6 Underrated Fairy tales

 

Stories like Aladdin Hansel and Gretel Sleeping Beauty Snow White Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella are all basically well recognised . However, there are several other credit warranting fairy tales that are less recognised. There’s actually some order in this one – First two on the list are Brother’s Grimm stories, Next two are generally known in name only and the final two are Hans Christian Andersen stories, since his works, relative to the  genre overall, are vaguely contemporary. Any suggestions for other underrated Fairy Tales are incredibly welcome.

The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs

devil dem hairsSometimes changed to involve a generic giant instead of the Devil- fair enough, the Devil in this story is a large dim-witted childlike creature. A prophecy arrives telling that a new-born commoner will marry the Princess one day. The displeased King wants to avoid this so attempts to drown the new-born commoner  (yeah). This doesn’t work and the boy is adopted by Millers. The King  arrives at the mill later and realises who Boy is after hearing the story of his adoption. The King gives him a sealed letter containing a death warrant and asks that he take it to the Kingdom, hoping to kill him off this way instead. En route,  surprisingly good hearted burglars encounter boy , open the death warrant and decide to save Boy’s life by writing another letter for him to send saying that Boy should marry the princess since presumably they know about the prophecy and connect the dots. Later in this world in which burglars are more trustworthy than royalty, Boy arrives at the Kingdom. The King realises he’s been outsmarted so sends the boy to retrieve the Devil’s Three Golden Hairs, hoping he’ll die en route. On the way the boy gets asked seemingly unanswerable questions, one of which comes from a boatman wondering why he has to eternally row the river.  He finds his way to hell and meets the Devil’s grandmother. Boy tells her why he’s there and she shrinks him so he won’t be found. The Devil eventually falls asleep, Grandma Pulls out three of his hairs while he sleep-talks the answers to the previously asked questions. Boy goes to answer the questions and is paid handsomely as thanks. He returns to the Kingdom with his new wealth and the requested hairs. The King suddenly likes Boy since he’s so rich and now doesn’t mind him marrying the princess. It doesn’t just end like that though, The King wants some gold for himself so tries to go on the same journey- the boatman meets the King then hands him the oar, damning him to row the  river indefinitely.  BOOM! LOSSEERRRR. Equally griping and comedic with so many fairly complicated ideas fitted successfully into a fairly short story with a full circle resolution.

Bearskin (Brother’s Grimm) –

Satan, displaying a mbearskinore ominous and cunning demeanour than he did in the aforementioned story, makes a deal with a former soldier. If the soldier takes an ever-full enchanted purse and survives 7 years of abandoning all personal hygiene and grooming while homelessly wandering, he gets unlimited wealth. If he dies within 7 years, Devil gets his souuuuuulllll (no violin battle sadly- only happens in Georgia).

The soldier, now called Bearskin for his taste in jackets, saves a Merchant from financial problems. As gratitude, the Merchant introduces his daughters, saying to Bearskin ‘marry one yeah? Cheers’ (or words to that effect). Two of them are like ‘Not marrying him he looks a right tramp’ (which, much as you’re meant to hate them – they aren’t wrong about) the youngest daughter is more open to it being like ‘He did save us, a group of strangers, from temporary poverty, I’ll give this marriage thing a shot’. But the catch is: 7 years aren’t up yet, Bearskin has to continue wandering. Before leaving, he gives the youngest daughter half a ring, keeping the other half and promising to show her it in a few years. Years pass; he’s won the wager with Satan who gives him a haircut shave etc. He goes back to the Merchant’s house requiring a chat with one of his daughters. The two who hated him before are now pumped because there’s a dapper guy they don’t recognise in the area. The Youngest isn’t – she hasn’t been reunited with the strange tramp who promised he’d be back. Bearskin approaches the youngest daughter and puts his half of the ring in her glass. Instead of choking to death on it- She thankfully notices it then realises the handsome guy is Bearskin and they’re wed as planned. The two other daughters are now devastated they didn’t marry this total stud and both commit suicide. Satan collects both of their souls meaning that he both he and bearskin effectively come out on top. This story adds complication root to simple story formulas e.g. rags to riches, the winning of a maiden etc. and the details that have been employed in portraying these events are intriguing, with create flavourings of mysticism. Refreshingly it doesn’t go for either an entirely gloomy or sugary sweet ending- the protagonist technically wins…. But so does Satan.

Puss in Boots

puss in bootsWe’ve all heard the title, but the story itself is relatively unknown. In a nutshell;

A miller’s son is given a cat by his dying father after his two older brothers are given means to continue the business. Miller’s son is like ‘ok he was dying I won’t get too mad but why’s he hate me they get the business I get cat-shaped responsibility/inconvenience’. But, as it turns out, the cat’s pretty useful; He talks and is willing to improve Miller son’s life in exchange for boots. Puss catches several animals and brings them to the King, saying they’re a gift from a Marquis, which is, of course, a lie. Puss then asks Miller’s son to pretend his clothes have been stolen when he knows the King’s nearby, causing the King to provide him with a formal ensemble that conveniently fits. Miller’s son keeps up the pretence of being the Marquis and he and the princess get sweet on each other. Puss reasons that Miller’s son needs a castle to convincingly seem like royalty. Puss travels to the castle of a sorcerous ogre, tricks him into transforming into a mouse then eats him. The group then arrive at the castle and after some more time of becoming acquainted, Miller’s son and the princess marry. The moral is essentially; as long as you’re a talking cat, you’re allowed to manipulate royalty and commit murder to gain your victim’s property as long as your master prospers by marrying a princess he’s lied about his identity to.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

