’t an acceptable ending for a series.

I remember finishing Inheritance and thinking, “I waited expectantly for this? I read all these thousands of pages only to have him leave it all behind in the end?”

Perhaps you found Paolini’s ending satisfying or thought all the extra information included that made his series stretch from the predicted trilogy to a four-book cycle made sense. I’d love to have a conversation about that (or another series you found successful or repugnant).