No . . . just . . . No (or Initial Thoughts on Netflix’s announced adaptation of Atkin’s Wonderland)

According to Variety and Deadline stories today, another actor has been tapped to take on the role of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser: Mark Whalberg. He’ll be starring in Peter Berg’s movie for Netflix, an adaptation of Wonderland — the second novel Ace Atkins wrote about the Boston sleuth — as the potential first in a series.

I’m not Whalberg’s biggest fan, but given the right material, he’s good and he can pull of the physicality needed (and then some, but, whatever). And I have more trust in Peter Berg than most directors (Battleship notwithstanding). And the source material is great.

BUT. . .

From Deadline‘s story:

The movie will differ from the novel, in that it begins with Spenser emerging from a prison stretch, stripped of his private investigator license. Here, he gets pulled back into the underbelly of the Boston crime world when he uncovers the truth about a sensational murder and the twisted conspiracy behind it.

Stripped of his PI license after a prison stretch???? I know that adaptations have to make changes to the character, that’s the whole point of adapting. But this is striking at the core of the character. Spenser a felon? That’s a deal breaker. That makes almost all the changes in The Dresden Files series seem acceptable. It’s like making Edward a werewolf and Jacob a vampire. Or using an animated tiger in Life of Pi à la Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I’m having trouble here, okay? You can get the gist of what I’m saying.

So, I’m happy for the Parker Estate, Ace Atkins and anyone else who made some money off this. I’m happier yet for anyone who discovers Parker/Atkins/Spenser because of this.

But…nope. Just flat-out no. Count me out.*

*(which everyone knows is a giant lie, I’m totally going to watch this because I’m weak, I’m a sucker, and a Spenser-addict)

A Die Hard Christmas by Doogie Horner, JJ Harrison

A Die Hard ChristmasA Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic

by Doogie Horner, JJ Harrison (Illustrator)

Hardcover, 32 pg.
Insight Editions, 2017

Read: October 25, 2017

This is going to be short and sweet. The premise: Take Die Hard one of the greatest action films ever made, one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made, and an all-around pop culture touchstone and turn it into a (NOT for kids) rhyming picture book.

I’m not sure I really need to say more, do I?

Horner does an admirable job with taking the flick and turning it into a series of rhymes — it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. A lot of what he doesn’t grab, Harrison takes care of in the illustrations. It’s not perfect, things are left out, but with only 32 pages — you pretty much have to. Only 1 four-letter word, too (technically, 12 letters, but you get the point).

The art is great — although you could make the case that Harrison gave McClane too much hair. The art is dynamic, you can feel the action, the characters all look just right. Some samples of the illustrations are here on Harrison’s site.

One complaint? No Argyle. Which I guess makes sense given the limited space, but man . . .

This is a hoot — yeah, a novelty book, but well executed and well worth a read. Something to bring out every December (if you’re the type to do that).


5 Stars

Saturday Miscellany — 12/14

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    One of those ever-so-rare weeks that has nothing new I want to read. Or, my TBR pile stays the same dangerous size.

Kickstarter: A Phantom Tollbooth Documentary

On Twitter a little bit ago, I saw a link to a Kickstarter for a documentary about The Phantom Tollbooth and tossed out my plan for today’s post. The Phantom Tollbooth is one of those books that was so formative for me that it seems like I need a better word to describe its effect on me.

My impulse was to throw up a post about its impact on my life/thinking, but that’d take too long (and I’d have to reread the book, and I’m behind as it is). If you’ve read it, you probably understand — and if you haven’t, just take my word for it and go read it. Even as an adult, it’s one of those that contains enough that a kid won’t get, but an adult will love. Think early Loony Tunes shorts. I read it with my kids a couple of years back — and it was as good (if not better) then, than it was when I read it a couple of decades ago (for the first of many times).

Basically, I’m excited for this one. I hope it gets all the funding it needs.

Ideally, you’ll see the video embedded below. But wordpress doesn’t seem to want to display that (or at least not in preview or edit mode, so I don’t know if it’ll show or not. If it doesn’t, click the link back in my first sentence to go watch it.

Saturday Miscellany – 7/20

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

Dusted Off: So Have You Seen this Fan-Made Hunger Games Clip?

I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but if you’ve read The Hunger Games you really, really should–it almost perfectly captures one of the best scenes in the book. If you haven’t read it, and are considering it (and you really should), stay away from the clip ‘cuz it’ll ruin one of the best scenes in the book.

Other than the fact they got Rue’s ethnicity wrong…can’t think of a problem with this. I’d gladly fork over $10 to buy a ticket to this group’s version of the whole book.

Watching this made me realize one major problem with making a movie of book: How does Hollywood expect to do this flick and get a PG-13?

Dusted Off: Really only posting this to keep up my quota

Watched The Water Horse, this weekend with the family, which garnered very mixed reviews. TLomL called it “cute” and “a fun little movie.” The rest of us couldn’t disagree more. Whyfore the difference? The rest of us read the book last year before it opened in theaters, (one of our nigh unto unbreakable House Rules is “read the book first”) and the experience coupled with the trailers we’d been enjoying switched it from the “Get thee to a Multiplex” list to “Eh, maybe on video.” And we almost didn’t do that, but in the end, Frodo’s desire to compare the two and the Princess’ curiosity overcame Sam’s apathy.

I fully realize that you sometimes have to alter, tweak, or change elements of a book to get the thing into a movie. Sometimes I wonder why choices are made, but I can understand it. But this wasn’t on the level of leaving Hermione’s founding S.P.E.W. out of the flick, or something on that level. This was a wholesale re-write.

Dick King-Smith’s perfectly charming kid’s book is about two kids Kirstie and Angus living in Scotland in the 1930’s with their mother and her father (their father is a merchant marine gone for months at a time). They go to the shore frequently to look for firewood, kelp (to put on their grandfather’s garden), and miscellany. One day, Angus and Kirstie find a giant “mermaid’s purse“, which our protagonist, Kirstie, decides to sneak home because she’s so curious about it. That mermaid’s purse turns out to be an egg sack for the Water Horse. The rest of the book is about the family’s struggle to feed and care for the beastie while keeping him secret. He’s moved from body of water to body of water ’til he ends up in Loch Ness, where a certain picture is taken of him in 1934. Along the way, silly Angus grows up a bit, grandfather (named ‘Grumble’ because of his personality) cheers up, Kirstie becomes more mature.

In the movie, we’re still in Scotland, but it’s in the middle of WWII, and Angus is the focus…he’s drawn to the water, yet terrified of it (for reasons to be semi-explained later). One day at the beach where he’s supposed to be playing, he finds this strange rock, which he takes home–which is a large estate, his mother is the Head Housekeeper there. The rock turns out to be an egg, from which hatches the Water Horse. The next day, a regiment (or so) of soldiers arrives to be housed at the estate while they guard the nearby Loch from German Subs. Angus recruits the help of Kirstie and the new handyman with the mysterious past (taking the job of Angus’ father) to help him keep the creature a secret. Which brings them into confrontation with the soldiers, helps Angus deal with the loss of his father and his fear of water.

Which would’ve been a fine little flick, if it didn’t claim to be based on the book. Trust the source. You thought the novel was good enough to buy the rights to…don’t mess with it. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

So, basically, if you and yours haven’t read the book–it’s a cute movie to watch with the kids. Otherwise…find something else.

By the way, I have to wonder…just what history books do the people at Walden Media read? Apparently, aside from one/both parents being separated from their kids, WWII’s a pretty magical time (maybe just in the UK). The Pevensies are whisked away to Narnia, the MacMorrow kids get a magical pet…