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Old 12-31-2018, 10:59 AM
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Movies that take a dump on their source material

I'm talking about movies that take popular characters/concepts and ignore what makes those characters/concepts so popular in the first place, like Ferrell's "Land Of The Lost" and (more recently) "Holmes And Watson", or maybe "CHiPS" or "The Green Hornet". The rights to the name is bought, and someone decides that all they need are popular stars(whether they fit the character or not), some action scenes and some slapstick, and they've got a blockbuster.
Are there any movies where you knew the source material beforehand, went to see the movie and thought to yourself "They sure messed that up!"?
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:06 AM
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Lord of the Rings. I tried to rewatch a little of the third movie recently. I watched about 10 minutes, but when I got to the point where Gandalf smacked Denethor in the head with his staff, I had to turn it off. It makes me sad to think about the kind of film that could have been produced by someone with Jackson's resources, but with some respect for the source material.

Last edited by markn+; 12-31-2018 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:09 AM
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It's been a while since I saw the original (movie) or remake of both Oceans 11 and The Thomas Crown Affair, but in both cases I remember the remake be so different it almost felt like they called it a 'remake' and used the same name just to help bring in older viewers and/or so they could reuse a few lines and not get in trouble.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:29 AM
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Mission Impossible.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:32 AM
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Mission Impossible.
Making Phelps the bad guy so that he can't overshadow Cruise's "Ethan Hunt" character in the sequels?
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:34 AM
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Starship Troopers.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the movie, but it is absolutely orthogonal to the original book and I hold out some hope that someone, somewhere will produce a faithful adaptation.

-DF
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:38 AM
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"I, Robot" is a complete WTF?!? to those who know the source material.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:40 AM
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Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' - isn't. Still good on its own terms, but if I see one more romantic vampire movie, I'll bite my own throat.

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 12-31-2018 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:41 AM
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Mission Impossible.
This is probably the most egregious example. I mean....if I understand it correctly, Phelps was the main guy in the show and they turned him(and killed him) as a villain. Outrageous.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:43 AM
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Making Phelps the bad guy so that he can't overshadow Cruise's "Ethan Hunt" character in the sequels?
1) Turning Phelps evil.
2) Good vs. Evil -> Gray morality
3) Team effort by individuals who are putting the country and mission above themselves -> Ethan Hunt, rockstar
4) Con-artistry and heist stories -> Action w/ the occasional garnish of heist
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:45 AM
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"I, Robot" is a complete WTF?!? to those who know the source material.
Agreed.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:46 AM
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Is it possible to have a good version of, "I Am Legend"?
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:47 AM
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Lord of the Rings. I tried to rewatch a little of the third movie recently. I watched about 10 minutes, but when I got to the point where Gandalf smacked Denethor in the head with his staff, I had to turn it off. It makes me sad to think about the kind of film that could have been produced by someone with Jackson's resources, but with some respect for the source material.
I thought Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy was a triumph!

It's a difficult thing to film - from the books:

- the chief villain is a disembodied eye
- Tom Bombadil makes a key appearance early on, but then almost disappears
- there's a huge cast and they split up
- there are many endings

Nevertheless Jackson got so many things completely right:

- the casting
- the locations
- the music
- the CGI

The scenes with Gollum arguing with himself; Arwen mourning Aragorn; Gandalf entering Hobbiton; Legolas leaving no tracks in snow etc were wonderful.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:53 AM
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The Lone Ranger (2013). I resisted watching this for a long time since Johnny Depp's Tonto looked so stupid, but finally saw it recently. It was even dumber than I imagined it could be.

Now I could possibly get behind a well done satire or parody that turns a show's concept on its head, like having Tonto be the driver of the plot or having Kato the competent one in Green Hornet. But these movies just couldn't decide which way they wanted to go. Sometimes (well, most of the time) they were ridiculous farce, but sometimes they took themselves seriously. You really need to chose one or the other or you get the kind of ungodly mess represented by these films.

