Why Tarzan is Still my Hero

Tarzan has been around since before black and white television had Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller portrayed the character whose legend has been recapped many times in movies and comics. Tarzan of the Apes was an all-human superhero (in the jungle at least).
Recently, my husband and I watched the 2016 remake called THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, and I was reminded of my childhood crush on this hero of the jungle.


Edgar Rice Burroughs breathed life into Tarzan in 1912 with a story in The All Story Magazine. In 1918, Hollywood produced the first of nearly three dozen movies (not including TV series) featuring this vine-swinging man who could talk to animals.
Weismuller stared in twelve of these films between 1932 and 1948, so it’s no wonder his name was the first to come to mind.
Even Walt Disney took a shot and animated a couple films featuring this well-loved hero (if the frequency of remakes and story lines is any clue). Millennials remember the music of Phil Collins more than anything else about those movies.
Regardless of the worldwide love affair with the loincloth clad man, I watched this latest movie and recalled several reasons why Tarzan is still a hero to me.

Overcoming Obstacles

Tarzan’s parents died when he was a baby. A female gorilla found and adopted him, but imagine being a human in the troop of gorillas led by a 500-pound alpha…who didn’t want you around.
His humanity would have made him weak among the powerful apes. He wouldn’t have the protection of fur against the elements and predators, nor would he have the strength and bone structure to travel with speed among the trees.
But humans are adaptable. In this newest movie, there was great care given to the changes in his hands and arms because he’d learned to be an ape before being human.
He would have been bullied, an outcast among the troop.
Talk about an underdog.
But his humanity made him curious about the other animals, and he befriended them. Yes, even learning to communicate with them. We all know about the Tarzan yell.

Standing for the Weak

Likely because he had been the weak one for much of his life, Tarzan champions the cause of those being targeted by stronger species. Whether it is his gorilla family or elephants being poached, he doesn’t accept senseless brutality.
As you know in my posts about Captain America and Wonder Woman, this, in my opinion, is the mark of a true hero. He has power but he uses it to help others.
In this movie, it’s the tribesmen who are being enslaved and the animals being poached that earn his protection. Of course, he intends to rescue Jane, but she’s as adamant about protecting their “families” as he is.

Adapting without Losing Character

One of the lines that stuck with me from this film happens near the dark moment. Tarzan has been “sold” to a tribe of natives. The chief of this tribe wants revenge because Tarzan killed his son many years ago (the son had killed Tarzan’s ape “mother”).
Tarzan defeats the chief and much of the armed tribe in hand-to-hand combat and hold a knife to the chief’s throat. They discuss this impasse.

The chief claims his son was just a boy and asks, “Where was your honor?”
Tarzan honestly replies, “I had none.”

He was raised by animals to be an animal. The argument of nature versus nurture comes into play. Was he little more than an ape when he carried out the retribution against the native? Or should he have had more scruples, as a man would (although a goodly number of the men in this film did NOT have any)?
He admitted his lack. He acted on instinct and out of pain and anger. Wasn’t the chief now doing the same thing? Where did this talk of honor come from then?
But as Tarzan learned to be human, he rejected those traits that didn’t mesh with his ingrained love for family. Gorillas are fiercely protective of both territory and troop members, and Tarzan learned this well.
When he met humans, they saved him. Then they tried to capture him and ruin his home. He learned not to trust them. That they would lie and steal and cheat. Were they really more “advanced” than the apes who raised him to survive in the jungle?


THE LEGEND OF TARZAN sends Tarzan and Jane back to the Congo at the request (so they believe) of the Dutch king, since Congo became a colony of the Dutch when all the Europeans finished warring over it in the late 1890s. Really it’s part of a plot to mine diamonds to pay the Dutch debt.
Samuel L. Jackson played an American fighting against slavery and offered plenty of comedic relief in the tense plot.
What do you love about Tarzan? Or who is a figure you saw a heroic in your childhood that doesn’t get much recognition these days?

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Wonder Woman Screen Triumph

Wonder Woman is my kind of hero, and since I’m holding out for a hero around here, more Wonder Woman content might appear here than on other blogs.  Although, she’s pretty popular at the moment.

