In this series, I will be writing “reviews” of movie adaptations of books. These reviews will not be based on whether the movie is just good as a movie (though that may help my opinion of the adaptation). They will mostly be based on how well the movie transferred the story to the big (or small, if we’re talking T.V. movies and mini-series) screen. I figured this would be okay for a series since it is related to literature and all.

Grading
Basically, I will go through a few categories such as characters, plot, casting, message, etc. (though these categories may vary from review to review), and then I will arrive at a grade for the adaptation. Grading will go as follows:

A: The movie is excellent. It completely captures the essence of the book. The actors were the characters. Most, if not all, major plot points were included. Just about any die-hard fan would be satisfied with this adaptation.
B: The movie is decent. The main events are pretty much there. It was well-casted for the most part. Some key things were left out, but if you hadn’t read the book, you wouldn’t miss them. Most of the characters were well-developed, but a few of them were pretty stripped down.
C: When you see this film, you will say, “Meh.” It’s not great, but it’s certainly not the worst adaptation ever produced. The filmmakers cut out a lot of important things, but the stuff they left in was spot-on. Some characters might be drastically different or removed all-together, but the main characters are still there, and they’re pretty much the same as in the book(s). The filmmakers may have added scenes that seem useless, but they don’t totally ruin the story. This grade also goes to those that seem like they should get a higher grade accuracy-wise, but they just aren’t quite right. There’s a quality from the book that didn’t transfer to the movie.
D: It sucks. That’s putting it kindly. The plot is fairly different. The basic structure is there, but it’s just not right. The characters are underdeveloped. Some of them may have been renamed for no apparent reason. Several main characters are missing, or might as well be. The filmmakers added random scenes, while deleting some of the greatest scenes in the book. Characters are given different ages for no reason at all. The actors are all way too pretty for the characters they are playing. Note: Adaptations may receive a D-rating if they are of C- or B-quality but changed the ending or some other important plot point.
F: You walk out of the theater halfway through. It’s awful. The story, the plot, the characters, they’re all barely recognizable. Think Jane Eyre being played by a chimpanzee and the story taking place on Mars. The protagonist has a different personality. Most of the other characters are missing. The filmmakers completely missed the message of the book. The actors are horrible and are all Hollywood pretty people, but not the ones who can actually act. The script could’ve been written better by a five-year-old with a big, red crayon.
I: A movie will receive an incomplete if the scenes it included are very good and in tune with the story, but the whole thing seems kind of disconnected. This movie will likely not make much sense to those who haven’t read the book. This is the type of movie that leads to thousands of IMDb postings beginning with “Why…” and then explained by other posters with “Well, in the book…” Scenes may be added or removed, or certain scenes may be changed. The thing that separates incompletes from the other grades mentioned so far is the accuracy of some scenes mixed with the confusion of how the story got from point A to point B.
X: These films are exempt from grading. They are so unbelievably awesome that it doesn’t matter that the filmmakers strayed from the book just a tad… or even a bit more than a tad. This is the only grade of movie that can change the ending and get away with it. In many cases, these films surpass the source material. They are, at the very least, as good.

Grades A through F may have a + (plus) or – (minus) attached to them.

Spoilers
As I will be going through the differences of the book and the movie, there will be spoilers, lots of them. I would suggest not reading these reviews if you have not A.) read the book or B.) seen the movie. I will do my best to mark all spoilers, especially major ones. Keep in mind, our definition of “spoiler” might be different. I will mark spoilers about the ending of either the book or the movie with ENDING SPOILER. I will mark major spoilers with MAJOR SPOILER and minor spoilers with MINOR SPOILER. If the spoiler pertains to only the book or the movie I will use either BOOK SPOILER or MOVIE SPOILER. Well, you get the idea.

I know that most people will watch these atrocious butcherings anyway (I know I would), but this is just my attempt to save fans who aren’t as stubborn as I am from having to see their favorite books brutally murdered. I should have the first one up by next weekend, but don’t hold your breath. I tend to procrastinate.

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Comment

  1. fffan on 21 April 2010, 01:40 said:

    First!

    I think I would give the Harry Potter movies An “I”.
    There were alot of plot holes in the movies that were smoothed over in the books. But that’s just my humble opinion.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen any movies I would rate as “X” or even “A” — except perhaps Lord Of The Rings. Then again I never really liked the books. [Is stoned to death]

    Anyway I’ll stop doing your reviews for you. Can’t wait for the first one.

