Friday, February 26, 2010

Movie ≠ Book

Last night I saw “The Lightning Thief”. Let me start by saying that I love Percy Jackson. I read all five books about a year ago and have been talking them up ever since. I was thrilled when I heard about the movie, because I’m enough of a realist to know movies always increase book sales. And seriously, people need to read these books.

But the movie wasn’t very good. I understand that books always need to be abridged to fit into a two hour movie. But they cut out the villian. Seriously. The movie version of “The Lightning Thief” is the equivalent of making a Harry Potter movie and cutting out Voldimort. For just this one movie, all that did was lower the stakes and make the ending seem really dirivitive (so no big deal). But it also set it up to be almost impossible to make a movie of the second book in the series. Every single part of the over arching storyline was cut. So I can’t recomend that anyone see “The Lightning Thief” but I do recomend reading the books. Cause Percy Jackson is a very cool kid.

This made me think about other movie adaptations of books. There is sort of a universial truth that the book is always better than the movie. So why is it that so many people think they can watch a move and get away with not having to read the book? The Harry Potter movies do a pretty good job of tracking to the actual story. That’s because J.K. Rowling is enough of a superstar to have veto power, and she forced her screen writers to stay true to her vission. But even those movies are more of a clift notes verssion that really wouldn’t make much sence to someone who hadn’t previously read the books.

I have a writer friend, who sold the movie writes to his book eight years ago. Several different Holywood screenwriters have attempted to adapt this novel into a movie, and the rights have been re-optioned several times. But his book is both funny and action packed. And nobody has been able to figure out how to cut a 100k word novel into a 2.5 hour movie without cutting the action, the suspence, and/or the comedy. The result is that his producer finally hired him to write the screenplay.

I don’t think very many authors are given the oppertunity to write their own screenplays. And I know that this author is still struggling to figure out how to properly abridge his story. I expect when he’s done, the movie still wont be as good as the book. Because the universal truth is a truth. The movie is never as good as the book.

So don’t be a cop-out. A paper back is cheeper than a movie ticket, and will entertain you for 10 hours instead of two. So put down your remote, and go read a book. I recommend the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It has a really great villian that you wont find in the movie. Plus Percy is dyslexic and that’s cool too.

Joke of the Day
Why are builders afraid to have a floor 13, but publishers aren’t afraid to have a chapter 11?

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