An anonymous person, commonly quoted as J.W, Eagan, told us you should never judge a book by its movie. They have to be right, don’t they? A terrible movie will probably be based off a great book! Books are beautiful precious things that can tell a story with only your imagination to keep it thriving. The book is always better than the movie! How can a movie, which involves like barely any effort, be the same as a novel? The film is barely ever faithful, removes important characters (Peeves the Poltergeist, and Madge from The Hunger Games are the most important characters ever!!), and adds useless subplots that f*** up the beauty and the imagination. Not to mention the actors never look like who I imagined! Grr!
Or not. Books don’t have anything that immediately make them greater than films or even video games. There’s bad books. I’ve read plenty of them in my time. I can’t stand most straight romances except a bunch of my mum’s ones from the ’80s (Little Sister, The Popularity Plan) and those from my trashy YA stage in early high school (South Beach). I still remember the awful books I read in high school: Bypass by Michael McGirr and Deadly, Unna by Phillip Gwynne, that almost turned me off reading for life. I got through Fifty Shades of Grey and seven chapters of Fifty Shades Darker. Those are not good books. The later, ghostwritten Vampire Diaries books make me weep for the future of fiction. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child…well, let’s not go there. Books, by virtue of being books, aren’t necessarily the greatest things ever. The same for movie aficionados, and video game enthusiasts. There’s good and bad.
Should we be judging a book by its movie? Well, of course not. I think that speaks for itself. They’re completely different mediums, interpreted in different ways. See: The Shining by Stephen King, and The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Shocking revelation: I dislike both of them. In this case, Stephen King really loathes Kubrick’s interpretation of The Shining, as it’s completely different to what he wanted. I can’t be surprised: I don’t think I’ve found a single faithfully adapted Stephen King movie. Both have a completely different vibe, and that’s because it’s by two different people who have different visions for the story. The film of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, has a bit of an indie, hipster vibe about it, which the book doesn’t. Popular opinion says the Azkaban film is the greatest one, better than the book. Others like me, prefer the Christopher Columbus vibe of the first two, and wished there’d been a mixture between Columbus’s interpretation, and the forgettable dude who directed Goblet of Fire.
Adapting from a book to movie can be quite difficult. Making it as faithful to the book as possible is impossible, especially if it’s a long book like Harry Potter with a lot of plot. Except if you’re Stephen Chbosky. Alternatively, the Twilight Saga is like seventy-bajillion pages with little to no plot, and the films still managed to miss crucial plot details. In spite of all this, I thought I should go ahead and tell you some of the greatest film adaptations and some of the shittiest ones. Because we all know there are great books and terrible books, just like there are amazing films and God-awful films:
Fifty Shades of Grey: The only reason the film is better than the book is because you finish it quicker, and you don’t get to hear Anesthesia Steele’s monologue-ing. After watching Jamie Dornan in The Fall, I can picture him as a serial killer in FSOG, so there’s that. Did I say it’s quicker to watch this than read the awful drivelling book?
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Mockingjay: You may be wondering why I didn’t include the first one? That’s because the first book is better than the first movie. However, if you’re going to get through The Hunger Games, you should read the first book, then finish the rest with the remaining three movies. Why? Because they’re just so much better!
Gone Girl: I must be one of the few people on Earth that didn’t enjoy Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I found the characters blathered on too much about themselves, and they were assholes, so I didn’t care about reading about their banal (brief) lives as part of the NYC writing elite. I switched to the film, and…Wow! David Fincher sure knows how to hook you into a film. Amy with those two rednecks! Neil Patrick Harris’s scene! Need I say more?
Fight Club: I did really enjoy Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, but the film just removes all of the excess, and keeps it to its awesome best. Also, it’s directed by David Fincher, and the only movie of his I dislike is Se7en, so he’s got a good track record.
To Kill a Mockingbird: In this case, it’s almost neck-and-neck, but the movie wins out because Gregory Peck plays the role of Atticus Finch just so wonderfully.
American Psycho: Bret Easton Ellis says director Mary Harron didn’t interpret American Psycho as well as he would have, which doesn’t surprise me that he thinks that way. I think Harron did a better job, especially condensing those dull-as-f*ck chapters where Ellis just recites his knowledge of popular 1980’s pop artists. Especially the Paul Allen/Owen scene in the movie. It’s sure hip to be square.
Harry Potter Series: Yeah, you knew it would be here. Other than the first two, the rest of the series is adapted horrendously, and most casual watchers of the films would have no clue as to what’s going on. I’ll still enjoy them, however, because I think I’ve read enough of the Harry Potter books to last ten lifetimes, and it’s probably time to give the movies another chance.
The Running Man: Now, I haven’t watched this movie, but I have no intention of ever watching it. Why? Because I’ve read the basic premise of the film and it looks absolutely atrocious, and completely screws with EVERYTHING in the Stephen King book. Why, Schwarzenegger, why!?
The Crucible: Here’s a book I studied in high school that I enjoyed! They do exist! I watched the movie to help me with my Year 12 practice exams and to see what I may have been missing from the play. Nope, the play is a lot better than the film, and the movie skips a lot of key stuff. It’s been 7 years since I’ve checked out either, so my beliefs may have reversed.
The Midwich Cuckoos/Village of the Damned: John Wyndham is a great writer, albeit with a dull, dry style. Midwich Cuckoos was the first book of his I read, and I loved it. I wasn’t expecting much of the movie. It had bad reviews. I was starting to enjoy it until they made one of the kids “good” and then it all went downhill from there and I started wondering what possessed me to watch the damn movie? Was it the Midwich kids? Did they do it? Who knows?
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATIONS? Alternatively, what do you dislike with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns? I’m off to check out more adaptations (*cough Captain Underpants cough *). Or maybe it’s time to pick up more books and get stuck in that wonderful imaginative dreamscape just a little longer!