Last week, Lost in Translation pointed out that what may be remembered as an original movie can sometimes be an adaptation. Death Wish, starring Charles Bronson and released in 1974, was based on the novel of the same name by Brian Garfield. Since it’ll take time to obtain the novel right now, I’ll postpone the analysis of the Bronson movie with the book. Instead, I’ll compare the Bronson movie with the 2018 remake starring Bruce Willis.
To set things into perspective, let’s take a quick look at crime rates. When Garfield’s novel was released in 1972, New York City had a historic high in the number of murders committed. The rates were starting to come down in 1974 when the Bronson movie was released, but still high. To contrast, in 2014, New York City hit a record low number of murders, and had a 24-hour period of no reported violent crime in November of 2012.. The reduction in crime rates can be attributed to crackdowns by police and environmental changes, including the change to unleaded gas.
The high crime rates in New York City inspired not just the 1974 release of Death Wish, but also characters like Marvel’s Punisher, who first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man number 129 in February 1974. The idea of someone fighting back against crime was appealing. While superheroes fought crime, they did so because they had powers, though with a Bat-exception. The Punisher represented the average person, being pushed past the breaking point into going after criminals after losing family.
The 1974 Death Wish tapped into that same fantasy. Bronson’s character, Paul Kersey, loses his wife and daughter during a brutal break in lead by a punk played by Jeff Goldblum in his first role. Kersey’s wife Joanna (Hope Lange) is killed during the robbery; his daughter Carol (Kathleen Toby) is brutalized to the point where she dissociates to the point of catatonia and needs to be hospitalized. Kersey feels helpless, but also feels the police aren’t giving their full attention to the case. He starts walking around after dark with a sock filled with rolls of quarters. The first time he is mugged, he fights back, cracking the mugger on the jaw. Both Kersey and the mugger run off. Kersey is shaken by what he’s done, bit the first is always the hardest.
On a work trip to Tempe, Arizona, his client, Ames Jainchill (Stuart Margolin), shows him the sights, including a Wild West show that emphasized how the citizens of a town would stand up when the sheriff can’t. The show and a trip to a gun club to shoot plants a seed in Kersey’s mind. When he leaves, Ames gives him a farewell gift, a revolver.
Once home, Kersey begins his work as a vigilante. On his first outing, he shoots a mugger, leaving him to die of a gut wound in the park. The mugger’s body is found and the police have a new case. Emboldened by his success, Kersey continues his vigilante patrols, leaving a trail of bodies and becoming the talk of New York City and making headlines in news magazines.
The police can’t let a vigilante run amok, so Inspector Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) begins his investigation. His approach is methodical, though starting at a seemingly random point – a list of men who lost family to crime and are war vets. As Ochoa narrows his list down to Kersey, the police commissioner and the mayor lay down the law for him. Crime rates are down thanks to the vigilante. People are fighting back, so criminals are thinking twice before doing anything. Arresting the vigilante removes the one thing criminals are afraid of, so Ochoa is told to encourage the vigilante to leave town, not arrest him.
Kersey’s luck doesn’t hold out long. Three muggers find him; one manages to outdraw and shoots Kersey in the leg. Kersey, though gets two of them and chases the third. Blood loss works against Kersey and he passes out before he tries to recreate a Western shootout. The mugger escapes and the police close in.
When Kersey recovers at the hospital, Ochoa visits. Kersey isn’t able to talk, but Ochoa isn’t in the mood to listen. Instead, he makes it clear to Kersey that the vigilante needs to be out of town as soon as possible and not return. Kersey’s revolver is disappeared and Kersey gets his company to transfer him to Chicago.
The pacing of Bronson’s Death Wish is similar to The Mechanic, also starring him. The film lays out how Kersey’s life changes, how he makes his decisions Death Wish is a violent character portrait of a man who has gotten angry with society, with reason, but doesn’t pull back from the precipice.
