From the Page to the Screen – 2010: Odyssey Two

2010: Odyssey Two Review

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From the Page to the Screen – 2010: Odyssey Two

 

2010: Odyssey Two is a 1982 science fiction novel by Arthur Clarke. It is the second entry in the Space Odyssey series and it is such a good, exciting and different story. It once again deals with many different things, this time around with Europa, Jupiter and the collaboration of Americans and Russians in space exploration. All of those are very well utilized leading to such a stellar sequel that also gives us some great answers to previously posed questions.

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The film adaptation was released in 1984. It was directed by Peter Hyams and stars Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren and John Lithgow. It is not a great movie and some of the changes in adapting it were certainly not admirable, but it is still a pretty good, competent movie that unfortunately was not a box office success when it came out and is not as well regarded these days owing to it being overshadowed by its iconic predecessor. So let’s compare these two.

 

PLOT

The story in the film is actually quite faithfully adapted but I still had a few problems with it. One is the exclusion of that awesome, unforgettable epilogue. That was unfortunate. And the second problem is the inclusion of a Cold War aspect to the story which was sorely not needed leading to a solid, but flawed adaptation.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Unexpected as it may be, the character development is honestly stronger in the film. The characters in the book are flawed and not all that interesting, but here they are mostly much better developed and much more memorable. The actors are to thank a lot for that as they are very talented and it was quite interesting seeing Helen Mirren and John Lithgow so early in their careers and both were excellent here.

WINNER – FILM

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2010 Movie Review

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EMOTION

I thought that emotionally speaking, the film fared better than the book because some scenes were awe-inspiring and I definitely felt the excitement and fascination in some scenes more than I did while reading the book.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

The epilogue in the book is very interesting and unfortunately not filmed. Although the film is faithful, it is not particularly sophisticated and naturally the novel is much better in that department. It again shows us the science of space travel, exploration and both Europa and Jupiter were so well described. And of course I loved his take on American-Russian space exploration and how the two nations can work together if they want to.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

This is by far the weakest part of the movie. Whereas the book was so well written by Clarke with great descriptions, again an admirable use of science and a particularly memorable imagery, the film is this time around unfortunately dated with good score, but poor special effects work and it was an overall much less artistic, poetic and atmospheric take on the book than its predecessor was.

WINNER – BOOK

 

BOOK 3: FILM 2

This was a much closer race than I thought it would be as I preferred the book much more than the film. In the end, the film is a pretty good adaptation which benefits from better characterization and a more emotional investment, but the story, themes and especially the imagery are much better in the novel and thus this time around the book is a much better alternative whereas previously the two were pretty much on par.

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From the Page to the Screen – 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey Review

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From the Page to the Screen – 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel written by Arthur Clarke. It is one of the best books of all time and a seminal work of this genre as it explores all the major SF elements from artificial intelligence to extraterrestrial life to human evolution. It is one of my personal favorite novels and an undisputed masterpiece by which all other sci-fi books are measured. Both the movie and the book came out in 1968 and I am going to compare these two masterpieces in five categories.

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

Kubrick’s film came out in 1968 and actually it was released before the novel as the two were created simultaneously interestingly enough. It was not as praised when first released, but thankfully now it is considered to be the finest science fiction film of all time and a masterpiece by all means. Its status is more than deserved as it is one of my five favorite movies, the one that gets better and better with each viewing.

 

PLOT

The film is a very different animal than the book. It has that overarching story and it follows it pretty closely and is a great adaptation by all means. But it doesn’t delve deeper into it as it is mostly an audio-visual and highly artistic experience which develops the story well, but also leaves some things ambiguous. Clarke, on the other hand, went into a lot more detail when it comes to the story and thus I have to say that I preferred the book here.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

The characters in both the book and the film are not as important as the overall story is too big and the scenario is too epic for them to have much impact on it. I thought that in the book the human characters were mostly much better developed, but the acting in the film is very good and HAL 9000 leaves a much bigger impression in the movie.

WINNER – TIE

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2001: A Space Odyssey Movie Review

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EMOTION

Again this story does not need emotion and it may even be too cold for some. However, the film itself makes you feel at awe almost consistently, it moves you in terms of inspiration with its sheer epic feel. The atmosphere is both creepy and majestic and I definitely left the theater feeling as if I witnessed a grandiose display. That is why the book could never compare emotionally.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

Again the film does not rely too much on each of its themes and it mostly underlie them and leaves most of it ambiguous to interpret for viewers. The book, on the other hand, is very clever because it is written by Clarke who is a very smart man with a mind of a scientist and thus we get a lot of great themes so beautifully explored thanks to fittingly very scientific and detail-heavy writing.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Clarke wrote the novel so well, but he does leave something to be desired on an artistic level and in that department Kubrick trumps him with simply amazing special effects (the best of all time in my opinion), beautiful sets, amazing use of classical music in its score and beautifully conceived atmosphere. This is the definition of a film that needs to be seen on the big screen as both its audio and visual qualities are out of this world and breathtaking.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 2: FILM 2

I know that this is a cop-out in a way, but this is honestly a tie for me. I cannot possibly pick one as being the better when both are so great in their own right (though I did put the film in first place in my ranking of the entire series). They complement each other perfectly as the film is visually and auditory an amazing experience and in terms of art it is profound whereas the book is much heavily plotted, much more detailed and more scientific. This is the textbook example of a book and a film that are both equally amazing and yet so different from each other.

