As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve challenged myself to quite a few things this summer, and I’ve already marked #4 off the list.
In fact, I marked it off before I even posted the list.
In case you forgot, or never read it in the first place, here’s the challenge:
#4: Read an new book start-to-finish AND watch the movie adaptation in the same day.
Boom. Done. Check it off the list.
And you know what I learned, once and for all?
Movies are not only not as good as the books, but they’re also, sadly, shallower.
Case in point: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion.
The book is wonderfully brilliant and riveting – so much more than I even expected. I mean, the personality of R shines through the narration and his character fleshes out as…well…he does. Perhaps now is a good time for a spoiler alert? Yeah, if you’d prefer not to read about the ending of both the movie and the book…you should stop here and just take my word for it that the book is better.
Here’s the premise: R, a zombie, goes a-hunting and chows down on this guy’s brain. Why the brain? Because as a zombie you lose your memories, your feelings, and your entire identity. But, when you eat the brain of a living person, you get their memories, for a few minutes, and become something…more. Of course it fades, but this time, for R, it’s different. Because the memories he devours are of Julie, another living person who his meal happens to be in love with, and who happens to be in the same room while her beloved is turned into a meal. And R, bless his cold zombie heart, falls in love and protects her.
Now, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the movie followed the book rather closely for most of the movie. Especially the opening.
Of course, there’s no way that they could achieve the depth of character development that’s present in the book due to time and style restraints, but it was a really decent retelling. It even had one of those side characters that I know right away is me!
I didn’t even mind that they changed his clothes and took away his fake zombie family. Time constraints, ya’ know? I understood all the changes and why they were necessary. Really, my main complaint was that they managed to find the blonde version of Kristen Stewart to play Julie, who’s supposed to be all happy and full of life in this dark place – and even there I understood that it was easier to alter her character to that fit rather than explain her whole back story. I was okay with it all.
Until the end.
See, the ending was restyled for a broader audience in the same way that I’m absolutely petrified Mockingjay will be. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil that. No, I’ll just say that for Warm Bodies, the ending was this beautifully rich and tragic wrap up in the book that ended in a necessary mutual death that represented the defeat of evils that kept the “plague” alive on both the living and the dead sides. Were you, the reader, rooting for Julie’s father to die? No, no, of course you weren’t, because we like to see people get redeemed.
But when he doesn’t die in the movie, when he’s easily convinced and brought to the other side, you realize that it just doesn’t feel…right. The dude needed to die. Otherwise, it’s just…God, it’s not as meaningful. It doesn’t make as big a statement. And the statement – guess what? It’s not depressing and sad, it’s actually hopeful and redeeming and says something very real about the human condition. And damn it, they took it!
Because that’s what Hollywood does. They make it appeal to the masses. Like Taco Bell and Panda Express.
Is Panda Express terrible? No, but it would be so much better if they didn’t try to keep their spice levels and flavor palate at a level that would please most American msg addicts. Basically, it could have more flavor depth. And so could the film version of Warm Bodies.
Maybe fast food wasn’t the best analogy for a zombie movie, but oh well.
So, in conclusion, I shall hold this defeated challenge up as not only the first mark on the scoreboard, but also definitive proof that books are better than movies in 98% of cases.
Summer Challenges –