When Hollywood adapts movies from an already established work, there are a ton of risks involved. The film could anger the book’s fanbase by not staying faithful to the storyline or excluding important plot points in an attempt to shorten the running time. It could be poorly casted or directed and poorly paced.
But I digress; I am here to talk about adaptations that look like they will hit the mark. Despite the challenges facing movie adaptations, they are a central component in the continued success of the movie industry, and many of the best movies ever released have been adapted from books. This article is about four movies adapted from written mediums that look like they will satisfy even ardent fans of the source material.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Release Date: December 21, 2011
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård
Based on the book of the same name, written by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows two characters, private investigator Lisbeth Salander and magazine publisher Mikael Blomkvist, as their lives become intertwined. The plot is actually quite intriguing, so I’ll avoid spoilers, but if you like thrillers involving serial killers, corrupt businessmen, and plenty of plot twists, you’ll find something to like here.
The Swedish adaptation of the book was great, with Noomi Rapace completely dominating the role of Lisbeth. So why should we be excited for an English-language adaptation? The movie has a lot of hype behind it, and for good reason. The talented and reliable David Fincher is the director at the helm of the film, for starters. The cast is incredibly promising: Daniel Craig is great in nearly every movie he has been in, and relative unknown Rooney Mara has received a lot of attention after appearing in another Fincher movie, The Social Network, opposite Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are again collaborating with Fincher on the film’s music, after composing the fantastic score for The Social Network. Additionally, Steven Zaillan is providing the screenplay, having proven his skill through writing the films Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York, American Gangster, and Moneyball. Still not excited? Check the amazing trailer out below.
Release Date: December 21, 2011
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Daniel Craig
While technically based on a series of comic books, I would be crazy not to mention The Adventures of Tintin. Set in the twentieth century, the story follows Belgian reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock (voiced by Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis, respectively) as they embark on a quest to find the treasure of Haddock’s ancestor, Sir Francis Haddoque. Their adventure takes them all over the globe, and the film combines three of the best Tintin stories: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham’s Treasure.
The comic series is often humorous and captivating, and the film seems to be on the same path. It was a great decision casting Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as perpetually inept detectives Thomson and Thompson, and John Williams will compose an undoubtedly epic score for the film. This adaptation is sure to please with top-notch animation, a great cast, and direction from the visionary Steven Spielberg.
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Directed by: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, Liz White
Based on a novel by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black marks Daniel Radcliffe’s first film appearance post-Harry Potter. The film is a supernatural thriller, with a haunting soundtrack that is sure to send chills down the viewers’ spines. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a lawyer who travels to a small town in England to settle the affairs of a woman who has recently passed away. The town is haunted by a figure called the Woman in Black, the ghost of a woman who seeks revenge on the village after her son drowns. Whenever the Woman in Black is seen, a child dies, so Arthur takes matters into his own hands to help protect the village from this spectre.
The rest of the cast, save for perhaps Ciarán Hinds, are relative unknowns to North American audiences, so it will be up to the appeal of Radcliffe and the marketing of the movie to draw up hype. All told, The Woman in Black looks like a thriller that will surely keep audiences on the edge of their seats when it’s released in early February of next year.
Release Date: March 23, 2012
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland
The adaptation of the first novel in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games combines science fiction and adventure in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian setting. Set in a country called Panem, which is located where North America once stood, the story follows teenager Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) as she volunteers to compete in a television competition called the Hunger Games, in the place of her younger sister Primrose. The annual event randomly selects one boy and one girl from each of twelve districts, all between the ages of 12 and 18, and forces them to battle to the death. Only one person survives and emerges as the winner, creating a storyline that is violent and oftentimes extremely intense.
The cast is definitely a main reason to anticipate the film. Lawrence is perfect for the lead role, with her talent evident after watching her in Winter’s Bone. The film co-stars Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, another contestant in the competition from Katniss’ district, as well as Liam Hemsworth as Katniss’ friend Gale. Woody Harrelson is well-cast as Katniss and Peeta’s mentor Haymitch Abernathy, and Donald Sutherland plays main antagonist President Snow. With author Suzanne Collins co-writing the screenplay and participating heavily in the film, fans should rest assured that the film will remain faithful to the books. The Hunger Games looks primed to be a huge hit when it comes out in March of 2012.
As an ending note, be sure to watch out for other great book-to-film adaptations in the near future. This list focuses on films coming out in the next six months, but late 2012 will have some interesting adaptations worth anticipating, including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, World War Z, Life of Pi, and Les Misérables.