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128 of 148 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As a stand alone movie, it's pretty awesome. As an adaptation, not so much., December 28, 2012
This review is from: John Dies at the End (Amazon Instant Video)
This movie is losing a star because of how poorly adapted it was. We all know that adaptations are iffy and even hardcore fans of something will accept before viewing that a movie will leave parts out, some of those parts their favorites. But many very important character developments were left out as well as very chilling and mind-blowing elements. The first hour was a wonderful experience, even with the few minor changes. The last half hour was rushed and confusing, jumbling up several sub plots in a very lazy way.


I'll start out with the PROS:

-Great casting, great acting. Dave and John were portrayed just as they should have been and Chase Williamson's facial expressions and line delivery were especially good. John was just as ridiculous as he should have been and his whole demeanor was very "book John". Doug Jones is one of my favorites and I loved that he was Robert North (changed to "Roger" in the film for some reason). I love Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti in general but Paul Giamatti was a perfect Arnie. Also, Tai Bennett as Robert Marley was AMAZING. Dude deserves serious props for his delivery of "the speech" to Dave. That guy needs to be cast in EVERYTHING. It's very clear to me that many of the actors read the book and studied their characters carefully. The Justin White, The Shelly and Detective Appleton were all very good too. Overall, the acting in this film was really, really good and I have zero gripes with the talent.

-The special effects were at times a little campy (towards the end of the film, maybe the budget was getting tight) but that didn't take away from the experience. The Meat Monster was NOT campy at all and looked just as ridiculous and frightening as it should have.

-Some great moments and lines were kept in the movie, including the Bratwurst scene and the Korrok trolling scene.


-Some of what has been left out is totally unacceptable and takes AWAY from what most of us love about the story. No shadow people? Not even a mention of them or an appearance? They only orchestrated almost every event that happens. The shadow people are genuinely frightening because of what they can DO. The shadow people, in my opinion, are the whole entire reason Wong's book is so frightening. The shadow people are what I see out of the corner of my eye when it's quiet and dark. This movie left out the most haunting aspect of the story.

-Marconi felt like an afterthought in the movie. He destroys the Meat Monster and then he's gone from the entire movie until the black tube that takes them to the other dimension. He's gone because the entire Vegas scene is completely left out. Shitload is still there but he's poorly combined with another subplot involving the Mall of the Dead, which is combined with another subplot involving Amy.

-Speaking of Amy, this film continues the trend of "cliche, pointless love interest" female character. Amy is just "the girl" in the movie. This is no fault of David Wong. He is very good at writing realistic, in depth, likable characters and especially Amy. Amy is a very well written female character. She is a realistic female with a complicated past and motive. David Wong impressed me so much with how well he wrote this female character. Most women can't even write female characters as well as David Wong. Amy's back story is completely ignored, she is just missing a hand with no explanation. She's combined with the Jennifer Lopez character which I understand and accept but she's also made into a totally different kind of person than she was in the book. Her brother, Big Jim, is omitted as well.

-The character development overall is very, very lacking. The actor's themselves did a great job but for someone who hasn't read the book and doesn't know Dave or Amy's past or doesn't know how alcoholic John is actually an extremely decent and good person, I can see how they'd find it very hard to care about these characters or what happens to them.

-Amy and Dave's relationship is hollow and forced. Again, this is a character development and adaptation issue. Many events that were cut help build the trust and bond between Amy and Dave and when they suddenly end up together in the book, it makes sense. **In the movie, Amy is just some girl with a ghost hand whose dog Dave ends up getting killed and she's suddenly into him.**

-**So, the dog's name and gender is changed. Not a deal breaker for me but considering how they end the movie, I don't see how it's even possible to make a sequel. Molly/Bark Lee is central to almost every event that was left out of the book and EXTREMELY central to the actual book sequel, This Book Is Full of Spiders.**

-In the movie's world, there is no reason why the people of Shit Narnia should worship John and Dave as heroes. All of the events that take place that make them heroic and admired are completely omitted. Anyone who hasn't read the book will be thrown off completely as to why the people of Shit Narnia love John and Dave so much.

-Korrok was kind of weak as an ending villain. Combined with the lack of shadow people and the cutting out of huge events (including Amy's chatlog), Korrok was not menacing and his immense power was barely portrayed. **The danger of his people in Shit Narnia crossing over to "Dead World" was not obvious, so why should we care if John and Dave blow him up?**

-NO monster-Dave?! Really?! I'm happy the Arnie Blondestone twist was kept but the biggest twist of the story is completely left out?!

