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Hey, for the Sequel, Let's Pretend It's Based on the Song by Third Eye Blind! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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February 13th, 2008


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10:39 pm - Hey, for the Sequel, Let's Pretend It's Based on the Song by Third Eye Blind!
One day when I was a teenager spending a summer in San Francisco, I was in the San Francisco Public Library. At that age, I was a voracious reader but didn't really have the right friends. I had no idea what I was "supposed" to read. Instead, I perused the stacks and picked out books that looked interesting and read them if the blurb made them sound worth reading.

This was how I discovered Jumper, one of my very favorite books. Jumper was about a boy who could teleport, and for an escapist like me, that was a perfect story. I re-read the book years later and still loved it. I was extremely excited to even see it in a used bookstore.

You can imagine, then, how freaking ecstatic I was to hear they were making a movie of one of my favorite books! Not only that, it was going to be directed by Doug Liman, who made Go, one of my favorite movies!

Then, on August 6, 2007, I saw the official website.

What? What? WHAT?

I went to IMDb to see the plot synopsis:
A genetic anomaly allows a young man to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between "Jumpers" and those who have sworn to kill them.
The part in bold? IS COMPLETELY MADE UP AND HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO AT ALL WITH THE BOOK OR ITS SEQUEL. In the book, Davy is the only one, and that's part of the fucking point. There are no fucking Paladins or whatever; that's not the kind of book it is. The book is about Davy growing up. Dealing with his abusive father. Looking for his mother. Bagging a hot chick. He has some teleportation adventures, and it's great. I highly recommend you read it. Reflex is also good.

I watched the first trailer with trepidation. It...looked cool enough, with the teleporting. They appeared to have kept the same names for the characters. Aaaaand there was this random other Jumper who could fucking teleport cars or some shit, which would not be possible the way teleportation works in the book.

So when I was given the chance to see a free preview of the movie, I at least knew not to expect an actual adaptation of my book. I knew that it would be very different, given that the basic premise of the movie was original.

Hilariously, the movie is even more different than I expected! The only character that remained relatively close to the book was Davy's father, who was alcoholic and ill-tempered but could have stood to be more obviously abusive. Because, for fuck's sake, that's kind of the most important thing about him in the book. They changed Millie from a girl Davy randomly meets to a girl he always had a crush on in school. And Davy, the goddamn protagonist, comes off as a smug jerk from his opening lines, plus they aged him up from seventeen to early twenties. And don't even get me started on Davy's mom.

As for the new characters? Samuel L. Jackson looks ridiculous, and his character is totally one-dimensional. Thankfully, Jamie Bell kind of steals the movie as Griffin, the roguish Jumper with a penchant for teleporting vehicles. He's totally the best part of the movie. Honorable mention goes to Rachel Bilson's breasts. (Okay, one other note: about the only thing they got pretty right was the relationship between Davy and his father, which even arbitrarium, who knew next to nothing about the movie and even less about the book, thought was "heartbreaking.")

And oh my God! You guys, TEDDY DUNN LEARNED HOW TO ACT! It's pretty impressive. He has a small role, but I actually had to convince myself it was really him and they hadn't just recast with someone who looked like him. I think it's the facial hair. He always seems to put in a better performance when he has facial hair.

The teleportation effects were neat, I'll admit, and it's certainly a lot of fun to see characters jumping from place to place, even though it's often sort of confusing. Sometimes Doug Liman just swings the camera around wildly and hopes you understand what's going on.

Really, though, the movie is kind of maddeningly generic and Hollywood, and it's obviously setting up for their trilogy (EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE ONLY TWO BOOKS), since nothing really gets resolved. (There were some boos at the end.) It's more like an introduction, and a mildly diverting one at that. It wasn't completely awful, but it wasn't amazing or anything. Just a decent flick with some fun teleportation stuff. But I could actually enjoy the movie on its own merits because it had nothing to do with the book. It had as much in common with the book as The Lost World does. I am not exaggerating when I say that not more than 10% of the book made it into the movie. Maybe less. I came up with six things they took from the book. Six. And that's being generous and not subtracting points for using something but changing it. arbitrarium said it was like an AU, which would be a better interpretation if Steven Gould weren't going along with this bullshit and writing a book about Griffin (and, presumably, the fucking Paladins).

