Movies Based on Books- Can They Ever Compare?

I went to see The Hunger Games today. It was a reward for finally finishing the draft of my novel.

I’m very new to The Hunger Games craze, having just the book a few weeks ago. I loved the book, and as soon as I finished it, I promptly bough Chasing Fire and devoured it. I am halfway through Mockingjay now.  It was important to me to see the movie while still in the theatre as opposed to waiting for DVD because I wanted to see how the effects translated to the big screen.

I enjoyed the movie well enough. It felt great to escape from real life for a few hours, especially given the stress I’ve been under lately and my tight deadline for finishing my MS. I needed a break.

Overall, though, the movie can’t compare favorably to the book. I find that movie versions of books seldom do, because there are so many things that have to be cut to fit into the allotted running time. In most instances, there are also elements of the book that just don’t translate well to film.

The Hunger Games movie just lacks the depth and intensity of the book. The book is gripping, in part because of the narration style. It’s intense and emotional. The despair of the of District 12 and the depravity of the games are vividly portrayed, and it makes for a compelling read.

Unfortunately, those things didn’t translate to the film. It’s entertaining, the performances are good, and the imagery of the Capitol is well-presented (seeing that brought to life is something I really enjoyed. The ludicrousness of the Capitol translated very well into film), but it isn’t intense, powerful, and gripping like the book is.

That seems to the case almost all of the time. I enjoy the Harry Potter movies because of the effects, but they’re not as good as the books.

I think the only movie based on a book that I enjoyed more than the book is The Devil Wears Prada. I didn’t care for the book at all, but the movie is actually pretty good. That’s the exception, though, and most of the time I find myself skipping movies based on books I really love because they can’t compare.


4 comments on “Movies Based on Books- Can They Ever Compare?

  1. I agree that movies never live up to my expectations. I loved the Hunger Games series. The movie was entertaining and a close adaptation to the book. However,the books are ALWAYS better!

  2. Great post. While I agree with you, they did a much better job with this book to movie adaptation as opposed to Twilight. Although, the movie lacked the inner thoughts of Katniss and some really improtant characters.

  3. I think it is difficult to translate all the nuances in books to the screen. That said, I really did enjoy The Hunger Games movie, and I thought it was a good representation of the books.

    Cherie Reich – Author

  4. Like any first-person narration, The Hunger Games gives us the story told entirely from the perspective of the character, told in her distinctive voice. Neither of these qualities – but especially voice – can be completely reproduced in a film. The movie Jesus’ Son partially succeeds, but it’s still not as good as the short story collection.

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