A look into Fantasy & Sci-Fi books made into movies

It’s always a delight when my favorite book makes it to the big screen.  On occasion, I have seen the movie before reading the book, but it would have been great to know the background story before diving into the movie.  And that’s what brings us to this blog today!  I’m here to give you a brief history of 4 popular books that have made it to the big screen.  So without further ado, here is The Hobbit, The Princess Bride, The Hunger Games and Divergent.

The Hobbit
Book Release: 1937     Movie Release: 2012

“Bilbo with his little pause, perks, and expressions really makes him memorable” EFB

A Brief History

Years and years, before Bilbo Baggins was born and therefore, before he began his epic quest, there was a place called Erebor.  Also known as the Lonely Mountain, Erebor was home to a clan of dwarves who presided over the place for generations.  They forged deep into the mountain discovering countless jewels and various types of metal.  Day and night they worked and became known all over for being masters in weaponry and armor.  But amassing all their wealth soon led to greed and that greed led to obsession.  A kingdom built out of gold wouldn’t have satisfied their thirst.  And in their blindness they overlooked the one creature who had the greatest thirst of all for endless riches.

Dragons!

One on the last great dragons, Smaug, overthrew the kingdom, destroying everyone in his path, and made it his lair.  There he laid, for over a century before fate met up with the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

How the Story Holds Up

The story in itself is timeless.  Even if your first time reading it is as an adult, you can imagine it being your favorite fairy tale that was read to you as a child.  The story begins with a hobbit. Hobbits are a race of people who shun any type of adventure and like living the life of comfort.  So you can imagine the twist, turns and the delightful humor this book presents when an ordinary hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, goes on an epic journey to help the mighty dwarves regain their homeland from the ferocious dragon Smaug.

 Movie vs. Book

Truly amazing is the delivery of the book to the movie.  There are entire passages of the book that are relayed word for word in the movie.  And the flow from book to movie is done so effortlessly, you would think the book was written for the big screen.  This book is the rare exception where if you read it first, you’ll actually be pleasantly pleased with the movie.

 EFB Quick Comment: “Bilbo with his little pause, perks, and expressions really makes him memorable”
The Princess Bride
Book Release: 1973     Movie Release: 1987

“One of the best we’ve seen!” EFB

A Brief History

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember.  In the book, the narrator, William, tells the story as it was read to him as a boy by his grandfather.   At that time, William was terminally ill and the story of The Princess Bride was uplifting for him and fostered a means for his recovery.

Later when William reached adulthood, he discovered that the story his grandfather had read him was nothing like the actual book.  The book was very tedious to read and contained hundreds of pages detailing the history and elaborate customs of the country Florin. You could read through 50 pages, for example, just covering the items that were in the queen’s wardrobe!

William couldn’t believe that this was the same book. His grandfather had never read any of that to him.  But as William read on, he discovered that there was this underlying story in the book and you would catch bits and pieces of it as you read on.  That turned out to be what his grandfather had read him; the “good parts” of the book.  And so William took it upon himself to recompile the book which consisted of only the “good parts” told to him as a child.  And so was born the most memorable book that we all know today as The Princess Bride.

How the Story Holds Up

The Princess Bride does not read as a story put together by bits and pieces of another, much older and longer, version of the story.  It flows as a continuous, unstoppable adventure that grows with each chapter.  In its simplest form, it is a story of a girl named Buttercup and her lover Wesley. Wesley, who has been presumed dead after leaving Buttercup to earn their fortune, has changed his identity to save his life and now has to figure out a way to rejoin Buttercup who, in the meantime, has been chosen by the people to be their next queen.

The characters introduced throughout the story are inventive, entertaining and all are laugh-out-loud funny.  There’s Prince Humperdinck: A man who is a master at hunting, fighting and always getting what he wants.  He is puzzled by buttercup who shows no interest in him. Then there’s Vizzini. Smarter than Socrates and Aristotle put together but ends up falling for the dumbest trick in the book. There’s the charming giant Fezzik who knows how to push peoples buttons while still appearing innocent.  And of course, Indigo.  A man who has been on a twenty year quest to avenge his father’s death.

The story is wonderfully funny and heartfelt.  The characters are memorable and the catchy phrases they use makes the dialog unforgettable.  It triggers the emotions of tragedy, lost, despair, hope, revenge and of course, true love.  It gives the lesson that while everything in life doesn’t seem fair, things aren’t always what they seem to be.

