Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Non-Comic: Dark is Rising

I've never really been a huge fan of Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series, unlike certain others. No big reason really, just for whatever reason, it wasn't to my taste.

I'm sympathetic to the fans though. I've personally never gotten over the trauma of seeing my favorite childhood movie (Escape to Witch Mountain) remade in the nineties into some tv-movie monstrosity involving twins and stupid purple light.

I might have gone to see the movie, despite that, like I plan to see Golden Compass (another YA classic I've never read) which looks tremendously awesome.

Except that this really doesn't look like it'll be any good. It's not so much because of the changes, though even I can't figure out how it can really be "Dark is Rising" without the pagan overtones and Arthurian elements. I don't really get the point of making a brand new story and just keeping the names the same. It just means that the original fans of the story, the people most likely to go see it, will be pissed off. And it doesn't seem like it's going to be mainstream or epic enough to draw in many non-fans.

It's that it really seems poorly thought out. There doesn't seem to be any reason to change Will from an eleven year old British boy to a fourteen year old American living in England.

Considering that the setting's still going to be England, what's the point? Except possibly to avoid confusion with a certain other supernaturally-inclined eleven year old British boy. Even though they have nothing in common.

They are saddling him with a large family that picks on him and neglects him, but I'm going to assume that's more "quiet middle child drowned out by chaotic siblings" sort than anything Dursley-esque. He's described as feeling "lost".

The one thing that really bothers me though and ensures I'm probably never going to watch the movie no matter how good it reputedly will be is that apparently they're giving Will a twin that was kidnapped or taken as a baby. (I'm going to personally guess the twin will be the Walker, as he's suddenly younger and with a new motivation. Since it's just that cliched.)

It's not the twin thing that bothers me. I read comics, I can deal with cliche. It's something else that ruins my suspension of disbelief...

Apparently this very large family with many siblings lost a child. And they neglect its surviving twin. I repeat. They lost a child and they're neglecting the other?

How does this make any sort of sense? Are the creative minds really so blessed that none of them ever lost a sibling or child? Or knows anyone who has?

It's just...it doesn't sound like Will's family are supposed to be evil or monstrous. But the kind of people that would be so cavalier about the loss of a child to neglect another, they have to be monsters. I truly believe that.

And the thing is, either idea on its own could work fine! There's a wealth of psychological issues inherent in being the overlooked, forgotten child. Being the surviving child when one's sibling is kidnapped or killed ALSO pretty much means there's a mess of unhealthy aftereffects that can be used to isolate a young adult protagonist in order to make the dangerous adventuring aspects of this sort of fiction plausible. (Easiest way would be to have the parents smothering and overprotective to the point where the child feels like he needs to go to great length for independence enough to keep sane.)

Together though? They're oil and water. They're insoluble. It just doesn't work.

And oddly enough, it's a deal breaker for me. There are times when a complete transformation of the source material for an adaptation works for me, but it has to be good and appealing. This...well...if the creators aren't even going to spare an effort to make a familial history that makes any sort of logical sense, why should I trust them to make a good story at all?

8 Comments:

  • At July 11, 2007 10:20 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    It is RARELY a good idea to make a book into a movie. Sometimes it works, the Harry Potter books have fared fairly well, but usually it is an utter disaster. As you say, they keep the names, and completely change the story, thereby pissing off the original fans.

    I've always wondered, if the producers liked the original concept so much that they paid the author for the rights, WHY do they then go in and completely change everything?

    Weird.

     
  • At July 11, 2007 7:08 PM, Blogger Willow said…

    SallyP: "if the producers liked the original concept so much that they paid the author for the rights, WHY do they then go in and completely change everything?"

    Focus groups. What's 'the rage' currently. Can we make toys from it? What about tie in's? Will the Christian Right boycott our movie? The plot's too complicated, let's cut out this this and this to get it into two hours. Get a new writer, this one blows. Get a new writer and include this and this, the actor wants it or we won't get them and they're box office.

    Etc...etc...etc...

    Also I've been told that often-times movie studios option a book, so that if they ever do a movie with elements of said book in it, they already have the rights and can't be accused of stealing in any form - they're only 'adapting'.

     
  • At July 11, 2007 9:14 PM, Anonymous "Starman" Matt Morrison said…

    The director of this slagheap is the same bloke who directed a "The Truth About 9-11" movie for ABC in the United States that was so full of inaccuracies and outright lies.

    Any dedication to having things make sense much less follow the book got tossed out the window a while ago.

     
  • At July 11, 2007 11:02 PM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Well, crap. The trailer was the only one I liked when I went to see HP & OotP, so I was planning to see it, but...

    "It is RARELY a good idea to make a book into a movie." I disagree. There's nothing inherently bad about derivative works.

     
  • At July 12, 2007 10:23 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Ununnilium, it is true that there isn't anything wrong with being deriviative. And if the movie makers actually used the PLOTS from the books that they were adapting, I would be as happy as a clam.

    Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, that doesn't seem to happen too often.

     
  • At July 12, 2007 4:26 PM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    I wouldn't say that its REQUIRED to use the exact plot from the original. But sticking with the basic concepts is good...

    Me I tried to read Ludlum's first Bourne book and I ended up throwing it across the room yelling "WHY WON'T YOU END YOU STUPID PLOT!"

    But I'm a big fan of both movies and will probably see the third...

    But for THIS movie, they've tossed pretty much everything about the series that makes it memorable and kept...um...kids in a magic world?

    Reminds me of Disney's botched The Black Cauldron really...

     
  • At July 14, 2007 9:11 PM, Blogger Alexandra said…

    See, these books are awesome. I only recently came across them (I'm 22), and I've already been told by my boss (I work at a library) that I need to buy them already 'cause I'm wearing out their copies.

    I don't look for strict accuracy in a book-based movie. I loved the Lord of the Rings movies, and I thought the changes mostly worked well. You HAVE to tell a story differently onscreen - the mediums are different.

    But retaining pretty much nothing but the names? Why not just go whole hog and make a new story? You lose everything that way, and you usually don't end up with a good movie, either.

     
  • At August 04, 2007 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've loved the entire series for years ever since i was around 9 or 10 ... and now I saw the trailer and I died a little inside.. they absolutely butchered everything... I'm boycotting this film to save my sanity.. I'm not about to give hollywood money for crap like this!

    -evan

     

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