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Let’s Talk About Movies (Part 1 of 2)

So I’ve been thinking about movies lately. What have I been thinking, you ask? Well, mostly, I’ve been thinking that there aren’t really any new ones that I’m dying to see, and that the one that I do want to see is a remake of a movie I’ve seen a bunch of times. And read, a bunch of times.

What movie, you ask? Why, The Three Musketeers, I reply.

I can’t really believe there is yet another version of this movie. According to IMDB.com, there are – seriously – TWENTY-NINE movies and/or televisions shows or series titled “The Three Musketeers”, ranging from the first in 1903 to the latest in 2011. How freaking crazy is that – 29 international versions over a 108-year span. And that’s only the ones listed in IMDB with that exact title; it doesn’t include the sixteen “partial” matches that are either spin-offs or spoofs or cartoon versions.

I confess to not-so-secretly loving the 1993 version with Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell, Oliver Platt and Tim Curry the best, by the way…

I’ve noticed for some time now that there are very few new movies. Everything seems to be a remake or a spin-off or a sequel (or ten-quel) or a retelling. I can’t decide if this is the fault of Hollywood (i.e., because Hollywood is boring or derivative or looking for sure things because movies cost so much to make) or movie-goers (i.e., because they are predictable or stupid/unimaginative or looking for sure things because movies cost so much to see in theaters). Perhaps it’s both. Or neither.

Who knows. What I do know is that there are not a whole lot of good-looking movies out there lately.

Which naturally got me to thinking about whether this was a new phenomenon or not. And with a teensy bit of reflection, I have come to the following realization: It is not. The movies have been full of retellings and remakes and spin-offs for some time now. Some of them are fantastically good. Many (if not most) are fantastically bad – especially the ones made from books.

So I thought I’d share my own top 10 lists to that effect.

Today, we’re featuring books that were made into such bad movies that I’m afraid no one will ever read the books, and that the authors will have to live forever with the ignominy (if admittedly also with the advance monies) of knowing their “baby” was made into a crappy movie. Stay tuned tomorrow when I do the flip side and tell you about books worth reading even though the movies were good.

And please please weigh in with a comment – I love hearing other people’s takes on things I don’t like… :)

Top 10 Books that Are Definitely Worth Reading Even Though They Were Made Into Bad (or At Least Mediocre) Movies

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8 comments to Let’s Talk About Movies (Part 1 of 2)

  • You know what, even I was wondering the same with the next spate of movie releases – especially the ones from books! I feel bad sad about it. Where is the creativity??

  • Oh no! Don’t tell me you didn’t like “Adaptation.” I’ll still be your friend and all, but I’m probably going to spend some time trying to convince you otherwise :)

    Or did they make another movie more closely based on the book?

    Otherwise, I’m not familiar with the movie versions of several of these, but if I liked the movie version of one or two that I haven’t read, does that mean I will REALLY like the book?

    And I agree that it seems like the motion picture industry has been stale for several years now when it comes to new material. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that “The Thing” is actually a prequel to the John Carpenter version.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  • I must admit I did not like “Adaptation” – then again, I didn’t like Vonnegut and you got me to read him and while he’s not my new favorite now by any stretch, I am not sorry I read it, so perhaps I should give the movie another look… :)

    As for whether the fact that you liked the movie means you will really like the corresponding book, well, sometimes it works like that for me and sometimes not so much. Sometimes the movie is good precisely because I have no expectations and the book turns out to be a completely/significantly different story/reading experience. Generally speaking tho, if I like the movie I probably do like the book more – either because it’s better than the movie or because it follows it faithfully.

    I didn’t know that about The Thing – that makes me happy, as I was afraid it was simply version 3.1 of a classic story. Movies are depressing in the past few years, I agree – with a few notable exceptions the makeovers/spin-offs/rip-offs suck, and the plots move with all the speed and grace of a wounded gazelle…

    • Interesting you mention Vonnegut. Besides the fact that I’ve liked pretty much everything done by the writer of Adaptation (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), I think one big thing that appealed to me about Adaptation was the same as “Breakfast of Champions”… that shared experience of the insecurities writers often have, and very often feeling isolated (even if you have a twin brother).

      Unfortunately, I’m not hearing very good things about The Thing. Looks like I may have to wait to see it on DVD. If you go in the theatre, though, you’ll have to let me know.

      Paul D. Dail
      http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

      • It’s funny – I LOVED Being John M (and admit I haven’t seen Eternal Sunshine – I know, I know – The Husband can’t believe it either and it’s on the “TBWatched” list) and I love the actors in it (even if it’s not cool to love Nicolas Cage) so should have liked it… but it just irked me – you know, in that undefinable way that some things just do.

        And bummer on The Thing – I doubt I”ll see it in a theater (see my comments on theater-going below)

  • How about “The Clan of the Cavebear”? It’s one of my favorite books, but the movie was sooooo bad.
    I have to admit that I’m not much of a moviegoer lately. Maybe because of the reasons you described here on your blog. I’m curious to find out how many remakes have been done about Dracula. (There are way too many vampire books out lately too.)
    I also believe that 3D doesn’t help with the quality of the movies that are made in the last few years. Too much focused on the 3D effects and they forget about the story. Even the cartoons. Too much happening in one second. Crazy. After seeing one of those, I’m dizzy.

    • I’ve actually never seen OR read “Clan of the Cavebear” Starla, if you can believe it! I’ll have to check the book out now though… And I hear you on movies – I am not willing to spend $20 on tickets for something derivative or stupid or overly-reliant on effects (I’m SO with you there)… If I want to watch a video game, I will stay at home and play on the computer!! Thanks for reading/commenting – I’m always glad to see I’m not the only one out there who gets annoyed at these things! :)

  • The Three Muskateers is one of my favorite books and I haven’t been happy with any of the movie version so far.

    As for the movies, we’ve gotten fairly selective about what we spend money to see in the theater. After all, when we watch at home we can talk out loud and tell the actors or characters what we really think of them. This behavior is frowned upon in theaters, especially if you happen to be at the premiere with the actors and writers. Trust me.

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