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Live-Action Film Adaptations

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"Alvin & the Chipmunks" Film Series
"Casper" Film Series
"Clue" (1985)
"Dick Tracy" (1990)
"Dudley Do-Right"
"Fat Albert"
"The Flintstones" (1994)
"Garfield" Film Series (2004-2006)
"George of the Jungle" Film Series
"Howard the Duck" (1986)
"Josie & the Pussycats" (2001)
"Li'l Abner" (1940 Film)
"Li'l Abner" (1959 Film)
"Richie Rich" Film Series

Quick Reviews:

The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
Boris & Natasha: The Movie (1990)
Underdog (2007)
Yogi Bear (2010)

Quick Lists:

Comic Strip Movies
Harvey Comics Movies
The Movies of Hanna-Barbera
The Movies of Jay Ward
Video Game Movies

The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000):  This movie bombed, but I don't know why.  It really kept in spirit with the classic TV cartoons, which people still like, but this movie just didn't take.  I don't think it was properly promoted.  A lot of people didn't even know it was coming out until it was too late.  I actually like this movie better than the cartoons.  It's fun to see Rocky and Bullwinkle as CGI characters.  Rocky, in particular, is done very, very cute!  He's absolutely adorable!

    My thoughts on Boris & Natasha are mixed.  Visually, the actors for this film look more like the cartoon characters than Dave Thomas and Sally Kellerman did for "Boris & Natasha: The Movie" (1990).  However, I thought Thomas and Kellerman gave better performances.  In this movie, Boris & Natasha are supporting characters true to their evil roots.  In the previous film, they were major characters and presented more as heroes.

    Robert DeNiro as Fearless Leader is EXCELLENT!  I've never been a huge fan of DeNiro's films, but this role is a standout.  He's actually acting and performing a distinct character!  Job well done!

    "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" is a great movie and incredibly underrated.  I urge anyone that is even a casual fan of the old cartoons to watch it.

Boris & Natasha: The Movie (1990)
This movie is awesome!  The fact that it didn't do that well commercially is a gross oversight.  I think it's a very smart action-comedy.  They do break the fourth wall on occasion, but just enough to tease the audience; it's not overdone.  Of course this is based on the characters of Boris & Natasha from the "Rocky & Bullwinkle" TV cartoons.  Unlike the cartoons, Boris & Natasha are not presented as evil.  Rather, they are anti-heroes.  At the start of the film, they enjoy being "bad spies".  Throughout the course of the movie, they become heroes.  I liked the fact that this wasn't just a straight adaptation of "Rocky & Bullwinkle".  There was a lot of room for creativity in this script.  Although we never see Rocky & Bullwinkle in this film, we do learn that two characters are Agents Moose & Squirrel.

    This movie also serves as an SCTV reunion of sorts.  Dave Thomas was Boris, Andrea Martin has a major supporting role as Toots, and John Candy plays ill-fated Kalishak.  "Boris & Natasha: The Movie" was made in 1990 for theatrical release.  Somewhere along the lines, it was NOT released in theaters and ended up being shown on the Showtime cable network on April 17, 1992.  It has been a rarity on home video, with a VHS release by Academy Entertainment in 1992, and a budget DVD release in 1999 with no bonus features.  If you can find this movie, I strongly recommend that you watch it.

    The cast is awesome, the story is interesting, and it's just a funny, action-packed show with a slight adult edge.  It even features a cameo from John Travolta during his "dry spell" before his major resurgence in popularity with the film, "Pulp Fiction" (1994).

Dave Thomas as Boris Badenov
Sally Kellerman as Natasha Fatale
Christopher Neame as Fearless Leader
Corey Burton as Narrator
Andrea Martin as Toots/Agent Squirrel
John Calvin as Harve/Agent Moose
Paxton Whitehead as Anton and Kreeger Paulovitch
Larry Cedar as Mr. X/Willie
Alex Rocco as Sheldon Kaufman
Arye Gross as Bellhop
John Candy as Kalishak
Anthony Newley as Sal Minelli
Sid Haig as Col. Gorda
Director- Charles Martin Smith
Writers- Jay Ward [characters], Charles Fradin, Brad Hall, Linda Favila, Anson Downes

Notable Cameos:
Jose Eber as Himself
John Travolta as Himself
June Foray as Autograph Woman
Charles Martin Smith as Hotel Clerk
Rance Howard as Polygraph Man
John Voldstad as Passerby
Anson Downes as Agent Mike

