Friday, April 18, 2008

Movie Review: Ted Dekker's Thr3e

Regular visitors to the site know that I have read and reviewed Ted Dekker's Book Thr3e more than once (read reviews HERE and HERE). You might even have seen me mention that the book was made into a motion picture. And you may even have noticed recently that the movie is available via Comcast OnDemand until June 30. I watched it with my wife -- who has never read the book -- and these are my thoughts.

First, I have never believed that any book was improved by being made into a movie. With a book, the author's imagination is translated into words, but those words are then translated back into millions of distinctly different imaginations by everyone who reads the book. The book tells one story which will likely be received uniquely by everyone who reads it. I might take one thing from the book while the next reader takes something else entirely different. On the other hand, when an author's work is made into a movie, his imagination has been translated into words, and those words are then translated into the imagination of a director. We all see what the director imagined. In my opinion, in almost every case, the translation of that director is received identically by almost every viewer. Rather than making our own interpretation of the author's intentions, we are viewing the interpretation of that movie director. In my opinion, it is for this reason that I have never enjoyed a movie as much as the book from which it originated.

The movie Thr3e is not departure from this pattern. While the movie was adapted from what I consider one of Ted Dekker's best works, the final product we see on the screen is not the book on film. It is another interpretation of that book. The first, most obvious evidence of this is the opening to the movie. In order keep a movie-goer -- which is often someone who watches movies because they don't have the stamina to read a full-length novel -- engrossed from beginning to end, the important back story that is woven out in intricate detail in the book is dealt to us on a stryofoam plate at the opening of the movie. All of the suspense as to the motivation behind the involvement and action of some very important characters is gone with a snap of the fingers.

In addition, while the book feels fast-paced as you read it, much more detail is laid out on paper than on film. We get to know the characters much more intimately on paper than on film. On paper, the reader gets to imagine what Kevin looks like, and the facial expressions he uses, and the inner-conflict he has with the matriarch of his childhood. Sorry, but there is just no playing out that relationship as vividly on film as it is done on paper. Or the relationship between Kevin and his childhood friend, Samantha. In the movie, in order to achieve that fast-paced feeling, much of the detail has been omitted. Details just don't play out so well on screen.

And maybe it's just me, because I've actually read the book three times, but [SPOILER ALERT] it sure seemed pretty obvious to me that no other major character actually saw Kevin and Samantha together. Even though the viewer frequently sees some combination of Kevin, Samantha, and Slater together. My wife, even though I had long ago told her the outcome of the story, was still caught off-guard by this one at the end. If you aren't sure what I'm speaking of, you'll just have to see the movie or read the book.

I say all of that to say this: in spite of what I considered to be some pretty atrocious acting, the movie Thr3e is definitely worth watching, but in no way is it as rewarding an experience as reading the book. If you've read the book, see the movie, but don't have high expectations. If nothing else, it will make you want to read the book again -- as it has done to me. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, see the movie first. You might enjoy it more than before reading the book. Then, by all means, grab a copy of the book! You will not be disappointed.

And if you need a little sample of what you might see, check out this unofficial movie trailer...

While Dekker writes in the Christian fiction genre, his books rarely come across as preachy. I would venture to say that if you read most of his books without having any knowledge of his genre, you would never label it as Christian fiction. The same can be said of the movie. Even though Dekker was on the set almost every day of filming, what you see in this movie is more the vision of the director than the author, and any subtle references to Dekker's religious convictions have been stripped by the director's interpretation.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your feedback. I was a little wary about going to see the movie after I read the book, and I still am a little. The book was unbelievable and I hope the movie has a tiny bit of what the book has.

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