Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why the Differences?

Let me start out by saying that I am both an avid reader of books, and a movie watcher ofbooks[1] great enthusiasm.  Strengths are individualistic to both, and both are good forms of entertainment and instruction.

Furthermore, I sincerely enjoy watching movies based on books.  The Lord of the Rings is my favorite film trilogy of all time, just as The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book.

My only question is why do the Hollywood film makers feel that they need to differentiate movies from the books they’re based on?  So many unnecessary changes that benefit no one.  Seriously?

First off, what are some book adaptions that were successful, and why were they so well received? Instantly, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter film series and the Hunger Games spring to mind.

Obviously, on those series in particular, the production budget wasn’t exactly sparing, a critical factor in adapting large scale stories to the big screen.  But also an adherence that bordered on fascination to the exact wording of the books they were based on.  Praise and critical acclaim were lauded upon them not for creating original material, but for bringing the inspired books they were based on accurately to the silver screen.

However, some changes were made.  With the possible exception of Harry Potter, practically all of the unnecessary major changes to the books weren’t given a single, positive reason for their existence.  Instead they were disliked, and well nigh declared against by avid fans of the series and new comers alike.409702_1270102481369_full

Who enjoys watching the darkened character of Faramir, or the petty, weak-minded Denethor of Jackson’s films?  The Elves at Helm’s Deep are simply too cool to complain against, but what about Gandalf appearing weak and being defeated by the Witch-King of Angmar?  Frankly, I always skip the part in RotK when Gollum convinces Frodo to send Sam away.  That particular change sickens me.

Regardless as to how much each of the changes were in and of themselves disliked, the films above were for the most part quite true to the text and spirit of the books.  What about those films that deviated much further?

An interesting study on the subject comes from the film series The Chronicles of Narnia.  Look no further than the movie review Rotten Tomatoes site for a prime example of what deviations can cost the film companies.

chronicles-of-narnia-desktop-wallpaper-free-10The first movie, deviating very little scored a 76% approval rating, a high number from time tested critics.  Prince Caspian, deviating a little more, scored a lower rating of 69%.  And the one that deviated most, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, just happens to be the one with a “rotten” rating of 49%.  Coincidence? I think not!

The more the movies deviate, the less they are enjoyed, because no matter how creative the filmmakers are, they can’t equal the brilliance of such authors as Lewis and Tolkien.

Which leads me to my last topic.  You all saw it coming.  The Hobbit trilogy.  WHY GOD, WHY?!!!

I love the book it’s based on, and I was no less than ecstatic when I heard they were making a film of it, and better yet they were going to flesh out what happened in the appendices of the Lord of the Rings during the time period of The Hobbit.

Is that what they did?!  Did they stay true to the book?!  Did they even attempt it?!  Did they even try?! HBT2-fs-140204.DNG

NO!!  They deviated like crazy and what did it accomplish?  A second-rate trilogy, lacking in character, realism, depth and greatness.  They made up entire plot lines, flung the appendices to the wind, gave Saruman a side of the ridiculous, and reduced the dwarves to a ramble of wandering clowns.  Worst of all they added in…a love story between dwarf and elf!!  AAUUGGHH!!!

And what did these changes accomplish?  A better film that could, due solely to the director’s vision, take its place alongside masterpieces such as LotR?  Not hardly.  Instead they made a pretty little film that had moviegoers nodding and smiling dumbly, “Yeah, that was alright, I guess.”

When will filmmakers learn?  Certain changes may be necessary in any type of adaption, but be warned! The further you deviate, the lower the quality of the film.

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Heaven

I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven recently.

“What’s the matter with you? Are you suicidal or something?”

No, of course not! Stop interrupting!

“But you’re the one typing this.”

Cut it out, you’re breaking my train of thought.  Anyway, to be thinking about heaven isn’t even close to wanting to die.  It’s just looking forward to an event that is going to be awesome!

First off, why do people think that heaven is going to be a small bunch of clouds, cramped together with nothing to do but play harp and contemplate the molecular structure of your halo.  It’s as if they thought Heaven was going to be boring or something.  Idiots.

Heaven is going to be fantabulous!  (No, that word is not shorthand for getting fat off soda.) Dinosaurs, no pain, (“Watch me jump off this cliff!”) eternity to fly into space, all your Christian buddies to hang out with day after day…it’s a dream come true.

And it’s going to be humongous!  The capital city is going to be 1,400 miles wide, long and TALL!  That’s some skyscraper!  I guessing that we can expect everything to be bigger, and by that I mean a whole lot bigger.