The 2018 remake with Willis has to take into account the reduction of the murder rates in New York City. The film does this by moving the setting to Chicago. Unlike New York City, which saw reductions in the rate of violent crimes since 1972, Chicago’s murder rates are cyclical; hitting a peak where residents say enough, falling, then rising up again to repeat the cycle. However, crime rates aren’t at the same level that they were in the Seventies. News, thanks to the 24 hour media, focuses on violent crimes, because they fill air time, so there is a feeling that crime is worse than it is.
Willis’ Paul Kersey has a different job than Bronson’s. The 2018 Kersey is a surgeon, not an architect. Kersey gets to see the aftermath of shootings, as victims, law enforcement, and criminals alike come into his emergency room. The results aren’t always fair; a police officer dies while the shooter survives.
The beats are similar at the beginning of the film. Kersey’s wife, Lucy (Elizabeth Shue), is killed and his daughter, Jordan (Camila Morrone), is injured and comatose after three crooks break in and rob the Kersey home. Kersey himself is on duty at the hospital that his wife and daughter are brought to, and is called to the ER to two new cases, only to be stopped by security and a colleague who has to break the bad news.
Two detectives, Kevin Raines (Dean Norris) and Leonore Jackson (Kimberly Elise) are put on the case, but they have a large caseload already. Getting pushed past his breaking point, Kersey tries to stop two men from harassing a woman, only to be beaten up by them. His first attempt at being a vigilante thwarted, he gets a second chance when a shot up gang member loses a Glock in the ER, noticed only by Kersey. He hides the pistol and retrieves it when the ganger is wheeled out after surgery.
Now armed, Kersey makes a second foray as a vigilante. He catches two men carjacking a SUV and starts shooting. He wounds them both, but gets his hand cut by the gun’s slider. To finish his second outing, he shoots one carjacker in the head to make sure he stays done. The other carjacker, behind the wheel of the SUV, dies of blood loss. Unlike 1972, social media is a thing in 2018, and almost everyone has a camera that connects to the Internet. Kersey did have a hoodie with the hood up, but it’s sheer luck that the only people who saw his face are the now dead carjackers.
Raines and Jackson arrive on the scene of Chicago’s latest shooting to interview eyewitnesses. One shows the video she took and uploaded, giving Kersey the nickname “The Grim Reaper” because of how he executed one carjacker. Raines does notice that the Grim Reaper isn’t used to shooting in combat because the slider caught on his hand. Such an injury would be obvious if the Reaper went to a hospital to get taken care of.
Kersey continues his vigilante work. His brother, Frank (Vincent D’Onofrio), notices that things are different with him and finds the basement room where Kersey plans his outings. Kersey, however, has begun to track down the men who killed his wife and hurt his daughter. One by one, he finds them. Two are killed. The last, though, spills the beans to the police about who the Grim Reaper is after Kersey failed to kill him at a nightclub. This last criminal finds out that Jordan is being released and plans his return.
However, Kersey is prepared. He gets a pistol legally. When the last criminal breaks in with two accomplices, Kersey has his daughter hide and call 911 while he plays cat-and-mouse with the raiders. One by one, he takes them out, with the last criminal the last to be shot. The police arrive in force. Kersey’s weapons are all legally purchased and licensed. Raines asks if Kersey ever owned a Glock. Kersey answers he did, once, but got rid of it.
The 2018 remake has more action and shooting than the 1974 but is still a violent character study. The pacing winds up being tighter than 1974 version while still laying out why Kersey breaks. The remake takes into account the changes that have happened in the 44 years between films. The Internet, while existing, didn’t exist in the form it has today. The number of people who could access the Internet was small – academics, researchers, military, and some businesses, not the general public. Today, the Internet has become a needed service, not a luxury extra, and access is common. Instead of news magazines, viral video spreads the word of the Grim Reaper.
The 1974 version implies that while Kersey stopped being a vigilante, he still leans in that direction. Willis’ Kersey, though, took a step back when his daughter came out of her coma. He took more hits than Bronson’s, too. Bronson’s Kersey is treated as more sympathetic and more reasonable as he becomes a vigilante. Willis’ version, though, is shown to be broken and takes the step back from active vigilantism to protecting his family.
