Movie vs Book: Escape From Spiderhead Island

There is one conversation that can always divide avid book readers : When your favorite novel becomes a film, or say you see a film and realize its a book, which is better? Personally I tend to stick with “the book’s better so much more detail and allows you to really chew on the after math of the book” but that was until I watched Spiderhead on Netflix. Escape From Spiderhead Island is a short story by George Saunders with scifi undertones. This book explores the what if of if our emotions could be controlled by the tap of a button. Those on spiderhead island are the testing subjects and are forever bonded with a “Mobi Pack” the Mobi Pack injects chemicals into your blood streak to invoke a reaction from you for a short period of time. These reactions range from lust to mania to anger and even self reflection. Yet the book lacks detail on the subjects, why they are on this island they cant leave, and the true intensity the chemicals when put into the characters blood stream.This is where the movie comes in. 3 weeks prior to reading escape from spiderhead i watched the movie on Netflix. The characters in the film provide depth, purpose, and vividness to the story that the book simply could not etch across. For instance, within the movie, the audience sees why our main character is on spider island. Which is incredibly interesting as through the movie’s explanation subjects on spider island are incarcerated individuals serving time. The movie also outlines the rules, procedures within spiderhead day to day life , and functions of the Mobi Pack. In addition, the movie shows a darker side of Abnesti that the book doesnt really portray. So is this movie a win for books v movie adaption? Its a yes in my book.

7 thoughts on “Movie vs Book: Escape From Spiderhead Island

  1. Alaiya J.

    Your review made me really want to go watch the movie. I’m the same way and assume that movies will lack description and context about what the tone of the story is, but I did feel like something was missing in the short story. It felt incomplete without knowing the whole background on why the people are at Spiderhead, but now that I know the movie fills in these gaps it really seems like it’ll give me closure about the story.

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  2. Isabella K.

    Even though I haven’t seen the movie, I really like your comparison which also helped clear up some parts in the short story I didn’t necessarily understand. I could totally see the movie being more representative of Abnesti’s true personality. The book felt like it somewhat glossed over Abnesti and at times made it seem like he was a good person, who didn’t want to perform such horrid acts, even though he is one who lacked humanity.

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  3. Izzy N.

    Before reading your piece I had no idea Escape from Spiderhead Island was a movie, and now I am inclined to watch it for myself. With your explaination sounds like I would enjoy the movie. I too am more of a “the book is better” type of person. However, with your descrpition it seems as though my view would change with Spiderhead. In the book, while it is my favorite story we’ve read so far, I would have liked more details about the characters and to better understand the context.

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  4. Rohan W

    I too had no idea Escape from Spiderhead Island was a movie. However, I don’t think it’s black and white on movie versus book. Instead, having both interpretations is a great way to see different aspects of a story (unless the movie really changes the storyline). That way the reader can come to his own conclusions. A few years ago I read Jane Eyre in class and found it really boring and unrelatable. Later I saw a film version which changed how I interpreted parts of the book. Maybe I simple understood the story better but overall I would say they complemented each other well as opposed to one being better than the other.

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  5. Elijah M

    Upon finishing Spiderhead at home I truly contemplated watching the movie. Netflix historically does a horrible job at adapting original work into film so I didn’t give it a chance despite liking Miles Teller and greatly enjoying Chris Hemsworth’s work in the MCU and in his first Netflix original debut in Extraction. Your piece left a good taste in my mouth and I’m definitely gonna have to check it out.

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  6. kewerthmann

    I agree, when I first read the beginning of the book I felt very lost. I felt like I missed so much and I just jumped into the middle of the book. I wish they could have given more detail about the people and what Spiderhead was to really paint the image. I also felt that I couldn’t really connect to the reading because I was lost and felt I was missing key details. I really like your review, I want to go watch the movie now.

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  7. Joe H.

    Hi Bella! I agree that I am usually on the book side of the debate, but your points about the movie being more clear make a lot of sense. I was lost at the start of the story and clarifying details were definitely missing. Your post made me interested to watch the movie.

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