[Photo: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham]
I have always been “that” friend. “Yeah, but in the book the line was…” “In the book, that character…” “Really, it was so much better in the book because…”
One of the reasons I say these things is usually, if I see a movie based on a book, I’ve read the book first. When I was a kid it was Bambi, Dr. Dolittle (1967), The Secret of NIMH, and Watership Down. As I got older…I wouldn’t even know where to start; it sometimes seems like every movie I watch was once a book and every book I read eventually becomes a movie. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King though, and I can tell you now that I don’t think any of his books translate as well as I’d like to the screen.
I have to admit it’s very hard for me to refrain from correcting movies, thanks to that. I know it’s rude to talk over movies and not everyone particularly cares to hear why the line is supposed to be “…still make my own biscuit” instead of “bread” (The Stand). I’ve also realized that some movies and books can be appreciated as separate entities, enjoyable in different ways but equally well done. I think the book The Neverending Story is lightyears better than the movie, but I can (and do) still love the movie for what it is. Still, that temptation to correct the line, to explain the ignored subplots, to make sure that everyone knows the way the story is supposed to be told is always there in the back of my mind.
If you want to know how deeply my desire for stories to be told “the right way” sometimes goes, I can’t listen to the newer audiobook version of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger. Why? In 2003, King decided to re-edit the book; changing some things for better continuity and adding some new passages. The newer audio recordings reflect those changes, and every time I try to listen, I hear the “wrong” lines and lose all of my immersion in the story. I know the older version too well to enjoy the newer one, and this is a version that the author himself wrote!
Like many of my friends, I’ve begun to feel like the number of reboots, remakes, and sequels in film has exploded in recent years. I shuddered when I heard they were redoing Into The Woods (I still haven’t watched it), cringed when I heard Fox wants to do a new version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I still refuse to even watch The Lorax (2012). In two of those cases (and I expect the same from RHPS) I watched with dread as those in control decided to change things that I felt were integral to what made the stories so good in the first place.
With all that in mind, I have a definite sympathy for folks worried about Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Jurassic Park franchise has been on a different planet from the book and even the first movie for a while now, I was not a fan of the Star Wars prequels, and I’m as confused as anyone else as to why Superman would ever need to be “dark.” Full disclosure is I’m more of a Batman fan myself, but I still respect what Superman is supposed to be. Sure, they’re characteristics that never overly interested me, but they’re his.
On the other hand, I’ve grown increasingly tired of hyperbolic statements about movie remakes, including my own. Was it really worth it to get bent out of shape that The Lord of the Rings trilogy (movies) ignored the existence of Tom Bombadil (Yep, I’m one of those) and muddied the characterizations of others? And if it isn’t, what about something truly grating (to me) like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)?
I was one of those kids who grew up watching the 90’s TMNT cartoons and toys. I watched every episode I could get my hands on, played the early video games, and regularly pestered my mom for more toys. My brother and I used to play pretend Ninja Turtles with our friends (I always wanted to be Splinter because April seemed far too boring to me). I realize now that the cartoons were based on a comic anyway, but the nostalgia goggles are still heavily in place for me. Do I even need to say how much I wanted to never, ever watch the new version?
My brother had other plans, and decided to bring the dvd to a family get together. I performed the requisite groans and cries that this was cruel and unusual punishment, then settled into a ball to livetweet my agony. I’ll spare everyone the boredom of one more person doing a point by point list of what they hated, but you get the idea.
Halfway into the movie, I noticed something that distracted me from my endless complaints on social media. My nephew was having an absolute blast. I’m not going to pretend I had a massive revelation, but it did give me pause. My nephew is an awesome little boy, and if he thinks the new movie is fun I’m not going to be the one to tell him he’s enjoying TMNT the wrong way. If anything, I’m pleased I have one more point of connection with him.
Related to that, I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that no matter how much they botch up the movie adaptation of a book I love, that book still exists. The existence of the movie hasn’t taken anything away from me. As I mentioned, watching the movie adaptations is sometimes still painful for me, but I’ve tried to stop viewing it as a suckerpunch to my favorite stories. “Killing my childhood,” sounds nicely dramatic, but it’s not what’s actually going on.
Pulling all of these thoughts together, I think I’m going to just wait and see with this next round of movies. They might do things I think are stupid, contrary to the characters and the worlds as I understand them, and that “ruin the rest of the story”…except they can’t actually do that. I still have the original Star Wars trilogy (on VHS, so hopefully they stay in one piece). I still own the first Jurassic Park movie and the book. I still own or have access to all kinds of Superman and Batman stories that I felt were well done. Bad movies may be annoying and disappointing, but they can’t actually take anything away from me.
Now let’s see if I remember this post next time I’m expounding on awful movies on Twitter. 😛
I live in the American Midwest with a black lab mix named Loki, three cats, and a chinchilla. I’m in my 30’s, and I’ve enjoyed reading, writing, gaming, and assorted geeky pursuits my entire life. I’m a panelist on Beyond the Veil, a regular guest on a few non-Holosuite livestreams, and have a gaming/writing blog over at www.lfgryph.com.
Other than writing and gaming, I’ve worked at a few different Renaissance Festivals and I used to be on a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast in the Twin Cities.
I love otters, ST:TNG, D&D, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and setting zombies on fire. My Twitter is @darkgryphon42 if you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing.