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Friday July 5, 2013, at 1:23 am

Adaptions and Changes

With video games like Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect(at least until a certain point), and many other video games finally really nailing story the reaction of many people is that this would make a good movie. The same is of course true of many comic books, novels and even TV shows. And to be fair there have been good adaptations made from all of these (though I’m at a loss for a good video game adaptation off the top of my head) but the best adaptations are those that take the core ideas and feel from one of these genres and move it into another, because while there are core aspects of story that are true in every media they are fundamentally different and it is vital for people to understand that.

That is why, in my opinion, the Avengers worked far better as a movie than Watchmen. Watchmen wasn’t bad, but it wanted to be the comic book more than it wanted to be its own movie. This is especially common in comic book movies because people want to see the iconic images that are in the comics on screen and since the images exist there is less room for variation in a strict adaptation. And Watchmen had an even harder time because it was extremely popular and tightly written which gave it far less room to adjust things for the big screen, while the Avengers had a director who understood both media very well and understood how to adapt one to the other already.bioshock-infinate-cover

Going back to Bioshock Infinite, there is no doubt that there is enough story here for a movie, and I could certainly see someone making a very good movie out of this game, that said, this is a story that was created for a video game and works far better in that video game.  It let you really feel what it is like to be the main character of the story and was able to very slowly trickle out both information and clues as to what was happening. It even managed to work character deaths into the narrative in a way that improved the story rather than simply throwing in an excuse for why you come back.  The depth of the plot and ideas are also perfect for a video game that holds your attention both considerably longer and more in depth than a movie will because you’re actually involved in the story.  A movie that wants a broad audience is either going to ignore large parts of the story of Bioshock infinite or make it far simpler, and in this case it won’t even be because the movie makers think that the people watching the movie are stupid. It’s because there is a lot going on and you can’t make a two hour movie and have thirty minutes of it explaining the science and then spend at least another 15 minutes explaining the plot twists. You have to actually have time for things like character development and even a little bit of action.

The biggest issue for many people is books, and I admit this can be an issue for me too. I’m a bit scared about the new Ender’s Game movie because I’m not convinced they are going to be able to capture the book and I’m already hearing complaints about how the next movie in The Hobbit trilogy isn’t going to be accurate to the book. This is even correct sometimes when a movie fails to explain an important point or changes a point in a book which creates plot holes and issues in the story. For example it’s hard to imagine many of the points in Ender’s Game working with older children. Without spoiling it is hard to explain the exact reasons, but in essence older kids, especially very smart ones, are less likely to believe everything they are told. But in the end they are two very different forms of media. A book like Ender’s Game can have a dozen or more characters under the age of 12 without all that many issues while this is going to be far more difficult for a movie that has to deal with school, labor laws and the normal issues of kids.


In the end the simple answer for any book or story changing from one media to another is that you still have the original. If you don’t like the changes in the Hobbit then the good news is that no one is stopping you from reading it and because it’s a good book the movie isn’t going to do much beside perhaps effecting the way the characters look and sound in your mind, and in general the casting wasn’t bad. The same is true of Watchmen. Don’t like the end of the movie then read the comic book. In fact in many cases it’s the need to stick with things too exactly that are most distracting and problematic because it spoils the ending for everyone who has read it and often forces itself into situations that don’t work well for the media they are in. This is why it is often easier to get excited over The Walking Dead than a direct adaption. They have kept most of the feeling of the books while changing enough that having read all of the comics you still can’t be certain what is going to happen. So in the end try to remember that there are good reasons to change a great story when changing media and to quote a wise man ‘just repeat to yourself it’s just a show I should really just relax.”


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