Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptations

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

We already talk a lot about this topic! My main problem is that I haven’t read enough books. If I’ve only seen the movie adaptation, I can’t let myself put it on the list.

If only we could be more all-knowing. Sigh!

Kaite is a bit more all-knowing than me in this regard. Her voice will be represented here in green. Apologies to any colour-blind individuals who find themselves reading this. The truth is Kaite wrote most of it!

5 Worst:

The Golden Compass (2007) – How could they do this to these beloved books! The movie takes away everything great about them.

Atlas Shrugged (2011) – Because books at a level like this should not be given low budgets and pitiful effort. Did the producers read the book? Making sub-par product is kind of against the grain!

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) – A wonderful graphic novel made into a horrible film (which my husband loves).

Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) – As a flimsy chick-lit this book was already toeing the line as an awful movie. It was handled horribly, ruining everything I liked about the book.

Gulliver’s Travels (2010) – Poor Johnathon Swift. You deserve better than Jack Black at his worst.

Bonus: A Little Princess (1995) – This is one of my best-ever movies, but it’s nothing like the book (several reasons why are listed here).

5 Best:

Life of Pi (2012) – Everyone thought it was impossible to bring this book to film and do it justice. Ang Lee accomplished an amazing feat.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – If only Alfonso Cuarón had directed all of the Harry Potter films.

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – The movie is the perfect Hollywood translation of Dumas’ classic.

Jane Eyre (2011) – This movie oozed with the essence of Bronte’s classic for me.

The Bourne Identity (2002) – Love the trilogy. When I read Identity I couldn’t believe this was the source material for the movie. It is amazing how much they elevated the story, aided of course by the advances in technology.

Bonus: Mary Poppins (1964) – The movie totally kicks the book’s butt. When I read this book years ago I was stunned at how different the two were. The author, P. L. Travers is said to have not liked the film at all.

Ten movies that make us want to read the book:

  • Children of Men
  • Atonement
  • The Kite Runner
  • The Hours
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Kaite)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (Kaite)
  • Precious (Kaite)
  • Blindness (Deborah)
  • The Great Gatsby (Deborah)
  • The Man in the Iron Mask (Deborah)

Now tell us some of your best/worst/to-be-read!

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Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Cloud AtlasWhat a story this was! There are many thoughts to compile for a book like this, so after giving them a few weeks to figure themselves out, I think we may have a coherent book report on our hands. No major plot details will be related here, so read on!

I’d never heard of David Mitchell before, though his previous books have found critical acclaim. I was hooked once I saw the movie trailer for Cloud Atlas, and knew this was going to be a book I would love.

Adam EwingThis unconventional novel follows six main characters through different eras in the past, present and future. Beginning in 1850 with Adam Ewing who is sailing across the Pacific Ocean, we have a tone that seems very Melville. Through his diary entries we learn that Ewing is a good, Christian man who falls very ill on his journey home, during which he befriends a doctor and a former Moriori slave.

Robert FrobisherThe next chapter introduces young Robert Frobisher in 1931. A musical prodigy, he leaves his lover, Sixsmith, in London to travel to Belgium to study under a famous composer. Pretentious, despite his struggles and disinheritance, Frobisher works to find recognition and success, as we see in his self-absorbed letters to Sixsmith.

Luisa ReyThe story really begins to pick up in the next chapter, Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery, which follows Rey, a journalist in 1970’s California. Read like a novel within a novel (and a lot like Grisham), Rey believes she is on her way to uncovering a good scoop about a nearby nuclear power plant, which she is pointed to buy a now-aged Sixsmith. The plot has some great action, and Rey is easy to cheer for. Continue reading

A (Long) Word on Movie Adaptations

There are hardly any original ideas in film these days. If it wasn’t based on a book, the last big movie you probably saw was likely adapted from a comic book or a television show…or a ride at Disneyland. Why is there always that push to make the movie whenever a book does well? I suppose it’s nice to see a favourite character fleshed out on-screen. At the same time, there are a lot of movie adaptations that didn’t need to be made in the first place; and many more that didn’t succeed. Here’s my list of favourite and not-so-favourite book to movie adaptations* (in no particular order).

Favourites:

1) White Oleander

Book and movie both had great covers

Written in 1999 by Janet Finch, and adapted for film by Peter Kosminsky in 2002, this title easily fits into my Top 10 list for books and movies (and possibly also the list for most depressing). Admittedly, I watched the movie first, which led me to the book. Maybe that was the wrong way to do it, and maybe that means this is biased somehow, but I still think the movie was a great interpretation. Alison Lohman captured both the fighting spirit and vulnerability of foster child Astrid, and Michelle Pfeiffer reminded us that she’s actually got acting chops. Not only was Ingrid’s poisonous hold over daughter Astrid’s life was so well-portrayed, but so was her shred of humanity. It’s not often we get to see multi-dimensional psychopaths, let alone female ones, but when we do it’s exciting. (Angelina Jolie’s character in Girl, Interrupted springs to mind as another memorable lit-to-film character.)

2) Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of four sisters has been adapted for film so many times it’s hard to count. And oddly enough, I don’t actually know if I’ve seen any others besides the 1994 Winona Ryder version (directed by Gillian Armstrong)! So, okay, this one is definitely biased. But what can I say? Ryder made the perfect Jo, Claire Danes was the perfect Beth, and, to me, Christian Bale will always only be Laurie. The movie was different in that it cut out a lot of that sad part of the book where Jo was all mopey and depressed. But no matter – this is still the perfect film to enjoy on a snow day, curled up in a fuzzy blankie with a cup of hot chocolate and, of course, your sister.


3) The Secret Life of Bees

Dakota Fanning grew up in this 2008 movie. Sue Monk Kidd’s Lily Owens is on the cusp of adulthood, and is searching desperately for a mother figure. The first time I watched this movie I just remember thinking, “wow, this girl can act.” I am still convinced no one else in the world could play this role. Queen Latifah was also a stand-out as August Boatwright, and, heck, all the other ladies did justice to their characters, too. (May was just as heartbreaking on-screen as in the book.) Less religious superstition was found in the movie, but I found that part of the novel a little tedious anyways. On the whole, a great book made it as a great movie.

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