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Resident Evil, Dragonball Z and Super Mario Bros: Are Most Adaptions Terrible?

I naturally assumed that my last Case Study would be my one and only, but I came up with another, so expect this to become a reoccurring article series. Anyhow, I recently came across the teaser trailer for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Sigh! Dear God is that series a load of old… This led me to the fundamental question I have been asking myself for many years now: Are most adaptions terrible?

Let us have a look.

When it comes to adaptions I expect, or at least hope, that the creative team behind the adaption have saw something special in the product they wish to translate to another medium, and because of that simple idea you would expect the new product to be a reflection of the product it is based on. Wrong! At least in most cases. It seems Hollywood never quite know what should be adapted and what should be altered. But in my eyes if you are adapting something you aren’t meant to create something new, and instead bringing to life the pages of a book, or a comic-book, or a video game.

Video game adaptions tend to be the worst, right up there with comic-book adaptions. I don’t know whether or not Hollywood understand the video game industry or not but in most modern games they have a clear narrative structure, like the Uncharted series for example. Why that is meant to be getting a film adaption I don’t know because the video games themselves are movies in themselves, only playable. It seems to me that Hollywood wish to cash in on the success of the video game and don’t actually care about the legacy of the game and its fan-base. Look at Resident Evil for example, the films have nothing to do with the games.

This is what bores me about adaptions, they are never anything like the original product. They only take aspects from the games and think it’s still okay to call it by the same name. I mean come on Hollywood, the Resident Evil video game series is full of great characters: Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy to name a few, and yet you create an original character as your protagonist. I have no words for how ridiculous and insulting that is. Okay, the first two films aren’t too bad, with the second being the best because it mostly resembles the games (Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Nemesis respectively). And it has freaking Nemesis!! But alas the series has a massive nose-dive by Resident Evil: Extinction as it presumably got bored of adapting from the original material and decided to turn the film into a generic zombie movie, making it pointless even having the title Resident Evil.

Why bother adapting something if you’re not even going to bother basing your stories on the original product? By this point all the film series is doing is creating weak narratives and in-your-face action scenes which all go to show off the fact that Milla Jovovich as Alice is totally awesome and everybody wants to come see her, yay!! No Hollywood, we want to see a Resident Evil movie not your perfect little creation which, by the way, has no actual character or investment value. All she does is perform stunts and more stunts, which is fine if we were watching an action movie and not a Resident Evil movie! Also, don’t insult me movies by inserting our favourite characters as supporting roles to help out Alice. They should be running the show!! At least they got Albert Wesker right, but that doesn’t excuse all the other BS that goes on in these films.

Then of course there’s the other monstrosity that is Dragonball: Evolution. I really don’t know what Hollywood were thinking when they okayed this crap. It’s an insult not only to Akira Toriyama (the creator of the manga), the manga/anime community, but also Japan itself. They decided to turn Goku into a high-school student, have Bulma become a gun-wielding action bitch, and have the Great Ape be a servant of Piccolo’s. This should have been an easy win for Hollywood. They had in their hands one of the greatest manga’s in the history of this planet and they go and screw it up with the poorest, most disrespectful script ever conceived. I’m lost for words on this film. It should not have been created and shame to all those who created it because it is not only a terrible adaption, but a god-awful film, period.

The Super Mario Bros movie. Now I will admit that this is a guilty pleasure of mine. Yes I just bashed the hell out of Dragonball: Evolution but at least, despite all the obvious problems with SMB it at least has entertainment value. DBE is just bad and cringe-worthy. Obviously with SMB we have a film that is supposed to be adapting the Nintendo classic, Super Mario Bros, a game most of us have surely either grown-up with or least heard about it. It was bright, it was cheerful, it was really, really hard as well, but one can not forget that catchy theme music and of course Mario himself, along with his brother Luigi. But the film looks like it was trying to be like Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film instead. Bowser is now a T-Rex, the Goomba’s are now devolved Dinosaurs, Yoshi is a baby T-Rex, and Toad is… Let’s just move on. The only thing they had right was Mario and Luigi being plumbers (but not Italian plumbers). This is clearly a very bad adaption that doesn’t take any note of the original product and the demographic it was made for.

Now obviously not all adaptions are terrible, we have such adaptions like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. These two examples are amongst the best adaptions out there and prove that Hollywood know how to transfer a product from one medium to another. In fact, when it comes to The Lord of the Rings it’s fair to say a lot of fans admit that the films are actually better than the books. I suppose that is the point, because it is adapted from a book. Book adaptions tend to be where Hollywood can do their best work which is kind of strange when you consider the mediums of video games and comics contain imagery, so you’d assume it would be easier to transfer into film but I digress. The only comic-book adaptions to date that have really had a sporting chance of being good adaptions are the ones under the control of creative teams that actually understand the product they want to adapt, such as the team behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Arrowverse.

I think my point within this case study is that I truly believe that Hollywood generally does have a hard time with adapting. Though I can’t quite put my finger on why they can’t do this I can clearly see the usual problems they contain, which I’ve stated above. It truly is frustrating to see this repeated pattern which has almost become a vicious cycle but the bottom-line is it is possible to make good adaptions, sometimes perfect adaptions, when given to the right hands. So why can’t they do this all the time? And to answer “do I think most adaptions are terrible?” I think this article answers itself.

Enough with my rants, what are your thoughts on the world of adaptions? Do you see the pattern that I see? Have you ever had an experience where a favourite comic-book or video game has been wrongly translated into the film industry? If so please share your thoughts and opinions about this topic either in the comment section below or on our Twitter page!

Before we move on from adaptions, I have one more BIG question to ask: Is Hollywood Dependent On Adaptions?


About the author

John Hussey