Uhhh...spoilers?

I am going to take a moment to talk about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart, and I am not sure if this will lose the, admittedly very few, readers that I have accrued over the past few months or not, but I don't care. This is a topic that needs to be addressed in a meaningful and adult fashion, and dammit, it is 2013, I can talk about it on a public forum!

<ahem>

Store bought book cases suck.

There, I said it. And I stick by it. Deal.

Seriously though, they are always made of the same cheap press board, or at least the shelves are, and once a normal splattering of literature is laid upon it, the shelves bend, buckle and eventually fail. This happens to me all the time, I can't be the only one, right?

I mean, sure, I have a lot of books, probably more than most, but I can't be the only one who has had a bookcase shelf give out on him, this has to have happened to someone else. Has to.

When I moved to the city with the wife, I was faced with a conundrum: what to do with my library of random books? I couldn't bring them with, as we had no space, and, honestly, who wants to carry that much paper? So I finally gave in and went with digital books on my phone, which sucked, until I realized that with Google Books I could read the stories on my work PC, and phone, and they would sync up. Ha-cha.

With this newly discovered freedom, I was able to finally start perusing the stories that had eluded me for a while. Books that were either too expensive, or too damn hard to find. "John Dies At The End" was one of these. Written by Cracked editor David Wong, The story follows two men, John and David, as they discover a new drug and the terrifying new worlds that it opens. Really, it is a great book, and wonderfully written, and I would highly, highly recommend it.

The movie based on the book however, leaves much, much to be desired. Now if I may do a bit of pre-defence, I am not the kind of guy who will say that the book version of something is immediately superior to the film version. Jaws the movie is FAR better than Jaws the book. As is the Exorcist. Hell, I think The Lord of the Rings is better served in film than in book, but mostly that is because Tolkien is too much of a wanderer in his prose to tell a good action-y story. Long story short, when the story calls for a visual medium (giant shark translates to film better than the written word), the movie version can be stronger than the book version of a story.

Sadly, this is not one of those times.


The film version of "John Dies At The End" stumbles in the same way that almost every Stephen King movie stumbles, they think the interest people have in the book comes from the story, and not in the way the story is told. In the case of "JDATE" David Wong tells a story that you can tell he is making up as he goes along, but does it so well you can't wait to see what he comes up with next. His romantic interest, in the form of the one handed Amy, grows through out the story, and by the end of the book you are thrilled to see her with the hero. John is played an an enigmatic, fun loving clod; the friend-of-a-friend that you hear amazing stories about, but have never really partied with.

The film version (directed by the guy who did Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep, which leaves me scratching my head as to how he fucked this up so bad) drops all the characterization of the novel and focuses on what is, arguably, the least interesting facet of the story. The soy sauce (the aforementioned drug)




For illustrative purposes only.

Don't get me wrong, the soy sauce is the most important part of the story, as without it there would be no story, but it really serves as a driving force to grow the characters, and to make them interact with one another. Think of soy sauce as the principle in "The Breakfast Club", sure he is the reason they are all in the library, and the reason they cannot leave, but despite that, we don't want the story to follow him. "JDATE" makes the mistake of thinking that the story David Wong wrote is why people love the book, and not the characters, and because of that it never really feels like the movie makes any real attempt to connect with the viewer, choosing instead to throw scene after scene that, admittedly, are in the book, but not giving the viewer a reason to care about what they are seeing. Amy is put in danger, and we look at it as, "Who is this lady?", John is put in danger and we don't understand why we should worry. There is absolutely no emotional connect in this film, and it suffers for it.

That said, it is not all bad news, the movie is enjoyable despite it's flaws. David Wong's writing and dialog are still fantastic, even when deprived of interesting characters, and a great deal of the manic, insane feel of the book makes its way to the screen untouched. With a little bit of work in the character department this could have been one of the best films of the year, as it is, it was an enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable take on a far superior book.

Grade B-



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