Killing The Novel: Top Ten Worst Movie Adaptations That Book-Lovers Hate
You just learned that your favorite fantasy novel is going to be on the big screen! You’ve been dying to see what your favorite fictional characters will be like on film. Upon seeing the trailer, you start saving money so you can buy balcony seat tickets during its premiere showing. When it finally does show up on the big screen, you excitedly line up to watch it.
When you exit the cinema, you’re disappointed. It was not as good as you thought it should be. The story was bland, and the characters seemed uninteresting. The cinematography was good, but the settings and costumes were all messed up. You didn’t like how they changed the ending. Overall, you hated it.
It’s not uncommon for books to be turned into movies. For eager producers and directors, transforming a novel into a film is a very good idea, but the problem occurs when the adaptation turns out dull or deviates too much from the original story. The fans of the book become annoyed and are usually the biggest critics of the movie. (Tips on how to review a film)
Here are the top ten examples of the worst book to movie adaptations shown on the big screen. Watch them, and see whether you’ll get satisfied or not.
10. From Stars to Dust: Stardust
It’s a world of fantasy, magic and thrilling adventures. “Stardust” tells the story of Tristan (Christian Cox), a young man from an ordinary English village who crosses over to another world, the magical land of Faerie, in search for a fallen star, Yvaine (Claire Danes). What he encounters is an extraordinary quest filled with magical creatures and obstacles that test his strength of character, his perseverance and the power of true love.
“Stardust” was originally a graphic novel created by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. The book has received many positive responses from fans because of its unique English fantasy style theme and method of storytelling.
The movie, on the other hand, is a different case. Since the idea was to simplify the story, the plot has been trimmed too thinly. Although the film does express wit, charm, and magic, it fails to live up to the fantasy world that Gaiman created in the original novel. If the book is up in the stars, the movie adaptation is slumping down in the dust.
9. Doing Little Justice to Stuart: Stuart Little
If you’re into computer-animated children’s films, you’ve probably watched this movie. The story follows Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox), a young, tiny New York mouse who’s been adopted into the Little family. During his misadventures, he learns that living in a world of big people has its ups and down moments.
Stuart Little is based loosely on E.B. White’s 1945 novel with the same title. Everyone will certainly find this movie heartwarming, funny and well-paced. However, the movie exaggerated Stuart’s adventures. Central important scenes from the book were deleted from the movie. The movie did little justice to E.B. White’s masterpiece.
8. Creepy, But Unfaithful: The Shining
Desperate for inspiration and wanting to get his life back, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) agrees to stay in the Overlook Hotel despite the cold winter weather and the place’s chilling history. Everything goes well, until his telepathic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) begins to experience chilling incidents. In between the stress of his job and the ghosts that haunt the hotel, Jack begins to slip into insanity, and does crazy and frightening things to his family.
Adapted from a Stephen King novel, this film is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. Yet, many negative criticisms regarding the film’s plot were made, all pointing to one fact: the movie was not faithful enough to the book. The director made too many changes, and there were themes that were disregarded in the film, such as effects of alcoholism and the disintegration of a family. King himself stated that the film was good, but not a good adaptation.
7. Alien Attack: War of The Worlds
H.G. Wells first created the “War of the Worlds” novel in 1868 with the plot set in England. Even though the technology Wells described was not as advanced as the one we see today, he was still able to capture the dismal and frightful feeling of an alien invasion. The book inspired numerous adaptations, with the one starring Tom Cruise being the most recent. Changes have been made to the film, but the terror and panic still remains.
Even so, many critics find the recent “War of the Worlds” unsatisfactory. In terms of cinematography and effects, it is outstanding, but when it comes to storyline consistencies and logic, numerous flaws can be seen.
So, that’s why this movie ranked 10 in the Top 10 Alien Movies.
6. Chilling, But a Bit Dissatisfying: Pet Sematary
When Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) and his family moved into their new home, he didn’t expect that they’d run into so many disturbing events. For one, their cat, Church, died unexpectedly. To prevent his children’s heart from breaking, his neighbor, Jun Crandall (Fred Gwynne) puts him in the pet ‘sematary’, an ancient burial ground that can resurrect the dead. Louis brings back Church, although he isn’t the same pet as he was before. When Louis’ toddler son dies, he decides to perform the same task again, but with a chilling, and frightening price.