And I think her red, white, and blue costume is perfect for Independence Day. All this because Wonder Woman’s feature film catapulted her to the top of many charts.

This isn’t another movie review. You can read my thoughts on the movie here.

Today I’m going to enumerate the things ONLY screenwriters and filmmakers could do for Wonder Woman. Well, except for what the gal does for herself by being a demigod with a pure heart and idealistic motives.

The Superpowers

I have no idea what powers Wonder Woman had in the comics. I watched the television series featuring Lynda Carter, and I knew about superhuman strength, bulletproof bracelets, a boomerang tiara, the lasso of truth and an invisible jet.

The filmmakers include all of those things with the caveat that Wonder Woman can fly on her own. So there’s no invisible jet, just demi-god propelled soaring.

They also give her a shield and sword. The shield might not be as awesome as Captain America’s, but it gives her the protection she needs to walk into machine gun fire. And it works well as a springboard during some of the fight scenes.

The sword, God-Killer, is given prominent screen time, but in the end, it doesn’t live up to its name. It’s a false talisman, and Diana’s courage nearly crumbles along with it.

The best power? Diana realizes love is the greatest power of all.

This felt a little cliche to me, especially since the filmmakers are claiming there wasn’t a romance between Steve and Diana (which there is in the comic book world).

But the sentiment? I totally endorse it.

What did I covet? That lasso. She used it like a whip, a slingshot and of course to reveal the truth of the situation.

Super Visual Effects

Gal Gadot is amazing, but you have to give credit to the digital effects team. And it’s a large team. Don’t believe me? Watch the credits. *20 minutes later* See what I mean?

From the beginning, viewers see the Amazon warriors as superior athletes, performing martial arts moves and acrobatic feats to aid them in their hand-to-hand combat. When Zeus created them to save mankind from constant war, battles were fought in close quarters.

The reaction to the advanced technology the Germans brought to the island? It was sadly lacking. Diana should have been more surprised by the weaponry of the early 20th Century. And how could her training possibly hold up in the face of tanks and automatic gunfire?

The filmmakers give ample room and reason for Wonder Woman to use the fighting skills to awe and inspire everyone. Her demigod reflexes thrust those bracelets (okay, really bracers or vambraces, but that doesn’t sound as pretty does it?) in the path of speeding bullets. But how did she know it would deflect them?

The ultimate battle with Ares could have been more awesome. He didn’t toss around his lightning early or with pizzazz. And he didn’t feel evil to me.

Maybe that was the point?

If you saw the movie, what things did the filmmakers amaze you with? What could they have done better?

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Do you have to be Sarah Connor to be a Tough Woman?

Sarah Connor faced down The Terminator. And went to the loony bin where she worked out a plan of escape.

If you’ve watched any of the Terminator movies, you know the story. Sarah’s son John Connor is the one who unites humanity in the future war against machines. Machines that somehow achieved sentience and began destroying their human creators.

How’s that for gratitude?

Sarah Connor is one tough mama. In the original movie, she’s on the run like crazy from the Terminator. This is the only movie wherein her son sent a human back in time to preserve the time line make sure he would even be born. Yeah, I like the twist of that first movie the best.

In Judgment Day, we see an older and much more buff version of the scared blonde from the first movie. This is the Sarah Connor everyone identifies as someone too tough to be messed with.

I mean, check out those arms?

sarah-connor

How many pushups and pullups does a girl have to do while locked in a room at the funny farm to get those guns?

And Sarah is good with all kinds of guns.

But that’s not what makes a woman tough.

My Tough Gal Checklist

Let’s face it, if we met Sarah Connor on the street, toting her assault rifle, we wouldn’t be in awe. We’d be terrified.

So how can we be tough without being scary? (Unless scary is what you’re going for)

Here’s what it takes to be a tough woman:

  • Stand for what you believe in
  • Don’t back down from protecting others
  • Avoid confrontation if there’s a better way to solve the problem
  • Solve problems rather than complaining about them
  • Put your family’s safety first
  • Speak the truth with a loving tone (and never with the intent to wound)
  • Push back without pushing buttons
  • Work hard for what you want
  • Take care of your responsibilities
  • Ask for help when you need it (hey, tough women know they can’t do it all on their own)

What things would you add to this list?

