I’m starting to have a serious problem with Hollywood.
I’m not that much of a movie buff. My parents have always tried to focus on educating me in the classics — “Fargo,” “A League of Their Own,” “When Harry Met Sally” — but I’ve somehow failed to squeeze in movie marathons between journalism, basketball, church and volunteering.
I’m no expert, but I still have to take up a serious complaint with Hollywood. In recent years, I’ve noticed that whenever Hollywood runs out of fresh ideas, they turn to book adaptations. Not only do they turn to book adaptations, but they also pick some of my most beloved books. And ruin them.
I guess you could say I’m a little bitter. You have to understand — I’ve been fighting this battle against book adaptations since elementary school. Being a nerdy child, my two favorite book series were the “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Eragon.”
I’m not the only nerd out there. Upon discovering their popularity, some genius in Hollywood drew up the plan to make movie adaptations of both series.
I was excited beyond belief. I begged my mom to let me skip school on both of the movies’ release days. I could hardly breathe during the trailers.
I was rewarded with awkward acting and grievous plot changes.
At the time, I didn’t understand how bad these movies truly were. But upon revisiting them in past years, my disappointment has only grown.
As the years went on after elementary school, I was greeted with one disappointment after another.
There is, of course, the pompous, overdone film adaptation — not the musical — of “Les Miserables,” easily one of the greatest novels ever written. There is Baz Luhrmann’s stumbling attempt at Shakespeare, which over-shoots “quirky” and became just plain weird by introducing handguns and Leonardo DiCaprio to “Romeo and Juliet.” Stray outside of the classics and you get “The Golden Compass,” another beloved fantasy book that couldn’t be successfully transferred to screen even with a grandiose budget.
Since I’ve already admitted to being a nerd, there is no doubt one question on your mind — “Harry Potter.”
I’ll admit it — I love the “Harry Potter” adaptations.
In fact, the Harry Potter series is the only adaptation I have seen that comes close to doing the original book justice. Obviously, characters and scenes had to be omitted. But the essence of the story remained the same. J.K. Rowling was careful in her character selection and retained a broad amount of control on the plot.
“Harry Potter” is the only adaptation that pulled it off. Every other attempt just falls short — cutting important scenes, warping vital characters, making hideous costume decisions.
For these very reasons, I have become nervous about seeing the recently-released movies for two of my favorite books — “Ender’s Game” and “The Book Thief.”
Both of these books are beautiful and detailed, filled with characters that breathe with a depth of development and plots that manipulate emotions with the simple twist of a strand of words. I love them. They have shaped me as both a writer and a human being.
Yet I can’t imagine how a movie can transfer that beauty onto a screen. I don’t understand how an actor can incorporate every essence of those deep characters, or how two hours can encompass a 500-plus page novel.
I’m worried, but I’m holding out hope. I’ve suffered through “Life of Pi” and “The Secret of Nimh,” through “The Great Gatsby” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” Maybe, just maybe, these two movies will come out as perfect as Harry Potter.