The Book Isn’t Always Better – Part 1: Big Fish

This is probably the first in a series of articles on the times that a movie has either been as good as the book, acted as a great complement to the book, or bested the book. This is the result of being tired of hearing the misconception that “the book is always better.” The truth is, it’s not. Sometimes the movie far exceeds the book in execution of the same story.

It could be that the filmmaker had a better vision for the story. It could be that the filmmaker is simply a better storyteller. It could be that the book just lends itself to also be great on film.

When I do my comparative analysis, I’m going to let you know whether I’ve read the book that the film is based on, and whether I read it before or after seeing the film, as all of these things have an effect on the results.

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The Iron Giant and Big Fish.

The Iron Giant is a movie by Brad Bird. It’s brilliant and an animation classic. Even though it came out in 1999, it was probably better than much of the Disney animation that I’ve seen. With Disney marketting, this movie would have been huge. It should have been huge.

Big Fish is a movie by Tim Burton, based on a book by Daniel Wallace. The book isn’t as good as the film, though. The movie’s soundtrack is a brilliant score by Danny Elfman, the man behind Spider-Man‘s music. The music completely compliments the movie and is at it’s most brilliant in the final moments of the film, when they just let you take in everything that is happening, and all of the characters that you loved in the movie.

Some of the best DVDs of 2004

A Mighty Wind is a fine and funny movie. It’s really impressive that the whole thing is improved.

The Shawshank Redemption should be available on DVD this year, but hasn’t been announced yet, as far as I know. Sure, I own it on DVD already, but I’m talking about the 10 year anniversary edition, featuring a ton of special features and an audio commentary with the Writer/Director Frank Darabont. As this is one of my favorite movies, I’ll be purchasing this edition as soon as it’s available.

As far as DVDs go, this is a great year for DVD:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – The theatrical cut, clocking in at 3 hours and 17 minutes, was the best movie released in 2003. Period. This was an incredible adventure with an ending that destroys the endings of all movies that I’ve seen previous to this.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Special Extended DVD Edition – At 4 hours 10 minutes, this should make Return of the King the best in the trilogy, as well as give it more of an emotional oomph.

The Shawshank Redemption – Special Edition – One of the best movies ever made. Get it when it comes out.

The Star Wars Trilogy – Finally.

The Matrix Revolutions – The most misunderstood movie of 2003. Brilliant.

Big Fish – The most understated film of 2003, one of my favorites.

The Iron Giant – Special EditionThe best animated film that nobody knows about. It’s brilliant. It was undermarketted, severely, but everyone that watches it, loves it.

The Passion of the Christ – The best film of 2004, worth owning to watch once or twice a year and for retreats.

So there you have it. My list of the best DVDs for 2004, as of this moment.