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Weekend Couch Potato

Once again, it’s time for a column made up of various shorter items that have been accumulating in my In Box. Most of these notes are about various DVD releases that have been arriving lately, so we’ll just call this the Home Video Roundup, I guess.

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You may or may not be aware of this, but The Middleman is now available on DVD.

Literally, awesome in a box.

We are very sad here in the Hatcher household that there won’t be any more, but on the other hand we do at least have these twelve delightful episodes. Highly, highly recommended. One of the best comics-to-screen efforts ever.

Also, just as a bonus, in San Diego this year the cast gathered for a live reading of the unfilmed thirteenth episode’s script. You can enjoy that now in seven parts on YouTube, right here.

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Speaking of comics-to-screen, I finally got around to seeing Watchmen. We liked it fine; considering it’s a story I regarded as basically unfilmable in its original form, the movie struck me as being about as serviceable a job as could be done.

It's one thing if you just thought it was a bad movie. But not REVERENT enough? Come on.

I confess I don’t get a lot of the vitriol I saw unleashed on this movie by the comics community. I thought there were plenty of things to like. Jackie Earle Haley, in particular, was terrific as Rorschach, and I thought most of the other actors did fine. I wasn’t thrilled with the direction, particularly the stupid music-video trick of super slo-mo shots SUDDENLY SPEEDING UP FAST FAST FAST for the action scenes, but it didn’t happen often enough to ruin the movie for me or anything. There were other bits in it that they might have improved here or there, I had a couple of casting quibbles, but on the whole even if those changes were made I still don’t think I’d have given it more than a solid C-plus. It’s just not a book that’s ever going to make a movie that will feel quite right for fans of the original story… hence, ‘unfilmable.’

It seems to me that should have been obvious to all of us going in. The people who made the Watchmen movie tried harder to respect the source material than a lot of other movie studios that have tried to adapt comics to film over the years, they kept quite a bit more from the book than I expected, and as a movie…. well, we didn’t hate it. It’s about on the level of a wait-for-DVD movie…. which, as it happens, is what we did.

Those of you out there who are getting so venomous about how disgraceful the Watchmen movie was and how the filmmakers just destroyed it…. clearly, you have never seen a truly bad comics adaptation. Like this one.

Don't talk to ME about bad comics adaptations, baby. I've DONE my hard time in the 1970s.

Or this one.

I saw this when it aired and just that memory still makes me shudder and wince. Inexplicably, this is still a bootlegger evergreen.

Or this one.

Even I can't take this one, and I was a Bronze Age baby.

Those are cringeworthy comics adaptations. Watchmen is nowhere near being in that league.

What I notice in a lot of the fan press about comics-to-film adaptations is that it seems like we always want the moviemakers to love the comic as much as we do. Hollywood is getting hip to this and so every year they come down to San Diego Comic-Con and occasionally other places, trying to persuade us all that they, too, are comics fans. Sometimes it might even be true, but… so what? Does it really matter if Megan Fox reads comics or Halle Berry doesn’t? One of the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen was the pre-taped announcement Jennifer Garner made for SDCC when they were trying to drum up enthusiasm for the Elektra movie: at one point, Jennifer timidly assured everyone that the costume would be red this time. The whole thing felt like it should have ended with “Just…. just please don’t kill me, okay?”

If there’s anything wrong with Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, it’s that it feels like every foot of film was shot with the idea that the first priority was dodging internet fan backlash. The truth is that there’s no way it wasn’t going to get pasted in the comics press. Because Snyder and company had to make changes, and there are way too many fans out there who regard the original Watchmen comic as Holy Writ. It’s the book we wave at people when we try to prove superheroes can be Literature, there are too many people that use it to justfy reading comics, period.

Honestly? A lot of the changes that were made were necessary. You can’t do a theatrical-release movie version of Watchmen and get everything in from the book. You just can’t. Furthermore, the one big change Snyder and his crew made, the nature of Adrian’s plan, strikes me as a better idea than the one in the book.

