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).
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.
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: Dracula’s Re-incarnated Wife – The Writings of Stephen R. Wilk
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:
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!.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hell of an essay-I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Absolutely agree. They removed the rapidfire srewball dialog exchanges between characters too.
Wow! I’m the first one to say “World War Z.”
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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.
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.
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.
The Lawnmower Man.
The only thing it has in common with the original story is the name. And a lawnmower.
Really! It’s been done three times now and none were faithful adaptations.
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.
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.