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10 Movies That Would’ve Worked Better as TV Shows

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

6. Ender’s Game


It seems strange to think that that Orson Scott Card’s 1985 military sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” became something more than another young adult novel. On the outset, the plot deals with a conventional dystopian story involving kids being recruited into a deadly program in order to test and train their strategic skills so that they will be ready to fight against an impending alien invasion.

What elevated the novel past this, though, was its emphasis on internal dialogue justifying the character motivations and psychology, and the use of proper tactical language. So good was Card’s rhetoric that it resulted in the book being put on the recommended reading list for the United States Marine Corps.

Sadly, this use of internal dialogue presented a very real problem for any adaptation, and that was, as Card himself put it, that it was too difficult to project Ender’s thoughts without the movie coming off as full of narration.

Combined with the fact that Ender is six years old at the start and the need for plenty of action scenes to keep audiences hooked, and one can see why the 2013 Gavin Hood film was a letdown. It was more interested in cashing in on the YA trend that was occurring at the time, thus the reasoning behind aging Ender to an older teen, and the extensive use of supporting characters to play out his inner thoughts more naturally.

Considering all these difficulties that come with just one book, imagine the challenge of adapting the rest of the Ender saga. That is why a television format would have worked better. The budget could have been divided over several episodes, with each season covering one of the books, all while not having to worry about the actors aging too much.


7. Enemy at the Gates

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

As of 2017, the Battle of Stalingrad remains the bloodiest battle in the history of war, with close to 2 million soldier casualties over the course of its five months of suffering. The constant urban warfare, air bombings, and degeneration of social order made it a living nightmare for troops on both sides. Conveying that kind of suffering takes more than just two hours, even with a great screenplay, as entire months need to be condensed down, not days.

2001’s “Enemy at the Gates” demonstrated this issue as it depicted a massive sniper duel between marksmen Vasily Zaytsev of the Soviet Union and Erwin König of Nazi Germany. Though filmed under Robert Fraisse’s beautifully murky cinematography, the movie’s pacing, already hurt by an ill-conceived romance plot, moves through the weeks of hell without depicting just how tense, terrifying, and horrible each day was with the constant gunfighting and freezing temperatures.

If “Enemy at the Gates,” which was loosely based off of Zaytsev’s eponymous memoir, had been turned into a miniseries, a lot more time could have been dedicated to prolonging the weeks and showcasing the day-to-day life of civilians and soldiers during the Battle of Stalingrad.


8. The Dark Tower

Not much can be stated about the recent “The Dark Tower” movie that has not already been mentioned by some critic or online fan. It was condensing several novels, which were already hundreds of pages each, into one big mess, chockful of plot holes, misrepresented character views, and a discarded mythology. It was one thing for the project to have been in development hell: it was another to actually get greenlight in spite of the clear problems.

Like a lot of big Stephen King works such as “11.22.63” and “Under the Dome,” it appears “The Dark Tower” series would be served best by a television show, especially given that there are eight novels. Of course, at the same time, “The Dark Tower” is not a cheap production in any sense of the word: it involves mystical creatures, alternate worlds, and high-scale battles. Much like “Westworld,” this would have to be produced by a company not beholden to the financial and censor restrictions of cable TV.


9. Live By Night


Like John Grisham in the 1990s, author Dennis Lehane is arguably the hottest crime writer of the 21st century in terms of his works being eyed by Hollywood. Movies like “Mystic River,” “Gone Baby Gone,” and “Shutter Island” have all attracted Oscar nominations due to the rich narrative present in Lehane’s texts.

Ben Affleck, who had made his directorial debut with the aforementioned “Gone Baby Gone,” decided to follow-up his Oscar-winning “Argo” with an adaptation of another Lehane book “Live By Night.” Taking place during the prohibition era, “Live By Night” follows gangster Joe Coughlin as he rises in the ranks of this dangerous lifestyle.

Part of the problem with “Live By Night” is that it was the second book in a small trilogy by Lehane about the Coughlin Family. While it is true that “Gone, Baby, Gone” was the fourth entry in its own series, those books were more separated from one another. “Live By Night’s” predecessor, “The Given Day,” developed Coughlin’s previous family generation so well as they enforced the law of that era. Without that backstory, Affleck’s “Live By Night” was, for all intents and purposes, a rehash of prior gangster movies like “Little Caesar” and “Goodfellas.”

As a TV series, instead, “Live By Night” could have been very much like other family crime shows like “Blue Bloods” or “Rizzoli & Isles” as it showcased the effects of the era on the Coughlins.


10. Love Story

Love Story

Long before “A Walk to Remember” and “Titanic” stole everyone’s hearts, there was “Love Story” in 1970. Starring American sweethearts Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, “Love Story” followed two college students, Jennifer Cavalleri and Oliver Barrett IV, from different socioeconomic backgrounds that fall in love in spite of parental resistance on Barrett’s side.

Though it was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, “Love Story” falls into the category of other films like “Out of Africa” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” as being one of the lowest rated Oscar-nominated films in the history of cinema, with a 57 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. While many critics pointed out that it felt contrived and sappy at times, the biggest issue with “Love Story” is its pacing.

Not even 30 minutes into the movie and you already have the two characters share their first kiss, have their first love scene, and already get engaged. It is very rushed, and that is not even taking into consideration the timeline of their life where they go from college to post-college to working class.

It is a tale that would have been better served by a small miniseries that took its time to focus on each part of the characters in terms of their lives and relationship. Pacing would not have been an issue, and perhaps audiences would grow more attached to Cavalleri and Barrett so that, when tragedy does befall them, they would have been sympathized with more.



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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


  • 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.