Once upon a time, I, like my father, would criticize everything about a story, whether it be a book or tv show or movie. Does everything line up, or are there loops needing to be closed? Plot holes! We’ve got plot holes here! Are the characters relatable? Was it executed well both in writing and editing? Did it suspend my disbelief? That last one is the important piece. That was how I judged nearly every story once upon a time. If I was pulled out of the story for even a moment, I’d rip it apart. I later learned in life that part of that had to do with me, as there are very few stories in the world that have kept me glued to them throughout. But the part that didn’t have to do with me and my own attention issues, the part that was a disruption in the story, those I still see. I just don’t always comment on them. Sometimes it’s because it’s not worth it for me to criticize one small moment of a story I’m mostly enjoying, unless I’m being paid to edit it, of course. And let’s face it, I actually enjoy bad movies, as was recently discussed on my Facebook. Sometimes, you’re just in a mood, y’know?
Something that changed how I view and think about book to movie adaptations was a course I took in college aptly named, Contemporary U.S. Literature & Film. That course is the reason I don’t get upset with movie adaptations of books anymore. I view them separately as two different stories, because that’s what they’ve become. On the one hand, you have the author who created the story telling it to you through their writing, and on the other hand, you have the director telling their version of the story through the adaptation to film, the version they interpreted from the writing. That director’s interpretation of the story may be different from yours, or it may be similar. I even have a perfect example: Blood and Chocolate. This is a young adult book that is incredibly good and well-written. The movie? Complete garbage and an entirely different story altogether. I hated it, and I don’t say that very often about movies.
A story, like all art, is subjective. That’s the beauty of it. Just because I enjoy something, it doesn’t mean you will as well, and vice versa. For instance, I love the Assassin’s Creed video game series, but others do not. Do I have some issues with the later games? Absolutely, especially with the microtransactions (those really piss me off), but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to enjoy what little story there is left. Besides, I’m a writer; I can fill in the blanks. Hell, AC Odyssey even lets you create your own stories in the game. I don’t play those games for the story because stories in video games rarely capture my attention, with exception to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (holy shit!) and Desmond’s story in the Assassin’s Creed series which ended long ago. I play video games to escape my reality and enjoy other worlds I’ll never be able to visit. I play them for the aesthetics and graphics that I have been waiting 30 fucking years for. Also, with the Assassin’s Creed series, the mobility and abilities of the character you’re playing are far superior than some games coming out even today. Unfortunately, that was Ubisoft’s only innovation. I’ve seen nothing new from them since. Also, I can’t play first-person games due to motion sickness. I get a headache 10 minutes in and have to stop the game. This is why I was really upset that Cyberpunk 2077, a game I was very much looking forward to playing, was only first-person play. I mean, I won’t be playing it now anyway because it’s apparently not finished, but that’s a whole other post. But the fact that Tomb Raider I from 1996 allowed me to switch between first- and third- person POV, and some brand new games today don’t have that option, astounds me. I can also switch POVs in Skyrim and a handful of others. So the fact that CD Projekt Red decided that wasn’t going to be an option boggles the mind. Perhaps they can include it as they finish the game.
I watched Soul and Wonder Woman 1984 over the weekend, and a lot of people are criticizing both of these movies, especially the latter. It seems several really didn’t care for WW84, citing the script as bad, etc., and while I recognize everything they’re saying, it didn’t stop me from enjoying it. The script absolutely has some issues, but my opinion of it is that it was set in the 80s and there was nothing good about the 80s. I would know, as I lived through them as a teen. Joking aside, I didn’t feel that WW84 was a terrible movie. At least, it wasn’t for me. Did it suspend my disbelief? Of course not. It’s a DC superhero movie. Was it less than I expected? Yes. But I laughed, I cried, I cheered. I enjoyed it. End of story. You can decide how you feel about it.
I thought Soul was absolutely beautiful. I cried my damn eyes out. I loved it. It made me seriously consider what I’ve been doing for the past 50 years of my life and how I’ve treated people in general. How I’ve treated myself, my dreams and aspirations. Is it for kids? Hard to say. It touches on some things kids might not understand, but it has pretty colors in it. It’s cute and funny. Either way, I still enjoyed the movie. It invoked emotion, which, let’s be honest, isn’t all that difficult to do with me these days.
Between my Contemporary U.S. Literature & Film class and my Literary Criticism class, I learned to judge each story on its own merits, and really, if it brings me joy these days, then that’s all that matters to me. That’s not to say that I won’t have a sarcastic remark or two during a movie. Just so we’re clear.
Now, if you hire me as an editor, that’s different. I’ll tell you what’s wrong with your book. 😉