Harry Potter and the Fifth Wave of Hunger Games

Harry Potter. Divergent. A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Hunger Games. Twilight. And now, The Fifth Wave! (If we were on “Pyramid” right now, this would be your cue to shout “BOOKS THAT GOT MADE INTO MOVIES!” and we’d win money!)

I think about half of these movie series have actually gone on to be universally deemed worthy of the books from which they came. Me? Maybe I’m a little harsher, but I only really liked two of these adaptations–possibly three… I’m still on the fence about the latest one.

Before I sat down to write this, I went over a question in my head: why do movie adaptations of our most beloved books seem to be so hit-or-miss? I tried to hash this out with myself and attempt to understand why makes a good adaptation, and ultimately, I’m not arriving at anything conclusive. I can only give you my personal opinion on these, and maybe some of it will resonate with you.

Out of all these movie adaptations, the two winners that stand out to me are Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. When I really think about it, these are also the adaptations that had the biggest chance to fail. Harry Potter already had a massive following before the first movie was released, and expectations were through the roof. With every book that was released, the movies had even more to live up to. They had to be true to the books’ tone, messages, settings, pace, characters, themes, props… everything. That’s a lot of pressure, but we all know that there’s an enormous fan base that will agree that the movies successfully accomplished all of this (once we got over the fact that Peeves wasn’t there for the movies), and many other adaptations leave us a little disappointed in one of these aspects. I still wonder what possessed anybody to turn A Series of Unfortunate Events into a full-blown comedy when the books have a much darker tone to them.

It’s almost universally accepted that the book is always better than the movie, but I have to say that The Hunger Games really defied this rule for me. I enjoyed the movies even more, and I think it’s because the movies took us out of Katniss Everdeen’s head and showed us the big picture in a way that the books were only able to tell us. They weren’t perfect movies, but my adrenaline surged every time the first movie cut back to District 12 or the riots in Panem, something that is hard to effectively make room for in a first-person present narrative.

This brings me back to The Fifth Wave. I watched it today while the book was still fresh in my mind, and I went in with low expectations only because I saw pretty low scores on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. I didn’t leave hating the movie as much as Rotten Tomatoes led me to expect, but I do have mixed feelings. The cast was great. The mood was pretty true to how I felt when I read the book, and I was really feeling the movie score. My issues were all in the tiny details (I won’t spoil the plot for you, but you may want to read on with caution if you don’t want to know anything about the movie!)

  • What happened to Project Wonderland and the green “eyes of doom?” These aren’t necessarily vital to the plot of the book, but they do come up a lot and they’re a big deal…
  • Why is Cassie’s hair so perfect the whole entire time?
  • Why doesn’t Sam ask where his father is at the end of the movie? Did he suddenly forget all about him?
  • As for Evan Walker, the dude didn’t get much of a chance to be as creepy as the book made him out to be, which made Cassie’s distrust feel a little contrived sometimes. Same goes for their romance. Definitely contrived. Maybe this is where the book really shined, because Cassie’s internal thoughts kept building up her feelings for him, whereas the movie seemed to whip out the “let’s make out” card out of nowhere.
  • *end rant*

I’ve decided this movie falls somewhere in between all the adaptations I mentioned above. It’s definitely no Hunger Games, but it’s not really all that terrible either. Give it a chance, but maybe during one of the lower-priced matinees. If nothing else, you get to watch the X-Men Apocalypse trailer again! YES!

Sticking with the alien theme, here’s a fun song for all you rock lovers. Happy Sunday!

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