Movie vs. Book

In the movie, the sick grandson seems to only have the flu instead of a deadly illness.  But the delivery of the story still captures the magic of the book and wins the heart of its audience.

The movie, which was filmed in 1987, is done very well considering its time.  It doesn’t contain the bulky clothes, amateur looking building sets and ridiculous dialog that you usually see in older fairy tale movies. It keeps the scenery simple yet place able, focusing more on the story and its delivery.

EFB Quick Comment:  One of the best we’ve seen!
The Hunger Games
Book Release: 2008     Movie Release: 2012

“A disturbing reality that hits close to home” EFB

A Brief History

The Hunger Games is a fairly new series that has taken storm by young adults nationwide. It is set in the future North America where a devastating blow has destroyed much of civilization.  As a result, class divisions emerged: The extremely wealthy upper class, and the oppressed, destitute lower class.   The upper class lives in the Capitol which is in the center of this new nation, now called Panem.  The lower class is split into 12 districts, which surround the outskirts of the Capitol.  Every year a boy and a girl from each district is selected to compete in The Hunger Games: A brutal reality show where the contestants hunt and kill each other in hopes of being the last one standing.  This was a punishment given to the 12 districts for a prior rebellion against the Capitol.

How the Story Holds Up

This story actually hits the heart of where the world is today.  Reality TV is more popular than ever and people are better informed about war and tragedies that take place outside of our everyday realm.  Now these two realities come together with a twist.  The lower class is not only impoverished, but deduced to killing themselves for the entertainment of the upper class.

The story does fairly well in its delivery from the mind of 16 year old Katniss Everdeen.  Much of the dialog she sums up in her thoughts. This quickens the pace of the story and helps the reader understand her character.

In all good stories there is always a love triangle, and The Hunger Games is no exception.  Only in this story, Katniss pretends to have feelings for someone just to save her life.  Later on she ends up questioning whether those feelings now hold truth.

Movie vs. Book

Surprisingly enough, the book moves along just as fast as the movie.  It isn’t filled with drawn out descriptions and history.  It moves at a pace that keeps the reader engaged.  This makes for a very good movie-book comparison.  While watching the movie, there are parts where you may actually end up feeling more of the drama and character dynamics than you would in reading the book.  That’s something not many movies are able to capture.

EFB Quick Comment: “A disturbing reality that hits close to home”
Divergent
Book Release: 2011     Movie Release: 2014

“Can’t tell by the previews. It can either be really good or really disappointing”

A Brief History

Divergent is set in the future, years after destruction has erased much of civilization.  The story takes place in the city of Chicago where people are identified not by their race or creed, but by their faction.  At age 16, everyone is subjected to a test which informs them which faction they are best suited for.  One can either choose to stay with the faction they were raised up in, or join another faction.  Since you are not supposed to reveal the results of your test to anyone, you can choose to be in any faction you’d like.  The twist is, however, if you decide to leave the faction you were raised in, you must undergo a test to confirm your suitability for the new chosen faction.  If you fail the test, you cannot return to your original faction.  You become a factionless person.  Factionless people are thrown out into the streets with the other factionless who lead poor and desolate lives.

The 5 factions are:

1. Amity (kind)

2. Erudite (intelligent)

3. Candor (honest)

4. Abnegation (selfless)

5. Dauntless (brave)

How the Story Holds Up

Although this book is for young adults, the writing style is more mature than what you’d find in books like the Hunger Games but the flow of action successfully follows the same pace.  Beatrice Prior, a 16-year old Abnegation takes the test and ends up with indifferent results.  She is suitable not only for one faction, but 3.  These results are extremely rare and people like her are classified as divergent.  Being divergent causes great danger to the individual because they are targeted for elimination due to their abilities.  When put through a test given by a faction, divergent’s are capable of taking control of the test and changing the outcome.

This story confronts the ‘what if’ thoughts we often have when we think of how different our lives would have been if we had chosen something else for ourselves. Beatrice Prior originally feels the need to stay in her faction to please her parents. When she finally makes the choice, however, she chooses Dauntless.

Movie vs. Book

Divergent is scheduled to be released on March 21, 2014.  Judging from the previews, its starts off by being a bit more ‘theatrical’ than the book.  Beatrice is initially warned more aggressively about the danger of being divergent.  Reading from the book first makes you appreciate the previews that much more.  How the movie holds up to the delivery of the book remains to be seen.

EFB Quick Comment: “Can’t tell by the previews. It can either be really good or really disappointing”

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