Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest Blog: Going to the Movies

Our esteemed guest blogger and Do the Right Thing for Nashville winner, Melissa Hill, has another awesome post for us.

I used to think movie adaptations ruined the book. In fact, if there was a book I really enjoyed, I avoided the movie because I was sure I would hate it. That changed about six years ago. I was flipping through the channels and came across this movie about a boy who found out he was a wizard. It was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (maybe you’ve heard of it???).

Anyway, I was so impressed with the movie; it inspired me to buy the book. Not only the first book, but all five that were out at the time. Every time another Harry Potter movie comes out, it inspires me to go back and read the book.

When the movie version is done well, it can enhance the experience of the book bringing to life the characters we love. How perfect is Alan Rickman as Severus Snape? Our imaginations can only go so far with setting and scenery. But on the screen, it is taken to another level. The eye of Sauron was truly frightening. And it is nice to have someone pronounce all of the crazy names that Tolkien wrote (which I no doubt butchered while reading The Lord of the Rings).

I think the key to being done well, is remaining true to the story. Don’t cut key scenes or change the ending. This is why The Firm didn’t work for me. The most exciting part of the book was left out and then ending changed. Don’t alter dialog too much. Writers spend time getting the dialog right. Why change it? When key scenes or dialog are not used, it makes the movie feel like a cheap, knock-off of the real thing. Sorry to all of you Twilight fans, but that is how the movie felt to me (New Moon was much better). Bella finds out the truth about Edward by reading a book instead of Jacob telling her the story. And the whole scene where Edward is essentially screaming at Bella to call him a vampire didn’t work for me. I enjoyed the car ride scene in the book much better.

One of the best film adaptations I have seen is the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth). It is long (300 minutes), but totally worth every minute.

You guys tell me—best/worst movie adaptations?


Tami said...

The Green Mile was the BEST movie adaptation I've seen. I say that because I love both the book and the movie equally, as if they were two different entities.

The "most improved" movie adaptation goes to another Stephen King, imo. The Shawshank Redemption. What an incredble, amazing movie - and after reading the somewhat lackluster short story it was based on, I was even more impressed.

I think movie adaptations have a harder time making it than a straight up movie. The process of translating a book to the screen is a lot more difficult than fans realize - but if it's not entertaining, why should it matter if it was difficult or not?

Debra D. said...

Well, I am really, REALLY hoping that the Hunger Games turns out to be one of the best adaptations ever. What could easily mess it up? Poor casting. Like, if they were to cast KStew as Katniss, I would lock myself in my room and cry for a week. So I think casting also plays a huge part in the success of a book adaptation. (and yes--Alan Rickman as Snape = GENIUS!) :D

I've liked each successive HP movie a bit more, so def. agree they do the books justice!

J.S. Wood said...

"The Lightning Thief" as one of the worst movie adaptations. I could go on and on listing bad movie adaptations for children's books.

I agree with Deb - casting is a really big part of success. I can't think of Colin Firth without thinking of Mr. Darcy *swoon*

Hmath said...

I have to agree with you on P&P, also, Stardust was a good adaptation.

Hmath said...

Also, I put Eragon up there in the worst adaptation category.

Horserider said...

Debra -- *has been knocked speechless by the idea that KStew could play Katniss* Please tell me you pulled that out of the air and it's not a real rumor. PLEASE. I'm still trying to get over Miley playing Janie for the Wake movie.

Worst book to movie adaptation ever is Eragon. I have NEVER seen the movie because I saw the trailers and then my mom watched it and told me about it. And I never will.

I only have two movies that I like better than the books: Golden Compass (I also saw the movie about a year before I read the book so the details are a little fuzzy) and Prince Caspian.

Half-Blood Prince came close to making the list, but not quite. When I saw Order of the Phoenix for the first time, I didn't really like it. Some of the Harry Potter movies are better than others.

Debra D. said...

Lol..I totally pulled the KStew thing out of my tush. I really, really doubt directors would use an actress from one huge YA series in a different one. Right? RIGHT?


J.S. Wood said...

Horserider: I'm totally sickened by the casting of Janie too, I mean, seriously? Ugh, gag me with a spoon.

Elizabeth Briggs said...

The Lord of the Rings movies are one of the only adaptations I like better than the books.

I just watched Percy Jackson and it took out ALL the great things about the book and replaced them with cliches. That was sad... I'd put it up there in worst adaptations.

Krista Ashe said...

Oh, I loved the Green Mile! I saw the movie and then read the book later. I was also amazed at how true to the book it is.

I'm usually late to the "book craze" like in the cases of Harry Potter and Twilight, so those characters who have been picked are the ones I see in my mind.

Great post! Thanks Melissa!

Krista Ashe said...

I liked the Percy Jackson movie as a stand alone....but yes, a terrible adaptation b/c it is nothing like the book. I think they wanted to up Percy's age to capitalize on the Harry Potter/Twilight market.

OMG, if KStew blinks and stutters her way into the arena, I will be most pissed! Or Miley Cyrus for that matter.

I think it would be good if they went with virtual unknowns for all the major characters. I mean, most of HP and Twilight were that way.