How Average is Amazing

Too many times, women blow up their ideal role model into something larger than life. And then feel like total failures when she doesn’t measure up.

Sarah Connor is a fictional character.

You are a real person.

I’d rather be around the real you. Average is nothing to scoff at.

In fact, most of the time the average mother is nothing short of amazing. The average homemaker is a wizard of accomplishment. The average teacher is underpaid but doesn’t give her students any less because of if.

Average can be amazing when we decide to keep moving forward.

How many things on the checklist above describe you? If even five of them do, I’d say you’re pretty amazing.

Let’s face it, none of us want to have to protect our family from a machine-gun toting robot that can’t be destroyed. The models that can reshape themselves into any form and mimic voices? We wouldn’t even know if we met up with those terminators.

What do you think makes someone tough? What do you admire most about Sarah Connor?

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Captain America: Is it all about the Bromance?

Opinion_Cover

Captain America is the ultimate super hero. I’ve said this before. In detail (you can read about it here).

That’s why I was a little offended when some people claimed Cap was dumping on the world in order to save Bucky.

It was bad enough when they claimed Cap didn’t have a real reason for neglecting the treaty. You know, the Sokovia initiative that 117 countries in the UN had agreed would govern future missions of the Avengers.

These naysayers assassinated Captain Rogers’ character because he turned on his “team.” All because protecting Bucky was more important than anything. Cap forfeited his good name and reputation all in the name of bromance.

I disagree. Cap wanted to help Bucky, sure, but it’s all about freedom with Captain Rogers. It always has been. Ever since we met him before World War 2. Back before he was an “enhanced” human.

I blame the storytellers for this misunderstanding – or misrepresentation, depending on if you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. They didn’t do the best job laying down out the cause and effect bread crumbs.

Why did Iron Man, a guy who flouted authority at every turn, suddenly change his mind? Why did the team captain, a known rule-follower, stop following the status quo?

Motives

Iron Man’s change of heart was linked to his encounter with the grieving mother in the basement of MIT.

Thousands of people died in the combined alien attacks the Avengers defended against. Why did this one boy’s story suddenly make Stark rethink his attitude about accountability?

Bring in the end of his relationship with Pepper. He says himself that signing this treaty is his last ditch effort to win her back. Because he can’t stop putting the suit on. And that has nothing to do with saving the world and everything to do with self-redemption. He said as much to the woman at MIT.

He tried to use the boy’s death to motivate the other Avengers to sign the treaty. This was no different than General Ross’ replay of the destruction caused by their former battles.

Cap_IronMan_CivilWar

Even before Iron Man and the General come calling, Cap is watching the news. He was appalled at the destruction in Nigeria (a mistake). However, he realizes the goal and purpose of the team is bigger than that.

Is Cap calloused about the collateral damage? I don’t think so. He understands the principle of commanding soldiers in every offensive. Innocents will die, but you can limit the number of casualties by eliminating the mastermind criminals.

“You can’t bring them back.”

The biggest contributor to Cap’s change of heart toward the “new rules” proposed by the government is Agent Carter’s death. Specifically her words about compromise resonate with Cap. “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, plant yourself like a tree.”

Cap couldn’t compromise on using his abilities to protect the masses. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been following the franchise. In the first Avengers movie, he told Director Fury something similar.

Captain America’s done being used by politicians to further their agendas. He wasn’t sad to see S.H.I.E.L.D. fall. They had too much control and wanted even more. Their presence was infringing on the right to freedom and justice for Joe American.

The irony: in choosing not to sign this UN proposal he falls into the machinations of the evil mastermind central to Captain America: Civil War.

Manipulations

There’s no doubt that Cap was distracted by the thought of helping Bucky. We saw this in the beginning when the virus-stealing terrorist mentioned his name.

That fact is how the vengeance-seeking villain manipulated the situation. He had “studied” the team, and especially Cap, for a year. He knew Bucky was his “weakness.”

And he used that to move the Avengers around the chessboard of his evil plot.

