Segue Magic: Adaptations & Media Critiques

Sweeney: If you are one of the 8 people who were big fans of Segue Magic, let me start by apologizing for that teaser of a title. Segue Magic remains on hiatus. One day we will figure out how to add more hours in a day or some other such sorcery and it will return.

For now, though, we’re going to start cross-posting the occasional video from our own YouTube channels (see Mari’s excellent Handbook for Mortals post) and for lack of a better category to put those things in… they’re part of Segue Magic.

Which is what we’re doing here, today.

I have lately been making guest appearances on a friend’s podcast about bad movies, that I think is relevant to your interests if you enjoy this blog. You can check out Reel Bad on Soundcloud or iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. The podcast also has a Twitter.

Related to that, though, we also had a conversation recently(ish…) about adaptations, in which I got to be the odd man out essentially saying, “I do not care about your canon feelings.” (That was on our Batman v Superman episode and we just went to see Justice League on opening day and had nearly 2 hours worth of feelings so ENJOY THAT.)

Mari suggested that this is a topic Traumateers might have some feelings on too, and she’s probably right, so this post is one part “hello friends, check out this podcast!” and two parts “please tell me all your feelings about adaptations.”


Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I earned my MA in Global Communications and watching too many YouTube videos. Now people pay me to edit YouTube videos. The circle of life. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.

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  • David Sagneri

    I probably 99% agree with you. Especially since I dismiss or create cannon as it appeals. There is some major prospective dissonance that goes on when discussing this with people that view (want?) cannon as an objective unquestionable source. Suspect this is a deep core difference of thinking and perspective that probably a great many things.

    • David Sagneri

      As for BvsS I actually like it. I think it’s bad with a few good scenes (the opening for one) but despite recognizing that this isn’t good i enjoy it for some damned reason. And I’m ok with that because i don’t have to pretend everything I like is good.
      Oh and if you are going to do a Superman that isn’t at all inspiring and hopeful I’m going to be skeptical but at least open to it. Don’t then ask me to pretend no Superman really is inspiring and hopeful. It’s to much.

      • Reel Bad is very much interested in bad movies people love, too! We had a really interesting debate about whether Long Kiss Goodnight is a bad movie. We’ve got a pretty wide range of “bad” on there, and that is part of the fun.

        But in general, yeah, there are conversations about quality that can be separated out from questions of enjoyment.

        • The Bad Slayer

          Allow me to assist; Long Kiss Goodnight is excellent and I cannot believe anyone would ever think otherwise.

          • I thought that before the pod. It is now a movie I will never watch again. But there was disagreement on that front, so, ya know, ymmv.

          • The Bad Slayer

            I will listen and report.

          • The Bad Slayer

            Having listened to the pod and rewatched the movie, i do agree there are issues but, I stand by my opinion, it’s awesome and I continue to love it. PS, I’m really enjoying the pod! Good job to everyone.

          • That’s fair. Most of my actual re-watching experience pre-pod was pretty fun. For me it’s been a little like an argument where you realize all the stuff you should have said after the fact (aka every argument I have ever been in) – which is mostly to say that this one keeps coming back to me in deeply irritating ways.

            But also, it’s a fun action movie with lots of great one-liners, so I toooootally get why people love it.

          • Also: thank you! I have passed the message on to Nick who actually deserves all the credit for this good, good thing.

      • Christie Greenwood

        The extended edition is pretty great.

    • Yeah, I think part of my issue is with the very idea that there are singular reads on most/all texts, and so the conversation just starts out wrong.

      Beyond that, I just get so annoyed with “THE BOOK SAYS X BUT THEY DID Y!!!!!” as if X is any less a construction than Y. They are both storytelling choices and I would much rather talk about the efficacy of those choices than the pretending the simple fact of them is somehow interesting.

  • Blinvy .

