Can these new releases survive the hype and the history of their predecessors, or are they destined for the already teeming scrapheap of failed adaptations? A full list of new releases for August is at the bottom.
At the Movies
I love movies. I love books. Unlike many bibliophiles, I even love movies that started as books. Heck, I’ll even read a novelization of a movie, although they are almost universally bad. I enjoy how one person can take a story, move it to a different medium, and make it their own. I’m not one to bemoan things like character changes or missing plot lines. I’ll even give films like Starship Troopers or World War Z a pass. Sure, they’re nothing like their source material, but they’re still entertaining movies.
However, there are some books that are exceptions. Books that are a part of you, that have touched you on a level few others have been able to do. Maybe it was a specific time in your life that a book perfectly spoke to you, or maybe it was just that the book itself really was that perfect. For me, this has happened three times. Three times that I should have been elated at the prospect of seeing my favorite fictional universes on the big screen. But I wasn’t. I was scared. Instead of watching trailers, listening to director interviews, and getting psyched for their release, I huddled in a metaphorical corner, repeating the same three words over and over.
“Please don’t suck.”
Because no matter how great your imagination, no matter how many times you read the book, once you see a movie, that work is forever altered in your mind.
The first time was with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. My second favorite book of all time, Jackson’s LotR is perfect. I would put it out there as one of the most authentic adaptations of a book, Tom Bombadil and Sharkey’s End notwithstanding. I will never again be able to read the books without imagining Gandalf looking like Ian McKellan, and I’m perfectly fine with that.
The second time it happened was with Ender’s Game, my third favorite book. Unlike LotR, Ender’s Game the movie was an absolute abomination. From the casting to the pacing to the plot spoiling, everything about this movie was an insult to its source. It wasn’t a bad movie, no more than World War Z or Starship Troopers were bad. It was simply wrong. Ender’s Game is one of those stories that sticks with a kid, that wakes them up to the world around them. The only redeeming quality of the movie was that it was so bad, only Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford have stuck in my memory when I think of the characters in the book.
And now, in just a few days, we get the first film adaptation of my #1 favorite book series of all time. For over thirty years, I’ve traveled through Gilead, Garland, Lud, and Hambry. I wept with Susannah on the streets of Algul Siento, and I laughed with Eddie while he riddled Blaine. For most of those years, there have been rumors of a Dark Tower movie, television show, or mini-series. Now that it’s finally here, all I can think is:
“Please don’t suck.”
And there’s plenty of reason to be concerned. I can debate all day about the controversial casting decisions for the three main characters–the race of Idris Elba (Roland), the typecasting of Matthew McConaughey (Walter/Flagg), and the age of Tom Taylor (Jake). One thing that is not debatable is that a seven-volume series of nearly 4,000 pages has been made into a movie with a run-time of 1 hour and 35 minutes. Or that, just weeks before the release, they were still adding more CGI. Or that the movie posters looked like an “Intro to Graphical Design” project from a community college.
So, yeah, I’m nervous. I’m nervous that one of the most beloved book series of all time might be getting the Ender’s Game treatment by Hollywood. I’m nervous that a book series that is four times the size of The Lord of the Rings trilogy has a film adaptation that is literally one-sixth the length of the LotR box set. I’m nervous that the trailers look like a typical summer action movie with some book quotes thrown in for the fans and that all the heart of the story is going to be left on the cutting room floor.
Dad-a-chum? Ded-a-chuk? Please don’t let this movie suck.
Filed under “Here we go again,” The Tick is getting another live-action shot at the small screen, this time from Amazon. While the original animated series and the live-action single-season show starring Patrick Warburton are cult favorites, neither showed much staying power, although it could be argued that was more the fault of Fox and their penchant for canceling anything they don’t understand than the writing or acting. The Tick is a spoof, a parody of a superhero, and while I personally think there’s an element of genius in what creator Ben Edlund has created, getting other writers to grasp what makes The Tick special may be a challenge, particularly since it appears Edlund is not very involved with this project.
Whether Amazon can “get it” and produce a Tick that sticks around, only time will tell, but after the latest trailer, I’m cautiously optimistic.
Marvel fans have their own reasons to worry about another superhero show coming to the small screen. On August 18, The Defenders premieres on Netflix. Firm believers in the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of production, Marvel has taken their winning recipe from The Avengers–with Daredevil’s Scott Glenn apparently taking on the role of The Avengers’ Sam Jackson–and reworked it for a television series. The eponymous heroes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are joining forces to take on the baddies of New York.
The problem is that each subsequent series in the MCU television universe has been progressively worse than the previous, culminating with the mess that was Iron Fist. I enjoyed Jessica Jones, and was even suitably entertained by Luke Cage–although they made a huge mistake in killing off their most deeply developed character and replacing him with a two-dimensional cartoon psychopath. But none of the last three series can even hold a candle to Charlie Cox’s Daredevil.
Watching the trailer, I feel pretty good about the chemistry between the actors themselves and their characters, but the writing is still a huge question mark. The Defenders need to come out swinging, both literally and figuratively. If Marvel wastes the first few episodes on exposition and brooding heroes, and forgets that this is supposed to be a superhero show and not an episode of General Hospital, The Defenders is going to last about as long as one of Luke Cage’s t-shirts.
Full List of New Releases
At the Movies
|August 04||Detroit (2017)|
|August 04||Midnight Sun (2017)|
|August 04||Step (2017)|
|August 04||The Dark Tower (2017)|
|August 04||Wind River (2017)|
|August 11||Annabelle: Creation (2017)|
|August 11||Ingrid Goes West (2017)|
|August 11||The Glass Castle (2017)|
|August 11||The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017)|
|August 11||The Only Living Boy in New York (2017)|
|August 11||The Trip to Spain (2017)|
|August 18||Patti Cake$ (2017)|
|August 18||The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)|
|August 25||All Saints (2017)|
|August 25||Beach Rats (2017)|
|August 25||Gook (2017)|
|August 25||Polaroid (2017)|
|August 25||Tulip Fever (2017)|
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