Friday, August 17, 2018

DISCUSSION | What Do I Value in Film Adaptations?

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! I'm Genni, and today we're going to be discussing book adaptations. Whether it be television shows, movies, web series, etc., book adaptations are abundant. 

For today, I'm going to self reflect on my experience watching YA book to film adaptations, and ask myself,  "What do I look for in an adaptation?" As a reader, do I look for accuracy and staying true to the source material? Do I hope that the adaptation stays true to the heart of book, but am okay with certain changes? As a viewer, do I  care that a film is even adapted from something, or am I just looking for a quality film? When the two intersect, reader and viewer, what do I value the most?

As a critical reader and viewer, I want whatever media I consume to be first-rate. I've come to learn that what I value most in an adaptation is dependent on my relationship to the book. For instance, I read The Darkest Minds years ago, and frankly, did not enjoy the book that much. If I were to watch the film, I would hope that the film's plot followed that of the book, and that key scenes were the same or similar. However, I wouldn't mind if a character's name or appearance was changed. I also wouldn't mind if the plot was altered, if the adaptation maintained the core of the novel. This is not the same for an adaption of a book that I loved, though. When The Fault in Our Stars was coming to theaters, I absolutely loved the book. I was so worried that the movie wouldn't include certain scenes, even lines, from the source material. I don't care about this for The Darkest Minds, but I did for The Fault in Our Stars, because I had a much stronger connection to the source material at the time. When I'm watching an adaption but haven't read the book, I then simply look for well-produced and well-acted entertainment. I have never read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so when I watch the film, I don't compare it to its source material. Instead, I take in the movie as a separate entity, as individual. When I do this, I tend to enjoy the film more, as I'm not nit-picking the movie, and instead taking everything all in. Even then, some film adaptations have fallen short.

It is not a secret that Young Adult Adaptations have had a tumultuous relationship with critics. Some films and franchises, like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are critically applauded. Other adaptations, such as Twilight, Percy Jackson, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, are critically reviled. Let's look at some of the most recent films based on young adult literature, and their Rotten Tomatoes scores, as of 8 August 2018. 
  • Love, Simon - 91%
  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure - 41%
  • Every Day - 63%
  • Midnight Sun - 17%
  • Ready Player One - 73%
  • The Darkest Minds - 19%
  • Everything, Everything - 47%
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post - 80%
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - 63%
  • Allegiant - 12%
As you can tell from this sample of 10 movies, YA adaptations are a mixed bag. The scores above aren't a grade, exactly, but the percent of critics that enjoyed the movie. Out of these ten, five of them were "fresh", or above a 60 percent approval rating. These "fresh" movies range from a 63% approval rating to a 91% percent approval rating. The other five, however, have much lower approval ratings, ranging from 12% to 47 percent. The average percent of these 10 movies is 50.5%. This isn't a horrible score, but shows that, at least with critics, there is much more room to improve upon when it comes to YA adaptations.

We might not all agree with critics, or even watch movies critically, but the evidence is clear: there are some bad film adaptations, and some quality ones. However, I would argue that these film critics aren't reviewing the movie based on whether the movie stayed true to the book. These critics are professionals and know what to look for in movies to determine is something was well made or not. Odds are, they haven't read the book the film is based on, and if they have, they would try to keep the two separate from each other. Since I am both reader and viewer,  it can be difficult to separate book from movie. When I do, I get the most rewarding results. 

I can with strong conviction that Love, Simon was an amazing film. I also thought the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, was equally amazing. When I watched the movie though, I didn't go in thinking, "I can't wait for this specific scene, etc.!" Instead, I immersed myself in the movie and attempted to not make comparisons. Because of this, I was able to shrug off changes made and just enjoy the movie for what is was. Since the movie also stayed true to the majority of the book, I am able to watch it with the book in mind, and still enjoy it! 

My resolution, from here on out, is to separate adaptations from the source material upon first watching. That way, I am not nit-picking the movie, and I am just watching the film for what it is. If the movie follows the book closely and is good, that is the best of both worlds! But if the film takes major detours, there is a better a chance I'll still enjoy it since I'm watching as a film and not an adaptation. If I watch the movie and dislike it, it's not because the movie made changes from the book, as that's to be expected. Instead, it will be because it simply was not executed well. 

