Top 10: Worst Literary Adaptations

I’m a big believer in the idea of balance, so, after giving you guys a list of ten films that flawlessly portrayed the books they were based on, it only makes sense to follow-up with a list of just the opposite, films that did everything wrong when it comes to adapting a piece of literature for the screen. Whether it is through lack of execution, inability to follow the source material, or just a lack of entertainment that the novel it is based off of has, these 10 films below just never seemed to click and made for a lot of wasted time and, in some cases, a lot of heads shaken in disapproval. In honor of the fifth and final chapter of the Twilight film series (arguably the worst book adapted film series ever) being released this past Friday and dominating the box office all weekend long, let’s run down the list of some of the poorest attempts at bringing popular literature to the big screen:

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10. Animal Farm (1954) – This adaptation of the famous George Orwell novel is one the movies on this list that I feel could be the most argued. Although most of the film is pretty average in terms of execution, it broke the golden rule of movie adaptations and decided to stray from the source material for the ending. This tacked-on ending not only disappointed me as a movie watcher but completely ruined Orwell’s intended message entirely, which is upsetting considering it wasn’t too bad before that.

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9. Dreamcatcher (2002) – While adaptations of Stephen King novels have brought us classics like Carrie and The Shining, they have also brought us disappointments like Dreamcatcher. This adaptation is, quite simply put, a confusing mess. While watching for the first time, there was not one point in which I thought that any of this was plausible, which is something that is pretty important when you are trying to get the audience to connect to the characters and create a sense of escalating fear. The confusing nature of the “story” mixed with horrid acting provided a truly subpar motion picture experience.

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8. Green Lantern (2010) – When it comes to films based off of comic books (which I whole heartedly view as literature!), Green Lantern is about as bad as they get. While the acting in the film was not horrible (Ryan Gosling charms and Peter Sarsgaard makes for a scheevy villain) and while the visual effects were pretty spectacular (let’s face it, for a movie that demanded such heavy CGI, the movie did a good enough job), the reason this film falters is because it felt like nothing really mattered – it never once makes you care about the villains or even about Hal Jordan’s transformation from cocky pilot to valiant hero. As a result, the audience gets a film that is easily forgettable as the end credits roll. Is it unfortunate, yes, but certainly not untrue.

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7. The Three Muskateers (2011) – When it comes down to butchering lore and making mediocre adaptation films, I think Paul W. S. Anderson holds the gold medal. Besides the pretty interesting airship fight at the end, there are absolutely no redeeming qualities to a film like this retelling of The Three Muskateers. Honestly, this was a film that’s sole purpose was to be a Three Muskateers movie and make the studio a decent profit and it shows throughout. The Three Muskateers offended me because at no point did I ever think anyone on set actually gave a crap about this film, which is one of the most discouraging things for a frequent movie watcher.

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6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011) – While some will argue that these Twilight films are only for fans of the series, Breaking Dawn Part 1 was just an example of horrible filmmaking in general. The plot, if you could even call it that because pretty much nothing happens, is boring and unintentionally humorous, the acting and cinematography was the worst it had ever been, and at no point did I ever care for any of the absurd shenanigans going on. Although I’m not a fan of this series in general, I didn’t hate any of the other films nearly as much as this one.

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5. The Da Vinci Code (2006) – While Dan Brown’s novel is a best seller and wildly acclaimed, the same cannot be said for the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code. It’s heartbreaking that it had all of the components that would make a great film (fantastic story, good actors, and an individual who’s not shy to the directing scene), but unfortunately it followed the common theme throughout most of the films on this list: a lack of heart or care. This is a film that takes the audience’s intelligence for granted and spells everything out, forcing us to divert all of our attention to the thinly portrayed characters and seemingly useless plot twists.

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4. Batman and Robin (1997) – I can honestly say, coming from someone who loves superheroes and superhero movies, I loathe this film with a burning passion. Although Tim Burton started the decline by agreeing to produce Batman Forever, but Joel Schumacher ran it into the ground, delivering a film full of awful villains and awful heroes, a plot that makes no sense, and some of the worst dialogue to ever grace the screen. Overall, this film felt like a commercial for toys, and in no way is that positive. The only silver lining from this cinematic excretion was that if Batman had never fallen so far out of grace, the Nolan trilogy might not have been made.

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3. Eragon (2006) – In a world where the Harry Potter series is successful as both a book and film series, it is unfortunate that a fantasy book as good as Eragon got made into such an abysmal movie. Besides the CGI work (specifically the look of Saphira), there’s nothing else that really impresses in this movie since the interesting story and heart filled characters of the book got squandered by a script that tries way to hard to make the film as ‘kid-friendly’ as possible. By catering to family friendly audiences, the film loses everything that would have made this adaptation great and captivating; instead of a great adaptation, we got a shallow and somewhat silly story without a clear focus or any spark behind it.

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2. The Cat in the Hat (2003) – When it comes to an adaptation of a children’s book, The Cat in the Hat is as mediocre as it gets. The humor, if you could even call it that, was so unintelligent and offensive that I felt my IQ drop while watching it. On top of that, the acting is atrocious (Mike Meyers, what happened to you?), the plot is non-existent, and there was no point in which I cared about any of these characters. Simply put… I do not like this Cat in the Hat, it is the definition of falling flat. I don’t want to watch it here or there, I don’t want to watch it anywhere! Keep it away from my left and right eye, or surly somewhere inside of me will die.

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1. Battlefield Earth (2000) – Although The Cat in the Hat is pretty unbearable, Battlefield Earth is regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, an opinion that I can definitely agree with. The difference between Battlefield Earth and the other 9 movies on this list is that while each one of them had some sort of redeeming quality, Battlefield Earth has absolutely none whatsoever. This isn’t even a movie I can single out things that are awful because the entire thing is awful – it’s choppy, poorly acted, way too stylistic to the point of nausea, and just plain bad. Don’t ever watch this film, even if you are trying to get a few laughs with some friends by roasting a notably bad film. Not worth it. EVER.

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So those are the ten book adaptations I would say steer clear of, but I want to know you guys think? Do you agree with my picks or do you think there are other book adaptations that suck way more than these picks. Sound off in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Article by Nick Franco

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