When Sci-fi books are adapted to the big screen, you get good films and bad films. Are they better when they follow the original story or is it acceptable that they are ‘based on’ or ‘inspired by’ and becomes something slightly different?
At the end of the day, only you can decide if the director has succeeded or not.
2001: a space odyssey
Though the book and the script were written at the same time, there are minor differences such as Saturn was the destination and not Jupiter. Though the book was published after the films release, I think it still qualifies for this list. Arthur C. Clark wrote the book but inspiration was derived from a few of his stories, Namely, “The Sentinel”, “Breaking Strain”, “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Orbiting…”, “Who’s There?”, “Into the Comet”, and “Before Eden”. Important elements were also taken from “Encounter at Dawn” and (to a somewhat lesser extent) “Rescue Party”.
In 1976, Marvel Comics produced a comic version of the film, the famous Jack Kirby wrote and pencilled it.
When Kubrick decided to make “the proverbial ‘really good’ science-fiction movie”, little did he know if would become one of the most the iconic films ever.
2010: odyssey two
The story that started in 2001 continues and this time, Peter Hyams takes the reigns as director. A screen play was written based on Arthur C. Clarks novel of 1982 and the film was released at the end of 1984. What may seem strange, Marvel Comics produced a comic version of the film, and not of the book.
This time round, Kubrick had nothing to do with the film but Peter Hyams sought the permission of the original director and the author. Obviously they have him their blessings.
The film was received well but many thought it lacked the style, poetry and the mystery of the original film. A chunk of the book missing from the script, which I’m sure didn’t help.
Harry Harrison’s tale from 1966, originally called ‘Make Room! Make Room!’, was brought to the big screen in 1973. Directed by Richard Fleischer, it starred big names like Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young and Edward G. Robinson.
Harrison was not that pleased with the film, he is quoted as saying, “Am I pleased with the film? I would say fifty percent”. Indeed, something was lost in the translation from book to film.
So far their have been at least two version of Philips K. Dicks short story, ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’.
The first version, called ‘Total Recall’, was directed by Paul Verhoeven and was released in 1990, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, and Sharon Stone. It was warmly received and did very well at the box office. However, looking back it, it really hasn’t aged that well.
The second version was released in 2012 and directed by Len Wisemen. It starred Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, and Bill Nighy. Imaginatively, it was also called ‘Total Recal’.
The film really didn’t do well at the box office. Many thought it lacked substance though a few did think it was exciting and carried many aspects of the original story.
The problem with both films is that the scripts were ‘loosely’ based on PKD’s short from 1966. To turn a short story in to a film that lasts some where around one and half to two hours, there’s going to be padding and changes.
War of The Worlds
This book is considered a classic piece of science fiction. It was written by English author H. G. Wells between 1895 and 1897. It first appeared in book form in 1898. The story is told is from the point of view of unnamed man in Surrey and that of his younger brother in London, as Earth is invaded by Martians.
Two films have been made, the first is probably the best one and most watchable. The second, in my own personal view, is rather disappointing.
The first film was released in 1953, produced by George Pal and directed by Byron Haskin. For the time, the effects seem pretty good. Plenty of girls screaming and men running around with guns. It’s a film I can re-watch any time
The second, directed by Steven Spielberg was released in 2005. It starred Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins. The effects are good and the main points of the story are there. For me, it’s lacking something, the film just seems too low key…
It’s a shame that neither film takes place in the original setting of suburban England. The Tom Cruise version seems to wander in it’s re-telling of the story. George Pal seems more keen on action and adventure but has far too many women screaming at everything.