Welcome to the Roundtable Discussion on Book Adaptations, put your reading glasses on and enjoy! I’m Christina and I’ll be your host today. Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Let’s see who I have with me today:
CrimsonAvenger: Hi I'm Drew and I will not keep my limbs inside the vehicle because that is no fun.
Dvdhaus: Hi, I'm dvdhaus or Joe. I answer to whatever.
Rem25: I'm Mike though some have called me Mike the Red. Mike is fine though. :)
So what have you been watching and reading lately?
I have a massive backlog of television shows to watch, I haven’t been keeping up with TV at all these past few months. As for reading I have been into fantasy books lately, or as a certain someone here today would say “sparkly vampire books” Also I’ve been trying to catch up on the 3 months’ worth of comics.
Drew: I've been watching a ton of stuff. I've been working my way through the various Stargate shows, and am really digging them. As for literature, I've been trying to read Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars before I see John Carter next week.
Joe: Let's see, I've been reading a book called 1Q84. As far as TV watching, I've been addicted to Storage Wars. Movie wise though I have a backlog that I will eventually get around to watching.
Mike: As far as TV goes, I'm also insanely backed up with shows I do like. The only ones I'm watching consistently now are Modern Family, Revenge, 30 Rock, and The Walking Dead.
I finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo a month ago before my wife and I saw the David Fincher version in theaters. Right now I just started reading On The Trail of The Assassins by Jim Garrison. It's a non-fiction account of the author investigating the assassination of JFK. Oliver Stone based the movie JFK partly on this book.
I've read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo too, plus the second one. I’ve been slowly working my way through the last one for ages but I'm finding it hard to read to be honest
Mike: I seem to have that same problem too. I have a hard time just sitting down and focusing on reading for a period of time. It took me several months to finish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because I got bored reading and put it away for awhile before picking it back up when the movie came out
My main problem is that there seems to be so many names and places that I can't even pronounce, never mind keep track of. I took a long break in between book 2 and 3 and I am just too lost to keep reading.
- Ok, first question: It’s just been announced that your favourite book
is going to be adapted into a movie. YAY or NAY?!
Drew: Nay. If it's from a director I quite like and the author is involved then maybe yes but since most of the time the authors aren't given much creative control over the film, I kind have to be worried.
Joe: Nay I guess. Something always gets lost in the transition and never lives up to the self-hype I would put on it. If it was a book that sounded interesting for a movie then I would not be opposed to seeing it. Unless the cast was way off how I imagined them.
Mike: Yay for me. I might be worried the wrong director or screenwriter might be chosen for the project but I feel that Hollywood has gotten much better at adapting books into movies without losing much of what made them great. It's not a guarantee of course, but I would be excited to see who would play each character.
It’s YAY for me! I love following the transition from book to movie, seeing who’s directing, casted, looking at potential sets and places they are going to film. Wondering what plot points they will change and what will make it into the movie. Then finally after the months (or years) of waiting you get to see your favourite characters on the big screen.
Drew: And then sometimes we end up with films like One for the Money and we all know how that film turned out (With a whopping 2% approval on Rotten Tomatoes out of 53 reviews).
I actually kind of enjoyed that movie, and I enjoyed the book too!
Drew: You enjoyed One for the Money? Everyone has their own opinion but I just thought the film looked a little generic and similar to another film from 2010.
Yes I did enjoy it, it was funny and inoffensive. Heigl wasn't too bad either, which was my main worry.
- In your opinion what are the best and worst book adaptations?
Drew: I have to say the best adaptation I've ever seen was 2006's Casino Royale. It remained incredibly faithful to Ian Fleming's novel and really did wonders for the Bond franchise. Second best I've got to with the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo even though I've never actually read the book. Third would be The Mark of Zorro from 1940.
As for the worst adaptation I've ever seen was How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Live action adaptations of Dr. Seuss' works are just terrible ideas. It was fun but just plain awful though I believe some people did like it.
Joe: Best are when a director is dedicated to the fiction, like Peter Jackson and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Worst are the opposite. Can't really remember a bad one where I both read and watched the piece. There are also good ones that ride the line like Runaway Jury, where something big was changed but it still plays well either way, in book or movie form.
