Look Hollywood, it’s not that difficult. A talented author writes an amazing book. You make a movie out of it, keeping all the parts that people love about the original work. Yes, I know that some changes have to be made when switching from the written word to film, but generally speaking, if the book’s incredible, you should be able to make a decent movie out of it, right?
Sadly, for every “Princess Bride” we have a live-action “Cat in the Hat.” Hollywood has a knack for making bad movies based on great books. As proof, here are five recent movies that managed to make cinematic shit out of literary gold (and one series that was awful in both formats).
5. The Cat in the Hat (2003)
Doctor Seuss is one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors, and “The Cat in the Hat” is one of his most popular works. It’s a frenzied twirl of rhymes and madness as the titular Cat turns a rainy day into a memorable afternoon. It’s also a wee bit too short for anything longer than a 30-minute animated adaptation.
So, naturally, Hollywood decided to make a full-length movie out of the classic, cast Mike Myers as a smarmy Cat, and fill in all the empty space with bad slapstick and off-color jokes. This Cat should have a restraining order keeping him at least 150 yards away from all children and lovers of Seuss.
4. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
When making this adaptation, director Tim Burton said he believed that “Alice in Wonderland” had never been successfully adapted to the big screen. Without being too catty, his assessment still rings true.
3. Beowulf (2007)
The movie was in trouble when director Robert Zemekis announced, “nothing about the original poem appealed to me.” Here’s an artistic tip: if a story doesn’t appeal to you, don’t make a movie about it. You’ll make a crappy movie.
The only thing the film has in common with the Old English epic is that some guy named Beowulf shows up and kills things. Not that I’m suggesting the Anglo-Saxons wouldn’t have appreciated Angelina Jolie in gold body paint and a prehensile tail…
2. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
A confusing novel becomes an even more confusing movie. That should have been the tagline for this book-to-film adaptation. The novel tells the story of Henry (a time traveler) and how he met his future/current wife, Clare. The book is written in first person and chapters alternate between Henry and Clare’s perspectives throughout different years of their lives.
The novel actually does a beautiful job of tying the storylines together in a beautiful and simple way. The movie struggles to keep that effortless flow. This science fiction-esque, yet still classic love story, is one that would have been better left on paper.
1. Twilight (2008)
Actually, the movie’s an accurate adaptation of the book. In that respect, this flick doesn’t belong on the list. As a lover of both literature and film, however, let me speak for millions when I scream, “Burn it! Burn it all!”
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