General assessment

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Neil W

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2008
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Isle of Wight UK
Stephen King has had much of his output adapted to the big screen. Frank Darabont's three King movies are glowing exceptions to the standards of most of these adaptations, which have varied from barely adequate down to appalling (and I include Kubrick's The Shining in the latter category - as an adaptation, it stinks).

John Carpenter's Christine is another honourable exception.

King's story of a Plymouth Fury which is displaying its (never explained) malevolence before it has even rolled off the assembly line may well be one of his lesser works, but it is still populated with real people and carefully constructed, even to the first person narration from Dennis (the film does not use Dennis as narrator, but it shows a lot of what happens from Dennis' point of view).

The story is tragic in that Artie, carefully constructed to be a victim in his pre-Christine world, is destined to be destroyed by Christine from the moment she gets her claws into him, even though he goes through a period of illusory apparent non-victimhood before being lost (in similar fashion to Jack Torrance being consumed by The Overlook).

Carpenter does a solid job of picking up most of the novel's beats and delivering them in slick, atmospheric fashion. The cast - largely unknown at the time - does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life, particularly Keith Gordon who conveys pre-Christine Arnie's nerdiness, post-Christine Arnie's single minded obsessiveness, and the transition from one to the other, all with complete believability.

A tolerable job is carried out in using mechanical effects (and film run backwards!) to convey the fact that Christine has a life of her own.

And the movie contains one of THOSE moments, you know, the ones which make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, when Arnie says "Show me", Christine's lights come on, and the music delivers a creepy downwards glissando.
 

guido tkp

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2009
2,632
480
outside the dome
sorry...with all due respect, couldn't disagree more...

i'm a huge movie fan, and absolutely love a good/great carpenter movie...and coming from the guy who gave us real, bona fide classics of the genre like The Fog, Assault On Precinct 13, They Live, Halloween, Escape From New York, The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China ??

this film is a major dissapointment on nearly every level...

as one who loved the book and quite looked forward to carpenters take on it...i found it then , and upon a recent revisit, still do think it is at best a mediocre adaption, with little dramatic tension and shallow characters with meager motivations...all of which is played out with all the subtly of your average everyday TV soap opera...

it is paint-by-numbers moviemaking that even carpenter admits is not among his best, nor among his favorites...hamstrung nearly all the way by a major studio that simply did not 'get' king or his story...this one actually misses the 'beats' that made the novel a special little gem of personal horror

this is one book that is, if anything, in dire need of a really good remake...
 

Neesy

#1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side
May 24, 2012
60,542
234,703
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
sorry...with all due respect, couldn't disagree more...

i'm a huge movie fan, and absolutely love a good/great carpenter movie...and coming from the guy who gave us real, bona fide classics of the genre like The Fog, Assault On Precinct 13, They Live, Halloween, Escape From New York, The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China ??

this film is a major dissapointment on nearly every level...

as one who loved the book and quite looked forward to carpenters take on it...i found it then , and upon a recent revisit, still do think it is at best a mediocre adaption, with little dramatic tension and shallow characters with meager motivations...all of which is played out with all the subtly of your average everyday TV soap opera...

it is paint-by-numbers moviemaking that even carpenter admits is not among his best, nor among his favorites...hamstrung nearly all the way by a major studio that simply did not 'get' king or his story...this one actually misses the 'beats' that made the novel a special little gem of personal horror

this is one book that is, if anything, in dire need of a really good remake...
I did not mind the movie "Christine" but I think John Carpenter's masterpiece (in my opinion) was "The Thing" - now that was very scary - lots of suspense!
 

Sunlight Gardener

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2013
374
1,268
I'll be honest, I love the movie. It's one of my guilty pleasure movies that I will watch literally every single time it is on. I am a huge muscle car buff, so that is part of it. Every time i watch Buddy Repperton's 1968 Camaro (my dream car) get smashed to pieces and then incinerated, I almost shed tears.:sorrow:

While the acting isn't what you'd call great, I still like all the choices for the parts. Who cares if Buddy looks like he might be a few months away from his 35th birthday and still in high school, he makes for an excellent villain.
 

