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Wednesday 5: Five Good Books, Five Bad Movies

May 4, 2011

This Wednesday 5 is in honor of the recent news that Ender’s Game is set to be made into a movie.

Deadline reports that Summit Entertainment, the folks who bought us the Twilight films, have acquired the US rights for Ender’s Games. Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is set to direct his script.

To say that I’m dubious… is putting it mildly.

I’m wary when a book gets turned into a movie. Especially so when it’s a book I love. It’s even more disappointing to see a movie woefully miscast, warping characters and butchering plots, when the book was just right, on its own. Seeing the offending movie in the theater is worst of all. I feel bad squawking in outrage when a whole theater can hear me. Even more so, now that movies are something like $15 a pop in the city! Insult to injury!

1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Two female characters conflated into one! Characters aged up so there could be a love interest! Entire movie dumbed down beyond belief, as if the characters didn’t even know the basics of Greek mythology. There were many, many things wrong with this movie.

2. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil– Not even John Cusack could make me watch this book-butchery all the way through. Some of the camera angles were moderately pretty. And there was no shortage of big names. Clint Eastwood directed… and of course John Cusack. But… somehow, everything I liked about Berendt’s language and the characters got stripped away. Yuck.

3. Nancy Drew. While I’m not sure Nancy Drew needed to be made into a movie in the first place, the series certainly did not need to be made into this  movie. A weird, sort of quasi-modernization and dumbing down. Nancy is the only one dressing vintage, and her character is a period piece, surrounded by 21st century touches. The result is completely weird, bordering on painful. I only saw it because there was nothing else on. And cringed too much to watch til the end.

4. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Okay, to be fair, there was some good casting.America Ferrera was who I was picturing as I read about Carmen. But this… is a rotten movie wrung from an altogether decent book. My complaints about the movies in the rest of this list come from their lack of resemblance to the book. But this was just a crappy, rotten movie in its own right, regardless of the source material.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This made the list, because I feel like it told a completely different, wildly skewed story, than J.K. Rowling intended the book to tell. Putting Dolores Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic front and center, this was more like 1984 With Wands than  a coherent installment in the Harry Potter series. Yes, the Ministry is part of the story, but only part. And yes, at a certain point, JKR’s books got too long to make one coherent movie without a lot of editing of the story (and why that editing couldn’t have happened in the course of the book… might be the subject for another post!)

Also- I know there’s a movie of The Westing Game. I hear it is both awful and a complete departure from the book. I’m afraid to watch it.

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