Read This Movie: A Guide To Upcoming Adaptations
I will see any adaptation of a book that I have read. Because of this, I have seen some downright offensive adaptations of truly great books. I have also seen some amazing, faithful adaptations as well (I even have a running list of my top picks, because I think they deserve high praise). I'm that person who, after seeing an adaptation of a book, always wants to discuss the differences between the book and the adaptation, why they made the casting decisions they did, and all manner of book -> adaptation type stuff. This can be annoying if you say, didn't know that the movie we just saw was based on a book, or you would have read the book, but you didn't have time. I'm here to help. There are quite a few book adaptations coming up, both to television and film, that I'm looking forward to, and there's still plenty of time to read the source material. With this handy guide (a two-parter!), you can be the nerd that read the book and can point out all the inconsistencies in the adaptation, or give kudos to the screenwriter for including a nod to that funny thing from chapter 14.
The Book: The Martian by Andy Weir
The Movie: In theaters October 2, 2015
I have a bit of an aversion to space - it's just too vast and it's constantly expanding, you guys - but I'm slowly getting better at not immediately brushing off great things just because they are space related. I'm positively thrilled that I didn't reject The Martian just because it takes place on Mars and features all kinds of space talk, because it is a gripping, thrilling, fantastically written adventure book that you should ALL read RIGHT NOW. You can easily finish it before the movie comes out, because once you start it, you won't be able to put it down.
The Martian is the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars and has to figure out how to survive in a scenario that was never meant to happen and no human would ever be expected to survive. He's witty and creative and smart, and is your guide through science-y space stuff in a way that is palatable for both the science-minded, and me, a person who can still (and WILL) recount entire episodes of Full House almost word for word. There's a trailer for the movie that I thought of inserting in this little blurb, but if you're in the process of reading the book, the trailer is actually FULL of spoilers. The Martian (I'm referring to the novel here) is so great at building tension and suspense, so to keep you safe from potential spoilers I thought it best to leave you trailer-free. It's also why I erased approximately 85% of my own synopsis. I think it's a great book to go into with as little information as possible: He's an astronaut. He's stranded on Mars, assumed dead. He's gotta figure out how to survive. That's ALL YOU GET.
The Book: Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Movie: In theaters at some point?*
I wrote a whole blog post about how I have an intense emotional connection to The Fault in Our Stars, but in fact, I think Looking for Alaska is my favorite John Green novel. When the film adaptation of Paper Towns was announced, I tweeted this:
LOOKING FOR ALASKA SHOULD BE A MOVIE BEFORE PAPER TOWNS!
— Sarah C. (@sarchrz) March 26, 2014
And while it is now irrelevant, I stand by that statement. Then the film adaptation of Looking for Alaska was announced, and literally no human was surprised. But then, BUT THEN, an angel came down from heaven and proclaimed that the screenplay was going to be written by none other than Sarah motherflippin' Polley. Many people my age may hear "Sarah Polley" and think "Oh, the girl from Go" which, yes, fine, ok. But MORE IMPORTANTLY, she's Ramona Quimby and Sara Stanley! And then, after being my childhood television hero (alongside Clarissa Darling and Alex Mack) Sarah Polley the actual person grew up to become this amazing director and writer and political activist and all around Person You Should Be Aware Of.
Looking for Alaska is about a boy, Miles, who attends boarding school in Alabama where he joins a merry gang of friends, including a free spirited girl named Alaska. I was going to write here exactly what happens next, but then I thought, "Wait, is that a huge spoiler?" So I read some synopses from other sites and THEY didn't tell you what happens next, so I won't either. But there's a Big Event. The Big Event that I'm speaking of is a tragedy, but considering that John Green may be most well known for writing The Fault in Our Stars, don't prepare yourself for a three boxes of tissues kind of tragedy. This is more like, a tragedy that turns into a mystery that turns into a boy learning a lesson that will help Miles become a more fully formed man. One thing I like about both Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska (and this isn't a spoiler, really) is that in both novels the teen male protagonists ends up realizing, "Oh, I made her out to be this wild, uncomplicated, perfect dream girl, but actually, she's a human being." So way to go, John Green. I bet that's why Looking for Alaska won a Printz Award. And why Canadian National Treasure Sarah Polley wrote the screen adaptation.