Wedgeski

Member
May 19, 2014
9
46
118
I'll watch anything by John Carpenter up to around They Live! which was hugely disappointing and marked the point where he seemed to topple off a cliff and leave all his talent behind.

I really like "Christine". I like its faithfulness, I like its obvious love of the material, and there are certain scenes which still massively creep me out. The casting is top-notch, and visually it's a treat. Christine's "recovery" from her destruction at the hands of Repperton is a beautiful mix of imagery, sound, and music. Nowadays it would be all CG and, hey, might look grand, but knowing they had to do all that with their bare hands just gives me movie magic chills!

Yeah, big fan.
 

EMTP513

Well-Known Member
Oct 31, 2012
503
1,920
Stephen King has had much of his output adapted to the big screen. Frank Darabont's three King movies are glowing exceptions to the standards of most of these adaptations, which have varied from barely adequate down to appalling (and I include Kubrick's The Shining in the latter category - as an adaptation, it stinks).

John Carpenter's Christine is another honourable exception.

King's story of a Plymouth Fury which is displaying its (never explained) malevolence before it has even rolled off the assembly line may well be one of his lesser works, but it is still populated with real people and carefully constructed, even to the first person narration from Dennis (the film does not use Dennis as narrator, but it shows a lot of what happens from Dennis' point of view).

The story is tragic in that Artie, carefully constructed to be a victim in his pre-Christine world, is destined to be destroyed by Christine from the moment she gets her claws into him, even though he goes through a period of illusory apparent non-victimhood before being lost (in similar fashion to Jack Torrance being consumed by The Overlook).

Carpenter does a solid job of picking up most of the novel's beats and delivering them in slick, atmospheric fashion. The cast - largely unknown at the time - does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life, particularly Keith Gordon who conveys pre-Christine Arnie's nerdiness, post-Christine Arnie's single minded obsessiveness, and the transition from one to the other, all with complete believability.

A tolerable job is carried out in using mechanical effects (and film run backwards!) to convey the fact that Christine has a life of her own.

And the movie contains one of THOSE moments, you know, the ones which make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, when Arnie says "Show me", Christine's lights come on, and the music delivers a creepy downwards glissando.
I don't mean to sound obtuse when I ask this but how do people know all this stuff? I wouldn't know a good adaptation if it bit me on the nose, and I know people who work in the acting profession. A few of them have even been pretty successful at it - or were in their day. Of course I don't talk about their profession much either. Some of them don't want to talk about it with me. Others I just didn't think to ask them about it.
I know someone who's a director but he's one of the ones who doesn't go into detail when he talks about his work.
How would a person know if an adaptation is good or bad or average.
 

Neil W

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2008
1,203
2,592
Isle of Wight UK
I don't mean to sound obtuse when I ask this but how do people know all this stuff? I wouldn't know a good adaptation if it bit me on the nose, and I know people who work in the acting profession. A few of them have even been pretty successful at it - or were in their day. Of course I don't talk about their profession much either. Some of them don't want to talk about it with me. Others I just didn't think to ask them about it.
I know someone who's a director but he's one of the ones who doesn't go into detail when he talks about his work.
How would a person know if an adaptation is good or bad or average.
It's an interesting question. I'm not sure it has an exact answer, but I'll offer up two thoughts.

One: the more you read, and the more movies you watch, the more you learn - whether consciously or subconsciously - about how characters are constructed, how plots are put together, how narratives are delivered etc. This equips you with knowledge of how stories are told on paper and on screen. When the same story is delivered in two different media, that experience/knowledge enables you to compare the two and come to conclusions about what works and what doesn't, and that in turn enables you to form an opinion as to what is a good adaptation and what isn't.

Two (and possibly more important than One): it's your opinion. It's my opinion. It's the opinion of a critic. No-one is entitled to their opinion counting for any more than anyone else's opinion. If someone thinks that Darabont's Shawshank was rubbish and Maximum Overdrive was great, they are absolutely entitled to think that, and good luck to them. Personally, I think (for instance) King's The Shining (book) was brilliant, Kubrick's The Shining (film) was a good film but a terrible adaptation, and King's The Shining (miniseries) was a good adaptation, but a poor movie. But they are my opinions, and I do not seek to impose them on anyone else other than for the purposes of mutual interest and discussion. And I arrived at them by virtue of reading the book several times, watching the movies several times, and comparing them in the experience of reading thousands of books and watching thousands of films.

