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!”?

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.

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.

Mission Impossible.

Making Phelps the bad guy so that he can’t overshadow Cruise’s “Ethan Hunt” character in the sequels?

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.


“I, Robot” is a complete WTF?!? to those who know the source material.

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.

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.

  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


Is it possible to have a good version of, “I Am Legend”?

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.

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.

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.”

You take that back! :smiley:

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.

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.

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

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.

I reckon they should have just said ‘Sorry’.