But then, I’m the heretic who’s always thought the original Watchmen kind of falls apart at the end and places it much lower on the list of Alan Moore’s work than most fans do. So there’s that.

Nevertheless, I think the point stands. If you don’t care for the movie itself, that’s one thing, but railing about the changes in it from the comic book version seems just ridiculous to me. There will always be changes no matter what work you’re adapting. Sometimes those changes work — X-Men, Stardust — and other times they don’t. We should all know that going in and make our peace with it. Remember what James M. Cain (I think it was Cain) used to tell people when they carried on about how Hollywood ruined his books: “What do you mean? They’re right there on the shelf, people still read them.”

People still read Watchmen. I don’t see that changing. A movie’s just, well, a movie. This one was… okay. Not great but certainly not as horrible as it’s been painted. I think Watchmen is a project that most of us probably feel too strongly about to ever really judge a movie version on its merits.

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Amazon keeps trying to sell me old serials on DVD and I have fallen for a few of them.

Batman, from 1943, is generally regarded as not being very good.

Definitely not my favorite version of Batman, but an interesting historical curiosity.

For one thing, since it was made right in the thick of World War II, it’s very racist. The serial features a Japanese villain, Dr. Daka, who turns his victims into brainwashed zombies.

You can tell they're zombies because of their hideous fashion sense.

There are also references to the government “wisely rounding up those shifty-eyed Japs, leaving Little Tokyo a ghost town.” Etc.

Admittedly, Dr. Daka IS pretty shifty-eyed, but J. Carrol Naish wasn't actually Asian, I don't think.

Nevertheless, it’s a mildly interesting historical curiosity — this is the first appearance ever of the Batcave, an idea the comics promptly stole for themselves right down to the grandfather-clock entrance. Also this is the movie that prompted the comics to slim down the originally plump Alfred the butler to match his screen incarnation, as played by William Austin (Brian tells you more about that here.)

The Batman ran for 15 installments and starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin.

I love how the art on this DVD reissue case is trying to evoke that Dark Knight look, but still includes Robin.

The DVD set us back four dollars and that included shipping. For that price, I’d recommend it, but don’t spend much more than that.

A much better ride is the 1949 Batman and Robin.

stuff

This is a more typical entry in the genre of Saturday-afternoon serials. The villain is the masked Wizard, and part of the fun is guessing his identity. The stunt work and fight choreography is first-rate, and the whole thing is such hell-for-leather fun you can sort of forgive and forget about things like the low-budget special effects and the ill-fitting Bat-costume.

Definitely THE Golden Age Batman movie.

Rumor has it that Hugh Hefner used to screen this for his friends at the Playboy Mansion in the sixties and that eventually led to ABC greenlighting the Adam West Batman TV show and doing it as a serial. Certainly you can see a lot of the elements here that the TV show parodied and there’s plenty to laugh at, but I have to stick up for this one a little. It’s fun. It always has felt to me like the Dick Sprang version of a Batman movie. Robert Lowery, in particular, plays both Bruce Wayne and Batman with such good-humored vigor that he seems to have stepped right out of a Golden Age comics story.

Definitely worth it.

This DVD set replaces the VHS version I bought fifteen years ago. Both times I paid about seven dollars and that’s about right. It’s not the best Batman movie ever or anything, but I’d definitely recommend picking up the DVD if you come across it. It’s a good time.

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We have more of these serial collections on deck — Captain Marvel, Superman, Tarzan — but haven’t watched all of them yet, so I daresay I’ll have more to say on the subject…

…Next week. See you then.

30 Comments

I don’t get the hate for Watchmen either.

I don’t get the hate for any movie. They’re all easy enough to ignore. Although I liked Superman Returns, so my taste is clearly questionable.