The 2018 version also has Kersey hunting down the men who destroyed his family. In the 1974 version, Kersey loses his focus, going after criminals no matter what. The 2018 Kersey finds out about the men who robbed his home and killed his wife and focuses on hunting them. The nature of storytelling may have required that Kersey get closure from his trip to the Dark Side, but it’s another step away from unfocused anger that the 1974 version never got past.
Overall, the remake is more nuanced. The film calls into question the nature of vigilantism, using social media and morning radio to discuss the issue. It shows the risks and the reasons while letting the fantasy play out. The 1974 version treats Kersey as a hero, fighting back, but the times were different, as mentioned above. The 1974 Death Wish is a power fantasy, much like Marvel’s Punisher, coming from the same origins. In 2018, the danger isn’t getting shot during another crime; the danger is mass shootings; a vigilante won’t make a difference there, and the movie reflects that by not mentioning crime rates dropping or the mayor and police commissioner interfering because fear of the vigilante.
That’s not to say that the remake is flawless. There are flaws and it still holds up a vigilante as the hero. The remake, though, shows the problems of vigilantism far better than the 1974 version, and has nuance that tighter pacing helps bring out. This may be a case where a remake is better than an “original” work.
In getting ready for the next review, Death Wish, I noticed on the back of the DVD case that it was an adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Brian Garfield. The review is still in the works, looking at the remake compared to the 1974 Charles Bronson film, but a future review will compare the latter movie with the novel. Garfield also wrote Hopscotch, which became a film starring Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson. Older movies run into this issue more than recent films.
With recent films, the draw is often that the movie is an adaptation of something popular, or at least well known. Studios are risk adverse today; CHiPs was originally going to be an original work, but the studio balked unless the movie was made into an adaptation. Budgets have skyrocketed, so studios want a guarantee that the audience will turn out.. The result, adaptations are advertised as such. If they aren’t, it’s only because the movie is so obvious an adaptation. No one is going to mistake Detective Pikachu for an original film.
Older films, though, weren’t caught in this trap. When I started the History of Adaptations series, I wasn’t expecting so many adaptations to appear, nor did I expect that popular original works to start to outnumber popular adaptations only in the Eighties. While the books might have been popular at the time, The Graduate, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and Bullitt are better known than the books they were based on – The Graduate by Charles Webb, The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, and Mute Witness by Robert L. Pike. A change of title, such as Mute Witness to Bullitt, adds to the distancing.
The change is in the marketing. Marketing for today’s adaptations lean heavily on the source material. Marvel and DC’s superhero forays are advertised as being from their comics. The Hunger Games and Harry Potter didn’t shy away from using the original books as part of the marketing. Studios spend millions to advertise a film to get as many people out to see their movies. Books, though, rarely get large advertising budgets. Publishing costs are such that the authors are putting in effort to spread the word of their own books. Novels rely on word of mouth to get known, especially for authors who aren’t household names like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. Before the Internet became a household service, word of mouth meant talking to others or writing letters. Today, social media helps with the word of mouth, as sites like Twitter help amplify reviews.
Can an adaptation fly under the radar today? For the big blockbusters, no But for smaller budgets, where the studio isn’t risking its existence on the success of a film, it is possible. Advertising for Kingsman – The Secret Service never mentioned that it was based on an Image comic. The movie was a light spy action flick, something that doesn’t spring to mind when “comic book” is mentioned, so the studio may have wanted to avoid the connection to guide audience expectations. Two decades from now, will people remember the comic was the source for the movie and its sequel?
This is what made the History of Adaptations so interesting, discovering what was assumed to be original to be an adaptation. It makes reviews interesting, because I have the choice to either go ahead with what i have planned or set the review aside until I can get my hands on the ultimate original work.. The problem with the latter is the time needed to hunt down the work; the older the work, the more likely it is to be out of print. Ignoring the ultimate original, thought, won’t do justice to the review of the adaptation. With the pandemic, getting the original takes more time, so, for now, I’ll press on with the planned review, with a note of the original work and a vague promise to return when possible.
A break in the usual madness around here to address the current madness. Thanks to COVID-19, everyone is – or should be – in self-isolation to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Trips out of the home are for necessities, and distancing from other people is not just a good idea, but in some places rigorously enforced. There’s only so many hours of television to watch, no matter the source.
