I fell in love with Jules Verne after reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and from there on, I kept consuming his books. I went from The Mysterious Island, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Michael Strogoff, Master of the World, and Around the World in Eighty Days.
This is high praise from someone who didn’t like Science Fiction; he helped change my mind. I was amazed at his wealth of knowledge, how much he knows, and how attentive he is to detail. He and Agatha Christie are on par with this.
At one point, I was sure he was a time traveller who had gone through all these scenarios because he gave such beautiful and finely-tuned descriptions. That man was intellectually blessed, and he blessed us in turn with his works. He is unarguably one of the best and most successful science fiction writers the world has ever known.
I had read and reread this book, and it is currently in my top 100 favourite books of all time, but I had never watched any movie adaptation. Then I got the opportunity to do so and was excited to see all I had imagined come to life. I conveniently forgot that Hollywood modifies their scripts, but I was still pumped to watch it. I didn’t research the movie either.
Sometimes not knowing helps.
So I rested from the hustle and bustle of life and watched the 2004 remake. I sincerely enjoyed watching the movie because Jackie Chan was awesome, and the other cast members were equally impressive. If I had not read the book and had just watched the movie, I would have given it a 70%. It was good, but compared to the book, it got nowhere.
First, they made my Phileas Fogg insecure. The essence of book Fogg was his confidence; he had it in torrents. He made decisions in a snap and made sure they were executed, no matter what. He was the tenet of confidence. I mean, this guy became a pirate to win a bet. He braved up and went after a band of Sioux.
Hollywood, instead, made him fearful, although I must agree that there were times in the movie when Fogg stepped up to his role. However, it was a pale comparison to the book Fogg.
Then they changed Auoda and made her French. I don’t have an issue with the change, but all our adventures with Auoda in Asia went down the drain. I had wanted to see the funeral pyre and Passepartout in action.
Mr Fix is one of the characters I loved reading about; he consistently did everything he could to capture Fogg. He and Fogg had admirable precision, and his only fault (according to me) was his blind faith that he was right about his suspicions.
Even when he started to feel conflicted after getting to know Fogg, he still stuck to his guns (pun intended). Being consistent is what makes a great character.
The movie Fix was a pain to watch. Thankfully, it was a comedy, and I got a good laugh. He did reinstate himself when he took down Kelvin by telling the people about his evil plan.
One of my favourite parts of the film was seeing the Wright Brothers. It was unexpected. It is not every day you get to see Orville Wilbur, and he is always sure to make you smile.
So what is my verdict, you may ask? I would advise you to watch the movie separately and enjoy it because it’s quite good but not an accurate rendition of the book.
Afterwards, fly with me into the luxurious storytelling of the book and get lost in a world of travel, espionage, cultural clashes, damsel rescuing, train fights, more heroic rescuing, and record-breaking journey of a lifetime without the aid of technology as we have it.
Book Rating: 5 stars
Movie Rating: 3.5 stars
P.S.- BBC made a series on Around the World in 80 Days, I haven’t seen it, but I heard it was good.