Books to Screen – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Books to Screen – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Never judge a book by its movie. Today I want to talk about books going to the big (or little) screen. I’m actually going to be starting a new feature that is probably entirely unoriginal, but that’s okay. Basically I’ll be comparing a book to it’s movie (or tv show) and my thoughts on both and how the movie/tv show lived up (or not) to its book. The very first post for that feature will be going up on Thursday, so I thought this would be a good way to kick that off.

Whenever I hear that a book I’ve read will be hitting theaters or be made into a tv show, my initial reaction is a bout of squealing. I get super excited because I get to see that book come to life!

I mean, sure if it’s a great book it sort of does come to life in your imagination. But even so, it’s a nice thought to see your imagination come to life.

But that’s not always the case, is it?

Movies and TV shows based on books can sometimes be extremely disappointing. The entire story can be switched around and jumbled about, there might not be enough character and relationship building, or perhaps the characters don’t look anything like you pictured!

This has happened time and time again, yet usually we are all still excited to see if the next book-to movie will be the next Harry Potter.

Of course, it all depends on budget, who’s writing the screen play, and I think also it depends a lot on how involved the author is allowed to be. Most times authors have about as much say in how the movie turns out as we do (a.k.a. none). Which is a bit disappointing. Of course, the movies aren’t being made just for us book fans. They’re being made for people who haven’t read the books as well. But I think we all sort of wish that the big movie-making people would one day understand that the books are popular because of the way the story was told already. So why mess with a good thing?

Unfortunately that’s not something any of us can really change, so let’s talk about some of the goodies and the badies.

Let’s just get this out of the way though. I haven’t read all the Harry Potter books. *collective gasp* I know. I know I need to. I’ve only read the first one and honestly I didn’t love it like everyone else did. I truly blame it on the fact that I’ve already seen all the movies and I tend to draw visuals based on the movies as opposed to creating my own — so it’s not as fun. But obviously there’s nothing I can do about that. I do plan on finishing the series, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings Book to MovieNow that that’s out of the way, I think it’s pretty fair to say that the top movies that lived up to (or perhaps even surpassed) the books were the Harry Potter movies and the Lord of the Rings movies. I think most will agree that those two adaptions did their books the most justice. Of course, there’s probably a few obscure movies from books out there that I’m missing. But those two are by far the most popular and definitely all-around crowd-pleasers.

But what it is about these two sagas that got it right?

I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. I think the primary thing you’ll notice is that they both did not skimp on budget or movie length. They let the books come to life and however long they ended up being was how long they were. Obviously budget is something that cannot always happen. But movie length perhaps is.

I think filmmakers honestly underestimate the time in which a person is willing to sit down and watch a movie — especially if it’s a good one. Yes, an intermission would be nice (or perhaps a two-parter), but a long movie is probably the closest thing you can get to diving into a book. Details aren’t skimped on that draw us into the story and the characters — and this alone can make a world of difference.

So I think if perhaps every movie that made it to the big screen had a pretty healthy budget and if the length of the movie wasn’t worried about so much, then maybe more books to movies would turn out phenomenal.

As far as books to tv goes. I can’t say too much because, although I do intend to jump on the True Blood, Game of Thrones, and Vampire Diaries bandwagons, I haven’t yet. So I don’t really know how they live up. I have heard from many people that the True Blood tv show is in some ways better than the Sookie books. I’ve only read the first Sookie book, but didn’t love it. I do plan on trying more of the books, but I definitely intend on watching the tv show for sure — I just haven’t yet. But for those out there are are books-to-tv buffs, please feel free to put your input in. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Now let’s talk about the ugly for a little bit.

I’m not going to get too much into this because this post isn’t here to offend. But the most prominent book-to-movie in my mind that was incredibly disappointing is I’m sure one that a lot of you agree with. One that involves a certain sparkly vampire.

But I’ll say no more on that matter. Let’s talk more about the why of a book-to-movie not turning out so hot.

I think a lot of factors can play a role in this one. It’s hard to say what the biggest factor is. But the first thing I will say is that even if the actor/actress looks the part, that doesn’t mean they can play the part. Bad acting can take any movie and stomp it into the ground. Although I love it when they get people to play the roles that I think look pretty close to how I picture them in the book, I think it’s more important to get people who can do the part justice. Hair can be died, contacts can be put in. If they look even remotely the right age of the character, then everything else can be modified to a certain degree. But for heaven’s sake, get people who can actually act first and foremost.

Secondly, I think how the screenplay is written is another big factor. If the author is allowed to put their input into the screenplay, then all the better. But either way, if the screenplay writer doesn’t stay true to the book but adds things, subtracts things, and changes things, then eventually the original story starts to get lost. Take this certain sparkly vampire movie for example. The relationship between the main characters in the movie was non-existent and when “you are everything to me” is said after what seemed like two days, it leaves a lot of “huh” expressions on people’s faces. For those of us who read the book and know how many other things (off screen) happened before that statement, it makes a hell of a lot more sense.

So there’s my two cents on the matter. Books-to-screen can go either way and really there’s really no telling until we see the movie/tv show for ourselves. There’s a certain movie about particular set of deadly games that I can tell you I am definitely looking forward to coming out in March. Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint, but of course, it very well could.

But what are your thoughts? What movies or tv shows do you think have done their book(s) the most justice? Which ones have been the worst for you?

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