Saturday, 7 January 2012

Around the World in Eighty Days vs Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

I had a pretty good idea of what this film was going to be like before I even sat down to watch it. Casting Steve Coogan as the main character always gives you a good idea of the type of films likely to follow.
I'm going to be honest. After 20 minutes I stopped watching this film with my full attention. I had it on in the background while I checked my Facebook and browsed the IMDB page for it because this is one of the worst films I have seen in a very long time.

So normally in this blog I would talk about the similarities of the film and the novel and then highlight any particular plot points that have been modified. There are so many changes to the original plot I'm surprised that they can even put "based on the book by Jules Verne" in the title credits. It would probably be easier in fact for me to list the things in the film that actually happened in the book: The title is the same (apart from 80 is now a number instead of written) Some of the character in the film are in the book! (Namely Fogg and Passepartout, Fix makes a small appearance) They go to about 3 of the places in the book. That's about it. Jules Verne is probably rolling in his grave.

So onto what was different in the film. I'm sticking to the major changes if I focussed on everything I'd be here for 80 days!

  • Fogg is portrayed in the book at the "proper" English Gentleman, always punctual, stiff upper lip, no emotion it is never mentioned what he does for a living though it is pondered upon. In the film he's played by Steve Coogan who is ridiculously charismatic and Fogg is portrayed as an inventor.
  • In the novel Passepartout (unsurprisingly) is French. In the film he's played by Jackie Chan. Enough said.
  • Riding on the bet is not money as it is in the book but whether Fogg will be allowed to invent again or not by the Royal Academy of Science
  • The bank robbery that Fogg is mistaken for committing in the book is committed by Passepartout in the film which leads me to the next point...
  • The ridiculous sub plot. In the film Passeportout commits the bank robbery to steal a Jade Buddha, not money. It turns out that the Budda is sacred to his village in China and he plants the idea of the trip so he is able to get back to his village as quick as he can. Of course there is the evil General Fang who is sending swarms of karate experts after them so Chan can show off his skills. It's stupid and unnecessary and it's Disney trying to make the film more exciting for it's target audience.
  • There is no character of Aouda, the female character is called Monique, they meet her in France and she tags along of her own accord. They briefly rescue her in Turkey but it's nothing like Aouda's rescue in the novel.
  • They use methods of travel that don't feature in the book. Namely they use a hot air balloon to fly out of France and a plane made from a boat to fly into England.
  • There are cameos of famous people just so random actors can make an appearance. The Wright Brothers (Owen and Luke Wilson) Queen Victoria (Kathy Bates) Kitchner (Ian McNeice) and also Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the Prince of Turkey and Richard Branon playing the man they stole the balloon off.
I'm stopping there because this is turning into a small rant. Even if you didn't know that this film was based on a novel it doesn't redeem itself because at the end of the day it's just not that good a film. According to IMDB it's one of the biggest flops in History (although probably still a pittance to Disney who own the company who made it) If you want to see something mindless and has the odd amusing moment then by all means watch it. If you in any way at all like the book, steer well clear. 

Around the World in 80 Days [DVD][2004] Directed by Frank Coraci, Staring Steve Coogan, Jackie Chan and Jim Broadbent. Rated PG
Around The World in Eighty Days (Penguin Popular Classics) [1873] By Jules Verne available in Paperback and Kindle Editon


  1. The film was utterly horrible by any standards, regardless of what it's supposedly based on. No plot, no character, no point.

    I do like the book and vaguely enjoy the 1954 film (although that's quite wearisome as well). It has similar issues - Passepartout is not French, but Mexican (Cantinflas, who gets to show off in a bullfight), various luminaries pop up in cameos and Shirley McLaine is a long way from being a plausible Indian princess. Despite all that, it's miles better than the 2004 variant.

  2. My plan is to watch the 1954 one at some point today or tomorrow so watch this space I guess!

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