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Willows of Fate
by Suzanna J. Linton
My Three Favorite Book-to-Movie Adaptations
In the 1994 comedy Airheads, an amateur band holds a radio station hostage as part of a convoluted plot to be heard by the CEO of a record label. When the cops surround the building, the band make a list of bizarre demands in order to buy themselves time.
Rex, the band's leader, demands 67 copies of Moby Dick. The secretary asks if he wants the book or movie, to which Rex says, "They made a book outta that?"
It is true that, many times, we don't know a movie is based upon a book until that single line appears in the credits: Based upon the novel [blank] by [blank]. For example, after watching recently-released The Martian, I overheard someone say they had no idea the movie was based on a book.
As an avid reader, I normally know if a movie I'm about to see is based upon a novel. And, many times, I walk out feeling like the book was better by far. Out of all the movies I've seen, three in particular stand out as being almost as good as the book.
I loved the book The Martian by Andy Weir. I'm normally not one for science fiction that is full of technical speak and mathematics. My eyes tend to glaze over after the ninth equation.
However, what captivated me about The Martian was the balance between the science and the human. And smart-mouth Mark Watney was a huge plus. When the movie was announced, I worried Hollywood would "pull punches" to keep the movie open to a wider audience.
Instead, they kept that careful balance and didn't water Mark Watney down—much. In my opinion, Matt Damon was a brilliant casting choice. He's great at dry, gallows humor, which he demonstrated in the Ocean's Eleven franchise.
What's better, I think the movie really encouraged people to go read the book and I'm all about encouraging people to read. I'm a writer, after all.
THE LAST UNICORN
Yes, I'm fully aware that this is a book-to-cartoon-movie adaptation but it still counts!
I adored this movie and it is one of the few I watched as a kid without knowing right away that it was based on a book by Peter S. Beagle. I loved that the wizard was this young, bumbling guy torn between compassion and grasping for power. I loved Molly, the disillusioned woman who was willing to put aside the pain of her past to grasp the beauty of her present.
And I loved the unicorn and her willingness to sacrifice for her kin. I loved the bittersweet plot and the growth of the characters.
When I read the book, I was pleasantly surprised that they kept the core of the story. I found the fleshed out story to be more beautiful and captivating as the movie.
The campy movie Silver Bullet was based on a novella by Stephen King called Cycle of the Werewolf.
This movie is full of bad special effects and equally bad acting. The plot is less a layered story and more an '80s slasher flick. It's also the first werewolf movie I ever saw and I think that's why it's stuck with me.
The novella by King is a series of episodes that coincide with holidays. The movie takes those and makes a more conventional story out of them. Rated against the other movies made from King's work, this one is up there (or down there) with Maximum Overdrive. The novella is much, much better.
Why do I love it, though? Because a paraplegic kid in a supped-up wheelchair kicks butt, that's why. And you never forget your first werewolf flick.
Really, you never forget your first book-turned-movie when you bother to read the book. So, read on and watch on, I say!