Do films have the same IT factor as their novel counterparts?

27 05 2010

Have you ever read a great book or story, then found the film version to be utterly lacking? It happens all too often, although there are cases where the film is also great, or for some people even better than the book/ story… since they never read or even knew that there was a book/ story, of course.

I’ve read most of Stephen King’s work, so it goes without saying that I watch the films with a critical-yet-open eye and mind – every director has a different take to a tale, and cuts and/or changes become necessary in order to fill the film into the allotted amount of time for the project. Now, not all films become theatrical releases. Some of them are made for television, whereas others fall into the direct-to-video category.

As far as the theatrical releases go, I’d say that – as a devoted King reader – I am pretty pleased with the results. I have seen: CARRIE; THE SHINING; CHRISTINE; STAND BY ME; PET SEMATARY; MISERY; IT; SLEEPWALKERS; THE DARK HALF; THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION; THINNER; APT PUPIL; THE GREEN MILE; DREAMCATCHER; SECRET WINDOW; 1408; THE MIST; and, most recently, DOLAN’S CADILLAC. (Come on, who hasn’t seen THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION or THE GREEN MILE? You know how great they are!!)

I actually watched SECRET WINDOW before reading the novella, and even though the endings between the two differ, I think both work pretty well for their target groups. 1408, the film, differs greatly from the short story, yet all-in-all I find it to be an enriching experience. John Cusack is a phenomenal actor, and he portrays his role as Mike Enslin with passion and conviction, which is no less than I would expect from Mr Cusack. Throw in Samuel L. Jackson as Mr Olin, and you’ve got a done deal. The only thing that bothered me when I watched the film the third time (besides the fact that the paintings aren’t the same as in the short story, but no biggie) is that it differed from the ending I had viewed previously! I went to see the movie twice on the in the cinema, so there of course the ending was the same, as they wouldn’t screen two different endings. Yet when I watched the DVD my younger sister brought home one day, the disc’s ending differed from the on-screen one, and I must admit that I was most ‘disgusted’, if I may put it that way. I’ve you’ve seen the film, and you are a Stephen King devotee like myself, I think you’ll know which ending I prefer.

One film that truly failed to grasp my attention, I’ll admit, is the 2009 release of DOLAN’S CADILLAC. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I watched is definitely not what I had envisioned from reading the short story. I just couldn’t get a ‘feel’ for the film, and it actually quite annoyed me… I’ll have to watch it again before making any further remarks, so let’s just continue, shall we?

The made-for-television films and series I have seen are: THE TOMMYKNOCKERS; THE NIGHT FLIER; ROSE RED; THE DIARY OF ELLEN RIMBAUER; ‘SALEM’S LOT; DESPERATION; and NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES. THE NIGHT FLIER was all right, although the female reporter never appeared in the story. I liked ‘SALEM’S LOT very much, as well as NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES. DESPERATION was so-so, my mind wandered at times, and I kept feeling that the novel was by far superior to its film adaptation.

ROSE RED, a television series, used to be the highlight of my week at the time it aired here while I was in high school. Those evenings were some of the best spent in my life, and since then I have been trying to get my hands on a copy in order to re-watch it. I rented it from the video store once, yet their copy was damaged. I almost forgot about it, having pushed it further back in my mind in order to study and what-not, but now I am on a raging quest to find it – and once I do, I’ll be having a ROSE RED marathon. Who needs sleep anyway?!

And yes, I actually do have a candidate to fulfil my ‘utterly lacking’ criteria as mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog entry. I am referring, of course, to THE TOMMYKNOCKERS. After wasting about 3 hours (181 minutes/ 10 860 seconds) of my life, I was totally put-off reading the book again. I cannot ever recall whether or not I made it to the halfway point in the novel, though I highly doubt it. The whole film was about build up, as if you had to grin and bear through every gruelling minute and agonizing second of the film, hoping that some sort of climax or ‘wow’-factor would make an appearance to save the day (and by ‘day’ I naturally mean the film)… yet it never happened.

It never happened. *Cue hysterical laughter*

On a different note, I am pleased to inform my readers that FROM A BUICK 8, CELL, and BAG OF BONES are in development. BLACK HOUSE, THE DARK TOWER, and THE LONG WALK will also be turned into silver screen wonders (and I use wonders, of course, quite optimistically). Oh, and apparently remakes of PET SEMATARY and IT are also going to be made. The only question is, will they ever find a suitable candidate to fill in the horrible clown-shoes of Tim Curry as Pennywise…? *shiver*

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