Any devout book-loving-movie-watching individual knows that thrill of terrible excitement evoked by the words “THEY’RE MAKING A MOVIE.” Joyous discovery! Such possibilities! Such anticipation to see this well loved story brought to the screen! How could you go wrong with such a wonderful story?
As if anyone ever asked THAT question.
The truth is, things could go HORRIBLY wrong. And they have. On several occasions. Time after time I have sat in a theater and watched the characters and stories I love viciously destroyed by incompetent actors, cringe-worthy screen plays, and film makers whose vision was entirely different from my own. It is an unparalleled agony.
Here are some of the worst book-to-movie adaptions I have ever suffered through.
1. The Tale of Despereaux
Just looking at this poster makes me feel ill.
Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite modern authors. Her writing is charming and quirky and poetic. The first of her books I read was The Tale of Despereaux. It’s a beautiful, poignant story about love and forgiveness and soup.
The movie utterly destroyed that.
Despereaux, a timid, small, sickly mouse in the book was an obnoxious daredevil. Instead of the powerful forgiveness of Roscuro in the end, it turned out he never did anything really wrong. He was just MISUNDERSTOOD. So there was no need for forgiveness. Way to go movie makers. Cut the heart of the story out with a spoon.
And what was the deal with the weird vegetable man?
2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I don’t even know what to say.
This movie just failed. In so many ways. Lucy was adorable in the first movie. She was fine in Prince Caspian. But then suddenly I just couldn’t stand her. And then there was the green mist and the magical glowing swords and…. Yeah. It was bad.
However, there was one thing they did absolutely right. The one shining spot of brilliance in this movie was EUSTACE. They picked the perfect Eustace and he did an excellent job. If not for him I wouldn’t even watch this movie.
But because they DID pick such a wonderful Eustace, it frustrates me that the movie that surrounds him is so painful to sit through.
Oh, and did I mention that end scene? The part when they get back and Eustace’s mother shouts up the stairs that JILL POLE has come over to play?
And I choke on the pizza I’m eating to console myself for the pain of watching this movie and stare in disbelief at the screen. WHY? Seriously. Whatever induced them to put that line there? “Hey, isn’t he friends with a girl named Jill in the next book? We should mention her at the end, shouldn’t we.” *Face-palm* There’s a very crucial part of that sentence you missed. In the NEXT BOOK. They BECOME friends in the NEXT BOOK. Remember how Eustace was really nasty at the beginning of this movie? You think Jill was his friend then?
HONESTLY PEOPLE. CAN’T YOU-
Anyway. Moving on.
3. Percy Jackson
You know when you’re sitting there re-reading one of your favorite books and you think “They should make a movie of this.” And then you realize: “Oh wait. They did.” But the movie was so completely unlike the book you keep forgetting it exists, and when you do it is only with pain and suffering.
I don’t remember all that much about the first movie. I guess I sort of blocked it out of my mind. But I remember enough to know that it was not something I ever need to see again.
Don’t ask me why I even bothered to watch Sea of Monsters. But I did. Afterwards my sister and I were trying to think of a scene from the movie that was from the book. We couldn’t think of a single one.
WHY DID THEY HAVE TO BE TEENAGERS? WHY IS ANNABETH SO ANNOYING? WHY DOES THE BEGINNING OF SEA OF MONSTERS FEEL LIKE HIGH-SCHOOL MUSICAL?!
“Don’t worry, Percy. You’re still the superstar around here.”
This is not okay.
And Kronos coming back to life at the end of Sea of Monsters was like “WHOA. WHAT?”
Screenwriter: “I accidentally put the plot of the book through a paper shredder, but I think I pieced it back together alright.”
Sorry, but no. You didn’t.
4. Ender’s Game
Yeah, I know they couldn’t make it about a six year old. That doesn’t mean they had to try and make it a ‘teen movie’. And I know it’s hard to translate so much internal emotional stuff from book to film.
So maybe they should have just not tried to make this movie at all.
They kept a lot of scenes directly from the book, the problem was, the scenes they kept didn’t fit with the rest of what they were showing. They talked about the isolation, which is very real in the book, but in the movie it worked like this: “And then he went to the cafeteria and sat at a table BY HIMSELF. Poor Ender is so isolated.” Then a few scenes later “And then EVERYONE came and sat at Ender’s table!” Cause I guess the film makers didn’t want it to be TOO sad. “Well, I think we nailed the isolation bit with that cafeteria scene. Lets get on to the part where he has friends.” (Meanwhile I’m shriveling in my seat in the theater trying to decide whether I want to laugh or cry out in anguish over how terrible this is.) Not to mention he met Bean ON THE SHUTTLE. Not a great start to depicting isolation.
Another thing they talk about but don’t show very well is Ender’s intelligence. They’re always talking about how incredibly smart he is. How unprecedented his skills are. But we really don’t see that much in the movie. So it doesn’t make sense when they talk about what a genius he is and how he’s the only hope for humanity.
AND THEY COMPLETELY RUINED ALL THE SCENES THAT MAKE ME WANT TO CRY.
Seriously. What was the deal with him walking into command school the first day and his friends are all standing there smiling to meet him (more or less)? The isolation again. You failed.
The trouble with this movie was that nobody liked it. They tried to make fit into the mold of the trending teen-dystopian-society movies, but this story just doesn’t lend itself to that. As a result, the people who read the book were disappointed and disgusted that it felt to much like a teen movie, and the people who thought it was just another teen-dystopian-society movie found the ending surprisingly dark.
It just didn’t work. For anyone.
5. The Hobbit
The problem here should be pretty obvious. Consider the above poster. It’s a poster for “The Hobbit.”
….. Do you see a hobbit on this poster?
No. You do not.
See the problem?
I was quite pleased with their casting of Bilbo. Martin Freeman was perfect for the role. The trouble was, half the time the focus wasn’t even on him.
You do realize this movie is called “The Hobbit”, right? No, it’s not called “The Dwarfs” or “The Extraneous Battle Sequences”. It’s certainly not called “The Love Triangle of Two Elves and a Dwarf.” So just make it about the TITLE CHARACTER. That’s all I ask.
And Kili- just grow a beard. You’re a dwarf, for Pete’s sake. I won’t have any of this I’m-trying-to-be-really-cool-and-attractive-with-my-scruffy-‘beard’-because-teen-age-girls-will-love-me.
One response to “5 Of the Worst Book to Movie Adapations”
“No, it’s not called “The Dwarfs” or “The Extraneous Battle Sequences”” YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS ALL THE YESSSSS.
AND YES JILL POLE IS NOT IN DAWN TREADER WHO IS THE STUPIDHEAD MAKING DECISIONS LIKE THAT. And yes Lucy annoyed me in that too. But Eustace, so I have to give them some credit.
The only good things about the Hobbit movies- 1) Martin Freeman 2) Thranduil 3) The behind the scenes videos because there’s like five million hours
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