Can Adaptations Be Better Than Their Originals?

Although we are in an era of shocking un-originality, inundated with sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations, sometimes there is some value in the “derivative” practice of adaptation. There are many instances where an adapted work is much more successful than its original, and the article below lists and discusses 14 such examples, complete with clips for demonstration.

The best example, in my opinion, is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon’s original concept was a film that was made in 1992, but was unfortunately skewed from his intentions simply by having the wrong director. Whedon intended the film to be taken seriously, while Fran Rubel Kuzui turned it into a campy, cheesy teen horror flick. When given the opportunity to turn it into a show, then, Whedon indisputably redeemed Buffy, producing the clever, witty, and insightful series that lasted seven seasons and is now in its 9th season in comic book form, continuing to enchant audiences to this day.

What are your favorite examples of adaptations that are better than their originals?

Clear eyes, full hearts, eh, I’ll just wait for the TV show: 14 TV series that usurped their original film versions
Jason Heller, Joel Keller, Noel Murray, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, and Scott Tobias @ A.V. Club

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In the hierarchy of entertainment, television adaptations are generally considered poor relations of the films that spawned them. Oftentimes adaptations of films never make it past the pilot stage, like an ill-fated 1997 television version of Fargo starring Edie Falco. Even when television adaptations do make it onto a network schedule, they seldom make it past a single season. But every once in a while, a television adaptation—official, loose, or otherwise—usurps its big-screen version in the public’s imagination.

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‘Dredd’: An Under-Appreciated Adaptation

The British science fiction film Dredd, an adaptation of the comic book series Judge Dredd, with no relationship to the awful 1995 Sylvester Stallone film version, has unfortunately flown under the radar. With its DVD and Blu-ray release just two days ago, I hope that it may garner some more attention.

The setting of the film alone is incredibly intriguing–a dystopian future where most of Earth is too dangerous to inhabit because of high levels of radiation, so most of the world’s population is crammed into massive conglomerates of cities, rife with crime and violence. But beyond that, this film has some incredible action sequences, stunning and innovative visuals, and impeccable acting on the part of Karl Urban (Judge Dredd) and Lena Heady (Ma-Ma, a ruthless drug lord and gang leader).

So why is it that almost no one went to see this film? I, myself, didn’t even hear about it until I saw it on the local theater’s movie showtimes. I think this is a testament to the fact that promotion was far too limited here in the States for this great British film, but the article below discusses some of the added reasons why this under-appreciated film may simply not have what it takes to appeal to mainstream audiences.

Have you seen Dredd? Tell me what you thought of it!

Slow It Down and Violence Is Made Beautiful in ‘Dredd’
Liz Medendorp @ PopMatters

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Dredd is a visually stunning, action-packed, and subtly funny British science fiction comic adaptation, yet it flew under the radar—only partly due to minimal promotion in the States. Beyond that, although Dredd admirably stays faithful to the spirit of the original comics, this approach in some ways limits the film’s appeal. With no epic narrative, no major growth in the protagonist, and a focus on the entrancing visuals rather than on plot or character development, Dredd is a great film that simply doesn’t fit the mainstream formula.”

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