When Movie Adaptations Fail

The announcement of a movie adaptation of a favorite book is always an exciting one. It is the wonderful convergence of my love of reading and my firm standing as a movie geek. However, movie adaptations always come with risk: many times filmmakers get it right, but for every hit there is a miserable failure. Below are five of the worst movie adaptations:

  1. Eragon (2006)

Eragon, based on Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1) by Christopher Paolini, tops my list. The filmmakers had great source material (dragons, medieval battles, beautiful elves, and evil overlords), but the world and story were butchered each step of the way. From the first photos fans were outraged by how far the look of the characters deviated from the images they had conjured in their minds. The horror intensified in the first minutes of the movie when the prologue was botched so badly that there was no possible way for the rest of the plot to be accurate to the books. None of the other books in the series made it to the big screen and the 2006 film sits at a pitiful 16% on Rotten Tomato.

  1. The Hobbit Trilogy: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of the Five Armies (2015)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is a beloved 320-page classic often read as a children’s book. It’s a light and somewhat whimsical story that preludes the epic Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The failure in this adaption was simple: 320 pages is not enough material for three movies. One movie would have been a fantastic addition to Peter Jackson’s collection of Middle Earth films, but stretching this story to three resulted in a slow, plodding series that failed to live up to the wonder of the Lord of the Rings films.

  1. The Giver (2014)

In Lois Lowry’s beloved novel Jonas becomes the Receiver when he turns 11. Brenton Thwaites, the actor who plays him in the 2014 film version, was 25 at the time — turning the story into just another young adult dystopian story. In truth the novel simply doesn’t lend itself to film. The fact that it took Jeff Bridges 20 years to find someone to agree to make it should have been a hint to the filmmakers.

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

Sometimes great movie adaptions purposely break from the novel to fit the story better to screen. The first two Narnia films grew beyond the scope of the novels while staying true to C.S. Lewis’s wonderful series. That fell apart with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The filmmakers stayed painfully close to the book and its heavy religious and moral overtones. The movie’s bright palate sharply disconnected it from the previous films. Most painfully, while the first two films were great films for all ages, the third was most definitely a children’s film. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader came in at 49% on Rotten Tomato, a steep drop from the first two films.

  1. Pride & Prejudice (2005)

I will be upfront and say I love this film, but I don’t like Jane Austin’s original novel. As an adaption the film fails to accurately represent the novel’s characters or world. The casting of Keira Knightley as Elizabeth was a horrible choice, her super-thin frame clashed with Elizabeth’s classic beauty. However, separate it from the original novel and it’s a great romantic drama to enjoy on a rainy day with a big bowl of ice cream.

Agree? Disagree? What is the worst movie adaption you’ve seen? Tweet it to us @UConn_LRR

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