Fun Facts:

Underdog (2007):  I really liked this movie, but it is quite a bit different than the classic cartoons.  Maybe those differences is the reason why this movie didn't take in theaters.  In this film, Underdog is a real dog (beagle) instead of a human-like dog.  Polly is also a real dog and NOT a TV reporter.  However, her owner Molly is a school reporter.  She's also never referred to as Sweet Polly Purebred.  In addition, the gangster-like wolf Riff Raff from cartoons is a real dog here.  Underdog is the only one that can talk to people; the other major dog characters only speak "dog talk".  The exception to this rule are the three super-powered German Shepherds created by mad scientist Bar Sinister.

    I thought the writers of this movie did an excellent job.  It's the first time Underdog has ever been given an origin story, and it makes more sense than what we see in the classic cartoons.  We learn how Underdog gets his powers, his relationship to archnemesis Simon Bar Sinister, and the significance of the energy pill.  Job well done!

    There were a few things about this movie that I thought could have been done differently, but it doesn't change the fact that this is still a good show.  For one, I like Jason Lee, and his voice turned out fine for Underdog, but I think audiences were expecting him to sound like Underdog from the cartoons.  This is straight up Jason's voice, and no attempt was made to sound like original voice man Wally Cox.  Wally's distinctive voice is a tough act to follow, but I do believe they could have done something to make him sound goofy.

    My second thought for improvement is the fact that Simon Bar Sinister was just too darn scary!  He should have been toned down a bit.  Bar Sinister was always more of a light-hearted mad scientist in the cartoons (if there is such a thing).  At any rate, I find the cartoon version of Bar Sinister a more likable character than the movie version.  The movie version of Bar Sinisiter might scare some kids.

    I also thought Patrick Warburton played Cad a bit too smart.  In the cartoons, Cad is a real stooge and he doesn't talk much.  Warburton simply put his classic "cocky idiot" spin on the Cad character.  Still funny, but different.  I believe the major reason this movie didn't take, besides lack of proper promotion, is the fact that all of the familiar characters' personalities were changed so much.

    James Belushi was great to see in this movie.  "Underdog" proves again that James Belushi is much more tolerable in movies than he is on television.  He's awesome in movies!

    For whatever creative liberties were taken in this movie, you do have to hand it to the film's creators for giving us an original production!  This isn't the same ol' thing we've seen over and over.  It's a fresh take on Underdog, and very watchable.  I recommend "Underdog".

Jason Lee as Underdog/Shoeshine
Peter Dinklage as Simon Bar Sinister
Patrick Warburton as Cad Lackey
James Belushi as Dan Unger
Alex Neuberger as Jack
Taylor Momsen as Molly
Amy Adams as Polly
Brad Garrett as Riff Raff
John Slattery as Mayor

Fun Facts:

Yogi Bear (2010)Incredible movie!  It's true to the spirit of the cartoons, but definitely animated better.  You can believe Yogi Bear and Boo Boo are real.  Their movements are very articulate.  The dialogue and sight gags are fresh and funny, and the voices are spot on.  I had my doubts when I heard Justin Timberlake was going to be the voice of Boo Boo, but he sounds just like Boo Boo!  Dan Aykroyd as Yogi Bear is amazing.  He wanted to put his own spin on the character so popularly voiced by the late Daws Butler.  This Yogi still sounds much like the cartoon Yogi, but it isn't a clone.  Dan's Yogi does a lot of neat things with his voice that we never heard before in the cartoons.  The cartoon Yogi's voice pretty much stays in the same loud, abbreviated mode.

    The cast was great.  I'll watch Anna Faris in just about anything; she's funny and she turned in another great performance.  I am also impressed with the special effects and stuntwork.  There are a lot of elaborate ideas here.  The story of this film is pretty straightforward:  Yogi and the crew save Jellystone Park from being destroyed by a corrupt mayor.  I highly recommend this movie.  It's definitely a family movie, but with plenty of snappy humor for adults.

