Michael Connelly’s best-selling book “The Lincoln Lawyer” is getting its silver screen debut March 18 and stars Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, and Marisa Tomei.
McConaughey stars as the lawyer who operates his office out of his Lincoln while driving from courthouse to courthouse.
This is only one of a few book-to- film adaptations that will be opening in theaters this spring.
Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” is also getting the film treatment, along with Sara Gruen’s novel “Water for Elephants,” in a film adaptation starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.
It’s great to see some of our favorite books adapted to the big screen, but is there anything original out today? And how many of these adaptations actually live up to their source material?
My answer is not very many.
With the exceptions of “Gone With the Wind,” “The Godfather,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Wizard of Oz,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” not many films live up to the material they were based off of. Is it really impossible to come up with something original?
Hollywood studios churn out a litany of adaptations, remakes, and sequels a year without finding a single gem in the lot. Another example is Universal Studios, who has recently green lit a reboot of the Spider-man series.
The very first one came out in 2002, only nine years ago, and the Marvel comic super hero is already getting another remake, starring “The Social Network’s” Andy Garfield.
According to boxofficemojo.com, a site that tracks the amount of money films gross a year, in 2010, only two entries in the top ten grossing films a year were actually original works.
These were Chris Nolan’s mind-bending summer blockbuster “Inception,” and the animated children’s comedy “Despicable Me.” The rest of the money makers in 2010 consisted of: “Toy Story 3,” “Alice in Wonderland” based off of Lewis Carroll’s tale, “Iron Man 2” from the Marvel comic. Also included in this list is “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” from Stephanie Meyer’s international best-seller, “Harry Potter 7: The Deathly Hallows Part I,” “Shrek Forever After,” the fourth sequel in the series. The last two entries in this list includes “How to Train Your Dragon,” penned by the author Cressida Cowell, and Disney’s “Tangled,” based off of the fairytale by the Grimm brothers.
From this group of ten, two are works of complete originality, seven are adaptations of some type of written work, and the last one, “Shrek Forever After,” is another unnecessary Hollywood sequel.
The future looks bleak for original, fresh stories from Hollywood directors and screenwriters, but there is hope. If anything, the $292 million dollars garnered by “Inception” shows us that a film can both be intellectually stimulating and a box office smash.
It’s sad that the film industry, while remaining an industry, has lost touch with the art form of cinema and little movies each year truly strive to break from the conventions of cinema. Year after year, we’re spoon-fed the same exact romantic-comedy, where the boy and girl meet, they chase after each other, experience some sort of misunderstanding, but get together in the end. Films are only being made now to make money, not because they’re art or because a story needs to be told or seen.
“Inception” showed us that films can still be entertaining, make money, and be wholly original all at once.
It was filmmaker Stanley Kubrick who directed films such as “A Clockwork Orange,” and “Eyes Wide Shut” who said, “A film is—or should be—more like music than like fiction,” he said.
“It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.”
If filmmakers are truly masters of the art form, they would heed Kubrick’s advice because I’m begging.
Give the audience something they’re not going to regret like the ten dollars spent on the admission ticket or the ubiquitous stomachache from all the eaten popcorn and candy afterwards.
Give the audience something original, creative, and worthwhile.
Whitney Cyr can be contacted at email@example.com