Sam's Choices: From pages to the silver screen

I love Leonardo DiCaprio just as much as the next person, possibly more, so I am always paying attention to what he's working on and when it's scheduled to be released. This weekend is one of those great times when a new Leo movie is set to hit theaters. "The Great Gatsby" is the long-awaited release based on the popular F. Scott Fitzgerald book of the same name.

Now, I've never actually read the book. But considering the reviews I have heard from friends and people here at the office, I am not sure if I want to; but being a good little book nerd, I probably will at some point. However, I probably won't get to it before I see the movie, which is pretty much a crime, but in this case a Baz Luhrmann film begs to be seen on the silver screen. As DiCaprio's second time being in a Lurhmann production, "Romeo & Juliet" being his first, I expect it will be pretty great.

In honor of "Gatsby" I have been contemplating books that have been turned into movies. I pondered what my classifications would be and whether it should be good films, or good renditions of those books, or even the really bad ones. In the attempt to stay positive, I thought about what I consider the best book to movie renditions; it was rough. So I decided to come up with my top five worst films taken from books. My qualifications for this list are: I must have read the book as well as seen the movie, it has to have been decently mainstream and it's not about whether the movie or book was great, it's the following of the story line I'm most concerned about. Example: I have heard "Twilight" was terrible, but I never actually saw it, so it is not included in this list.

'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'

Don't get me wrong, I love all of the "Harry Potter" movies, but when it comes to following the book, this one was the absolute worst. There are entire sections of the story that get left out. Like SPEW, what happened to that whole plot point? Anyone who, like myself, saw the movie before picking up the book would never notice that something was missing. But, if you are a hardcore Potter fan, as I became kind of late into the whole fad, then you were probably so angry about the whole movie. A lot of the house elf scenes from the book were left out, such as Winky and Dobby. The director also cuts out a lot of details, such as classes and an extra trial that Harry sees in the pensive, which makes sense because how can anyone expect to fit all of the more than 600 pages of events into a more than 2-hour movie. Still, this was the worst done film of the entire series.


'The Princess Diaries 2'

This movie was so horribly done that Meg Cabot has her characters make fun of it in the books written after it. Let's face it, a movie has to be pretty bad for the author to mention it in her literary works. This movie was pretty much made into an independent story; nothing in this film happened in any of the books. The most memorable part is when the hairdresser does her hair and she says she looks like a moose. I'm not entirely sure how the whole page to screen process works, but if Cabot approved the script for this movie to be made, I would be shocked.

'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2'

I read this whole series as soon as each book came out and was pretty thrilled when they decided to make the first book into a movie. The first one was OK, but they should have stopped there. The production team decided to combine more than the second book into the second film and that is never received well. The problem I think they encountered with this film was that the first one didn't get very much support, but they wanted to make another one. So we ended up with this hybrid film that starts as a sequel, but ends as a trilogy, really. Instead of introducing the characters as they appeared in the first movie, they left out a major character and had to rush to get her into the second movie. Bad decision, but that is the way of turning a book into a feature film.

'Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief'

Everyone makes fun of me for having read this series; but that's because they haven't read them. I heard about these books when I was substitute teaching and the kids were all talking about the movie coming out. Some of them asked me if I had read the books, when I told them I hadn't, one of the kids handed me his copy to start. I began reading while they were at recess to be a good example for the kids, and ended up hooked. I had already seen the movie, but I made sure I finished the series and then watched it again. The differences between the two are pretty major. The book has the children being granted a quest, whereas the movie has them sneaking out. So they go on this huge quest with no prophecy, which is also another huge part of the book. One of the biggest characters was also left out. Maybe they will make it up to the readers with the second film, out this summer, but I highly doubt it. There are 4 other books in this series and the actors are far too grown-up looking to portray pre-teens.

'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'

I remember reading this book in sixth grade and finding it mildly entertaining. The movie was just dreadful. First of all, there have been far too many attempts at producing visual adaptations. I am not sure why it took so long to make it a feature film, but now I wonder if it was because no one thought they could handle it. Probably the best decision. It has been a long time since I picked this book up, so I am sure the changes they made probably make sense for a film, but when I saw the film, I remember being annoyed at the way it was done. I think my biggest issue was the queen, she was not how I imagined her nor did she talk the way I expected. I guess my biggest beef with this film was that it hindered my artistic licensing.