What do you value when watching adaptations? 

Thank you so much for stopping by and I'll see you soon with another post!

Happy Reading!

Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!

Articles Refrenced:
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  1. I think when it comes to movie adaptations, my expectation for the movies are automatically lower compared to other movies like horror, animation, or superhero movies. I think it is because when you're reading a book you love, you imagine the characters and scenes a certain way. When the movie doesn't portray those moments the way you expected, it ruins the movie for you. Although, I do enjoy seeing how certain costumes or outfits of characters come out. For example, from reading about Eiffe Trinket's outfits from The Hunger Games, I was happy to see how it turned out in the movie.

    Elle Inked @ Keep on Reading

    1. I also tend to lower my expectations! I don't want to get upset if the movie doesn't include a certain scene or the characters aren't acted by my dream cast. About Effie - I completely agree! I think they did a wonderful with hair, makeup, and costume on her character! The Hunger Games movies are one of my favorite adaptations to date!

      Thanks so much for visiting Elle!

  2. I just recently watched Love, Simon was a pretty fantastic adaptation - sure there were some changes, but it still felt true to the source material. :)

    1. I completely agree with you Lauren! The movie can stand on its own, but because it stays true to the heart of the book, it's such a pleasure to pair them up!

  3. These days, it's hit or miss whether I read the book before seeing the movie. If I've read the book, I kind of expect certain things to be the same. I understand if things need to be streamlined or changed in order to accommodate the movie, but the general gist of the book needs to be there. A big one - don't change the ending!

    1. I'm right there with you Angela! I think the general gist needs to stay the same as well, but I also understand if they need to change things so they can be more cinematic. I hate to say it, but most adaptations aren't the art-house films that really take time with internal struggle. Instead, companies want explosions, war, etc. to draw people in and make money at the box office. I'm actually okay if the ending is tweaked a little, but I really dislike it when a book is split up into two movies when there really doesn't need two films to one book!

  4. I totally agree with you here. In fact, sometimes I even like to watch the movie first so I don't have expectations. I find that the book can almost always live up to the movie, but it doesn't always work the other way around.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I also am starting to watch movies first before reading! I recently watched Ready, Player, One, and while it was a perfect movie, I really liked it overall! I know some fans of the book absolutely hated it though, so I just took that option away from me by not reading it beforehand. :)

      Thanks for stopping by Nicole!

  5. This is really interesting Genni! I haven't really thought about how I judge film adaptations but I probably should :) I guess I usually try to keep the film and the book at least somewhat separate in my head because it is pretty impossible to completely copy a book into a movie without a little interpretation by the direction and writers and actors. Although, like you said, if I'm more connected to the source material, I'm more invested in making sure I love the film just as much which can definitely lead to some nitpicking.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Thanks Laura! The thought came to me after I watched Ready, Player, One despite not reading the book! I also try to keep them separate, but it's hard to maintain that goal when one of my favorite books is being adapted.

      Thanks for visiting! :)

  6. I actually do not watch too many film adaptations. I almost always prefer the books. There have been a few exceptions, Harry Potter being one of them, but it doesn't happen often. I remember getting really excited about the Percy Jackson movies, and then all I did was say, "No. No. No, that's now how it happened." It was incredibly frustrating to watch. However, I do plan on watching The Hate U Give when it comes out, because I believe the author's involvement means it will be done well and accurately. I guess we'll see!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. I don't actively seek out film adaptations, but they have been getting really popular! Like you, I almost always prefer the books. Also, YES the Percy Jackson movies are so frustrating and I dislike them a lot. I'm always hoping that the series will be given another go! I also plan on watching The Hate U Give! Based on the trailers it seems like the heart of the film is still there.

      Thanks for stopping by Lindsi!

  7. Terrific post, and I totally agree with your conclusion. Personally, I don't mind if the film is a little different compared to the book, as long as it's a good film and they haven't made any serious, earth shattering changes that ruin essential elements or themes in the book. The changes are fine if they're not important to the story.

    Awesome discussion post!

    1. Thanks Amy!! Sometimes I like to watch the movie first just so I'm not disappointed! That way if they make major changes, I don't get as frustrated. I agree though, changes are fine if they're not important to the story! Sometimes it is hard to accept, but not every little detail can be translated to film.