Dan Aykroyd as Yogi Bear
Justin Timberlake as Boo Boo
Tom Cavanagh as Ranger Smith
Anna Faris as Rachel
T.J. Miller as Ranger Jones
Andrew Daly as Mayor R. Brown
Nathan Corddry as Chief of Staff
Josh Robert Thompson as Narrator
Director- Eric Brevig

Fun Facts:

Comic Strip Movies
Comic strips are owned by various syndicates, but they can be all lumped together into a certain type of sub-genre.  Comic strip movies are usually funny, largely realistic, but with at least a few surrealistic quirks.  For instance, "Garfield" is almost completely set in a real world, but with a computer-animated cat.  "Dick Tracy" (1990) has an all-human cast and is set in Depression-era gangster times, but the clothes and sets look cartoony.  The "Blondie" films truly do view like a TV sitcom, but with hilarious sight gags.  Some comic strip movies have been hugely successful, some have not, but all are interesting to fans of the comics and offbeat cinema.

Blondie Film Series (1938-1950)

Brenda Starr Movies (1945-?)
Brenda Starr, Reporter (1945)
The one with Joan Woodbury.

Brenda Starr (1976 TV)
The one with Jill St. John.

Brenda Starr, Reporter (1979 TV)
The one with Sherry Jackson.

Brenda Starr (1989)
The one with Brooke Shields.

Dick Tracy (1990)

Garfield Film Series (2004-2006)
Garfield (2004)
Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (2006)

Gasoline Alley Series (1951)
Gasoline Alley (1951)

Corky of Gasoline Alley (1951)

Harold Teen Movies (1928-1934)
Harold Teen (1928)
Starring none other than Arthur "Dagwood Bumstead" Lake!

Harold Teen (1934)

Li'l Abner Movies and TV Shows (1940-1971)
Li'l Abner (1940)
Granville Owen & Martha O'Driscoll as Li'l Abner & Daisy Mae.  The best attempt, in my opinion.

Li'l Abner (1959)
Peter Palmer & Leslie Parrish as Li'l Abner & Daisy Mae.  The musical one.  Has its charm, but I like the straight 1940 film better.

Li'l Abner (1967 TV Pilot)
Sammy Jackson and Jeannine Riley as Li'l Abner & Daisy Mae.  Similar in style to the rural comedies of CBS in the 1960s (i.e. Green Acres).  This was a trendy re-styling of the comic strip that doesn't register with a lot of the strip's fans.  It's kind of funky, but I do think it could have proven to be a knockout series.

Li'l Abner (1971 TV)
Ray Young and Nancee Parkinson as Li'l Abner & Daisy Mae.  Another musical.  They were trying to revisualize the 1959 film.  I think a straight adaptation would have appealed more to audiences.

Little Orphan Annie Movies (1932-?)
Little Orphan Annie (1932)
Annie (1982)

Annie: A Royal Adventure! (1995 TV)
Annie (1999 TV)

Popeye (1980)
I love Popeye, but this movie is kind of a stinker.  It's a shame, because Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl is absolutely excellent!  This movie is really based more on the Broadway musical of the time rather than the comic strip or cartoons that were cool.  Musicals just don't suit Popeye.  "Annie" (1982), another comic strip musical, WAS a hit later on.

Snuffy Smith Film Series
Private Snuffy Smith (1942)
Hillbilly Blitzkrieg (1942)

Harvey Comics Movies
Richie Rich was NOT a box office success, but it ended up making a ton of money on video!  However, a theatrical sequel wasn't attempted.  The direct-to-video follow-up featured a different cast and had little relationship to the first movie.  "Casper", however, was a huge box office and video success.  However, it was followed by not-so-huge (but still good) direct-to-video films.  Baby Huey, the third giant of Harvey Comics, was not given the respect of a theatrical film with great special effects.  "Baby Huey's Great Easter Adventure" was direct-to-video, but had a cast of pretty notable actors.

Richie Rich (1994)
Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997)
Casper Meets Wendy (1998)
Richie Rich's Christmas Wish (1998)
Baby Huey's Great Easter Adventure (1999)

The Movies of Hanna-Barbera
"The Flintstones" was a huge hit and pretty much started the saga of live-action movies based on one-time Hanna-Barbera properties.  But for some reason, it was followed by a newly-casted prequel that made few waves.  "Josie & the Pussycats" was unjustly a bomb.  "Scooby-Doo" 1 & 2 were huge hits and rightly so.  Sadly, the cast of those films didn't want to return and the series continued as made-for-TV/direct-to-video prequels.  As time goes on, interest builds in live-action movies of other classic Hanna-Barbera movies.

