Saturday, January 7, 2012

How do you like your book-based movies? Over-easy, thanks!

Over the holidays, I visited my sister.  We had some chats and eventually the conversation turned to the upcoming movie release of a book I have mentioned a few times already: The Hunger Games.  I have been in trepidation of this movie since I heard they were adapting the book(s) about a year ago.  Why?  Well, the reason lies with Harry Potter.

Can't get enough!!!
I’m not about to recall my original statement regarding this series: I have no intention of going in depth with Harry Potter any time soon.  But, let’s just say I am such a fan of the books that I spent over a year posting daily (and often multiple time a day) to a discussion site dedicated to predicting the seventh book, and some of that time was after the seventh book had been released to discuss in-depth character futures and Potter world speculations.  I dressed in my Ravenclaw robe, mixed up some “potions”, and toted my wand around last Halloween.  I am addicted to butterbeer.

So, of course I was excited when the movies were first made.  How awesome to see the books come to life.  And some casting choices were so perfect that I actually had the actors in my mind as I read the books before the movies were even cast (Maggie Smith as Pr McGonagall in particular).  There was almost no way that I was going to be satisfied with these movies.  I had such excitement built up and such high expectations that disappointment was inevitable.  And it only got worse as the movies went on, to the point that by the time I saw Goblet of Fire, I considered not even going to see Order of the Phoenix.

This brings me back to the conversation I had with Heather about The Hunger Games.  I had seen the trailer.  So had she.  And her husband.  And they both loved the trailer, while I was/possibly still am kinda blasé about it.  Suzanne Collins is a scriptwriter by professional experience, and the book is about a battle royale that is nationally televised, so the book is already rather theatrical.  I expect the movie to translate well.  But my lackluster reaction to the trailer led my sister to comment that there are two types of people in this regard: those who expect the movie to be just like the book (and are ultimately let down) and those who enjoy it for movie’s sake, regardless of how faithful or deviant it is from the source.  Naturally, she put me in the former category.

While I will admit that I started this blog with that sort of mentality, I think that I have started to change my viewpoint.  Even though I have not done too many reviews yet, I am starting to appreciate the fact that the movie might be very loosely based on the book and still be a good movie in its own right.  Don’t get me wrong – she’s right, I am more on the side of the-original-story-was-perfect-and-how-dare-you-change-it. I may still expect a certain amount of book cannon.  Or, as in the case of The DaVinci Code, praise the changes as “corrections”.  However, I am considering going back and looking at those Harry Potter movies and attempting to view them under a new lens as works on their own.  Hopefully I will be able to enjoy The Hunger Games in the theaters through that same lens.

Neither viewpoint is better than the other.  As with anything, each person has a different opinion, and all opinions are acceptable (as long as they are your own).  So, I have my first evar direct question for comment response!  What type of book movie watcher are you?  Are you a purist who likes the movie to be as close to the book as possible, or are you an accommodator who is open to screenwriter and director interpretation of a loved book?