Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Movies Made from Books

I've criticized the movie business for years. With each story line ripped from a novel or each sequel spawned, my faith in the world's creativity crumbles a little. After finding this list of movies made from books, I had to sit back and think about it. Some of them I will go see, for the sake of seeing. But why? Aren't I a hypocrite? Maybe if I can justify my actions, I can live with myself.

Here's the link for upcoming movies. Yesterday, I went to see Beastly, the book was originally by Alex Flinn. I went in knowing it was going to be different, so I sat back and decided to judge it on the movie alone. I actually enjoyed it. It was a cute tale with some funny moments (especially blind tutor Will), a good message, cool effects (the beast was scarred rather than hairy), and a warm fuzzy in your stomach happy ending.

Reasons to see movies ripped from books.

Story lines. I used to say that movie makers (screen writers, producers, etc) can't come up with any good story lines. Now I say that movie makers recognize good story lines and want to put it out there for non book readers to share in. Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Great and Terrible Beauty are four I will definitely see. I loved the books, and am curious to see how it will transfer to film (the complexities of Katniss's complex character especially). Part of me wants to share in them, because I want to experience the plot again, without having to read the book (usually I'm a one-time reader, there are few books on my shelf I'll read twice). Of course, I have been disappointed before. The Harry Potter movies made me sad at life because they couldn't capture the true magic of the books (Movie 7 part 1 can be excluded from this for the most part). Ella Enchanted made me want to run screaming from the theater (the only book I've read more--much more--than 10 times).

Drag your friends to see it--the friends you couldn't get to read the book. Perhaps their interest will be piqued and next time you suggest a book they might just read it.

Feel superior that the world's entertainment is becoming dependent upon the imagination of writers--ironic considering the state of publishing and bookstores. But still, we can thank amazing people like JR Tolkien, JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyers, among others.

I don't have to read the book anymore--but I can pretend. It's sophomore English all over again (Shakespeare was better with English accents and tights). My guilty list: Beautiful Creatures (good book, not my favorite though and I'd like to see what movie magic makers can do with it); Forest of Hands and Teeth (as much as I wanted to love it, I couldn't get into it); The Mortal Instruments (another I wanted to love but I couldn't get into).

If you weren't thrilled with the book, the movie might redeem it. I never read the book Stardust was based on, but I heard that the ending in the book was horrible. Plus, the acting in the movie was fantastic. I'm glad I never read it. It's actually one of my favorite movies of all time.

Experience the magic again. It's been years since I read the Narnia books; so long, I forgot which ones I had read and the plots of most of them. But I didn't really feel like picking up MG/YA books and reading them for the sake of reading them when my list is already huge. Maybe some kids don't want to read them because they are "outdated" or something silly. Enter the movies, and suddenly it's like new again. Maybe some kids were inspired to rediscover the books (go books!).

You'll notice of course that this list is purely YA. I'll expand the genres for the answering portion of today's post.

What's your favorite movie that's been made from a book? Why? Least favorites? What are you looking forward to seeing, whether or not you've read the books?

Happy watching!


Heidi W said...

Fight Club! After all these years, I still enjoy watching that movie. It captured the crazy, desperate feel of the book.

I also enjoyed The Virgin Suicides, and would love to see Middlesex made into a movie.

I can't wait for The Hunger Games!

Bkloss said...

Hey I love Stardust!

Even though the movies differed drastically in some parts, I still love the Lord of the Rings adaptation. I really think Peter Jackson did a superb job of capturing the spirit of those novels.

Also looking forward to the Hunger Games movie!

Kristine Asselin said...

Aside from Harry Potter 7--the last movie I saw based on a book was probably THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. LOVED the book, and there were parts of the movie that gave me the chills because they were so poignant. Overall the book was much better.

Hunger Games will be interesting, but I'm really looking forward to HP 8--as a die hard Ron/Hermione fan, I can't wait to see how they film the kiss. :)

Bkloss said...

Ooo Kristine--right there with ya! I could use Hermione's extendable charm on my purse...

Anonymous said...

I can’t wait to see how the movie industry does Richelle Meads Vampire Academy series, and also P.C Casts House of Night series.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth was a little bit hard to get into at first but it was well worth it I even bought her number two The Dead Tossed Waves . . .Amazing! THis one will be even better on film, Zombies are funny like that!
-Brittani Galle-

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I'm gunshy of the movie adaptation of the Hunger Games. It is coming out from Lion's Gate--the same studio that brought us such winners as the Saw franchise and the awful Hostel movies. I can only think at this point that it may be terrible.

