Monday, August 20, 2012

Five Mediocre Film Adaptations

Here is a list of book to film adaptations I can watch more than once without wanting to shove my head into a blender. They're not completely terrible, but they're also not entirely great. If you click on the movie's title, it will bring you to the trailer on YouTube.

The Thief Lord

Movie Directed by: Richard Claus
Novel Written by: Cornelia Funke
Synopsis: Threatened with separation, recently orphaned brothers, Bo and Prosper, run away to Venice where they join a group of young thieves who live in an abandoned cinema. Led by Scipio, the Thief Lord, the kids steal from the rich to support themselves all the while evading a bumbling detective, who seeks the two orphans.

Though it was an enjoyable movie, it didn't give me the same tingly nostalgic feeling I get when I read or think about the book. The effects were pretty bad, but they weren't a huge part of the movie, so it didn't bother me too much. The pacing was kind of slow at points too. I also think they could have cast a better actor for Scipio. Though he looked the part, the actor just didn't have the charisma needed to pull off the character.

It's a cute children's movie, and I would recommend seeing it at least once, but it didn't wow me like I wanted it to.


Movie Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
Novel Written by: Anthony Horowitz
Synopsis: After his uncle's death, Alex Rider, a fourteen-year-old schoolboy, learns that his uncle wasn't the banker he claimed he was, but in fact a spy for MI6. Alex Rider is recruited to continue the mission his uncle failed. He is sent to Cornwall where he must spy on a billionaire who is planning on donating thousands of his newly developed computers to schools across England.

I was so excited when I learned Anthony Horowitz's book was going to be made into a movie. I was literally jumping up and down, and nearly in tears. I then spent the next few months getting all of the information I could on the movie's progress, which was mostly me stalking Alex Pettyfer (Alex Rider), who I immediately had a huge crush on (I was, like, sixteen. Shaddup).

When I saw it, I was severely disappointed. Sax changed quite a few things from the book. The tone of the book was a bit darker, a bit more serious. In the movie, it felt like they were trying to make it more lighthearted and comical. And then they went and brought the girl (you see the stupidhead gawking at the sexy blond?) in two books too early. Why does there ALWAYS have to be a freaking love interest? I also didn't care for the choice of Mickey Rourke as the bad guy. He didn't fit the part at all and he's not, in my opinion, a very good actor.

Besides Rourke, this movie had an amazing British cast: Bill Nighy (Viktor from Underworld, Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from Harry Potter), Stephen Fry (V for Vendetta), and Ewan McGregor. American actresses Alicia Silverstone and Missi Pyle also starred in it. Great cast. Yet, even they couldn't save the movie.

I should've known it wasn't going to be very good when I had to have my dad drive me and my friend a half hour to some theater in the middle of nowhere because it wasn't playing anywhere else. *sigh* (I still bought the DVD though...shhhh).

Howl's Moving Castle ハウルの動く城

Movie Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Novel Written by: Diana Wynne Jones
Synopsis: "When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent, yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking home." -IMDb

Okay, this one is a bit different than the others. This is actually a fantastic movie. Beautifully drawn, incredibly entertaining (as most of Miyazaki's films are), it's definitely not mediocre in its own right.

However(!), as a book to film adaptation, I consider it mediocre. Miyazaki changes too many aspects of the novel and, at times, it doesn't even resemble it. It's really only loosely based on the book, which kind of sucks if you're a big fan of the novel (and I am). At one point, the director kind of goes off on a tangent. But it's still an awesome movie.

If you're going to watch it, which I demand you do, I recommend viewing it in Japanese rather than English. The first time I watched it, I didn't like it. Christian Bale's voice as the wizard Howl didn't work for me. Only after watching the Japanese version did I like it.  English dub = bad. Always.


Movie Directed by: Stefen Fangmeier
Novel Written by: Christopher Paolini
Synopsis: While hunting, a farm boy comes across a dragon's egg -- a discovery that thrusts him into a world full of magic, elves, and shades. Along with his dragon, Saphira, Eragon fights to defend Algaesia, his homeland, against an evil king.

This was another movie I was super excited about, but which turned out not as great as I had hoped. Again, the director changed things up, which I don't like. What bothered me the most was the costumes and junk. It just wasn't how I pictured the book at all.

The book was a huge hit. It's definitely a shame that the movie didn't do better. I would've really liked to have seen the following books in the series become movies too. Even with the same cast and director.

At least the dragon looked pretty cool. And Murtagh (Garrett Hedlund) was pretty cute.


Movie Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Novel Written by: Stephanie Meyer
Synopsis: (Is this one even necessary?) Bella moves from sunny Arizona to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her dad. There, she meets a mysterious boy, Edward, who turns out to be a sparkly vampire and blah blah blah. You know the story.

Honestly, I really enjoyed the books. They're not the best written, they're not entirely in-depth or thought provoking. But they entertained me, and what more can I ask for than that? I was genuinely excited when I heard they were going to make a movie out of the book.

The director followed the book fairly well. She didn't leave a lot of stuff out and she didn't change very much either. But I didn't care for the cast. I don't believe any of them are very good actors, nor do I find any of them attractive. Kristen Stewart manages to have the same expression in every scene and Robert Pattinson, who I thought at first was a good choice, just doesn't have the charisma Edward in the story has. Nor does he make a very handsome vampire. The only actor I thought was any good was Bella's dad.

I also don't care for all the hype about it. It was an okay movie and yet it became a major phenomenon. I just don't get it.

Why do I have the feeling I'm going to end up with a bunch of tween girls sending me death threats?

Perhaps I just get myself too excited for these movies. I probably shouldn't set my standards so high when it comes to adaptations, but holy balls, I can't help that I want the movie to be exactly like the book. I understand it's difficult to cram an entire novel into two hours, but I've seen films that have successfully done it. So no excuses.

Do you agree with my list? Are there any book to film adaptations that you found were just meh?


  1. You've redesigned your blog! I really need to do the same, but I'm too lazy to draw an heading.

    Howl's Moving Castle was a fantastic movie, but I'm yet to read the book. I think sometimes, a good adaptation should be judged by its own merits, instead of how it compares with the book. The problem is when you try adapting a book and then make typical mistakes, butchering the movie instead of using the spirit.

    Example? Percy Jackson. Hilarious, but obviously Hollywood'd.

  2. I'm lucky to have a boyfriend who's an awesome artist. There's no way I could draw a decent header. Stick figures is the best I can do.

    You bring up a good point about them being judged by their own merit. I should probably be more open-minded, since the movie can't be exactly like the book. It's hard, though, when I'm so attached to the novel.

    Percy Jackson is going to be included in a future post where I rant about terrible adaptations. It was funny in parts, but I still think they pretty much botched it.

  3. Have to agree with four of those, but I really love the anime Howl's Moving Castle :)

  4. Howl's Moving Castle is an amazing movie, though I wish Miyazaki had stuck more to the book's plot. But I do enjoy his bizarre style.

    Thanks for following! :D