Saturday, August 21, 2010

Angel, City Of (Closed Captioned)

Here's the closed captioned version of Episode 3:

The next review will probably be up next week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Episode 3: Angel, City Of

No, I didn't run out of movies yet or anything. I just happened to find the novelization of the pilot episode of Angel for $1, read it, and thought it'd be good to review. In an unexpected turn of events, I was able to get my camera to behave so that the video and audio in my video footage is finally in sync--which hopefully means I can start using more than 10 seconds of video per review in the future--but the audio was misbehaving terribly. You win some, you lose some.

I haven't finished doing the captions for this episode yet, but once I do I'll upload it to YouTube.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Episode 2: Bram Stoker's Dracula

As promised, my next review: Bram Stoker's Dracula!

I didn't get into as much detail in this one, but about halfway through writing the review I realized I didn't have much to talk about. "It's boring" was my general assessment, and since that's more of a holistic thing it's hard to find an example of any particular moment that was boring. But to illustrate, normally I take pages and pages of detailed notes as I read, whenever I hit something that 1) I should note in the review or 2) I just personally found interesting. My notes for Bram Stoker's Dracula were about a page and a quarter long.

Anyway, I will read a few more novelizations and pick one that's actually good for the next episode. I don't want to turn into a review shows that only reviews bad things; plenty of other shows do that already.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Star Wars Movie Novelizations

Just finished up my series on Star Wars movie novelizations for (There are a great many more adaptations of the six Star Wars films, of course, but one thing at a time.) Here they are, in order from worst to best:

Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back

6. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back by Donald F. Glut is just... pointless. There were too many changes made between the screenplay used for the novelization and the final movie -- in particular, the dialogue between Han and Leia -- and the novelization adds nothing that wasn't in the movie. Possibly worth reading before ESB came out on home video, but certainly not now. 1.5/5 stars.

Star Wars episode II. Attack of the clones / R. A. Salvatore ; based on the story by George Lucas ; and the screenplay by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales

5. Episode II: Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore definitely tries, including a lot of additional material that wasn't in the movies. Most of it is dull, however, and makes the novelization drag. If you want the extra material, watch the deleted scenes on your AotC DVD, but don't bother with the novelization. 2.5/5 stars.

sEpisode 1 - The Phantom Menace (Star Wars)

4. Episode I: The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks gains half a star just for the opening scenes with Anakin and the way it develops his character beyond what's possible on screen. The rest of the novelization is just average, however, and the poor action scenes drag down the ending. 3.5/5 stars.

Star Wars

3. Episode IV: A New Hope by Alan Dean Foster is definitely the best novelization, stylistically, of the Original Trilogy, and it does a good job integrating background information to develop the universe. On the other hand, it fails to develop Darth Vader as a serious and frightening villain, which damages the story considerably. 3.5/5 stars.

Star Wars - Return of The Jedi

2. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi by James Kahn has a lot of stylistic problems, including glossing over a lot of the action (a major fault of movie novelizations as a whole). However, this is redeemed by the added scenes and the way the the novelization gets inside Darth Vader's head, making the final showdown between Vader, Luke, and Palpatine a lot more involved and interesting. 4/5 stars.

Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

1. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover is the best movie novelization I've read so far, hands down, especially considering the mess of a movie it had to work from. The dialogue feels natural, the characters and their relationships are much better developed, the fight scenes are kickass, and the book really reads like a novel, not like a novelization. If you only read one Star Wars movie novelization, it should be this one. 5/5 stars.

Interesting that the weakest movie in each trilogy (in my opinion) produced the best novelization. Although I suppose that makes a bit of sense: if you've already got a good movie, there's not a lot the novelization can add and a whole lot it can take away; whereas with something like Episode III, there's nowhere to go but up.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book of the Movie is on YouTube

Set up a YouTube account and posted the first episode there. More news soon...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coming Soon: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Bram Stoker's Dracula: A Francis Ford Coppola Film (Signet)

A.K.A. "Why does this book exist?" Seriously, it's a novelization of a film adaptation of a novel. That takes balls.

Also recently arrived:

Yes, there is a sequel to E.T.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I am a Bad Library Patron

I mentioned in my introductory post that I used to read 250 books a year. So do my reading habits look anything like that now?

Short answer: No. I am far too busy pretending to work like a productive adult.

Long answer: Here is a general summary of my reading habits:

Day 1: Visit library to pick up one book, ostensibly to review for work (so I can feel like a productive adult). Can't find that book. Pick up six or seven other books instead.

Day 2: Look for the book I originally wanted on BookMooch. Find it. Also find a dozen other books that seemed cool at the time. Wipe out my BookMooch credits.

Day 3: Remember that I should start reading my library books. Pick a book at random and start reading. Get through 50 pages before realizing I left my computer on. Get distracted for rest of night by compulsively reloading email and various blogs.