There is a bright side. Creativity is getting a real work out. People are taking the extra time and putting it to good use. In Italy, balcony serenades and arias are overcoming the social distancing and keeping people together despite being apart. An American man has done the same thing in California.
For those without balconies or the ability to project like an opera singer, the other option is video cameras and the Internet. After COVID-19 broke, there has been a deluge of parodies. The Internet and the World Wide Web has given people a way to discover new things, some that are wonderful, some that require a butt ton of brain bleach. During this pandemic, the Internet has become the main way for people to maintain contact with each other. Parodies bring in humour during a time that really needs some. A simple search on YouTube alone brings up a long list to listen to.
Naturally, The Knack’s “My Sharona” is getting the lion’s share of parodies, having a title that rhymes with “corona“. COVID-19, however, works well with Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen“. “Everything is Awesome”, from The LEGO Movie, leads easily to “Everything is Cancelled“. The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” is also popular, either with the original title or going with “Stayin’ Inside“. Even Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” has had a number of parodies. “Sweet Caroline” gets a special callout, with parodies such as “Sweet Quarantine” and with Neil Diamond himself rewriting the lyrics.
That’s just scratching the surface. The Bare-Naked Ladies’ “One Week“, The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)“, AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)“, the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo“, and MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” all have had parodies. And there’s room for more.
That’s just music. Because restaurants are closing their dining rooms, people are eating in more, leading to experimentation in cooking. Flour is disappearing off the shelves and people are trying to figure out what to do with it. Art of all sorts is getting created. And people don’t have to be good to get started.
Everyone, even the masters, had to start somewhere. Now is a good time to be creative. You don’t have to show your work, but take the spare time you have and get creative. Get involved in a creative community. We’re all in this together, even if we have to stay apart.
A change of plans on what I wanted to review next means a delay. In the meantime, check out the creativity during this time of quarantine, such as Devo Spice’s parody, “Everything is Cancelled!”
Another look at a RWBY adaptation this week. The web series is well on its way to being the first web-based franchise, and the series itself is still going strong. Last time with RWBY, Lost in Translation looked at the manga adaptation by Shirow Miwa published by VIZ. Today. a different manga adaptation, the Official Manga Anthology.
Released by VIZ in 2017, the four volume series is less about an ongoign story and more about character studies of each of the main characters. Each volume focuses on a different character, with Ruby featured in volume 1, Weiss in volume 2, Blake in volume 3, and Yang in volume 4. The stories inside are short, no more than ten pages, and each volume features a number of creators.
The character studies look at different facets of the characters, bringing out what the creators see in them. Ruby comes across as a determined young woman, one who wants to be a hero while still caring for her friends. Weiss is shown as having an icy exterior, caring deep within, and pushing herself more than anyone else could. Blake has her faunus nature and her past as a White Fang terrorist contrasted with her new friends and new role as a huntress-in-training. Yang is the big sister, the tomboy who likes frilly things. WIth a wide range of contributors, there are a wide range of interpretations.
With anthologies, the stories aren’t going to be long, complex, and epic. Instead, they are cute, poignant, subtle, brash, and insightful. Each volume has almost twenty different views of the feature character, a contrast to the manga by Shirow Miwa. Each view is valid, as no two people are going to agree on details, even if they agree overall about the character. The results may vary, but readers get to choose how they vary by their own personal tastes.
The manga anthology takes a different approach to RWBY, one that allows for a deeper look at the characters. The artwork for the most part is lush and the characters are recognizable. For an adaptation, that is expected, yet many adaptations can’t hit that. The anthologies continue by exploring the personalities seen on screen, with each member of Team RWBY in the spotlight and none out of character. The series is a good addition to the RWBY franchise.
Lost in Translations tends to avoid parodies. The nature of a parody means that the original won’t be necessarily recognizable in the final product. There are exceptions; Airplane! is a parody of 70s airplane disaster film while being an adaptation of Zero Hour!, using the original film as a scaffold to hang all the jokes and gags. So why look at The Orville, a gentle parody of Star Trek?
