Friday, March 30, 2012

What are the worst book to movie adaptations?

5. Gulliver’s Travels (2010):  It’s not that I hate Jack Black. I actually don’t. I find him winning and funny – especially in movies like ‘School of Rock’ and ‘Shallow Hal.’ This is not his best outing, however. I understand there are limitations to bringing a movie like ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ to the big screen. The special effects have to be overblown – and the audience for a movie like this (especially in this day and age) isn’t likely to have read the source material. Despite all the excuses I’m making for it, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ still stinks. Black is stilted (and his schtick is starting to wear thin), and the supporting cast of Jason Segel, Emily Blunt and Amanda Peet is wasted. To this day, I have not seen an adaptation of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ that works on the big (or small) screen. I’m still hopeful it will happen one day, though.

4. Flowers in the Attic (1987): This is a guilty pleasure book, but it’s a horrible movie. The storyline is really convoluted and the incest overtones often turn people off, but that’s not my real problem with this film. Kristy Swanson plays a young Cathy, a teenage girl locked in the attic with her three siblings so their grandfather doesn’t find out about them. One of the children is poisoned to death and the other is near death before the children escape. All the while, they thought their grandmother or grandfather was poisoning them. Turned out it was their mother. The story was ridiculous in the book, too, but for some reason it still had a likability factor. I don’t even know what to say about the film other than it sucks.

3.  The Other Boleyn Girl (2008): I wanted to like this movie – mostly because I loved the book and I was thrilled with the cast. The problem is, the ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ is a dense book with a lot of subplots and stories that never made it into the film. I get why, I do. If they had included all the subplots then the movie would have been seven hours long. As it stands, there are moments where Eric Bana shines and Natalie Portman really steals the movie – but they’re few and far between. A lot of historians take umbrage with the portrayal of some of the characters. That really doesn’t bother me, mostly because I look at it as a work of fiction that uses real characters more than anything else. That being said, this was one movie that just shouldn’t have been put to film. It might have been better served as an HBO or Showtime series, like ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘The Tudors.’

2. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009): This is another book that I enjoyed – even if I did find it a little sappy. In this case, Eric Bana (maybe he should stay away from movie adaptations) sinks as the central character Henry, a man who has a genetic trait that causes him to float through time. His love interest, Rachel McAdams (who is doing the best she can with some weak material) initially finds his illness romantic but then becomes tired of wondering where he is for weeks at a time. The book was high concept, and I get where they were trying to go with the film, but they just didn’t manage to capture the magic that the source material did. It’s not that McAdams and Bana weren’t game, they just had a screenplay that missed the key parts of the book.

1. The Scarlet Letter (1995): Whoever thought casting Demi Moore in this was a good idea should be shot. Maybe that’s a little harsh. They should at least be flogged. Moore isn’t a bad actress (not always, anyway) but she was not a match for this part. This is a beloved piece of literature and Moore simply stunk the thing up. If I had to guess, Moore didn’t believe she was getting the acting accolades she deserved at this point in her career (which was really around her apex) – so she tried some Oscar baiting by remaking a classic. The problem is, Moore didn’t remake a classic as much as she did dump all over one. For all the kids out there who watch movies instead of read books for book reports – avoid this one like the plague.

Honorable mentions go to ‘The Beach,’ ‘The Time Machine,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘Beowulf,’ and ‘The Lovely Bones.’

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


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