Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book to Movie Adaptations (feat. Insurgent)

Everyone knows that the book is nearly always better than the movie. It's common knowledge that two hours of content can't live up to 300+ pages of juicy plot, twists, and character development. Yes, that may be true. However, that doesn't mean that a movie adaptation can't still be fantastic.

Through my time as both a book and a movie addict, I've learned that the only way to enjoy an adaptation is to go in blind. You can't get caught up in the details. Okay, so they didn't include that one line that defined the book. Okay, they took out your favorite character. Okay, they cast her as a brunette instead of a blonde. Okay, so they completely changed the plot (I'm looking at you, The Duff). But that doesn't mean the movie was bad.

When it comes down to it, any adaptation is a good adaptation. If a book gets a movie, it gets publicity. If a book gets publicity, it gets more readers. It's as simple as that. Movies build an interest in books. Isn't that what we want?

Especially in the Young Adult community, adaptations bring us leaps and bounds in the right direction. In the past few years, dozens of books have been optioned for movies. Just a few:

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • The Duff by Kody Keplinger
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
  • I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (scheduled)
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (scheduled)
  • and so on...

I have seen all of the above (that have been released), though I haven't read all of the books. I haven't had a chance read The Maze Runner, If I Stay, Ender's Game, or I Am Number Four. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the previously stated movies. Yes, some of them were completely different from the books, but that didn't make them any less enjoyable.

Take The Duff. The movie was almost unrecognizable when compared to the book. They added a mean girl. They changed the Toby's character, as well as the plot involving him. They removed the friends-with-benefits dynamic of Bianca and Wesley's relationship. They stuck Bianca with her divorced mom instead of her divorced dad. And so on. But does that really mean the movie was terrible? It was different, yes. But different isn't always a bad thing.

Books are made to be books. If they were made to be movies, they would be scripts. They're not scripts. Books are made to be read. Movies are made to be watched. A movie simply can't be exactly the same as the book. It's not reasonable.

Insurgent is another great example. If I'm completely honest, I hated the book. Everything Tris did got on my nerves. It ripped my heart apart every time Tris did something stupid and reckless, every time she risked her life, every time she lied to Tobias, every time someone died. I don't have enough fingers (and toes) for the amount of times I wanted to tear the book apart. Yet somehow the movie took everything I didn't like about the book and smoothed it over.

The movie was exquisitely done. Yes, the plot was different, but it had a singular focus, necessary to keep interest in a movie. The plot revolves around Jeanine's quest to find a Divergent to open a box that contained a message from the Founders. She needs a strong Divergent who can survive the simulation (Surprise: Tris). It wasn't like the book, but it was a great vehicle for everything the book stood for. We got the necessary character development. The movie flawlessly conveyed Tris's internal struggle over Will's death. There was a beautiful moment of forgiveness. We got to see the perfect portrayal of Tris and Tobias's relationship--their chemistry is out of this world. We got everything that was at the book's core, but in a different format.

Honestly, I couldn't give Insurgent higher praise than this. I never thought I'd say it... but I actually thought the movie was better than the book. I loved it.

However, I knew what I signed up for going into that theatre. I knew that the movie would be completely different from the book. I knew not to have expectations. And I enjoyed the movie.

You need to go into these things blind. You need to know that the movie won't be perfect, and it won't be a 10 hour portrayal of every page of the book. But that doesn't mean it won't be good.

And keep sight of the most important thing: movie adaptations get us attention. They help us spread the love of reading to more people. They help our community connect to more young adults. Isn't that our goal?

What did you think of Insurgent? What's your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Share in the comments!