A short while ago, I had an article on my thoughts about adaptations. Now I’m going to talk a bit on reviewing or judging the adaptations. Is it fair to judge the adapted works based on the original? Should they be seens as their own entity? Well, it depends. It always depends.
For me, personally, I find I enjoy most adapted works much better if I don’t read/watch the original work. I think that’s just because I don’t know what could be. Sometimes, lots of things change between the adapted works. Most of the time, though, it’s just some plots get cut out and characters get reduced. At times, the changes can make the new work confusing.
Of recent examples that are well known, I will talk a bit about Harry Potter. I read the books and saw the movies. The movies replaced a lot of fun scenes in the books with their own version. That, I’m fine with. Much of the explanations in the movie are lacking however. So much information was cut out, and not just things relating to the world.
The entire backstory for the main villain was gone. We never found out who wrote the Maurauder’s Map, things that made earlier setup in the movie seem wasted, such as Lupin’s deep knowledge of the map. Even just one line at the end would have done it.
Now, for the Hobbit movies, I have not read the Hobbit to completion. To clarify, I have read part of the Hobbit, up to the river water barrel escape. I also have not ready any of the indices or supplemental material. I enjoyed the movie, as ridiculous and over the top as they were. Not knowing what happened allowed me to enjoy the Tauriel parts more, though I did know she is a movie only character.
As far as if it’s fair to compare adaptations to the original work, I would say yes it is. After all, it’s an adaptation! Should all changes to the story be met with cries of how it is ruined, I think not. In fact, I’m not all that upset when adaptations take larger turns away from the original works. It gives surprises to people, might work better with the medium or any other number of things.
Thematic changes are interesting, though I don’t think they should be done. I’m thinking of I am Legend, here. The original work had an intent with its message. To just change it is pretty much changing the core of the story.
In short, keep in mind the original when experiencing the adaptation. Allow for flexibility in what they can present. Changing things isn’t bad, and sometimes, might be better. It’s been known to happen.