ali baba

The name is known so is the phrase ‘Open Sesame’ what seems to be less known is the entire story surrounding these two things. Ali Baba the woodcutter finds out how to enter a magical cave where thieves store their riches and takes some for himself. His richer brother Cassim finds out about Alibaba’s money and pushes him into revealing how he got it. Cassim finds the hideout seconds after the thieves have gone out to do more….well, thieving- so doesn’t need to say the magic words to get in. The problem is he does need to say the magic words to get out- and forgets what they are. The thieves eventually come back, find Cassim and kill him for intrusion. Cassim’s former slave Morgiana consults a tailor asking him to sew together Cassim’s corpse for a dignified burial (oh btw the thieves dismembered him too) he leads them to the house blindfolded to prevent their location being blabbed about and drawing in the thieves. Later on a thief visist the tailor on personal business and   challenges the tailor’s skill .The tailor goes ‘M8 I’m boss at my job I stitched together a dismembered corpse the other day’. This obviously makes the thief think ‘That’s funny bc we actually dismembered a corpse the other day- probs the same one’. The thief asks the tailor to guide him to the house and is able to remember where he was led when the thief blindfolds him. A cross is marked on Alibaba’s door so the gang can come back later and silence him via murder. After similar setbacks the leader of the group is lead to the house of Alibaba- who at this point is barely even a character  since Morgiana’s literally doing everything. Memorising how it looks the leader returns later masquerading as a weary traveller with his cohorts hiding in large jars outside the house ready to pounce on his signal. Morgiana realises that the thieves are hiding so collects boiling oil and MURDERS THEM ALL FROM INSIDE THEIR JARS. Apparently they don’t make any noise as they’re literally being burnt alive so she’s safe to continue. Inside, the thief leader is lulling Alibaba into a false sense of security, Morgiana arrives and knowing him to the thief leader performs a knife dance that entrances him before fatally stabbing him. Morgiana gains her freedom after saving Alibaba’s life and, in the original telling at least, Marries Alibaba’s son (most change this so she marries Alibaba and omit his own wife). There are plenty of reasons this tale should be remembered, it allows opportunities for humour, has an intricate plot, a sense of peril and a strong female character who actually saves the titular character who takes a backseat after the first few sentences.

The Travelling Companion

travelling companion One of Hans Christian Andersen’s less known works – no Wiki page. Johannes father’s just died and Johanne’s dreamt about marrying an attractive woman. While visiting his father’s grave, he prevents a corpse from being thrown onto the street by going “Oi Geezers! Sling yer ‘ooks! ” (translation not exact) to the people stealing it- preventing the whole incident. He then meets an eccentric who then becomes his (wait for it) TRAVELLING COMPANION (woaaah).  They travel to a kingdom, on the way the companion picks up several items. Johannes recognises the Princess there as the woman from his dreams. Sadly, she’s a complete maniac. To be worthy of her one must answer three riddles- and will be beheaded if they answer wrongly. The companion uses an item he picked up (wings of a dead swan) to follow the Princess. She meets a troll (the mythical kind not the internet kind) who seemingly has her under mind control and suggests a riddle to her. The Travelling Companion hears the riddle’s answer so tells Johannes. When asked the next day to answer correctly, he does – meaning Johannes has got two riddles left to answer. The companion repeats the troll spying process, and after another riddle is correctly answered the troll decides the final riddle’s answer: his own head, something Johannes won’t think of because he and the troll have never met. The Travelling companion sneaks up on the evil troll and beheads him, wraps the head up and gives it to Johannes who presents it before the Princess as an answer to the final riddle. He gets to marry her – as showing the troll’s head has partially broken the spell- but has to essentially baptise her with magical water to break the curse of evilness properly in something of a filler moment. The Travelling Companion reveals he’s the spirit of the man whose corpse he defended at the beginning of the story, returning the favour since Johannes allowed him to pass on with some dignity intact. Now that his job’s done the companion disappears and Johannes stays with Princess who’s no longer under the spell of evilness. An incredibly slick story that deconstructs typical fairy tale tropes (the evil monarch becomes a love interest) while employing all the necessary details.

The Swine Herd

dat swineherd boiSo, a prince sends a princess a rose and a nightingale, she goes crazy and thinks both gifts, seen as things of natural beauty, are beneath her. The prince in disguise lands a gig as a Swineherd (pig farmer). He creates a musical toy that she walks through a pile of mud and then kisses him in order to obtain. The king sees them at it and is like ‘BOTH OF YOU OUTTA MY PALACE’. The princess, covered in mud and probably not really a princess now says she wishes she’d married the prince who gifted her with the Nightingale and Rose. The swineherd gets himself scrubbed up to his princely self has a sudden realisation about her and essentially says ‘PLOTTWIST- the prince was me- you didn’t give the time of day to someone who made an effort to find a rose and a nightingale but would kiss a random swineherd to get a toy- you’re weird I don’t want you no more’ he returns to his kingdom and just leaves her outside the walls of the palace as she sings the tune played by the musical toy. This is a clever spin on the usually sentimental ‘woo the snooty princess and then fall in love’ format (e.g. King Thrushbeard). There’s none of that happily ever after business .As well as a seemingly obvious, but well played ending, the interpretation  allows adds a lot of merit: It’s quite easy to see the Prince himself as questionable, he did disguise himself after all and seemed to assume someone would like him just because he got her gifts. A less frequently discussed fairy-tale that lends itself well to the realm of adaptations, whoever the sympathy was more weighted towards, it wouldn’t seem wrong as long as it’s clear that the person adapting the story has made some sort of decision.

