Thoughts On Adaptations

Caricatures are fun and light-hearted, usually if you want to find out what your most pronounced feature is this is the best way to do it. Although sometimes they feel unflattering, the point is to capture the essence of something quickly and efficiently.

Often when adaptations of books or games come out it gets a lot of flack. Why is that? Probably because people want exact copies of their favorite things, which is fault on the viewer. The viewers lack to understand fully is that adaptations are a lot like caricatures. Sometimes they are awesome and we want to hang the caricature on the wall and sometimes its rubbish and we want to trash it. Regardless the key thing for viewers to remember is that a 5 + hour adventure is being crammed into about a 2.5 hour time slot. It by nature has to be stripped down to the core of what makes this story unique and good. But where do the films go wrong?

Look at the Harry Potter films, they are generally agreed to be the best book to film adaptation, and it has a lot that is missing but the core of what makes it Harry Potter is there. The characters are the right age, they matched general description (Too bad Daniel Radclif had an allergic reaction to the colored contact lens’ would have been “perfect”), the settings were right, the major conflict for each book was there and the over arcing plot stayed the same.

But compare it to, let’s say, the Percy Jackson films that only got two films, and frankly I was surprised that it got a second one. The missed a lot of what made Percy Jackson, well Percy Jackson. They aged up the characters (I will give them that they adjusted the prophecy to match the age up), one of the characters appearances was seriously wrong (which they tried to fix in the sequel, but the damage was done already), the settings were right and the conflict was too.

So why were these received differently? Well mainly they messed with the characters. Percy Jackson could have been “the next Harry Potter” in that you had characters your views could grow up with, and that viewers who had read the books did grow up with. The thing is, we see ourselves or people we love in our favorite characters and we become emotionally attached. Picture it this way, if you were to do a film adaptation of your life and they casted someone to play the role of your best friend/brother/sister/mother/father/ect. who looked/acted/sounded vastly different than that person you’d be angry.

Viewers crave accurate, bare-bone adaptations of the characters they love. If you have to strip away all the “side” passions they have at least get the core of who they are right. Often character are the age they are for a reason, they have backstories for a reason, they look they way they do for a reason, and changing any of that changes the narrative. To age up characters, especially when it’s a coming of age story and targeted at a young audience, changes the the basic story and distorts the character, making a shady caricature that no one likes.

So that’s my general thought’s on adaptation, a little something for viewers to keep in mind and something major for Hollywood to keep in mind. What are you thoughts? Do you agree or disagree, why? Do you think there is something more that could be done to make adaptations better?

Want to read more on my thoughts about adaptations? Check them out here.

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