Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on movies: the good, the bad and the ugly

The Good: Having read the Steig Larrson trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and Girl Played with Fire) on my Kobo, I can say that the film remake was close to the spirit of the trilogy. Capturing the storyline just enough, my wife who had not read a single word from the books, was captivated enough to actually get over the subtitles (a pet peeve of hers). The pace was there, keeping true to the books’ primary events and the disjointed point of view of Lisbeth Salander.

The Bad: With the pedigree of Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, you’d think you would be getting an entertaining film for a couple of hours with Hereafter; apparently not. Cinematically, this movie was beautifully made and very tightly written. I thought the concept was really well executed. The problem was the three inter-related story arcs that had very little to do with each other until the final twenty minutes or so. The pacing was abysmally slow and quite frankly I could only really care about one of the three storylines. As the final scene faded into credits, both my wife and I turned to each other and asked the same question: “So.... that’s it?” Is Hereafter based on a book? Not to my knowledge, though I imagine it would have been infinitely better received as one.

On movie adaptations (very often the ugly): Generally, Stieg Larrson’s books were well represented, something astonishingly challenging for Hollywood (read: North American media) to accomplish. Need I bring up just about every Stephen King novel adaptation. This said, my standards are likely set fairly high.

The first movie adapted from a book that I saw was Bladerunner, something of a science fiction masterpiece (cinematics, sound track, acting, direction, production). The first book I read on my Kobo was the long-awaited Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which Bladerunner was based upon. This just reinforced my appreciation for both book and film. Another worthy adaptation isthe Lord of the Rings trilogy, both films and movies require little comment. Aside from the (very) long Return of the King film, this was a masterfully entertaining and well-produced series of movies.

Writing fantasy: One of the biggest possible pay-offs for a writer is to have their works adapted to film; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so to speak. So, do writers think about the way things would adapt to film when they write a scene? I’m sure some do, something I myself must admit to. I listen to music while I write, a trick I adapted while doing my undergraduate and post-grad studies. It evokes the mood and sometimes the very scenes in my head. I then write what I see; it helps maintain the pace. I am by no means conceited enough to think my work is blockbuster movie material – heck, it has to get published first! That said, it certainly is influenced by film.

Just a few thoughts.

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