In Which a Year of Eager Anticipation Comes to an End

Readers, I apologize for being a day late with this, but I needed the time to recover from what was a very long night following my trip to see The Hunger Games.

This post will come in two parts: part description of what I did, part review of the movie itself.

What you have to understand is that it was my birthday this Friday (yes, I know, Happy Birthday to me.  Thank you).  As such, it was basically the GREATEST THING EVER when I found out last year that THG was going to premiere on March 23.

So, yeah.  Anyway, I got to the theater with a bunch of my friends and saw the movie.  My friends are great and I loved being there with them, even though on one side we had the Girl Who Thinks We Won’t Notice Her Texting Every Twenty Minutes, and on the other we had the Guy Who Feels the Need to Tell His Buddy What’s Gonna Happen Five Seconds Before It Happens.  Not to mention the Girls Who Giggle Every Time We See Gale Because He’s SOOOO HAWT.

At least it wasn’t boring in the theater.

I had worked on a shirt all week, which I wore with my hair in a braid and with my Scholastic mockingjay pin attached to it.  Here are some pictures of the shirt after I finished with it:

What I basically did is read through the book again and pick out funny or moving quotes that I liked and then use fabric paint to write them.  The logo and “stay alive” bits were made using iron-on paper on which we printed the picture and words.

After we saw the movie, we came back to my house and had cake.  The cake is the thing I really wanted to show you guys.  It’s GORGEOUS:

The words are a couple of lyrics from Rue's Lullaby: "Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true. Here is the place where I love you."

It was based on a cake I had found on the Internet:

I can't find the original source, but needless to say this isn't mine.

I think the one I had looks better, though.  THE FLAMES!

Okay.  Second part.  The review.  I’ll try to do it as spoiler-free as I can (meaning my general reaction):

It was a decent movie.  Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be just like the book going in, but I didn’t anticipate the changes they did make.  Don’t get me wrong, they still had the core of the story in there, and most things were just like in the book.  But it was the little changes that got me.  There was some stuff cut that I didn’t think should have been cut, and some things were changed that I wasn’t okay with, but other things I liked seeing changed.

Maybe it was just that my expectations were so high.  I let myself think everything would be amazing and perfect and exactly like the book, and it just wasn’t.  In the end, I’m a tad disappointed, but I’m happy with the film all the same.  The acting is super, super amazing and I think Gary Ross did a fine job of capturing the situation these people are in.  I can’t wait to see what they do with Catching Fire.

HERE’S THE SPOILER-Y BIT.  Look under the cut only if you’ve seen the film!

Continue reading

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Blood and Gore: Books Vs. Films

Let’s face it, guys: books can be violent.

It’s not like I’m opposed to a little blood in my books.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that it’s impossible for me to be as obsessed with The Hunger Games as I am and not be okay with violence.  But there is some seriously freaky stuff that goes on in the literary world, people.

For example, I was recently chatting with a friend about a mutually enjoyed series: the Gone series by Michael Grant.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned Gone on here before, but the basics are this: A small California town is suddenly closed off from the outside world, and everyone at the age of fifteen and up disappears.  At this time it is discovered that some of the kids have superhuman powers, and at the same time there’s some freaky monsters and stuff springing up.  These books are basically a guts-fest from that point on, with power struggles and natural disasters and sadistic psychopaths and what-have-you.

The first four books. The next one isn't out yet.

These books made me appreciate adult authority a lot more.  The series still isn’t over, but I’ve seen enough to know that Grant does not hold back.  Kids kill kids left and right, and no descriptions are spared.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the series.  I’m probably making it out to be a bit worse than it actually is, in fact.  But my point is it’s probably the most violent series I’m likely to ever read.  More disturbing is the fact that this series is written for teens.

I don’t think there is any real interest in making this series a movie just now, but I have come to the conclusion that it would be extremely difficult to do so.  It’s just really too over-the-top to be done while keeping it true to the story.

Which brings me to my main point: gore in books is not at all the same thing as gore in movies.  In books, we as the readers can edit our mental images any way we want.  We can choose to “see” as much or as little blood as we want when getting to a violent scene.  On the page, books like Gone can exist because the visual element is left to the imagination of the readers.

But when you adapt a book to film version, the blood is no longer in the viewer’s head.  It’s on the screen, in glorious hi-def and surround sound, for the world to see.  And this is scary to a lot of people.  It’s why people are wondering how The Hunger Games and Breaking Dawn can be kept PG-13.

