Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TTT: Movie Adaptations


This week's TTT topic is Best/Worst Movie Adaptations. I already did a My Favorite Things post on my favorite movie adaptations, so I'm going to make my list all about the adaptations that made me want to throw things at the screen. One actually made me cry.

We'll start with the one that made me cry. Eleven years later I'm still ranty.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Apparently the movie makers were unable to deal with the complexity of Dumas's plot and the character of Edmond Dantes. The ultimate genius of this novel is that Dantes is both the hero and the villain. Much of brilliance rests in Dumas's subversion of the tragedy. You have an obsessed megalomaniac who finds redemption and doesn't come to an end of death destruction taking everyone with him. He turns back just in time to not destroy everyone including himself. He does some terrible things to people who deserve them, and some terrible things to others who don't. The book is clouded in shades of gray and Dantes is a complex multi-dimensional character. That's hard to render on the two dimensions of the screen. I get that. However, the people who made the movie clearly didn't get the whole point of the book. They took Dantes's amazing character arc and flattened it like a pancake, then reduced the amazingly complex plot to a story about a protracted love triangle (where did that come from?) gone awry with a villain who would be twirling his mustache if he had one to twirl. The plot "twist" they invented is predictable nonsense one can find in any soap opera. They also took out all my favorite characters besides Dantes, probably because those characters are essential to the plot, character arc, and redemptive themes they wanted nothing to do with.  I'M STILL ANGRY. This is one of my top favorite books of all time and they BUTCHERED IT. 

Les Miserables (1998)
And speaking of cutting characters and plot...I still don't understand how you can make a movie of this book and feel like Eponine is an extraneous character who can be cut completely in order to focus more on Cosette. I know there are plenty of people who hate the musical version BUT at least the people who created it understood Hugo's themes and point. Same can't be said of the people who made this disastrous version. Some stories are just  too epically big for a two hour movie, so maybe you should just not even attempt it.

The Hobbit(2012)
 Peter Jackson managed to avoid the mistake of cutting an epic story into too short a film version with The Lord of the Rings turning it into three wonderful movies. Then he lost all sense of reason and decided to err on the other side of the equation with The Hobbit, making a delightful adventure tale that could have been told in one two-three hour movie and dragging it out forever. Hot dwarfs aside, this movie is a hot mess. It shouldn't be because they scored on the acting talent side. Man does it drag on. And on. And on. Genevieve Valentine said everything I thought about this movie brilliantly here.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Is it even fair to include this? It's Disney so OF COURSE they messed it up. Except they shouldn't even have touched it in the first place. It is obviously NOT Disney material, and should not be Disneyfied. Still I wasn't quite prepared for how badly they messed it up.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)
I have a love/hate relationship with the Harry Potter movies, but this one falls fully into the hate column. I can't even watch it. I felt like they focused on all the wrong things, to the exclusion of important stuff that in turn made movies 7 & 8 awkward in parts. The fact that someone was even able to MAKE this video says it all (but I'm glad thewlis rox did, because it is so delightfully illustrates my point):


Prince Caspian (2008)
Some books just shouldn't be made into movies and this is probably one of them. Prince Caspian doesn't have a lot of action. There is a lot of walking and a lot of talking. The movie producers decided it needed to be spiced up. I get that. Prince Caspian is my least favorite of the Narnia books, because it is rather dull. I simply object to the sort of spicing up they chose to do. They had everyone acting completely out of character. And yes. The unmentionable thing that happened at the end made me the most angry.  Because EVERYTHING MUST HAVE ROMANCE. Ick.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Going to be completely honest here: I've never made it through this entire movie. I just can't. Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet has me turning it off to watch the 1995 BBC version every time. I've never made it past the first 15 minutes.

ETA: The Tale of Despereaux (2008)
I can't believe I forgot this one originally, but Under a Gray Sky's post reminded me. And it so deserves to be counted amongst the worst. Bit hated it. And she was only four at the time.