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From the Page to the Screen – Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men Review

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From the Page to the Screen – Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is a 1937 novella written by John Steinbeck. It is one of his greatest works. It is set during the Great Depression and is about the friendship between two very different men and the struggles they face. The book is very short, but powerful to this day so it received two film adaptations – one in 1939 and another in 1992. I am going to compare both movies to the book so let’s see which one is the more accomplished work.

 

THE 1939 VERSION

The 1939 film was made just two years after the novella’s release. It was really respected back in that day as it was nominated for four Academy Awards and it received good praise from critics. But because it was filmed in black-and-white and was technically pretty weak and because it came out in one of the best years for film ever, it is mostly forgotten nowadays which is a shame as it is a pretty good adaptation, but a very flawed one indeed.

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Of Mice and Men Movie Review

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PLOT

The film’s storyline follows the book very closely, even too closely according to some. Naturally, I loved how faithful it is and it flows really well too. The film is two hours long which meant that it adapted almost all of the novella’s scenes which is again respectable. No matter how good and well adapted the story here is, it never overcame its hurdle in the form of Curly’s wife as she got too much screen rime and thus robbed us of seeing the more important characters more.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

The characters here are actually very good. Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr. are both very strong as George and Lenny and, as I said above, Curly’s wife is much better and less stereotypical in this story. But most of the other characters weren’t as memorable as they were in the book which again stems from her overwhelming presence.

WINNER – BOOK

 

EMOTION

The dog, Curly’s wife and of course that ending all involved some very emotional scenes here, but they just never could compete with the sheer power of Steinbeck’s descriptions of the emotional state of the characters and those great tragic chapters.

WINNER – BOOK

 

THEMES

As is usual for this category, the film loses and here it is pretty evident as it relies on telling the story faithfully and portraying the characters well, but just never enough on hitting those hard truths about discrimination and the American Dream among others.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

This is the easiest choice for me. The film was filmed in black-in-white when it obviously needed Technicolor. Add to that very poor cinematography, a weak use of its setting and an overall uninspired look to it and it is clear that Steinbeck’s imagery and descriptions were infinitely better.

WINNER – BOOK

 

BOOK 5: FILM 0

This was a clear victory as the book swept every category. But I have to emphasize that even though it may sound that I am trashing the movie here, that is not the case at all, maybe in that last category only. This is just the case of a competent, good movie that just never reached the greatness of the novel in all of its aspects.

 

 

THE 1992 VERSION

This adaptation was released 53 years after the previous one and it is my favorite of the two for sure. It was directed by Gary Sinise and this film was mostly his own accomplishment as he both starred in it and directed it. The film is pretty much forgotten these days and that is so unfortunate as it should be remembered as the definite cinematic version of this story.

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Of Mice and Men Movie Review

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PLOT

The story is again very faithfully adapted here, almost scene by scene. I loved how traditional it is and they never modernized it or changed any of the plot points at all. Well, they only changed the ending which is actually done for the better as George leaving the ranch felt more natural and the murder was so intense and tragic the way it was filmed. But even though the ending is better, the rest of the story is just repeated from the book and never improved.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Everyone gets their fair share of development this time around and each of the characters was so well brought to the big screen and nobody gets left behind. They are all so good, but not as vividly portrayed as in the book.

WINNER – BOOK

 

EMOTION

The novella is highly emotional for sure. But the movie is even more so. That is because the acting is so great, especially from Gary Sinise, and that ending is so well filmed and just perfect. Lennie’s death is even more tragic here and the flashback in the end was so moving.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

This is the only aspect in this otherwise superb adaptation which is clearly lacking. They only told us this story and filmed it without any themes to it and the dialogue is certainly not memorable or particularly smart.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Steinbeck’s writing is very good and his descriptions are also strong. The movie, on the other hand, benefits from a visual representation of it that, although not particularly cinematic, is fueled by awesome scenery and excellent attention to detail in recreating this time period.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 3: FILM 2

Now this one was not a huge victory. Still the book is better and in more important aspects, but there is no denying the greatness of this second adaptation and it is to be admired that it came so late in the game and proved so strong. In the end, both movies are good, but the modern one is the better one by a mile and the novella remains the best and a classic of 20th century literature. But the fact that we got two good movies is a rarity and thus they need to be treasured.

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