6 Flattering Film Adaptations

Directly continuing from the last list about good films that poorly adapted their source material- this list concerns solid pieces of cinema that successfully adapt their source material. I couldn’t decide on specific ranking so the order is totally random.

 

The Commitments

the commitments

Adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s Novel of working class Dubliners forming a soul band. The film follows Doyle’s novel very closely, unsurprisingly since he co-wrote the script. There are some minor alterations like Deco and Jimmy are co-workers in the book while in the film the former drives bus and the latter’s unemployed but these aren’t changes that truly affect the overall principal. The film also tones down on swearing which isn’t a bad idea because constantly hearing profanity could be more noticeable than constantly reading it. There are several scenes that capture the feel of the book and sense of place even if they aren’t directly taken from the source (e.g. the audition montages- which are a perfect addition to a story of this subject matter)

The-Commitments 2The ending is slightly altered but not in a way that conflicts with the original purpose of the novel. There’s also a slight simplification in the relationship with one of the old band members and the three backing singers, but again this doesn’t really do any harm to the overarching premise and it’s arguable that the film doesn’t have time to devote such focus on what’s essentially a running gag. The characters are brought to life well and there’s a solid balance in prominence, the chosen songs are the right ones and the humour, which is fairly universal even with the clearly Irish setting, is executed perfectly.

American Psycho

 american psycho 

Something of a cultural phenomenon by now if mainly because of how much shock value it goes for .Bret Easton Elli’s book is The story of Patrick Bateman; an arrogant, immaculate Wall Street banker who adheres to several strict routines and is not only American but also a Psycho. Slick and sophisticated but complete and utter monster- not even beneath the surface, he’s pretty blatant about it. The film adaptation is well-paced, successfully translates most of the admittedly incredibly dark humour from the book and perfectly maintains the sense of wealth based shallowness and general twisted cynicism. Christian Bale’s impeccable performance saved Bateman from what could have so easily been a character too despicable to even attempt enduring the film (he’s still despicable, but his delivery and turn of phrase lessens it slightly). Bateman listening to ‘Walking on Sunshine’ after some incredibly mismatched deeds is such a strong idea that fits the original characterisation so well.  The film Manages to directly quote some of the books articulate and professional sounding reviews on music and make them even more interesting by combining them with other important factors of the character (being a psycho).

american psycho bookThere are quite a lot of book details missing  in the film– but they’re practical omissions and entirely justified by the fact that many of them would be difficult to translate to film without delving too far into absurdist or even cartoonish territory (a piece of food being interviewed on a chat show for example). The ambiguity of the entire story is also communicated in the best way it possibly can be. One partial criticism would be that the film omits a scene where Bateman tearfully says he wants to be loved- which depending on interpretation can either further his madness or make him seem slightly sympathetic (not much though- he still completely lives up to the film’s title in both the American and Psychotic respects). The soundtrack also adds brilliantly to the sense of place the book sets up and uses pop culture references for similar advantage.

Holes

holes film 

A cleverly balanced well linked genre mashup from Louis Sachar. It’s got magic realism, western vibes, and black comedy. The plot is well known, it seemed to be studied in a lot of UK schools in the last 10 years , and probably was a lot in it’s origin country of America too. The story is of Stanley Yelnats, an unlucky child who’s sent to a juvenile correctional facility where he has to dig holes after a miscarriage of justice. There are plenty of other subplots, all of which are incredibly relevant to the central narrative and often to one another – like a detective novel would except it’s not about a detective. The film follows the Novel very closely and transposes the historical passages in a fluid way that could have easily seemed muddled if in the care of less professional creative teams.

holes bookThe clips about Stanley’s family history are well introduced too, giving the job of exposition to his grandfather (a virtually new character) since there’s no third person narrator to tell us what’s going on.  The tiny details that are left out give the story a better flow, some of the changed details are practical to the new medium. For example, Stanley is thin from the start here since it was difficult for an actor to achieve such drastic weight loss over the space of a film, but the rest of his character doesn’t suffer. Other chances actually add a greater sense of drama and allow a more succinct narrative flow (the changes in Kissin’ Kate Barlow’s story, subtle as they are actually add a greater sense of impact) .The cast are well fitted to their roles and do great justice to the book’s characters. In general this adaptation should please most if not all fans of Louis Sachar’s novel and even audience’s members who are unfamiliar.

Of Mice and Men

of mice and men film

Appropriately John Steinbeck’s character Drama set in the Great Depression leaves readers feeling exactly that emotion.  The film is every bit as effective in emotional impact – thanks in no small part to John Malkovich’s performance as Lennie , which stands out for being both convincing and sensitive.

