While I am sure that no book lover ever believes that they are going to be told this, in some instances it is true. There have been a handful of movies that have made mediocre or uninspired books sing. For any number of reasons-no fluidity of language, plot holes the size of Texas, sometimes even something as simple as over-done descriptions have turned me off some books that made amazing movies.
Let’s begin our discussion with one of my favorite examples: The Princess Bride. I loved this movie- the beauty, the hilarity. Witty barbs and puns for days. While the book has all these things, William Goldman took the liberty of jumping story several times. Now, this was not in a cute, sick, grandson scenario… the one that sticks in my mind the most is the side story about him meeting some woman at a hotel pool. I found this jarring, and highly unnecessary. Besides, the actors really made this story sing. Miracle Max is still one of my favorite characters to this day.
I will probably get a lot of back lash for this, but I am going to say it anyway. Another time the movies were better than the books were, in my opinion, Lord of the Rings. That’s right, the whole series. While J.R.R. Tolkien did something amazing, creating a whole world with lore and language, my trouble is with the execution. The man loves the sound of his own voice. I attempted to read them, really I did. I believe it was in Return of the King where Tolkien goes on for several paragraphs on the sweat off of a horse. Why in the name of Heaven is that level of description necessary? Please don’t get me wrong, I adore a good setting or description that takes me to this place or time. There were many pieces of the series that did just that, the author just could not rein it in. The movies take everything that is good in his works and bring them into sharp, Technicolor glory.
Winter’s Tale is another story that upset me. Granted, there was lot going on; the execution suffered. Mark Helprin created a beautiful love story between petty burglar Peter Lake and sick socialite Beverly. If we left it at this, it would have been glorious. But we hopped and jumped until it became five love stories and a horse (don’t worry, no one loves the horse). I finished that book feeling drained and angry, cheated not only of the $10 that the book cost, but also the time I spent reading it. I quite honestly wanted my time back. The movie, on the other hand, took all of Helprin’s ramblings and made magic. Not only was Will Smith an awesome devil, all the characters just come to life. I was enchanted.
Last, is more a personal peeve than anything else. I like to believe that if the story is good enough I will read anything. The Martian by Andy Weir nearly made a liar out of me. I learned that I am not one for what my husband calls “hard science fiction”. The movie was coming out, and Warren wanted to see it desperately. We decided we would go see it in theatres. I hate seeing a movie without also reading the book, though. So, I bought the eBook. While the plot is spectacular, certain parts (like the math/ science needed to grow potatoes on Mars) bored me to tears. Hollywood, in their infinite wisdom, glossed over all of this, leaving a well done story. Personally I loved the movie, but gave the book perhaps two stars.
What did you guys think of these? Are there more that I haven’t discovered?