Yes, the hate for movies is certainly strange that these seemingly “ruined” the original version. But another thing that’s annoying is when I don’t want to see a movie because *I* don’t think it looks good and I’m told “It’s better than people say it is.” Well good for it, but I still have no interest seeing it. Leave me alone about it already.

I too miss the Middleman, and am glad it’s seeing a DVD release. It was hilarious and wacky, in the good way, as opposed to the way that movie Cap’s bubble-helmet is hilarious and wacky.

I remember liking the Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man. I’m going to leave it where it belongs, though– in those fuzzy childhood memories.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 15, 2009 at 7:32 pm

The people who made the Watchmen movie tried harder to respect the source material than a lot of other movie studios that have tried to adapt comics to film over the years,

‘Respect it’ or just ‘shoot it straight’?

I don’t think respecting the source material means changing as little as possible – why not make some changes to reflect the medium?
Keep the themes and the tones and who cares about the individual plot beats?

Those of you out there who are getting so venomous about how disgraceful the Watchmen movie was and how the filmmakers just destroyed it…. clearly, you have never seen a truly bad comics adaptation.

All of which jettisoned the themes and the tone.

Honestly? A lot of the changes that were made were necessary. You can’t do a theatrical-release movie version of Watchmen and get everything in from the book. You just can’t.

And so why applaud them for trying?

Nevertheless, I think the point stands. If you don’t care for the movie itself, that’s one thing, but railing about the changes in it from the comic book version seems just ridiculous to me. There will always be changes no matter what work you’re adapting.

And then I get to the end and see that’s what you’re saying kind of.
What a rollercoaster you took me on!

It’s not the best Batman movie ever or anything, but I’d definitely recommend picking up the DVD if you come across it. It’s a good time.

But is it the worst, or can we still point at Schumacher’s coming out party for that one?

But is it the worst, or can we still point at Schumacher’s coming out party for that one?

Oh, I really like the 1949 serial. I’d rate it ahead of not just Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, but possibly even in front of Batman Returns, which I always thought was an incoherent mess. Michelle Pfeiffer pretty much is the only reason to watch that one, for me.

In college in the mid-90s, we showed “Batman and Robin” one chapter a week before the weekly college 16mm movie, spread across a whole semester. It’s a lot of fun.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 15, 2009 at 10:04 pm

I’d rate it ahead of not just Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, but possibly even in front of Batman Returns, which I always thought was an incoherent mess. Michelle Pfeiffer pretty much is the only reason to watch that one, for me.

I’d put Returns in front of the original Burton Batman.
Streets that look like sets, horrific lighting, stilted acting and nothing happening all coupled with a horrendous soundtrack make that film almost unwatchable for me.
I thought he actually pulled it together for Returns – but then again, I think Returns is one of the last watchable films he made.

I think it’s a bit unfair to compare the 70s TV camp to today’s multimillion dollar budget movies that are produced ‘seriously’, Greg. At least the 70s stuff has a bit of old fashioned FUN to it. Most of today’s comics movies take themselves so seriously they’re not fun at all.

“What do you mean? They’re right there on the shelf, people still read them.”

Yeah, but people DON’T read them. The audience that a film will reach is greatly larger than any book or comic. I would imagine that many more people have seen the Watchmen movie than read the comic. The problem that I have is that, while yes a movie adaptation will not destroy the original work itself, it may destroy that work’s place in popular culture. To me, a work’s place in culture is as important as the work itself, and if that is lost then the part work is lost. As such, I was glad of the effect of the Watchmen movie on culture at large, which was general apathy, which meant it had little effect on the cultural value of the Watchmen movie. But I would say that LXG has to a large degree destroyed the League comic in culture, although it is esoteric enough that it had little cultural value anyway.

I don’t think respecting the source material means changing as little as possible – why not make some changes to reflect the medium?
Keep the themes and the tones and who cares about the individual plot beats?

There is a difference between changes which are necessary and changes which “reflect the medium”. There is, I think, a best way of telling a story, independent of medium, and if an adapter changes the story because they think they can tell the story better then that is not “respecting the source material”. And if you are merely “keeping the themes and the tones” then are you really adapting the work at all, or are you just creating a work inspired by the original?