Kate said...

TUCK EVERLASTING has always been one of my favorite books. The movie couldn't do it justice, but in a way I was grateful that they didn't come close to recreating the world I'd envisioned. The characters that Natalie Babbitt created will always stay clear in my mind. I'm happy to not have them morph into the movie's version of them.

m. christine weber said...

Oh, I loved Stardust! So sweet and scary and magical… *sigh*

And I have a confession: My favorite reason to see books made into movies is the opening night crowd! There’s something extremely fun (though admittedly childish of me) about standing in a long line of Harry Potter fanatics for three hours, and then joining in on the soaring excitement and heart dropping groans during the show. It’s invigorating!

Best book-to-movie? Lord of the Rings. Hands down.

Most excited to see *crosses fingers in hopes they don’t ruin them*? Hunger Games, and 13RW by my dear friend, Mr. Jay Asher (who, incidentally, I stood in line with at Harry Potter).

Heather said...

My favorite movie made from a book, that's a tough one! I love movies and books but not often movies made from books. Though they didn't get the plot quite right I would have to say The Lord Of The Rings.

- said...

Ella Enchanted is also one of maybe 5 books I've read dozens of times- my ultimate comfort book. I couldn't even sit through the movie and have always wondered how GCL feels about it.

I try not to let a disappointing movie adaptations cloud my original imagination. In my mind, Harry has green eyes, Hermione's hair is much less tame, and Dumbledore is more...well, likable.

I'm always interested in film versions of my favorites, but I'd choose rereading the books while listening to the movie soundtrack any day:) Great post!

Anonymous said...

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the best book to movie adaptation ever. I think the love that Peter Jackson and his huge team have for the books is evident in every scene. It was clear they referred to source material, even when they made changes.

I will always remain disappointed in the Potter films. J.K. Rowling has such a way with words and yet none of the magic transferred over.

The Hunger Games worries me because if the rumours are to be believed, we will be getting a beautiful, blonde actress playing Katniss. No, No, No!

Sarah said...

There are some really good answers in the comments. Love Fight Club and Virgin Suicides. I'm a big Lord of the Rings nerd. I'd also argue that the movie of The Princess Bride is actually better than the book, which I didn't care for. Same with Devil Wears Prada. I also thought the film Children of Men was better than the book.

As of right now I'm remaining optimistic about Hunger Games, but we'll see. I don't hate the idea of a studio that specializes in horror doing the film, because, much as I hate stuff like Hostel and Saw, it means there is a change the movies won't be dumbed down and cuted up. Hunger Games is a pretty brutal book and some of that rawness needs to come through. Meh. We'll see.

The latest Pride and Prejudice really captured me. I know a lot of people prefer the Colin Firth version, but I though this one was simply beautiful. Really captured the feeling of the books, without replicating every single line of dialogue.

Disappointments? I didn't love film Atonement nearly as much as book Atonement. Never Let Me Go was a disappointment, though it had a few really good moments. The Narnia films have also been disappointing. Anybody remember the BBC ones from years ago? Is it weird that I think they captured the emotion of Narnia better than the most recent films?

Whoops, this turned out pretty long. Sorry!

Beth C. said...

I preferred the movie edition of The Princess Bride. The book is good, but it tends to ramble a bit.

I'm most looking forward to The Hunger Games. That said, I'm very worried that they'll blow it.

HowLynnTime said...

Funny Stardust and Princess Bride movies have the same feel to me - I like them and they are nothing alike - but there is something in them that ties them together to me. 1st Dumbledore had more power to me - sniff - and those brought more magic. I too was disappointed Harry had no shocking messy black hair and green eyes!

My favorite book to movie is (Lonesome Dove) which is strange because I am not western crazy - unless it's John Wayne of course.

Lord of the rings - but I wanted the time with the Ents - my favorite part of the books.

Carrie - book to movie that worked in harmony.

Most of Kings books don't make fantastic movies because they loose his subtle control of your mind in the movie lights. He's in your head messing with you in his books but just watching doesn't work as well.

The kite runner - did translate well to me. I really liked them both.

YA - I have to toss it out there - loved Twilight - It really was filmed with such a murky dower feeling - just like the tone of the books.

Lol - and sorry it's OLD but disney did a great job with Jungle Book!

Sarah Ahiers said...

oh i LOVE the ending in Stardust the book. It's sad and bittersweet and lovely.
Then again, i don't always need happy endings

Julie said...