Will Smith's Wild Wild West was a similar mess, even though the original TV show itself was a satire/comedy.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:54 AM
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Starship Troopers and I, Robot are both examples of situations in which the studio had (a) a script which was developed completely unrelated to the book, and (b) the film rights to the book (which thus allowed them to use the name). In the case of the former, they made some minor attempts to add in some references to the novel.

For my money, the answer to this question is The Hobbit. I loved the Lord of the Rings films (though I acknowledge that there were some story changes, which I considered to be fairly minor). But, The Hobbit films were a travesty. I maintain that the credits for those films should have said, "Based on a story idea by J.R.R. Tolkien."
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:56 AM
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<snip> ...even though the original TV show itself was a satire/comedy.
You take that back!
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:00 PM
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I don't really remember the film, but I think it wasn't until about 5/6ths of the way through watching The Ninth Gate that I realized it was an adaptation of The Club Dumas, from the simple lack of connection between the movie and the source.

If I could remember it, I could probably explain how it crapped on the original. But since I don't, the forgetability is the prime device.

Also starring Johnny Depp.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 12-31-2018 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:00 PM
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As far as "Wild, Wild West" is concerned, I would bet Smith took next to no time even researching the original character of James West, and just did a carbon copy of his MiB character.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 12-31-2018 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:08 PM
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Two other movies in which Johnny Depp was part of a film which took a dump on their original source:

Alice in Wonderland
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I am given to understand, but have no personal knowledge with which to confirm, that he also ruined:

Dark Shadows
Mortdecai

And, while I haven't heard of it before now - let alone for being good nor bad - I think it's fair to say that whatever Sherlock Gnomes is, it is probably a travesty.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:14 PM
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For my money, the answer to this question is The Hobbit. I loved the Lord of the Rings films (though I acknowledge that there were some story changes, which I considered to be fairly minor). But, The Hobbit films were a travesty. I maintain that the credits for those films should have said, "Based on a story idea by J.R.R. Tolkien."
I reckon they should have just said 'Sorry'.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
I'm talking about movies that take popular characters/concepts and ignore what makes those characters/concepts so popular in the first place, like Ferrell's "Land Of The Lost" and (more recently) "Holmes And Watson", or maybe "CHiPS" or "The Green Hornet".
I don't know. Before we decide whether something is being shit on, shouldn't we determine whether or not it's shit to begin with? It's not like the "Land of the Lost" Tv series was AAA material; I think the film was quite faithful to the spirit of the original show, which was itself objectively terrible. It was developed by the Krofft brothers, who had like 3 marketable ideas in the 70s and have been milking them to death ever since (which, shockingly, is how we got the Will Ferrell movie).
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:19 PM
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Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' - isn't. Still good on its own terms, but if I see one more romantic vampire movie, I'll bite my own throat.
Well, according to David Skal, who's probably written more about Dracula than anyone else, there really aren't any versions of Dracula faithful to the book, and Stoker's vampire was the very antithesis of a romantic character. The Coppola version actually includes more incidents and characters from the book than most versions, but they added that whole "search for the reincarnated wife" thing that's completely foreign to the book*. If you want faithful, watch the first half of Jess Franco's Count Dracula (but only the first half. The second half is a mess). The PBS version with Louis Jordan comes pretty close, too. (The PBS version from 2007, though, the one with David Suchet (!!!) as Van Helsing, fits this thread perfectly.)

I also agree with most of the entries people have suggested -- Starship Troopers, I Robot, Mission Impossible, The Hobbit Especially MI, which I stiopped watching partway through. I've only seen one of the movies all the way.

I'd add:

The Trouble with Charley, which screwed up Charade

Freejack, which screwed up Robert Sheckly's Immortality, Inc.

Condorman, which ruined Sheckley's The Game of X

Martians, go Home! which took a work of art by Fredric Brown and turned it into garbage

This Island Earth, despite its iconic status, took a decent piece of science fiction and dumbed it down into the dirt. Even the part they did reasonably well -- the "Aptitude test" of constructing the Interociter -- they managed to get completely wrong.