Streets that look like sets

I considered that as part of the point of the movie, to highlight the artifice of storytelling, in a post-modern move. The entire style of heightened artifice seemed, to me, to be the best part of both Batman and Returns.

Yes I own a copy of Watchmen and have read it a few times. But I’m not of the belief that it is the be all and end all of comics and GNs. People look at me like I have a 3rd eye when I tell them that. Like I just told there’s no Santa. I just never got the whole ‘Watchmen is the BEST comics ever!’ hoopla. There’s better stories and better Alan Moore stuff than that. I didn’t go see the movie, never went on the get the DVD for free midnight show and may not pick up the DVD at all.
BTW I like the Spiderman TV series in a hookey, campy sort of way and the 60′s Batman is one of my favorites too.

The problem that I have is that, while yes a movie adaptation will not destroy the original work itself, it may destroy that work’s place in popular culture. To me, a work’s place in culture is as important as the work itself, and if that is lost then the part work is lost.

No disrespect, but I can’t for the life of me see why that matters. How do you rank that sort of thing? I like the work of Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane, Steve Englehart, Harvey Pekar, Norvell Page, and William Shakespeare. Some of them are hailed as genius and some are derided as hacks. It never has made any difference to me where they rank in the public eye.

One of the great gifts I was given when I was a little kid was to be blessed with a librarian at our local school who didn’t differentiate between high and low culture; she understood that a kid who liked to read should be encouraged, period. So I spent most of my childhood never really knowing there was supposed to be some sort of qualitative difference between Alexander Dumas and Denny O’Neil. They both wrote adventure stories. That was all I needed to know.

To me, getting all wound up about proving to people that superhero comics can TOO be Deep and Literary is the adult version of yelling at one’s parents that comics will NOT rot our brains and lead to juvenile delinquency. Shouldn’t we all be past that now? Even Hollywood seems to be over it.

It never has made any difference to me where they rank in the public eye.

I may not have been clear. When I said that an adaptation may cause a work to lose its place in culture I didn’t mean it might lose status. What I meant is that it might cease to be a cultural entity altogether. To me, a central aspect of art is its life as a cultural entity, its position is the mythology of a culture, the stories that define a nation and the people in that nation. So the status of a work, from a hegemonic point of view, is not as important as its popularity and the effect that it has on the populous at large.

My point was that Watchman, unlike almost all other comics, was, and is, reaching a point where it can enter the popular cultural conversation shared by the nation in general. My fear was that, due to the adaptation, it wouldn’t be Watchman the comic that would enter the cultural conversation, but Watchman the movie a vastly lesser work. And unlike the works themselves, this would be an either-or proposition. But, as I said, the general apathy surrounding the movie meant that this wasn’t the case. But I would still hold it was a legitimate fear.

What most fans don’t get is that a movie *needs* to grab a larger audience than just us to succeed, and most often that audience DOESN’T know (or care) much for the comics version. They need to make the adaptation in such a way the pubic at large will “get” it. IRON MAN was a hit not because it was based on a popular character but because it was a COOL story in its own right. Of course, the really good comic book movies appeal to the general audience while also meeting the expectations of fans.

Oh man, I remember those 70s shows (except the Justice League movie) and they were hilarious even then. Like Bright-Raven said, they were a product of their time, it wasn’t so much that they failed to imitate the comics as that they tried to fit in with other “Sci Fi Adventure” shows in the air. I liked them as they were, but preferred the comics.

Watchmen wasn’t bad. The problem is one of format: novels, comics, television, and movies are all completely different ways of telling a story. You can’t do a directly translation without losing something in the process.

