Watch the movie or read the book…

You’ve read the book. You know the characters inside and out. The world described by the author has been etched carefully and permanently in your imagination.

And then – the movie adaptation comes out.

What do you do? You love the story, and seeing it on the big screen could be a great thing. On the other hand, the world you’ve imagined and the characters you’ve come to know and love might not be treated with the care you believe they deserve by Hollywood directors, producers and actors.

With the slew of movie adaptations of books that have already hit the big screen and the promise of more to come, students and movie reviewers have mixed opinions on the books they’ve seen turned into movies. Some think the movies work, while others think they completely miss the mark.

“Books are always better,” freshman Ben Lee said.

Reviewers of some movies tend to agree. For example, David Germain, an Associated Press reviewer, had harsh things to say about “The Polar Express,” when it hit theaters in November.

“The creations in Robert Zemeckis’ Christmas adventure ‘The Polar Express’ just don’t look right,” he said in a Nov. 10 review. “In fact, most of the time, they look plain wrong, the sort of creepy characters more likely to induce nightmares than visions of sugar plums.”

Lee said he’s usually on the fence about seeing movie versions of the books he likes.

“In general, I’m usually a little hesitant, especially if I’m a big fan of the novel,” Lee said.

Some examples of movies Lee thought were not as good as the book are “Lord of the Flies” and “Jurassic Park.” Others are done well, he said.

“I thought they did a pretty good job with ‘Troy.’ I liked that,” Lee said. “Troy” was based on the Homer classic “The Iliad.”

Freshman Kate Hennen had a strong reaction to the latest movie-adaptation of “Harry Potter” – she walked out of the theater.

“What the heck was up with that movie?” she said. “The movie was so wrong about everything in the book. I hated it.”

Hennen said she also has seen movie versions of books she disliked and was pleasantly surprised. One example was the film-version of “The Notebook.”

The film version had an alternate ending, and focused on parts of the book that she liked, rather than the full plot, she said. She also enjoyed watching the film’s male lead and seeing 1950s fashions.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” was a great movie, but the novel was still better, freshman Rob Ralph said.

“You get so much more from the book. Like, it’s from the chief’s (perspective) right away,” he said.

Film versions of novels have done well at the box office. Despite mixed reviews, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” and “The Polar Express,” were among the top 10 highest grossing movies of 2004, according to “The Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King,” toppled it’s competition in 2003. It was the year’s top grossing movie, bringing in more than $377 million.

Studios continue to plan movie adaptations for books. Sophomore Katie Barnes said she is eagerly anticipating the release of “The Da Vinci Code,” on the big-screen.

Lee said in many cases, movie versions of novels change to appeal to wider audiences.

“They always appeal to audience kind of stuff, so there’s always going to be your sex and violence and stuff like that that doesn’t really come up in the books that much.”

In the end, however, Lee said focusing on the film itself is going to help make watching a movie based on a book you’ve already read more enjoyable.

“You’ve got to look past (some changes) if you’re going to enjoy the movie.”

Movies based on books
– “Adaptation”
– “The Antuone Fisher Story”
– “Christmas with the Kranks”
– “Clueless”
– “Eyes Wide Shut”
– “The Orchard Thief”
– “Finding Fish: A Memoir”
– “Skipping Christmas”
– “Emma”
– “Traumnovelle”
Upcoming movie adaptations
– “Axel and Antoinette:the Secret Love Story”
– “The Dark”
– “Guy X”
– “Wicked Prayer”
– “Marie Antoinette and Axel de Fersen: The Untold Love Story”
– “Sheep”
– “Picture of Dorian Gray”
– “The Crow: Wicked Prayer”
– Mid-Continent Public Library