Friday, March 30, 2012

What are the best book to movie adaptations?

5. Harry Potter (2001-2011): I’m including all of the Harry Potter movies instead of singling one out, mostly because the sheer scope of the job was so daunting. If I was going to single one out, it would be ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ – but every movie managed to accomplish what it set out to do. The real accomplishment of the Harry Potter movies is the cast. Almost every single actor made it from the first movie to the last – which helped with continuity. There were a few casting changes, but most couldn’t be helped. I know a lot of fans wish that more of the scenes from the books had made it in (I personally wanted to see the de-gnoming of the garden in ‘The Chamber of Secrets’) but given the amount of story and how much time they had to deal with, I think all of the movie directors and screenplay writers did a marvelous job. After all, Harry Potter is a magic world and all of the movies manage to capture a great deal of magic.

4. Jurassic Park (1993): Michael Crichton’s novel was a hit long before it hit the big screen. When it finally did, though, movie goers were transfixed with Steven Spielberg’s sweeping adaptation. It really didn’t matter who they cast as what character – or even which characters were included, excluded or changed. This movie was all about the dinosaurs – and the dinosaurs were a marvel to behold. People may not realize today (given how great special effects are) what a big deal those movie dinosaurs were at the time. Well, they were, and I don’t know anyone who didn’t stand up and cheer when that big old T-Rex swallowed the lawyer when he was on the toilet. Neither sequel lived up to the magic that was the original – but really, all we need is the original.

3. The Godfather (1972): If I’m being honest, the second movie in this series is actually my favorite. That doesn’t stop the original from being a masterpiece as well, though. Mario Puzo’s original story is an interesting look at gangsters, their life and the women who populate their world that makes you emotionally invest in the bad guys. The Francis Ford Coppola movie does the same thing (the third movie in the franchise is a travesty -- just saying). The film boasts impeccable casting, a moving score and some of the best cinematography ever caught on film. The interesting thing about ‘The Godfather,’ is that even though it is 40 years old it still remains relevant today.

2. The Shining (1980): What’s funny about this movie is that Stephen King absolutely hates this particular adaptation. He doesn’t like the changes from his original work. I happen to love the adaptation. Not only is Jack Nicholson a revelation, but the imagery and surrealism of the film actually helps it transcend to another level. One of the biggest changes from the book to the film is that the hedge animals don’t come alive. Instead, they have the maze – the awesome maze. After seeing the television miniseries, which did have the hedge animals come to life, all I can say is I’m glad that budget constraints didn’t allow Stanley Kubrick to even try making this a reality for his film. To this day, the scares and ambiance of ‘The Shining’ hold up – and that’s a hard thing for a horror movie to do. Come play with us, forever, and ever and ever.

1. Lord of the Rings (2001-2003): I count all of the movies as one big epic saga. You really can’t name one portion of the trilogy and ignore the others. I’ve been in love with ‘Lord of the Rings’ since I was 12-years-old and read the books for the first time. To say I was a fan would be an understatement. I still reread the books once a year – that’s how much I love them. The ‘Lord of the Rings’ books were long considered to be unfilmable. They were dense. There were too many side stories. Heck, author J.R.R. Tolkien created new languages and entire histories for his characters -- and there just wasn't room for all of that in a film. That’s why what Peter Jackson did was so amazing. Not only did he cast the movie impeccably, he also wisely chose which parts of the books to keep, which ones to throw away (Tom Bombadil) and which ones to change (the elves coming to Helm’s Deep). Jackson’s trilogy is more of a love story to Tolkien than anything else. Anyone else excited for ‘The Hobbit’ this December?

Honorable mentions go to ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’ ‘Carrie,’ ‘Stand By Me,’ ‘The Notebook,’ ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ and ‘Silence of the Lambs.’

What do you think? What are the best book to movie adaptations?


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May 23, 2014 at 12:45 PM 

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