Ella Enchanted
Another one I can't believe I forgot! Escape Through the Pages reminded me of this one.   I think it is that I have actively tried to erase this movie completely from my memory. It was such an awful distortion of the book. Shudder.

14 comments:

  1. I think people should stop trying to make The Count of Monte Cristo movies. that book is so great, I don't think the big screen could ever, ever do it justice.

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    1. The BBC could do it I think. But for the purposes of a theatrical release people need to stop trying.

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  2. The 1998 version of Les Mis is just plain boring. I loved how the new version incorporated more of the book while capturing the best parts of the musical. I actually really like the Keira Knightley P&P. The Tale of Despereaux movie looked really bad, but I loved the book! :)

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    1. I really liked that about the new Les Mis too.

      Which version of P&P you like is probably the most divisive aspect of these lists today. :) I love the BBC one and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries but I can not handle Keira Knightley as Lizzie. If they had chosen a different actress I might have different feelings.

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  3. Ugh, Ella Enchanted! Loved the book, but the movie was so off-base. Now you've got me worried about Prince Caspian! My son and I are reading the Narnia books right now and plan to watch the movies over the summer. Romance?? In Prince Caspian? Just give me lots of talking animals and I'll be happy.

    Lisa

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    1. Yeah. They did such a great job with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Prince Caspian was pretty bad though. Dawn Treader is okay-not as awful an interpretation as Caspian but still not entirely correct either.

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  4. I haven't read The Tale of Despereaux, but I thought the movie was cute, if not great. Ella Enchanted is a fun movie; it's just not Ella Enchanted. It's another story with a few similarities of name and plot, wearing the same title.

    Thanks to your rant, I will avoid The Count of Monte Cristo at all costs! As I have been avoiding Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I mean, I could kind of see doing The Little Mermaid, even though that fairy tale has a really sad ending. (Andersen's ending always made me angry, as a child. I wanted it happy, darn it!) But Hunchback? You're right. Someone should have realized that this was NOT a Disney story.

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    1. Despereaux the book is a work of art. It makes an absolute beautiful read aloud too.

      If you like The Count of Monte Cristo as a book that movie should be avoided at all costs! They completely changed how it ended-and a lot of other stuff to get that alternate ending.

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  5. Agree with "The Count of Monte Cristo," but I somewhat disagree with your take on "The Hobbit." Is it completely unnecessary to have THREE 3-hour movies for what is essentially a children's adventure story? Yes, yes it is. But I was entertained by "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and plan to see the next two movies when they come out. It wasn't a bad movie, in my opinion...just a tad over the top! As for P&P, I don't hate the 2005 version (although it is absolutely inferior to the Colin Firth version!), but I do hate Keira Knightley as Lizzy, so I can't say I blame you for not watching the whole thing!

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    1. I wasn't entertained by The Hobbit, that was my main issue with it. I was bored. I know I'm mostly in the minority on that one. :)

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  6. I liked The Count of Monte Cristo, but only because I've never read the book. I'm sure if I knew what was missing, I would be as angry as you. I hate it when they completely truncate a storyline or a character arc, especially when one or two changes would make it work. And I especially hate it when they throw in random bits to try and "make it more interesting." I had no idea the love triangle wasn't in the book, so for me, it worked - but I'm sure the book story arc was much better. Isn't it always the way?

    And yes, The Hobbit was a bit ridiculous, but I still enjoyed it. :)

    Denise @ Life With No Plot

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    1. I can totally see how people who haven't read the book would like it. It is one of my all time favorite books so I was devastated that they completely changed the story.

      Yeah. I know lots of people still liked The Hobbit. I was just so bored.

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  7. I need to read The Count Of Monte Cristo!

    And this topic has made me want to dig out my 1995 version of P&P and watch it over and over again like I did when I was in college lol

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    1. Yes! Do!

      I know. I want to rewatch all the BBC mini-series.

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