January 16, 2015

I Have To Get This Off My Chest...

I Have To Get This Off My Chest...

One of my 2015 blogger resolutions was to do more non-review posts. I have thoughts. Lots and lots of thoughts. I'd love to hear yours too. Today, the thing on my mind is

Books to Movies

So, right around the corner is the debut of the movie version of this little book called FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. As I troll Twitter and Facebook and poll my friends who’ve read the series, opinions on this seem to fall into two camps. There’s the “OMG, I CAN’T WAIT” group, and the “I HATE JAMIE DORNAN AS CHRISTIAN GREY, SO I REFUSE TO GO SEE IT” group.

And, it got me thinking about this whole books-to-movies phenomenon that seems to have really taken off in recent years, thanks to the Twilight and Harry Potter franchises. Is it a good idea? Should Hollywood keep doing it? To answer those, you should ask yourself a few questions.

Question 1: Does casting matter?
Okay. Full disclosure, right? I tend to get pretty annoyed at how much emphasis some place on casting. There are some that get so worked up about it, that they make the decision to skip the movie version of a beloved book simply because they can’t picture the casted actor(s) in the roles of their favorite characters. Can I tell you something?


They are getting paid millions of dollars to make you believe they are who they say they are. Don’t underestimate their abilities, and don’t pass judgment without having first-hand knowledge. Case in point – Sam Heughan.

When I learned he was going to play Jamie Fraser in the television production of Outlander, I was scratching my head. I just couldn’t see it, but then, I love Jamie so much, I don’t think ANYONE would’ve measured up. I was thinking, “He’s too old. His hair isn’t right. He’s not ‘big enough’ for the part.” Thank goodness my hang-ups didn’t prevent me from watching, because on screen, Sam Heughan absolutely embodied Jamie Fraser. I found myself not noticing the physical discrepancies at all. His acting and the acting from the supporting cast more than made up for them, and I found myself absolutely believing he was Jamie.

Sure, I would’ve probably preferred someone different to play Christian Grey. But, I’m confident that if the producers get everything else right, it won’t matter. Jamie Dornan seems to be a good actor from what I've seen, and as long as he embodies the essence of Mr. Twitchy Palm, I'm confident it won't matter what he looks like.

Question 2: Book first? Or movie first?
For me, Harry Potter will always look like Daniel Radcliff. This is because I watched the first few movies before I ever opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read all seven books quickly, and managed to get them all done before the first Deadly Hallows movie came out. But, still. As I was reading those first books, I had the movie actors in my head.

Although it may spoil the ending of the movie for you, I definitely think that reading the book first is the best way to go. You can formulate your own opinions of how the characters should appear. And, it gives you good background information when you watch the movie, since they inevitably need to leave out some things.

There are a few instances where I know I would’ve enjoyed the movie, had I watched it first. The Percy Jackson movies, for instance. The effects were good, and the story was interesting. But, the movie was NOTHING like the book, and therefore, ruined for me. So, there is that.

Question 3: Is it possible for the movie to actually IMPROVE upon the story?
I do think it's possible for a movie to actually be better than the book. But, it's super hard to get there. Take, for instance, Mockingjay.

Who here was not a big fan of the final book in the trilogy. Go ahead - don't be shy. It's fine to admit that it just didn't live up to the awesomesauce that was The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Katniss had turned into a whiny baby that was too riddled with guilt and despair to do anything about her situation without being forced. She was a shadow of the strong young woman we were introduced to.

The movie portrayal of Katniss in Mockingjay, however, was So. Much. BETTER. Was it just me, or did Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of her make Katniss seem so much stronger? I'm so looking forward to the final Mockingjay to see what else is improved. I'm hoping the very ending. Like, the epilogue. Some true happiness from Katniss would be nice.

So, here's what I want to know from you:

1. Does casting matter?
2. Book first? Or movie first?
3. Is it possible for the movie to actually improve upon the story?
4. Do you plan to go see 50? (Because, I'm totes going to be there.)


Jaime Lester said...

Most of the time, casting choices don't bother me too much. Every once in a while, a casting choice will make me shake my head, but normally once I see the movie I get over it. Occasionally, there are just bad casting choices, though. I wasn't too much a fan of the Pres. Snow casting choice, even while watching the movie.
I prefer to read the book before I see a movie, and I think in a lot of cases it helps. Like the Mortal Instruments (another questionable casting choice), I think for people who had never read the book, it could get seriously confusing.
Mockingjay the movie made Katniss leaps and bounds a better character. I don't think it is the best choice to always change up a book, but in some cases, like Mockingjay, I think changing things could make the story a million times better! And I seriously hope they change up the end, and some other things along the way!

Jaime Lester said...

I have never read the 50 series. I am 50/50 about reading the books, and about the same with the movie. I just don't know!

Hannah said...

I'm in the camp of people who gets firmly hung up on casting. As I read, I "cast" a book and when my ideal cast isn't picked for a movie/tv adaptation (shocking they didn't do what *I* wanted, right?), I tend to get pissy.

Like The Host. The Host is on of my favorite books ever. EVER. When I found out who they cast as Melanie/Wanda, I immediately dug in and refused to see the movie. REFUSED. But then a friend won tickets to an advance screening and invited and me and I opted to go since I was bored and it was free.

And it was actually pretty good.

But then I see the Twilight movies and Vampire Academy and just shudder. Twilight especially let me down. I just ... ugh. I hated every casting in that from Bella to Edward to Jacob. The only castings I felt they got right were the villains.

I'm not crazy about the 50 Shades casting. I feel like Dakota looks too old and like she always has a stick shoved up her snooty a$$ and Jamie seems like the boy next door - not the boy who will chain you to the door.