Total Recall: Which Graphic Novels Made Good Movies?
We run down some of the most high-profile comic-to-screen adaptations.
With Watchmen hitting theaters this week, we at RT decided to take a look at other graphic novels and comic book miniseries that have made the transition to the big screen. Though this list is by no means completely definitive, it contains some of the most high-profile adaptations in the medium, including films derived from the work of Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Daniel Clowes; we also arranged it by Tomatometer. And before hooting and hollering about the exclusion of X-Men and The Dark Night, take note: we restricted our list to those tales told through a single book or a limited series.
Before he completely swore off Hollywood, and after he permitted the makers of From Hell to take liberties with his material, Alan Moore allowed himself to be officially attached to one more film: 2003's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. League was loosely based on a comic book series written by Moore that spanned multiple volumes, and when we say "loosely," we mean it. Each volume of the source material is broken down into separate stories centered around Victorian era characters from literature who undertake globetrotting adventures. While the film does follow this general idea, the story itself is wildly different from any of the original work's volumes. Moore himself had no involvement with the production, and League opened to a critical drubbing; as Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post wrote, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen just plain reeks."
A little-noticed box-office flop of surprisingly epic proportions (it made $7 million worldwide on a budget of $75 million), the live action/animation hybrid Monkeybone also failed to enchant critics (it racked up a robust 19 percent score on the Tomatometer). The film was directed by Henry Selick, who became obsessed with Dark Town, a graphic novel by Kaja Blackley and Vanessa Chong. Both the book and the film tell the story of a comic book artist named Stu (Brendan Fraser) who finds himself in Dark Town after an auto accident; it's a place where his creations, like the irrepressible Monkeybone, come to life and cause him no small amount of trouble. Despite the movie's elaborate production design, Selick pulled off much more effective and evocative dreamworlds in The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. "Except for the inventive and eye-catching decor, Monkeybone is as two-dimensional as a line drawing," wrote of Ted Murphy of BaselineHollywood.com.