Category: Books Vs Movies


I’ve been having the hardest time getting this done. Seriously, I spent more time staring at a blank page on this than I spent on some of my papers back in college. I keep going off on Holtzmann related tangents, which is fun but not what I’m here for. A lot of my stuff also winds up being pretty cyclical, so there’s that too. Plus writing this up makes me want to do another thing about the characters specifically later on and I kept getting side tracked by that. Quick note, the version of the movie I have is the theatrical release, not the extended cut, so I may make reference to the movie not having certain scenes that were restored for that. It’s a lot later than I meant for it to be, but hopefully still fun. Enjoy!

General Feelings:

The Book: So, one of the big things with this Book vs. Movie is that both tell, essentially anyway, the same story. I went into a lot of my stuff with the book in my review, but I feel like I need to repeat that my main issue with it stemmed from its having a set protagonist in Erin. That the book is based on the script for the movie also means that a lot of moments I really enjoyed in the movie are absent because they were improvised by the actors. That said though, there are a number of flashbacks early on that fill in both Erin’s tragic back story and what happened between her and Abby. The movie doesn’t suffer hugely from not having them, but they did make me appreciate Abby a lot more.

The Movie: This is one where I saw the movie several times before I read the book. I am distinctly hoping that a sequel happens, maybe set after the upcoming comic or something. The movie is a horror comedy, much heavier on the comedy than the horror. It could have used some of the flash back stuff the book had to beef up the initial dynamic between Erin and Abby and, not going to lie, I would have had less Kevin but it’s solid and funny. It also has a lot more Holtzmann and Patty, due to the actresses physically being there, which is something I’m never going to complain about.

Erin vs The Ghostbusters:

Dr. Erin Gilbert: I’m not a huge fan of the book’s version of Erin.  It isn’t that she’s a bad character so much as that the way she’s written tends to make her feel stiff and unconnected to other characters. Part of this is that a number of shared scenes in the movie are Erin’s thoughts in the book or cut down to being between her and Abby. Book Erin is a protagonist who lends herself to over thinking things and worrying more about her/their credibility being acknowledged than actual accomplishments. Now, the flipside to this is that the book being so Erin focused pulls her issues to the front. She’s noted the day of her tenure review on her calendar as V day, validation day. That no one believed her as a child when she talked about the ghost is something that gets touched on a lot and built on. Eventually other people’s disbelief lead her to taking an authority figure’s advice and abandoning the paranormal, her research, and Abby. It’s something she struggles with throughout the book.

The Ghostbusters: While the movie does still tend to focus more on Erin and it could be argued pretty easily that she’s still the main character, I very much prefer how present the other characters are in the movie. Admittedly a big part of the other characters being more present is that their actresses are physically there, even if only in the background, so even if a character isn’t doing anything that effects a scene they’re still there doing something. Because there was a lot of improvisation on a lot of lines there was more interaction between the Ghostbusters and that did a lot to sell them as a team. There’s more cohesiveness as a result and that means I care more about what happens. That I’d watched the movie first and Holtzmann and Patty are my favorites affects this greatly. They’d probably still be my favorite characters if I’d read the book first, but that’s a lot to do with seeing more of them in the movie.

Rowan North:

Book: Rowan is much more a foil to Erin in the book. They both had rough childhoods due to their parents not understanding them and kids at school being aweful. They both have an interest in the paranormal, Erin to prove it’s real with science and Rowan to end the world and rule over the ghosts. They’re both smart, having attended and graduated MIT. But then Erin is a partical physicist, because she gave up on the paranormal and ran away from her research to try and be normal, while Rowan is a janitor who hates his job and everyone he interacts with. Erin is self destructive in a way that leads to no validation being enough, she needs everyone to know that this thing was real all along. Rowan doesn’t seem to care what anyone else thinks of him, he’s put himself above it all, if people don’t accept him then that’s fine they were worms anyway. His back story is more than a little cartoonish, but so is he. Rowan is one of the only characters that I feel benefitted totally from the book. He gets point of view scenes and seeing that makes him familiar. The book grounds how fantastical Rowans plans are in a character who is at once both the ineffectual loser who doesn’t people well and also the guy driven enough by his anger to build bombs in his basement.

Movie: In the movie Rowan loses out on almost all of the point of view bits he has in the book. This loses a lot of what made him work there and makes him a limp villain with not a lot of drive. We get a scene where he monologues to himself about going from having been bullied to being the bully, but that doesn’t work for me, it’s too neat. We don’t get anything on his background beyond that. We don’t get as much of the utter distain for humanity. He feels more like he’s there because they needed a bad guy and less like he’s be hording ammo if the Fourth Cataclysm didn’t work out.

