It was a mistake to make these 5 films, they should have been mini-series…
Nearly 20 years after the first publication of Audrey Niffenegger’s bestseller, The Time Traveler’s Wife, he arrives on the small screen for his second film adaptation: a series in six episodes which begins Sunday (May 15) on HBO Max. It should never have been a movie.
The story follows Rose Leslie’s Clare and Theo James’ Henry, a couple whose relationship is made quite complicated by Henry’s condition, a genetic condition that causes him to travel back in time frequently and unpredictably, leaving Clare behind. .
The book, which has sold over 2.5 million copies, was picked up for a movie by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B Entertainment, even before its release, with Warner Brothers backing it with the promise of a sumptuous adaptation. Unfortunately, the adaptation turned out to be unfortunate. Stephen Spielberg and David Fincher expressed interest in taking it, but never did. Gus Van Sant was tied down for a while and then left. Finally, Robert Schwentke, the man behind the colossal turkey RIPD and the mangled action thriller Snake Eyes, was employed.
The resulting film, which starred Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, was a relative box office hit, but a critical disaster and it doesn’t hold up well. The reasons for this are multiple. The production took on an age with endless reshoots and last-minute rewrites; the script is wooden and hammered and brings out the worst in the source material.
That said, even a world-class director like Spielberg or Fincher would have struggled to capture the majesty of the book. We meet Henry and Clare at different points in their lives – with the narrative constantly jumping in time. Any movie, even one where Schwentke had opted for a runtime much longer than the 107 minutes he had chosen, would have felt rushed. The HBO Max adaptation has six hours to play, and while reviews haven’t been stellar for the new take, it’s a big step up from the movie, with that format much more fitting for the structure.
This complex story doesn’t work like a movie, but in 2005 when work began on the project, film was the only place to tell prestige stories. The place to attract the best actors, the biggest budgets and the biggest audiences was on the big screen. It would have seemed inconceivable that it would end up on television.
Now, however, it’s a very different world, and with Netflix, Hulu, Paramount Plus, and the myriad other streaming services, stories can take as long as producers want.
It got us thinking. What other stories have been mutilated by a rushed film adaptation? What other books deserve another try with more time taken from the story, not crammed into a cinematic runtime? We’ve picked five that we think deserve a miniseries…
It’s mystifying how The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, ended up becoming a movie. Production didn’t begin until 2018, when the dawn of long-form television was well advanced and costs were shared by Warner Brothers and Amazon, the parent companies of HBO and Prime Video.
Tartt’s novel is a huge, twisty thing that follows a young boy named Theodore Decker. His life is completely changed after his mother is killed in a terrorist attack at a museum and a dying man convinces him to steal a famous painting, the titular goldfinch, from the museum.
At 771 pages, the novel was always going to be difficult to condense into a long movie narrative, but what didn’t make sense was the baffling decision to do away with the novel’s linear structure and jump in time instead. .
In the end, the film was poorly received, lost money, and did not do the book justice. Maybe in a few years, the Time Traveler’s Wife style will be revisited – it will certainly suit the material much better.
Mysteries have always been best told on television. The twists, the red herrings and the misdirections, it’s just suited to the episodic nature of television. So why Jo Nesbø’s chilling thriller The Snowman made it into a movie is anyone’s guess.
On the surface, the film had a lot going for it. Michael Fassbender has been cast to play Harry Hole, the troubled, unorthodox, yet brilliant detective from Nesbø who has gone through 12 bestselling novels. Hossein Amini, who had so skillfully adapted Drive, was among the screenwriters. Tomas Alfredson, who wowed with Let The Right One In and his new version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, was in place to direct. Still, it turned out to be a complete disaster.
The narrative, which follows Hole as he follows a serial killer who builds snowmen at his crime scenes, somehow manages to feel slow and rushed at the same time, while an excellent supporting cast including Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer and JK Simmons was completely wasted. .
Riddled with plot holes, none of which are in Nesbø’s book, the film received a deserved kick from critics and has a laughable 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. Subsequently, Alfredson blamed the highly condensed pre-production and rushed filming schedule, and he admitted that 15% of the script was not filmed because there simply wasn’t enough time for it. To do.
Nesbø’s book series has sold over 50 million copies, and on the page, Hole’s works are captivating and primed for the small screen. He deserves a prestige crime series that suits the material, much like Lee Child was granted when Prime Video rebooted Jack Reacher. Make it happen.
The girl on the train
Paula Hawkins’ novel was a smash hit when it hit bookstores in 2015, so much so that by the fall of the following year, a movie was already in theaters.
The story follows the life of Rachel Watson, a divorcee struggling with alcohol and broken by the end of her marriage, who takes the train aimlessly every day to London despite the fact that she no longer has a job. From the train window, she can see the home of her former husband Tom, his new wife Anna, and their neighbors Scott and Megan Hipwell; and she focuses on their lives. This fixation then turns very dark when Rachel wakes up covered in blood and Megan is missing…
The film, which stars Emily Blunt, Luke Evans and Rebecca Ferguson, is perfectly serviceable, it’s just too short for the novel’s many twists and turns to really pay off. The novel is also transplanted to New York, which robs it of a grimy layer of detail that added so much to the narrative. A Netflix three-parter would have suited the material much better.
Live the night
Before that, novelist Dennis Lehane had enjoyed an enchanted life with the film adaptations of his work. His novel Mystic River was brilliantly adapted, Martin Scorsese brought Leonardo DiCaprio to the party in his take on his psychological thriller Shutter Island, and Ben Affleck had directed a mighty, powerful take on his novel, Gone Baby Gone.
So when Affleck announced he would be directing and starring in an adaptation of Live By Night, Warner Brothers must have been rubbing their hands with joy. Unfortunately, this one bucked the trend and ended up losing over $75 million.
Unlike Gone Baby Gone, which is a tight thriller with a narrative that matches a singular offering, Live By Night is a sprawling story that follows Joe Coughlin, an ambitious smuggler from Ybor City in the 1920s who progresses to becoming a mobster. notorious. .
Filled with double-crosses, violent shootouts, car chases, and big twists, the movie should have been top-notch, but the story was too compressed and the pacing was off.
Choosing this format was a strange decision, especially since Live By Night is the middle part of a trilogy of novels. Maybe one day HBO will film all three as part of a big series, that would be fantastic.
This latest entry was going to be the 2010 adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s highly acclaimed 2005 novel, Never Let Me Go, but luckily a miniseries is in the works.
Instead, we opted for a book by the man who actually adapted Never Let Me Go for the screen, Alex Garland, and his 1996 debut novel, The Beach. The novel follows Richard, a young backpacker in Thailand who decides to go in search of a legendary secluded beach untouched by tourism. After finding it alongside two new friends, the trio discover that a community of backpackers live there, cut off from the outside world to live a life of slow-paced leisure. It sounds like heaven, but it turns out it’s not.
Everything about The Beach felt like a surefire winner. The book had been a huge hit, leading man Leonardo DiCaprio was the biggest star in the world after his role in Titanic, and director Danny Boyle was still basking in the glow of Trainspotting, but it didn’t work. The adaptation was muddy and off-kilter and felt shallow (no pun intended) superficial, with many of Garland’s themes lost in the jump from page to screen.
Tellingly, a TV spin-off of the book was in development. Boyle revealed in 2019 that Amy Seimetz, star and creator of The Girlfriend Experience, wrote a new version of the story, set 20 years after the book. Where is it now, we don’t know…