So, so many books have been made into movies lately that it’s hard to keep up. I’ve begun to wonder if Hollywood is beginning to run out of ideas for original scripts. Mostly these books are YA fiction, but many are other genres being made into movies as well. Sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s a book before being made into a movie, especially if it’s not on the bestseller list or if it’s kind of an obscure title. I follow many blogs, Twitter accounts and other sources for this information, so usually I’m in the know, but sometimes they slip through! “Shelley, in your infinite wisdom, what did you think of this book becoming a movie?” They always say ‘infinite wisdom’, it’s SO embarrassing, but who am I to correct them?? 😉 Anyhow, there are a great many directors who have found the perfect balance of book and film and that will be a list for another day. Unfortunately, there are a great many more who have absolutely demolished the book with their films in a way that it left a bad taste in my mouth. In order to wash this taste out, I have compiled my first list below, let me know what you think!
«««Lest ye read on, spoilers of both books and movies lie ahead! It’s worth it though»»»
- The Shining (1980)
Now I need everyone to just calm down. I hear you yelling at me through the computer screen and I understand! I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, nor am I saying Stanley Kubrick was a poor director. The movie was sufficiently frightening (that room 217 scene anybody? Those uber creeptastic twins?!),
and the acting by Duvall and Nicholson was excellent in my opinion. However, Kubrick had zero respect for Stephen King nor his book, which if you read it is much, much more frightening and shows Jack Torrance’s slow descent into madness and alcoholism as well as the breakdown of his and Wendy’s marriage.
The book and King’s genius, suspenseful writing also goes deeper into Danny’s telekinetic powers which Kubrick shows in the movie, but it is not explained well nor is it necessarily a key feature of the film, but rather kind of like a side note when it should be woven into the tale as it is in the book. Danny’s telekinesis explains why he is more susceptible to all the happenings in the hotel. As mentioned earlier, the book shows Jack’s descent into madness and the movie really starts with them at the hotel, when the book begins with Jack losing his job as a teacher due to alcoholism and anger issues. I understand Kubrick’s starting at the hotel, but the book really shows the relationship and marriage of Jack and Wendy in good times and bad and how he came to take the job at the hotel. King uses alcoholism as an allegory in many of his books and this book is probably one of the best comparisons I have seen.
One of the biggest differences, and I think the worst, is the ending. In the end of the book, Jack dies in a massive explosion of the hotel by ignoring the pressure in a boiler (Danny and Wendy get out, don’t worry). In Kubrick’s film, Jack takes to a hedge maze to chase his son and eventually freezes to death with an either horrific or laughable look on his face. It depends on what you think of the film. Many horror aficionados think this is one of the best scenes EVER. It is scary. As a teen, seeing this film for the first time and thinking of one’s father chasing them to kill them, it’s terrifying. As an adult and having read the book, the look on his face is ridiculous. This isn’t what it’s supposed to be! He’s supposed to be in bits! Exploded! Not frozen with a really dumb look on his face! Come on Kubrick! I liked ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Better. If you look at the novel and the movie as two separate entities and not related to each other at all, they’re good pieces of work. Together, not at all. Okay, whew! This was a long one. Moving on.
- Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
Not only does this movie have THE longest title ever, but it’s one of the WORST book to movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. Apparently I’m not the only one because the backlash from this one was pretty harsh. Chris Columbus was the director of this one and I’m surprised at how poorly it was executed. Now, for those of you non-readers out there who are reading this for some reason (probably because I begged you to follow my blog?) (Probably because you love movies and just are dying to know!) There are five books in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. Five. Not one mega long book that isn’t cohesive at all. FIVE. I usually love Chris Columbus movies. He’s a great director! Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Home Alone, Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, HOME ALONE! But some bad juju happened here, and I still want my time and money back. In the year 2008 I had read all five books and had Percy Jackson fever. I was basically a 12 year old kid. When, two years later, I found out the movie was being released, I freaked out! Percy was going to be on the silver screen? I was going to get to see him use Riptide? Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan were in it? Bonus! Right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.
