Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Film Adaptations

Okay, so I get really geeked about some books coming to a theater near me. I get really rev'd up about seeing characters come to life on a big screen. These events help me to enjoy a book all over again - sometimes. I feel like 90% of the time I'm faced with a big disappointment, worse than when you find out your kid decided to join the Reform party of 1996 or some other "waste of a vote" party.

Now I know that film adaptations rarely please every viewer, especially if they are die hard fans of the book prior to the film. I think the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter movies come the closest to being true to their originals, but even those films are disliked by the most extreme fans, or just nit picky nerds. One thing these film have, is their length, but even after hour 3, they still have to leave stuff out, and who can blame them, a book that took me a month to read cannot be fully reproduced in 2 hours. Does that logic keep me from becoming disappointed? No. Why not? Because I still expect the best from Hollywood, if you're going to mess with something great, you should make something equal or greater to the original or I will be upset. Not that they care about how I feel, but it is the truth so I'm saying it.

To fit a 300+ page novel into a movie, writers have to get crafty. They have to invent people, leave out people, mix up story lines, change stories, change characters, I mean George Lucas' Star Wars: A New Hope was actually a rewrite of Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a horribly gone astray mis-re-write (my sources tell me) although I guess Obi-wan is the Good, Darth Vader is the Bad and Princess Leia is the Ugly. What's that? You disagree? Fine, we'll call Han Solo the Ugly. Still not satisfied? Well then C3PO. Why not Chewie you say? Because that's racist, just because he's hairy doesn't mean he's Ugly. Remember the ewoks? They were so cute...but they didn't come in until the last movie, but not the last last, the first last and then they made more because Lucas didn't have enough money to keep living his big spender lifestyle or w/e.

Long story short, there are two paths a viewer can take when watching a film adaption. Either be pleasantly surprised with the new story or be filled with impotent rage with the lack of consistency with the original story. I find myself in category number two, especially after viewing X-men Origins: Wolverine this past weekend. Sure, I'm no X-men authority, but when you can't even keep up with my knowledge, something is wrong. Ultimately, you'd have to make a book into a mini series to really do it justice (like Stephen King's The Stand) but even then you can screw it up.

Here is a list of film adaptations I've seen and if I think they were successful or not in maintaining enough of the original content of the story. I've also added a new poll so you can share which you think were the best and worst film adaptations of these beloved stories and characters.

Lord of the Rings - Successful.
Timeline - Disappointed.
Harry Pottery 1-5 - Successful.
X-Men - Moderately Successful.
X-Men 2 - Moderately Successful.
X-Men: Last Stand - Mortified and Disappointed.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Somewhat Disappointed.
Watchmen - Overly Successful.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Successful.
Prince Caspian - Mortified but Successful.
Stardust - Successful.

Okay, so building this list I've found a lot that I haven't read but could be on the list, so I'll put those on the poll for all of you to choose from. Also, add a comment if you think I've missed out on a real gem.


Andrew said...

As I sit next to you and read over your shoulder and help you figure out information concerning Ross Perot (I would have said the '92 election, it was better) I cant help but disagree.
Its in my nature to disagree with you, which is why our marriage has been so successful over the last 50 years.
I for one didnt mind the Wolverine story, it was a seperate entity from the movies, which were in fact seperate entities from the actual comic books, which are in fact seperate entities from each other!
I realize now it goes back to my last comment about series that arent exactly linear.
I do however agree that it is hard for a 300 page book to become a movie, but usually if the author/creator is not associated with the movie in the least, things go very bad.

Jennifer Innes said...

I couldn't remember which election he was in (was it '92 and '96?), maybe you should have corrected me while you were reading it over my shoulder ;p

Amanda said...

Wolverine rulz - u haterz suckz :P

Also, the adaptation of a novel to a completely different medium is in an of itself a work of art and requires such precision and delicacy that someone is bound to be disappointed by the end result so I say why even try to appease the audience? Why not take Jane Eyre and insert zombies just because they're bad ass?? Wait...someone already did that...damn.

Jennifer Innes said...

I say, why not take a zombie story and insert Jane Eyre as a badass zombie killer - bloomers and all?

Amanda said...

Hmm...your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your pamphlet...