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30 Worst Movie Adaptations of All Time

The Dark Tower

The most obvious issue with The Dark Tower was that it attempted to cramp around 3,000 pages of content into a short movie. A lot of the best stuff didn't make it to the movie, which was mostly due to the studio wanting to maintain a PG-13 rating on a book that’s most certainly not PG-13. 

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Dune

Dune isn’t a great movie, and that's a shame since the book is so amazing. One confusing change was the addition of the odd sonic-like weapon. Why? It was a completely unnecessary change that added nothing. It also takes away from the book and actual Weirding Way of battle. Rumors say that Frank Herbert cried thanks to the adaption.

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Eragon

Eragon may not be the best book ever written (from an adult point of view), but the movie was just an atrocity. Hollywood, pay attention: a long book cannot be turned into a short movie. Eragon is a fine example of this. On top of skipping over essential plot points from the book, the movie unnecessarily changed the characters to the point where they were almost unrecognizable. 

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The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities is a penthouse-to-poorhouse satire, but it didn’t work in movie form. It felt like Bruce Willis never committed to his role. Worse yet, there was a disconnect between the audience—probably thanks to the film lacking any wit that was masterfully created by the original author.

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Lord Jim

Joseph Conrad is an incredibly famous author, but the Lord Jim movie couldn’t capture what made him famous. Orson Welles says it best when he said that if he were a police commissioner, he would “put Richard Brooks in jail for what he did to Lord Jim.” Yikes. It was clear Brooks was out of his element with this film, especially since the fight sequences look more choreographed than Cirque du Soleil.

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The Golden Compass

Without reading the book, The Golden Compass seems like your average fantasy movie—that’s the problem. It doesn’t capture what made the book such a great hit. One of the biggest issues with the film is the change in plot points, even including removing the death of some characters to keep it family friendly. The movie also doesn’t touch on any of the philosophical elements that pulled the audience in deeper. 

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The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann's known for trying to modernize older films, but The Great Gatsby wasn’t one that he needed to touch. The setting is the 1920s, but Luhrmann felt the need of adding modern elements like modern rap music. That’s pretty baffling since the 1920s was practically a musical revolution on its own. Furthermore, it lacked any of the depth that the novel brought, making us wonder why we should ever care about Gatsby. Poor Old Sport.

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A Walk to Remember

People love Nicholas Sparks movies because they’re romantic in all the right ways. The film was not. The makers of the film thought it would be a great idea to change the setting from 1958 to 1990, and this had a huge impact on the movie due to the plots in the book. In addition to this, subplots were removed, probably to save for time, but it removed crucial character-developing moments and scenes.

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Ulysses

Stream-of-consciousness novels are never easy to turn into a movie, and that means they should be approached carefully. The issue with these novels is that they’re so incredibly dense, it can leave the reader feeling heavy yet extremely interested. The movie failed to capture what engaged the reader in the first place. The whole thing feels like the final project for a student in school.

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The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code was a very controversial book, and it really felt like the movie took a crap on everything fans loved most. The film was super dull and felt as though it was just droning on and on. That's not what you want from a movie. Not to mention, The Da Vinci Code is a sequel to Angels and Demons, but this flipped for the film series. How confusing.

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The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me was one of the most miscast films in history. Casting Casey Affleck as the psycho lawman Lou Ford was a crime. Affleck doesn't have the energy or voice for the character. That wasn't the only thing wrong, either. The original author was careful with what he wrote, but the director added as much exposition and storytelling as possible. Why expand on something that doesn't need to be there?

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Queen of the Damned

The best thing about the Queen of the Damned movie was the soundtrack. It brought some of the best rock singers together to create a fantastic album. But, Queen of the Damned is more of a failure than you may realize. Warner Bros produced this film in a sad attempt to keep their contract for the filming rights of two novels. That's right; they combined The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned into one movie. Instead of dark like the novel, the film is like high school all over again – kids trying to be cool for the sake of trying to act cool.

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The Maze Runner Series

The Maze Runner movies were fine by themselves, but compared to the book, they were horrible. Fans were more than happy to express their outrage. While the first is pretty close, the others take out essential plots like telepathy between characters. Then, The Scorch Trials skipped multiple scenes, making it seem as though the actual scorch trials were skipped altogether.

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I Am Legend

I Am Legend is a great novel. It's about the observation of humanity, but the movie? Yeah, that was just a zombie action flick. If you haven't read the book, it's about a human who fights vampires rather than zombies. We're going to avoid major spoilers, but the book helps you understand why the main character becomes a legend (as the title suggests), while the movie makes you feel like he's an average guy.

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen wasn’t just a lousy adaption; it was a bad movie. It was the film that convinced Sean Connery to retire from film and ruined the director’s career. The original is a gritty, nail-biting graphic novel that's critically acclaimed. The dark characters turned into nothing more than superheroes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film was more-or-less a failed attempt to start heroes before The Avengers.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas

While Dr. Seuss was alive, he refused to let his stories become films. After he passed, we can see why he was so adamant. How the Grinch Stole Christmas was an abysmal adaption. The only thing that's redeeming about the 2000 adaption is that Jim Carrey was great as the Grinch, unlike the newest family-friendly version. We’re sorry, Dr. Seuss.

