Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Day of the Triffids (2009)

I’ve struggled with this one all night. Rather unusually for me I am reviewing something ultra fresh that peers, family and friends have seen. I have been fed back. Oddly it seems to have been liked by some people!

Lets get this out of the way. The review will contain spoilers. If you actually want to see the programme (though I'm not sure why) watch it first then come back and see if you agree with me.

First lets address change. The original book was written in 1947 so yes some adaptation would be needed to bring it up to date to a degree. (Bill comments on the lack of horses in the street outside if i recall correctly!) however surprisingly little does not translate directly into today's society. The two biggest changes to the plot and characters and in my opinion the most damaging to the story in general are these.

  • The solar flares don't damage the eyes as such its actually one big apocalyptic flare. This simply does not work. Surely a very large and significant portion of society would not be looking at the sky at this time. The whole idea was that the flares were degenerative with people totally unaware that they would wake up blind. This leads us to the other aspect of the insta-blindness nonsense. It is far more effective that the population of the world woke up blind. It aids confusion but doesn’t create a 28 days later style disaster scenario. Planes manage to land. Cars get parked. The world dies with a whimper. Far more effective in my opinion.
  • Point 2 is the physical changes to the Triffids whose very name evokes the fact that they have 3 roots or boles that they use for comical locomotion. The Triffids are not threatening. They are comical and seen as a joke. This is why Bill has such difficulty in convincing the other survivors of the threat. In this adaptation they are fast and motile with lashy tendrils and stuff.

Original conceptDay of the Aloe Vera?  

Lets use a simile. A man comes to you an explains that some poisonous biting snails have escaped. They are a great threat…do you believe him? The same man tells you that a gang of velociraptors have gotten out. You know velociraptors exist. With this in mind the pig headed denial that Triffids are dangerous seems just that. How stupid are these people?

Another huge sticking point for me was believability.

  • I couldn’t believe that blinding a population makes them turn into zombies (get a stick people, have a chat maybe, don't just wander around being violent!)
  • Police in genera do not have Firearms in the UK, and they likely never will. Add to this that vans full of automatic weapons don't tend to be laying around on motorways especially as the blindness happened with no warning so there was no state of emergency and no reason to issue weapons?
  • Why in the name of all that is holy do you breed Triffids an a big room full of plants? That is like keeping black widow spiders in a big room full of plastic black widows and fake webs? SIlly silly silly.vlcsnap-00052
  • Eddie Izzard is made of strong stuff. Just cram yourself into a loo with some air filled life jackets and you can survive an unguided plane crash into the heart of London. Your clothes will get a bit charred but you will walk away like an extra from the A-Team.vlcsnap-00058

The final nail in the coffin for me was the massive plot holes. Of course the main one is the aforementioned solar flares but we also have the lunacy of…

  • Triffid farms without a failsafe, surely if they are that easy to breed and power fails just have a bloody great sprinkler of weedkiller come on?
  • Guns galore in a largely gun free society.
  • Mentions of people avoiding the flares in the underground…but no sign of them.
  • Clear roads when we want to go somewhere, packed ones when we want drama (this is why the going to sleep and waking up blind scenario WORKS)
  • Newspapers that get strewn about for no real reason (other then it looks apocalyptic)

The burying of the coffin is done by the sheer idiocy shown by the characters in this adaptation.

  • A Triffid expert goes into a Triffid infested “orchard” with lots of Triffid hiding greenery and fails to put on one single piece of the blatantly available anti Triffid gear
  • A Triffid expert tells somebody who knows NOTHING about Triffids that they are dangerous. He gets ignored.
  • Despite all the guns nobody picks one up.
  • Sighted people seem to be all thugs
  • Why does Coker seem to think that one blind person to 2 or 3 sighted is a good ratio? Doesnt this make the whole idea of helping the blind rather pointless?

Add the this the giddy rushing of what was and still is a meticulously crafted tale of mans downfall and you get 28 Days Later with plants. I prefer my zombie flicks with Zombies thanks. I would rather my thoughtful and excellently plotted treatises of the weakness of the human race and its dependence on just 5 senses to be just that. Beeb…you fucked up.vlcsnap-00051

Watch…think and point and laugh. Then watch the far superior 1980s adaptation or even better read the book, it has dated rather well.

Paul out…and not sure if he is coming back for the rest tonight

ADDENDUM: Part 2

There is no real improvement for part 2, the story continues to be execrable crap but as it diverges so heavily from Wyndham I don’t care as much.

Additional bollocks is the call to London (don’t worry about the rotting corpses and the solid wall of Triffids, not to mention the big barrier they have built?), the fact that Bills papa managed to stay sighted, the little girls managing to find machine guns and ammo, the nonsense about sacrifice, roaring plants and of course the latest sci-fi magic bullet…genetic engineering. The icing of course is the mask based finale. What the hell was all THAT about! The big difference between the parts however is that this section is damned boring!

I would like to offer my sincere apologies to the Wyndham Estate on behalf of the BBC licence payers. We do not condone this bastardisation of his Magnum Opus and would have given anything to keep the story murdering Patrick Harbinson from this project. We affirm that we will do all and any within out power to prevent Mr Harbinson from ever adapting a book again.

SHAME ON YOUGenerally if it is a crap idea it was Harbinsons. The good content would have been Wyndham. Of course, if you liked it, I apologise but would remind you that it is time for the next treatment.

Paul out…for good.

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