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10 Movies That Would’ve Worked Better as TV Shows

23 October 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Red Stewart

Movies and television have been competing since the 1950s brought home sets to every family in America. The increasing growth of streaming services as a substitute to cable has already started to radically change the game, with numerous network corporations opting to open up their own video on demand databases for Internet users to access, such as Disney and DC.

As a result, many analysts are wondering whether or not films can survive in the future, especially with increasing ticket costs, expensive concessions, and bad customer service. After all, ask a person whether they would prefer to sit in the comfort of their own home or waste gas driving to a cramped room where people constantly talk, and one has their answer.

But there is also another aspect to the question that critics are missing, and that is the effectiveness of cinema as a storytelling medium. Many famous pieces of literature have been adapted to the big screen, however a good portion of their plot elements have tended to be either dropped or edited to fit the limited time constraint of a movie.

Thus begs the question of whether they would have worked better as television shows. Well, we at “Taste of Cinema” have decided that that has been the case for at least these ten movies that attempted, yet failed, to construct an effective plot for moviegoers. Let’s take a look.

 

1. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Though it had its flaws, the cinematic adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone” was a triumph of everything: story, direction, visual effects, casting, and, above all else, heart. It showed that long young adult books could be brought to the film world so long as the right changes were made. Still, the cuts that did end up occurring hurt longtime fans of the series, a trend that would occur with other young adult translations like “The Hunger Games,” “Maze Runner,” and “Divergent.”

But one of the bigger travesties to hit theaters was the adaptation of Rick Riordan’s “The Lightning Thief,” the first entry in the “Percy Jackson & The Olympians” series. Making the cast older than their book counterparts was strange enough, but rushing the events and characterizations ended up hurting not only the pacing, but also the character growth of Percy and his compatriots.

Had the five books been formatted for television, such as Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” was for Netflix, we could have seen a more fleshed out version of the novels play out before our eyes. Not to mention the cast could have been kept young as they would not have had to wait the year-long post-production films take.

 

2. Watchmen

Superhero movies have been flourishing in today’s market thanks to the revolutionary Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they were not always a guaranteed success. Prior to the 2011-12 renaissance, they were much more sporadically released, and often times had to combine multiple story arcs in order to fit in the runtime.

Sometimes these were successful, and we got great films like the original “Superman,” “Spider-Man 2,” and “X2.” Other times, they ended up a convoluted mishmash of so many different threads it jumbled up the narrative: “Batman Forever,” “Judge Dredd,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and “Spider-Man 3” come to mind here.

Zack Snyder’s 2009 take on Alan Moore’s esteemed limited series “Watchmen” was an effort that fell in-between these extremes, ultimately polarizing audiences. Some like IGN, Kyle Smith, and Roger Ebert all gave perfect reviews while other critics like Owen Gleiberman and Richard Roeper were much more negative.

Regardless, one thing everyone can potentially agree on is that the film was simply overstuffed. Taking all 12 issues of the graphic novel and merging them into even a 3.5-hour movie (Ultimate Cut) was not enough to tackle every subplot of the dark story.

With HBO reportedly deciding to move forward with a “Watchmen” television series, headed by “Lost” and “The Leftovers” creator/showrunner David Lindelof, let us hope that they provide enough episodes to do the comic the justice it deserves.

 

3. The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones (2009)

One of the greatest philosophical questions that humanity will probably never answer is what lies in the afterlife? Everyone has different thoughts on this, with entire religions being formed out of the basis of this inquiry.

The 2002 novel “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold took a more neutral stance on this situation that was clearly inspired by Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy,” as it postulated that it was a place where people with unfinished business on Earth remain. In this case, a young girl by the name of Susie Salmon is cast off to Heaven after being raped and murdered by a neighbor. There she meets the other victims of this serial killer and tries to help influence events on Earth in order to get justice.

Peter Jackson of “The Lord of the Rings” fame chose to tackle this project years after “King Kong,” bringing his amazing visuals to a work that really needed to be focused more on the story. The issue with “The Lovely Bones” is that a lot of time passes between Susie’s murder and her subsequent desire to catch the killer, whereas in Jackson’s film it is much quicker.

There is also the fact that the other girls in this Purgatory are not given much characterizations in the movie outside of being “Victim #1, Victim #5,” and so forth. They are very happy in this afterlife. It thus creates a crude message that these teenagers should be thankful for their killer given that he sent them to this wonderful place.