Of Mice And Men The story of two men coming to find work in a Soledad ranch after escaping false persecution results in seemingly simple but in fact multi-facetted storytelling that the film is able to live up to in spite of a drastic medium chance. The film allows very few alterations from the source material- a move that here works hugely in their favour. It’s not just Malkovich who delivers in his role though, Sinise and all other actors give believable and understated performances and the mood and setting is impeccably captured. There is a slight extension to the ending which adds to the feeling of hopelessness and arguably results in a more complete story while the opening scenes artistically captures a scene that isn’t mentioned until later in the book to add a sense of suspense that is perfectly suited to a story such as this one. We’ll never know what Steinbeck thinks but if I’d written the book I’d be incredibly satisfied with a film adaptation of this calibre.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Muppet christmas carol

Yes I know, doesn’t seem like the most obvious inclusion for a list of flattering adaptations. But to be honest, ignore the Muppet’s meta comedic flavouring and the story is fairly unchanged. The Muppets who were chosen to appear perfectly fit their Dickensian counterparts, the inclusion of a narrator allows some of the most poetic and amusing lines from the book to remain (few completely serious Christmas Carol adaptations quote the book as much as this one). Michael Caine stands out as one of the best Scrooge’s, since some performers think just because Scrooge is old and grumpy, he needs to cackle and dramatically contort his head like a mad scientist in a Saturday morning cartoon .

a christmas carolCaine plays him much more in the vein of what unhappy elderly misanthropes appear to generally be like in real life and did an even better job when it’s considered he was mainly interacting with goofy puppets that don’t even attempt to look or be human. The songs are infectious the seriousness of certain scenes is surprisingly well handled given the undeniably humorous concept they had to work around. Dickens’ complex and endearing moral tale is well served in this one.

The Great Gatsby

great gatsby film.png 

F Scott Fitzgerald’s romantic Jazz age tragedy is perfectly enlivened by Baz Lhurman’s input. Due to Lhurman’s grip on Quasi absurdity the heightened hedonistic reality that forever suggests discord is perfectly transitioned into this piece, the narration is cleverly interjected, and the artistically dramatic filming tricks are all appropriately placed. True, Daisy’s hair colour is changed but this is totally inscosequencial. Also Nick Caraway’s relationship with Jordan Baker is reduced but in a way that arguably streamlines the story and gives a sense of focus that films, which have got less time to tell stories, generally need.

The Great GatsbyThe characters are played well enough that Fitzgerald attempts for empathy or de empathy are felt and all the important information is left in. Several of the scenes that involve intensity are so powerfully transferred from page. While the casually engaging language and scene building of the book is still worth being experienced, the film is a perfect for people who  vare interested in learning the story but aren’t sure they’re willing to read the novel.

Fair Films Arguable Adaptations

 

Films considered good in personal option or through critical/commercial success that for whatever reason don’t use the potential their source material offers. Some exclude important details, some change major plot points etc. If anybody can think of films that didn’t get mentioned here they think deserved to be,  or even disagree with list items, feel free to comment.

I’m not an expert on every single listed book , but with all of them I at least know enough to acknowledge things that could’ve done well in film.

Listed in film release order, this  is Generally spoiler free APART FROM vague reveals in the Animal Farm and Hunchback of Notre Dame Sections. Went all out with Wizard of Oz; not sure spoilers exist since even the Dinosaurs used to say how old that film was.

wizard of the oz

  1. The Wizard Of Oz – L Frank Baum (Technically The WONDERFUL Wizard of Oz)

Arguably one the most acclaimed films of all time. This summary won’t deny it has strength even if by now it’s slightly overrated.

 But after reading (ummm listening to) the book the film seems full of missed opportunities . Not only does the film dismiss all of the events as a possible dream (in Baum’s novel Dorothy’s experiences in Oz were genuine) undermining a huge portion of what’s been shown so far, the film also oversimplifies the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.

tin manIn the book the Tin man was established to have previously been a munchkin named Nick Chopper, whose axe was enchanted due to a bargain between a witch and a munchkin woman who didn’t wish for him to marry his betrothed. The axe chopped off parts of his body, so he consulted a tinsmith to gain prosthetics until he was entirely crafted from them. While showing this in a family film would naturally be ill advised, a passing reference to the events even if slightly revised to appear less sinister, would’ve added character depth and made for a stronger established universe. Still, seems odd that he didn’t just buy a new axe or apply for a different career after the first few amputations – maybe it’s him who needs brains rather than Scarecrow.

Additionally The Tin Man actually battled in the book, being soft hearted until an innocent life was endangered, at which point he went into full chopping action…or should that be… Axe-tion mode (sorry). His film parallel spends his time either standing still or crying…or when he’s feeling really adventurous, both. 

cowardly geezerThe Cowardly Lion gets similar treatment. In the book, he too often displays strength and formidability when necessary. At one point he decapitates a giant spider! Although it’s understandable why this isn’t onscreen, it seems misguided to remove ALL of his usefulness. A point was constantly made in the book that despite of being terrified throughout the journey , he actively decided to partake and even save the lives of other friends- ironically making him the bravest of the group , constantly choosing to face fears. In the film, the lion’s involvement in the journey isn’t always voluntarily; he’s often physically forced to join the party by the Scarecrow and the Tin man, so he’s not that brave .This causes further issues with Tin Man– dragging a frightened creature into situations they clearly don’t want or even need to be in actually seems heartless. This is something conveniently absent from the Wizard’s discussion of Tin man’s kindness. Although, since he cons people into thinking he’s powerful and sends a child off to kill a witch he’s morally warped himself . In essence, the darkness of the book, as well as the depth of character, sense of place (and the fact it actually was a place in-story) were so vital in Baum’s novel that producing a film that omitted or changed these details was an….interesting choice. Even more confusingly, the book wasn’t that known at the time of filming so associating the film with the book via title wouldn’t have even necessarily attracted crowds.

 

animal farm

2. Animal Farm-George Orwell

The artwork and pacing is fairly impressive and it feels surprisingly un-dated for a 1954 feature. Ok now the praise is over let’s say why it’s actually crap- ok maybe an exaggeration, anything for the bants. A short film, this’ll be a short summary. In general the plot stays faithful to Orwell’s triumphant text, but Like I am Legend the ending is entirely at odds with the novel’s whole message.