Let’s take a step back before answering that question. Science fiction is known for tackling subjects in the time it was written despite moving the problem to the future. Star Trek is known for this, with episodes like “Let This Be Your Last Battlefield” pointing out the insanity inherent in racism and “The Trouble With Tribbles” exploring the dangers of removing a species from its natural habitat. The later Trek series continued in the same vein, exploring issues that appeared in eras they debuted in. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine may have been somewhat prophetic, predicting social issues that came about during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq years after DS9 finished.
Why look at The Orville, then? The Orville, created by Seth MacFarlane, set out to be a gentle parody of Trek, adding a layer of comedy to the proceedings. While the original series had a number of light episodes, such as “The Trouble With Tribbles”, “A Piece of the Action”, and “Shore Leave”, later series had trouble finding the touch needed. The goal of The Orville was to pull back from the grim and gritty direction science fiction was taking and show a bright potential future because and despite of humanity. The series also looks at today’s social issues through the science fiction lens.
The series stars MacFarlane as Captain Ed Mercer, commander of the mid-level exploratory vessel Orville; Adrianne Palicki as Commander Kelly Grayson, first officer and Ed’s ex-wife; Scott Grimes as Lieutenant Gordon Malloy, the ship’s daredevil helmsman and Ed’s best friend, Penny Johnson Jerald as Doctor Claire Finn, the ship’s chief medical officer; Halston Sage as Lieutenant Alara Kitan, the ship’s chief of security who hails from a high gravity world, Peter Macon as Lieutenant Commander Bortus, the second officer who comes from a single sex species, J. Lee as Lieutenant John LaMarr, navigator and, later, chief engineer, and Mark Jackson as Isaac, science officer and an artifical life form on board to study humans. The make up of the crew is more inspired from Star Trek: The Next Generation than from the original Trek. Indeed, the uniforms wouldn’t look out of place on board the USS Enterprise-D.
The Orville herself is a shiny ship, brightly lit, with familiar amenities including the bridge, crew quarters, a lounge, a shuttle bay, even a holodeck. Missing are transporters and a quantum drive replaces the Trek‘s warp drive. The Orville acts as home for the crew during the mission, a base of operations, and a way to get to the adventure, much like the Enterprise in Trek. Uniforms are colour coded by department. Someone unaware of The Orville‘s creation would be wondering why things are different on a Star Trek series.
There are differences. Characters on The Orville are as likely to screw up as people are today.. Little mistakes, major mistakes, it’s what the characters do afterward that counts. The characters are also more likely to use less high-brow entertainment. Where on Star Trek, characters would listen to classical music or read classic literature, Picard’s preferences for Dixon Hill notwithstanding, the crew of the Orville are listening to classic rock, reading popular literature, and enjoying a few drinks in the crew lounge. On The Orville, humanity can reach the stars and still listen to a rocking tune.
The Orville, even with the comedy aspects, does tackle the social issues of today. from cultural differences to social media use. One episode, “Mad Idolatry” examines Trek‘s Prime Directive, the non-interference with pre-warp cultures, and the nature of cultural contamination, with the result being that, while Kelly did influence a young society, the society itself realizes that it didn’t matter who or what happened, the conflicts would have occurred one way or another; Kelly’s portrayal as a god wasn’t a catalyst. Being science fiction and being part comedy allows The Orville to examine the issues, poke and prod them, and present them in a way that the audience can take and mull over. The presentations aren’t heavy-handed, unlike “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, but do leave the audience thinking.
As a parody, The Orville may be doing Star Trek better than current Trek offerings. The series hearkens back to both The Original Series and The Next Generation, with episodes that explore characters while still examining today’s social issues. The series provides a change of pace from grim and gritty, allowing its audience to see a future of hope, much like Star Trek pioneered in.
Lost in Translation has looked at fan works in the past. When reviewing a fan work, the quality isn’t as important as the understanding of the source works. Crossovers add a wrinkle, as two or more sources are being brought together and something has to give to make the story interesting. Crossing four or more sources is a challenge to have everyone involved have a role while keeping each source unique. Along comes “Galactic Battles”. It’s easier to watch it than to read a synopsis, so go ahead an watch the short film. Keep watching past the credits.