The Stephen King novel will definitely scare you out of your wits with every page, but the movie doesn’t match the novel. There is blatant foreshadowing, unrealistic flashbacks and dull scenes in the film. It’s chilling, but you might find yourself a bit unsatisfied.
5. A Love Story Gone Bad: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
It’s a mix of personal and national loyalties, rebellion, epic battles, and love in the midst of war. Set in the beautiful Ionian island of Cephallonia in Greece during World War II, the story revolves around an Italian army captain (Nicholas Cage) and the island doctor’s daughter (Penelope Cruz), who fall in love with each other in the most unlikely, turmoil-filled circumstance.
“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” is a wonderful story that’ll touch you deeply, unless you’ve read the original version written by Louis de Bernières. In that case, you may be disappointed. Film critics have negatively rated the movie because it deviates too much from the book. The movie softened the tragic episodes a bit too much. The love affair was also greatly exaggerated, causing the other themes of the novel, such as homosexuality, to be disregarded. The ending was altered and it’s no wonder fans of the novel were irritated when they saw the film.
4. Strange Alien Invasion: Dreamcatcher
When four friends set out on a hunting trip during the winter, they did not expect that the most chilling experience of their lives would happen. Facing an alien invasion and Abraham Kurtz, a psychotic army Colonel, they must find a way to prevent the dangerous creatures from spreading havoc.
“Dreamcatcher” is another Stephen King novel that has been adapted for the big screen. Although the film is considered to be faithful to the novel, it never became a hit and was even dubbed a science-fiction disaster.
So, that’s why this movie ranked 9 in the Top 10 Alien Movies.
3. A Royal Letdown: Princess Diaries
Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) thought she was just a typical junior high student, but that changed when she met the crowned Queen of Genovia, Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), who happens to be her grandmother. Mia finds out that she’s heir to the royal throne and that her life is about to go through a royal change.
The film is just as fun as the book by Meg Cabot, but it has several distinct flaws that any Princess Diaries fan would object to. First, Mia’s character has been altered completely. From a vegetarian, socially aware teen who wants to join Greenpeace, she has been transformed into a clumsy, awkward teenager. Many parts of the book have also been changed, including Clarisse’s character and the setting of the story.
2. The Holy Grail Movie Fiasco: The Da Vinci Code
If you love reading, then you must be familiar with this controversial Dan Brown novel. Following the legend of the Holy Grail, the story revolves around Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), a Harvard symbologist, and Sophie Neveu (Aubrey Tatou), a French cryptographer, as they try to uncover one of the greatest mysteries that can shake the very foundations of the most powerful religion on earth.
The problem with “The Da Vinci Code” is that it was too faithful to the novel, with the writers making only a few changes to the story. On paper, the story seems to be very fast-paced, but on the big screen, it fails to convey the same excitement. The result is that the movie was boring, despite its interesting content.
1. D for Disappointing: The Scarlet Letter
Set in 17th century Boston, the tale revolves around Hester Prynne (Demi Moore), a woman accused of adultery after giving birth to a daughter. She is then given the scarlet letter “A” on her bosom. Hester’s love affair with the town minister, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman) causes her to be a social outcast, and leads her to struggle to create a new life of dignity and repentance.
“The Scarlet Letter” is a love story that expresses numerous issues, including love, guilt, sin, legalism and grace. Unfortunately, the movie adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel gives disappointing justice to it.
Since it’s “freely adapted”, numerous changes were made to the story. The ending, for one, was transformed into a happy one. Love scenes are injected into the movie; and though they seem appropriate, the actors did not have much chemistry together. The scarlet letter for this film should be “D” for dull, dismal and disappointing.
Seeing your favorite book turned into a boring and disappointing film can be a total drag. Remember though, that it’s just a movie. Whatever happens, you can still get satisfaction from the paperback version you have. So go on, watch these movies. You never know, maybe someday you’ll find them interesting. If you enjoy reading this article, you’ll surely learn more by reading how to determine a bad movie from a good one, beforehand.
If there’s a Top Ten Worst Movie Adoptions, of course there’s also a Top Ten Best Movie Adoptions. The Harry Potter series, which also earned the number 2 spot in the the Top Ten Fantasy Novels of All Time. Find out What’s on the top of the lists.