Mike: The best book adaptation would be Forrest Gump. They had the movie almost spot-on from the book. The only thing the movie lacked was the large amount of humor in the book. The worst book adaptation probably is Pet Semetary. Stephen King's novel was much grittier and terrifying than the movie was. Also, the movie ending was terrible.
Obviously I found Harry Potter and LOTR amazing, but for one of the recent best I’m going to say Never Let Me Go. I felt like the movie really captured the emotions of the book. I can’t say much for the casting seen as I had already watched the movie trailer before reading the books. The characters automatically looked like the cast to me. Worst? That is difficult; I don’t hold much interest in Dan Browns work. They were kind of enjoyable, but could easily be ignored. I thought Angles and Demons movie was pretty bad.
Drew: I love Dan Browns work! I liked both films but the novels are infinitely better even if they are just pure nonsense. Angels & Demons is the better book and movie in my opinion.
Oh I agree with you on the book, it is the better book. I do not like the movie though.
- This wasn't a question I planned to ask, but you all more or less brought it up: Do you class a good adaptation as having the exact same plot and characters the book has then?
Joe: I think a good adaption is something that is loyal to the book. I doesn't have to copy the plot word for word, but just feel like the book
I don't get too caught up on the plot changes from book to movie, if it has the same sort of "vibe" as the books did then I’ll usually enjoy it. I even sometimes see it as an extra story, something new with the characters I love in it.
Drew: Well I love all three of the Jason Bourne films and they have little in common with the novels they take their names from other than a few characters and a few plot points. So to answer your question, no I don't class an adaptation as to whether or not it follows the book directly in terms of plot but it has to retain some elements of the book. No idea if what I'm saying makes sense but yeah that's just what I think.
Mike: I think there is an art to creating a film that is close to the original material so that audience enjoys it but you also have to put your own spin on it too to make it unique. In the book Forrest Gump, Jenny doesn't die as she and Forrest raise their child together. Forrest also takes on several jobs never mentioned in the film. His character changes some and I think the movie loses out a bit as a result but they keep most everything intact.
I feel like when some people say "loyal to the book" they actually mean loyal to the plot. A movie can be loyal to the book, and not be the same. If the characters are treated with respect and the story is something that could definitely happen in the book world then what's the worry? I’m not sure if that would still be classed as a “book adaptation” though, maybe more of a “character adaptation.” I’m not sure what i'm talking about!
- There has been a lot of hype around teen book adaptations in the recent years. Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games etc. What are your opinions on this? Is it a good thing? Are teens being pushed into putting money into endless merchandise and movies?
Drew: I think teens are being pushed into throwing away money into a product that really isn't all that great. I mean the Twilight films could probably have been done a lot better if the studio had hired directors who honestly cared about the books. These books aren't being adapted properly because the studios aren't hiring these directors because they really want to do great adaptations of these books, they're hiring them to just make something regardless of the actual quality.
I love seeing kids reading, and I think that is happening more and more these days. I mean when I used to read a book at lunch in school I’d get made fun of, but it seems a lot “cooler” these days. (Also when I say “these days” I feel like an 80 year old woman.) I do think some of the marketing is just shameless pandering to what hollywood thinks teens want. Like all the endless Team Edward vs. Team Jacob garb.
Mike: I think in the case of Harry Potter, it was a good thing. Many kids who normally wouldn't read got sucked into the wizard world and grew up with Harry. While the books were dense, they did a pretty good job of pulling out the important material and creating good films. We'll have to wait and see how the Hunger Games does, but I think it is a good thing. All the merchandise stuff I can't say I agree with but it's no different than what Disney was doing with all their animated features. Fans of the material are going to want to see the movies for the most part regardless of how good they are. Twilight seems especially guilty of this. I haven't read the books but the movies are just awful. I understand I'm not the target audience (28 year old male) but even my wife who enjoyed the books somewhat, can't stand the films either. She has been reading the Hunger Games though and is really excited for the movie so take that how you will I guess.
Joe: I think you said it best. The teens are being pushed into those movies whether they are good or not. The problem with most of those movies is that the studio doesn't care if the movies are good or not. All the studio sees is the money that can be made.