I don’t know what happened here. First of all, the casting. Logan Lerman is a decent actor for Percy, good move. They changed the race of Grover, cool and I totally get it, but make him younger. He’s supposed to be a twelve year old kid, not a 27 year old man. It’s weird and super creepy. Then we have Annabeth. Oh, Annabeth. The actress that plays her is gorgeous, and I have nothing against her, but she is wrong, wrong, and wrong for this role. The book talks about her blond hair and grey eyes all throughout the book, so they make the actress brunette with bright blue eyes. Naturally. In the book, Percy can’t have any personal electronic devices (every kid’s nightmare) because they attract mythical monsters, and in the movie he has an iPod, because he’s gots to have his beats. In the book, Ares is a humongoid main character. In the movie he basically comes in and says hi. Annabeth’s family is also a very large part of the book and zip about it in the flick.
“Okay Shelley, but they cut out that stuff due to time. Duh.” Nay, nay, you naysayers. They added in all this extra crap, like a battle with Luke that doesn’t come until way later in the series, and a whole conflict with Hades that makes no sense. He also puts on Hermes’ shoes and then there’s the Hydra scene which is also not until later in the series. Basically, it was like they weren’t certain there would be a second movie, so they made an incredibly long name, crammed as much of the series and as many gods and goddesses as they could in, and hoped for the best. It wasn’t the best.
- The Twilight Series (2008)
Yes, I read the books. All four of them in a week. It was a dark time in my life and I’ve come out the other side. I am not ashamed. First of all, let me address how creepy I know Edward is. Any boyfriend, vampire or no, who watches their girlfriend sleep from the window, is not romantic. It’s stalkerish and very, very wrong. Guys, don’t take dating advice from this book. Just do not. Women will file a restraining order against you.
Now, back to the task at hand, the movies that spawned from this series of books. The year was 2009, Twilight hype was at its peak and I was under its spell. I had just read all of them as mentioned earlier in one week and was STOKED to learn that one movie was already out and the second was on its way soon. I was ready to see Edward sparkle!
I need to interject here and say I was 24 at the time…I feel that has bearing on my skewed judgement. Carrying on.
The first issue I take with the movies is the acting. It was atrocious. I’m not saying that all of the actors were terrible, they weren’t. There were some good actors in the movies, but the main actors-Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart-seemed incredibly stiff and awkward. Their acting and chemistry gets better throughout the series, but it’s just weird. Another issue I take with the movies is how nonchalant everyone is about Bella hanging out and getting so serious with these super pale, super hermit-like people who don’t seem to age. In the books Bella’s father Charlie, who is a Sheriff by the way, is at least like, “Hey! You’re getting pretty serious with this odd dude! I think it’s a little weird. Also, He needs some color, looks a little sickly.” In the movies he’s like that at the beginning a bit, but then he’s like, “Getting married RIGHT after you graduate? Sure! Why not? You go off the grid for like 2-3 months afterward and I don’t hear from you and you come back with a creepy toddler kid with a full set of teeth you just gave birth to? Cool, I’m a grandpa!” WHAT?! But, I am getting ahead of myself. Bottom line is, Charlie is way, way too chill about this whole thing. Way to chill. My dad would have cut it off as soon as he saw the dude. Then he probably would have arrested him/staked him through the heart as soon as he saw his VERY VISIBLE FANGS. Charlie is such a chill dude that when he sees his lifelong friend’s son turn into a bloody WEREWOLF in front of him he freaks out a little bit, but then he sleeps on it and is like, “well, my daughter is dating a vampire, I guess this is the world I live in now. No bigs.”
Which brings me to issue number three I have with the movie AND the book. They had a creepy kid that turned into a toddler child within like 2-3 months! At the time, I was under what I will now refer to as the “Sparkly Twilight Fog”. Whilst wandering around in this fog I explained away this really super creepy human-vampire hybrid child and found Bella’s blood shake only slightly disturbing. Today though, I look at this and think, “Stephanie Meyer, what exactly were you ON when writing these novels?”
The last issue I’m going to discuss on here, because I have way too many to name, is the bizarre battle at the end of the last movie. There is a gigantic war between the vampires/werewolves and the Volturi (basically the Italian mob bosses of the vampire world that keeps all the vampires of the world hush hush to keep everyone happy-because nobody notices how incredibly freaking PALE they all are). This battle shows a TON of main characters dying, Cullens, Werewolves, Volturi-it’s as if George R. R. Martin wrote this scene. When watching this movie I was like, “Hold the phone, this does not happen in the book. I understand small changes to a plotline, but things just got REAL!” but then, it was just a vision from Alice! It was so unnecessary and weird. So Hollywood.
