Of Books and Movies

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

As everyone knows, novels can make great movies. Take three of my favourite book-to-movie examples. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Green Mile. All three are quite distinct in style and story and methodology. Now I haven’t read the original Green Mile novel, but I feel now that I don’t need to. I’d probably just end up crying again.

In recent days, there has been a big push to make novels into movies. I don’t know whether Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings sparked the phenomenon we have all come to love, but whichever one it was, it didn’t stop with just those two series. Now all sorts of literature are being movie-ized. Spider-man, X-Men, even the Hulk was going to have a movie once upon a midnight dreary.

But the thing that beat them all to the big screen, the thing that no one now seems to remember, is the Batman movies. Now I will admit that the latest Batmans have been rather unsuccessful additions to the Batman legacy. But the original Batman, the one with Jack Nicholson as the Joker, that is a classic film full of darkness that fully suits my impression of Gotham City.

But lets not forget other comics that have been turned into movies. There’s the wonderful film Spawn, which anyone who has seen it will tell you is a fabulous display of computer animation and effects. The computer animations are one thing that all the new book/comic conversions have stolen from the good old oldies. Lord of the Rings would be so much harder to do without computer effects. Try to organize over 10,000 actors dressed as Uruk’ hai into a fighting force on a sound screen, then have them siege a fortress while being killed off by arrows and swords and falling rocks without computer effects? That will be the next big challenge for us engineers. Once we can genetically engineer people without the world berating us for tinkering with God’s creatures then we’ll be free to engineer super-people who look like Uruk’ hai and can be “killed” until the cows come home from the growth hormone factories.

But of course we cannot make invincible people, because then the secret would get out to some terrorist organization and they would begin to grow an unbeatable army of people who need no food to live, just big weapons and lots of body armour (that apparently doesn’t work well against long-range elf bows) and the UN would stop any of its members from building a counter-army, but George Bush in his “infinite wisdom” would go ahead and do it anyway and further tighten the stranglehold the US has over the rest of us, and would thereby increase political tensions worldwide until everyone just snapped and jumped onto a rocket headed for the new Mars colony.

"The computer anima- tions are one thing that all the new book/comic conver- sions have stolen from the good old oldies."

Harry Potter featured some excellent computer animations. Just take a look at the Quidditch scenes in the first two movies! Sweeter than a tall glass of your favourite beverage on a hot summer’s afternoon in POETS. Well, to avoid being beaten up, not quite that sweet, but the Quidditch is still excellent. As a devoted Harry Potter fan, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next movie. Of course I’ve read the books, but the movies always change some little things. Sirius, though, he’ll be excellent. I hope he’s as good as Kenneth Branaugh; that man is my idol!

Plays that have been turned into movies work well, so long as they either have Kenneth Branaugh doing the screen adaptation (Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing) or Robin Williams doing some acting (Hamlet again and What Dreams May Come, and the classic Hook). Yes, Robin Williams is a genius. One Hour Photo was too creepy for my tastes, though. Good thing I had my sister’s hand to hold onto the whole time.

Lord of the Rings brought great innovations of computer technology. Treants have become my favourite aspect of that movie. I love seeing the bad guy get his come-uppance. Especially when delivered by trees. Harry Potter uses the technology from Lord of the Rings to produce its own wonders of sight and sound. The next time I watch a quiddich match, I will think of all the com- puter engineering that went into its creation. There must be plenty of engineering in those scenes. I certainly hope so, or this article will be about random rubbish instead of how engineers are helping the world. That reminds me of last semester…

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