See, there were these books published rather a long way back when (I have what must be the original paperback editions, rather tatty and well-loved) concerning a place called Riverworld, by this chap called Philip Jose Farmer.
I last read those books rather a while ago, to be sure, but I still remember my initial response to them which was on the whole a very positive one - I loved the idea of all those people from all possible walks of life and eras of history being flung together higgledy piggledy on the shores of this alien river and left to figure it out for themselves. I loved reading how Richard Burton (mainly the PROTAGONIST of the original books), Sam Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain, Jack London, Hermann Goering, King John of England and Alice Hargreaves (the original of the Wonderland Alice, whose presence in this weird place was oddly.. apropos...)dealt with the weirdness of it all.
I am emphatically NOT one of those readers who are forever looking for themselves or for people like themselves in a book, particularly in a book of a fantastical nature such as this one, so the relative lack of "contemporary" characters never bothered me.
Enter SyFy Channel, and the Riverworld movie.
Read the details here if so inclined, but let me just say... AAARGH.
Four hours of it. Four hours of going "WTF??" because most of THIS storyline seemed to consist of various random people taking whacks at each other with swords, guns, pikes, axes, knives, arrows, and an occasional attempt at a poisoning. No coherent central thread, nothing like that. Instead, what we have is a shameless pandering to the apparent inability of the modern American audience to watch something - ANYTHING - without a macho contemporary (American) hero, in this case a gung-ho war correspondent whose credentials include Chechnya and Afghanistan, and a feeble storyline about his girl whom he spends most of the movie, when he isn't being macho and whacking somebody, pining over... except when he's feeling rather drawn to a pretty Japanese Buddhist nun who turns out to be a gung-ho Samurai queen and pretty good at, yanno, WHACKING people. Final scene of a pointless, meandering violent four hours of no real plot or storyline and only a couple of good lines to leaven it all? Two things: 1) a conversation between our war correspondent and our warrior nun, both conveniently resurrected after they've been destroyed in an attempt to end the world, about the dreamlike quality of the whole thing ("were we dreaming the same dream?") and 2) the waking up, somewhere in the vaults of Riverworld human fodder, of our chief ANTAGONIST in the movie (Burton who was, if you remember my preamble, the PROTAGONIST of the original books!) and the love interest, the blonde and vacuous Jessica whose only role in the entire movie seemed to be that she was the war correspondent's obsession and Burton's paramour in an act of "betrayal" vis-a-vis the war correspondent (who by the way is still pining for his warrior nun on the side).
Wait, was that really an ending which screamed, very loudly, "and then we woke up"?...
Why do I even bother?
Is ANYONE ever going to make a decent movie out of a book I have loved? Why why why why whyyyyyy is it considered essential to screw with the storyline to the extent that makes keeping the original title completely meaningless?
Producers, film-makers, directors, please hear me. If you set out to adapt a book, ADAPT THE FRIGGING BOOK. If unable, please stop hacking at its corpse. Call the product something else entirely and do an original story you damn well wanted to do in the first place. What you are doing is arrant cheating.
Back to doing some coherent work now. Just had to get that one off my chest. Go on, scoot, shoo, back to your regularly scheduled activities.
Film at 11.
Or, as it were, perhaps not.