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The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the best comedic and science-fiction books out there, so the film was going to have a hard time living up to its name. The movie didn't do too well when it came out. Maybe that was because the jokes fell flat, and it attempted to cram too much into one single movie. If anything, it would have been best to split it up into different films.

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The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat received an immense amount of hate upon release. It was another Dr. Seuss adaption, and it was just as bad as the last adaption. It wasn't funny, and the writers made the mistake of trying to add their own jokes. Note: if you aren't Dr. Seuss, don't try to expand on the story. The movie was the real-life equivalent of 20 hopped up toddlers that ate a pound of candy and drank two coffees each.

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The Scarlet Letter

Everyone read The Scarlet Letter in high school, so we were all pretty familiar with the story. However, the movie was...something else. It honestly attempted to add "funny" sequences in a novel that should be a drama through-and-through. No one needed to see Gary Oldman getting "acquainted" with a mound of beans.

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The Hobbit

Unlike movies that try to cram too much in one, Peter Jackson split a 300-page book into three films. We will admit that The Hobbit was visually impressive, but too much was added to reach screen time. At the end of the day, it was bloated and felt long-winded. Plus, fans were pissed with some of the additions, like Tauriel and Legolas, who never appear in the novel.

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Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love is a great novel about a woman discovering herself, but the movie couldn't achieve the same feeling. Julia Roberts's character felt self-absorbed, especially since she seemed more concerned with solving her first-world problems rather than discovering who she really is. Even without reading the novel, the movie sucks.

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Timeline

Timeline, originally written by Michael Crichton, was one of the worst movie adaptions ever completed. Who thought it was a great idea to change two of the essential female characters? One was made a man while the other turned into a pretty, stupid, cliched version of a woman. The film also left out key parts that expanded on the plot, and it completely contradicted things that were explicitly stated in the novel. For example, when someone time travels, it's supposed to be painless, but the movie shows characters screaming. Okay. Sure.

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World War Z

World War Z was an incredibly confusing film, but not because of the content. We're confused on why a studio would spend so much on the rights to a novel to then decide not to follow the book's actual plot? The movie turned into just a generic zombie movie that's easily forgettable, which was a mistake considering how much zombie content we were bombarded with at the time. We also want to bring up the product placement. To end the film with Brad Pitt very visibly holding a can of Pepsi is unforgivable.

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The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones is a tough book to get through due to the content. It's about a 14-year-old girl who is sexually assaulted and killed. It's understandable that the movie had to be really delicate, but too much was cut. Some of the cut content is entirely understandable, but it's to the point where the subplots that were removed ended up changing the story. They would have made us connect more with the main character's mother and father. There were even scenes cut that looked into the killer's past. It's an alright, emotional, stand-alone film, but compared to the book, it has several flaws. 

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The Percy Jackson Series

Before we get started, we want to say that The Percy Jackson series isn't an American version of Harry Potter. We say this because the film turned it into that. The movie felt like an insult to fans. The casting and characterization were horrible, but what really got to fans was the fact that half the story was rewritten. Pearls of Persephone never appeared in the book. Then, the movie told audiences Percy Jackson's parentage when that was a big secret for a while in the books.

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I, Robot

I, Robot, the novel, was an exploration of logic. It's pretty tough to write something like that, but it's an amazing read. It's comprised of short stories that show what could go wrong due to the robots following their perfect style of logic. It doesn't sound like the film, right? The film was more-or-less turned into an action film with a lot of shooting. It missed the whole point of the book and turned it into a shoot-'em-up with little story.

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The Twilight Saga

We’re not going to say Twilight was a fantastic series, but the movies were a horrible adaption to the books. We’ve seen Kristen Stewart act well (see Panic Room), and we know she can show emotion! Who decided to make the characters act like this? The movie didn't capture the romance between characters as the book wrote it, either. The book had an intense romantic relationship that captured the hearts of readers. The movie made their love feel awkward and almost forced.

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The Time Machine

Science-fiction novels have a hard time being adapted properly. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells was one of those novels that became a botched movie. The novel is captivating and leaves you wanting to read more, but the film doesn't manage that same wonderment. Worst yet, the movie starred Guy Pearce, who is known for playing rough characters with the emotional range of a brick wall.

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Gulliver’s Travels

What did anyone expect from a movie that starred Jack Black? Gulliver’s Travels is a social commentary, and those are generally harder to put into film. That being said, everyone knew this version of the story would be garbage. Instead of being a tongue in cheek joke about society’s rules, Black relied on potty humor and 3D effects to carry the movie. No wonder Emily Blunt tried so hard to pass on the film.

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Less Than Zero

Less Than Zero really could have been something, especially considering it was written by the same guy that did American Psycho and Rules of Attraction--both book adaptions, both movie successes. However, this movie came out with the sole purpose to promote Nancy Regan's "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign.

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