If “The Lovely Bones” were treated to a small four-part series on some televised medium, more time could have been devoted to the gap after Susie’s murder, with her family falling apart, father getting more obsessive, and friends getting more doubtful about her predicament. On the literal other side, the girls could have been fleshed out more to explore their own fears and trepidations over being murdered. Something worth considering.

 

4. Dune

The less said about David Lynch’s “Dune” the better. Done primarily to secure funding for “Blue Velvet,” Lynch nevertheless put a lot of effort initially into bringing Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic to the big screen, including building sets and writing several drafts of the screenplay. But even if the studio had not interfered and forced Lynch to make concessions or trim it down from three hours to two hours and fifteen minutes, there is an inherent problem with trying to force Herbert’s magnus opus into one film and that is that it is impossible.

Dune is not like “The Lord of the Rings” where it is a sweeping epic with scene after scene building on the other. It is much more episodic, with different sections of the book dealing with a different aspect of the amazing universe Herbert created: factions clash, fuel is sought after, and the differing planets offer a varied backdrop to the whole adventure.

Lynch’s attempt was admirable, especially considering he turned down directing “Return of the Jedi” for it, but it was a misguided task from the beginning. “Dune” should always have been in a televised format, something that would be semi-successfully done by the Sci Fi Channel in 2000.

 

5. A Walk Among the Tombstones

A Walk Among the Tombstones

The cinematic triumph of film noir rested heavily on the works of hardboiled authors like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Without their intriguing mysteries, cynical detectives, or grasp of strong storytelling, we would not have had such noir classics as “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Big Sleep,” or “Double Indemnity.”

But things evolve as new technologies emerge and audiences change. The birth of neo-noir in the 60s and tech noir in the 80s are prime examples of the genre adapting, and thus more modern crime novels simply do not work as well within the confines of a two-hour movie as previous works did.

Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series is an example of this. Following the unlicensed, alcoholic private eye of the same name, Scudder had two movie attempts with 1986’s “8 Million Ways to Die” and the more recent “A Walk Among the Tombstones” in 2014. The latter, written and directed by Scott Frank, was an adaptation of the tenth novel in the long-running series, meaning it lacked the history and character development Scudder had undergone prior to its plot. It had to condense his backstory, minimizing his efforts at dealing with the pain of killing an innocent girl through alcohol and donating to churches.

Amazon Video’s take on Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch character is what “A Walk Among the Tombstones” should have been reworked as: a miniseries with each book making up a two-part episode. It would have allowed the creators to build-up to Scudder’s character by the events of “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” rather than jumping straight in.

 

 

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  • Exit Exit Quit

    Inglourious Basterds. I could’ve watched a 10 hour version of that.

  • Vincenzo Politi

    True, “Love Story” has 57% from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but it also has 75% from the public and today it is just considered a classic. I also happen to like Out Of Africa as well as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I’ve never understood why people reacted so badly to that movie, saying that it was “exploiting” the terroristic attack of 9/11, while the terroristic attack was just in the background of the whole plot and nothing shocking was ever shown. Plus, the movie is very moving and wonderfully acted by that kid. But maybe American critics and the public are ok showing wars and bombs and bloods, as long as it does not involve a terroristic attack to their country: at that point, they all become super sensitives… Bha’!

    • It’s because it’s a heavy-handed Oscar-bait movie with an annoying kid that is essentially a caricature than a real character. It’s one of the reasons why I think someone like Stephen Daldry is the Oscar-bait equivalent to Michael Bay.

      • Vincenzo Politi

        I think there have been far worse heavy-handed Oscar-bait movies which haven’t been criticised as much, or at all. I mean, that very year the Best Picture Academy Award was given to the Artist, a “nice” movie which screams “give me an Oscar!” at your face and which no one remembers anymore. (That guy who no one remembers also got the statue for Best Actor, instead of Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Gary Oldman…) The year before The King’s Speech, a mediocre historical melodrama which couldn’t be any more Oscar-bait, took home lots of awards and it has 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Also, the “annoying kid” is autistic: he has to be annoying and that young actor actually gives a very realistic performance!