Emmo manipulated the system to force Cap’s hand. Cap had to choose “follow the new law” (which he never agreed to do) or follow his principles. Would he let the authorities gun down an unconvicted man? (Face it. We all knew Bucky had to be innocent since he was in Bucharest while the UN was bombed in Vienna.)

Cap felt it was his duty to bring Bucky in because he would have the best chance of doing so without collateral damage (and isn’t that was the muckety-mucks were supposedly screaming about?). He went to Bucky’s apartment with the intention of taking him to the authorities.

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

Would he have protected a perfect stranger with the same vigor? I would say yes. Because that is who he is. He’s the defender of the weak, protector of freedom and upholder of justice. Even though the filmmakers have tried to paint him in a different light in this movie.

Another reason Emmo chose to frame Bucky was because he needed the information about the other winter soldiers. The fact that he knew Cap would feel compelled to protect him, even if it meant going against the rest of the team, was an additional bonus.

The logic behind Emmo’s knowledge is another shortfall in this film. How did he know about the Starks’ murder ahead of time? The video footage was an essential part of guaranteeing a fight between Tony and Steve.

On my second viewing of the movie, I did catch how Emmo ordered breakfast from Russia. This insured that room service would discover the dead psychiatrist thus alerting the Avengers that everything had been a set up.

But the power-jealous authorities won’t see it that way. And that’s why Captain America had to step outside the law to deal with this villain.

Is my infatuation with Cap blinding me to this bromance-inspired revolt? I don’t think so.

What do you think? Were the motives for Tony and Cap realistic? Do you think Cap would have signed the treaty if Bucky wasn’t in danger?

Captain America: Vigilante or Hero?

On May 6, 2016, the newest Captain America film hit local theaters. People were challenged to choose a side in this Superhero Civil War. Would you be #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan?

If you read my post after I watched the second Captain America movie, you recall that I dubbed Captain America the perfect superhero. I will be quoting that post here.

After Marvel’s movie makers changed the terms of being a hero, do I still believe Cap is a model superhero? Did the signing of some UN treaty suddenly make following his own moral compass illegal?

Being a Hero

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

In my earlier post, I claimed Captain America was a hero because of these three things:

  1. He fights for justice for everyone
  2. He doesn’t use his power for selfish reasons
  3. He won’t compromise his personal integrity for anyone

However, if the governments of 117 countries decide that he doesn’t have the right to do these things, is he bound to follow them because they are suddenly the majority?

That’s what this movie is all about. Once again, it challenges the idea that a person can be loyal to two people who are at odds with each other. What if they are both right? Whose side do you stand on?

At one point, Iron Man asked Black Widow if she could bring the Hulk in on their team. Her reply, “How do you know he’d choose your side?”

Cap didn’t want his friends to be divided, but they chose to stand with him because they’re friends. This meant friends faced off with friends. Isn’t this something that happens in real life? You side with one friend for whatever reason – and it isn’t just because they’re your friend.

What reason would a hero have for standing against his friends? See number one and three above. He believed it was the just thing and his integrity is not for sale to the highest bidder.

Being a Vigilante

Hero or Vigilante?
Hero or Vigilante?

I’m in the middle of watching the third season of The Arrow on Netflix. The police call him the vigilante. Except for one man – a (police)man who has been rescued by him.

So what does it mean to be a vigilante?

Dictionary.com says a vigilante is “any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.” So a person who seeks their own brand of justice. They take an eye for an eye.

Because sometimes the legal system fails. There is no such thing as a perfect government with only fair laws that are always enforced.

Does that give a person the “right” to take things into their own hands?

Instead of giving you my answer, let me offer up examples. Comic book examples: Batman, Spiderman, Superman and many others. More movies have been made on this topic than almost any other.

In a fallen world, I don’t think fallen people should seek their own brand of justice. I ascribe to this principle “avenge not yourselves, but give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

However, notice that this says to avenge not yourselves.

Captain America did not decide to selfishly help one friend while annoying all of his other friends. Cap saw injustice. He had the power to stop it. So he did.

He minimizes the collateral damage of death to innocents in every way he can. Isn’t that what policemen, and military, and others whose “job” it is to protect the rights of all citizens do?

This is the reason he wouldn’t sign the accord. If he did, suddenly he became subject to a governing authority. Because, let’s face it, those with superpowers are above the average law. We can only hope they’re going to fight on the side of right, because who can stop them?