PrintTo elucidate; Orwell’s ending:  Soz. Bad guys win sometimes. Film Ending: Good guys seem to win. This isn’t fully justified by child friendly intentions, since the film was originally released as X rated so never aimed at children (U on DVD these days – how times change). More irritatingly, the end would be satisfying in any other context, but in the context of an adaptation it’s devaluing. Orwell’s ending was also surreally chilling and captured the bleak nature of the book overall. As well as this change, many important character arcs are removed (Molly to name but one) or simplified e.g. Benjamin the Donkey- who’s role as a neutral was important- is the closest thing to a conventional hero the film has. In heroising the character he’s also made more boring; outside of his one act that labels him heroically he’s given no personality- losing his sarcastic charm. It’s generally possible that this personality change was done in desire of a more mainstream narrative – but when adapting a Novel on the Russian Revolution with farm animals, it’s probably too late already.

hunchback

3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Victor Hugo

Far and away one of the best entries in the Disney Animated Canon, which is some achievement. Artwork is fantastic, Songs are exceptionally written and performed, and the majority of characters are well rounded or at least expertly voiced. The one major issue is that the narrative is almost completely different to Victor Hugo’s Novel Notre Dame De Paris. Listing all the differences individually would make this a longer read than the book itself, so let’s just go for a few highlights. One surprising detail is that Phoebus is actually a villain in the book and there was no conventional love interest for Esmeralda- maybe forgivable, they don’t need more than one villain. They also remove the bumbling poet Gringoire, whose awkwardness and lack of poetic skills show missed opportunities to use a comical Disney sidekick who’s involvement actually makes sense (Unlike the gargoyles- who I’ll talk about later).

Quasimodo of the film starts out basically incorruptibly innocent and the years he’s spent alone don’t entirely effect how he speaks to others, he’s slightly shy and very insecure but basically copes fine in conversations when given chance. Allowing him slightly more social ineptitude would’ve suited a film this dark . It also would’ve allowed his more violent acts towards the film’s end, such as him pouring boiling oil onto guards seem less uncharacteristic.  He also kills Frollo in the Book- which would’ve been a more satisfying film end. Also, after trying to burn strangers to death- killing his 20 yearlong abuser wouldn’t be crossing a moral line.

Also while there’s plenty of character depth overall; Film Frollo is simplified. Book Frollo begins as a genuinely good person who’s driven mad by lust and through desperation commits unsavoury acts that he feels actual guilt about- supposedly showing how a completely celibate man of the church would react to the previous alien feeling of sexual desire. Here, the first things he does is kill a woman and then prepare to kill her baby; so was never winning the audiences hearts. Disney probably didn’t want the distinction between good and bad forces to be too complicated in a film for kids but Surely you also wouldn’t ideally want a villain with mass genocidal intent and the hero getting tied up and flogged just because of his deformity in a film for kids either. In general, Frollo’s increased villainy negates the usually justified argument that the changes were made to lighten the content.

Furthermore, the idea of the characters being either clearly good or clearly bad goes out the window thanks to Clopin. On one hand, he was happy with the prospect of hanging Quasimodo and Phoebus (sure he thought they were spies but this doesn’t automatically mean he should enjoy committing murder) but at the same time – sympathises with Quasimodo any time he’s narrating. His puppet collection doesn’t help clarify which side he’s more inclined to.  Arguably, his actions both ways are too extreme to make a complex character and instead create a confusing one.

hunchback my friendAnnoyingly, a passage in the Novel sates how the monsters of Notre Dame are considered friends by the lonely Quasimodo. It might not seem like it from what I’ll say next but I genuinely like the Gargoyles.  I always appreciate their type of behaviour from side characters. Establishing them as imaginary friends however, would show what years of loneliness can do in a subtle and child friendly way. Also, the imaginary factor would cleverly reference the Book. The film’s last scene though, where the Gargoyles use a catapult and one drops a brick on a guard’s head prove they’re really; alive introducing unexplained magic in a film that’s otherwise magic free, excluding parlour tricks. I remember the brick thing because it seemed to be on every trailer on every video ever- sometimes on trailers for other films (Ok, that’s a lie). This stands out as one of the few times magic realism was a bad move, since it detracts from the more realistic threats and issues the film offers.  No serious or faithful modernisation of this book will ever be made – mainly because Book Quasimodo’s bell covered red and purple coat, wherever he got it from, would be enough to prevent social ostracism and would earn him mad followers on Instagram.

·         Video here to prove Gargoyles existence and Quasi’s boiling oil business – side note; at 0:32 : HOW IS PHOEBUS THAT STRONG. HE’S NOT A SUPERHERO

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

4. I know what You Did Last Summer – Lois Duncan

A really enjoyable film when accepted as the typical slasher it wanted to be. The film is fairly known at least by title but by now the book’s been totally forgotten- and possibly was even when the film came out. I know a lot of people will be surprised to find out there’s a book at all– and I only found out about it a week ago (about a week agoo week ago), but when I read the plot in detail I was disappointed it wasn’t the one used.

