Movie Adaptations and my Fairly Deep Aversion to Them

Movie Adaptations and My Fairly Deep Aversion to Them

With the recent announcement of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie, and the controversy surrounding it, a discussion post idea that I had a looong time ago resurfaced. Despite being a veracious member of the 21st century fandom culture, I do not like movie adaptations of books. Or TV ones, for that matter. In fact, I spend a considerable amount of energy trying to avoid them (and the resulting hype) at all costs.

Let’s put it this way. If my favorite books of all-time, the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, were ever optioned for the big screen, I honestly would be upset. Mad, even. I know, all you guys are looking at me like I’m crazy, but I’m here today to explain why I really really don’t like movie adaptations. Feel free at the end to tell me all the reasons you love them, I’m sure I’m in the minority when it comes to this topic!

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I guess you could say it started with The Lightning Thief. To say that movie was a betrayal of the worst kind would frankly be an understatement. My innocent 10-year-old self devoured the PJO series, and fell instantly in love. I had never read a story that I connected to so deeply, and for years later I would continue to be obsessed with the characters, Camp Half Blood, and all-things demigod related. So of course with the movie announcement, I freaked! I was ready to see my favorite story come to life. But little did I know that my hopes and dreams would be so utterly crushed – annihilated really – by that film. I still despise it with every fiber of my being, and will go off on a rant if asked about it. They butchered the characters, butchered the story, and in the process, tore my heart out.

That movie kicked off virtually a lifetime’s worth of distrust towards all adaptations. I do admit that I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to books, and I know that attitude is not the best to have. I can’t stand when any details about the plot or characters are changed. I’ve never agreed with or understood the philosophy that some directors/producers/screenplay writers have where they want to take the original story and “make it their own.” No offense to those creators, but I personally don’t want their version! I want the exact version I’ve already read and loved! It definitely makes my experience a lot harder than people that are more open-minded and just go into a movie with low expectations. I’m sure they leave with a smile on their face and are much happier! I wish I could be like that, but I just can’t be.

It goes beyond seeing changes made from the book. In truth, I get that some changes have to be made. Depending on the book, some plot points or developments don’t translate easily to the screen. For me, it’s about preserving that image I have in my head of the characters, the world, and the scenes. When I read a book, my imagination runs wild with the words on the page, and from then on those images are what I recall whenever I think of the book. I love how I imagine the characters, all their quirks and mannerisms, their clothes and hair, everything. It’s what makes the book so special and totally connected to me as an individual. Everyone imagines things a little differently in their head for each book! It’s one of the things I love most about reading, how we each read the same thing but interpret it in such drastically different ways.

The main reason I can never seem to enjoy a movie adaptation is because that image I have in my head of the story is sacrificed for the one on screen. I get so used to seeing the actors, that soon I’ve lost my version of the characters. And if the movie is bad, that makes it especially painful. It’s difficult to explain, since it’s such a mentally and emotionally personal thing for me. But the movie always seems to be a pale shadow in comparison to the depth and layers of a book, where the story is so much richer and so much more real than anything on screen.

So even if a movie adaptation was perfect – the ideal casting, a barely altered plot, a picturesque setting – I still don’t think I could fully appreciate or enjoy it. Because at the end of the day, the movie will never be my vision of the story.

Maybe that’s me being super self-centered or particular, but I can’t help how I feel. Blame the people that made the Percy Jackson movies, if it weren’t for that I might be writing a very different blog post right about now!

I will end the discussion on a more positive note though, and list some movies that I didn’t totally hate and even liked:

  • The Hunger Games (didn’t care for the later movies, but overall it was a faithful adaptation)
  • Harry Potter (does anyone really hate these?)
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • Twilight (I *may* actually like the movies more than the books……)
  • Narnia

I will also admit that the upcoming Simon VS movie has definitely caught my attention. The casting seems really attune to the book, so I think I’ll be trying my luck with that one!

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Do you enjoy movie adaptations? Or are you skeptical of them, like me? Are you excited about the upcoming Lara Jean movie? Let me know your thoughts on some of the movies on my list!

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7 thoughts on “Movie Adaptations and my Fairly Deep Aversion to Them”

  1. Ohh that was such an interesting discussion to read. I admit that I am always a bit nervous when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations just as well, especially when the book is one of my favorite, I am scared they will mess up everything and make me see the book differently and overall just, ruin everything, if that makes any sense. So I’m always really nervous whenever they announce a new adaptation – but I can’t help but watch them anyway ahha. I really loved Harry Potter and thought they did pretty good with TFIOS. I’m also eager for Simon vs. because I have a good feeling about the cast, but yeah…NERVOUSNESS ahah 🙂

    1. I can definitely relate!! Considering the history of YA movie adaptations, it’s really a 50/50 chance of a movie being good or not. There have been some really great ones in the past, but also some really NOT great ones ? I have a lot of hope for the Simon VS movie though, I’ll definitely be watching it! ?

  2. The Lightning Thief definitely scarred me for life, but I don’t hate movie adaptations.

    Movie adaptations were what helped get me into reading. I was not a big reader as a kid. I had severe ADHD so books & I did not mesh. Then, the Twilight movie came out and with all the hype surrounding it, I read the books and loved them (not so much now). After that, I loved reading.

    There are several movie adaptations I actually like more than the books like Austenland and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. With both of those, I didn’t like the books that much. When they were adapted, I thought the movies did a lot better job with the story idea and improved upon the content they were given. For some stories, switching mediums can be extremely beneficial.

    I’m excited for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t cast Korean actresses for the Song girls. It’s great to have more visible Asian American rep. However, casting a Vietnamese actress to play a main character whose Korean heritage was extremely important to her is unfortunate.

    1. I definitely respect that! Movie adaptations are a great tool for helping people become interested in reading, books, and stories in general! Especially for kids that have trouble with reading. And I haven’t seen those adaptations myself, but I also think that movies can sometimes be better than the books! For me that’s probably Narnia, the books I read were sort of slow and dull, but the movie took those ideas and made them really stunning to watch. So I totally agree that some stories are better as movies than others! I’m also disappointed that they didn’t cast a Korean actress, but I’m trying to look on the bright side and support the fact that the movie will still have 3 Asian American actresses at the forefront, which is rare enough in Hollywood. It’s a bummer though because the readers know how important Lara Jean’s Korean heritage was to her and her character. I’ll be on the lookout for reviews and thoughts on the movie though to see if it’s worth giving a chance! ❤️

  3. Haha I actually liked the movie version of Twlight better than the books as well! Not that I go out of my way to watch them either… And Narnia!! Both the books and movies are my LIFE.

    The Lightning Thief movie also ruined a lot of book to movie adaptations for me as well. I just couldn’t get over how they ignored so many critical details of the book! I understand a little finagling to get it to translate well to a screen (they are different mediums after all) but they changed the overall prophecy/age thing which was a complete deal breaker for me. It’s just so central to the story! I’ll stick to books 🙂

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Yeah the Narnia movies were pretty good I have to admit, they’re really visually stunning to watch. And I definitely agree with everything you said about The Lightning Thief, for me that movie was an utter disaster. They changed more from the book than they kept! But oh well, it’s probably about time that I got over it, considering how many years it’s been since the movie released ?

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