November 18, 2013

The Best and Worst of Hollywood's Book Adaptations?


Like most people I enjoy lots of different kinds of films and books and I have seen many of these listed below.

Whilst some assessments coincide with mine, I can’t say I agree with all of them. 

As in so many fields everything is a matter of personal opinion so we may well differ!




WE LOVE when a good book gets made into an even better movie.
Scratch that. Sometimes we just love seeing our favourite characters brought to life onscreen, even if it's all a glorious mess. The Hunger Games fans will soon be able to see the second instalment of the series, Catching Fire, and those who devoured Fifty Shades of Grey and Gone Girl can look forward to film adaptations of those juicy books next year. What other books have successfully made the leap onto the big screen - and which should have been left on the shelf?

Harry Potter: Though they occasionally suffered from being too close to a literal interpretation of the books, the Harry Potter movies by and large proved that a fantasy series could be brought to the big screen in glorious, engaging, humanised detail and satisfy the vast majority of its all-ages readership.

The Shining: Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's 1977 novel is still ranked as one of the scariest movies ever made, though King never liked it and recently called its portrayal of Shelley Duvall's character misogynistic in its two-dimensionality.

(clip above: "Three versions of The Shining in one.
The Stanley Kubrick film with ace wacko Jack Nicholson.
The TV Miniseries starring Steven Weber produced by thriller novelist Stephen King.
And the 1970s song inspired by the book by Australian Rock Legend Jon English.")

The Lord of the Rings: Peter Jackson dusted off the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, published in the mid-'50s, in a film trilogy that boasted a first-rate cast and never-before-seen special effects, especially in its creation of Gollum, a CGI creature voiced and embodied by actor Andy Serkis. It won a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar, among others, for the final 2003 instalment.

The Wizard of Oz: L. Frank Baum wrote the children's book in 1900, and in 1939 it was turned into what is still one of the best-loved movies in history.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Some eyebrows no doubt rose when author Stephen Chbosky decided he would direct the adaptation of his own cult-favourite teen novel. But it paid off: The soulful indie was one of 2012's best films.

The Notebook: This weepy 2004 adaptation of romance writer Nicholas Sparks' first novel about a lifelong, tortured love affair made Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams instant stars. Subsequent Sparks books-to-films have not fared as well.

The Princess Bride: William Goldman may be best known as the screenwriter of '70s films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Stepford Wives, but his 1973 novel became an instant '80s comedy classic, featuring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright and Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), who got the immortal line, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Stieg Larsson's pitch-black 2005 crime novel was a runaway hit, then became two hit films: the first in Swedish, starring Noomi Rapace, and then an American version which introduced Rooney Mara. Both did justice to Larsson's story of a vengeful computer hacker and a journalist investigating family secrets in a tiny Scandinavian town.

Twilight: Stephenie Meyer's series, while beloved of millions of girls, never offered much in the way of great writing, so it's not surprising that the film series quickly became campy B-movie fare. The exception: Catherine Hardwicke's original Twilight, which brought some nuance to the story of the love between a high school girl and a good-guy vampire

The Great Gatsby: Often referred to as "unfilmable," F. Scott Fitzgerald's thin novel was still made into several movies over the years, most recently Baz Luhrmann's over-the-top extravaganza starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. Though impressive in its scope and 3D, the movie just didn't have what it took, old sport.

The Time Traveller's Wife: Audrey Niffenegger's debut novel was a cracking good read about a man who fell in and out of time - and in love with a woman who had to learn to have a relationship with a chronologically challenged partner. But the movie, starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, failed to channel the book's magic.

Water for Elephants: A book club favourite, Sara Gruen's story of love at the circus became one of the first non-Twilight outings for heart-throb Robert Pattinson, but neither he nor Reese Witherspoon could save the film from the colossal shrug that audiences gave it.

Eat, Pray, Love: Elizabeth Gilbert's ridiculously popular bestseller seemed a natural fit for the likes of Julia Roberts, who portrayed her in the film directed by Glee creator Ryan Murphy. But something was lost in translation - maybe Murphy didn't pray hard enough.

The Lovely Bones: Alice Sebold's beautiful, creepy novel about a dead girl watching her loved ones cope with her death at the hands of a kidnapper was brought to the screen by the imaginative Peter Jackson. But his fantastical renderings of the protagonist's heaven proved that sometimes, no visual can live up to the open-ended possibilities of a book

The Da Vinci Code: Who didn't read The Da Vinci Code? Who doesn't love Tom Hanks? And yet the film version fell flat, failing to bring needed depth to Brown's mediocre yet ridiculously addictive prose.

Most pictures and story: With thanks to The Herald Sun
I can think of many books that have been made either into films or mini-series that I have considered really worthwhile.

 I am guessing that the author of this article is somewhat younger than I am. 

This, of course, changes one's perspective enormously.

I liked the new version of "Gatsby" very much and have an earlier post on it, for example.

I very much liked "Centennial" - book and mini-series. 

I have always enjoyed James Michener's books, and also those by Leon Uris - example "Exodus" - the book. And others like "QB VII.

Classics like "Pride and Prejudice" is another one, and so is a "Tale of Two Cities" and "The Importance of Being Ernest",,,I could go on and would take me ages.

I am sure readers have their own lists,and so they should!

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