WATCHA DO LAST SUMMER BOI.png What comes from the film is standard slasher thrills. Given the source what could’ve come from the film was gripping character drama endless suspense and clever horror potential. What’s also good is there’s still death- well, that’s not GOOD generally, but from a dark storytelling point- so there’d still be a chance to explore the slasher side of cinema without going far from the source- and adding in extra depth while it’s available. In the book, the hit and run still happens (only this time it’s a child who’s the victim) but the antagonist has an entirely different identity, a debatably stronger motive and the reveal sounds more powerful. While there’s nothing wrong with a good slasher – if the accidental murder that gives the plot its drive (that wasn’t wordplay based on the car crash- legit’ accidental when first written) was altered slightly and names were changed, the filmmakers would’ve had a completely original story. It’s actually surprising this didn’t happen somewhere during production. Even more than with The Wizard of Oz , the book is so obscure the title alone wouldn’t mean a lot to audiences.

everything is illuminated innit boiz

5. Everything Is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer

Probably the least known title here, which is saddening because the book’s a work of genius. It’s also the best adapted film on the list, falling short on very few, but very important, points.

The plot concerns Alex and Jonathan, the former an English language Graduate From Russia the latter a more strait-laced aspiring author from America. Alex is hired as Jonathan’s translator on a Ukrainian trip focused on Jonathan’s genealogy.

Alex’s hilarious conversational hyperactive broken English commentary makes him the books best narrator and the film’s…..narrator. Yes that’s right ,just the film’s narrator- they only went and reduced the narrator count didn’t they? .What makes this frustrating is the Book’s other narrator is Jonathan, who’s constantly onscreen. He has to be there, otherwise it’d just be Alex saying words, some of which might fit together. The removal of Jonathan’s narration means that MANY EVENTS HE REPORTS GO UNMENTIONED. While removing some was wise (His grandfather’s premature sex-life was needlessly weird) almost every other passage is vital or at least gives sense of place and history. Several (fictional) historical sections of the book were devoted to Jonathan’s grandparents’ relationship, which it seems especially bizarre to remove these since they form almost the ENTIRE PURPOSE OF THE TRIP THE FILM’S BASED AROUND. Showing clips of the past would further prove the film’s skill to balance comedy and drama, which is also paramount to the book. At least the present day narrative, or the only day narrative in the films case, remains unadulterated….for about half of the film. It gets to a certain point and Alex’s grandfather’s backstory undergoes unwelcome but forgivable changes that decreases the novel’s devotion to guilt and how good people lived in bad situations (WW2).

JONANTHAN SAFRAN FOERAlex’s own story is slightly simplified; far from the worst change, but Book Alex’s sexual boasts are lies to appear an absolute playa- in the film they’re true and he just is an absolute playa. This change is simple but surprisingly large (chill, it’s not a huge spoiler).  This is a well-acted, well paced, thoroughly enjoyable piece of cinema. This being said, the extreme distillation (which removes all of the fantasy- therefore removes a genre) proves that sometimes details that are left out can be problematic.

you abso legend

6. I am Legend -Richard Matheson

My least favourite film in this assortment, Will Smith is solid but, save for a few scenes; it’s ridiculously slow. In spite of this, the film is generally acclaimed and the acting saves it from being entirely forgettable. Basically though, the only thing both works share is the title.

Book Neville has a rival in the form of his infected neighbour who still retains most of his intelligence and their conflict drives several points of the novel, a relationship that would’ve been worth translating to screen for slightly more focused conflict. There’s a passage in the book that explains how Neville is immune to the infection that drives the plot which the film leaves out- which I just don’t get, you’d think that’d be important.

im legend i am buttThe main issue is the ending, which basically destroys the novel’s entire purpose. The novel uses a complicated conclusion that sheds new light on the vampires (although if it’s sunlight they’re probably not glad of it Hahaha Hahaha….ah. I’ll move on now) and cleverly and effectively deconstructs the typical survival horror narrative in a way that could still be striking even now. Annoyingly the original novel ending shows serious cinematic potential, it’s also incredibly deep and thought provoking, characteristics the film clearly aimed for.  A more faithful ending was filmed and ‘tested poorly’, some of it can be watched here. Even so ,the new ending is an unsatisfying replacement that makes the whole film a more boring version of every post-apocalyptic horror story ever made…ever.


 

Animated Series’ Needing Remakes

 

 

Considering the 2010’s appear to be the age of reboots, a list of non-cinematic works with reboot potential has been (badly) compiled here. This list focuses solely on Western animated series ostensibly made for children. A similar list that focuses on animation not originally broadcast in the English language e.g. anime is an objective for a future list.

Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers 

chip n dale

Sometimes some crimes go slipping through the cracks- the same thing happens sometimes to animated series’ developed by Disney utilising some of their earliest original characters, but that’s not a catchy opening theme song line and possibly too meta. Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers brought new life (and clothes) to characters originally created back in 1941 (without clothes) but in more recent years have once again arguably faded into obscurity , at least compared to other original Walt Disney animal companions- unfairly too, given both have a lot more personality than Mickey Mouse ever seems to be given. The central team was allegedly formed after a friend of the principal cast, a dog, was framed and falsely arrested. The adventurous and light hearted tone of the series, as well as the fact a Duck Tales reboot is well on the way warrants a remake. Modern technology could greatly assist or possibly even hinder the procedures carried out by the titular duo . This being said, if a live action remake is issued, society will finally discover what staring into the abyss feels like. Aside from a well-balanced cast of central Rangers, the series employed an infectious pop-rock power ballad theme song.

