Lists, Miscellanea, Reviews

Fiction to Film: A Top Ten List

In a topic near and dear to my heart, this week’s top ten list is movies based of books. I’ve done this a few times already (see here, here, and here), luckily there is no shortage of material for lists like these. I’m splitting this into five good and five bad adaptations.

As I’ve previously discussed the successful Jaws, Drive, Trainspotting, High Fidelity, Casino Royale, and conversely, the less than successful The Shining, I am Legend, Beowulf, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, here are ten new options (as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish):

Sin City

Best Adaptations:

10. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. I’ve been to the movies twice this year. Once to see Stoker and once to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (this past Friday) and I was alone (as in the theater was entirely empty, save me) both times. Does no one want to see excellent movies anymore? Because The Lone Ranger was packed. Those who have any love for Benedick and Beatrice, go see Joss Whedon’s excellent version.

9. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. This might be one of the rare instances where I enjoyed the movie more than the book. I’d recommend both though.

8. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. Long live the ’80’s, dysfunction, and eccentricities.

7. Clueless (based on Emma by Jane Austen). Emma is one of the Austen novels that didn’t work for me. On my list of literary characters to loathe, I labeled her annoying, spoiled, frivolous, nosy, gossiping, inconsiderate, manipulative, and self-centered. However, Clueless ranks among my favorite movies. Anything that can make the story of Emma palatable is a success.  Has anyone else noticed that Paul Rudd doesn’t age?

6. Sin City by Frank Miller. If Frank Miller’s happy, I’m happy.

Worst Adaptations:

5. Troy. Loosely adapted from Homer’s Illiad, I couldn’t get past the removal of all the gods. It’s important not to underestimate the importance of ‘loosely’ in the previous sentence.

4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The one with Gwyneth Paltrow. As I’m not a GP fan, this was not destined to be appreciated by me. However, it looked pretty.

3. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Perhaps Nothing’s worse than The Bonfire of the Vanities. It’s not that it’s a bad adaptation, which it is; it’s truly a bad movie. Clearly, whoever cast the film did not read the same novel I did (or pointedly ignored it), because Tom Hanks is not Sherman McCoy – among the many, many other issues. I just watched this, so I’m still freshly disdainful.

2. Sahara by Clive Cussler. Confession time? I am a huge fan of Clive Cussler’s old school Dirk Pitt novels. Cyclops? Deep Six? Pacific Vortex? Loved ‘em. Perhaps I’m a little in love with the Doxa dive watch wearing, ocean exploring, damsel in distress rescuing, tequila drinking, opaline green-eyed adventurer – then again, who isn’t? But Sahara was very, very bad. What Die Another Day did to James Bond is what Sahara does to Dirk Pitt.

1. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Consider this a warning for upcoming profanity. I am a huge Stephen King fan. Movies like The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, The Green Mile, Carrie, Misery, and Stand by Me prove that Stephen King adaptations can be done well. So don’t fuck with my favorite Stephen King novel. In this modern era of filmmaking, it seems inconceivable that a movie (or miniseries) could veer as far off course as Bag of Bones did. Pierce Brosnan is a crotchety 60 year old, dark haired Irishman attempting (and failing) to portray a pleasant 40 year old, blond haired American. WHY? Also, anyone thinking that Maximum Overdrive should’ve taken this spot over Bag of Bones is missing the brilliant and unintentional hilarity of that movie. Good stuff.

Do you have a favorite movie based on a book? Do you think books are always better than the movies? I don’t (heresy, I know).

Image (originally Miramax?)

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