Matt’s Thoughts on Bag of Bones

*NOTE: I have not read Luanne’s take on the movie yet, and she didn’t even know I was going to write this. Luanne’s is going up right before I put mine up, so our reactions will not be influenced by each other’s reactions.*

Just so you understand where my perspective is coming from, I am pre-empting myself with this short disclaimer. I know that any Stephen King movie adaptation will not live up to the book. That being the case, when I sit down to watch a King adaptation, I try to act like I don’t know the story and that it’s not a King adaptation at all, just a movie I’m watching. I do that because everyone has told me that the movie can destroy the book. Since my introduction to Stephen King was through the movies before the books, I also believe that a book can ruin a good movie. A great example of what I’m saying is “The Shining.” I really like the movie, and don’t want to ruin it by reading the book. Troll me if you must, I won’t read it. Be that as it may, I want to enjoy a good movie without trying to force the movie to stack up against the book.

Now that that is out of the way, I didn’t really like “Bag of Bones.” Some of my complaints are book related, but not the big ones. The scene where Mike was attacked by “The Green Lady” and Rogette Whitmore’s death scene were both garbage. Simply as a viewer, those scenes sucked. The plot line in which a Mike Noonan adopts the daughter of a star struck fan that he has only met 4 times (if you are simply following the movie) is completely absurd! Plus, considering the very few scenes in which Mike meets Mattie (child in street, child at daycare, child’s whereabouts unknown and child watching Mike make out with mommy) Mattie is not exactly the portrait of good mothering, unless you count the water-ghost scene.

Pretend Conversation Between Myself and Random Web Troll:

Me: “That’s why I didn’t like the movie.”

Troll: (Stereotypical nerd voice) “That’s why it should not have been made into a movie. The book is *heaving breath* *swallow* more pure!”

Me: “Well, I stated earlier that I was trying to critique the movie without considering the book. So, your argument is kind of moot.”

Troll: “But you did read the book, right?”

Me: “Yes… well, I actually listened to the audiobook, but that’s not the point…”

Troll: “What?!?!?! You didn’t even read the book?! It’s no wonder you don’t understand what I’m *more heaving* *swallow again* trying to say!”

Me: “You’re over reacting and being very condescending right now, and I’m not sure I want to continue this conversation.”

Troll: “You didn’t actually READ it?”

Me: “Look, I listened to it being read to me… by Stephen King himself, no less, a few times. I understand the storyline. Does it matter that I heard the words instead of seeing the words?”

Troll: “No wonder…”

Me: “Please fall off the planet.”

Troll: Falls off planet

Alright! I know you stacked it against the book and would absolutely love to spend the next few minutes reading about me stacking the movie against the book, so I’ll… hold on… my ego is blocking my keyboard… let me just deflate that by reading some of the comments about my podcast on iTunes…

WOW! Apparently the troll has Wi-Fi when not on the planet!

I thought the movie rushed all the storylines a LOT. There were several scenes I was really looking forward to seeing, but weren’t even addressed. Not to mention the blatant changing of certain plot points that I thought were integral to the story.

The Death of Jo Noonan: She died very mysteriously in the book. I know that aneurysms are not very mysterious, but the fact that one would occur to a person that was so young and healthy, is mysterious. At some point, the book leads you to believe that Dark Score Lake was actually reaching out to Jo and killed her, but leaves that possibility as just a possibility.

Mike spent years pining over his wife after she had passed. This movie makes it seem like months. Plus, what about Mike’s trips to the bank to get his books that he’d “squirreled away like nuts”? That was important to show his embarrassment over his inability to write. These two things combined and made the character of Mike Noonan far less desperate than he was in the book.

Where was the diner scene between Mike and Ralph Roberts (main character from “Insomnia”) discussing their mutual insomnia? I was REALLY looking forward to that scene!

The romance that exists between two would be lovers, Mike and Mattie, that can not be lovers was the part of the story that gave it that passionate burn that was missing from the movie. Looking back at the movie, and my description of the relationship that existed between the two, maybe Max was right about Mattie? She comes out of nowhere, throws herself at a rich guy, celebrates an old man’s death and then will’s her daughter to that same rich guy. The movie did make Mattie a bit of a whore, if you consider all the little romantic things that only Mike, Mattie and the reader shared that were left out.