The Adventures of the Gummi Bears

gummi bears

Another outing from Disney, this one with an even more enjoyable theme song- which the writer of this post doesn’t know the lyrics to because he’s not that sad (Plot twist: He does and he is). The series focused on a group of technicoloured forest dwelling bears and their protection of humans against an impressive rogue’s gallery with occasional help from an enchanted potion known as Gummi berry juice that gave them bouncing capabilities. Anyone who finds this premise ridiculous is probably not familiar with the Children’s Cartoons of today, compared to which this show is basically documentary level realism. A wide cast of generally well defined characters is offered by the series as well as a Medieval inspired high fantasy setting that viewers continue to enjoy today (mainly in the form of Game of Thrones which admittedly probably draws in a different crowd to The Adventures of the Gummi bears). In spite of a wide cast of heroes the rogues gallery was admittedly modest in comparison, and according to the popularity of several minor characters, even some of the heroic character were underused. These minor issues could easily be solved in a newer adaptation, and progress in animation could allow for a more vivid colour pallet. A newer series could occasionally delve into slightly darker territory, adding more genuine threat to central villain Igthorn’s characterisation, who’s potential for occasional formidability was arguably wasted at times. If a remake is developed, and should the cast of the titular creatures reduce as the series progresses, we can only blame our fondness for jelly based sweets.

MASK

MASK

They’re masked crusaders, they work overtime and they fight crime; Plot points I discovered through extensive research and not just from the first few seconds of the theme song on YouTube (Plot twist: exactly how I found out). These very few simple and vague details are reason enough for the show to deserve a reboot- Superhero media, particularly team affiliations, are hugely popular and Disney X D have shown in many of their series’ (mainly The Ultimate Spider-Man) that they can effectively manage comedy drama excitement and the faithfulness to source material that superhero series’ urgently need- making the channel a perfect candidate to show the series. The show boasted a wide range of characters (None of whom had green faces or wore yellow zoot suits) and truly unique costume design that would look even more impressive today (the image above is from the spinoff comic series but still gives a good stylistic idea). A fresh start would also allow more opportunity for the antagonist VENOM- who are not symbiotes- to display actual threat, and to avoid being reduced to idiocy after a few episodes. A subplot showing at least one member of the crew constantly getting fired from their regular jobs due to their tendency to leave their workplace when summoned by the team would be highly welcome.

Butt Ugly Martians

butt_ugly_martians

If anyone not only reads this but also thinks ‘I used to watch them! I’ll have to look for some of the episodes now’ then let it be known I tried warning you. The series does NOT hold up. The general scenario allows a lot of potential- Aliens who were sent to destroy earth become obsessed with American Culture so simply deceive their home planet superiors into believing they’re causing havoc. The style and movement is painful and the voice acting is occasionally grating or phoned in (not that virtuoso performances should be expected from a series that’s title references the derriere) additionally some of the scripts are incredibly lacklustre even for a series clearly aimed at children . These are problems a contemporary take on the series could solve- and the technology exists now to create captivating machine driven fight scenes that the original series seemed to yearn for (The suits above, activate when in “Butt Kicking Mode” were among the series’ aesthetic saving graces). There were some incredibly promising ideas mainly in the form of otherworldly threats sent to Earth ,including the Gorgon ,that it would be a shame not to revive. You should definitely listen to the theme tune, it definitely won’t get stuck in your head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYlc4T8dxqA

Penny Crayon

penners crayers

The first British series to feature on this list. The premise was simple enough- Penny  is a young aspiring artist who’s drawings often magically come to life, aiding her and her idiotic friend Dennis, who’s constantly telling her in the campest possible voice how clever she is. This scenario offers endless amounts of storytelling freedom and allows the characters to literally partake in world building. It’s unusual that of all the things Penny is able to bring into existence through art, the theme tune insists on letting us know this includes fish and chips on a plate…as if that’s the making of an exciting story. The premise still functions in a modern setting seeing as drawing is still one of the few activities that isn’t usually done electronically (for now) . Ironically considering the show focused on the power of art, the actual artwork was sometimes over simplistic and charmless, something that modern animation studios could rectify, Su Pollard’s casting as the eponymous character also caused some unsuited vocals, a true challenge for anyone in charge of a remake would be casting a voice that sound both age appropriate and not irritating.

BraveStarr

bravestarr.jpg

For years I struggled to remember the name of an animated series with a Native American hero who was mentored by an older shaman who may or may not have been his father- but didn’t have enough info for it to be worth trying a google search. After giving up hope on ever finding out what that vaguely remembered series was I accidentally came across the theme tune for BraveStarr, which may or may not have been the very series I was trying to find. BraveStarr is an animated series with a native American hero who is occasionally mentored by an older shaman who may or may not have been his father (he definitely wasn’t- don’t think he was ever even implied to be, that detail was just down to false memory) . More annotation; BraveStarr is set in the future on a planet where the Wild West apparently never went out of fashion- or possibly out then back in much like Christmas jumpers and vinyl’s on our planet. There are mystical elements as well, the shaman is naturally shown to possess magical powers and the villain seems to be a supernatural creature of some kind. It’s fair to say while there are still fairly recent examples of Western Films , the genre is basically underexplored in mainstream children’s cartoon series’ today, for this reason – and for the existence of Thirty-Thirty, BraveStarr’s occasionally bipedal anthropomorphic gun toting horse with CYNERNETIC ENHANCEMENTS- BraveStarr would be likely to draw in a fairly large audience even for the novelty value alone. In fairness, even adults who say they aren’t mildly impressed by the idea of Thirty-Thirty probably aren’t to be fully trusted. Hopefully not many TV companies would be opposed to commissioning a Space Western series- however after the treatment of Firefly it’s safe to say that if any company were to be sceptical, it’d be FOX.