There are a lot of other cases where the execution of a movie was sup-bar (The Puppet Masters), but they didn't go all-out to ruin the source.



*"Dracula's Reincarnated Wife" has become its own meme. Here's an essay I did on it: https://srichardwilkcom.wordpress.co...carnated-wife/
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:26 PM
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When it comes to superhero action franchise movies, it's really easier to name the ones that didn't take a dump on their source material:

Superman (1978)

Not that dumping on the source is always a bad thing. There have been, what, nine live action Spider-Man movies. At least one or two of them were decent.

And Airplane! was a far, far better movie than Zero Hour!.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:29 PM
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I thought Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy was a triumph!
Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Yours, of course, is wrong. :-)

I'm typing this on my phone, so I can't go into as much detail as I would like, but here are just a few of the more egregious failures of the films. these are just the ones I can remember. I only saw the film's once many years ago.

1. Gandalf sending Frodo and Sam running off alone when (in the film's story) he knows that there are Black Riders hot on their heels. My jaw literally dropped when he yelled "Run Frodo!"

2. In the passage into Mordor, Frodo actually turning against Sam after Gollum's trick. The relationship between Sam and Frodo was a key part of the book, and the idea that Frodo would reject Sam is ... well I don't even have a word for it. Ludicrous is way too weak.

3. The complete subversion of Faramir's character. The contrast between the characters of Boromir and his brother is completely lost in the movie, and makes the character of Faramir pretty pointless.

4. Denethor's character is seriously weakened in the movie, and his pride and devotion to Gondor are removed or made to look silly. That Pippin had to go and light the beacons himself is ridiculous.

5. The duel between Gandalf and Saruman. I believe Jackson said in the movie's commentary that he didn't really like the concept of wizards and overt magic, or something like that. Then why the hell did he take a very interesting and revealing argument between Gandalf and Saruman, and turn it into a goddamn video game.

6. All the dwarf jokes, and in general making Gimli a comic character. That was just disgusting.

I'm sure I could come up with dozens more if I rewatched the movies. None of this has anything to do with the book's plot being difficult to film. It's just contempt for the source material. there were some good scenes in the movies, and the CGI was superb. That makes it all the more sad.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:47 PM
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*"Dracula's Reincarnated Wife" has become its own meme. Here's an essay I did on it: https://srichardwilkcom.wordpress.co...carnated-wife/
Hell of an essay-I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:50 PM
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Pretty much any screen version of The Saint. All of them get it wrong in one way or another. The Val Kilmer movie was just bad, and the Roger Moore version completely missed the point of the character.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:56 PM
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Pretty much any screen version of The Saint. All of them get it wrong in one way or another. The Val Kilmer movie was just bad, and the Roger Moore version completely missed the point of the character.
Christ yes! All throughout that damn movie I had to keep telling myself "You CAN'T scream at the screen-wait until you get to the car" over and over again.
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:58 PM
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Completely eviscerated the books' sense of humor.
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Old 12-31-2018, 01:15 PM
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Completely eviscerated the books' sense of humor.
I think that Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett adaptations struggle because the narration in the books is so much of the humor. I know they hired Stephen Fry to try to narrate the movie, but little bits here and there aren't enough.

Some things just have to be read.

I love the Dirk Gently show with Elijah Wood, but I have not read that book.
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Old 12-31-2018, 01:16 PM
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If the CHiPS and Land of the Lost movies were dumping on the source material, then were the Beverly Hillbillies and Brady Bunch movies? I think not. All took a humorous take on the source material.
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Old 12-31-2018, 01:24 PM
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Mission Impossible.
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Making Phelps the bad guy so that he can't overshadow Cruise's "Ethan Hunt" character in the sequels?
Why the hell couldn't they have named Cruise's character Jim Phelps? Who would have had a problem with that, other than some weirdos who think Jim Phelps has to be as tall as Peter Graves?
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Old 12-31-2018, 01:48 PM
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Completely eviscerated the books' sense of humor.
Absolutely agree. They removed the rapidfire srewball dialog exchanges between characters too.
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Old 12-31-2018, 01:48 PM
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Wow! I'm the first one to say "World War Z."