I thought Lance was a good-guy in the book? They turned him into a monster in the movie. I might be mis-remembering, but I don’t recall Lance trying to drown Kyra.

King is good at the little things, and the little thing I remember the most was the picture of Jo that Mike loved the most, fresh out of the Lake, in a two piece. This is not important because, in the book, you could see “her nipples poking against her bathing suit” or the fact that Mike pleasured himself to the picture on several occasions. It is important because the movie made him seem like he couldn’t “do it” with anyone else. The book made it more than apparent that, while he was still in Derry, he was only interested in “doing it” with his wife, even though he couldn’t. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I thought that was critical. I love my wife dearly, and, when in the world of the book, put myself in Mike’s shoes. That made amazing sense to me. He is still tethered to his wife, even in death! The man in him wants other women, but his heart won’t allow it. His love for her transcended his physical being!

Did it just get really meta in here, or is it just me?

The movie didn’t stack against the book at all and was just barely derivative of the book. The movie, apart from the book, made me feel like I was missing something.

*Trivia Question* What was the Sci-Fi writer’s name in “The Langoliers?” First person to comment on any of the blogs with the answer, gets mad props and a DVD copy of “The Langoliers” sent to them!

Posted By: @alloy_matt

6 comments on “Matt’s Thoughts on Bag of Bones

  1. Pingback: Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” is Now Available on Netflix | Stephen King Fancast

  2. Yeah, the story seemed rushed to me as well, especially when it came to Mike and Mattie’s relationship. Also, Rogette could have been given more to do (in the book she is a very creepy, memorable character).

    I did enjoy Ankia Noni Rose as Sara Tidwell. I’m hoping the future casting director of The Dark Tower pays attention to her role here when considering the choice for Suzannah Dean. The rape scene in particular echoes the one from The Waste Lands. When Sara laughs at Max Devore, trying to humiliate him as he rapes her reminded me of Suzannah/Detta “trapping” the demon elemental while Eddie and Roland try to bring Jake through the door.

  3. I’m also more than ok with changes if they make sense, but like you said Garris made too many changes and forgot the meaning of the story, and I can’t see pass these changes.

    For example, I really liked the Kubrick version of The Shining, and he really changed A LOT of things. But yeah, he made the story his but didn’t forgot the King’s touch too, so to me that was a brilliant movie.
    And I loved the book too, they complete each other (book and movie) and each one tells a side of the story. To me, the book is more about the kid (even if we see a lot of Jack’s point of view) and the movie is more about Jack.

  4. I really and truly do not mind it when filmmakers make changes to the story in adapting a novel into a film. As long as the changes are internally consistent, then I just don’t care at all: a film HAS to be its own thing in order to work, and sometimes King’s writing can be difficult to translate without making those changes.

    For an example: I didn’t end up caring even a little bit that most of the characters’ ages were changed. Why? Because the change was consistent: Mike aged up, Mattie aged up, Kyra aged up, and the end result was that they all held roughly the same relation to each other.

    However, most of the changes were not as well-done. For example, Lance having attempted to kill Kyra. On the one hand, it’s logical, given that the curse would have been acting on him. On the other hand, Kyra did not in any way — not for a single solitary second — seem like a little girl who’s survived a close-up-and-personal murder attempt by her own father. Nor did Mattie seem (pardon the pun) haunted enough to be someone who killed her husband while he was in the process of trying to kill their daughter.

    How do make such a massive change to the story and fail to realize that Mattie and Kyra would have to behave differently as a result of it? That’s a mind-bogglingly stupid bit of writing.

    And it’s just one example of why the movie did not work.

    A novel as good as “Bag of Bones” deserves better.

  5. I am as disappointed as you two, it was really too different from the book. I really couldn’t enjoy it as I wanted since I heard of it.

    Wasn’t Mike’s brother the Trashcan-Man in Mick Garri’s The Stand by the way?

    And for your answer to the trivia, I think it was Bob Jenkins?

  6. I enjoyed certain aspects of the movie. Pierce Brosnan was pretty good; Annabeth Gish was pretty good; the little girl was pretty good; Anika Noni Rose was pretty good.

    That’s about it.

    How Stephen King can support Mick Garris is beyond me. Garris has never shown the slightest ability to understand what makes King’s stories work.

    Bleh. I think this is my favorite Mick Garris movie, but still: bleh.

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