Day 10: Book I requested from BookMooch comes in mail. It doesn't fit in my mailbox, so I have to pick it up at the post office.

Day 11: Send husband to post office.

Day 13: Begin reading the book I got in the mail. Realize it is ruining my pleasant memories of when I read that book as a kid. Decide not to review it after all. Watch a Law & Order marathon instead.

Day 14: Realize I never started reading my library books. Renew them all online, then promptly forget about them again.

Day 18: Am reminded in a random conversation of a book I already own and must read it right! now! Search bookshelves. Realize it is not in my apartment, but boxed up in my mother's basement.

Day 19: Call mother; ask her to go through basement.

Day 28: Receive book in mail from mother. Traipse to post office. Renew library books online again.

Day 29: Read book from mother. Consider starting on library books, but decide I've spent too much time reading today already.

Day 35: Finish one library book. Like it so much I go to the library to check out the sequel. Read that, too.

Day 42: Remember that I have other library books and they are due. Try to renew online, but have done so too many times already.

Day 43: Go to library to renew books in person. Sheepishly pay overdue fines with pennies I found at the bottom of my purse.

Next question: Is this an exaggeration?

Short answer: A little bit. But not as much as I wish it were.


Apparently the video player is still not working. I am not sure what's wrong but I am trying to fix it.

EDIT: It is working now!

Episode 1: Willow

Here is my first review: Willow, with a novelization by Wayland Drew!

This ended up being a lot shorter (and taking a lot longer) than I originally intended, but I think I covered all the important things. There are a few blips that weren't there the first time I exported the video, but suddenly appeared after I fixed some errors and exported it again; I just left them because I was afraid fixing and exporting one more time would mess up something else. =/

Also, one thing that I noticed, which I cut from the review because it just didn't seem to work in context: why does everyone on the cover look like a woman?

I suppose it's better than the movie poster the cover art copied, where Val Kilmer looks very angry and Warwick Davis inexplicably looks like a monkey:

But still; kinda weird.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Brief Introduction to Book of the Movie

I don't like movies.

Let me rephrase: I like some movies, but in general I've just never been able to get into the movie as a storytelling form. I read novels incessantly as a child, at one point averaging over 250 books a year. (No, that is not a typo, and yes, I counted. Don't judge me.) As a teenager I started getting into TV shows more and more. But if I watch a movie, it's almost always to socialize with other people, not because I actually want to see a movie.

It's not that there's anything wrong with movies, if that's what you like. They've just always seemed so short to me. A book has a lot more flexibility in length and pacing, and can reveal a lot more about the story and characters in the narration, while in a movie you pretty much just have what you can see and what the characters say onscreen. (Plus you can't distract people with shiny CGI effects and explosions in a book.) In a TV show, you don't always have one continuous story, but you have a whole lot more time to develop the characters and the universe, just like in a book.

Last month, I got the crazy idea of reviewing Star Wars novelizations, the Original Trilogy radio dramas, and other Star Wars movie adaptations as part of my work for After I wrote a few reviews, I realized how much the subject interested me.

You see, here's the thing about movie novelizations: they're not usually based on the movie. They're based on the screenplay. In fact, it's probably fair to say that, rather than the book being an adaptation of the movie, both the movie and the novelization are adaptations of the screenplay -- and very often aren't working from the same version thereof.

Why is this the case? In a word: money. Movie novelizations are written to capitalize on the movie's premiere and be promptly forgotten. They usually come out a few weeks to several months before the movie, just for people who are too impatient to wait for the premiere to find out what happens. Accuracy is not of the highest importance; getting the movie out quickly is.

Does this make novelizations necessarily bad? Absolutely not. But it does lead to a few trends:
  1. If the screenplay was edited or the actors ad libbed a lot, the novelization can be barely recognizable as the same story and characters from the movie.
  2. If the author is too timid to guess at details that aren't spelled out in the screenplay, they may gloss over scenes (especially action scenes with an attitude I like to call RTFM, or "Remember that from the movie?... good, then I don't have to describe it." Try RTFMing a scene that got cut from the movie and watch hilarity ensue.
  3. The book is almost word-for-word exactly like the movie, but includes some deleted scenes (or scenes invented specifically for the book) and background information that helps expand the universe and characters. This type of novelization is most enjoyable for fans, but often also works as a novel on its own.
  4. The novelization is actually better than the movie. Maybe the movie made some poor changes to the script or used annoying actors, or the extra information in the novel helped clear up plot holes or inconsistencies in characterization. Whatever the reason, it's a novel you'd actually recommend people read instead of watching the movie.
I've never done video reviews before, but I thought it would be a good medium for comparing a movie novelization to the actual movie. My aim with Book of the Movie is not only to explore my bizarre love for movie novelizations, but to help my viewers decide which novelizations are worth reading and which aren't.

Anyway, my first video review, Willow, should be up in a couple of days. Please stay tuned!