“Galactic Battles” brings together four separate sources, two film series – Star Wars and the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot – and two video game series – Halo and Mass Effect. Each of the settings is obvious. The main setting, from Halo, gets the narrator explaining the newfound peace, thanks to the Master Chief. The Normandy from Mass Effect and the Enterprise from Star Trek have appropriate lighting, complete with lens flares for the latter. The Millennial Falcon gets the Star Wars wipes at the beginning and end of the ship’s appearance.
The creators did their homework. They are well aware of the details of each setting. The music blends the themes of all the sources, melding them as the camera switches view. The controls for each ship are unique and recognizable. The costumes are appropriate. Bonus points for having Garrus, one of the aliens, specifically, a Turian, from the Mass Effect series. The Master Chief’s armour is well done, too. Everyone is recognizable, from red, gold, and blue uniforms on the Enterprise to Joker and his baseball cap from Mass Effect.
The little details matter. The circle wipe when Star Wars first appears, how Shepard enters and leaves a scene, the lens flares on the Enterprise‘s bridge, the view from the Master Chief’s HUD, all add to the feel of the sources. Getting Mark Meer, who played the male Shepard in Mass Effect to reprise his role also helped. Details can make or break a major studio’s adaptation. With fan works, they are necessary, and “Galactic Battles” delivers.
The short is a visual masterpiece. Jupiter hanging in space as the battle rages on provides colour to what would normally be just black space and metal ships. The special effects, sound as well as visual, matches each setting’s contribution. Phasers sound like phasers, not like TIE fighter lasers or Reaper cutting torches. There’s care taken to make sure each element looks and sounds appropriate, even in the post-credits sequence.
The key issue with making a crossover meant to appeal to fans each original source is making sure characters from each one has a hand in solving the problem. With “Galactic Battles”, the solution starts with Spock, but Shepard, Master Chief, and Han all have a role to play in putting the solution in action. The breakneck pace doesn’t let up as they put the daring plan into action.
“Galactic Battles” is a fun fan short to watch. It handles each original source well, keeping the little details that define the originals.
And for those interested, there is a behind the scenes look to “Galactic Battles”, showing what it took to make the short.
With the weather being unstable in my neck of the woods, I haven’t been able to get a column together this week. Instead, here’s a link to a previous review, Starship Excelsior, as a hint to the next review.
RWBY is turning into a franchise, possibly the first franchise from a web series. A few months ago, Lost in Translation looked at the first RWBY novel, EC Meyers‘ RWBY After the Fall. A follow-up novel, RWBY Before the Dawn by the same author, is due out July 2020. Merchandise is available, including Funko Pop! figures. Add on to this a video game, a comic mini-series from DC Comics and two separate manga lines. One of the manga lines is a series of anthologies, each volume focusing on a different character on Team RWBY. The other is a 2015 release by Shirow Miwa and published by SHUEISHA. VIZ then received the English language rights to the manga in 2016.
While RWBY is up to its seventh series, interest in the show began early. The 2015 publication of Miwa’s manga came between seasons 2 and 3 of the series. The manga picks up on some threads left by the trailers – Red, White, Black, and Yellow – and season 1. Team RWBY doesn’t just have to deal with Grimm. There’s also rivals at Beacon Academy and mobster Roman Torchwick to deal with. Team RWBY isn’t alone, though. Team JNPR – Jaune, Nora, Pyrrha, and Ren – are there to help.
With a series early in its run, getting details right is key. Character design is the first thing audiences will notice, especially when going from one visual medium (animation in this case) to another (manga). Helping the transistion between media is RWBY having an aesthetic similar to /anime/, Japanese animation. Fans are already prepared for the art style. The personalities of Team RWBY are brought over without problems, as well. Ruby is young, unprepared, but is willing to step up to be a hero. Yang is boisterous, ready for action. Blake is reserved, slowly opening up with her new friends. Weiss is warming up to her teammates as well, though her icy exterior comes from different reasons than Blake’s. The four are recognizable in appearance and action.
