Mar 10 2012

Oddly, This Relieves Me

Published by at 10:00 am under Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon gets as confused as I do when characters have names that start with the same letter.



By the way, his description of his upcoming movie John Carter gives me the overwhelming impression that this will be a case where talented, motivated people are thwarted by circumstances mostly beyond their control (in this case, subpar source material). Extremely depressing.  Thinking more positively, what are some more encouraging examples of stories that are significantly better than the source material? For example, Iron Man was an okay character in the comics, but the Iron Man movies were preposterously enjoyable (93% and 73% on Rotten Tomatoes). Fantastic Four was probably source material for The Incredibles*, but The Incredibles was a huge upgrade in terms of characterization and the depth of noncombat scenes.


*The superpowers were uncannily similar and the plots were similar enough that FF received last-minute changes to distinguish it from The Incredibles. In the end, Fantastic Four wasn’t similar enough–it scored 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 97% for Incredibles.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Oddly, This Relieves Me”

  1. Goaton 11 Mar 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I wouldn’t call the source materiel subpar. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. The Barsoom series was one of the first sci-fi AND action/adventure books so it was revolutionary for it’s time and it’s still one of the threshold books for each genre. But since Burroughs was one of the first to do what he did, he had to learn from his mistakes instead of others. This was mentioned in the article but he made some changes to better the plots in the series as it went along. If anything that relieves me too: you can always change your story to make it better.

    I love the books and I loved the movie. I agree with the changes made in the movie and know it made it better and I think if Burroughs could write the first book in the series again he’d probably use them.

    Wow, I didn’t mean to go off on that tangent but I like the result…

  2. B. McKenzieon 11 Mar 2012 at 4:49 pm

    On another tangent, I saw Act of Valor today. It was significantly better than, say, Charlie Sheen’s Navy SEALs or Chuck Norris’ Delta Force, but the source material (Navy SEAL missions in general) could probably have been used more effectively. Some things worked (e.g. the dialogue was okay and the minor details made the story feel more realistic than, say, James Bond*), but the protagonists had so little emotion and the voiceovers felt very heavy-handed. I suspect that a really good nonfiction writer–ideally someone with military experience–could have made the characters more memorable without compromising the verisimilitude.

    *E.g. characters letting squadmates know they were reloading, one of the operatives asking before a mission whether a POW would be ambulatory, etc. In contrast, more often than not, James Bond’s movies treat him like a video game character.

    Also, I’d like to pose this question to anybody with infantry-level military experience: If an enemy throws a grenade at your squad from cover and one of your squadmates leaps on the exploding grenade, are there any circumstances under which the team would attend to the fallen teammate before dispatching the enemy? (If so, wouldn’t your team be exposed to another grenade? That’s the uneducated impression I got from watching the climactic fight).

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