So, after a long week there was a mutual decision to hit Redbox (despite the fact that I have an ever growing list on Netflix but hey). I picked up two movies: Office Christmas Party and The Girl With all the Gifts. Before I head into this post let me just throw out that Office Christmas Party was pretty funny and it is just another addition to the idea of never seeing a Jason Bateman movie that I didn't like. Seriously, is there anything he does that is not just fantastic? Okay, side note filed. I wasn't planning on posting anything today but it's cold and raining (favorite kind of New England day) and I figured why not spark up the debate of movies versus books.
It's an age old argument: what was better the book or the movie? And there is no shortage of examples weighing in on either subjective side. Pro movie? Fight Club, The Martian (yeah I'm going to get shunned for that but whatever opinions are just that) Dark Places. Pro book? The Girl With all the Gifts, Gone Girl, pretty much every Stephen King adaptation ever.
Anyway, the point of this jumbled ramble was to talk about adaptations and whether you can really judge if the book was better than the movie (yes, yes you can) or if they should be judged as two separate creative pieces across two different mediums (yes, yes the should). Wait? How can you do both? How does that work? Well, like everything, it depends on a variety of factors.
I listened to the audiobook of The Girl With all the Gifts last year. First, let me say that Finty Williams is such a fantastic narrator that I can still here her saying "Good morning Miss Justineau" and I plan on listening to her read the follow-up that just came out: The Boy on the Bridge. Part of the reason that I think I enjoyed the book so much is that I went in blind. I knew nothing about the book, plot, or characters except for the fact that it was supposed to be a zombie story unlike any other zombie story. It was. Long story short, the book was great. I loved it from beginning to end. Last night, I watched the movie. The movie was great. Strong acting, stuck to the basic story, but like most adaptations it cut out a lot of material. This is perfectly fine, movies have time constraints. They cut out a lot of The Martian too, and again, it was fine. Nothing cut was pivotal to the story. This is important because this is where we must differentiate the movie and the book as two different pieces across two different types of multimedia. At the bedrock of a recommendation we can lump books and movies together - this was better than that, don't watch this read it. But, when you change the story (even slightly) by removing pieces of the book or adding things to the movie you now have a different animal. One that was visualized by a different creative team and should be thought of and rated as such.
So what makes The Girl With all the Gifts book better than the movie and what makes The Martian movie better than the book? Well mainly my personal opinion. But! This ridiculous ramble wouldn't exist if that was the only thing. So, it boils down to which one packs a bigger impact. I picked both of these books/movies as examples because they are both about survival and they are both about working together for the greater good. The difference between the two - despite what planet they take place on - is which one captures this better.
When I was listening to the The Girl With all the Gifts there were certain parts where I hit pause and just thought Jesus, this is intense. Boom, impact. When I watched The Martian I almost lost it at the end. The way it captured what we can achieve if we work together. Bam, massive impact. So barring a technical analysis of each piece, for me anyway, it boils down to which one had the bigger impact or as my Dark Souls friends can relate when talking about Sif and Artorias - which one kicks you right in the feels.
I probably could have saved you fifteen minutes by just saying: between the book and the movie pick whichever one hit you the hardest but hey, you enjoy listening to me ramble. At least I think. Otherwise I just wasted a bunch of your time. Just remember when recommending a book or a movie or answering the question which was better that it's a two part question: which one was better and were they both good? It's kind of like when a band releases a new album. They catch flak if they sound the same and they lose listeners if they change their sound. Album vs album or books vs movies - weigh in on which was better but remember to look at them both in individual lights. And, regardless of your stance - go read The Girl With all the Gifts and go watch The Martian.