Thoughts on films adapted from books

I am SUCH a bad blogger! Just as I’d promised to try to post something at least once a week I go and leave it 28 days without a post! ARghhhhh! I’m useless.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about books that get made into films. There is no way I can cram all my thoughts on this into one reasonably-sized post, so I’m going to be as concise as possible, and mostly talk about all the YA books being made into films at the moment. Wish me luck!

I’ve found a pattern emerging with books I’ve been reading, specifically those branded by annoying marketing peeps as “Young Adult”. Either I see a trailer/hear about a new film being adapted from a book I keep meaning to read, or I read a book and then find out they’re adapting it for the big screen. It seems today that every YA novel ever written is being picked up by a studio and made into a film. It’s not hard to see why: look at the success of Harry Potter and the Twilight films. Last year The Hunger Games was the first instalment in what is sure to be another mega-money-making franchise and this year we have Beautiful Creatures, Warm Bodies, The Host and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and more to look forward to. There’s also Divergent (Veronica Roth) set for 2014, in which Kate Winslet has just been confirmed to star.

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That’s not all. The list of YA books which have supposedly been picked up by various different film studios over the last few years is enormous, and although not all of them will make it to the big screen, I’m sure some of them will. Here’s a few of them (some are in early development stages whilst some are still only rumoured):

  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (not YA but still about vampires and witches!)
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I have several thoughts on this growing trend. Firstly, is it good that so many YA books are being made into films? On one side it’s good because it means that these books are being read by a wider audience who might have otherwise steered clear of books labelled as Young Adult for whatever reason (embarrassment, snobbery, etc). And indeed, a lot of people I know have read The Hunger Games since it was made into a film. Also, there are so many great YA books around at the moment – the genre is bursting with life and imagination – and it’s great to see that this is being acknowledged.

books!

Next for the big screen?

However, I can’t help but feel cynical about it all and just see it as a lazy way for film studios to make easy money with a tried and tested formula. My main problem with this is a fear that the films won’t respect the books and will all be turned into the same formulaic entity with standard love triangles, baby-faced actors, same-y action sequences, poor casting and even poorer scripts. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with Peeta’s casting in The Hunger Games, as I didn’t think he fit the description in the book (I somehow picture him as bigger and stronger – he’s meant to be really strong!). I’m also dubious about Jamie Campbell Bower playing Jace in The Mortal Instruments, as I pictured Jace as being somewhat broader and sexier (*cringes at how much I sound like a teenager*), I just didn’t picture him weedy, pale and a bit odd – sorry JCB, I’m sure you’ll be great in other roles but I’m not convinced about this one yet!

Does this make me sound fussy and looks-obsessed? Hmmmm. But it does lead me on to another thought about books being made into films. Does it ruin the magic? It’s been said before but I’ll say it again… Great books allow your imagination to run free, they let you picture the story in your mind in your own way. Film adaptations take this personal interpretation away and force someone else’s vision on you. This is inevitably different to your version of things and therefore makes it seem wrong in some way.

I mostly end up disappointed with films adapted from books I like for this reason. They never quite live up to expectations, even if they are excellent films. The trouble is, I can’t help but watch them. I know I’ll end up watching The Host when it comes out, and I’ll look forward to seeing it. I think I must crave disappointment.

Furthermore, I think the more I like a book the more disappointed I end up being with a film adaptation. I read all of The Lord Of The Rings but wasn’t too attached to it really (I think this is mostly down to the fact that I took a year to slog through it) and the films turned out to be amazing! Although that’s probably a bad example as the films are great and Peter Jackson kept so close to Tolkien’s vision. Ok another example: I liked Life of Pi but it wasn’t my favourite book ever, and I thought the film was great. Brilliant cinematography. On the other hand, I LOVE Harry Potter but am not too keen on the films (gasp!), and find Rupert Grint and Emma Watson to be especially irritating at times. Also, all the extra awful lines thrown in (Harry saying “I love magic” like an idiot in Goblet of Fire comes to mind) make me cringe. But I can’t really tell if I don’t enjoy adaptations from books I love because they are actually bad, or because I’m so attached to them I don’t tolerate any deviation from what I interpreted the book to be like.

One of the worst film adaptations of all time

One of the worst film adaptations of all time

So, I’m wondering how to avoid constant disappointment… should I give up on watching films adapted from books I like? Should I avoid seeing The Mortal Instruments later this year? I really like Cassandra Clare’s series and know I will likely end up disappointed for some reason. I know I’d be happier now if I’d missed Chris Weitz’s dreadful adaptation of Pullman’s Northern Lights (one of my favourite books). Or perhaps instead I should try to readjust my expectations a little – I can’t expect films to be just like the books are in my head! I should have known The Golden Compass was going to be less than great when I heard they’d changed the title for cinema audiences. I should probably try to treat book and film as two separate entities so as to avoid such bitter disappointment. Finally, maybe I should give up reading books that are about to be made into films! Although this would probably mean giving up all YA fiction altogether and concentrating solely on fiction which DEFINITELY won’t be made into films. Hmmm…Murakami it is then!


