5 Books That Would Make Great Movies
Listen up, studio heads.
As I mentioned the other day, we live in the age of the remake. Studios are wary of investing a lot of money into new movie projects when they can turn something else into a movie (lately it’s been books and graphic novels). Many of these remakes tend to be less than stellar when compared to their literary counterparts, but every once in a while the planets align; the perfect director, writers and actors all get involved; and something magical happens.
My very favorite movie remake of a book is “Hogfather.” “Hogfather” is a Discworld book (the same universe in which Moist von Lipwig, Postmaster of Ankh-Morpork, lives) written by Terry Pratchett, and tells the story of what happens when the Hogfather (the Santa Claus of Discworld) goes missing: Death takes his place. If the Hogfather is not found and restored to his proper place, the sun will no loner shine. It’s up to Death’s granddaughter (long story) and the newly-created oh God of Hangovers to put things right. The film version of this novel is magnificent, just as funny as the book even though they’re a little bit different.
Because the movie remake of a book will be different. They’re two entirely different media, books and movies. A book can take time to go into extraordinary detail while a movie is limited to about two hours. You can make really long movies (look at LOTR) to get everything in, but that makes the movie more difficult for audiences to sit through, and studios get nervous about that sort of thing. However, if the director/writer/whoever changes the basic story too much, (or kills off major antagonists that are supposed to show up in later books), that doesn’t work either.
So I offer this list of five books (all sci-fi and fantasy, because that’s what I read) that I think would make really awesome movies, given a talented director/writer/cast.
1. “Furies of Calderon“
Written by Jim Butcher, “The Furies of Calderon” is the first book in his “Codex Alera” series. The series combines the ideas of “Lost Roman Legion” with “Pokemon” (no, seriously), but in a way that’s really cool. Imagine a world that’s akin to ancient Rome. There’s an empire beset on several sides by powerful enemies; a feudal monarchy with a number of lords and senators; slavery and legions of soldiers. As far as Pokemon goes, the land of Carna (home to the Alerans, i.e. humans) is full of furies (basically elemental spirits). Some furies are small and ephemeral while others resemble an actual animal composed of an element (hawk of fire, badger of stone, etc.) The elements are the classical four, plus metal and wood.
Every Aleran has some control over at least one of the elements (manipulating them through the use of their fury), which grants them access to all sorts of fun abilities. Watercrafters can heal wounds, for example, in addition to actually controlling water. Firecrafters can influence people’s emotions. Stonecrafters can take strength from the earth, and so on. Since everyone in the nation can control these elements through their furies, things are somewhat stacked against our protagonist, Tavi, who appears to be the only Aleran born without furies.
And things get worse for Tavi when he’s caught out in the woods when a Marat (read: barbarians that form connections to Ice-Age animals like saber-toothed cats and ground sloths) and his war bird come scouting. Tavi lives in the Calderon Valley, a narrow strip of land separating the nation of Carna from the barbarian Marat horde. While the Marat were pushed back years ago in a battle, it seems they’re ready for another fight. Tavi and his uncle end up killing the bird, but not the warrior, and Tavi’s uncle is wounded. Tavi ends up meeting a spy on the way back to his home, and while his aunt is able to heal his uncle, they all have bigger problems than a nasty wound: the Marat are coming with a vast army, and the people looking for the spy he met aren’t too picky about who they kill.
There’s more to “Furies of Calderon” than that, of course, but I still think it’d make a great movie. Jim Butcher is already a cinematic writer. Reading his work, I can just picture these vast sweeping vistas with all sorts of exotic craziness happening. Add the elemental powers of the crafters, the burgeoning romance that develops between Tavi and the daughter of one of the Marat chieftains, and the climactic battle in which Tavi and the other Alerans have to use their elemental powers to defend their home against a sea of barbarian warriors and their war-beasts, and that sounds like a fun time at the movies to me.