I went to see Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters with the Spinebreakers. We all needed to write something on the film and our views on it. I did my research first. I re-read the book, made numerous notes, wrote down everything I wanted to see in the film and brought a notebook into the cinema with me, ready to jot down my thoughts as the film played out before me.
The film was amazing – seriously, it blew me away. It was so, so much better than its prequel, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and stuck so much closer to the book – something that obviously made me exceptionally happy.
The people who worked on the film... they got a lot of things right. They got the characters, the world, the creatures, the feel all right. They changed the plot, of course, and missed various things out, adding others in their place. But this didn't matter – Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters was absolutely stunning.
So why am I so obsessed with the things they changed? Why am I so much more in love with the book than with the film?
The same thing happened with The Hunger Games. They got almost everything exactly right, but it still... it didn't have the same feel to it. The suspense and emotion just didn't project from page to the screen.
Films... they can do a lot of things. They can bring whole worlds to life before our eyes, make characters into living, breathing flesh and blood. They can have us on the edge of our seats as vicious battle scenes are fought right before us, have us sobbing over a death, a heartbreak or smiling with joy. Films can make us see a lot of things – sometimes things that even books cannot do so well. They are a pure escape – there's nothing like sitting in the cinema, devoid of any other distraction, focused completely on the story playing on the screen.
Films are great, but they just don't have the same...inclusion that books have. You're merely an observer: you aren't feeling everything the character feels, aren't reading every single one of their innermost thoughts, all of their doubts and fears and hopes. Films let you observe everything. Books? Books let you feel everything, know everything and LIVE everything. With a book, you can be the hero who kills the demon with one twirl of your blade. You can be the girl who battles cancer, along with all the pain and uncertainty that comes with it. You can be a demigod, you can be an alien, you can be an angel, a god, a villain, a hero. You can be in love, you can hate, you can triumph, you can lose. You can be anything and everything. There are no limits. No restrictions. Nothing is impossible, nothing is out of reach…
And that… that is why books are always better. When you read a book, nothing else exists and you can be a whole other person in this completely new and amazing world. You can live as someone else, free of your own troubles, even if only for two hundred pages.
Books are magic. Which is why I'm telling you all to forget about movie magic and get back to the pure magic that lives upon your bookshelves. Because while the movies are good… the books are ALWAYS better.
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The thing is... most days people prefer to have a day sitting in front of the television watching the latest films and TV shows; some people even just watch TV for the sake of watching TV and they're willing to watch any old junk. And it's more common to find people that prefer to sit in front of the television all day than it is to find someone that wants to sit at home reading all day. I love reading with a passion; I love letting my imagination run wild and imagining what all these characters look like and how they're feeling. Films don't do that for you but books do! Almost all books that become bestsellers get turned into films and sometimes the films really please you and sometimes it can be soul-destroying!
Two of my favourite series of books have both been turned into films - The Hunger Games and Twilight.
And after watching the first Hunger Games it totally ruined the book for me forever. I can't imagine the Hunger Games the way I used to when I re-read the book. The Hunger Games was somewhere to escape to on a good or bad day; it made you forget where you were and start being a different person, even if it only lasted the length of a book. It felt like it was my life and not Katniss's but now that I've seen the film I no longer imagine how the characters looked and reacted to everything. But watching and reading Twilight didn't feel quite like that, because when Twilight first came out in cinemas I was to young to watch it so I wasn't interested in it but as we all know Twilight is now one of the most popular teen books and movies ever! So once I got to the age of wanting to watch and read the books it was too late to think up my own imagination of the book because by then I had seen and read so many things about Twilight I already knew most of what happened. So films in some ways ruin books for children. And if the Hunger Games turns out like Twilight - all the people that are too young to watch it now but might when they are older will have already seen all the trailers and read all the articles in magazines - the experience of reading the book will be totally ruined for them.
And then you have people that just skip the book and go straight to the film. I understand that some people actually don't like reading so they probably won't read the book but they might watch the film, but to just skip the book completely because they're desperate to watch the film is disappointing. I like to read the books first to know where it all started and why they decided to make a film out of it. I didn't read all of The Host (Stephenie Meyer's other novel) before I saw the film but I did read some of it and it was a great book from what I read but also a great film. And of course sometimes films seem to be the same idea as the book had but are not actually based on the book. So it's a bit like Twilight for instance; Twilight's inspiration came mainly from the American TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer but had its own little twist. And that's a bit like what films do to books. They make it seem like they've taken the idea from the book but switched it up so it's not actually anything to do with the book.
