Following on from last week’s look at movie prequels in production, this week I’m making a list of books I’m gonna read before the adaptations hit the screens.
Some of my friends prefer to watch the movie first. They like to let the director’s take on the story wash over them without their preconceptions in the way. But for me, it’s the book first every time if I can manage it. There are details and back story in a book that film makers can’t possibly shoe-horn into a two-hour movie without plot-dragging levels of exposition. Also, if the movie is anything less than good (Dune) or the ending is changed to meet some lame test-screening results (I Am Legend), you won’t be put off the story forever.
So which books have I read and which do I need to get started on this year?
I think the most intriguing movie coming up will be Cloud Atlas. To be directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis, this is the adaptation of David Mitchell’s 2004 book by the same name. A friend lent me this book last year and it just sat on the shelf for months – the cover just wasn’t inspiring me to pick it up (shallow, I know, but there it is). I finally got around to reading it a couple of weeks ago and I’m glad I did as it’s a terrific novel. Set in different times and places, only two of the six separate but linked stories are ‘science fiction’ but don’t let that put you off; every story is great. For me, ‘An Orison of Sonmi-451’ is easily the stand-out tale, exploring a “fabricant’s” nature and experience in the future world. But each story has its own, equally thought-provoking, questions to ask of the reader.
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent and Ben Whishaw will star in the movie. All are apparently taking on multiple roles. Some commentators have been luke-warm on this idea but I think it could work well and will help to connect each tale further. Definitely one to watch out for with this level of star directing and acting talent involved.
Robopocalypse by robotocist Daniel H. Wilson is the book I’m currently reading. The story is a narration by a survivor of a war between robots and humans. Archos, an artificial intelligence, turns against humans and uses robots to attack them. I’m only a few chapters in at the moment but it’s shaping up to be a great read with lots of dark and grisly apocalyptic-type stuff.
The movie looks like it’s coming out in 2013. So no rush there then but the director is Steven Spielberg so the wait’ll be worth it. No cast names yet but with this director it’s bound to be stellar. Maybe even another role for Tom Cruise? After all, he has been in Spielberg sci fi movies before (War of the Worlds, Minority Report).
A couple of other books I’ve read that are being filmed are Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and World War Z by Max Brooks. Both are zombie stories and are different but good (zombie romance and first-person narratives of the zombie war respectively).
World War Z, due out in 2012, with Marc Forster directing and Brad Pitt starring looks to be the more commercial of the two stories. But who knows? Maybe Warm Bodies, a zombie Romeo and human Juliet, will strike a chord. Directed by Jonathan Levine and starring Nicholas Hoult, it’s also due out in 2012.
But this still leaves a whole stack of books I need to read and some will be easier to get through than others:
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. No idea who will direct or star but it’s in development. A book I’ve always meant to get around reading.
- John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The movie John Carter, directed by Andrew Stanton, is due out in 2012 and will star Willem Dafoe and Thomas Hayden Church. I’ve got a feeling this one will feel very dated but I’ll give it a go.
- Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. A space war story which looks promising. The movie, to be directed by Wolfgang Peterson, should be spectacular if it gets off the ground.