All in all I call this one a draw. The books are not poorly written, but they are about a vampire falling in love with a teenager. This is strange. Then a werewolf enters the scene and she has to choose. Why I was swept up in this, I still don’t know. The whole country-nay the whole WORLD was swept up in it. I was in a fog. The movies though? Those are just plain terrible. Save yourselves, save your teens, save your money and time. Just don’t.
- Bag of Bones (2011)
Here I present to you another Stephen King book (excellently written and exceptionally terrifying) that was turned into not just a movie, but a two-part miniseries on A&E. This was another fluke where I had just read the book and the miniseries was coming out later that year. Now, I was raised in a Christian household, but its little things like this that just let me know God loves me and has my back. I digress. My friend, Anna and I, absolutely love ghost stories (I know I sound like I’m nine) and we both have a huge appreciation for Mr. King and his novels. When she told me this was one of the scariest books she ever read, I told her to give it to me immediately. She was right! I slept with the lamp on for a week. No shame.
I set my DVR and was ready to see this incredibly freaky tale performed on TV. I was admittedly disappointed that it was 1. A miniseries and not a movie, and 2. On TV and not the huge, big-budget blockbuster it should have been. I settled in and pushed play…and was immediately let down. First of all, Pierce Brosnan was cast as Mike, the main character. Usually anything involving Pierce is a good thing. He’s a great actor, a former James Bond, and has a lovely British accent that I could listen to all day, but that does not make him right for this part. For starters, he is British. Mike Noonan is not British, but from Maine, and is about 10-15 years younger than Pierce. Casting is very important and this is something that they really could have gotten right, but for reasons unknown they chose to make him older? Why? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Another issue I take with the miniseries is how Mike’s wife dies. It’s not as sensational nor as devastating for Mike. I’m not saying her death isn’t as devastating, but how she dies isn’t. I’m not going to tell you how she dies because I want you all to go out immediately and buy this book at this moment! It’s SO GOOD! It’s worth being terrified for a week or two. No big deal, just don’t watch the miniseries. This brings me to my next point, how long Mike takes to move to their summer house after Jo’s death. In the novel, Mike doesn’t move for about 4 years, suffering through deep depression and a strong case of writer’s block. In the movie this is compressed to about, you know, two weeks. That’s a big difference if you ask me!
One of the scariest parts of the book was when Mike was having dreams. His dreams were scary because I know what these are like. I have lost very close loved ones and dream of them often. Thankfully they usually put me at ease and are very calming. I have, however had nightmares and those are the worst. King is a master at making his readers feel uncomfortable, frightened, and like someone is standing right behind you. These scenes of Mike’s dreams in the book do that. The scenes in the miniseries didn’t. They were lacking and felt like something I would have watched on “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” back in the 90’s. Although, some of those genuinely freaked me out.
There is a really symbolic curse in the novel put on the summer house by a woman by the name of Sara Tidwell. She did this because of something that was done to her way back at the turn of the 20th century and Mike is set to right the wrongs and resolve this. His daughter, Kyra, is in danger due to this and there is a Ghost House (yes-GHOST HOUSE!) involved. It’s creeptastic. Yet, in the miniseries the Ghost House is non-existent and Sara Tidwell and her curse don’t show up until around the 1940’s. There is no need for this change and it’s really unnecessary.
Finally, in the book, there is a massive final battle with a spirit that is so epic. It has you on the edge of your seat and you can’t put the book down because you just want to know what happens. Mike’s late wife, Jo, comes back in spirit to help him out and he is running to find bodies and there is SO much happening! In the miniseries it’s kind of…anticlimactic. Jo comes to help, but kind of like shouts at the spirit a bit and she’s like “okay I’ll go away, bye now!” Ugh. That’s how I felt. Ugh. I was less than impressed.
Thanks for sticking with me through this first post about books vs. movies! I hope you gleaned some knowledge from this or at least had a few laughs. More to come soon!