  2. Leliel on 21 April 2010, 04:20 said:

    Yeah, I read the description for X and thought “Well, that’s clearly LotR” — not a huge fan of the books here either. I would have pegged the HP movies in the B to C range, with the general trend being downwards as they futilely try to cram longer books into shorter films (HBP being an improvement over OotP but still missing so much).

    I’m sure I’ve seen /something/ that warrants an A but damned if I can think of anything right now.

  3. Romantic Vampire Lover on 21 April 2010, 04:51 said:

    LotR DESERVES AN X. And the books are amazing (in my opinion). Just throwing it out there. :D Neurotic, I can’t wait to see the first of this series.

  4. Northmark on 21 April 2010, 08:38 said:

    Let the Right One In gets either an X or an A. I looove that movie, and I think it’s the first adaptation I’ve ever seen that might be better than the book.

  5. Nate Winchester on 21 April 2010, 09:28 said:

    Might we also say that a C rank is for adaptions that were to the wrong medium?

    For instance, while the Harry Potter movies aren’t BAD, I’d say the book series would work much better as… a 7 season television show or anime.

    I think I would give the Harry Potter movies An “I”.

    Ah well… yeah I guess that works.

    LotR and Narnia might be hotly debated as some fans would give them A’s, some a scathing D or worse.

  6. theArmourer on 21 April 2010, 09:53 said:

    I would give LotR a “D” for following the book. They were good movies on their own, just not good at keeping the characters the way they were in the books.

  7. NeuroticPlatypus on 21 April 2010, 21:06 said:

    I probably won’t do the biggies (LotR, HP, Narnia) just yet. I need to reread HP before I can make accurate comparisons and analysis. I need to actually read LotR (it’s on my to do list). I’ve only read the first three Narnias, and that was several years ago.

    I’m between two for the first article, just because I have a lot to say about both, but I haven’t seen one of the movies yet, so I’ll need to do that this week.

  8. ZeeZee on 21 April 2010, 23:24 said:

    LotR and Narnia might be hotly debated as some fans would give them A’s, some a scathing D or worse.

    Well, movies like Narnia might be a little hard to rate, since the filmmakers had to take out the religious themes.

    What sort of category would that fit in, if a movie has to be seriously edited to make it socially acceptable today?

  9. Snow White Queen on 22 April 2010, 02:03 said:

    @ theArmourer: I don’t know that the LotR books were so deviant that they deserve a D. I would place them between a C and a D. Even though there are some changes I don’t look as fondly upon, I am oddly forgiving of Jackson and Co. simply because it’s so obvious that they respect the source material so very much.

    On that note, a question to the authoress: When you are doing your ratings, are you going to take into account changes that the film-makers made to make the transition to film smoother? I think it’s hardly fair to mark down a director for simply ensuring that his film works as a film and not just a bunch of images sucked right out of the book and flung on screen. It’s just the truth that some things that work in books do not work on film. Of course, you can discuss whether the book being adapted is really a good choice, but that’s something of a different matter.

  10. NeuroticPlatypus on 22 April 2010, 20:02 said:

    When you are doing your ratings, are you going to take into account changes that the film-makers made to make the transition to film smoother?

    If they changed something that simply would not work on film, I will probably not count it against them. I get what you’re saying, SWQ. I will take into account that some things wouldn’t work on film.

    It’ll probably be a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” sort of thing. It’s just like if they followed the source material, but it didn’t transition well to film, they would be marked down a bit because it needed to smoothed out.

    So, they probably won’t be counted down for changing things that wouldn’t work in a film. I can’t think of a specific example of that right now, but I know what you’re talking about.

  11. theArmourer on 22 April 2010, 21:08 said:

    In many cases, these films surpass the source material. They are, at the very least, as good.

    Movie LotR cannot be better than book LotR. Therefore not an “X”.

  12. Steph on 25 April 2010, 07:30 said:

    Well, movies like Narnia might be a little hard to rate, since the filmmakers had to take out the religious themes.

    What sort of category would that fit in, if a movie has to be seriously edited to make it socially acceptable today?

    That’s actually pretty sad.

    Aside from that, it sounds like a really awesome idea, NP! Can’t wait!