I have similar problems with watching movies after reading books. My new solution is to watch the movie BEFORE reading the book, whenever possible! This way, I'm engaged in the movie and still pleasantly surprised with all the book's rich and extended details. I recently tried this with "I am Number Four" and it worked splendidly!

Myrna Foster said...

I felt the same way about Ella Enchanted, the book and the movie. I will never see it again. And the Percy Jackson movie was almost as bad. It could have been the next Harry Potter, but they had to change it.

I love the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies, but I haven't seen them very many times because I love the versions in my head better. The interesting thing was how close so many of the characters (Aragorn, Gollum, Gandalf, Legolas, Eomer, Eowyn, and Pippin) in The Lord of the Rings were to those in my imagination though. So, I'm looking forward to the last HP movie and The Hobbit.

Ted Cross said...

Blade Runner, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and The Princess Bride are even better than the books.

Unknown said...

GONE WITH THE WIND is my absolute favorite movie. I also love the book. Win-win! I do agree that while I like the HP movies, they totally failed to capture the essence of those books. Hermione knitting hats for house elves! They left out so much of what I love about HP.

Cristina Roock said...

I'm late but good entry! Interesting points are made and reading through your comments made me realize there's just as many good movie adaptions as the bad ones.

Terry Tibke said...

The ERAGON movie is probably one of the worst adaptations I've ever seen. It's clipped. Too short. At times, badly acted. The only redeeming quality it had was the CG and animation on Sephira.

Aldrea Alien said...

Darn typos, get into everything, I tell ya ...

HP movies - Was hesitant at first, but now I love them (have yet to see the last two), but I just can't get into any of the books. Even when they first came out.
LotR - The movies were lack-lustre for me. Maybe it's seeing all the NZ scenery that throws it for me. My mind's too busy going 'that's done down south, that's filmed up north, they did that scene in the quarry down the road' (seriously, you could see the set while driving down the hill). IMO, they should've done four movies. It's as if they were rushing for the ending, and there were so many bits I wanted to see before they reached it.
The Tale of Despereaux - I saw the movie first, but I love both it and the book. It's hard not to, but I like the ending in the movie better.
Spaceballs Novel - I'm a sucker for a good laugh, be it film or book. Still, the movie is just better at it.
Princess Bride - I must've watched this a dozen times at least. I've the book on my shelf, unread for now.
Twilight and all its sequels - ... I'm overall bias on this one and not in a good way.
Stardust - Loved it. Never read the book. Not sure I want to now.
Eragon - ... my opinion of this is the same as Twilight.
Chronicles of Narnia - I’ve only seen the first movie (in the cinema, which is rare for me these days), but I loved it. I’m hoping the books are as good.
Matilda - Loved them both. Book was better in some parts, movie in others.
Charlie and the Chocolate factory - This is a harder one to judge. The first movie adaption was too sweet, the second creeped me out just a bit and I’ve yet to read the book.
The Witches - I’ve only skimmed the book, but I have to say the movie was better. The book’s ending was a little too sad for my tastes.
Percy Jackson - I liked it, but then, I’ve never read the book.

And I know they’re not movies, but I adore the Legend of the Seeker/Sword of Truth TV series. Granted I'm still picking out the odd bit of NZ scenery (as well as the actors), but it's lighter and easier to watch than LotR. (Just wish they weren’t being shown in two hour bites. I’ve still got parts of season two to watch.) I haven’t sat down to read the actual series books yet (so many to read so little time), but I loved the Debt of Bones.
Terry Pratchett – God I love’em all, but the best versions were of Hogwatch and Going Postal. Colour of Magic/Light Fantastic weren’t all that great as books either.

What I’d like to see made for the big screen? My favourites: the first ones of the Dragonriders Series; the Black Magician Trilogy (can’t speak for the Traitor Spy trilogy, just yet), the Cheysuli Series; Most of David Eddings’ novels (bar the Dreamer series), especially the Elenium and Tamuli series or The Redemption of Althalus; the Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies; anything by Robin Hobb (except maybe the Solider Son trilogy); all of Robert Jordan’s WoT books; Andre Norton’s “Gryphon Trilogy” from the Witch World series, or her Year of the Unicorn novel ...

Ah, you all get the idea ;) I’m a sucker for good fantasy. Film it and I’m likely to watch it.

But the one I want to see the most (apart from my story so I can see a nine-foot lizardman on screen ;) )? Why, MORT of course!

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