Jem and the Holograms

jem holograms.jpg

This series was actually recently adapted into a live action film, but it’s original animated form, which it probably functions better under, hasn’t been explored since 1988. The one which has an opening where the lead characters sings something along the lines of ‘ooo me and my friends in a band la la la and we spend a lot of time with each other doing various things la la la’ – well, not quite like that. In more detail- Jerrica/Jem and her glam 80’s Girl Band that includes her younger sister partake in several  adventures. Through the use of a holographic device invented by her father, Jerrica transforms into her pink haired alias. The technology reliant altered ego trope is proving consistently popular in the media (Iron man, The Power Rangers reboot, some other example that I can’t think of, the list goes on.). The musical element of the series and use of original music videos adds an extra degree of inventiveness and an opportunity for experimental artistry. The characters, limitless plotlines and genre fusions that allows exploration of various themes–including a complicated case of adultery that would either need to be addressed as negative or cut in a newer interpretation. Hilariously, the rival band of the Holograms were named The Misfits, asking the current line-up of the same-named Horror Punk if they’d be interested in cameoing would surely be worth trying . Yet another example of a series on this list that would be in need of solidified and texture animation . Also, more fluid movements would lend themselves to the music numbers. Staying close to the fashion of the original series is essential in this case, the showcasing of the eccentric styles of the 80s is in hindsight a major plus point of the show and could be used as a genre throwback gimmick. P.S the song in the link below is one that expert level musical analysts would call ‘An Absolute Banger’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEWWVYy9zeo

Oakie Doke

oakie doke cast

 A sadly often overlooked Series from Cosgrove hall, aimed at a very young audience, this therapeutic woodland fantasy focused on Oakie Doke, a green semi acorn semi human creature who attempted to aid other forest residents. As with several of the other shows on this list, Oakie Doke provided a large number of regular characters – most memorably two scouse accented frog brothers named Neptune and Moses. In spite of the use of talking animals and an acorn man as the lead, the themes of episodes were generally grounded and many of the issues, if slightly tweaked, could conceivably occur in a series with a more mundane setting. Although recent remakes of Children’s show such as the reboot Noddy The Toyland Detective use modern technology, this would perhaps be best avoided in Oakie Doke given that the forest setting already causes the characters to be removed from civilisation and wouldn’t allow for good signal (although on the bright side, in the event of technology being used the line in the opening about crossing the Dell could be used as a reference to the computer company). Another misstep in a remake would be using 3d graphics to allow for a polished clearly CGI look, using CGI to emulate the stop motion style of the original would be the ideal approach to style, as without this aesthetic the series would lose a lot of its original charm.

The Jetsons

the jetsons family

One of several iconic series’ by Hannah Barbera, alongside classic like Whacky Races and Top Cat.  The Jetsons are a typical wholesome 50-60s sitcom family living in an idealistic future where the standard work hours are only two per week and robot servants and flying vehicles are commonplace. While there is a 2017 film is released that links the eponymous family to WWE wrestling (honestly- it’s also been done with Scooby Doo) this isn’t a direct adaptation of the original series but seems a semi continuation rather than an actual fully concentrated retool. There is a clear market for comedic sci-fi features as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and countless other works have proven. Additionally, children’s TV features very few cartoons in full and ultimately traditional domesticated settings- series such as The Amazing World of Gumball (a complete and utter masterpiece in its own right) does indeed features a family unit, but is not dependant on this feature, instead defined by endless levels of absurdness and limitless adventure. The Jetson’s approach to whimsy, which allows Science Fiction to simply flavour an otherwise once fairly typical Domcom rather than consume it, would be refreshing in this current age of Children’s animation.

Pocket Dragon Adventures

pocket dragon adv

Small endearing mythical creatures? Check. Small endearing mythical creatures with discrete physical characteristics to tell them apart? Check. Small endearing mythical creatures each with their own solidly defined personas? Check. In a series almost always referred to as Pocket Dragons, a good portion of people in their very late teens to very mid 20s in the UK seem to vaguely remember the basic appearance of these characters. Makes sense, the series was broadcast on BBC in spite of being an American/Canadian production. Beyond the aforementioned basic appearance, little about this series seems to be remembered. Like BraveStarr this series combines historical ideas with futuristic ones – Sci-fi elements are occasionally present in this otherwise purely mystical, if vaguely surreal, medieval setting. The vast variety of species’ that stretches from miniature Dragons to…. Dragons who weren’t miniature. Other features included Wizards Gnomes and Malicious Vermin, providing even enough range to possibly keep teenagers entertained. For fans of the more absurd animation that rules Cartoon Network and to a lesser extent Nickelodeon and Disney X D these days there were sporadic bouts of bizarreness that were kept under control to avoid devaluation. Also, as it hasn’t been mentioned before, the show featured small endearing mythical creatures.

First blog post

My Interests are very limited , so I’ll be using incredibly specific category titles to justify repeatedly discussing the same things. Now that I’ve admitted to it, people will definitely notice. It’s classic loophole abuse, much like wearing black and constantly standing in completely black rooms instead of losing weight. Been trying to abuse loopholes since 1995- where I decided to be born a male in order to dress as Harley Quinn for Halloween some 21 years later and not look like I was copying everyone else (a lot less male Harley’s around). This will mainly be a blog about listing items of popular culture. The use of listing is perhaps the one area in which I’m really suffering from my lack of a maths GCSE.