Steven Ray Morris is a young filmmaker and soon-to-be MA Filmmaking student at London Film School. He’s also a friend of mine – we both attended University California at Santa Barbara. He’s headed for the directorial big-time, but for now he is focusing on film adaptations from Tolkien and Jackson to O’Malley & Wright. Please note there are spoilers aplenty after the cut! Check back tomorrow for my review of Cyrus.
I’ve been thinking a lot about adaptations lately, recently reread The Hobbit and am flummoxed at how in the hell they are going to adapt that into a movie. The structure is so bizarre, but I digress. I also re-read Lord of the Rings and am moving on to re-read (and read) the Harry Potter series so lots of adaptations in the can. I was thinking about doing one of these on LOTR but that is an even bigger mess to untangle.
Also, I am currently working on adapting Bryan Lee O’Malley’s first graphic novel Lost At Sea into a film as bit of screenplay practice (and would be cool to make it in the future) so again the work and struggle it must take to adapt a movie and get people to ignore the, “book was better than the movie,” talk is really taking over my mind and I hope this piece shed light on this often mysterious process.
On to Scott Pilgrim: Now, a disclaimer: if you talk of oh the book was better than the movie kind of talk I will shoot you in the eyes and pour acid in the sockets. We aren’t doing 7th grade book reports anymore.
However, I am merely posting this comparison to illustrate the subtleties and intricacies of adaptations and how diffcult it must be to take someone else’s baby and make it yours.
The illustration for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Vs. The Adaptation Process is mostly character-based, but obviously when you deal with character changes, shrinking roles, timeline restructuring, etc., inevitably plot changes come into play so bear with me.
Let’s start with the losers!
Even in the graphic novel they were underwhelming, in a way they were merely meant to show that despite a two-some, the evil exes thing was basically beyond Scott Pilgrim at that point and Ramona’s growing aloofness was more problematic. In the film, what do you do with them when that element of the story is significantly removed along with Kim’s kidnapping (which never made sense)? Well they are basically just another stop in the road for movie SP and although they do function in the film, they are basically moot.
Yes Alison Pill won our hearts over and really sold Kim’s apathy and general “fuck off” in a George Harrison kind of way attitude, BUT it would have been so nice to understand more of her history and generally her relationship to Scott. It was great to include the “I’m sorry about me” line even if it was a tad unnecessary, but ultimately Kim’s function was changed to fit the smaller time frame of the film.
Crash and the Boys
Yes they have a moment in the film that’s quite hilarious, BUT DUDE wouldn’t it have sweet to see them use their mind powers to make music?? Oh, and the song that knocks everyone out would have been sweet too. Again all icing, but still…
Of all the things lost in the adaptation (all mostly necessary) I am probably most heartbroken about this. I think it was good that she doesn’t come back at the end (something that felt a little tacked on in the graphic novel) and Todd cheating on her was just too much for the film, but still ENVY ADAMS is such a sexy bitch goddess and it would have been interesting to see them to show more competition between her and Ramona and also to truly understand what happened between her and Scott, illustrating how awful heartbreak really is in that universe (our universe).
Now on to the winners!!!
We get it she’s a total bitch and I did miss the moment in vol. 4 with Stephen Stills’ song, BUT Aubrey Plaza owned Julie and really made her a more memorable (and more integral) character to the film overall. Her incessant reinforcement of Scott’s past was a really nice tool on Wright’s behalf because it gives us a bit of uncertainty to SP’s moral fiber. He’s not just an aloof slacker, he was in the business of breaking hearts.
Color me controversial, but Bacall and Wright did a wonderful thing with Young Neil making him way more important and giving him some really awesome moments, like his introduction to Knives, and the ‘punched the highlights out of her hair’ moment. Structurally it was great to have him know SP’s parts and join the band. It just made him important character overall and hints at a possible Young Neil Vs. The World spinoff…(!!!)
Chris Evans. ‘Nuff said.
Ellen Wong took everything about Knives and gave it 10,000%. I think too that in trimming the timeframe of the film and the number of events that happen in-between the beginning and ending of the story the essence of her story became much more prevalent and poignant and really quite moving. She’s pretty much the same in the graphic novel and the movie, but I think in the film we were allowed to understand how it plays in SP’s world a lot better.
Even Bryan Lee O’Malley stated that even he can’t compete with Jason Schwartzman and to an extent he’s right. Although I miss the whole “drunk on craigslist” moment and the giant kanye ego-minded monster form of Gideon, Schwartzman is G-Man Graves, despite the whole neck control being kind of lame, (the explanation for Ramona’s control was also kind of lame in the graphic novel but it was supposed to be)…I mean really the function of Gideon in the books was to illustrate that Scott could easily become him, but in the movie, Schwartzman just functions to steal the show. And be a really big dick.
Equally Winners and Losers
Scott and Ramona
There are moments I miss in the film, but honestly the changes made were all necessary and the changes all function well and stand on their own. Would have liked more hair changes in Ramona though.
Brandon Routh is pretty great, but I think with the restructuring of the story he still works well despite the lack of cheating bit, etc.
No gay Stephen for the movie unfortunately, but Stephen still gets plenty of great moments. Music-wise, Mark Webber shines pretty bright!
THE REAL WINNER
But we already knew that.