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TV, Movies and Games > Your Best and Worst Movie Adaptations of a Book

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message 1: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments I heard Barry Levinson discussing The Natural on Bill Simmons' 30 for 30 podcast and it got me thinking. IMHO The Natural is the best film adaptation of a book- the movie was wonderful, Redford was terrific and heroic- someone you could really pull for. I thought the book was terrible- I know The Natural is a fable, but the book was over the top and Roy Hobbs came across as an obnoxious jerk who evoked no sympathy.

My pick for worst adaptation is Starship Troopers- Robert A. Heinlein's novel is a masterpiece that delves into society, politics, the military and it's appropriate use, and the right of suffrage and who in a society should have it. All of this goes on during an interesting and humorous story about the main character. The movie was an abomination- sophomoric and idiotic. Don't waste your time seeing it.

I'm curious- what are your best and worst picks for film adaptations?


message 2: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments Although a lot of the uber-fans did nothing but complain, I think Jackson actually did a good job on the Lord of the Rings books. And, my wife said he also did a good job with The Lovely Bones.


message 3: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Vance wrote: "Although a lot of the uber-fans did nothing but complain, I think Jackson actually did a good job on the Lord of the Rings books. And, my wife said he also did a good job with The Lovely Bones."

I loved the LOTR movies, my favorite films.


message 4: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments for me it would have to be like this

Recent Best- No Country For Old Men (Book was written in such a visual and stylistic way that the movie probably didn't even have a script)

Overall Best- LOTR is up there for sure.
Also "Strange Brew"...Hey its Hamlet re-told...dont judge me ;)

Worst By Far is "Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World." Who in the HECK wrote that one huh? Really a T-Rex in San Diego? REALLY?


message 5: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Hey now! I frakking love the Starship Troopers movie. It's one of the best comedies of the '90s.

As for Lord of the Rings, I think the first film was fantastic, but the second one was bloated -- did we really need the pointless subplot where everyone thinks Aragorn's dead, or Galadriel's recap of events followed by Faramir's lieutenant recapping events again? Return of the King had some great moments, but some of the changes from the book are completely inexplicable. I mean, Gandalf kills Denethor? WTF? And they completely botched Aragorn's arrival at the Pelennor Fields -- in the book, it's the crowning moment of eucatastrophe, with the good guys seeing the black ships and thinking that they're screwed, only for Aragorn to hop out; in the movie, the audience knows what's about to happen, you don't see the good guy's reaction, and the moment is played as a joke.

My own picks for great adaptations:

Colossus: The Forbin Project
The Thin Man
Who Goes There? (The Thing)

And worst adaptation -- and I know I'll be lynched for blasphemy -- The Princess Bride. I don't know how William Goldman can screw up an adaptation of his own book, but he did, turning it from a dark and cynical satire of swashbuckling adventures into a straight example of the genre.


message 6: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Sean wrote: "Hey now! I frakking love the Starship Troopers movie. It's one of the best comedies of the '90s."

Has R.A. Heinlein stopped spinning in his grave yet? I can't get over what a travesty that film was.
I need to check out Who Goes There?, The Thing was a good & suspenseful movie.


message 7: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6362 comments I remember Dean Koontz's Demon Seed being good. Then he ruined the book by rewriting it.


message 8: by Jason (new)

Jason | 14 comments I think every Dune adaptation has been horrible. Just about every aspect that is great in the books is left out or mutilated by the works on screen. I think the 2 most important aspects of the books are the philosophy aspect, which would be difficult to do and the other is that there are all these groups that have pushed what humans can do, to the limits. It's about how far can you push humans over generations of breeding and development to be great at . . . something. The Fremen should have been portrayed as an entire army of the greatest martial artists in history. Every one a match for Bruce Lee or Jet Li. Instead of those fight scenes being the greatest fight scenes in history, they are people on worms shooting weapons. The Bene Gesserit, the guild, etc. All extremes of what a person can do. Frank Herbert build a future where it's not about technology, it's about human potential. This is more than 10000 years in the future, maybe we just can't imagine what it really should be like on the screen enough to relate to it.

I agree with Starship Troopers as well. Wasn't the book mostly set in boot camp? And had less to do with fighting and bugs and more to do with people and morals?

Lord of the Rings - very good - if I have one negative - the last movie seemed to lose part of the plot and just turned into all action - less feeling. But still love them.

Christine - love the book and the movie.


message 9: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Jason wrote: "I think every Dune adaptation has been horrible."

I wonder how an animated series would be? Frank Herbert's universe is so detailed and esoteric that even a mini series isn't quite enough. And the concepts so extensive that live actors and CG would be crazy expensive.


message 10: by Markt5660 (new)

Markt5660 | 39 comments Best: Lord of the Rings
Worst: Battlefield Earth (I don't even need to read the book to say this is the worst adaptation; it's almost the worst SF movie).


message 11: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments Markt5660 wrote: "Best: Lord of the Rings
Worst: Battlefield Earth (I don't even need to read the book to say this is the worst adaptation; it's almost the worst SF movie)."


