The Movie Curse


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.

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Aimee Burton

Aimee Burton is a lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. This blog will be her escape from reality, and hopefully it'll inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she's always promising her friends is "almost halfway" done.

3 thoughts on “The Movie Curse”

  1. Remakes are notorious for not being as good as the originals – that’s if the original was any good. I thought Pelham 123 was an exception altho that ain’t spec fiction. But we have connections with films that we already love that it is all but impossible to replace. As an unabashed old John Wayne fan (even tho some of the scripting makes me want to scream), I simply cannot imagine anyone else ever being Rooster Cogburn, for example.

    I was talking to a Hollywood scriptwriter last year when he was visiting Canberra (sorry – should remember his name but too tired at present). He pointed out the amount of influence the studio execs have on things, forever messing around with the script and the production. I am sure that this results in some poop-quality products.

  2. Pelham 123 – is that that train hijacking movie? if so, I watched it recently. I though iot was ok, but lacked character development and a comprehensive build in suspense.

    Shame you can’t name-drop about the Hollywood scriptwriter (*wink*) – I am absolutely POSITIVE that studio execs stuff around with it. But perhaps writers shouldn’t sell out in the first place.. :P.
    Or is that too idealistic?

  3. It was Craig somethingorother (I am terrible at remembering names) – he was a guest at Canb Spec Fic Guild and was very entertaining/interesting.

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