Character Moments:

Book: As I’ve mentioned before, the book doesn’t have a ton of little character moments. That does make the moments that it does have stand out more. My biggest example is towards the end of the book, Erin’s punched a blogger and left the headquarters to be alone and we get Patty and Holtzmann going out to get sandwiches. This bit has next to nothing to do with the plot, but it lets us get to know both of them better and shows them interacting and being friendly. There’s also the bit right before it with Holtzmann trying to cheer Erin up after the fallout from her decking the blogger.

Movie: The movie is made of character moments largely, again, because the actresses are physically present and it featured a lot of improvisation. It bounces in importance from Holtzmann flirt dancing to “The Rhythm of The Night” which is awesome but minor, to the Swiss army knife/side arms scene which is both a character moment and also important to the big fight at the end of the movie. While he’s not my favorite, most of Kevin’s non-plot scenes are from the movie. Plus, again, with the movie we’re out of Erin’s head and so see more of how the other characters react to things.

Conclusion:

This is a case where I like the movie better, hands down. While the book clarifies things that the movie could only hint at, it only does so for one character. The ghosts of the book, Slimer excluded, were also less cartoony because I was imagining them rather than seeing them and the book goes a little more into the descriptions for it’s mooks. Meanwhile the movie benefits massively from its actresses which the book, by virtue of being a book, doesn’t have. That’s pretty well what a lot of my feelings on the book boil down too, it was entertaining and fun but it didn’t have the characters as I knew them while also being similar enough that it felt weird. If you can find the book, give it a shot. If not, grab some friends and watch the movie.

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Long, long after I initially decided to do this, I’m finally posting something about it. I’m going to be breaking this down a bit in terms of what I’m covering.  Because of the nature of the thing this is going to be full of spoilers, so, you know:

Spoiler Alert

General Feelings:

All You Need is Kill:  I covered this in my review, the book is a decent, solid piece of genre fiction.  It isn’t the best thing out there, but it’s also far from the worst.

Edge of Tomorrow:  I haven’t reviewed the movie, so this is the first time I’m saying much about it online.  It’s a summer blockbuster with more budget than it really needed and enough changes made from the source material that I’m not sure of the reasons behind.  It feels less like Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as vehicles to tell the story and more like using the trappings of a story as a vehicle to use Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt to make money.  It was entertaining, but it wasn’t good.

Keiji vs Cage:

All You Need is Kill: Keiji starts the book a totally green, untested private who has to grow into a competent soldier over the course of two days with painful deaths as the reset point. He knows the people in his unit at least passingly even if they aren’t used much in the book, little things early on that serve to tell the reader that.  The loops change that, locking him in to trying to get a little better each time so he can get out and survive. Keiji can feel more than a little disconnected from the rest of humanity at times due to the time loop, but I feel that he’s shown to be a more or less heroic figure at the end when he takes up where Rita left off and vows to wipe out the Mimics once and for all.  He’s been forced to kill the only other person who understands what he’s been through to break the time loops.  He’s left an outcast for his actions during the battle, having not only killed Rita but also done tremendous amounts of damage to both the base and his fellow soldiers.  The thing is though, even with that, he’s going to keep fighting until the Mimics are gone or it kills him.

Edge of Tomorrow: Major Cage starts the movie seeming just kind of slimy.  He’s the guy shilling jackets to the world, talking about how they let someone as inexperienced as Rita Vrataski fight the Mimics and win. He’s a media suit with respectable rank who, when told he’s being sent to the front lines, jumps from trying to weasel his way out of it to trying to blackmail the General giving him his orders.  Cage isn’t a character I can really believe as keeping fighting after the first couple of loops, he’s the guy who thinks he can talk his way out of anything even as he digs himself in deeper and deeper.  Meeting Rita could be a tipping point there, he doesn’t become more heroic or anything like that, but he has a goal to work towards.  He finally sacrifices himself to kill the omega, ending the war and saving humanity, but even that winds up ringing hollow.

The Mimics:

All You Need is Kill: The Mimics in the book are these drowned frog looking things that were sent out by another more advanced race to teramorph the Earth and make it habitable for them.  So they look a little doofy, but they eat dirt and poop poison and when one dies so do all of the humans in the area unless they’re wearing proper protective gear.  It’s kind of cool.  They all look the same, but the ones that out put the signal to cause the loops stand out somehow.  It isn’t really covered how they’re identified, though it is revealed that if that one is killed the signal will switch to another mimic. So they keep that going and win anyway, unless a human gets caught up in it and keeps fighting until they manage to kill the signal mimic and all of the others that the signal could bounce to.