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Old 12-31-2018, 01:53 PM
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Dig it: a Double Dump!

Dracula (1979) - Not only does the Langella/Badham version have almost nothing in common with Stoker's novel (There is a vampire. His name is Dracula. Might mention Carfax Abbey. That's pretty much it.), it has almost nothing in common with the Broadway revival, which is closer to Lugosi's version.

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Old 12-31-2018, 02:06 PM
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*"Dracula's Reincarnated Wife" has become its own meme. Here's an essay I did on it: https://srichardwilkcom.wordpress.co...carnated-wife/
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Hell of an essay-I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Seconded. I particularly enjoyed the last bit, regarding H. Rider Haggard's When the Earth Shook pushing back the timeline on Lost Love themes to 250K years.

If you keep finding more examples, you're eventually going to hit paydirt with Xenu.

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Old 12-31-2018, 02:10 PM
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Wow! I'm the first one to say "World War Z."
Dammit ninja'ed me I was about to post this. This is the worst example of this I've seen recently. A internet commentary I saw said it best "This movie has everything you love about the title of the bestselling book!" Admittedly it would be hard to make a film that does justice to the book, but the film didn't even try, it just took a huge steaming dump on the book and walked away.

I, Robot is up there too, because Asimov went on record saying that he hated the "Frankenstein's monster", creation rises up and attacks creator, robot trope, and refused to write it. The first time his book gets the hollywood treatment, surely enough "Frankenstein's monster", creation rises up and attacks creator, robot trope.

Last edited by griffin1977; 12-31-2018 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 02:16 PM
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The Lawnmower Man.
The only thing it has in common with the original story is the name. And a lawnmower.
  #38  
Old 12-31-2018, 02:20 PM
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Is it possible to have a good version of, "I Am Legend"?

Really! It's been done three times now and none were faithful adaptations.
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Old 12-31-2018, 02:28 PM
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"I, Robot" is a complete WTF?!? to those who know the source material.
the movie was not adapted from the book. The script had been written, and I even thing they had begun filming when someone decided they wanted to use the title, so they bought the rights and renamed a couple of characters.

Starship Troopers is a good example though the movie was incredibly stupid.
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Old 12-31-2018, 02:54 PM
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Starship Troopers and I, Robot are both examples of situations in which the studio had (a) a script which was developed completely unrelated to the book, and (b) the film rights to the book (which thus allowed them to use the name). In the case of the former, they made some minor attempts to add in some references to the novel.
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The Lawnmower Man.
The only thing it has in common with the original story is the name. And a lawnmower.
Continuing in that vein, Blade Runner. The only thing is has in common with the book of the same title is... the title. The movie is actually based on a totally different tale, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

* * *

Other nominees (the conventional dump variety rather than the complete lack of any correspondence):


The Shining — discussed often on this board. It's a very similar plot but the book as written was about the psychological deterioration of a guy isolated with his family, and works well whether you assume the supernatural stuff is really happening or assume that no it isn't, it's symbolic or metaphorical. The movie is not that story. Jack Nicholson's character is demented psycho material from the outset and the movie's story is just a beautifully filmed ghost story.

The Quiet Man — yeah, the John Wayne flick. If you read the original story, the lead character is silently contemptuous of the loudmouth jerk brother-in-law who picks on him, and when he has had his fill of it, pops him once and that's entirely sufficient. The movie glorifies the wonderfulness of manly fighting as a bonding-between-men rite of passage. Not the same story.