(More on this issue in my next post.)

No longer without Personal Entanglements

One of my author friends told me that Cap would always put friendship first and that wasn’t always in the best interest of the wider scope of world problems.

And yet…I believe Cap chose only to endanger himself when he went after Bucky. He gave Sam the chance to opt out. When they headed to the final battle, it was only Cap and Bucky facing their foe.

I don’t want to give away anything for those who haven’t seen the movie, so you should stop reading now if that is you. SPOILER AHEAD!

Cap_IronMan_CivilWar
Image credit: technobuffalo

Cap admitted to Wanda that his concern for Bucky compromised the team. He took full responsibility for the collateral damage on the mission where this happened.

Further, he stepped beyond his “no romantic attachments” barrier by kissing Sharon Carter. Whether or not that makes her his Lois Lane, I don’t know. She certainly isn’t a helpless wallflower. After all, she’s a CIA agent with obvious skills. With an aunt like the amazing Agent Peggy Carter, she can probably hold her own against the bad guys who might abduct her to get to Cap.

Still, Cap no longer meets my third qualification. I said heroes with love interests were “forced to choose between their love and the wider world.” When Cap was forced into that situation in Civil War, I don’t think it had to do with his personal feelings. As I said in my earlier post: “he will never compromise his principles and favors no individual as more redeemable than another.”

I don’t believe he favored Bucky above Iron Man in the newest film. They were equally his friend.

However, Bucky needed help because he was being used as a pawn by someone with vile intentions. In this case, what looked like favoritism toward a friend was actually Captain Rogers protecting the underdog.

Because that’s what true heroes do.

**Original image for header on this post can be found here. All credit goes to those artists.

What do you think? Is Cap a vigilante now? Or is he still a hero? Can he be both?

Star Wars and My Birthday

A long time ago in this galaxy, Star Wars A New Hope found its way into movie theaters. Lines circled the block in Longview, WA, where I lived with my mother and sister at the time.

I didn’t see it. When its sequel released a few years later, I didn’t watch that either. Yes, I loved Star Trek, but the movie theater wasn’t a place I frequented (cash flow problems).

Enter teenage years and the idea of going on dates. Where does every date want to take you? To the movies. What hormone-riddled teenage boy doesn’t want to corner a girl in a dark place?

It wasn’t like that when I went on a date to Return of the Jedi. He wasn’t that kind of guy.

And I fell in love. With Han Solo and R2D2 and Chewbacca and those cute, cuddly ewoks. So I rented the other movies and watched them. Yes, even whiny Luke Skywalker dazzled me.

My fantasies of moving to Narnia embraced The Force with  all its mysticism. Why not include a few light sabers with my talking horses? Who would ever think up that sort of pairing?

My Parenting

As every good parent does, I indoctrinated my children to love the movies I loved. Sadly, love for the original Star Trek movies never manifested in them.

Star Wars? Oh my, yes. Their adoration reached new heights. To the point that we bought Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, Star Wars Life and the boxed set of episodes one through six.

And many conversations have been held since we learned there would be a new Star Wars movie. The Force Awakens into lively discussions around the Hughson table.

When the release date was announced, we blocked out the date. It would be all about our family renewing our love affair with Han Solo and the wookie. Oh, and those new people, whoever they were.

My Birthday

The filmmakers investigated to discover the day of my birth *snorts* and graciously offered to release the new blockbuster the day before.

However, getting my four adult children together at the same time proved too much for even The Force to accomplish. My oldest had tickets to a premiere through his job. His wife had to work.

My youngest and his fiance were involved in a stage drama with showings that weekend. My husband was offered premiere tickets from two different vendors through his employer.

Our compromise: a 10:30 am viewing on Friday the 18th with my youngest and his girl. This would free them up in plenty of time for their evening commitment.

Was the Force Awakened?

First off, going to the movies before lunch is disorienting. I always come out of a theater expecting the black of night. Going to P.F. Chang’s for lunch on the back side of a film viewing?

Talk about the Twilight Zone.

But going to an event planned by a sales representative guarantees you won’t leave empty-handed. After the movie, they distributed the gift. In this case: a light saber.