After the movie, I could fully rant to arbitrarium about how different it was from the book. A woman heard me, and the following hilarious conversation occurred:

"You've read the book? Does it explain more about the Paladins?"
"THERE ARE NO PALADINS!!!"
"There are no Paladins? Then who's hunting them?"
"THERE'S NO THEM!!!!"

I had a whole group of people around me now, totally baffled that the two biggest plots points in the movie did not appear in the book at all. I described what the book was like, and a guy said, "That sounds like it would make a good movie!"

Yes, it would, dude. Yes, it would. And now no one can make it. Thanks a lot, Hollywood.
Current Mood: bitchybitchy
Current Music: Interpol - Length of Love

(77 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:miniglik
Date:February 14th, 2008 06:46 am (UTC)
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And now no one can make it.

Aw. Way to make me sad.

Also, I THRICE pasted the "how they die" teletubbies fic URL into this reply instead of the above text. I lose at life.


However, as a big fan of the Dean Koontz book Watchers, which was made into THREE UNRELATED movies... you may have a chance of getting it remade into ANOTHER UNRELATED crappy movie. Whee!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 06:48 am (UTC)
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Whee!!
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From:sabra_n
Date:February 14th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC)
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Woah! I thought Teddy Dunn retired or went back to school or something post-VM.

-blue
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From:wordsleadmeon
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:07 am (UTC)
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And oh my God! You guys, TEDDY DUNN LEARNED HOW TO ACT!

He did? Colour me completely amazed and impressed. I might have to watch it when it hits the movie channels just to witness that.

And on that note, I'm sorry Hollywood completely butchered your beloved book. I swear, there should be rules that state novelists have to approve the scripts when they do 'adaptations' because there are times where things come off as completely different stories with the same name and destroy my soul.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
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I feel like I at least got a better deal than the Dark Is Rising fans because from what I could tell, that movie was like a really warped version of the same basic story. At least this movie was a completely different story altogether. Easier to differentiate.

And I'm baffled because, like I said, Steven Gould wrote a tie-in book about the new character, even though all that shit doesn't fit in with the canon of the two books at all. So I guess he "approves" in some way, but I can't imagine why. Lots of dollar signs?
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From:cerulgalactus
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:10 am (UTC)
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I didn't even know it was a book, nor that they butchered it as bad as you said.

Now I'm a wee bit reticent to see it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:22 am (UTC)
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I don't even know that you could call it butchering so much as...ignoring. I'm serious, it's hilarious how little the movie has to do with the book. And it's such a great book.
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From:r_a_l_i_g_h
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:16 am (UTC)
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I described what the book was like, and a guy said, "That sounds like it would make a good movie!"

Yes, it would, dude. Yes, it would. And now no one can make it. Thanks a lot, Hollywood.


Oh, I have been in that position so, so, SO many times. I feel your pain. I completely understand and approve the ALL-CAPSLOCK reactions of indignation (even if I've never read/seen the particular book/movie in question. Because I have been there.

In fact, I wasn't even in high school yet when my parents laid down the law that I was not allowed to make any comment along the lines of "That's not the way it happened..." or "But in the BOOK..." Unless specifically asked direct questions by other people.

Now, over the years, I've found a few movies that are adequate or even exceptionally good adaptations to the silver screen. But for the most part? *GRRRR* (and even if they're pretty good overall ... like the LotR films ... they ALWAYS manage to butcher my favorite character and/or scenes. Always.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
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I think there are a lot of good adaptations, and there are also good movies that aren't actually good adaptations. And there are some in between. It's hard to stay true to the book. The two adaptations that always come my mind are The Princess Bride and Fight Club, but in both those cases, I saw the movie first. I also love Jurassic Park, the movie and the book, even though they're quite different.