And for this reason that's why I prefer books to films. Films destroy really amazing books! And TV has changed books. Maybe some people only read books because they're the reason that the films exist and I think that reading a book because of TV and films is a bad way to read; I think people should read a book because they actually want to read the book and every book should be a new story. And of course there are films not related to books at all and books that films aren't based on, and sometimes that is exactly how it should be: sometimes it's best if the two things aren't connected.
Among the literary products that become popular in the media and with consumers, one can point out two main categories. The first category consists of novels, stories, or poems that become popular due to an author’s talent, vivid characters, and dramatic plots; the second category refers to those books that have nothing special about them, but have been actively promoted or a naive nuance on a popular subject, and thus made it into bookstores and the cinema. An example of the first category is the Harry Potter series or the (in)famous Game of Thrones; the best illustration for the second category is the Twilight series.
The cinema version of this novel has the word “saga” attached to it—as well as the official ebook with some additional content referring to the novel. Since the movies were made rather similar to the literary source, it is fair enough to try to figure out why the movie creators thought the word “saga” would describe Twilight accurately? Originally, a saga was a story about the heroic, or at least somehow significant, deeds of viking war chiefs, jarls, or Scandinavian mythical heroes such as Beowulf; nowadays, this word is most often used to characterize a novel that contains elements of an epic. By all means, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion or The Lord of the Rings is definitely a saga. The aforementioned George Martin’s Game of Thrones can be called a saga as well, considering the scales and the significance of events occurring in his universe. What epicness is there in a lovey-dovey story about a relationship between a schoolgirl and a vampire? Obviously none, neither in the novel, nor in the movies—it is simply a marketing turn aimed at making the source look like something more worthwhile than it is.
This does not matter much, however. What is more important for a critical review is observing the plot, the characters, and the style of the source. In the case of Twilight, all of them are poorly constructed.
The plot revolves around Bella Swan, an American schoolgirl, and a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. Later, another main character comes in: Jacob Black, a werewolf. The storyline of the entire saga can be described in a couple of sentences. Bella meets Edward and falls in love with him; later, she learns he is a vampire, but this does not stop her, and only seems to make her even more attached to him. He falls in love with her too. Bella is attacked by James, a vampire from a “bad” clan. Edward and his family, who belong to a “good” clan, kills James. In the second book, Edward and his family leave Bella’s town because Edward believes he endangers his beloved. Depressed, Bella switches to Jacob, who is a werewolf. Jacob and his clan protect Bella from Victoria, a girlfriend of James from the first book. Edward thinks Bella died, and wants to commit suicide, but then Bella appears and stops him. She gets introduced to Edward’s clan, which decides she must be turned into a vampire someday. Bella and Edward reunite. In the third book, Victoria gathers an army of vampires (still, to avenge her boyfriend?), but it does not seem to trouble Bella, who instead cannot choose between Edward and Jacob. In the end, Victoria is defeated by the joint effort of werewolves and vampires, and Bella marries Edward. In the fourth book, Bella gives birth to Edward’s child, almost dying in the process, but gets saved by being turned into a vampire by her husband. The vampire clan decides to let their hybrid child live, the end. Finally.
This is it. Of course, any book can be described like this; for example, the plot of “The Lord of the Rings” can be described even in a shorter way: “Four guys go to a dangerous land to defeat an ancient evil by destroying an important artifact, and their friends help them.” However, unlike Tolkien’s novel, Twilight has nothing to offer to a reader except the events described in the previous paragraph. This is ridiculous, considering four published books, some sort of online encyclopedia, and movies.
The weakness of the plot is fueled by the idiocy of the main characters (all characters, actually). The first and foremost question: why would a 104-year-old person fall in love with a teenager? Theoretically, people get wiser when they get older, although reality proves it is not necessarily so. I would understand if Edward treated Bella as an adopted daughter, at least. But love? There is a special word for adult men having romantic and sexual relationships with teen girls. Also, according to folklore, vampires are sadistic, vile, and sexually-insatiable creatures, so in a proper vampire story, exploitation and being devoured would be Bella’s only options. But a true, clean, and romantic love? This is stupid. The only reason why it became possible is probably because aging has negatively affected Edward’s (and his family’s) mental capabilities. Also, why would Bella not feel scared of knowing people who suck blood, or who can turn into savage beasts? What kind of weird taste or fetish is that? And it is not only Bella and Edward acting weird—Jacob, Victoria, the vampire clans, and other folks appearing in Twilight seem to have little-to-no common sense, reason, or logic.
As for the style Twilight is written in, it is hard to say anything. My main impression from it was that the author first wrote a regular romantic lady’s story, and then suddenly decided to turn the main characters into vampires and werewolves.
As a summing-up grade, Twilight should get 3 out of 10 proper vampires. Awful, but not because it is a horror story.
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