If you don’t want to know anything about Episode VII, you should scroll to the bottom now. Go ahead. Leave me a scathing commentary about how wrong it is to hand out spoilers and ruin the movie for everyone.

If you’d rather read a more positive reflection on the movie, one that doesn’t contain story spoilers, visit my friend Jenny’s blog.

Consider yourself warned.

My Personal Reaction

On Facebook, I read a comment about the story reminding them of Episode IV. I agree. It was a remix of that theme within the original trope. With new characters thrown in the mix.

You have the orphan on a desert planet. She salvages parts off of wrecked ships and somehow has become an incredible mechanic and pilot. You won’t find out too much about Rey. Except that “the Force is strong with her.” And she doesn’t know it. Until she does. (Sounding familiar yet?)

There’s a droid hiding plans the bad guys want. The Empire is gone, but from its dregs comes the First Order. Lead by some alien who communicates with his minions via holographic message. There’s a masked Sith and a uniformed General with an epic weapon of planet-eliminating power (major echoing should be happening for you by now.)

Somehow, a Storm Trooper decides the whole idea of genocide doesn’t sit well with his life-long programming. So he’s the one who helps the rebel captive (chimes of deja vu should be gonging) of the dark forces escape the clutches of Kylo Ren.

A smuggler we know and love plays a central role in the plot. A certain princess is a general in the rebellion these days. Somehow, the Millenium Falcon can still out-maneuver tie fighters and avoid blaster cannon fire.

It’s all very familiar.

There is a father-son issue. Someone dies. In fact, there’s blood on the screen in this film, something unheard of in the original two trilogies.

I was entertained. I cried too much. I laughed. I missed C3PO’s ridiculous puns.

It wasn’t a loss. I don’t regret spending four hours inside a theater on a winter’s day.

I liked the new characters. They had spunk and skills and obvious issues driving them forward.

But too many essentials remain unexplained. And if the parentage of our not-a-Jedi who holds the Skywalker light saber in her hand turns out to be as we suspect, I’ll have a hard time buying into it.

It gets one thumb up and a hand wiggle from me. Which doesn’t mean I hated it. I just didn’t LOVE it. Although it was much more Star Wars-esque than anything I’ve seen in three decades. And PLEASE remember. I came late to this party. The first Star Wars movie I saw was Return of the Jedi (which is still my all-time favorite).

Of course, as a Star Wars aficionado, I will add The Force Awakens to my Blu-Ray collection. It will be watched and re-watched. Even the much-maligned Episodes I – III have been viewed multiple times in my household (although rarely from start to finish by me – especially Episode I).

Part of the problem with this film lies with the months of media hype. As a result, my personal expectations ramped to skyrocketing levels. Could any movie really rise that high?

Probably not.

Have you seen it? What is your reaction?

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?

Family Movie Night

familymovienight.marquee

Friday night for years meant two things: pizza and movies. Before our sons had a social calendar rivaling Paris Hilton, we would rent two movies, pick up a pizza and chill out in the family room.

This was back when the movies came from Blockbuster. Conveniently, our movie rental store was located two doors down from the Papa Murphy’s. That’s what I call one-stop shopping.

Fresh popcorn and fresh-baked pizza both stimulate the same response for me. It must be time for a movie.

We would fill our paper plates with slices of gooey pizza and sit in front of the TV. During the intermission between films, popcorn aromatized the house.

Soon basketball games and theater productions honed in on movie night. It didn’t work as well on Saturday night. Never did figure out a concrete explanation for this.

Change is inevitable. Kids are supposed to mature and find interests outside of their family. Encouraging them to invite friends to hang out at our house kept me in the loop longer than many parents.

Once the kids moved out, my husband and I dropped back into this familiar pattern. We tried to make it a “date night” but after a long week of work, that seemed like too much effort. Our dates became Saturday afternoon affairs.

Friday movie night isn’t the same anyway. We vary the type of take-out food (Chinese, pizza, Subway) and the movies come in the mail from Netflix. It isn’t the same. Are two people a “family”?

What sort of family traditions did you miss as you grew older? Can you recommend any new “couple-centric” things to replace movie night?