Hollywood is no stranger to recycled material. A book can become a movie and spawn a #TV series that will later become a graphic novel. The transformative potential of media offers fans a variety of ways to absorb and enjoy a story. This, when done right, can result in great storytelling and fan engagement, but it also creates more room for error.
Adaptations become a problem when they deviate from the source material in a way that alienates loyal fans and makes it impossible for them to fully enjoy a new vision of the content they love. We've seen a lot of adaptations over the past year already and will see many more before we say goodbye to 2017. Let's take a look at 10 movies that got lost in the adaptation process.
(Note: These films are listed in no particular order.)
10. Annie (2014)
Annie has seen a variety of revivals over the years, from a Broadway musical to the silver screen. It makes sense: the story of orphan Annie has always been a big hit. Unfortunately, 2014's Annie hit a sour note when it tried to bring its story into the 21st century with an all-star cast that should've shot this film to the top of the box office. Starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis, the film flounders and barely manages to keep your attention even as the songs, which are designed to draw you in, actually turn you away.
9. The Cat In The Hat (2003)
For the love of all that is holy, why does this movie exist? I mean, who were the big-wig studio execs who said, "This is totally a good idea. Let's have an iconic character from a beloved children's book make a bunch of racy comments and encourage reckless behavior?" I watched this as a kid and I remember being beyond disappointed that I had paid good money to watch this train wreck. Mike Myers did himself no service when he decided to tackle this role and probably should have stopped while he was ahead of the game with his Austin Powers films.
8. House Of The Dead (2003)
As far as video game movie adaptations go, House Of The Dead is one of the most unwatchable disasters ever to grace the screen. Uwe Boll, a man with an extensive ego, has tried time and time again to convince the world that his films are the best. From painful dialogue to try-hard action, House Of The Dead should have never been made if the trailer can't even use an idiom properly ("A movie based on one of the most popular video games of all times"). To be honest, I respect people who make films and try to make a place for themselves in the vast wonderland of filmmaking, but Uwe Boll's House Of The Dead should've stayed dead and buried.
7. Vampire Academy (2014)
As a fan of the books, I tried to enjoy this movie, even taking into account that the movie was directed by the director of Mean Girls and that the author was part of the screenwriting process. After an hour and 44 minutes, I have to say that my hopes of this book series becoming a successful movie franchise flew out the window. The dialogue and the acting was awful. I don't want to blame the actors, as they were being guided by the director, but the assumptions as to what these character were like were way off. Not to mention the marketing of this film was so in-your-face Mean Girls-inspired with a dash of awful puns ("They suck at school," get it? Because it's about vampires?). Thank you, but no thank you.
6. Dragonball: Evolution (2009)
Do I have to say why this movie failed to satisfy the needs of avid Dragonball fans? The film showcases one of the prime examples of whitewashing and American ignorance. I understand that making money is the sole reason most studio execs green light films, but the United States is made up of more than white faces. Denying Asian actors to play lead roles only further reinforces the belief that only white actors can be strong, brave and heroic. This movie makes me sad because it could have been a great opportunity to change the landscape, but alas. Besides, Piccolo looked like a spray-painted hot mess.
5. The Karate Kid (2010)
I love Jackie Chan and everything he does because he's one of the most humble and down-to-earth actors to grace us with his amazing talent. Now, keeping that in mind, I don't appreciate the fact that a movie named The Karate Kid decided to use the same name when its actors were using kung fu, not karate. That's just insanely disrespectful to the art of both because they're two completely different styles of martial arts. Once again, money talks and common sense takes a walk. Thanks, Hollywood.
4. Red Dawn (2012)
When I started watching this film, I tried to enjoy it because Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Josh Peck all star in it. Unfortunately, this North-Korea-invades-the-US story tries to play up the American bravado that can be particularly distasteful. The film is all over the place, and the Korean that is spoken in the film is very rough. It was as if they decided as long as the dialogue vaguely sounds like Korean, then that's fine. People who don't know the way the language sounds wouldn't have a problem, but I couldn't ignore that. Red Dawn tried to be a Man In The High Castle-take on the current hostile relationship, but it failed in the end and sounded like a bunch of whiny kids trying to play soldier.
3. Dirty Dancing (2017)
Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze had a chemistry and an air to them that drew you in from the beginning of Dirty Dancing. ABC's attempt at recreating magic was like watching a tone deaf participant try out for a singing competition in a room full of classically-trained singers. You knew they tried their best, but wondered what the hell they were doing. ABC's Dirty Dancing, starring Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes, can't decide whether it wants to be a musical or a dance film. Breslin and Prattes have zero chemistry and the dancing is painful to watch. I couldn't even watch it all the way through, I skipped around and later watched clips of the original Dirty Dancing to wash out the bitter taste of the TV version.
2. Death Note (2017)
The US has a knack of taking wonderfully-crafted Japanese content and turning it into a watered-down version of itself. Death Note exists as a manga, anime and already has several live-action films with superb acting in Japan. Adapting an inherently Japanese narrative into an American landscape simply cannot work when you distort the original material. It went from a smart, sinister tale to a cheesy young adult romance with dark undertones. The only thing that saves this movie is Willem Dafoe's voice acting for Ryuk, but even the American Ryuk is a pale comparison to the Japanese version. Whitewashing aside, the Japanese creators don't mind the American version because they're happy to see their work represented across the Pacific Ocean and that's good, I guess.
1. Oldboy (2013)
Perhaps one of the greatest examples of why Asian stories have difficulty translating to American audiences is Spike Lee's Oldboy. I've spoken about this film before, and while I respect Spike Lee and what's he's done for filmmaking, sometimes you gotta realize that some movies are better left untouched. The movie takes 30 minutes to go anywhere and then when it does move, I wish it would stop. The beautifully claustrophobic fight scene that Park Chan-wook created in the original is gone and replaced with a frustratingly choreographed Brolin fighting in an open space with zero suspense. It's difficult to justify the existence of this version of Oldboy. I just hope people know that this is based on a Korean film by Park Chan-wook, who adapted it from a Japanese manga and stars the amazingly talented Choi Min-sik.
Do you agree with my picks? If I missed one, let me know in the comments below.