Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Sunday Salon - when books are made into movies

The Sunday

Yesterday, my husband and I went to go see the new Percy Jackson movie. My nephew and I had read the books and loved them, and I wanted to see if the movie did them justice. Man, I don't think I've ever seen a movie twisted that much from the original source (well, I probably have, just none recent enough that I remember). The characters are much older then they're supposed to be, they changed Grover from white to black (and his personality as well), Annabeth falls flat and has none of the intelligence she's known for, they sexed it up waaaay more than the books ever did, and they made Persephone into a goth whore. Not to mention the missing major plot points (no Oracle, no Ares, no Clarisse), the lack of characterization in general, and the transitions between scenes were sloppy and abrupt. Plus, the gods were supposed to be wacky and intimidating at the same time-what happened to Poseidon wearing his Hawaiian shirts instead of that chain mail tunic thing he had in the movie? The film lost some of its charm trying to be too serious. So, my verdict for Percy Jackson? Read the book, the movie is two hours of your life you will never get back.

I learned rather early on in my life that the book is always better than the movie, except in a few rare occurrences. I know that there are some inevitable changes that have to be made when you turn a book into a movie-you have less time and thus have to cut some things out, you might have to changes things that were controversial in the book etc. I make it a point to read the book version when I watch a movie based on it, and I can safely say I have seen a lot of movies that are faithful to the books they're based on. Just going through the kids and teens books I've read there are several excellent movie adaptations: Inkheart, The City of Ember, Coraline, The Golden Compass, The Thief Lord, Speak, The Witches, and the Harry Potter films, just to name a few. When you have a series of books that are best-sellers, it's inevitable that they'll be made into movies, but there's no reason to change the spirt of those books to do so.

Which leaves me to a question: what are some of the best and worst movies-based-on-books that you've seen?

1 comment:

  1. The first movie that pops in my head is The Kite Runner, where I watched that movie and thought it was so exactly like the book that you might as well just read the book, because then you're not stuck with somebody else's interpretation of the descriptions, you know?

    For another example, I actually thought that "The Spiderwick Chronicles" did a pretty great job at translating the books into a film. It's been a while since I've seen it, but I think I remember thinking at the time that they were able to keep everything in the movie that was needed and they didn't need to change anything from the books to make it a good solid, movie.