Possession — the movie replaces the studious male main character with Aaron freaking Eckhart who does one of those insolent brash Harrison Ford / Humphrey Bogart imitations, making the movie into yet another earthy bold guy loosens up the uptight prissy gal movies.

Last edited by AHunter3; 12-31-2018 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 03:07 PM
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IMO to really "take a dump" on the source material the film doesn't just have to be very different to the book, but actually go against the implied or explicit point the author was making in the book.

Hence the examples of World War Z, which in the book went to great lengths to stress the international nature of the war and not just make it a "shiny handsome American hero bravely saves world from threat singlehandly" story. And I, Robot where Azimov explicitly said he didn't like that plotline they told in the film.

I Am Legend is a good example of that too, its right there in the title of the book dammit! (though the last act of the Will Smith film, that did the dumping, was apparently changed at the last minute by the studio)
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Old 12-31-2018, 03:10 PM
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Continuing in that vein, Blade Runner. The only thing is has in common with the book of the same title is... the title.
There's a book with that title?

Curious, if it's not a novelization of the movie. Which I would kinda expect to have rather a lot more in common with the movie than the title.
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Old 12-31-2018, 03:13 PM
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Starship Troopers is a good example though the movie was incredibly stupid.
This is a bit different to the other cases. It wasn't just different to the book, it was deliberately satirizing the book, to mock the pretty fascist-y lesson of the book and turn the film into a satire of the militaristic world view the book exposed.

I don't actually know of any other examples of this (maybe Dr Strangelove, though AFAIK that was just a comedy based on serious book, not a deliberate attempt to the mock the point the book was making)

Last edited by griffin1977; 12-31-2018 at 03:16 PM.
  #44  
Old 12-31-2018, 03:23 PM
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kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
There's a book with that title?
Two, actually, though neither were by Philip K. Dick. "The Bladerunner" was a 1974 novel by Alan E. Nourse. It was a science-fiction book about black-market medical services.

In 1979, William S. Burroughs wrote a story adaptation of Nourse's book, which began as a film treatment. It was called "Blade Runner (a movie)." The title of Burroughs' book was purchased for use as the title of the film, though neither book has any plot resemblance to the film.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 12-31-2018 at 03:24 PM.
  #45  
Old 12-31-2018, 03:50 PM
Ancient Erudite Ancient Erudite is offline
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Originally Posted by czarcasm View Post
i'm talking about movies that take popular characters/concepts and ignore what makes those characters/concepts so popular in the first place, like ferrell's "land of the lost" and (more recently) "holmes and watson", or maybe "chips" or "the green hornet". The rights to the name is bought, and someone decides that all they need are popular stars(whether they fit the character or not), some action scenes and some slapstick, and they've got a blockbuster.
Are there any movies where you knew the source material beforehand, went to see the movie and thought to yourself "they sure messed that up!"?
Star Wars.
  #46  
Old 12-31-2018, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Ancient Erudite View Post
Star Wars.
What was the source material that you think the movies screwed with?
  #47  
Old 12-31-2018, 03:58 PM
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Starsky and Hutch weren't bumbling idiots in the TV series.
  #48  
Old 12-31-2018, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
"I, Robot" is a complete WTF?!? to those who know the source material.
the movie was not adapted from the book. The script had been written, and I even thing they had begun filming when someone decided they wanted to use the title, so they bought the rights and renamed a couple of characters.

Starship Troopers is a good example though the movie was incredibly stupid.
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  #49  
Old 12-31-2018, 04:19 PM
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kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
the movie was not adapted from the book. The script had been written, and I even thing they had begun filming when someone decided they wanted to use the title, so they bought the rights and renamed a couple of characters.

Starship Troopers is a good example though the movie was incredibly stupid.
Did you know that this is the same thing you posted two hours earlier (post #39)?

Last edited by kenobi 65; 12-31-2018 at 04:20 PM.
  #50  
Old 12-31-2018, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Did you know that this is the same thing you posted two hours earlier (post #39)?
So you're saying he is staying true to the source material?
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