Are video game, graphic novel and comic book based movies better than the book, novel or game?
I read all the Harry Potters, I saw all the movies I could, and played the video games. Which is better? Which is more enjoyable? Einstein, please help me, these are relative terms!
What are you?
Are you a movie buff, a bookworm, comic book reader or video game freak? I am all that and I enjoy each version of a story till I ask the difficult question: which one is best?
Let's take the issues each have into consideration before we jumpstart conclusions!
Special issues for each medium.
I play all kinds of games on the comp, including Quake, Unreal, Mortal Kombat, Road Rash, Vice City, Nerf...yes, even Solitaire and Minesweeper! Let's try to walk in the shoes of Game Creators and understand their issues.
I have written a gamebook and a fantasy novel, so I can understand the concern of novelists to an extent.
I have written and drawn comics, and I read everything from Marvel to DC to Peanuts to Archie. I know their issues.
Movies, I have to deal with as I deal with videogames, as a fan, not an expert. So here goes:
A movie from a book.
Suppose you write a novel, a very good fantasy, a sword and sorcery one. A wizard tells an orphan that he is actually heir to the throne which at present is ruled by a tyrant, an evil uncle. Yes, something like the Lion King. For romantic interest, the prince falls in love with the wizard's daughter. He also has a funny sidekick who never leaves his side, except when the love birds have their lovey dovey exchanges. Clear? That's the plot.
This is a good plot for a novel, and can be given twists and turns till the prince finally ascends the throne.
This will also work as a movie. Or as a video game or a graphic novel.
The novel describes smells, the ambience, emotion and thoughts in a way that can't be done in a movie,and the movie will do most of the work for you while you just passively take it in. All the wordplay that exists outside the dialogue will disappear in the film. All the metaphors, puns, oxymorons...all gone. The film people translate it into a video and audio treat, allowing you to see and hear things without thinking about it. They have to be brainy, you have to be brainless. Unlike in a book where you have to know the words used, and appreciate the language to enjoy it fully. A good reader contributes as much as the writer whereas a good movie watcher has to only cry and laugh at the right times.
I spotted this difference when I read Crichton's 'The Great Train Robbery,'after I saw the Sean Connery film. They altered the story in places for the movie. The novel itself took some liberties with fact, but that's another issue and need not detain us.
For instance, one night, the hero walks through a sidestreet with a weighted cane. The book says that wannabe muggers were dissuaded from attacking him when they saw the leaden knob on the cane. In the movie, it's dark, and they actually show someone attacking, and Connery throwing him off with one swipe of the stick. This is clearer in a visual medium and it's also action! Also things might get more spectacular, and the hero more heroic!
Have you read 'Jaws?' In the book, Ellen, the hero's wife has an affair with Matt Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss in the movie. Nothing like that in the movie. The film maker and the novelist; both are right, and they have their priorities. Right.
The Video Game
Here we have different priorities. Once I submitted a novel to a big publisher. They said they wanted a game book and can I turn that into a game book? A gamebook is like a video game; it's interactive. I said I couldn't as there were very few choices for the hero. In your gamebook, there should be enough twists and options if you want to retain the original story and still make a game out of it. Or they will do it for you!
You need choices branching out into more choices for a good game. You can also die in the game, which won't happen to the hero in our novel. Or you will be given more tries or something.
The Graphic Novel
Which is the same as a comic book, which the powers that be decided was not a respectable thing to call it.
Here you can see your heroic hunk chopping off enemy heads with a SWISH! and the wizard causing KABOOMS! You can have introspective lines in those lovely thought balloons. I loved them in Iron Man!
I think the comic book is a great marriage of film and book.
Movies also have another disadvantage; a time limit. The book can be 70,000 words or much more.
Now I forget what I was saying.
Ah, yes, to sum up: let us enjoy a movie, a video game, comic book without referring to the original story in the novel. That way lies pleasure. Your prince will surely marry the wizard's daughter and ascend the throne.
When people invest time and money and effort, they would not want to take more risks. Being faithful to the original medium is a risk. You betray the current medium then.
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