Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Books, Movies and Satisfying Endings

I took my younger kids to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief over the weekend. What a great movie!

While I stew or rejoice over reviews of my books, I pay no mind to movie critics: I see what I want to see. With that in mind, Percy Jackson joined a lengthy list of must-see flicks my crew keeps top of mind (followed by Alice in Wonderland and The Karate Kid remake).

It's been awhile since I've delved into a Young Adult novel (though I still read plenty of grade school fare for the youngest) and though both my sons are avid fantasy fans, neither of them has picked up on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. This fact comes with its pros and cons.

My oldest – a Harry Potter fan since the beginning of the series – refused to see any of the movies after The Prisoner of Azkaban, citing too many inconsistencies with the book. Though we managed to lure him into seeing the others, he complains bitterly about each one, reciting skipped passages and pieces of action he feels would have improved the script.

The second son is not quite so tough on movie translations, though he insisted on reading Eragon before we could go see the movie and was crushed by one of the movie’s detours from the novel’s plot. Of course it all worked out in the end, but, still, he complains about the scriptwriters’ decision to “mess up the story.”

Pros: I love that my kids love to read -- especially fantasy. Cons: Their novel plot loyalty can make movie night at home a little trying as we're watching DVD re-runs.

I have to say that my first thought barely into viewing Percy Jackson was not that I must now read the books (though I’ll probably pick them up for the kids). No, I was immediately compelled to write that kind of story. The movie, from my perspective anyway, was fantastic. The level of action caught me by surprise and I felt like the writers wrapped up all the pieces of the story into a plausible, satisfying ending.

Do the Percy Jackson books have page-turning action? I don’t know. But after seeing how well fantasy and thrills combined in this effort, I’ve taken a step back to examine the pacing and plotting in my current work-in-progress to be sure that readers remain perched on the edge of their seats (or beds or beach chairs or whatever) until THE END.

I feel fortunate that I was able to enjoy the movie from several points of view: as an author who often wonders what it takes to get a book even optioned for a movie; as a parent watching one child cover her eyes when the action got intense and peeking at the other to see him piece together the clues that led to the Lightening Thief; and as a movie buff who loves to get her money’s worth.

My curiosity is certainly piqued for Percy Jackson’s next installments – literary and theatrical. What are your favorite book-to-movie translations? Your least favorite? Let us know and thanks for stopping by!



Danica Avet said...

Percy Jackson is on my list of books to read and movies to watch. It looks interesting and I'm not so harsh when it comes to adaptations, so plot/scene changes don't bother me as much. If there is one movie adaptation that I wish had never been made, it would have to be Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was so excited to find out they were making a movie, I could barely wait. I was there on opening night, and left disappointed. I don't know if it was just terrible acting, or the screenplay that was so bad, but it was the worse book-to-movie I've ever seen.

Liane Spicer said...

Fave book-to-movie adaptations:
Oliver Twist
The Engish Patient

I have the same problem as your sons even though I know the novel and the movie are different beasts and can seldom be made to flow from one medium to the other seamlessly.

PS: Thanks for the warning, Danica. I love Hitchhiker too much to watch it being clubbed to death on the screen.