    It depends on how a story is adapted, sometimes the movie makes absolutely horrendous choices and ruins the story completely and you’re left with a feeling of “Did they even read the book/watch the old version?” Then you have others that, while making changes, represent the story beautifully. Basically, just because a movie is an adaptation, doesn’t make it bad, it depends on the amount of effort put in. Also, something can be an excellent movie while also being a piss poor adaptation so it becomes its own thing (The Shining).
    I never saw BvsS because I’m kind of burned out on superhero movies but also, I just don’t care that much about Superman. I don’t think the movie would bug me as an adaptation because I’m not into comics at all, but I think I would be bored of how long superhero movies seem to always be and just want them to get to the point already. I’ve always wondered, why the need to make superhero movies over 2hours always? Or at least a majority of the time? Most times it is just too long for me and I get bored.

    • It’s “ruins the story” that I usually push back on, because (1) the original story is still there in its original format -and- (2) which story, exactly is being ruined? I just don’t understand how this is a useful critique if we’re not grounding it in the actual story that’s being told, in the format in which it is being told. And I think fidelity to source material can do as much harm as good when people don’t understand which elements to let go of.

      But I feel you on superhero burnout. I enjoy the ways in which superhero stories can be big aggressive metaphors for the human condition, but many of these movies (BvS & Justice League, for example) don’t bother doing anything interesting on that front and just say, “LOOK! AT! ALL! THE! HEROES! WOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!” which is not at all interesting because I do not care about superheroes.

      • Blinvy .

        Ah, I think I explained this poorly. I don’t mean ruined the story in the sense that they ruined the original (because you can’t do that) I mean, ruined it in that it doesn’t work as an adaptation or telling its own coherent story.

        Like Mean Girls is an adaptation but they had to change a lot to make the movie work. Is it word for word the book? I haven’t read it but I’m pretty sure it isn’t BUT they made a great story and movie on their own.

        World War Z basically took the title of the book and changed everything else and was a poor adaptation BUT they also made dumb decisions within their own retelling, resulting in a pretty ruined story that was not enjoyable. (I say this but there are probably people out there that did enjoy the movie and liked its story) To me, it was pretty incoherent and obviously went through too many hands so that it seemed like a pieced together thing rather than a nice flowing story.

        So, when I say ruined the story, I mean the movie did a horrible job either recreating the story or in making their own take on the story. If that makes sense?

        I actually enjoy a whole bunch of adaptations and remakes. Some are better than the original source ie: The Thing (80s) and Stand By Me. If a remake or adaptation is done really well, I don’t care what they change, as long as it works in the context of the movie. I love Odd Thomas and even though the movie had to cut out a lot, it was still really enjoyable and captured the spirit of the book well.

  • The Bad Slayer

    Agree 99%. Good example; when the 1st Jack Reacher came out people were up the fuck in arms because Tommy C. didn’t, ahem, measure up, height wise. But the height of Tom Cruise was irrelevant. It didn’t impact the story, it was just not exactly how Lee Child and described him. And I say, who gives a fuck? Was the movie, BASED on the book, good all by itself? Because we’re either judging the movie, judging the book, or simply comparing and contrasting. They aren’t meant to be copies of each other. Now, if I’m rrading a book/watching a movie that resuses the same character all instances of the character better keep that character consistent across the stories otherwise there is a significant issue.

    • YES. THIS.

      I think your last point is a question of sequels? And to that end I agree. We got into this quite a bit when talking Justice League. At that point, I *do* take issue with their presentation of Wonder Woman because this is meant to be the same Wonder Woman as the WW of her own dang movie, and that’s quite a bit different than saying “this version of Wonder Woman is different than my ideal version of Wonder Woman.” In trying to build out a cinematic universe, you are assuming some level of continuity across films and saying X is different from the first film to the second is a whole separate ballgame.

      Ooooor maybe I just misunderstood what you were saying. But if not, I totally agree.

      • The Bad Slayer

        You got exactly what I was saying! And, EXACTLY! Though, I don’t know how you managed with my truly terrible typing. I’m listening to the BvS pod episode now. I’m quite enjoying it.