Book vs Movie (TV edition) Under the Dome by Stephen King

Book vs Movie (TV edition)

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Image

Mostly spoiler free

Long time no see readers!  I thought I’d get us back in the swing of things by doing a book vs movie blog for you all of something that has been chewing away at my brain for the past five months. Now as some of you will know I am a big Stephen King fan. I’ve read almost every book and seen almost all the movies/tv series/mini series that have come from this mega writer and liked most of them. So when I heard they were going to be making his recent epic Under the Dome into a tv series I was rather excited by the news. It was one of the few books that I hadn’t got around to reading and therefore I set off reading as fast as I could. I demolished the 896 pages in a week the day before the tv show began.

Image

I was excited this was definitely the type of King writing that I loved – plots upon plots with a massive intertwining of characters, a veritable cast of hundreds, mixed with real life drama in a totally unreal situation. This will be perfect for tv! I said to myself with glee. It was a big enough book to easily get four or five seasons out of it and enough cliff hangers to make for awesome season closers.

I was so wrong. Now I know the King endorsed the series and approved the changes that were made. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with minor changes to translate to film media – it’s inevitable. Hey I loved The Lord of the Rings movies and they had MANY changes made for filming purposes (except for the exclusion of Tom Bombadil *shakes fist at Peter Jackson*) but the show that I turned on in June was not Under the Dome. Sure there was a dome (with very few characteristics shared) and the names of characters still popped up but even the main character, Barbie, who in the book is the ‘every man’ character that even though you don’t love him, you have to like him for trying his hardest, gets turned into a hit man who is a complete douche (no this is not a spoiler as its revealed in the first scene). There no one to love in the show and not even many characters left to like. The town select man Jim Rennie is a fluffy kitten in the show (albeit one with claws) than the total megalomaniac he is in the book.

Image

I fought it out for 9 episodes before giving up in exasperation. There was no trace of the book left to see. Every element that made it great was ripped out from under it.

I thought I’d ask a friend who hadn’t read it what they thought and they were just bored. The characters were bland to them and most of it made little sense (and not in a Lost style what the hell is going on because this is a mystery way) with none of the characters being believable.

 So if you want my opinion read the book. If you must watch the tv show, watch it first.

Book 8/10

Tv show 2/10

~Sabrina RG Raven

Book vs. Movie: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I actually saw the movie on opening week but I thought I’d give everyone a chance to see it before I wrote this blog. Firstly, this is your warning: here thar be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen or read The Hunger Games, you might want to stop reading now (although I will try and keep them to a minimum). Granted most people seem to have the gist of the story any way so make your decision.

Firstly I would like to address an issue I have come across. This series seems to be a love it or hate it book series. The movie seems to be much the same. I am a fan, albeit only a new one to the series so that’s the angle I’m coming from. If you hate the books you will probably hate the movie, for good reason, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

For those who are yet to hear anything about the Hunger Games, here’s a brief run down. The region of Panem is led by The Capitol. The Capitol is in charge of the 12 downtrodden and pretty much slum-like districts. In punishment for past defiance, the Capitol makes each district chose two children (one boy and one girl) each year to be entered into the Hunger Games; a to the death battle royale, put on purely for the entertainment of the Capitol and to watch the districts squirm in subordination. From the coal district (District 12) come our heroine Katniss Everdeen and her team mate Peeta. The rest I will leave for you to watch/read.

I had read the books first, having practically inhaled them the weeks previous. I had approached the books with curiosity but no expectations, expecting another monstrosity like Twilight. Instead I found a story that was actually well written, had strong characters, interesting (although sightly rehashed) plot points and a well flowing backstory. As I read though I was wondering how it would translate to film.

This is probably one of the better movie adaptations I have ever seen done by Hollywood. What does make it into the movie from the book is 95% accurate to source material. This I believe is for one reason alone: the screenplay was mostly written by the author of the books.

