Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday! The Best/Worst Movie Adaptations

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today's topic is the best/worst book to movie adaptations. I couldn't decide, so I did five of each. My principle is "The book is always better." 


Perks of being a Wallflower based on the book by Stephen Chbosky
This was a great book. Really-quite amazing writing, good story, just all around awesome. See my review here. Needless to say, I did not have high hopes for the movie. However, Stephen Chbosky had a hand in the screenwriting/direction and it showed. All of the important elements were there, and it had a stellar cast. I missed a few aspects of the book, but I was overall quite impressed with the outcome.

Great Gatsby based on the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This one gets an asterisk. I loved the casting, the acting, and many other things about this movie. I did not love the music. At all. Not even a little bit. I felt like the movie did an excellent job of portraying the obsession and longing between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. It also did a good job of showing their whirlwind romance, and their world infused with alcohol, parties, and no responsibilities. But the music. Seriously. No. I’d rather watch on mute.

Interview with the Vampire based on the book by Anne Rice
I dislike Tom Cruise’s acting immensely. Partially my mother’s fault for her distaste when it comes to him, and also, it’s hard for me to believe him in anything. However, this is the one movie where I enjoy him. He is a great crazy Lestat. The movie takes the story of Louis to a new level, and Brad Pitt was an excellent choice for Louis. He captures the turmoil Louis feels at his vampiric state, and the love he feels for Claudia. One point of contention I have with this movie is Claudia. I would really have rather seen one deceptively dangerous five year old in that role, as the book intended. 

The Road based on the book by Cormac McCarthy
Creepy, heartbreaking book. Dark, captivating film. All of the elements from the book were there: the bleak world, the loneliness, the tight bond between father and son. I was pleased to see that the movie didn’t give them names. Part of the beauty of the novel is that, despite how attached you become to the characters, you never know their names. 

Princess Bride based on the book by William Goldman
Hilarious, heartwarming, wonderful. I love the book, which is a kind of retold fairy tale, with wonderful magical elements, and a ton of humor. The book is presents the whole story as a retelling of an older story, which is a fictional idea, but I like it. I love that the movie stays true to that with the grandfather/grandson exchange. The casting is fantastic: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal. Also, this movie is crazy quotable. See here.


Ella Enchanted based on (but nothing like) the book by Gail Carson Levine
OMG, this is insanely awful (awful enough for me to say "OMG"). Absolutely ruined a beautiful book that is my favorite. This movie is so wrong, it should not share the same title. Ella Enchanted is a retold version of Cinderella, with a few twists. Ella is cursed to be obedient, meaning she must do as she is told or begins to feel pain. The movie takes this to dumb, comical, illogical levels. They make Ella stop in mid-air. This book has magic, but it never defies reality (if that makes sense). The movie made me want to cry, because I love this book so much, and they completely and totally butchered it. Blasphemy.

Dresden Files based on the series by Jim Butcher
Okay, so I am cheating here; this was a tv show on the SciFi network (when they still spelled it SciFi and not Syfy). I love Harry Dresden (a lot), and I was psyched to see a show based on the books, even if it was only the one season. I started watching it and was horrified. They took these amazing, crime-fighting, magical books and dumbed it down significantly. Also, they ruined the characters! Karrin Murphy was a completely different person in the book than how they present her in the show. Karrin is short (5 ft), blonde, and butt-kicking. In the show: tall, leggy, girly, and brunette. Part of the magic of the character is her sweet appearance versus her personality. I do not forgive you SciFi network.

Cat in the Hat based on the picture book by Dr. Seuss
Come on! The Cat in the Hat should be left alone. Even the Geisel-approved cartoon was not that good. This is one of those books that is only good as a book. And Mike Meyers makes a fool of himself as the cat. I realize they were playing off the success of Jim Carrey’s Grinch, but this was just a horrible hour and a half of film. I am embarrassed for the actors in this movie. 

Gulliver’s Travels based on the book by Jonathan Swift
I was never that fond of Jonathan Swift’s seminal work, but Jack Black murdered it. Now, I realize it isn’t just his fault, but he was not Gulliver. They attempted to update the film, modernize the story, and reach a new audience. Even the new audiences said no. What I hated was that the few bits of Gulliver I really enjoyed (the commentary on the different roles he plays in different villages) was completely taken out. Instead of the satire and analogy, we were hit over the head with slapstick comedy that just didn’t work.

My Sister’s Keeper based on the book by Jodi Picoult
This story was heartbreaking, and well-written. I loved how the was really well-done, and explored so many different characters and how they all dealt with the situation at hand. The stories were all intertwined, and there was a surprise ending that I both loved and hated. The movie dumbed it down, and changed the ending completely. It was so frustrating.

Looking forward to judging:

The Fault in Our Stars based on the book by John Green: I have already judged this in my frustration that the actress playing Hazel does not look like Natalie Portman (whom the character is compared to in the novel). However, I am still hoping it does not ruin an amazing novel.

Divergent based on the book by Veronica Roth: Same actress as TFIOS! I have seen pictures for this in production, and it so far does not seem terrible. I reserve my judgment.

World War Z based on the book by Max Brooks: I am betting this will make its way to the “Worst” list, just because of how it is sooooo different from the book. There could have been a great movie made out of this book, but instead they made a Brad Pitt summer blockbuster-ish film that shares nothing but the title (or so I’m told).

And you? What movie adaptations from books have you loved/hated? 

~Cailey W.

This is a topic thread started on The Broke and the Bookish. Visit their website to see more on this subject


  1. I completely agree with you regarding "My Sister's Keeper." I absolutely hated that movie compared to the book. So disappointing.

  2. i liked the world war z movie even though it was totally different from the book...


  3. The Hunger Games--both the book and the movie are excellent and heart-breaking.

  4. I am happy to see that I've passed on my dislike for Tom Cruise!

    I've decided to write this up on my blog, too:


  5. Stephen Chbosky actually directed "Perks", which is why it was so amazing.

  6. Hey, I was thinking that The Lightning Thief in the book was awesome but the film. No... just no. In the Sea of Monsters, the book was great but the movie... still sucky and awkward. The rest of Percy Jackson had not been adapted to film yet, but other than that; the book series of Percy Jackson was epic. Thanks for the top ten list.