Baz Luhrmann’s highly-anticipated film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” is coming out May 10. Unfortunately, making movies out of books has been somewhat of a hit-or-miss in the film industry so far. We examined six films adapted from books, ranging from the screaming successes to the forgettable failures.
Terrific: "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) The film adaptation of Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” reigns supreme when it comes to movies based on books. Considered by some to be one of the greatest movies ever, “Shawshank” provides a gripping cinematic adventure without disappointing its written predecessor. If you haven’t seen it, watch it right this moment. Seriously.
Great: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2011) Did you know that it’s possible to be even more socially inept than a wide-eyed college student? Lisbeth Salander, the main character in Steig Larsen’s critically-acclaimed trilogy, achieves this seemingly impossible feat. David Fincher beautifully adapts the suspenseful crime drama into an entertaining thrill ride with the help of Rooney Mara, who absolutely nails Salander’s character. Daniel Craig’s underrated acting ability is worth mentioning as well, as he expertly plays the role of Mikael Blomkvist. Who knew he could do more than just wear a suit?
Good: "Harry Potter" (2001-2011) Taking on the task of adapting one of the most successful and widely-read book series of all time is no simple task, and it took four directors, two Dumbledores and billions of dollars to do so. Love or hate the film series, there is a lot to be said for visually representing a world with which so many people are in love (or crazily obsessed, whatever). The book series is absolutely brilliant, and with only two hours to spare, nothing of comparable status could ever have been realistically achieved on the big screen.
Mediocre: "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (2010) Rick Riordan’s popular book series made a lot of money. What was the film industry to do but try to make even more? The problem with “The Lightning Thief” is that it didn’t really need to be made. Just because you can guarantee the film’s commercial success doesn’t mean you can guarantee a high-quality film. It’s a shame that it wasn’t, too, because Logan Lerman is definitely a high-quality actor.
Bad: "The Great Gatsby" (1974) The 2013 adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" is likely doing its best to avoid the disappointment and dissatisfaction that came with Jack Clayton’s 1974 adaptation of the novel. Although it featured Robert Redford, one of the industry’s most coveted actors, as Gatsby, the movie failed to translate the high-octane, emotional and glamorous story onto the big screen. From its trailers, it doesn’t look like the upcoming 2013 adaptation will have any shortage of emotion or glamour. I suppose we’ll have to see.
Terrible: "The Twilight Saga" (2008-2012) Is it fair to blame the movie for being a wreck when the book it's based on is no better? In the case of the “Twilight” film series, I think it is. Most notable is the poor job by the actors, who failed to channel any semblance of the emotional range generally considered necessary for the acting profession. Throughout the course of four films, Kristin Stewart managed to destroy any positive reputation she may have had with Hollywood. If vampires haven’t become totally uncool to you yet, you probably haven’t seen “Twilight.”