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Original entry posted: Tue Jun 6 04:58:11 2006

GregT @ Tue Jun 6 00:10:38 2006 EST

I maintain that if Hollywood were churning out as many video game adaptations as it is book adaptations, we'd have had a Lord of the Rings by now. Where they've mostly gone wrong is they've captured EITHER the characters or the aesthetics or the plot points or the atmosphere of the game, without trying to collect the whole set. And... well, some games were never meant to be adapted. The Mario Bros movie was as inherently bad an idea as would be a movie based on Plato's The Republic.

On a side-point, I think if you're counting Seven as a shallow premise executed well, you need to revisit it. It's not just the fantastic action or Fincher's superb direction - it's also a fairly clever inversion of the rules of the "buddy cop" movie, coupled to a multileveled religious allegory and a reasonably good exploration of character. Or, y'know, don't watch it again, whatever. 8-)

Thomas @ Tue Jun 6 00:58:11 2006 EST

I agree, of course, but I figured it went without saying: some things just shouldn't be made into movies. To your Mario example, I'd like to add Nintendogs and Simcity, in case any film executives are reading.

Now, you don't have to urge me to watch Se7en (take that, funky Hollywood branding!) again. It's a great flick, I'd do it in an instant.

But let me clarify, because I guess I worded that badly by using loaded terms like "shallow" and "cheap." Clearly, we could discuss the themes and meanings of the movie for hours. I would agree that such depth is part of what makes it a great, rather than merely a good, piece of cinema (although I might add the caveat that said depth was often reached through clever direction and acting choices).

However, part of the joy of the flick--and the real reason why I described it as a "cheap" thriller--is that it is so firmly rooted in the pulp novel tradition. Not to say that it doesn't subvert those rules when it wants to do so, say for the buddy cop premise, but to do so it has to be aware of them first. In order to really appreciate Se7en, I think you have to be familiar with a genre of crime fiction known more for its style than its originality.

Take, for example, the Maltese Falcon and its literary progenitor. Hammet's books aren't well known for their logic, or their deeper themes. It's the creation of strong, stylized characters portrayed against the mean streets that won them fame. And that is no less a slur against them than to say that Dostoevsky talks too much, or that Heinlein's a crypto-fascist.

I think I'm getting off topic (way too late in this time-zone), but the point I'm trying to make is that just because something springs from a shallow or cheap tradition--as we could certainly argue that Se7en did--doesn't necessarily mean it can't transcend the shallow or the cheap. Similarly, a movie adaptation of a video game plot doesn't have to be restricted to Mario Brothers just because they share certain basic similarities.

...does that make sense?

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