Earlier this summer, I discussed book vs. film in a rousing post that dissected all the ways that World War Z the movie intersected with World War Z the book, and came to the conclusion that the movie managed to keep all of the excitement and promise of the title, then stripped away all of the things like the “plot” and “characters” and “point of” . But I argued that they could be enjoyed as separate entities, with the movie being one thing, and the book being something entirely different, both enjoyable. And indeed, I enjoyed them.
Recently, an awesome friend of mine awesomely got me involved in the Young Adult series, Mortal Instruments. I always had a passing interest in reading this book, but I always seemed to get involved with something else at the time. Then my friend said basically, “read it now” so I did. Also the movie was coming out, and I’d never read a book so close to a movie before, and I wanted to experience it. Normally by the time the movie comes out, you forget about the book, or at least those little things, like for instance changing it so instead of being a Romero-style slow moving zombie invasion that is told through multiple perspectives, it becomes a Brad Pitt saving the world summer action movie vehicle. So I read the book. And I loved it.
The plot: a young girl named Clary learns that her mother was a demon hunter, and as a result she’s a demon hunter, so she can see the secret world underneath our world. She teams up with Jace Wayland and Alec and Isabelle Lightwood to find the Mortal Cup and prevent this one really evil dude from finding it first.
Quick note: there’s a twist at the end of the first book that makes a lot of the promo art for this movie extremely disturbing. Thankfully, just keep reading.
Anyway, so how did Mortal Instruments the movie stack up against Mortal Instruments the book? Very well. They keep all of the major beats from the book, cut some of the fat out (like any good adaptation should) and moves along some of the plot points that are present in later books. (like ruining the icky-twist, and one rather cheesy moment where one of the main characters, Simon, suddenly doesn’t need to use his glasses and has two tiny bite marks after his trip to a Vampire Hotel. Seriously?)
I enjoyed both, but that does complicate things. I already made the argument for both WWZ’s that they should be enjoyed on on their own, but here I am enjoying one movie because the book was explored so well. Am I negating my own argument? Should you just stop reading this blog now and pick it up again when I go back to discussing Breaking Bad?
No. You’re jumping to conclusions. But I’m proud of this week’s Breaking Bad Shakespeare Friday. Shameless Plug!
MI the Book was a great read. It got deeper into the story of Angels, Demon Hunters, Vampires, and one particularly fun moment that would have been cheesy had it been on the screen. I enjoyed the way the movie took these elements and condensed them down into a deeper moment. It did something rare, it managed to condense the book into a two hour form, something that too many writers today didn’t get. Either they change everything completely, or break it up to try to fit in every last plot point (and get your money. You pay for two tickets for this one book adaptation!)
But again, it’s something that should be enjoyed on it’s own. It’s something that should be explored on it’s own. Overall the book is fantastic, and so is the movie. It’s great seeing these characters in your imagination on the screen, again, condensed down. I loved the way this was done... but again explored on their own as different things. But this movie is shows what an adaptation of a book should be.