LOL!!!! I had forgotten about Battlefield Earth. What a damn train wreck that was. absolutely could be worst movie ever. So if its "almost" the worst movie ever what would qualify as "the worst" for you?


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason | 14 comments I was just thinking, some movies can be so bad that they become entertaining in just how bad they are. I'm not sure the Battlefield Earth movie would be considered entertaining in any way. But an example for me of one such movie was "The Core". The "science" and "acting" are so overtly bad, that I've gotten some comical entertainment out of it.

I don't quite understand it myself, and I don't think The Core is actually based on a book? What do you think, can a movie be so bad that it's "good" in some strange way?

In the mean time I think we can all agree that the B.E. movie is reserved for a circle of hell that Dante thought too cruel to document.


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul Kelly (ptekelly) | 206 comments Sean wrote: "Gandalf kills Denethor? WTF? "

I need to re-watch this because I am pretty sure he didn't! Didn't he run off of the tower?

I loved the LoR films - I think they did the best that could be done. I really only had a few problems with the film mainly around where the emphasis lay for instance the role of the women was extended in the film (only to be expected) and the lack of importance on the whole sword thing was missing.

Still overall I loved them and yes I read the books first - soooo many times! :)


message 14: by Paul (last edited Apr 28, 2010 05:11AM) (new)

Paul Kelly (ptekelly) | 206 comments Best: Lord of the rings
Worst: Bicentennial Man. Wow! In fact so was I Robot but I enjoyed the film still.


message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul Kelly (ptekelly) | 206 comments Micah wrote: "Worst By Far is "Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World." Who in the HECK wrote that one huh? Really a T-Rex in San Diego? REALLY?
"


In the films as a whole they ran through the science so fast it was ridiculous. Especially where they explain the Lysine dependency!

For me the second and third books were very poor compared to the first so it wasn't such a problem that the films followed in quality.


message 16: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Paul wrote: "Sean wrote: "Gandalf kills Denethor? WTF? "

I need to re-watch this because I am pretty sure he didn't! Didn't he run off of the tower?


After Gandalf pushed him into the giant, flaming pyre. In real life, you light someone on fire and then they, blinded by flames and in agonizing pain, fall over a cliff, you're going up for first degree murder. And self-defense doesn't work -- Gandalf clearly used disproportionate force.


message 17: by Paul (new)

Paul Kelly (ptekelly) | 206 comments Sean wrote: "After Gandalf pushed him into the giant, flaming pyre. In real life, you light someone on fire and then they, blinded by flames and in agonizing pain, fall over a cliff, you're going up for first degree murder. And self-defense doesn't work -- Gandalf clearly used disproportionate force. "

I love it!

I think it 'might' be mitigated by the fact that Denethor was trying to murder his son, had already pored oil over himself and his victim, bashed the first (small) person who tried to help, had a lit firebrand in his hand and was clearly 'a bit mental'

Heh heh

Defending Gandalf - who would have thought :)


message 18: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments Paul wrote: In the films as a whole they ran through the science so fast it was ridiculous. Especially where they explain the Lysine dependency!

For me the second and third books were very poor compared to the first so it wasn't such a problem that the films followed in quality. "


There was a 3rd book? I did not know that. I just figured they made a 3rd movie because it only cost $5 and they would make at least $10....couldn't have been more than that could it? I didn't even know about the 3rd movie until i saw it in the bargain bin at wal-mart. Figured it went straight to DVD.


message 19: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments ok and on the whole Gandalf kills Denethor thing, I would have to say he was barely involved. All Gandalf did was give Denethor a little push out the door, so to speak....

If a guy is about to light him self on fire anyways, and you just help him out a little bit, wouldn't that qualify as "assisted suicide". Which is legal in a few states as of now...


message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Kelly (ptekelly) | 206 comments Micah wrote: "There was a 3rd book? I did not know that."

My bad - no don't think there was


message 21: by Paul (last edited Apr 28, 2010 11:50AM) (new)

Paul Kelly (ptekelly) | 206 comments Gandalf stood rigid, his hat in his hands, his eyebrows bristling wondering if this person had truly called him "young man". "I was NEVER young, brought into this wor..." No now was not the time. Still he should turn this frog faced gentleman into, well a frog, for the way he behaved.

Gandalf looked around the room, all eyes were on him. He had heard every word of the question but it still made no sense no matter how he turned it around. The man to his left, the one in the most outlandish outfit Gandalf had ever seen coughed to catch his attention. Gandalf leaned towards and, it has to be said, down and listened as the man spoke to him.

Gandalf stood upright, back ram rod straight and glowered at everyone in the room. None would hold his gaze. All except the chap with the strange white hair. Gandalf cleared his throat and spoke clearly and loudly. "Not guilty your honour" he said.


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