*John Green has said that the Looking for Alaska movie is essentially in development hell, and may never get made, so while there is a screenwriter attached, and at one time a director, who knows what will happen with this. I'm just hoping that if this ever gets off the ground, Sarah Polley remains attached.
The Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Movie: In theaters December 15, 2017
Ready Player One is a just plain fun book. It's filled to the brim with pop culture references, so if you're like me and you can readily recite movies line by line, or remember that obscure computer game from the early 90s, this novel is right up your alley. Ready Player One is set in a not-so-distant future where most humans interact through a virtual reality world called OASIS. The actual earth is like the beginning of WALL-E, but full of humans, so a majority of people strap on goggles and gloves and enter the OASIS to do everything from attend school to socialize to play old school video games. And speaking of old school video games, the man who created the OASIS, James Halliday, is like a pixelated Willy Wonka. After his death, Halliday had his avatar in the OASIS announce that there were Easter Eggs hidden within the OASIS, and that whoever found them and solved the puzzle would control the OASIS itself, essentially becoming a kajillionaire.
Readers follow Wade Watts as he goes on a quest (as his avatar, Parzival) to retrieve the three gold keys needed to win, along with his friends and teammates in the OASIS, Atr3mis, Aech, Daito, and Shoto. Because Halliday was a teen in the 1980s and was obsessed with the pop culture of the era, it is also an obsession of those dedicated to winning his contest. Because of this, gunters (a portmanteau of egg and hunters) devote years to memorizing songs, movies, TV shows, video games, and anything else they can get their hands on from the era. This is where Ready Player One can be really fun for readers who also have fond memories from that time. Cline does a great job of describing things well enough so that someone completely unfamiliar with the references can still follow, but someone who can also quote War Games line for line won't be utterly bored. It's a hard line to walk, but I think Cline does a really good job (some internet commenters disagree, strongly. To them I say, CALM DOWN.)
Steven Spielberg (who is namechecked a few times in the novel) is directing the film adaptation of Ready Player One, and I'm very interested to see how it turns out. I'm actually really, really excited to see anything from this film as production progresses. They could go so many directions with the source material, and I'm anxious to see so much as a casting announcement or a set photo. I just want to see what they're gonna doooo!
The Book: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Movie: In theaters March 4, 2016
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has a very interesting backstory, which is where I will begin my synopsis. Ransom Riggs was a collector of strange vernacular photography (so, like, family photos of children where they you'd be like, "Whoa, Tommy looks sort of eerie in this one." Or, "Where's Katie's arm?!") and he thought of putting them together into a picture book. He took these photos to his publisher and they suggested that instead he take the photos and build a story around them and write a novel instead. Riggs didn't have enough photos, so he started going to flea markets and meeting collectors and found some really amazing old photos of super eerie kids, and thus, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was born.
The novel is about 16-year-old Jacob, who travels to Wales after his grandfather is murdered (allegedly by a mysterious, mythical creature of sorts) to find out the truth about his grandfather's mysterious past. Jacob discovers a run-down orphanage, and meets a girl named Emma, and she leads Jacob through time back to 1940 to a time when the orphanage is not run down, and is actually beautiful and thriving. The house is filled with happy children, all of whom are "peculiar," meaning that they have special abilities, like being able to control fire, or become invisible, or have incredible strength. This is where the photos come in, a peculiar is described, and then boom! there's a photo that perfectly encapsulates what you just read. The orphanage is run by Miss Peregrine, who herself can transform into a bird, and who keeps the property in a time loop in 1940 in order to keep the peculiar children safe from harm. But they're not safe from harm, are they? Nope! Something killed Jacobs grandfather, and it's still out there!
I mentioned in my post about Penny Dreadful that Eva Green is going to be playing Miss Peregrine and that I think it's kind of perfect casting. I mean, was she cast because she's already basically playing the role ON Penny Dreadful? Probably. But I'm fine with that. Because Vanessa Ives is my ERRYTHANG. Also Tim Burton is directing, because of course he is.