Friday, March 23, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Books to Movies

I might very well be biased. Alright, I am totally biased! Books that become movies are often disappointing, rarely satifying, and sometimes downright awful. Here's my list of the best and worst adaptions:

The Good
  • The Harry Potter series was lovingly recreated for the most part with input from author J.K. Rowling. There were a few missteps (McGonagall sending students to the dungeon? No way!) but the filmmakers got it right for the most part. How thrilling was it to see Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Castle come to life? The dragon escaping Gringotts was brilliant.
  • The Lord of the Rings series was a visual stunner and only the most die-hard fan of the book would find much to dis in Peter Jackson's films. My own gripe is not including Tom Bombadil. A lot of his lines went to Treebeard instead.
  • Pride and Prejudice was brilliantly filmed for British telly back in 1995. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy....whoah. The scene of him jumping in the pond? Just saying'!
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the 1971 original, with Gene Wilder) perfectly captured the magic and whimsy of Roald Dahl's book.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird. Gregory Peck was the perfect Atticus.
  • The Outsiders (1983) was perfectly faithful to S.E. Hinton's book and the casting was great, a who's who of young Hollywood, with Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Ralph "Karate Kid" Macchio, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, and Leif Garrett. One complaint...Dally is supposed to be a towheaded blond. Not a look Matt Dillon could've pulled off.
  • Fight Club (1999) didn't lose any of Chuck Pahlaniuk's edgy brilliance in the film version. Of course, David Fincher directing had a lot to do with that.
  • Holes (2003). Even though I couldn't get the image of Shia LaBoeuf as Louis Stevens out of my head, he was pretty good in this one. Funny, wise, true to the original story. Author Louis Sachar wrote the screenplay.
The Bad
  • The Lightning Thief. Are you kidding me? Campers don't live in cabins by father, no Clarice, no Ares, no Titans. Annabeth should've been blonde. Grover reminded me of Jar Jar Binks (never a good thing). He was a protector, not just comic relief! Gah!
  • Anything originally written by Stephen King except The Shining and Stand By Me. Honestly. Even when King directed the movie himself, it turned out lousy.
  • Eragon. The movie kept the shell of the story and removed the heart. No character development at all. And it was boring. Directed by the same guy who ruined Master and Commander and The Bourne Identity.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. This one was doomed from the start despite a good performance by Jim Carrey. It's just not Lemony Snicket without the narrator's voice but it would be awkward to translate this to film.
  • Stormbreaker. Alex Pettyfer was too old and the writers decided there needed to be more laughs than action/suspense. Bomb.
The Ugly
  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009). Worst adaption of anything, ever. Darren is magically American. Grateful these filmmakers didn't get their hands on Harry Potter! Steve and Darren battle (Huh? That happens much later.), John C. Riley brings an unwanted Stepbrothers comic vibe to the role of menacing Mr. Crepsley. No Debbie. Mr. Tiny sides with the Vampaneze? Spare me.
  • The Cat in the Hat. Mike Myers should be condemned to making Wayne's World sequels for all time as punishment for desecrating Dr. Seuss. Unfunny, too long, and oddly inappropriate jokes. Mike, go make Austin Powers 3.
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2003) Horrible CGI and special effects. Annoying, no-purpose changes in characters' names and appearances (No glasses for Meg, No red hair for Calvin). All the energy and fierceness of Meg were sucked out. The Man with the Red Eyes and IT were essentially merged. Themes were glossed over and reduced to cliches. Thanks a lot, Disney. You ruined it.

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