In honor of Ridley Scott’s film adaption of Andy Weir’s The Martian being released this Friday and let me tell you something dear reader, here at Clash we are extremely excited to Matt Damon take on the role of the stranded astronaut Mark Watney, we are going to have a special Battle Grounds today. Today Nelson and I are going to argue our favorite Book to Movie adaptions.
Nelson: My pick is World War Z.
Josh: Hmm… Interesting, mine is the superb Michael Crichton book and Steven Spielberg film Jurassic Park.
Nelson: That’s not a bad pick. Now I went with World War Z instead for a non-conventional reason. Usually the consensus on what a good adaptation is how close it stays to the source material. In most cases if it strays too far from the source it’s considered bad. In rare cases adaptations can be great. This is one case where I consider great.
One reason is the format of the book. The book is set up in such a way that it does not work for a movie. A mini-series maybe, but not a movie. The movie on its surface seems as if that it only shares the name but after multiple views and recently listening to the audiobook, I’ve noticed that the movie actually references many details from the book’s events. Because of the movie is done where everything is unfolding as we watch, the movie actually could serve as a prequel to the book. For those unfamiliar with the book, the events of world war z are told in the past tense. The main character is a UN Investigator trying to research for a report on the zombie infection. In terms of the adaptation, I thought that they referenced enough of the source material to keep the tone and feel of the book and create something new that enhances the story.
Josh: I went with Jurassic Park because the book and the movie were completely brilliant. Like any movie it strays from its source material, but unlike World War Z it shares more than just a name with the source. The spirit of Crichton’s book is intact and a lot of things that happened in the book happen in the movie. If you read the book and saw the movie but weren’t told the titles of either you’d be pretty sure that yes they were the same. Another reason why I picked these two is because holy shit this movie turns the most harden man into a child again. Watching this movie I don’t feel like a man in his 30’s I feel like I’m ten again, and the same with reading the book. Yes I read the book at ten; however, rereading it I understood the science a lot more. This book is master piece and so is the film. And unlike most adaptions the changes in the movie enhance the experience. Like the ending of the movie where the T-Rex saves Grant and the kids isn’t in the book but a far better ending than Grant shooting the raptors.
Nelson: Now I love Jurassic Park, but from what I understand, they did take some noticeable liberties with the story. Like you said about the T-Rex not being in the end, some characters that lived died in the movie and vice versa. In the case of the lawyer, the character was changed. And Spoiler Alert, Malcolm was supposed to die, not star in the subpar Lost World. I dare say that if it wasn’t for the fact that Jurassic Park is just a fantastic movie, it wouldn’t be considered a good adaptation.
Josh: You want to argue about not being faithful? Nothing about World War Z the movie is anything like the book. In fact pretty much the only thing they share is the title. For starters the book takes place after the war and it’s about “Max” interviewing people who were affected by the war. The movie is just about Brad Pitt’s Gerry trying to find a cure, a cure mind you that isn’t in the book at all. Also the zombies don’t run, Israel doesn’t fall, and the zombies didn’t care if you were sick or not they just ate your ass. As far as Malcolm dying, yes in the original book it appeared he died but even in the book sequel, The Lost World, Malcolm is the star like he is in the movie, so technically he didn’t die (though part of me feels that was Crichton bending to the movie’s popularity). The differences between the book and movie in Jurassic Park enhances both of them. The differences between Z makes you think, damn, this movie could have been so much more. Every change Spielberg made from the book was done to enhance the experience for the audience, what is thrilling on paper doesn’t always transfer onto the screen. There were some scenes that were cut from the book, but at the same time the movie is a tight 127 minutes so I understand some of the subplots that were cut from the movie, but with three sequels just about all of them made it onto the silver anyways so in the end we didn’t really lose them.
Nelson: Now what you’re saying isn’t false. World War Z does have its short comings. On paper it does seem to only share its name with the source material but Jurassic Park takes its liberties as well. I feel that the movie can serve as an enhancement to the book where the books events are told in the past tense. It’s an unofficial prequel. And because of the movie, a sequel or series can be made that IS more in-line with the book and not be a reboot or confuse viewers not familiar with the book.
Josh: Here are the problems with your prequel to the book theory, one, the zombies aren’t even the same kind of zombies that are in the book, and two the movie didn’t even expect a sequel and kind of wrapped up it’s in ending in the worst way possible, with narration and clips that were shot for the movie mixed in with news reels. Last I heard they were making a sequel, and mind you where I like both the Z book and movie, I think a sequel to the movie that’s not a reboot that is faithful to the book will be disastrous because here is what they’re going to do;
Every Hollywood sequel has to raise the stakes (I say has to because Hollywood believes this though in reality they really don’t, case in point the Lethal Weapon movies), so the “cure” that they found in the first movie won’t work anymore and we’ll probably get some sort of super zombies (think Nemesis from Resident Evil) and Gerry will go globetrotting again (this time with a team of Navy Seals to find a new cure and hunt down these super zombies. Before you say “that sounds cool” just think about the Resident Evil movies along with Land of the Dead, all shit. What I would rather see is an HBO or AMC mini-series that follows the book more closely. Seriously, tell me you don’t want to see the chapters from the book about the Dog teams, the Air force pilot who crashed in the middle of zombie infested America, the Chinese sub, or the blind Japanese gardener? I fucking want to see those and I don’t want them to be some off-handed scene, I want a whole fucking 30 minutes to an hour episode dedicated to each.
Back to Jurassic Park, both the movie and the book were ahead of their time. The science in both the book and movie were at the cutting edge as far as the science was concerned. Bipedal dinosaurs being more bird like than lizard like, and Crichton’s understanding of cloning and the science behind it was extremely accurate. Shoot, even God bent to the will of Steven Spielberg when Spielberg decided that 3-4 foot tall Velociraptors weren’t scary enough that shortly into filming an 8 foot tall raptor species was discovered, now called the Utah Raptor. What this movie did for special effects was on par with what Star Wars did in 1977. After Jurassic Park came out movie making changed forever as well as special effects making.
So dear reader here are our two arguments as to our favorite book to movie adaptions, what are yours? Also are your excited about the Martian this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.