The movie's version of the story is fine on it's own, nothing special, but entertaining and interesting. A few plot holes since the subplots were so shoddily thrown together. David Wong's story is amazing, blow-your-mind awesome, plot twists you can't even imagine and horrifying situations you will wish you couldn't imagine. It is genuinely frightening, heart warming, supernatural and hilarious all at once. I feel like Don Coscarelli just took all of the silly elements from the book and skipped all of the existential crises and back story that makes you love the characters and root for them. I think this would have been better as several movies with just the Vegas and Shitload story as the first movie. They tried to jam way too much into one film and even if there was uncertainty about there ever being the funds to make a sequel, the story would have been done more justice with just the Vegas plot as the movie.

Don Coscarelli will have my forgiveness if there is a director's cut of this movie with tons of scenes cut out that have shadow people, Monster-Dave and backstory included. I know there are limitations on lower-budget films but character development should not have been sacrificed just so the entire book could be jammed into one package. As a hardcore fan of the book and it's sequel, I'm very, very let down.

HOWEVER, if you're a fan of David Wong and you want the possibility of a miniseries or reboot, I suggest seeing this movie anyways. Rent it online, see it in theaters, buy the DVD. PAY for it, don't pirate it. Let's show our support for David Wong as fans, so that we can reap the benefits of more work from him. The fact that his book went from short story online, to full novel, to published on a small scale, to published on a large scale, to MOVIE is pretty amazing in general. I think we should all do our part to help him reap the benefits of this, even if Don Coscarelli kind of butchered his story.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 29, 2012 9:20:53 AM PST
Yue says:
This is probably the most spot-on and well thought out review yet. You totally captured my thoughts and opinions.

Posted on Dec 29, 2012 2:45:41 PM PST
Excellent review!
I think that it's abusive to any book to shove it into a ~2 hour movie.
While I don't think it quite requires the full 10 episode seasons Game of Thrones is getting, a 6-10 hour mini series would have been far more appropriate. Cutting 14 hour audio book recording in half (visual descriptions rather than verbal/audio will remove some time), is realistic. Cutting it into 2 hours is a bit of a stretch.

I missed the shadow men. I was really looking forward to the whole Vegas scene. This was by far the biggest disappointment in the movie.
I disagree with the sequel sentiments in this post though.
I don't see why they couldn't get a new dog... Getting the sauce into it could be done any way that was required.

I'm hoping for a sequel. Really, I'm hoping for a mini-series adaptation. And a 3rd book to justify extending the mini-series to a full season series. Regardless, David Wong creations are on my buy list for the future.

Thanks for making the movie. Thanks for writing the books.

Posted on Dec 31, 2012 6:58:50 AM PST
B. Wolfe says:
I agree with most of this review, but man is it full of spoilers! On the off chance that anybody who didn't read the book wants to see the movie, I would hope they don't read this first.

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 8:39:33 PM PST
Skrubz says:
Great review, you said exactly what I was thinking. But seriously, what the hell was up with changing the damn dog's name?? No, it's not a big deal and I didn't really care.. It's just stupid. It's a name, it cost nothing more to use Molly over Bark Lee.

I would also like to agree with you about the horror elements of the shadow people. Without that, the chat log, and all the stuff that they left out about them it really wasn't a scary movie. I mean, they were the reason the book was at all scary.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2013 4:24:15 AM PST
B. Wolfe says:
The problem with the dog is that they had hired a male dog actor who was used to answering to "Bark lee" so they just kept his name so it would make sense if you saw his boy parts, and so he would respond to the other actors.

Which doesn't really make sense, because I'm not sure that there was even a scene where anyone calls the dog by name, so why would it even matter in that sense?
As far as the gender, they could've easily still called him Molly and made a joke out of it like "Why would they name you Molly? You're a boy!"

Posted on Mar 19, 2013 10:07:03 PM PDT
T. Scala says:
with all the cons i'm kinda surprised you gave it 4 stars.
but i would really rather they would have cut korrok and replace him with the shadow people, it would have made the story a lot stronger

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2013 1:13:30 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 3, 2013 1:14:10 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 1:40:54 PM PDT
PD says:
You know what I hate about these type of movies? You cannot get a good review out of them due to all the haters who read the damn book. Gets old.

Posted on Apr 5, 2013 5:01:17 AM PDT
Piperian396 says:
Molly died in the book but came back, I am pretty sure that in a universe where anything is possible (much like out own) they could find a way to bring Molly/Bark Lee back. I doubt a sequel will be made, I hope it happens though. The problem is we'll have to wait until this movie gets a cult following.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2013 5:21:25 AM PDT
B. Wolfe says:
I think it would've been funny if they still called the dog Molly. Dave could've joked with Amy "But he's a boy!" and she would shrug or something.
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