I’m a fan of movies being as ‘canon’ as possible. Sure there are some things that couldn’t be done on screen without killing the pace of the story, or just couldn’t have been done successfully (for the fans of the books, the mutts resemblance to former contestants doesn’t make it in, but the mutts do), and then there is the removal of characters (the mayors daughter which sort of removed some of the backstory of the mockingjay pin, that could have been done but wasn’t) which I felt lessened the strength of the film. I must say though, characters appeared on screen as I imagined them, the costumes as well. Scenes seemed to have been taken word for word from the books. It was a novel experience seeing it so faithfully reproduced in parts.
However, as usual the movie is the weaker of the two. There was too much added and unnecessary Capitol related scenes on how the Games were being run, in favour of the back story between Katniss and Gale, reducing him to such an unimportant character that I fear his role in the future movies will not be as strong or as conflicted as it needs to be. The movie is slow in parts where it doesn’t need to be and rushes through large parts of the Games footage that could have been extended. But all in all, I was happy with the film.

My recommendation is see the film first, and let the book fill in whatever gaps the movie missed. However if you have read the books, you should still go see the film (as I’m sure most fans already have) as it has many of the moments from the book as you would imagine it.

The book I rate a 4/5 and the movie a close 3.5/5, both on my must do list. Now to see what they do with book two.

~Sabrina RG Raven

Book vs Movie: The Golden Compass

Firstly this one is short but sweet. Secondly minor spoilers, you have been warned.

The Golden Compass (2007) movie is based on the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, called Northern Lights. And I use the words ‘based on’ quite lightly. For those who have read the books and have not made the jump to see the film for the love of all things literary DON’T. It will anger you.

Now I hadn’t read the books when I went to see the movie and as such enjoyed the story of Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pan (a sort of familiar that take the shapes of animals) and her search for the missing Gyptian children across the snowy lands. The movie boasts stunning visual effects and is the only thing I still enjoy about the movie post book reading. Seeing the polar bears, especially armoured bear Iorek Byrnison  come to life was amazing.

The problem with the movie is the giant chunks of story that is taken out or changed. Apparently (so I’ve read anyway) director Chris Weitz was made to change a lot of the script because of its anti-Catholic and atheistic themes that are quite blatant in the book (despite Catholicism never actually being named in either).  Lyra’s world is run by the Magisterium who are conspiring to end tolerance and free inquiry. And I guess I understand this was done as to not anger the Catholic Church (although personally when people protest a movie it usually does better) so instead they angered the fans of the books.

For those who have only seen the film, please, please, please read the books. All of them. They are well written with layers and layers of plot, several wondrous storylines and have parts that will make you laugh and cry. Most of all they make you think. Something the movie was sorely lacking.

I’m not going to give away any of the plot because it really has so many elements, but if you haven’t read the book, go see the movie, enjoy its prettiness, then go read the books and discover the wonder and intrigue Pullman has created that is sorely lacking in the film.

Book vs. Movie – The Mist by Stephen King

I was planning on writing about Planet of the Apes but I realised that I couldn’t remember most of the older movies so gimme a few weeks on that one. Now before I begin SPOILER WARNING. If you read through these book vs. movie columns and it spoils the ending of either then it is your own fault. Okay, now that that is over let us begin.

I was eight when I first experienced the joy and terror that is Stephen King. My mother was always pretty liberal on what I could watch and read (within reason of course) and she knew of my love for the odd, creepy and downright gross from an early age. At seven I had devoured most the Goosebumps books by RL Stine and by age eight or so I had moved onto Christopher Pike and other teen horror books. One night on a school holiday I was up late and watched the movie Cat’s Eye (which consisted of three short films: Quitters, Inc., The Ledge, and The General) and from that day I had to find more of this master’s works. Little did I know how much more I would love the books as my life progressed.

 I was around nine when I got my first Stephen King book, not having convinced mum to buy me any of my own just yet. I remember vividly that day mum and I went shopping with my aunt. We passed a second hand book store, that musty, dust smell wafting from the semi-lit doorway. I dragged at her hand, begging her to let us stop for a minute. Even at that age I was enthralled with the smell of old books. With a smile she let me run free into the stacks and overcrowded shelves. I emerged after a few minutes holding a thick paperback, its pages and cover dog eared and creased. The spine so bent you could barely read the title. Its cover held a cracked image of a skeleton holding a scythe and the title Skeleton Crew by Stephen King.

