Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptations.

This topic makes me realize how behind on my movie-watching I am.  I wish I could put movies like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Breaking Dawn on one of the following lists... but I haven't seen them yet, so I can't.  All I can do is use some of the movies I have seen... and there are some I definitely have strong feelings about.

I'm going to split my list between best and worst:

Top 7 Best Movie Adaptations

10. Shrek! by William Steig - Is it a good movie adaptation when it bears little resemblance to the book?  I haven't read the original by Steig, but as it's just a 32-page picture book, it can't possibly be the sole basis for the movie(s).  In any case, if it provided the nugget of inspiration for the series of successful movies, then I'm going to count it, since Shrek is one of my favourite animated films.

9. The Little Colonel by Annie Fellows Johnston - I read the book after seeing the movie, and it's easy to see how much of the story was adapted to make it suitable as a Shirley Temple vehicle.  That said, it's probably one of the more faithful adaptations that were written for her (Heidi and The Little Princess being two other good examples).  I like this movie as an early example of why Shirley Temple was such a phenomenon.  It's also got an early instance of real colour film (this is 1935 we're talking about here!) so it's an interesting piece of film to see, whether you're a hardcore Temple fan or not.

8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling - I can remember not really being sure I liked the movie after I saw it.  I was put off by the casting of Harry; I didn't think Daniel Radcliffe was that great of an actor (I still don't).  However, I don't know if I've ever seen a movie that brought my imagination out onto the screen like that.  So many things were just as I'd imagined them when I was reading the book.  Kudos to the set designers for that!  I'm still not a huge fan of these movies, but I do like seeing how J. K. Rowling's world translates onto the screen.  Most of the time, it translates very well.

7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - I guess it's not technically a "movie" since it was released on television, but my favourite adaptation of this classic novel is the 2006 miniseries by the BBC starring Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester.  I've seen a number of different adaptations of this novel, but this one is my favourite.  It's stylish and fairly faithful to the original book, but with a somewhat better pace, with some of the longer, more boring bits compressed.

6. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - Again, it's not a "movie", but another wonderful production from the BBC.  I absolutely love this 2008 miniseries about the lives and loves of the Dashwood sisters.  As a bonus, it's got Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame as Edward Ferrars!  While the 1995 film with Emma Thompson is pretty to look at, I never bought the almost middle-aged Thompson as Elinor Dashwood.  It's supposed to be a story about young love... not about a spinster trying to beat her biological clock.

5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - When I speak of the movie in this case, I'm referring to the 1993 version with Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox and Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock.  There was something beautiful about this adaptation, whether it was the creepy house with its secrets or the perfect casting of the characters or the gorgeous costumes or the stunning garden itself.  My VHS copy was watched many times... probably too many to count.  I read the book years ago and found it a bit slow in spots; I might hesitate to read it again.  But would I hesitate to watch the movie again?  No!

4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - I first saw the movie as a child and wasn't even aware until years later that it was based on a book.  It's a pretty good adaptation, and the plot device of grandfather reading to grandson in the movie works even though it's not a 100% straight copy of what was in the book.  The story of Buttercup and Westley is the real star, though, and the movie got it just right.  It's a charming, wonderful book that works just as well on film.

Top 3 Worst Movie Adaptations

3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - I'm not sure whether to put this on the Best list or the Worst list.  It's a tough one, because the movie bears little resemblance to the book.  Mostly, it's just the character names that are the same.  Ella does set off to find her fairy godmother to try to get her to remove the "gift" of obedience, but the book is decidedly darker than the movie.  When Ella runs into ogres in the movie, she kicks their amusing blue butts with martial arts moves.  In the book, the ogres eat her pony.  I can't really say which version of the story is better; I happen to like them both.  They're so different that they can't (and, really, shouldn't) be compared.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer -I'll admit that I didn't really like the book.  It was okay, but nothing special (I didn't become vehemently anti-Twilight until after I read Breaking Dawn).  So I went into seeing Twilight without knowing whether I'd like the movie or hate it.  All in all, I thought it was pretty bad.  I thought (and still do think) that Kristen Stewart was too mopey and monotone to play Bella, and Robert Pattinson just looked silly in his makeup.  I couldn't figure out what was up with all the crazy angles and close-up shots, either.  It wasn't a great film.  It was even more obvious when New Moon came out; I still thought the stories were weak, but that movie seemed to have a better look and better direction.

1. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - This movie was a complete train wreck for me.  I guess if you like Japanese animation or the work of Hayao Miyazaki, you might like this one.  But I'm not a fan of either, and Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favourite DWJ novels.  I thought too much important stuff from the book was left out and too much extra crap (to make some sort of statement) was thrown in.  I had a crush on the book version of Howl.  The only way I could have a crush on the movie version of Howl would be if I became a lesbian; that's how girly they made him.  To this day, I wish that Tim Burton had gotten his hands on this one; that would have been an awesome movie.


  1. Very good point about the Harry Potter movies -- love or hate the way the books were adapted into movies, the visual were amazing! Hogwarts itself was spectacular, and it really did feel like my imagination had come to life! I agree re Twilight as well. That makeup was horrible! It was just hard not to laugh when Carlisle first appeared. Great list!

  2. I agree! I loved The Princess Bride and HATED Twilight!
    If You have a sec please check out my top ten http://www.bookcrackercaroline.blogspot.com/2013/07/top-ten-tuesday-3.html

  3. I totally agree with the Sense and Sensibility comment. I still love the movie, but I Emma Thompson in that role was just wrong. The only thing I didn't like about the miniseries of this was that they tried to match the actors too much. The girl who plays Marianne totally looks like Kate Winslet. Thanks for visiting my TTT.

    LisaILJ @ I’ll Tumble for YA

  4. Yay I picked HP & The Secret Garden too. I loved the 1993 version, the cold eerie feeling of the mansion was such a beautiful contrast to the garden - so effective! I could watch that movie a million times :)

    Thanks for stopping by earlier

    Amy @ The Reading Realm