The moment most of us dread, they’re making your favourite book into a movie, and let’s face reality, it’s not going to be good. It’s a shame really, how these tales can grab us only to be destroyed on the big screen. In fairness, some books translate to screen well, but this is not a list of the best, it’s a list of the awful films that came from books (or video games) I had loved so much!
#1 Eragon by Christopher Paolini
A personal favourite, the Inheritance Cycle was one of the most gripping and fascinating pieces of fantasy I have ever read. I was hooked, carrying around the tomes wherever I went and reading them over and over again. Paolini is a gifted writer, capable of creating a world that has depth and substance. It’s a shame that such an innovative piece of writing was butchered by none other than Peter Buchman, the screenwriter behind Jurassic Park 3. Buchman hacks Eragon into pieces for the adaptation, creating gigantic plot holes, taking enormous short cuts, and then leaves it out to bleed out all over the big screen. The mixture of accents (British/American), the use of Robert Carlyle, the total inability to stick to the narrative, none of it worked. The film, a total mess, was one of the top 10 worst movies on rottentomatoes.com upon it’s release in 2006 and has largely been forgotten about eight years later. If you are an Eragon fan, DO NOT watch this movie.
#2 The Cat in the Hat by Dr.Seuss
A family favourite and a house hold name, Dr Seuss has released dozens of childrens books, each one containing a beautiful message and a scintillating narrative combined with a rhyming scheme that makes the tales a wonderful read for adults and children alike. In 2003, the tale of the cat in the hat who visits two bored children made it to the big screen. In fairness, Mike Myer’s performance is not that bad but the remaining cast is made up of some fading child actors and one of the Baldwins. The film is sloppy and doesn’t really convey the messages that Dr. Seuss is known for and, while there is a lot of room for interpretation here, it was interpreted the wrong way.
#3 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Any gamer, hell, most people with a pulse know the name Lara Croft. She’s the sexy as hell young woman who’s off discovering lost relics, using mystical artefacts and kicking the ass of anyone who gets in her way. In 2001, Lara was pushed to the big screen and Angelina Jolie took up the role of the beloved adventurer. Lara was presented as a cocky-tomboy who knew just about everything. Unfortunately, as someone who has played the games from start to present, the Lara we know and love is more lady and definitely someone who knows that her knowledge is more than just a reason to show off. The presentation was done terribly, the main plot was poor and the general viewing experience left me wanting to suffer amnesia so I could just go back to knowing and loving the Lara I grew up with.
#4 Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
A timeless tale designed to last the ages and last it has. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are two of the most well known and well respected narratives in history. So much so that the fantastic Walt Disney took Alice into the animated world in 1951. Now, I don’t think it’s possible to impugn the fantastic work of Walt, so breathe in relief. Fast forward to 2010 when Tim Burton (surprise, surprise) takes this idyllic book and honestly created a mash of drivel. Throw in Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and the Jabberwocky and suddenly you have an attempted (and failed) mash up of Carroll’s work with Burton’s go to actors. Mia Wasikowska’s poor portrayal aside, Burton tried to somehow tie in a spinster, adultery, the Red and White Queens and some nonsense historical reference to overseas trading. And to add insult to injury, Wonderland became Underland. Total swizz-hoggle!
#5 A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Anyone who knows me knows that this 13 volume book series is one of my all time favourites. So much so that I tattooed my ankle in solidarity with the themes of the book. When made for the screen in 20o4, the adaptation had potential. Jim Carrey was to be taking the mantle as Count Olaf and the cast was relatively well selected, even Meryl Streep signed on. Unfortunately, the content of three books was pulled, stretched, distorted and rushed, making this adaptation a poor representation of a story that was held dear by many. While some of the individual performances were good, the overall product was mediocre at best. Netflix are currently remaking the book series into a Netflix Original series so fingers crossed!
What about you? What adaptation made you uncomfortable?