        • No, the kid was annoying and unrealistic. I’ve seen those who are autistic and believe. That kid was just repulsive. Even when he accepted an award for that awful movie.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            Well, that the kid was “repulsive” is your very personal opinion, since mostly of the critics who demolished the movie actually praised his performance. So… nope, you still haven’t convinced me that the reasons for why that movie was met with so many harsh criticisms in the US are (a) it was a heavy-handed Oscar bait and (b) the kid was annoying and repulsive. In fact, as I said (a*) many other heavy-handed Oscar baits were not criticised as much and (b*) the critics did not find the kid annoying and repulsive (after all, as you yourself said, he even got some awards for that role, namely: Best Young Actor/Actress, from the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role, from the Phoenix Film Critics Society and Breakthrough Performance on Camera, again from the Phoenix Film Critics Society; plus, he was also nominate for other awards). I still think that the reason for why the movie was hated in the States is because it “offended” the American sensitivity because, as I stated in one of my previous comments, Americans are ok showing wars and bombs and blood, as long as it does not involve a terroristic attack to their country, in which case they all get super mad. The critic from the New York Post even defined it “Extremely, incredibly exploitive, a quest for emotional blackmail”. Another, from Cinema Crazed, said “Probably one of the most exploitative and heavy handed films concerning 9/11 I’ve ever seen”. Another one said “As directed by Stephen Daldry, this adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel hauls out memories and images from 9/11 in an attempt to create fake sentiment and to accentuate its own sense of self-importance. Quite frankly, I found that offensive.” I mean, you can read all the reviews on line. But the point is: if THIS movie is a exploitive and a quest for emotional blackmail, what about Schindler’s List??? Everybody was soooo offended because someone dared to make a family drama taking 9/11 as a starting point. Wow, soooo offensive, so manipulative, so insensitive. It is much better to make dramas where the good and proud American soldiers always win against the evil (that is, the non-Americans). After all, the year later, didn’t they give the Best Picture Award to Argo? A movie which totally misrepresents Iran and Iranian people and totally dismissed the role of Canadians in the whole operation, in order to glorify the good guys of CIA. Just saying.

          • Well, the marketing for that film didn’t help. It made it into a blatant Oscar-bait film as I remember this middle-aged couple who was watching the trailer in the theaters who were like “that looks shit” and I laughed. They were right. It wants to be this film about a boy’s adventure that never gives the audience a satisfying answer as well as a bad twist. What about the images of the bodies falling off the building? That shit was offensive.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            “What about the images of the bodies falling off the building? That shit was offensive.” Oh my god! Thank you for actually confirming pretty much everything I’ve been saying so far! Why was it “offensive”? Do you realise that Hollywood has shown the most awful things, but you Americans become all supersensitive and offended when someone shows what happened in 9/11? Was Blue Soldier offensive? Was Schindler’s List offensive? Nope, only this movie is offensive, because there are two shots of bodies falling off the building. Go figure…

          • It was offensive because it was used as some lame narrative crutch that made no fucking sense. Oh, what about the fact that the film had James Gandolfini in the film and he ended up being cut out entirely from the film?

          • Vincenzo Politi

            “It made no fucking sense”??? Wow! The father of the kid died in the the 9/11 and what the kid begins is a journey in the post-9/11 New York City — and this for you makes no fucking sense… What doesn’t make sense is your reference to James Gandolfini: so, a movie must be criticised harshly because some parts were cut? Like, the Big Chill is an awful movie because Kevin Costner ended up being cut out entirely from the film?

          • A journey that was pointless to begin with. Especially as he learns nothing other than to stop giving to his fears but in the most heavy-handed way. It’s the kind of bullshit movie that demands you to feel empathy when in reality, it makes you want to kick the shit out of the little fucker.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            “A journey that was pointless to begin with”. Yes, it is really pointless that a mentally ill boy embarks on a journey in a post-9/11-New York just to stop giving to his fears. Really really pointless. And so heavy-handed (like, the boy doesn’t cry ever, not even once). So so heavy-handed. It remains to be seen how something so heavy-handed “makes you want to kick the shit out of the little fucker”. So, it’s not like the autistic boy was represented as a sort of little prince, an extremely likeable character. No, he was a flawed and not necessarily likeable character (like many autistic people): *how* on earth is that heavy-handed or unrealistic??? You are so biased against this movie that all your criticisms verge on incoherence. Just like all the other people from the US who were “offended” by it… In fact, with each of your comments you bring up some new criticism, since you cannot pin down *why*, exactly, you are so averse to this movie. This is all almost Freudian.

