Like the Film, Love the Book

Every year movies are made. Some are great movies. Some are sci-fi movies.

A few are great sci-fi movies.

Some of my best nights out have involved sci-fi followed by pizza, or the other way round. What can I say? I’m easy to please.

Having said that, some of the biggest let-downs have been movies which promised the earth (or at least the annihilation of it) but which left me on the edge of boredom rather than my seat (yes, 2012, that would be you I’m talking about).

But what if, after watching a great story, we could go home and experience that story again but in a different way and with extended scenes? Well, get the book and you can have your movie cake and read it too. Below are some stories that are great in either format:

  • Film: War of the Worlds (2005), dir. Steven Spielberg.                                               Book: The War of the Worlds, (1898) by H. G. Wells

The Martians are coming!  Run for your life! Set in New Jersey, the film has a dockyard worker (Tom Cruise), trying to escape the attack and save his two children. It’s action scenes and special effects are really well done and my only reservation is the final scene which feels contrived. The book is set in Woking and has an unnamed narrator describing the terrifying events first-hand. Having everyday life go on around the initial invasion sets up an unsettling atmosphere which only serves to increase the tension.  

  • Film: Bladerunner (1982), dir. Ridley Scott                                                                   Book: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, (1968) by Philip K. Dick

What is it to be human? Both book and the brilliant film ask this question and you’ll brood on the answer long after the ending.

  • Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey, (1968), dir. Stanley Kubrik                                         Book: 2001: A Space Odyssey, (1968) by Arthur C. Clarke (from ‘The Sentinel’ and other short stories)

“Oh my God – it’s full of stars!” I knew of someone once who said of the film, “I didn’t get it – it was just full of ****** monkeys?” They had clearly turned their brain off after the first twenty minutes but I love all of this classic from the ‘monkeys’, to the now-fantastically retro space flight attendants to the conversations between Dave and HAL. Oh, and the book’s pretty good as well.

  • Film: The Road, (2009), dir. John Hillcoat                                                                      Book: The Road, (2006) by Cormac McCarthy

How do hope and love survive in the grimmest of circumstances?  Set in a post-apocalyptic hell they look at how low and how high humanity can go.  Both book and film are bleak, beautiful and heart-breaking. Read it, see it – but not if you’re feeling a bit depressed already. 

  • Film: I Am Legend, (2007), dir. Francis Lawrence                                                           Book: I Am Legend, (1954) by Richard Matheson

One man vs. vampire/zombie horde. Hmm, I actually prefer the book to the film in this case – it has a far more thoughtful and logical conclusion. Both film and book start with the same basic story line but the endings are very different. Apparently test audiences hated the initial ending of the film (which was much closer the book) so it  was cut and the pretty lame ending of the current film used instead. Pity.

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