The gore is no longer censored by your brain, tweaked for your peace of mind.  It’s dictated by a director who has no thoughts about your personal innocence or preferences.  No longer can readers pretend there isn’t as much violent content as the author intended.  What the director says, goes.  There’s no avoiding that.

That’s why movies are always so tricky to adapt faithfully.  An author can pretty much write whatever he or she wants, but a movie must be tailored to be appropriate for audiences.

For this reason, movies are, at least to me, much scarier or sadder or more intense than books are.  When it’s just words on a page and a little imagination, there is a certain amount of distancing that happens whenever something the reader doesn’t like happens.  The reader doesn’t have to actually see it.

There is no escaping images on the screen, or sounds from the speakers.  With movies, it feels a little more real to a viewer.  It’s a little more disconcerting, as if the person is actually there, in the scene.  Not that a reader doesn’t feel something real when reading the book, it’s just that I feel that everything is a lot more in-your-face when in the theater.

So I guess my point for today is that parents have a right to be careful when taking their child to a movie.  Even if they were okay with the book, there’s a major difference there.

Not to mention the fact that this is why directors change things in movies sometimes: it’s just not always appropriate for the audience.  And they are not going to make a YA novel into an R-rated movie.  It’s just not good for the target demographic.  So instead, they’re just extra-careful.

Happy reading!

The Problem With Book-Inspired Movies

Lately the world has been immersed in movies that in fact were books first (or, more frequently, comic books).  And so, inevitably, this brings along the most intense scrutiny from fans of the books.  I’ve noted before on this site that I am a stickler for accuracy.  This leads to countless disappointments in movie versions.  I remember driving home from New Moon and listing everything the producers changed or left out with a friend.  It gave us something to talk about, sure, but it also ruined part of the movie experience.

The problem in this case is not always the film itself.  I realize that there are certain constraints to movies that are not present in books.  You can’t exactly have a huge backstory and still fit everything into two or three hours.  Sometimes the problem is me.  I’m just too picky.

I’ve gone through and listed some rules that constitute what I think makes an acceptable movie version:

  1. Don’t leave out any major characters.  In the film version of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, at least one character was left out who is CRUCIAL TO THE PROGRESSION OF THE ENTIRE SERIES.  I mean, really?  How could they expect to make a sequel without Kronos?  Or Clarisse, for that matter?
  2. Make sure you have all the background information you need.  In some movies, the plot hangs on a character’s backstory.  If this is the case, you had better get that backstory in someplace.  Even a brief comment mentioned in passing is better than nothing.  Without it, there is no motivation.  I saw Captain America yesterday, and afterwards a person I went with complained that the villain had no clear motivations for taking over the world.  I’ve also heard that the Harry Potter movies are hard to understand if you’ve never read the books, probably for the same reason.
  3. Never sacrifice plot for action.  The author put in plot points for a reason, and just adding more explosions or whatever is just dumb.  Think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: the Burrow burns (which never actually happened), and we don’t get as much Dumbledore/Horcruxes time as I would have liked.
  4. Make it believable.  If the story calls for a werewolf-spaceman who fights galactic aliens the size of mountains that breathe fire and acid, the producers had better have the technology to make it work, and make it look real enough for audiences to buy it.  I’m not sure this really applies anymore, with this wonderful newfangled CGI technology and who knows what else, but I’m still putting this in as a rule.
  5. Think very, very, very carefully before changing anything that’s remotely important to the story.  Again, with Percy Jackson, they changed a whole lot.  They changed so much the movie was almost unrecognizable.  Because of this, I’m not sure they could ever pull off a sequel (see rule #1).  It could have happened with Harry Potter, too, but luckily they had J.K. Rowling on board to make sure they didn’t leave anything out that would be important in the books yet to come.
  6. Consult the author.  This sort of goes in hand with number five, but it branches out into so much more.  Again, Percy Jackson had this problem, and so did Eragon.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the authors had anything to do with the movie.  As a result, the films were terribly off-course in the eyes of purists like myself.
  7. If you decide to ignore all the other rules and just rearrange the story as you please, you had darn well make it a spectacular film.  I know I’ve been hitting Percy Jackson hard today, but I actually enjoyed the movie.  It was good if you don’t associate it with the book at all (*cough* Annabeth is BLOND *cough*).  The same with Harry Potter.  Those, I can forgive a bit more, because if J.K. Rowling says changes are okay, who am I to disagree?  And anyway, they are amazing movies.

Well, those are all the rules I can think of at the moment.  Does anyone else have any rules to watch by?  I would love to hear your opinions!

Happy reading!