The Last Airbender came on Nickelodeon this weekend. I can't remember which day, but I knew I wasn't watching it. Why? Because I spent 13 dollars to see it in 3D, and it was not only terrible, but there were only two long-shot scenes that were in 3D. This one was my fault, because I, like everyone else who was in the theatre the day the first teaser was shown, saw that my favorite Nickelodeon anime was being adapted by the one-and-only-and-awful M. Night Shyamalan. Most anime/Avatar: TLA fans' major problem with this terrible adaptation was that the characters weren't Asian. Honestly, I didn't care. My problem was that M. Night tried to squeeze 20 episodes (about 7 hours) of information into a 90 minute film. So, not only did we not get to really know Aang, or even get to truly love Uncle Iro, but we couldn't go on the day-to-day journeys with Aang like we did in the ATLA. Another major beef I had with this one, was the complete change of the epic Aang-Avatar freak out where he wiped out the entire Fire Nation in the Season Finale. Instead, M. Night opted for Aang raising up a really huge wave to scare away the Fire Nation quietly. *cue duck lips of disapproval*
I think I left a long comment on someone's blog about some of the book-to-film adaptations I loved and hated, or started to and stopped my diatribe. The 50s thought any book that didn't have a happy ending deserved one, so they ruined a couple of books that I read in high school (The Good Earth, Fahrenheit 451). Then, there is the BIGGEST offender, A Clockwork Orange, in which some idiot director over-sexualized the scenery of an already sexually violent and ultraviolent book, and then had the nerve to make it seem like Alex was happily improving through the Ludovido technique. He was freaking out and upset that he had no say in how his life should turn out. "Aren't I a clockwork orange?" That was the pivotal question in the book, and it was nowhere to be found in the movie that I'm pretty sure is only a cult classic because no one who likes it read the book.
However, there are some movie adaptations that either stuck to the book, for which I was grateful, to those who successfully changed the plot/pace/situations to the point where I was satisfied. Cases in point: The Outsiders, and The Green Mile. These were two books I read in Junior High (in school and at my leisure respectively), and I cried like a family died at the end of these. Heck, I cried through an entire chapter of The Green Mile. When I got to see the movies, still tears. Why? Because the directors followed the books. There were no happy endings, no big changes in script or plot.
One movie in particular in which I was glad they deviated was The Watchmen. I started reading the graphic novel a few days before I saw the movie, so I was excited to see pieces of what I'd already read brought to life on the big screen. (Jeffrey Dean Morgan getting beaten to death is SUCH an epic scene! And the whole opening sequence set to "Times Are A'Changing?? 2 thumbs up.) One thing readers complained about was the lack of this LONG, insistent comic book within the graphic novel that just hammered into our heads the idea of cycles. I wanted so badly to skim through those when I got to them. The director left those out, thankfully. I was also thankful for the major deviation from the book: how half the city was destroyed (This movie came out like 5 years ago, so I'm going to spoil it up). In the novel, Ozymandias, to bring the world together instead of start nuclear war, staged an alien invasion. I believe there was a dimensional teleporter involved. I don't particularly remember. At that point, however, I'd already seen the movie and was thinking, "What the heck?!" In the movie, Oz did a more sensible thing and created a machine that acted in the same manner of Dr. Manhattan, an accidentally radiated scientist who became superhuman and was the reason we won Vietnam (that was a scene straight out of my nightmares). The machine's cloned powers destroyed the city, and the world came together to blame Dr. Manhattan, who leaves for another planet or galaxy to wait out everyone else dying.
I ramble on like a total geek to say that movie adaptations can be done well, and they can be done poorly. How they fare can sometimes be left in the hands of the audience. I, myself, will forever hold out for the movies that stay true to the books I loved.