My wife and I frequently argue about whether the scourging of the shire should have been included in the film adaption of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Her point is that it’s an essential part of the story and wraps up the tale in the same place where it started. My point, which I stand by, is twofold. One, to have effectively made that scene, you’d have to turn a four-hour movie into an eight-hour one. Two, and more importantly, film is a very different genre from a novel. To include the scourging of the shire would have pissed off the film’s broader audience: they spent 3 years and 3 films waiting for the damned ring to be destroyed. You want to spend another four hours telling them it’s not over?

This is my point with Watchmen. The original comic had two things that made it what it was which were lost in the film. One, it had the human drama of the side characters (the shrink, the newspaper man, the angry lesbians) showing the impact of superhumans on the larger world. Two, the story was told in a serialized format that focused on individual characters and ended each chapter on a dramatic note that you had to chew on before the next. The film lost both of these to focus on the superhuman drama. Now, I think it captured the cape-killer mystery very well. However, a lot of the drama hit you in this bang-bang-bang format that didn’t give you a chance to really digest Rorschach’s grim view of humanity or Dr. Manhattan’s musings on human destiny versus free will.

So, not a bad film, but one that definitely tried too hard to recreate something that the nature of film didn’t allow for. Had it been filmed as a 12-part HBO miniseries, it probably would have better accomplished what they were trying to do.

With reference to the Nicholas Hammond Spider-man series in the 70s, as an ardent pre-teen Spidey fan I tried really hard to like this, but ultimately did not, although I do remember sitting through most of the episodes and finding them at least watchable. But that Capt. America movie was jaw-droppingly bad, and even as a young comics geek I had to admit that to myself. I think those two examples helped me realize early on that you can’t really do good screen adaptations of super-hero comics, that they’ll always kind of fall short of expectations – and I generally don’t make any special effort to see the latest comic-themed movies.
Anyway, thanks for the recommendations. That Batman serial from 1949 looks really cool – too bad there’s probably no release coded for Europe. That, incidentally, is the same problem I have with another piece of 70s camp (in the “so bad it’s good” category) that’s impossible to find over here: “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park” – anyone remember that gem?

“Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park” – anyone remember that gem?

Unfortunately, yes. One of those movies I thought was incredibly cool as a kid… and when I saw it again as an adult, made me wish that I hadn’t.

Yes, I admit I thought the Kiss movie was cool when I was a kid, but now I just find it f-ing hilarious. Last year I was watching clips of it on You Tube with a few friends and work and we were rolling out of our chairs laughing – that scene of them sitting around a swimming pool in the hot Southern California sun in their full concert regalia with those heavy gray robes draped over them is particularly priceless…

“Furthermore, the one big change Snyder and his crew made, the nature of Adrian’s plan, strikes me as a better idea than the one in the book. ”

Agreed 100%. I had a small list of people I wanted to loan Watchmen out to when I was buying the individual issues. The twelfth issue sure changed that plan! I mean here we had a pretty good representation of comic book type heroes in the real world, and it ended with a giant telepathic alien squid? At least my original issues are in pretty good shape still, having only been read by me.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 16, 2009 at 9:26 pm

I mean here we had a pretty good representation of comic book type heroes in the real world, and it ended with a giant telepathic alien squid?

It ended with a pretend giant telepathic alien squid.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 16, 2009 at 9:41 pm

And if you are merely “keeping the themes and the tones” then are you really adapting the work at all, or are you just creating a work inspired by the original?

I’d say you’re adapting the work, but on the other hand, I don’t really care.
Altman’s MASH, Kubrick’s The Shining (heck, every Kubrick adaptation, Kaufmann’s Adaptation, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (And Godfather films), all made drastic changes to their source material, and outshine the books they are adapted from.

Scott’s Bladerunner, Nichol’s Catch-22, Nolan’s Batman Begins are adaptions that made changes but stayed true to the themes and tones, and plot, but changed the beats.

DePalma’s Bonfire Of The Vanity’s, Harron’s American Psycho are works that tried to be as close to the original as they could in their new medium.

