Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Lesser-Known Movie Adaptations

What, you thought I was done with these? You should have known better when I gave it its own tag. Yes, back by unpopular demand, more failed film adaptations of great science-fiction/fantasy novels! The Hollywood hacks made our classics almost unrecognizable until I unearthed the connections with the be grateful, dangit!

Childhood's Endless Love: As we all know, creepy kids are box-office gold. So are doomed romances. So it shouldn't be any real surprise that Hollywood producers diminished the scope of Arthur C. Clarke's epic novel until it was about a pair of teenagers, Jade and David, whose parents aren't ready to let them merge with the Overmind together. When Jade is forbidden to see David, he burns down the Earth as a form of rebellion.

The King and I, Robot: Yul Brynner always felt like he'd been typecast after appearing in this historical drama about a young human woman who goes to become a nanny to the robot children of the robot King of Siam, and must learn to live in a kingdom where there is only one ruler, King Mongkut, and only three laws, "Robots cannot harm a human by action or inaction," "Robots must obey human commands except where this conflicts with the first law," and "Robots must act to preserve their existences except where this conflicts with laws one and two." In spite of (or perhaps because of) playing his part brilliantly, Brynner had difficulty getting non-robot parts after this film (although he was excellent in "Westworld".)

Enter the Dragonriders of Pern: This is probably most famous as Bruce Lee's last film, in which he is asked to infiltrate a martial arts tournament run on a mysterious island, using nothing but his wits, his fighting skills, and a telepathic dragon. Well worth watching for the fight sequences.

The Fall of the Animal House of Usher: This film defied all critical expectations and became an enduring cult classic, as audiences loved the idea of a mysterious, unnamed narrator pledging Roderick Usher's fraternity despite its being under a "double secret curse". Belushi's role as lecherous party animal Roderick Usher is considered to be one of his stand-out performances.

Children of a Lesser Corn: Stephen King fans in the 1980s were used to bad film adaptations of his works, so nobody was really too surprised when they saw the changes Hollywood had made to this film. That didn't stop King fans from becoming upset at the inconsistencies in the plot. Why would William Hurt even be hired to teach in the small town of Gatlin? Why wouldn't Marlee Matlin's character just kill him as a sacrifice to He Who Walks Behind the Rows? And who the hell wrote the line, "Outlander, we have your woman!" and thought it would be good? Unfortunately, seven sequels haven't managed to answer any of these questions.

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