No Adaptations Please!

I am not a fan of movie adaptations of my favorite books. As a reader, I get so consumed by what I am reading that I have very clear opinions about what characters should look like. I know I am not alone when I say that casting directors rarely get it right. In addition to miscasting, there is usually an omission of scenes that I felt were pivotal.


One notable exception to this is Lonesome Dove. I don’t usually read westerns, but this book is in my top five all time favorites. Granted, when a book is made into a six hour miniseries, it would be hard to cut anything. (Unless said book is a bazillion pages long as this one is). While watching it, I recognized entire conversations, word for word, and saw that all but two very minor characters were kept in place. Still, they could have ruined it with poor choices in casting.


I knew they had nailed it when I first saw Tommy Lee Jones as Captain Call. With his white beard and long silver hair topped with a cowboy hat, he looked exactly like who I had pictured: Kenny Rogers in The Gambler. The rest of the cast did not disappoint, and I frequently tell people that it was a great book, but if you don’t have time to read such an epic tale, watch the movie.


Normally, I say the exact opposite.


I love books by Nicholas Sparks, and because I loved The Notebook so much, I can’t bring myself to watch the movie. When the movie came out, I just read the book again. Every other movie based on one of his books has left me feeling hollow, wondering how they could get it so wrong? That is to say, the ones I took a chance to see. His books are not boring, but put Kevin Costner in a leading role in the adaptation of Message in a Bottle and suddenly, I am asleep.


Don’t even get me started on Twilight! Again…the casting director needs to be slapped. These movies are so well-liked, but I haven’t been able to force myself to watch any after the first one. Sorry, but there is NOTHING sexy about Edward, who always looks like he needs to find the closest bathroom, and someone needs to tell Kristen Stewart that a big part of acting is facial expressions. I think I saw her use two…maybe three in the whole movie (and in Adventureland, she only used the one…she doesn’t get a third chance to win me over). Was there NO ONE else auditioning that day?


Okay, sorry…I said not to get me started…my apologies to die hard Twilighters…


Now, I am not saying that the movie has to stick exactly to the book. I realize that certain changes have to be made. For example, the movie version of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s Pay it Forward, starred Kevin Spacey. In the book, the character he played was black. But, it’s Kevin Spacey, so he became a white burn victim. That was a change I could live with. If my book was ever made into a movie, I would change a female character to a male for Kevin Spacey!


In Stephen King’s short story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Red was a red-haired Irish dude-hence the nickname. Would that movie have been half as good if that was not played by Morgan Freeman? While on the King topic, I read Misery before the movie came out and I didn’t picture Kathy Bates, but this again was a brilliant casting choice and no one could have played it better.


So why bring it up at all? Just don’t go see the movies, if all you’re going to do is whine, right?


I wish it were that easy. Now that I am obsessed with YA series, more books that I love are being adapted to feature films, based on the success of Twilight. I want to ignore them, but so far, they look promising.


The first installment of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments in being cast as we speak. Jace looks exactly as I imagined, and I hear he can act. Clary also seems perfect, so I am willing to make whatever deals I have to make to get the husband to go see it in the theater with me. (He thought he was done with that when Harry Potter ended…mwah ha ha ha!)


Hopefully, they will get it right when they cast Alyson Noel’s The Immortals. I am SO looking forward to those! Damon and Ever already blow away Edward and Bella as characters, so now the movies need to be better too. (If Evermore sucks, I will be too heartbroken to see the rest).


I don’t know. I guess I am an optimistic pessimist. I’ll expect the worst, but hope for the best!


See you at the movies!



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3 responses to “No Adaptations Please!

  1. Hello! We totally agree with you on film adaptations. We watched Twilight saying ‘Edward’s supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. This guy couldn’t be hot if he tried!’ and he has NO personality. In the books we preferred Jacob anyway but it’s like teen fiction hero love interests have to be all doomy romance and have no sense of humour. And Alice in Twilight has short spiky hair. They could’ve given the actress a hair cut. If we’ve read a book first we spend the film saying ‘that didn’t happen in the book. They’ve missed a scene out. The characters look nothing like that – didn’t they read the description.’ We were surprised they made the Twilight books into films. We enjoyed the books but couldn’t see a film in them. Jeffrey Deaver’s The Bone Collector was a much better book than it was a film and Dean Koontz’s Phantoms was a rubbish film but a really good book. On the other hand, Stephen King’s films are much better than his books because he tends to pad his books unnecessarily. There’s a quote that sums it up perfectly – “don’t judge a book by its movie adaptation.”

  2. Kristen

    I find the concept of adaption a very fascinating one. One of the problems with going novel – to movie is that in a novel, you have the ability to take the reader into a character’s mind and literally read their thoughts. With a film, typically you tend to stay outside of a character’s mind, so you are left with dialogue and the actor doing what they can to present the character. Maybe that is why the film versions of characters seem to fall flat some times. These adaptation issues not only apply to books, but to video games as well. I am a big fan of the video game – stress that, NOT the movies – of Resident Evil. If you actually take the time to learn the original story lines put in by the creators of the early games, watch the cutscenes, learn the themes – it’s not about looking hot and blowing up zombies. It’s about people who are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds trying to stop others who would like to play God with biowarfare and humanity. The movies seem to take bits and pieces and throw away so much of the meat. One of my favorite characters becomes a stereotypical hot girl action character, losing all the human vulnerability that made her likeable. I’m pretty sure they killed off one of the most popular franchise protagonists BEFORE HE COULD EVEN SHOW UP IN A FILM. And, as far as what you guys said about changing appearance, in a recent film, they cast Ali Larder, I think it was, as a character who has always been a redhead with a ponytail. Instead we got a blonde who kept her hair down. Why?

    I could go on, but I think I better just write my own post at this point………..

    Thanks for sharing, a great subject indeed.

    Kristen aka @kameliahunn

  3. I’m with you. Sometimes the changes floor me. I don’t like watching the movie after I’ve read the book because I know I will sit there and point out all the things wrong with the movie. I want to go see “The Help” but I worry. I loved the book. I would hate to be disappointed.

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