After my friends and I had a caricature done (see above), it got me thinking about how, when done right, adaptations are a good caricature because they capture and accentuate core elements of a story.
People want exact copies of their favorite book and good adaptations don’t do that. An adaptation by nature has to be stripped down to the core of what makes it a unique adventure because it’s reduced into about a 2.5 hour time slot.
Let’s look at the Harry Potter films. Fans generally agree they are a good book to film adaptation — and that is with a lot of sub-plot missing. However, they are successful because the heart of Harry Potter is still there. The characters are the right age and match their general descriptions (too bad Daniel Radcliffe had an allergic reaction to the colored contact lens he wore or it would have been “perfect”); the settings were right, the major conflict for each book was there, and the overarching plot stayed the same.
But compare it to the Percy Jackson film adaptations (and frankly I was surprised it got a sequel), they missed a lot of what made Percy Jackson, well Percy Jackson. While the settings and conflict were right, the cast was aged up and defining characteristics were ignored.
Percy Jackson bombed at the box office for one reason: it disregarded the characters. Percy Jackson could have been the next Harry Potter. The books had a faithful audience that grew up with it and wanted the film adaptation. There were young moviegoers unfamiliar with the story that could be introduced to the franchise, but it lacked in its relatability due to the changes made. The film adaptation failed both of them.
Adaptations (and caricatures) stick to the basics. Often characters are the age they are for a reason, they have backstories for a reason, they look the way they do for a reason, so altering the core attributes, especially in a coming of age story targeted at a young audience, distorts the narrative.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? Why? How can Hollywood make adaptations better?
Want to read more on my thoughts about adaptations? Check them out here.