I have just been to Enders game, and if you have seen it you will probably know why book to movie adaptions were on my mind.

No this isn’t going to be a rant on how shit movies are compared with books. They are different beasts and hard to compare. All the same this year I have watched a bunch of book adaptions and for the most part I have been caught up by the same thing.

The set pieces have all be great, lots of action, lots of intensity and it feels to me like the big moments translate pretty well. It’s the small moments where it comes unglued.

Case in point, in Enders game the book there are a huge number of smaller moments that helped to establish the relationships between the characters, not least the family. I felt a strong connection to Ender, I wanted him to succeed because I could see how much he was suffering along the way. I could also see how manipulative the people around him were.

This was not at all how I felt in the movie.

What I think is missing is the connective tissue, the smaller moments that make the story surrounding the bigger set pieces and I have felt that way all year, even in After Earth which I hated.

So how do we solve it?

Tonight I suggested the Ender’s game movie could have done with an extra hour. That sounds like a lot but that extra time would have allowed for that connective tissue to develop. The problem is unless you are the last movie of successful series of adaptions, now that Harry Potter has established the bankability of doubling the final story you are out of luck. Film producers seem determined to try cut complex stories down to two hours.

To be honest 2 hours is just not long enough to do most books justice.

It might be bad for those with ADHD, but I can’t be the only one who would like to see more of their favourite books when they make it to the silver screen.

Go on guys, take a risk, buck the 2 hour limit and give us the bits that make the story really work.

Highway To Mars

Welcome to Martian Central, please take a ticket, the sheep ray will be with you shortly. Highway to Mars was created by Author Stefan Sawynok as an excuse to ramble his way through Science Fiction that he liked and to shine a light on things such as books that don't get covered all that often in fandom. Mostly covers British and American sci-fi but occasionally steps out to cover pieces from around the world. There is so much Sci-fi out there and so little time. :)

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  • It’s not sci-fi, but “No Country for Old Men” works both as a film in its own right, and a reasonably faithful adaptation. It helps that Cormac McCarthy writes in an incredibly terse way where the dialogue does a lot of the heavy lifting – almost a screenplay minus the stage directions &c

    It’s been a while since I read Fight Club, but that works as an adaptation too, within a “normal” runtime (Chuck Pahlahniuk even reckons that the film handles some things better than his writing).

    I guess it might depend on how complex a world is being built for the viewer, and how much handholding the film makers feel the audience needs (going back to the “Use of Weapons” podcast, Banks’ tactic of simply presenting stuff as part of the world, and moving on could mean less work).

  • I think sci-fi movies work better when they don’t spend so much time on big special effects or battle scenes. A movie like MOON is a good example. There was lots of time for character development and building genuine interest in the character’s fate.

    • I agree with you there Jim. Story over effects in my book but then effects tends to get people into the theatre. Now that you can realise the visuals, it’s tempting to go all out but then something is lost story wise. I think most sci-fi fans are in it for the story over the visuals.