Mike: Joe I would say that it seems Studio Canal doesn't care how good the Twilight books are. I think Warner Bros. was heavily invested into the Harry Potter series and did their best to create films that fans and non-fans would enjoy (with the exception of The Prisoner of Azkaban, I felt they lost the thriller aspect of the novel). New Line Cinema also seemed invested with the Lord of the Rings trilogy to get it right but make money too.
OH I totally agree with you about The Prisoner of Azkaban movie, it was my favourite book and I was disappointed in the movie. It just didn't feel right!
- How about books into TV shows? Do you have any favourite shows that were once books?
Drew: I don't know if this counts because episodes of this are adaptations of one or two stories but Sherlock is probably my favorite is if it does. There have been many many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes (most of which I've seen) but none of them are quite as good as Sherlock primarily because it's produced by Steven Moffat and the casting is spot on. Making a Sherlock Holmes show set in current times is a difficult task but the people on that show have done it masterfully.
Mike: I honestly cannot think of any tv shows that were once books that I watch. Other than The Walking Dead (comic books, I know) I'm not sure of anything.
Joe: Can't really think about TV shows that were adapted from books that I watch. Lost though was inspired from many different books and added to the mystery of the show.
I can think of a LOT myself, from the top of my head: True Blood, The Secret Circle, Pretty Little Liars, Wire in the Blood, Vampire Diaries. Maybe this is why I get so behind on TV, I watch too many shows. I've been meaning to get into the latest Sherlock, I have to on DVD but just haven't found the inclination to watch it.
Mike: Wait, I just remembered. Dexter! The first season was based on the novel though some major changes were made with some characters. Both are interesting paths though it's probably good the tv show deviated from the books after that.
- Is there anything coming up (book/movie related) that you guys are looking forward too?
I am looking forward to the Hunger Games at the end of the month, and to mention comics I cannot wait for The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises later on in the year.
Joe: Dark Knight Rises is one I'm looking forward to also. The Hobit around Christmas seems so far away.
Mike: I am looking forward to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises too. I would like to read then watch A Game of Thrones. Other than that, I don't think there's any books/movies I'm definitely pumped about.
Ooooo! I totally forgot about Game of Thrones! My DVD of the first season has just been dispatched too.
Drew: Yes I really am quite excited for John Carter next week. Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel is quite good and it has Andrew Stanton directing. A lot of people are writing off the film as a potential box office bomb but I have to say I disagree with everyone. I think it has the potential to make quite a bit of money. I've spent a great deal of time writing up its' wiki page and digging up info on it and from doing so, I've come to think the film will actually be quite good despite Disney's poor marketing. It may not make a ton of money but I don't think it will be as big of a bomb as everyone thinks it will be. Comics wise, I'm incredibly excited for The Avengers but I honestly am not excited for TDKR or The Amazing Spider-Man because I was looking forward to spider-man but the more and more footage I see from that film, the less interested in it I grow for some reason.
Wow I forgot about Spiderman and The Hobbit too! What is with me today? I wanted to go into The Hobbit without seeing anything about it, but there was a trailer in front of Ghost Rider. Gutted, but I had to keep my Nic Cage promise after all...
Joe: The Hobbit was stuck in my mind because I was thinking about Peter Jackson and his work on the LOTR stuff.
Drew: I totally forgot about The Hobbit as well. I think it'll turn out fine but whether or not it can the first three LOTR films, I don't know. That film is just coming out so late in the year it's real easy to forget about.
Joe: I can't wait for Assassin's Creed 3...oops wrong form of entertainment. =P
Well on that note I think we have talked long enough! Thanks for joining me today, it was fun. My first solo hosted Roundtable discussion is complete. I've been Christina, and will continue being Christina!
Mike: You did a great job Christina! I want to thank everyone as this was my first RT discussion and it was a lot of fun. I look forward to participating more down the road. This is Mike, signing out.
Drew: I'm Drew and this has been most enlightening. I hope to be back to the future again! (See what I did there?). So may the Force be with you.
Joe: This is Joe and this has been my favorite Roundtable discussion I've been a part of!
If you read down this far then I totally love you, go ahead and answer the questions yourself in the comments!