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Why I Don't (Normally) Watch Book->Movie Adaptations

March 3, 2018

I’m not always a huge fan of movies based off of books.


Correction: I’m almost never a fan of movies based off of books.


When you read a book, you get to make up your own versions of the characters based on descriptions given in the book. You know that your character is short, with black hair, tattoos, and lots of piercings (why yes, I am using Lisbeth from the Millennium series), and then you get to fill in the blanks with your imagination. And then you go to the movies and the main character looks nothing like you thought they would, even though they fit all of the physical guidelines laid out. Or, even worse, you go to watch the movie and realize that the producers decided to make the character tall, blonde, and with no piercings or tattoos. Now not only do they not look like you thought they would, they don’t even look like the character described in the book!


Movies also have to cut out a lot for the sake of time. Unfortunately, this normally means that my favorite scenes or characters get cut, so that they can have a 2 hour run time instead of 20. It’s hard for me to watch a movie knowing that the role of so-and-so has been cut, and all of their dialogue and action that was in the book parceled off to some other character. Equally as depressing, but much more confusing, is when a random character gets added to the movie because they need a love interest, or a way to fill a plot hole, or some other weird explanation. It’s hard to reconcile their presence with what I know of the book.


Most importantly, however, is that the saying “the book was better” exists for a reason. Whenever I think of book to movie adaptations, I always think of what one of my friends told me about The Fifth Wave movie adaptation: it took all the parts of the book that were good and left them out. Who wouldn’t want to read a movie with a rave review like that, right? A lot of times when I’ve watched the movie versions, or even read the books after watching the movie versions (in the case of The Help), I’ve felt disappointed and let down, and it negatively impacts how I see the book. It will forever be “that great book with the awful movie.” Much like an awful sequel can ruin a wonderful first installment, and awful movie can ruin a wonderful book. I can’t remember a single movie that I liked better than the book version, and most of the movie versions I remember I no longer like the books attached to them.


However… sometimes I watch movies without knowing that they are attached to books, or without having read the book, and that greatly improves my view of them. When there is nothing for me to compare the movie to, I can enjoy it without trying to pick it apart and analyze all of its flaws. I watch a lot of superhero movies based on comic books… I haven’t read any comic books since I was very young, but I do love those movies. 


If anybody knows of any *good* movie adaptations of books, let me know in the (hopefully operational) comments box! Apparently Facebook comments tried to join the party this morning? So I’m hoping that issue is fixed and that it’s no longer overlapping with the other comments.

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