The best and worst book-movie adaptations
Best adaptation—Gatsby the magnificent (2013)
“A little party never killed nobody”, sings Fergie in a song from one of the best book-movie adaptations.
I know a lot of people might disagree, but in my opinion, Baz Luhrmannthe 2013 interpretation of Gatsby the magnificent is the best version. Featuring a stellar cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, and Joel Edgerton, the Gatsby the magnificent reworks the 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald through a blazing and vivid lens.
The adaptation follows the novel’s original storyline and barely misses a beat. Although the book has been adapted four times, it is Luhrmann’s unique style of cinematography and directing that attracts viewers. Unlike its moderate counterparts, Luhrmann’s version is fast, colorful and glamorous. The deliberate choice of this style of living film evokes the splendor and decadence of the Roaring Twenties and the art-deco style. The parties, drama, mystery, and cinematography of the movie leave you in awe, and of course, everyone loves a good romance story.
Featuring a contemporary soundtrack that’s also part of the overall plot, the adaptation takes a modernized spin. Songs of Jay Z and Lana Del Ray are integrated into party scenes or dramatic encounters. This addition of contemporary music contributes to the liveliness of the film and reinforces the desired effect of visual excess and grandeur.
Good storytelling and inner dialogue are always appreciated, and like the novel, the film uses first-person narration by the protagonist, Nick Carraway (played by Maguire). The speed and moments with which Nick recounts the events of his summer of 1922 magnify the drama while inviting us into his psychic space.
The actors’ performances are also commendable, as they truly maximize the potential of their roles. No actor pulls his character down. Gatsby the magnificentit is the already tangled plot breeds plenty of intrigue, making it an ideal novel to write for the big screen. Luhrmann’s adaptation elevates every aspect of the plot and leaves no room for boredom. Although the film has been criticized for its excessive exaggeration, I think it livens up and enhances the storyline. After all, a little party never killed anyone, right?
Worst adaptation—The Mortal Instruments: City of Darkness (2013)
Would you like to learn a not so fun fact? The Mortal Instruments series by Claire Cassandra is based on Harry Potter fanfiction that Clare wrote herself, which got her banned from fanfiction.net. I don’t know about you, but I’ve read terrible fanfiction and I’ve never heard of a fanfiction writer being kicked out of fanfiction.net. Clare’s first foray into original writing is The city of bones, the first book in the series, which has been adapted into The Mortal Instruments: City of Darkness film, a boring mess.
In the story, Clary Fray (played by not-enough-redhead- Lily Collins in the film) spends an evening in New York with his best friend who is absolutely not in love with her, Simon (Robert Sheehan). They head to Club Pandemonium where Clary witnesses a murder. What is strange is that there is no one and no one else can see the murderer but her. Clary is then dragged further into the magical world of Shadowhunters by bad boy Jace Wayland (Jaime Campbell Bower). The plot has all the fixings of your ordinary YA fantasy adventure: Angels! Demons! Vampires! Maybe incest!
It’s a fun, flawed adventure into the magical underworld of New York City. The author includes a lot in this novel, from random side quests to a lot – and I mean a lot – of lore. This, however, can be forgiven because the book is engaging. Former student of the YA wave of the late 2000s, city of bones remains one of the most memorable reads. However, the film’s dialogue is clunky, especially when world-building. Worse still, Clary feels like a spectator in a story where she is the main character. In Harry Potter, there’s no denying that Harry is average, but he still actively participates in the story, making decisions that move the plot forward. Likewise, Clary’s character drives the book’s plot, but she does not in the film; it takes a back seat because of the mediocre dialogue, decent computer-generated imagery, and weird plot. This adaptation was poorly done, and it’s no surprise that the sequel was canceled. If the plot appeals to you, just read the book.