The great films made total changes but kept the themes and some of tones, the good films made changes, but kept theme and tone and and kept the plot beats, the bland films tried to be as close as possible.

As it’s a different author in the film, and one can always go read the book, I’m pretty happy if they just riff on the original and find a totally new work based on it.
I’m happy if they also retell the story, but with some hefty changes to make it work in the film medium, in and of itself.
I’m generally bored shitless if they try and do a straight adaptation – the only exception being Sin City, which is the closest I’ve ever seen done, but part of the interest in that was that it’s the closest it will be done… most of it’s flaws come from the fact it was such a straight adaptation.

Do note, I tried to pick films where actual filmmakers made the calls, and didn’t have the stench of a studio all over them, like say From Hell, which totally changed the concept, plot, themes and tones – but you could tell it was all one in the name of making money, and was in fact totally horrible (and cemented Don Murphy as a terrible producer, and The Hughes Brothers as average at best filmmakers)

I’d say you’re adapting the work, but on the other hand, I don’t really care.

Well, I guess we’re splitting hairs at this point, I would say all of those films, except perhaps for Adaptation, did more than just “keeping the themes and the tones”. “Drastic changes” yes, but Apocalypse Now still had the characters of Kurtz and Marlow (renamed of course) and the journey up the river into madness, The Shining still had a father go crazy in a isolated, empty mountain hotel and try and kill everybody, etc. etc. The idea of keeping the themes and the tones seems more to me like Star Wars being influenced by Flash Gordon serials, many themes and tones are shared but I don’t think anyone would call Star Wars a Flash Gordon adaptation.

I should point out that I don’t have a problem with films merely sharing themes and tones to precedent works, if anything I prefer it. I just wouldn’t call it an adaptation.

Apocalypse Now … outshine the books they are adapted from.

Really? Don’t get me wrong, Apocalypse Now is one of the finest films ever, but to say that it has outshone Heart of Darkness seems a big call.

Nolan’s Batman Begins are adaptations

I guess that’s where we start to disagree, because I have a problem with calling Batman Begins an adaptation, which is to say it is clearly an adaptation of Batman in general but I would not say that it is not an adaptation of any particular Batman story. Yes, it takes a lot from Year One, but it takes a lot from the other Batman origin stories as well, so I’m not sure that speaking about THE ‘plot’ is accurate.

Also, I would put Bladerunner in the first category, so your general rule wouldn’t apply there.

Really? Don’t get me wrong, Apocalypse Now is one of the finest films ever, but to say that it has outshone Heart of Darkness seems a big call.

That depends on how we’re defining “outshine”. Reading Heart of Darkness is a better experience the watching Apcalypse Now (Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, but the book is Conrad’s best work, IMO, and that’s saying something). Still, Apocalypse Now is far more famous nowadays then Heart of Darkness.

That depends on how we’re defining “outshine”.

Sure, but I still don’t think that difference between Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness is comparable to the difference between, say, the Godfather novel and film, or between the MASH novel and film. Heart of Darkness is still widely regarded as one of the greatest works in English Literature, while the Godfather and MASH novels would have been forgotten about if they hadn’t been made into movies.

And to go back to Funky’s list, I don’t know that I would say that Lolita or A Clockwork Orange ‘outshine’ their respective originals either. In fact, general critical opinion, as far as I’ve seen, seems to go in reverse for Lolita. I haven’t read the novel myself so I can’t comment, but I do think the film is underrated.

Just as an aside, for purposes of comparison, we almost got a (badly-rewritten) version of this script by Sam Hamm in 1989 shot instead. I occasionally wonder what would have happened if THIS had been the Watchmen movie. Reading the comments, it strikes me as one man’s attempt to get at the ‘themes and tones’ mentioned above, it’s a much looser adaptation than Snyder’s. I like Snyder’s better but there are interesting things here too. What struck me was the elements from the original that stayed and what got tossed overboard.