Edge of Tomorrow: I’m going to admit, the mimics in the movie look way more intimidating than drowned frogs, but they also seem to have replaced the just creepy poisonous innards with just speed and strength.  The movie also added two other types of mimics, a sort of alpha that has the time loop signal in it’s blood somehow and an omega mimic that sits and directs all of the others.  The alpha types I get, in a more visual medium it’s necessary to show that the signal mimics are different from the others.  The omega type just bothers me, it only exists so that the movie can have a clear cut happy ending.  The movie’s mimics also have to bleed on someone for the loops to pass on to them, so that’s different, but it also just seems to be there to make sure that the ending is happy enough.

Rita Vrataski:

All You Need is Kill: Book Rita is the Full Metal Bitch, and she earns the title from her first appearance onwards.  She turns up as Keiji is dying and makes meaningless small talk so that, when he kicks it, she can take the battery from his Jacket.  She distances herself from the other special forces members for thirty some hours prior to every battle, because she needs to distance herself from them in case she winds up in another loop.  But she’s also had her jacket painted bright red so that she’s the one the mimics are going after first.  She’s a lonely figure, unable to tell anyone about what she’s gone through because they could never understand.  When Keiji talks to her about the loops for the first or second time, she cries because she isn’t alone anymore.  She connects to him in that one day because he gets it.  The next day is the final battle of the book, she figures out why the loops continued after the two of them had killed the right mimics the last time, and she goads Keiji into a one on one duel because she knows one of them has to die to end it.  This is honestly something I had really wanted to see in the movie, because that would have been awesome.

Edge of Tomorrow: Movie Rita is the love interest, while she does get some really cool moments and is the one to ostensibly teach Cage to actually fight the mimics instead of just trial and erroring his survival, she isn’t as big a deal as book Rita is.  Part of this could be that we don’t really see the people in charge reacting to her like we do in the book, but I honestly thing that a bigger part is that she’s mostly there as a mix of the love interest and exposition.  Cage doesn’t wind up broken because they never win.  He gets broken by never being able to save Rita at the helicopter, no matter how many times they go through it or what he does, so he stops going to her for help until he realizes that the mental images he was being sent were a trap by falling head first into it.  The movie itself goes out of its way to give them semi-romantic moments because Cage is written as falling for her, the bit before her heroic sacrifice in the final loop is the worst offender.  They also made her British instead of American for the movie and got rid of most of her back story.  She really didn’t get a part of the movie where she was the hero instead of Cage.

The Ending:

All You Need is Kill: Keiji is out of his time loop and the battle is won, but Rita is dead and the mimics are still out there.  So he winds up with the American Special Forces to be their new weapon against the mimics.  The book ends with him essentially vowing to Rita that he’s going to keep fighting and planning what he’s going to do to keep going.  It’s sort of bitter sweet. I honestly really like this because the main character’s victory isn’t the be all end all win for humanity.  It’s a big win, but it isn’t THE win.

Edge of Tomorrow: It was all a dream.  The mimics mysteriously died before Cage even gets to meet the General and humanity is saved.  None of the sacrifices mean anything because they never happened.  No one but Cage remembers anything because it never happened.  There is no continuing threat to be overcome.  Nothing.  The omega is dead, it’s blood got on Cage’s body before he finished dying.  Everyone lives and Cage, now a Major again and out ranking her, goes to find Rita because he’s fallen for her.  End film on Cage giving a little smirk. I don’t like this for all sorts of reasons. Again, the sacrifices mean nothing in this ending so why should I care?  Cage doesn’t seem to have learned anything except maybe that he can get out of even that and, hey, Rita’s still alive this time.  That bit kind of plays to my issue of Rita seeming to have been down graded to love interest.  She doesn’t know him, has never met him, is out ranked by him, and without the mimics as a threat there really isn’t a reason for them to get to know each other beyond his having a thing for her. He holds all the cards here, she’s never met him but he knows all this stuff about her.  It’s weird for me, but the movie presents it as part and parcel of the happy ending, bad guys are dead and the hero gets the girl.

Ending Thoughts:

I liked All You Need is Kill, it was sparse and kind of dark and even where there was hope there was still further to go. Edge of Tomorrow,I liked OK, but it was less intelligent and more explosions and Cage getting shot in the face that made it fun.  I hands down don’t like Cage as a character and I don’t like how they handled Rita, but I did like the design for the mimics and the fight scenes were pretty awesome.  I’m gonna say that the book wins this one but that I would watch the movie again if it was on TV and I didn’t have anything better to do.