 It took a bit of convincing but I persuaded her to let me buy it with my pocket money for the pricely sum of $1.50 (that was a lot of money in 1991 especially for a nine year old). I started reading as soon as we got in the car and amongst all the gems there were two shining stars The Raft and one of the longer stories in the book, The Mist. I hoped to one day see either of them as movies so when they announced they were making The Mist  in 2007, I was stoked but apprehensive. I was a lot more discerning by that age and had seen how most of my idol’s books had been made into bad telemovies or just changed way too much.

 When I went to see it on the big screen it was at a small cinema with a few friends and the cinema was mostly empty as it was the end of the movie’s run. And I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few changes but only one that really split the King fans down the middle on opinion. I’ll get to that one soon.

 The Mist for those who haven’t seen/read it (seriously you should stop reading if you intend to) sees a thick, soupy mist begin to spread across the town of Bridgton, Maine, making it nigh on impossible to see more than a  few feet in front of you. In the movie the storm that brings the mist and the aftermath that leads to the story is very rushed through (albeit containing a an easter egg for King fans with a painting of a movie poster of Roland Deschain from the Dark Tower series), but the book, along with King’s usual demeanour, ambles along, showing the intricacies of the characters’ ‘normal’ lives. A tree has fallen in the storm and crushed the boathouse of our main character David Drayton (played in the movie by Thomas Jane) falling from his neighbour, Brent Norton’s  (Andre Braugher) yard. Despite the ill feelings between the two, they head into town for supplies together with David’s son Billy (Nathan Gamble).

Once at the store we meet a mixed group of people, from checkout chicks and bagboys, some soldiers from the military compound nearby working on a secret mission named the Arrowhead Project (the book hints at this being the cause of the mist, the soldiers following suicide being further hint of this. The movie straight up blames this project of ‘opening doors to other realms’ for the mist and the monsters from it – another Dark Tower reference perhaps), and the crazy Mrs Carmody. This is when stuff starts going pear shaped. Creatures start to attack from the mist.

I won’t give away too much of them away because it’s rather cool. But one of the other differences between the book and movie is Mrs Carmody. Although personally they both work well for me, the book Mrs Carmody is more strange crazy in the book than religious zealot crazy like in the movie. But as I said both work and by the end she had convinced most the people in the store that the mist is part of the end times and that God wants a blood sacrifice to appease him – in the form of David’s son, Billy. (For the fans: please note in the movie all the King paperbacks on the book shelves). Her getting taken down by a well aimed can of peas to the head certainly brought cheers to the people in our cinema.

Things happen more or less like in the book until the end, and this is the BIG change that personally pissed me off, but some fans loved it. In the book the end sees David, Billy, Amanda the checkout operator and an elderly, yet tough, school teacher Hilda Reppler, escaping in a car driving into the mist. The very last part reveals that they hear a single word come through the crackling radio, ‘Hartford’, giving them hope that there is something out there, and THAT’S IT. And I would love to have seen the movie end this way, but to placate the masses they gave it a ‘real’ ending.

There are still David, Billy and Amanda but swaps Hilda for Irene (same character as Hilda, just different name) and Dan. They drive over to David’s house to find his wife dead – victim to the creatures. Then they start driving away again. Eventually they run out of fuel and pull over. While Billy sleeps, they discuss their fate and with 4 bullets left in the gun David had they decide to end it, having not seen any other survivors on the way. David shoots Billy, Amanda, Irene and Dan and then resigns himself to the fate of the creatures ending his life. He steps out of the car when all of a sudden he hears the rumble of a truck. The mist begins to clear and he sees military personnel and survivors. He falls to the ground screaming realising how close they were to rescue and that his son and wife are now dead.

Yeah…

So my recommendation is read the book first. Get the Skeleton Crew book (because it’s full of awesome stories) and not the novelisation of the movie because it’s not the real deal.

Also if you’re new to Stephen King and his 1000 page epics of fear seem a little overwhelming, this is a great way to start, with bite size stories you can read in one sitting.

As for the movie, it’s good. Personally I stop it before the stupid ending so it’s more like the book but if you’re not a purist or you don’t intend to read the book, the movie is probably one of the better King adaptations.

~ Sabrina