Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

The Oracle

Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

The Oracle

Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

The Oracle

Childhood media reboots seek to stay faithful to originals

Childhood+media+reboots+seek+to+stay+faithful+to+originals
Sarah Xie

The long-awaited TV show “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” first released on Disney+ in December 2023, received over 10 million views in its first week. In the same month, the movie “Wonka,” remake and prequel to “Willy Wonka,” hit the screens, ending the year as number one in the box office. Finally, in February 2024, the live-action remake of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” aired on Netflix, gaining 153 million watch hours within its first week after release.

The past few years have seen an upsurge in film or visual-media counterparts to popular childhood book series. Junior Stella Su remembers watching several older adaptations of her favorite childhood books — including “Harry Potter,” “The Giver” and “James and the Giant Peach” — and thinks adaptations may be going downhill.

Composition and Literature of Visual Media teacher Justin Brown said that the rubric for a good adaptation has many dimensions. In his experience, the best and most satisfying adaptations stay true to the original novel: capturing the theme, understanding the characters and imitating the writer’s style.

“In a movie, you need to have conflict in every single moment — otherwise, the audience gets bored,” Brown said. “There needs to be something at stake every moment. And a part of what’s wonderful about books is they just provide a texture to the characters in a way that films can rarely do now.”

Another problem, Brown notes, is that many directors struggle to compress the full depth of a novel into one movie. This notion is shifting, however, as many adaptations such as “Percy Jackson” move away from the movie format and into a multi-episode show.

“Now, so much mainstream entertainment is about serialized streaming stories where they’re going to spend six seasons adapting a book,” Brown said. “Those are situations where you can really do justice to it.”

Su agrees that attempting to cram a large amount of content into a film can ruin the pacing but also notices how adaptations of shorter books, such as “The Giver,” tend to stretch out unnecessary scenes and include their own details.

Freshman Ofer Kranz, who has read the “Percy Jackson” book series and watched both the movie and recent show adaptations, also appreciates the benefits of a series. She recalls the anticipation she and other fans felt waiting for the first episode to air.

“I forced my parents to watch it,” Kranz said. “It was good, really good. And I thought, ‘Finally, it’s here. Finally, we can breathe.’” Though there were a few disappointments with pacing and altered scenes, Kranz recognizes that there is no perfect adaptation and recommends the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” show for its stronger fidelity to the book series than its movie counterparts.

“They looked at more independent details that weren’t really portrayed in movies,” Kranz said. “They did a really good job with the characters and other details so I definitely prefer the series to the movies, but the books will always be on top.”

With these recent adaptations, Su also hopes to see tributes to smaller book series, and underappreciated or newer novels.

“It’s kind of a shame that (companies) usually only adapt books when they get really popular because a lot of times they try to bank on the already existing popularity,” Su said. “And so obviously some good books don’t get adapted.”

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About the Contributors
Vanisha Vig, Reporter
Sophomore Vanisha Vig is a reporter for The Oracle. She enjoys long bike rides, collecting random objects and re-reading the same three books all year long.
Sarah Xie, Graphics Freelancer
Sophomore Sarah Xie is a graphics freelancer for The Oracle. She enjoys stalking her cat, cooking and baking sourdough bread.
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