Your post sounds as if you're talking yourself down a bit - please don't. Whether an adaptation is good or not ultimately depends on whether you think it's good or not. Your opinion is every bit as good as anyone else's.
 

Neesy

#1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side
May 24, 2012
60,542
234,703
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Here's a lil weird comparison I noticed with "Christine" and "Under the Dome". Doesn't Junior (Under the Dome) resemble "Arnie"? Or is it just me?
If you mean that the actor in the TV series who plays Junior resembles the actor who played Arnie in the movie Christine, yes there is a bit of resemblance in terms of the thick dark hair.

I find Junior more physically attractive than Arnie but he is unfortunately creepier in terms of acting nuts.
 
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EAST COASTER

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Mar 1, 2012
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WITHERNSEA, NORTH EAST ENGLAND
I find it best to treat the movies of SK's stories as stand-alone pieces because, with the exception perhaps of Misery, there always seems to be lots missing that was in the books.
I love Christine the film, but the book was better. I also love the film of The Shining, I'm a huge Jack Nicholson fan, but the book was better.
 

Neil W

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2008
1,203
2,592
Isle of Wight UK
with the exception perhaps of Misery, there always seems to be lots missing that was in the books.
The book Misery was, to me, unfilmable as it stood because so much of it took place inside Paul's head. The only way it could be filmed was by discarding all that delirium and inner monologue, and going for a straight translation of the physical events of the novel, which is what Reiner did. I thought the movie omitted HUGE amounts of stuff which were in the book.
 
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Jul 24, 2014
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I'm very liberal in my opinion of film adaptations of books. Be it King or anybody. I was a film geek before I was a bookworm, so maybe that has something to do with it, but I firmly believe that a person should try to enjoy the film first as a film and not merely as a moving version of a novel. I get being angered by various film adaptations if you adore the source material, I really do (I actually snapped at a friend at the last Harry Potter film in the theater because she wouldn't shut up about little tiny things not included. After the movie ended she just went on a tirade and I told her I was never seeing another movie with her again). But I think a film should be assessed on it's merits as a film above anything else, adaptation or not.

Now Christine holds a very special place in my heart. It was the first King and one of the first "adult" books I ever read and I adore it to pieces. It took me by surprise when it wasn't just a fun read about a killer car. The melancholy tone reeled me in, the distinct voices of the characters, the details of high school life (I was a freshman at the time) hit home and the overall mature, textured and honest writing struck me profoundly. The premise of a haunted car felt totally legit to me all because King made it feel totally real on every level.

The film is actually one of my favorites ever too. And one of Carpenters most under-valued. While, like with most film adaptations, much detail is lacking, I think Carpenter NAILED the tone of the piece to a T. I mean, the movie LOOKS like the book felt in my head if that makes sense. The casting is spot on and the essence of the narrative is distilled wonderfully and just like the book Carpenter manages to sell the idea of a killer car as legit and not hokey at all.

I wish Carpenter did more King adaptations. I think the guy gets Kings voice and style. As much as I adore The Shining the film (one of my favorites) I understand Kings and some fans attitude toward it as an adaptation. I think Carpenter had the skill (had, sadly) to direct a more faithful version of the novel with the novels themes intact. Imagine a world with two awesome versions of the Shining! Man, that would be amazing.
 
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mcpon14

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Oct 10, 2014
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My favorite part of this movie was that the football player actually stands up for nerds instead of being in the role of bullying them.
 
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mcpon14

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I didn't like how they didn't explain how Christine became the way she was. I apologize if this was mentioned earlier. My bad if that is the case.
 
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ArnieCunningham58

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Oct 16, 2014
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The movie needs to be told like the book. :) not sure if you call it a remake. Maybe there is another word for it. ;)
 
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