Against every sensible bone in my body’s advice, I made a trip to the movies for the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans, starring that gorgeous Aussie, Sam Worthington. My first mistake. Having adored the 1981 version, I of course had high expectations of this new adaptation. This was my second mistake.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but have preconceived notions of how an adaptation should behave. I mean, these people, these ‘director geniuses’ and ‘prodigy scriptwriters’ are taking a perfectly good baby, mixing the DNA up – prettifying it *here* and simplifying it *there* and suddenly you find yourself looking into the face of a stranger. A boringly symmetrical version of someone you once knew, perhaps treasured for its depth, its ‘ugliness’. Now completely ruined.
I fancy myself a bit of a movie critic (though not a great one) – I hang on every word of David and Margaret’s, and throw about such gems as ‘completely amateur scriptwriting!’ and ‘that plot had more holes in it than a boxful of broken sieves’ with the greatest of ease. I’m sure my movie buddies live in terror of the final credits rolling, me blasting the crud out of a movie which ‘was pretty funny, had some romantic bits’, or at least they thought it did until I opened my fat trap.
It’s because of this critical mindset that I’m scared to count how many of my favourite books have, in my oh-so-humble opinion, been ruined by the silver screen. Dystopian Sci Fi features in particular are (a bit) hit and (mostly) miss for me (why, oh why did they change the ending to I Am Legend?), and it’s why I’m too afraid to watch The Road, despite loving – or perhaps BECAUSE I loved – Cormac McCarthy’s desolate masterpiece. It’s all I can do to stop from getting down on my knees and praying to the movie gods that John Marsden’s Tomorrow series receives proper justice (it’s set for release later this year). Please please PLEASE be good! Please!
I’m resigned to the fact that turning a fantasy book into a movie seems to run a dangerous gauntlet for investors, fans and producers alike. Perhaps it’s because it requires such a suspension of disbelief, that the special effects have to be more than special, the characters have to be more than protagonists, they have to be HEROES. No other genre (besides paperback romance) lusts after its main character as much as fantasy literature does. To be honest, the last time I truly enjoyed some book-to-movie (or movie-to-book) adaptations was back in the 80s, early 90s. True story.
Yet somehow, despite all my whinging and my frenzied vow never to watch anything surrounded by hype ever again, the glittery promise of the silver screen bringing my favourite characters to life just keeps sucking me back in. Me paying 17 bucks a pop in the vain hope that I’ll feel one tenth of the devastation I felt when Artax drowned in the mud, or the excitement mixed with dread as Westley faces off with Vizzini over the poisoned cup. Such is the mystery, and the poisonous allure, of the movie curse.