I'm trying to think of an instance where I read the book first and then saw the movie and was satisfied. I guess I did read LOTR before at least The Two Towers came out, and I liked those movies well enough. But I didn't actually care for the books all that much. I was pretty pleased with the Remains of the Day movie except for two scenes. But yeah. You never know. I love books, and I love movies! I want to love movies based on books!
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From:kiya71677
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:18 am (UTC)
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I've been iffy about seeing the movie, but now I think I need to read the book. :D
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:33 am (UTC)
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Definitely read the book!
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From:newsong
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:26 am (UTC)
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I intend to read the book and watch the movie and consider them completely seperate entities. Thanks for warning me, though.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 07:35 am (UTC)
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I think that will be very easy. They basically are.
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From:electricmonk
Date:February 14th, 2008 08:03 am (UTC)
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I keep thinking it's from the Tom Stoppard play, which is actually called Jumpers, and which is about astronauts and logical positivism, or something. Wonder what kind of movie that would make.
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From:alannaofdoom
Date:February 14th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
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I love how Stoppard can take two (or more) completely unrelated things and write a play about them. It's like some kind of giant theatrical mad libs.
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From:catatonia00
Date:February 14th, 2008 08:09 am (UTC)
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Color me intrigued. Strangely enough, the Teddy Dunn bit you mentioned is what got my interest piqued. He's like "Facial Hair Samson" or something. Rachel Bilson's been like a pesky chihuaha in her recent interviews, so I was planning to forego this movie. Oh and I actually remembered that I like Jamie Bell's acting. If he's the scene/show stealer, I may be persuaded. Hmmm.

For the nth time, sorry Hollywood ruined your book.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
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I've never seen Jamie Bell in anything (I still have King Kong on my DVR; I only made it through the first half when I tried to watch it before), but he was pretty fun here, if sometimes hard to understand because of his accent.

Rachel Bilson doesn't have to do much besides look pretty, and she does that well.

As for Hollywood, I'm mostly irritated that people will think that this is what the book is like! And they'll read it and be disappointed or something, unable to appreciate it on its own merits. Or they'll think the book is just your typical sci-fi hokum and never give it a chance.
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From:wee_warrior
Date:February 14th, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
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So, I guess that goes on the "To Read, Not To Watch" list.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
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Ha, I never interpreted the shirt that way before. I always read it as "People would rather watch movies than read books."

And I didn't know that about Last of the Mohicans! I guess that's one of those good movies that's not a good adaptation.
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From:alannaofdoom
Date:February 14th, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
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I find it interesting (read: sad) that Hollywood tends to have trouble with anything that's less hard sci-fi/fantasy and more magical realism. And anything that's less physical blowing-things-up conflict and more subtle emotional conflict.

I mean, I can see why, because it's a lot easier to write, "THEY FIGHT," every few scenes, than to actually write a tense conversation with real subtext. k

STOP BEING LAZY, HOLLYWOOD.

(Edited to add: where did that superfluous "k" come from? Keyboard gremlins again?)

Edited at 2008-02-14 12:53 pm (UTC)
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From:incidentist
Date:February 14th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Hollywood doesn't have as much of a problem, anymore, with making complicated adaptations of nuanced magic-y books. If Jumper had been adapted by Charlie Kaufman (for example), and targeted at folks like Sunil instead of kids, it'd have been good. But they had to dumb it down cuz it's for kids.

Which is even more sad.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh yeah, I heard about that, too! What is it with Doug Liman?! At least The Bourne Identity was a good movie, though.
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From:bsidetales
Date:February 14th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
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Aw, Sunil. Oh, Jumper.

Alright, now I have to go make up theories about Teddy Dunn's facial hair's magical acting ability.
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From:cran
Date:February 14th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
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See though, Go is awesome because of John August. Directing's all well and good, but Liman can't turn a shit script into gold with pretty effects.

I usually hate adaptations of books I enjoyed. Stardust I liked... the movie was actually better than the book, I thought; it had more of a resolution. The Golden Compass disappointed me.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 14th, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)
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Definitely good point on Go. Jumper went through two rewrites. The first two writers have turned in very good scripts before, though! I think it's the last pass, by the guy who did X-Men 3 and xXx: State of the Union, where it all went horribly wrong.

I...also sort of liked the Stardust movie better than the book. I saw it first, though, so it had an advantage. Don't know what I would have thought of it had I read the book first. And The Golden Compass was all right.

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