The Flintstones (1994)
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Josie & the Pussycats (2001)
Scooby-Doo (2002)
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
Scooby-Doo!: The Mystery Begins (2009)
Scooby-Doo!: Curse of the Lake Monsters (2010)
Yogi Bear (2010)
Hong Kong Phooey (2011)

The Movies of Jay Ward

Numerous movies have been made of Jay Ward's popular cartoon characters.  Almost all of them, unjustly, have been marked as commercial failures.  The strong exception is the original "George of the Jungle" film (the second one really killed the idea of a series).

Boris & Natasha: The Movie (1990)
George of the Jungle (1997)
Dudley Do-Right (1999)
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
George of the Jungle 2 (2003)
Underdog (2007)

Video Game Movies
Live-action video game movies is a weird genre.  They can be funny or deadly serious, but almost always remain in the realm of fantasy.  There are so many different companies that own video game properties, and these properties are known to have passed hands over the years.  One thing is certain: almost all movies based on video games have flopped royal.  Many of them are quite good, but overlooked.  The first truly successful video game movie is "Resident Evil", which has since become a pretty respected series.  Others have proven to be commercial successes in their own right, but video games is definitely the last major media to make a successful transition to film.

Super Mario Bros. (1993)
I really liked this movie.  It was a big departure from the video games, but it was well-done with an excellent cast.  Since 1993, CGI has come such a long way that a more accurate version of Mario could be produced.  However, this one was a commercial bomb.

Double Dragon (1994)
They say timing is everything.  Double Dragon was a popular series of video games in the 1980s.  By 1994, the popularity of the games was pretty low.  If this game had been released a few years earlier, it might have been a hit.  A "Double Dragon" movie might even be a hit nowadays as a retro piece, but in 1994 it didn't really have a chance.  Too bad.

Street Fighter Series (1994-?)
Street Fighter (1994)
I like this movie for what it is.  It's corny, but colorful and fun.  "Street Fighter" is almost like one of those old adventure serials from the 40s or 50s, but with better effects.  It did, however, capture the look of the games better than the 2009 reboot.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
I like this movie better than the 1994 film.  This one is done like a "real" movie.  It doesn't look much like the games, but the basic ideas are still there...and it's cool!  Great cast, great effects, and great story!

Mortal Kombat Series (1995-?)
Mortal Kombat (1995)
I hate the video games for their violence and difficult gameplay.  However, I loved this movie.  It's nowhere near as violent as the games, and the story brings these colorful characters to life.  I thought this film was very well done.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
I liked this film well enough, but it wasn't as good as the first one.  The first film had something really cool going, and this second one just seemed kind of lazy script-wise.  I did, however, enjoy the cast...even with its changes.

Wing Commander (1999)

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Series (2001-?)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
I love the Lara Croft movies, and they did have commercial success, but critics just tear them apart.  This was a great film, and the second one was even better.  But somehow, despite the fact that they've made money, they just haven't connected to the masses.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Resident Evil Series (2002-?)
Resident Evil (2002)
This was the first truly successful video game movie franchise.  They're original stories based on the already popular video games, but they have outshone the games in popularity.  In my opinion, each RE movie is better than the previous.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

House of the Dead Series (2003-?)
House of the Dead (2003)
House of the Dead II (2005 TV)

Alone in the Dark Series (2005-?)
Alone in the Dark (2005)
Alone in the Dark II (2008)

Doom (2005)
I really like this movie, and the video game franchise was enormously popular, but it flopped royal.  The games, however, had already run their course by 2005 and I'm thinking many of the "game geeks" simply passed this movie by because it wasn't trendy, anymore.

Bloodrayne Series (2005-?)
Bloodrayne (2005)
I like this movie, but it's a different kind of film.  It flopped in theaters and has been followed by direct-to-video sequels.  It might seem strange, but the direct-to-video movies have received better critical acclaim than the original.

Bloodrayne: Deliverance (2007)

Bloodrayne: The Third Reich (2010)

Silent Hill Series (2006-?)
Silent Hill (2006)
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2011)

DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
I like this movie, but it's kind of hokey.  It has great action and a great cast, and even worthwhile funny moments.  However, it just didn't do that well on a commercial level.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2006)

Postal (2007)

Hitman (2007)
This was a good, serious action movie, but kind of hokey.  I thought hitmen were supposed to be inconspicuous and blend into the crowd.  Who knew they were all supposed to look and dress the same?  Anyone who takes this movie too seriously is an idiot.

Far Cry (2008)

Max Payne (2008)

The King of Fighters (2009)

Tekken (2009)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)