“But how could they build anything that tall?  That’s ridiculous.”

Oh really? By what, earth’s standards?  Face it buddy, that’s not in Kansas at all!

Honestly, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is heavenly pizza.  I imagine it to be eight feet wide, four inches high, the crust stuffed with gorgeous cheese, pepperoni and bacon, and not a vegetable within miles of it.  And guess what?  The Bible says I can’t even begin to imagine how great it’ll be.

PepperoniPizza-full
Think this-only bigger, greasier and MORE CHEESE!

Let’s face it, we’ll eat.  And our bodies will be so amazing that we can keep eating as much as we want and never get fat!  (The local hotdogs should also be excellent.)

Heaven  is a spectacular thing to daydream about, but it’s also a great reason for living.  What is it that allowed prophets, priests, missionaries, and and ministers to keep the faith, despite the brutal attacks waged against them? (And no, the answer is not pizza.)  Was it solely their love for Christ that kept them going?

Yes.  But another very legitimate reason to follow Christ, is the reward of Heaven that was waiting for them.   Even Moses had faith because, “he looked unto the recompense of reward.” (Hebrews 11: 26)  I’m not saying that Christians are selfish pigs who when they die are going to stand before God and say, “Okay, I did what you wanted, so now gimme, gimme, GIMME!!!”

But it’s still a motivator.  When confronted by earthly temptations, it’s often easy to forget why we say no to them.  But there are reasons.

Reason #1: God could get angry and easily blast you to smithereens with a lightning bolt, and send you to hell in less than a nanosecond.

Reason #2 (the much more plausible version):  You know that the pleasures in heaven are so great that the greatest sensation you can experience now is practically worthless, like the tiniest hint of pure, peanut butter fudge in you brownie.

Reason #3: You love God and simply want to follow all his commandments, you perfect Christian!  (Show offs.)

So that’s it.  Heaven is what helps keep us going in the here and now, by giving us something to look forward to.  No matter how hard of situation we might have to face, it’ll be over in less than a blink of an eye.  After all, eternity is going to last a bit longer than a basketball game.  Or a football game.  Or even a soccer game.  Okay, maybe not that last one.

So as you go about life, minding your own business, I invite you to think of heaven.  Not as a dull, boring thing that should be avoided, but as a fantastical ride that will last forever.  The best description I’ve ever read of it is actually for C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle.  Such beautiful of picture as in the chapter “Farewell to the Shadowlands” you will not find elsewhere.

Patrick McManus: What in the…Outdoors?

Most books of good report tend to be novel length, with a stirring message or theme, deep, three-dimensional characters, and a devilishly exciting or clever plot.  This author has none of that.

“But wait,” you say, “how can a book be enjoyable if it has none of the above in it?” Well, at least that’s what I ask myself every time I see someone reading Twilight. (The mere thought gives me shivers.)  In any case, that’s what’s special about this guy.

Although he does write novel length detective stories, Patrick McManus’s forte is his book-length collections of short stories.  With a sense of humor that borders on the ridiculous (and sometimes obliterates it) McManus’s stories focus on outdoor hunting and fishing, and everything that can go wrong with those two.

In nearly every story, McManus features himself in some degenerating, comical way, spoofing the outdoor’s man in each and every way he can think of! But often the most enjoyable stories are the ones of his childhood as a dirt poor boy in Idaho, hanging out with semi-fictional friend Crazy Eddie and an old, curmudgeonly (if you choose to read these books, you’ll hear that word a lot) mountain man named Rancid Crabtree.  The name says it all.

As far as content goes, McManus seems to fully enjoy hinting at baser desires, (one story with Crazy Eddie and Rancid Crabtree has Rancid attempting to mold a nude woman out of clay, which fails because none of them knows what a nude woman looks like) any actual bad content seems to be missing.

Swear words nearly always appear as dashes, (“You don’t have to use dashes, I know that one,” one character might say to another) and inappropriate humor definitely takes a backseat.  Smoking is prevalent to an extent, as McManus’s stinky old pipe is credited with his success on a few occasions.

Overall, I continually find these books on the top of my must-take-on-road-trip list.  His humor isn’t appreciable by all, but those who get it will laugh out loud more than once.  And most ages who will find him funny will be fully able to handle the slight content there is.

A quick note about those detective stories.  I tried reading one, but not only did it seem to me pushing the bounds of inappropriateness, but it also didn’t seem that funny.  Those I cannot recommend.