Reviewing Reviews

Finally the day arrives when your favorite book hits the big screen. You wait for hours to get the best seat of the first showing. Excitement fills you as you take your seat- then you see the film. Everyone leaves the theatre with their shoulders slumped out of disappointment. That wasn’t what you wanted to see, not what the character was supposed to look like, it was all wrong.

Students should not compare the movie to the book but instead judge the film as a completely different form of media. Comparing movie adaptations to their books by only seeing what the movie left out causes people to overlook the quality of the plot and film development the movie provides.

A popular book adaptation, “The Hunger Games,” ran into some issues because of missing scenes from the book. Directors struggle to put every scene from a book into a movie. They may want to keep the movie at a specific rating or maybe the director just ran out of time. The film left out scenes like Haymitch falling off stage at the reaping and Katniss receiving bread from District 11, but leaving out those scenes did not interfere with the storyline. Despite complaints from book fans, the movie got a rating of 7.3 on IMDB and an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. One scene from a book left out of a movie does not truly impact the quality of the film, and a critique for a film should be based on the actors and screenplay.

Edmund Wilson said “No two persons ever read the same book” meaning when people read books, they can interpret a book in different ways. So when people say, “This wasn’t like the book,” they contrast two completely different takes of one story: the director’s and the author’s. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief” caused tension among fans of the book because the storyline and plot completely changed from the book to big screen. The direction the producers went with the film could have been interesting had fans not concerned themselves with the drastic changes made to the storyline.

When people read books they get an idea in their heads of what they expect from the movie and therefore feel entitled to point out each aspect of the movie that does not parallel the novel. Comparing a movie adaptation to its book resembles comparing apples and oranges. These two entirely different forms of media create burdens when trying to compare since one requires a person to sit and look at moving pictures for two to three hours while the other takes more time to read. Even though the book may go into detail about what a character or setting looks like, some things will be left to the reader’s imagination. In the film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” some people might have imagined the main character, Charlie, to look exactly like Logan Lerman, but others may have pictured him in another way. Stephen Chbosky, author of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” gave vague character descriptions, which left the director to decide who he thought best played Charlie.

Instead of only rating a movie by how well it matches with a book, students need to judge a movie’s quality by looking at the screenplay, how well the actors performed, and the storyline, and then they can judge what the movie left out from the book.


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