In fact, all the characters are recognizable, even those with limited screen time in the manga like Penny. Even the Grimm behave as expected, though with a nice twist to challenge Team RWBY and Team JNPR. After all, there has to be a surprise or two.
The manga gives more details about dust, the magic powder used to power the weapons used by Huntresses and Hunters. Weiss, being the heir to the Schnee Dust Company, provides most of the info, as is fitting. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the info is out there for readers. The first part helps fill in details that audiences of the animated series might not have received.
Miwa’s RWBY is very much RWBY, especially as it was in 2015. A snapshot of a series that continued to evolve. The manga may not reflect what RWBY is now, it is a reflection of what it was and is still worth a read.
Movies based on TV series can go in one of two routes. The first is the remake, where a TV series is used as the basis of a movie. CHiPS and the Mission: Impossible series of movies are a good example. Sometimes the remake works; sometimes it doesn’t. The other approach is to either continue a TV series or give the series an ending. Typically done with the same cast, the movie provides fans a chance to see the characters at least one last time. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Serenity, and Veronica Mars are examples here. Of course, there are movies based on TV series that don’t fit into either category. Batman (1966) was created to advertise the TV series in the new markets it was going to. And then there’s The Simpsons Movie.
The Simpsons began as a feature on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. The popularity of the shorts increased their frequency over the run over The Tracey Ullman Show, leading to the creation of the TV series in 1989. The Simpsons has been running for thirty-one seasons as of this writing with no signs of stopping. The series had a short time being aired on Thursdays, defeating NBC’s powerhouse, The Cosby Show, in the ratings, before being moved to Sundays. The series is now the longest running American prime time series, live action or animated. Soap operas and sports broadcasts are the only TV series that have lasted longer. There are people watching The Simpsons that were born after the series started.
The Simpsons have been around long enough that anything that they could parody has long since ended. The show is now the media standard it made fun of in the past. What more can the Simpson family – Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie – get up to? America’s animated nuclear family, with a mother, a father, and 2.3 kids, has been through a lot, including moving their hometown of Springfield due to pollution. The series has a loose continuity. Big events tend to have echoes in later episodes, but other events are remembered when convenient.
A typical episode has one of the Simpsons, most likely Homer or Bart but even Maggie has instigated a plot or two, coming up with a scheme that backfires horribly. The rest of the episode has the cast trying to clean up the mess. The series has a large supporting cast thanks to being a long runner. It’s very possible now for a season to focus on a different character each episode and run out of time before running out of characters.
The year 2007 was twenty years after the first appearance of the Simpsons. The characters had evolved a lot in their animation style since their Tracey Ullman days. The only thing left was to go full CGI. The Simpsons Movie broke that barrier in glorious 2-D. With the same cast and crew as the TV series, the movie could easily keep to the core of what makes The Simpsons tick. It’s just a matter of what goes into the movie.
To no surprise, really, The Simpsons Movie plays as an extended episode of the TV series, just bigger thanks to the size of a movie screen. Things go horribly wrong yet again thanks to Homer. The fate of Springfield and all its inhabitants is sealed when Homer thinks with his stomach and makes the city’s already terrible pollution worse. The EPA cuts off Springfield from the rest of the world with a dome, with only the Simpsons able to escape.the city, just ahead of a lynch mob.
The movie plays with the idea of being based on a TV series, with screen crawls and a fade to black with “To Be Continued” on screen. Any character who appeared in the TV series appears in the movie with the possible exception of Side Show Bob. There’s an extended “Itchy & Scratchy” short to open the film before the opening credits, a more orchestrated version of the TV show’s credit sequence but ends with Green Day instead of a couch gag. The movie is The Simpsons, with more time to let the story idea play out and all the extras, such as cameos, that are expected.
The Simpsons Movie is just that, The Simpsons as a movie. The differences are in the budget, allowing for better animation for the bug screen, a fuller orchestration of the soundtrack, and higher stakes. For those expecting more than that, disappointment awaits. However, The Simpsons Movie delivers on the expectations set by The Simpsons.