May 30, 2016

Why do Book-to-Movie adaptations suck?

It all depends on the movie directors. That’s it, end of article.

Really, it’s as simple as that. Don’t believe me?

Well, I’m not here to tell you to trust me, but I will say this – name one movie adaptation that was done absolutely and entirely perfect. I mean perfect, flawless, no issues with it whatsoever.

Even if you could name one, there will be 10 people out there pointing out things that you overlooked. So if the answer is this simple, why write this article?

Well, naturally… I’m here to tell you that movie adaptations cannot be perfect. There is no such thing. Good? Yes, maybe, to some… but not flawless, and definitely not without moments that suck.

Okay, okay, so maybe that’s a bit too harsh… not ALL of them are terrible. I’m just playing with some points of view and I invite you to join me. 🙂

A different medium

How long does it take you to read a book? For me, it’s usually several days. Definitely not as little as it takes to see a movie.

All that information, all those details, the lines and the little characters – you have time to get to know them, to care for them, to invest emotionally. It is very, very difficult to do that in under two hours in a movie. To me, such movies feel very rushed, like someone is trying to tell you a story but has little time to do so because there’a s monsoon coming. 🙂

book to movie04

Yeah, sure, you can fall in love with characters portrayed on the silver screen, but the connection isn’t nearly as strong as the one you create when reading the original source.

People say “books are better” – I don’t really agree with that. I’ve read books that were terrible while the movies were fantastic. It all comes down to the personal experience each of us has with said books, the reading-and-imagining experience.

Take Garfield for example. The comics are brilliant, the movie was absolutely ghastly. Not one single funny thing, not a smirk, not a laughter, the audience was dead. Why? Because the audience was used to the quick, quirky jokes and got one and a half hours of… quick, qurky jokes…? Wait, hang on… so what went wrong?

Was it the voice actors? Was it the jokes themselves?

Well, if you think about it, reaaaally think about it, some of the jokes that flopped in the movie would’ve been OK in the comics. So then, what gives? Again, different mediums, different interpretations.

The timing itself takes on whole new rules when you go from paper to screen, and there are no conversion rates for this thing. It’s all about the director’s skill of transforming something into something else it was never meant to be.

A different person

When you read a book or a comic book, you unwillingly portray and project your own voices, traits, moments into the creation. You do this, millions of other people do this as well, and the movie director that is tasked with bringing the movie adaptation to life has his own way of seeing things.

It is impossible to satisfy everyone. Absolutely impossible. I’ve heard people complain about so many little details, you wouldn’t believe.

“Hermione from Harry Potter doesn’t have her front teeth big enough!”

“Wolverine’s costume colors are not accurate!”

“In the book, this character looked sad but in the movie they made him look angry in that scene!”

book to movie01

Heh, speaking of X-Men, I remember reading about the directors talking about X-Men 3. The director of the first two movies told the guy who was going to direct the third installment: “Whatever you do, do NOT read the forums! Don’t go looking for what fans liked or disliked!”

I’ve always saw that as a stupid thing. If you are doing something, get your research done properly and make something that will at least appeal to MOST of the fans. No, instead the director chose to close his eyes and do “his own story” or “his own version”.

Someone made an adaptation based on “Silent Hill 2” – a fan film, nothing too fancy. People kept asking him if certain characters will appear in the story and he replied, nonchalantly: “This is MY version, I won’t do any fanservice.”

The idea of “MY version” is really hitting a wrong chord with me. I love bringing tributes to the things that I love, but grabbing it and calling it “mine” is just weird. It’s like you would cast aside the entire fanbase and tell them “I don’t care what you like”.

So, does it boil down to the directors?

Yyyyes and no. You can get the biggest fanboy a fanbase can have, make him a director and the movie adaptation would still suck – you just cannot convert personal experiences into general experiences accurately. It is possible to do so, but it will never be flawless.

Should that be a bad thing? Nope. I enjoy fanfilms, I cherish many adaptations like LOTR or Harry Potter… and at the same time I heavily cringe when I hear about… stuff like… The Last Airbender. *shudders*

book to movie02

This is one subject where “Practice makes perfect” will never apply. Somehow, it is to be expected. Yet, fear not, for at one point surely we’ll see a rise in “Extended Editions” of movies which will end up like “Shogun” (6 hrs long) only so they can appeal to more fans and be more accurate compared to the books.

Some fans will stick to the short-version and be ok with it. Others will go with the long-version and be satisfied. And this is perfectly good, for as good as it gets.

After all, if you think about it… book-to-movie adaptations are basically fanfilms. 😀


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