Usually, I avoid any novelizations I come across, although I may need to revise the particular prejudice.
Recently, I have re-discovered the audio book version of the novelization of the movie Star Trek: Insurrection, written by J.M. Dillard. I would be interested to know the author's contact with the actual script, which it follows quite closely in most respects.
I have been suprised. Although it cannot compete with the movie in visual effects and explosions, I think it's actually better, in my own opinion, than the movie.
It explains things better. Mostly, I think this is matter of the book having fewer content constraints, especially as concerns "running time." I think the script for Insurrection was chopped up at the expernse of backstory and plot due to time constraints. On another level, the medium of film is not conducive to the inner workings of characters' minds. To see thought-processes, motivations, and unedited reactions is priceless to the storyteller.
This makes me think I might should look up the novelizations of ofter unprepossessing movies, Star Trek and otherwise.
There are a few ways that the book is much weaker than the movie experience of Insurrection. The villian played by J. J. Abrams, and the scenes where Picard and Date sing to HMS Pintafore. Neither of these can be replaced anoything other than the movie, and represent other memorable aspects of the movie experience that are generally known the strengths of a movie over a novel.
One huge weakness of the movie is the motivation and inner turmoil of Admiral Dougharty was never seen in the film, and barely even hinted at. Hinted at even so, but not to the extent of the novel, with his revulsion over the assignment and unedited (negative) appraisel of the Son'a.
The novelization also got inside the head of characters of both new races, the Ba'ku abd Son'a. Seeing affairs from their point of view was invaluable is clearly understanding the races. They also hinted at the Ba'ku "Time of Troubles" civil war that lead to the Son'a exile, also at the advanced medical decay of the Son'a (and especially their green fungal skin condition, which was seen onscreen but never explained.)
The film skipped over many parts of the Son'a race introduction. Especially the description from the start of Son'a culture as being one of theives, interested in "Wine, women, and song" a people who value fashion and luxury and even consider "abject hedonism to be a virtue." Later on, we get the idea, but only after we've been trying to figure these guys out for an hour.
One thing that really stood out to me as perhaps changed for the movie was the statements that the Son'a had such a fear of death that is manifested as a paranoia of personal injury taken to the extreme. I imagine to movie goers it would be translated as cowardice, when in fact it is much more complicated. This seems to have been dropped from the actual film, with the villian bodily attacking people at times. I can se elements of that theme still present: the use of drones rather than personnel, and the villian hesitating to fire his weapon in case it set off a explosion. Still, as an original viewer, that motivation was entirely unseen ad even unsuspected.
I just want to say: it is very un-Star-Trek-like for the Enterprise crew to abandon R'uafo to the explosion of his monstrosity. They also seemed very unconcerned for the welfare of the other Son'a they stunned or otherwise encouteded.
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