Series Power

Newly minted Chicago Sun-Times contributor Dana Kaye went to see PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3 and suffice to say, was disappointed with the end result. The sour taste has her wondering why books deliver on the series front while movies cannot:

[W]hy is it that books do it so well and movies continue to fail time and

time again? Is it the industry? The audience? The screenwriters? I

believe it is a combination of all.

First, I don’t think that

movie producers know when to quit. They see a movie that pulled in a

ton of money at the box office and think, “We should do that again!”

Lehane knew when it was time to retire Kenzie and Genaro. Connelly took

a few breaks from Harry Bosch. Child created Reacher in such a way,

that he may never run out of ways to get into trouble. Furthermore, I

believe movie producers don’t recreate characters, they recreate

concepts. Just look at Speed or The Mighty Ducks or The Matrix.


it’s the writing. Screenwriters have about a third of the pages

novelists have. They need to get in and get out. When words are taken

away, when scenes have to be cut, what goes? Right, the character

studies. Why would you cut a high packed action sequence (never mind

that it’s doing nothing for overall plot)? Books take a lot more time

to build the world of the story, time that movies don’t have.


I do believe it’s the audience, especially when it comes to action

movies. People want to see high speed car chases, explosions, not what

a character is feeling. To me, in books, the emotional factors make the

action scenes all the more effective. When the stakes are high, both

physically and emotionally, the scene is completely gripping. But, like

in Pirates 3, if I don’t care about the characters, I don’t really care

if they live or die.

That last point is critical: if you don’t care, you won’t keep watching or reading. One need only peruse through the volumes of post-Sopranos finale to arrive at this conclusion. And to Dana’s request for movie sequels better than the original, GODFATHER II’s a good example. Any others?