I think it would have made a cool movie but I also think you couldn’t in good faith call it Watchmen. It turned into something else. I don’t think that makes it BAD, but your mileage may vary.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 17, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Also, I would put Bladerunner in the first category, so your general rule wouldn’t apply there.

Bladerunner is the sole reason I made the in-between list… I just couldn’t bring myself to put it as a bad adaptation… but I don’t know that I have a preference between it and the book.
They are both great.

And to go back to Funky’s list, I don’t know that I would say that Lolita or A Clockwork Orange ‘outshine’ their respective originals either. In fact, general critical opinion, as far as I’ve seen, seems to go in reverse for Lolita. I haven’t read the novel myself so I can’t comment, but I do think the film is underrated.

I picked the Kubrick I picked for a reason – it’s author was outraged that he’d removed all the supernatural stuff that was in the original, and even shot his own version of it years later as a ‘proper adaptation’… I saw an ad for it – it sucked.
(There’s also Strangelove, but how many can even name the book it was based on? )
A Clockwork Orange is interesting – especially as Kubrick adapted from a truncated version, not knowing that the book had lost it’s third part in the American version, so it’s almost as though they shouldn’t even have the same title.
That said, it’s an amazing film, due to the sheer art and craft of the film making, so though the book may be better, you wouldn’t necessarily have made as good a film from it.
(Also worth noting they didn’t have a set script, he and the actors work shopped it from the novel).

Lolita is lesser than the novel, and they probably shouldn’t have shot it, as restricted by the times that they were.
That said, the unrestricted version with Jeremy Irons was pretty-god awful.

Yes, it takes a lot from Year One, but it takes a lot from the other Batman origin stories as well, so I’m not sure that speaking about THE ‘plot’ is accurate.

Go to The Batman boards and say that! I just meant they made changes that are unique to the film, not represented by any story, and that they combined stories, cherry picking what they would use.

I just meant they made changes that are unique to the film, not represented by any story, and that they combined stories, cherry picking what they would use.

Sure, it’s just the idea I was getting at, was that changing a story for reasons other than what is necessary for the new medium, changing a story because you think you could have told it better in its original form, is not really respecting the source. ‘Not respecting the source,’ of course, is not a bad thing, so long as you actually can tell the story better. I don’t think Kubrick respected the Shining novel as a source, but he could do that because he was Kubrick. There was no chance that Snyder could have told the Watchman story better than Moore, so in that case it was best that he respected the source, rather than trying to do better and failing. And I do think he respected the source, and I think he made the best movie that could have been made and still be called Watchmen.

My point with Begins was that, with all the changes necessary for the medium, and all the other changes necessary to glue the pieces of story together, I don’t know that there is room for any change that disrespects any of the sources in particular. There is, I think, a difference between directly adapting a particular story, like Watchmen, and retelling a story for the twentieth time. If Begins was an adaptation of anything, it was the Batman legend in general, which is a fluid idea, written by no one person, and therefore not really something that can be disrespected in that same was as in a direct adaptation.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 18, 2009 at 12:39 am

Fair enough points Ted!

I think we pretty much agree.

(With The Shining, knowing Kubrick, he probably started out liking the book, but during in his years of development ended up changing a bit here, and a bit there… most articles about making the film though mention he removed the hedge monsters that are apparently in the book because he didn’t want the special effects to look naff, so if he was stripping it away like that, it could be he felt he was being true to the book – on the other hand, looking at everything else he ever did, the book was always just going to be the starting point).

There was no chance that Snyder could have told the Watchman story better than Moore, so in that case it was best that he respected the source, rather than trying to do better and failing.

Snyder?
‘The Visionary Director of 300′?
The guy shouldn’t even have been allowed in the same room as the contracts for Watchmen.

The guy shouldn’t even have been allowed in the same room as the contracts for Watchmen.

To say there was ‘no chance’ Snyder could have done a better job was a bit of an understatement. At least the Comedian didn’t run into battle yelling “For AMERICA”.

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