SparkNotes Blog

5 Movie Adaptations That DIDN’T Follow the Book…and Were Awful

Last week, we gave you 5 Movie Adaptations That DIDN’T Follow the Book But Were Great, and they were great! Unfortunately, those were the exception.

If you notice something these awful adaptations have in common, it’s that they’re all YA or kids’ books. Apparently Hollywood thinks that minors don’t really care how close the film adaptations of their books are to the source material. Harry Potter was very, very lucky.

The book: Eragon by Christopher Paolini (2002)

Don’t get us wrong, this book isn’t perfect: but it would have made a pretty good action fantasy film and later series. In a land ruled by a powerful magician-king, the Dragon Riders who once kept peace in the land have been overthrown and the line of dragons ended…until one of the last dragon eggs is found by a young farmboy.

The movie: Eragon (2006)

A boy who likes acting like a prick goes on a journey with his admittedly well-rendered dragon to save the land from the evil, bald King Galbatorix and his ginger demon man who looks more and more like The Emperor from Star Wars as the movie progresses. To aid him Eragon has an army of terribly cliched one-liners and a few good actors who were completely wasted, like Jeremy Irons.

The book: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005)

A boy sentenced to boarding school finds that he is the son of the Greek God Poseidon and is the target of every monster from Greek mythology. He travels to Camp Half-Blood (one of the most awesome places in a book, ever) and ends up saving the gods from war.

The movie: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

A well-cast Percy with great hair travels across America collecting…pearls? And Hades is the villain? And Kronos doesn’t exist? And they’re making a sequel? Despite good casting and cinematography, this movie was pretty terrible.

The book: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (1952)

Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia for the third time with their cousin, Eustace. They travel from island to island trying to find seven lords and end up at the end of the world.

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

The first 25 minutes of this movie were great. But once the Green Mist comes in…everything goes downhill. On the one hand, we understand that it would be hard to make one cohesive plot out of a book where there’s no main villain and no climax, but we also wish the director hadn’t nitro’d the original book in favor of the conglomeration of Hollywood Silly he gave audiences.

The books: The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000) by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events left a mark on each and every one of us as kids, and even though most of the books followed the same plot and always ended badly for the Baudelaires, they were addictive.

The movie: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2003)

Another series of books that proved hard to adapt to film, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events received rave reviews for Jim Carey’s acting as Count Olaf. Even thought Carey was good, he didn’t capture the true Count Olaf we knew and hate from the books. As far as plot goes, the first book was chopped in half and used to bookend books 2 and 3, a strategy that just seems like double-blasphemy.

The book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)

Charlie Bucket and his grandfather take a tour of candy tycoon Willy Wonka’s factory along with four other children, who are picked off one by one in the least threatening way possible.

The movie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

The main downfall of this film is not the cast, or the creepy Oompa Loompa dance numbers, or the tacked-on end plot that tries to go into Willy Wonka’s past; it’s the portrayal of Willy Wonka. Johnny Depp is usually a fantastic actor, so it’s a wonder why he comes across as a creepy kid in a man’s body.

Did we miss any?