Why Books Don’t Make Good Movies

Last weekend, while trying to recover from the Plague (thanks to my son, the Monkey King for bringing it home and sharing it with me), I saw The Hunger Games.

Let me say that I had not read the books first.  And I thought the movie was enjoyable.  I was shocked that Lenny Kravitz didn’t suck.  I thought Jennifer Lawrence could have been slightly less wooden.  Or a lot less wooden actually.  I loved Woody Harrelson.  I was glad that I didn’t realize that Effie was the insufferable Elizabeth Banks (are her interviews still full of her going on about how beautiful she is and how hard it is to be just so beautiful) and I must say she should always be covered up enough so that she’s unrecognizable, it makes her less unlikeable.

I cried big, soggy tears when Rue died. That was gut wrenching.

But a well-crafted book is very difficult to make into a good movie.  There is no time for the amount of emotional build up needed in epic tales.  And the Hunger Games is an epic tale.

I loved the Harry Potter movies, and I loved the books before.  But by the time we get to movie number three, it takes so much time to include the major events in the book, that there’s no time for the audience to get emotionally involved.  The effect is more like one of those crappy music videos where they never focus on one thing long enough for the viewer to actually see what the hell is going on.  Especially in the later Harry Potter movies.  The anger, the sadness, the fear.  They don’t get a chance to organically build.

I guess it’s better than the little books that they drag out into entire movies.  I can’t believe what a piece of depressing garbage Where the Wild Things Are was.  A twenty page childrens’ book does not make a good movie.  Anything they made from a Dr. Suess book isn’t as bad as Where the Wild Things Are, but that doesn’t make them good either.  Exceptions for the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Anyway.  After seeing the Hunger Games.  I read the first book.  It made so many things in the movie make sense.  They couldn’t leave out any more of the book without ruining the essential flow of the story, but it would be a much better movie if some of the parts were explained better.

The first book was so good that I couldn’t wait to get to book number two.  Just 8 days after seeing the Hunger Games, I have started reading book 3.  The books are amazing.  There is no way the movie could be as good as the book.   I’ll still watch it, but I feel sorry for the people who don’t go read the book.  There’s just no comparison.

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2 thoughts on “Why Books Don’t Make Good Movies

    • I did like the movie. It’s just that certain necessary emotional things were left out, things that would better explain character motivation and decisions, in order to fit the major events.

      Certainly this was a far better adaptation than most young adult books. I can’t believe how such a thought-provoking, interesting book, the Golden Compass, was turned into that incoherent, unwatchable mess of a movie. Eragon, ugh.

      I think it’s better to skip some events in the book and allow more time for character development. Otherwise the movies take amazing source material, suck out the creamy center, and churn out another average popcorn flick.

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