End of 2012 round-up part 2: December

What’s this?! Two posts in a week?! Try not to die of shock. I’ve got a lot of ground to catch up on and some pretty hardcore new year’s resolutions to at least pretend to attempt before I inevitably give them up before the end of January. So what was I up to in December? THIS:

New York, Mini Christmas Puddings and more Cassandra Clare

After a disastrous and faintly depressing November I had a much better, more fun-filled December. I absolutely love Christmas, and spent much of the first two weeks of the month making hundreds of mini christmas

Mini Christmas puddings!

Mini Christmas puddings!

puddings for various occasions. I also went to see Mumford and Sons with Anna and Simon which was boot-stompin’ good. The best part of December, however, was going to New York with my family for my sister’s 30th birthday.

We spent 6 days in New York and crammed in as much as we possibly could, from the Empire State Building (standard) to singing in piano bars in the Meatpacking District (amazing). We had a great time, although I must admit, I was so tired when I got home I could have done with another holiday, preferably on a beach somewhere! I don’t want to bore y’all with a long list of everything we did but I will mention a couple of odd things.

Firstly, apparently, spending $50 on just a steak (no chips or anything!) and $60 on a not-so-spesh bottle of red wine is normal for New York (Sparks in Midtown, if anyone’s interested). Ouch. Secondly, I can’t believe I thought I was going to be able to walk around Tiffany’s and resist the urge to spend all my remaining money on something shiny. Ouch. Thirdly, the Picasso exhibition at the Guggenheim was a tad disappointing but discovering what we called the boob dog series was a unexpected highlight of the trip for me. If you go, make sure you look out for it! Fourthly, don’t go anywhere near the East Village when it’s SantaCon, unless you want to see drunk Santa, dancing Santa or naked Santa.

And finally: thanks weather, you did great. It was sunny, crisp and not too cold. I loved New York and definitely didn’t want to return home despite my sore feet and the cold I had acquired whilst out there. I highly doubt it’ll be the last time I go! Here are a couple of the photos I took on my phone. I took a load more with my proper camera but haven’t had a chance to properly sort through them yet (let alone pick/resize them). I might do a separate photo blog about it, watch this space. Oh, just one last thing! The squirrels in Central Park are CRAZY FRIENDLY. Ok, I’m done now.

BB         ny burger

empireReturning home on 18th December not having done any Christmas shopping was a little stressful. I basically ran around the shops like a headless chicken for a week. I also had a bit of a literary crisis, as I was reading The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo and I was finding it slow and incredibly confusing. In the end, I gave up and failed in my mission to resist Cassandra Clare’s books and even though I knew I was going to get left hanging (because the two series she has written aren’t complete yet) I returned to The Mortal Instruments books to find out what happens to Clary after the satisfying conclusion of book 3.

I read the fourth and fifth books in the series, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls. I was really hesitant about starting City of Fallen Angels as things seemed to end in a good place in the end of the third book and I didn’t want it ruined. And I must admit I was slightly irritated with some of the characters moping around and not talking to each other properly. Although I enjoyed it as I like Clare’s writing style (multiple character points of view, excellent pacing), I found myself getting frustrated and wondering where the book was going. It did build to a great ending though. I’m trying desperately not to give anything away just in case there are any readers out there who haven’t read the first three. I hate it when people give too much away in reviews.

I loved City of Lost Souls, however. In fact, I think it is probably my favourite of the whole series. I loved the story, it was tense and exciting and built to a dramatic final showdown which had me pacing around my bedroom. I also liked Clary in this book, she finally gets into the fighting spirit and is a bit more badass than she has been, which is great. Simon is also excellent and steps up majorly. I also found the book slightly more grown-up than some of the others. Although City of Lost Souls didn’t finish on an awful cliff-hanger, I’m still desperate to know how the series ends. I can’t believe Clare’s going to keep us waiting for over a year! It’s like waiting for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix all over again!

Oh dear, I’ve spent far too long rambling about The Mortal Instruments series and no time to talk about The Infernal Devices series by Clare, which I also read. Two books of the trilogy have been released so far, with the final instalment coming in a couple of months. The first two books are Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince. I really liked liked these books, especially as they are set in Victorian London and I love all things nineteenth-century-related. They’re about Tessa, a girl who moves from New York to London and then finds out she can change her appearance and turn into anyone, dead or alive. She is rescued from imprisonment by Will and Jem, two dashing shadowhunters. The books are similar in feel to the Mortal Instruments series with lots of mystery, demon-fighting and love dilemmas. I want to say so much more but can’t go on all day (this post is already long enough). I think I like Clare’s writing so much because she is the master of creating lovely, brooding male characters (my favourite) and strong, inspiring female characters. She does all this as well as managing to pace her novels excellently, and I never manage to guess what will happen next. And for these reasons, I’ll keep reading her books even if they are, strictly speaking, aimed at a teenage audience.

The rest of December was spent eating, drinking and partying with my family and friends! Good times. Now it’s time to look to 2013 though, and think about what I’m hoping to achieve this year, and how I’m going to make it happen. Exciting!

Oh my god this post is 1130 words long and counting! If you made it this far you deserve a medal!