Saturday, August 6, 2011

"I guess that concludes negotiations," and the Lucky Hat

We finished The Lord of the Rings at Skywalker Ranch this past week. We did not, however, run into George Lucas again. My friend said it was because I didn't wear my lucky hat. I didn't know I had a lucky hat, but, evidently, I do. Because I was wearing it the week before when we did see George but not wearing it any other time, my friend has declared it "lucky" and decreed that I must wear it any time I'm on any of George's property with him. heh

I feel uneasy about The Return of the King. Part of the problem with that is that it's been longer since I read that one than the rest, so the movie just gives me a feeling of being "off" that I can't really pinpoint. I love Gondor. I love the oliphants, even though they are just, really, too much. They're still spectacular. Maybe it's that the little changes that started in Fellowship take things too far off target at the end for me to deal with. But the movie really ends on target so that can't be it. I don't know. My summation of Return is that it's a great addition. Fellowship still should have been the one to get the Best Picture Oscar, but I can live with Return getting it if the alternative was that none would get it.

When I was younger, much younger, I used to do this thing. It's that thing that, sort of, everyone does. Any time a book is being made into a movie, readers always rush out to read the book before they see the movie. I used to do that, too. Inevitably, it lead to the movie being ruined for me. Always (always) my response was "the book was better." Of course, the book was better. Being almost the only reader out of my friends, it gave me a sense of superiority, I think, that I could always say "the book was better" in the midst of all of them saying that they liked the movie. Bottom line was that it caused a disenjoyment of the movies for me.

That all changed with The Hunt for Red October. I had never had any interest in reading Tom Clancy before the movie was coming out. I didn't read his genre. I toyed with the idea of reading the book before the movie, but, in the end, I figured, why bother. I didn't want to go out of my way to read something I wasn't actually inclined to read. The only reason I wanted to see the movie, anyway, was because of Sean Connery, so why bother with  the book. Connery wasn't in  the book.

As it turned out, I loved the movie. I loved the movie enough that I wanted to read the book. And I did, and the book was better. But not by much. It was better just because there was more stuff in it. But I discovered something... see, my cousin read the book first, and he had nothing good to say about the movie, because he had just read the book, and I found that to be very interesting. Especially after Patriot Games. Because I just kept reading Clancy for a while after Red October, so, by the time they got around to making Patriot Games, I'd already read it. And I didn't like the movie because of it.

That experience changed the way I did the whole book to movie thing. If there was a movie coming out based on a book, I wouldn't read it first. Reading the book first can ruin a movie, but it's very rare that seeing a movie can ruin a book (the one exception I've found to this is Percy Jackson--the movie is just so much better). This has made me able to enjoy many movies that I may have been overly critical of if I had read the books first, including The Lord of the Rings.

But, yes, I did read The Lord of the Rings first, many times, in fact. Here's what happened. I was actually in the process of reading LotR to my oldest son when the whole movie thing came up (I think that was my 4th time through the trilogy). We were in the middle of The Two Towers. I quit reading it. He was young enough, at the time, to not really care that I quit, because I just picked up something different to read to him. As long as I was reading something to him... he wasn't really particular. I wanted to have time for the details to fade a little bit so that I wouldn't be holding the books up to the movies the whole time. This is why I always have this uneasy feeling about Return. It's been quite a long time since I read that one, at this point, and a lot of the details are hazy. I just have a feeling that things aren't right. But I can still enjoy the movie, of which I am glad.

A good friend of mine, the one that looks so much like Ryan Reynolds, took the other route. As soon as they announced the movies, he determined to read the books first. He finished Fellowship just weeks before its release. He had a difficult time with the movie, especially with Arwen's role in it. It reminded me, again, of the dangers of inoculating myself with the book before seeing a movie. It is, however, time, again, to read The Lord of the Rings. If I can ever manage to finish these other two books that I'm reading! oy!

In other news, I finally saw Deathly Hallows Pt 2, and I'm glad it's been so long since I read the book. I'm sure I would have been more upset at the amount of stuff left out if I'd read it more recently. Now that the movies are finished, it's probably time for another re-reading of Harry Potter, too. I do feel, though, that they did a better job with this movie than they've done with most of them. It was quite enjoyable. Except for the histrionic girl sitting in the row in front of us that just would NOT SHUT UP. Seriously. She was one of those people that doesn't understand the internal part of "internal monologue." I have never been in a theater with a more obnoxious person, and that's, sort of, saying something.


  1. Tom Clancy - I only read one of his books and I did enjoy it, but it was a bit jargon heavy for me. Lots of tactical babble and such. Again, very enjoyable, just not for me.

    The book vs movie thing, I've been trying to get my thoughts around that for a while. There was at time for me that I was aware of a book that a movie was based on I would try to avoid that movie until I had a chance to read. Hell, I even read Battlefield Earth before I went to see the movie.

    But, I eventually gave it up as too hard, and there were too many movies that I wanted to see that were based on books, and I didn't want to feel like I was having my reading habits dictated by what movies I wanted to watch. So now I'll occasionally read something that's adapted for film, or is going to be, but it isn't like it used to be.

  2. Lucky hat eh? That's interesting. I loved Return of the King more than the other movies in that series. I thought HP7 part 2 was a little disappointing. Too bad you didn't see Lucas again.

  3. This is a tough subject if you're a fan of both media. Books and film are vastly different, yet have so many shared similarities that it's hard to compare them fairly. I guess the only concrete fact is that a bad book will spur a bad movie adaptation...and be a blockbuster. God bless you, Stephenie Meyer.

  4. I also try to avoid reading the book before the movie. If the story line interests me I will then turn around and read the book. I've had the same experience of the book ruining the movie. Whichever way I go, I often find myself waiting for specific things to happen, and I think that can kill some of the enjoyment.

    Even though you didn't see him again, it's still cool that you ran into Lucas!

    I was a bit disappointed in the final film, but I can't quite put my thumb on the reason. I'm sitting on my hands in an attempt to wait to read HP and LOTR to my son until he is a bit older. Likewise for the Anne of Green Gables books for my daughter. I don't think I'll have to wait much longer for HP, at least the earlier books.

  5. Rusty: I think Clancy got more jargo heavy as he went along. I don't remember Red October being very bad. I think I read about a half dozen of his books, all in the Ryan series except red Storm Rising, which was quite good, as I remember it.

    I'm sorry about Battlefield Earth. I've avoided both of those.

    Michael: Yeah, it's too bad, but he doesn't actually go to these screenings, so I was surprised to see him in the building the one time I did.

    Beer (because I don't know which of you is commenting): Yeah, it's a difficult choice. And a good movie doesn't necessarily mean it came from a good book, as I learned with Percy Jackson. I didn't like Twilight the movie (my wife and I watched it just to see what all the fuss was about), so there's no way I'll ever read the books (even to see what the fuss is about).

    Shannon: Yeah, I'm right with you with RotK. I just don't know, exactly, what it is that doesn't sit well with me.

    You don't have to wait till they're too old, you know. Start with The Hobbit. Even as early as three, especially if you can do the voices, kids love The Hobbit.