We appreciate books differently nowadays, especially when we’re talking science fiction or fantasy. We read a good novel, and we immediately find ourselves wishing some film studio would turn it into a movie–and true enough, these days, film adaptations roll out almost as soon as the ink dries on the pages of the books upon which they’re based.
Of course, not all good books translate well on the big screen. But these Friday selections are the ones that were undeniable hits in both incarnations. What made them successful on the page and as pictures? That’s what we want to find out.
The Harry Potter series (eight films from 2001 to 2011)
Very few things are as satisfying as seeing the magical story of The Boy Who Lived to the end. Seven books in eight movies–that’s quite a commitment. But who wasn’t enthralled by the adventures of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger as they battled Lord Voldemort to the doom? And then there were the many equally engaging side stories, such Professor Snape’s touching tale of unrequited love or Ginny Weasley’s torch for the clueless Harry or Neville Longbottom’s journey from zero to hero!
Ahhh, the world of magic and fantasy, so thrilling yet so heartbreaking once the story finally ends. A winning story with a massive fan base meets winning cast and effects–a perfect storm in the box office.
It was a risk that worked: Coraline is the first all stop motion 3D feature. It is a creepy film about a curious little girl named Coraline who finds her life unsatisfying. Coraline enters a world so-near-yet-so-far from her own, and realizes that she ought to be careful with what she wishes for because she just might get it.
Coraline is based on a novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, and was a joint project between Gaiman and writer and director Henry Selick, who gave us The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). I guess it’s safe to say that the creative pairing made it a sure hit.
Youth In Revolt (2009)
First of all, I love Michael Cera. You love Michael Cera. Everybody loves Michael Cera. Those who don’t should. Why? He is the shy yet an amazing guy every girl wants to be friends with so they can eventually fall in love. Cera is the ultimate ordinary teenage hero who wins the heart of an extraordinary teenage heroine under the most absurd circumstances. If you dig that mix of ordinariness and complexities, then this movie, based on a novel with the same title by C.D. Payne, is for you. No big effects, no awesome scenes, Youth in Revolt is just about plain teenage awkwardness and love, love, love.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)
This comedy-drama turns tragedy into comedy–dark comedy, that is. It tells of a 16-year-old boy named Craig who checks into the psych ward after contemplating suicide. He meets Bobby, an adult patient, and Noelle, another teen patient, and he forms an interesting and complicated friendship with them that changes his life.
Kids, suicide isn’t funny. Psychological illnesses aren’t a joke. But this movie, based on a the novel by Ned Vizzini, is not about those things. It’s about finding good in the midst of such powerful darkness. Alright?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Speaking of dark comedy, this movie by Stephen Chbosky based on the book by Stephen Chbosky is straight out of the angst-ridden 1990s. “Charlie” is an intelligent, but troubled teen who struggles through his freshman year in high school. He finds friends in a couple of seniors, and his life takes a turn–and he’s got the reading list and soundtrack to show for it!
The Hunger Games (2012)
Ah, The Hunger Games. Now we’re talking, right? One of the biggest movie and book franchises of this generation, Suzanne Collin’s dystopian adventure has gripped the hearts and minds of teens and adults alike as the character of Katniss faces life-threatening circumstances.
I’m sure everyone has imagined what he or she would do to survive the Hunger Games. Personally, I don’t think I’d last a day. I’d be one of those killed during the bloodbath at Cornucopia. But hey, that’s just me. You go, tributes! May the odds be ever in your favor, and all that. Also, I just wanna say that Jennifer Lawrence is the ultimate role model in Hollywood.
All these movie adaptations, fantasy or not, are filled with magical stories. Yes, magical. But that’s what teenage life is basically all about, isn’t it? Wondering, searching, exploring, and believing.
And yes, all these films are awesome, but trust me when I say that the books are way more heart-melting, heart-pounding, and heart-wrenching than all these movies combined!