The best and worst of book-to-film

In honor of the success of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,”  here is a brief list of some of the best and worst book adaptations to hit the big screen.

The Best:

“The Great Gatsby” (2013)

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It’s hard to capture a novel as perfect as this one, which so beautifully encapsulates the spirit of its era, however, Baz Luhrmann made the right move by instead infusing it with some 21st century flare to create a sparkling and explosive film that knocks audiences out of their seats.

“Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

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In my opinion, this is history’s most riveting and lovingly made movie. It takes the gritty, no-nonsense voice of the short story and translates it to the screen with all the beauty of both the love story at the film’s heart and the western landscape in which it is set.

“The Lord of the Rings” (2001-2003)

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It’s impossible not to get swept away by Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth, and indeed, audiences have returned again and again for over a decade. This successful series is still in such high demand that the director returned to create “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” ten years after the last film.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005)

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As far as adaptions of novels go, this is perhaps the most faithful of all I’ve seen. The best lines, the best images and the best of the magic from C.S. Lewis’ book come to life right before our eyes, and any future attempts to bring Narnia to film will pale in comparison to this classic.

 The Worst:

“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

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This movie may be one of America’s most iconic features to date, but it also erased the darker nature of the novel and the incredible skill that Baum demonstrated in storytelling in exchange for a cheerful popcorn musical that is simpler, and therefore more digestible to some. If you’re looking for one of the best adaptations of Oz yet, you should turn to Disney’s 1985 “Return to Oz.”

“Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles” (1994)

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The swampy and violent environment of Lestat’s world in the novel is replaced with a glamorous and artificial one of the aristocracy, and the story of Louis’ brother is sadly erased. While I still highly recommend the movie and there’s no one who can play Lestat as well as Cruise, I also recommend that Hollywood give a shot at adapting this novel one more try.