          • Oh shut the fuck up. That movie sucked. It will always suck.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            We can discuss as much as you want, but you don’t need to be rude. If you need to tell me “shut the fuck up” it mans that not only you have no arguments, but also that you are rude and aggressive.

          • Well, in these times of Fascism/Nazism in America. What the fuck would you expect? You want civility? Well, that no longer exists. If I’m going to act like an asshole. I’ll act like a fuckin’ asshole. Even if it means having to trash a piece of shit movie made by a fucking hack who demands the audience to feel some sort of empathy and insult your goddamn intelligence at the same time.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            “Well, in these times of Fascism/Nazism in America. What the fuck would you expect?” There’s more to the world then America. Broaden your horizons, while I will keep on being civilised. Best wishes.

          • Yeah, like the fact that the country you lived in just made Asia Argento an exile for telling the truth.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            As you can clearly see from my picture, I am all on the side of Asia Argento. But the fact that the country I lived in just made Asia Argento an exile for telling the truth about an American producers who was well known in Hollywood for his predatory behaviour but nobody said anything and they all had to wait for an Italian actress for the truth to be told – this fact does not have to lead me to be rude and aggressive to you (as you have been to me).

          • Yet, you chose to push my buttons over a movie that is total shit.

          • MrMovies

            You chose to reply to him posh spice.

          • Because he’s a dumbass.

          • MrMovies

            More like you got triggered.

          • No, he was the first to reply in defending a film that played into the worst aspects of African-Americans. Do you think I want to see a movie in which a Hispanic is either a gang member or some lowly worker working for a measly penny or some melodramatic woman crying over something stupid? Fuck you pendejo.

          • MrMovies

            First off, you’re white. Secondly, lots of minorities are involved in the criminal life.

          • No, I’m Hispanic you stupid cracker.

          • MrMovies

            Then show some pride and change your profile pic.

          • Like you?

          • MrMovies

            I don’t need to show pride. I don’t care about my race.

          • Really? I don’t give a fuck about my race either but I don’t want to be fucking stereotyped.

          • MrMovies

            No one stereotyped you boy.

          • You implied it you fucking cunt.

          • MrMovies

            Don’t be sensitive boi.

          • Learn to fucking spell whitey.

          • MrMovies

            Thought you folks only understood slang.

          • What do you mean you folks?

          • MrMovies

            You know, latinos.

          • Oh, you expect me to whine and cry my eyes out on some fucking TV show or something. That’s what you fucking expect. You want me to say homes to you or whatever. Suck my dick you faggot and get all of your nigger friends with you.

          • MrMovies

            You’ve been reported buddy 🙂

          • Oh yeah….

          • MrMovies

            Stupid faggot

          • Thank you. It’s been fun. I too had you reported.

          • MrMovies

            Lmao, you can’t report. I figured that out.

          • Unless you prompted arguments of racism which you actually started so you’re fucked. Ciao.

          • MrMovies

            Lmao, you’re the one that used a racial slur.

          • So did you.

          • MrMovies

            I didn’t realize homosexuals were a race smart one.

          • Oh, so you’re a homophobe?

          • MrMovies

            Lmao, there are only two things that are hated in this country mate- latinos and homosexuals.

          • Ah, you’re one of the people working for the Grand Wizard of the United States of America. How you doing?

          • MrMovies

            I’m just stating facts. I have no problems with either demographic.

          • Really?

          • MrMovies

            Yeah, it’s a sad world we live in with all this hate.

          • Thanks to you.

          • MrMovies

            I don’t contribute to it irl.

          • Yes you do, troll.

          • MrMovies

            Nah

  • Zwei

    The Brothers Karamazov (1958)

  • Mortimer

    Heat (1995) – when you think about it, it would have made a great season for crime TV show in the 1990s. Great movie, nonetheless.

    ‘Enemy at the Gates’ was missed opportunity. Sets, music and some scenes are great but the cliché “war love triangle” story is lame.

  • Criticus

    Are you kidding? Watchmen is simply the greatest superhero movie ever made. Nice to read there’ll also be a TV show, though.

  • giorgio palmas

    I watched Live By Night and was not impressed. A Peaky Blindersesque series would be great, especially without animtronic meat puppet Ben Affleck.

    • MrMovies

      Shut up oldie.