Leo’s Top 5 Book Series-to-Film Adaptations

Written by Leo Panasyuk July 11, 2013

Where it all begins...

Where it all begins…

Books and novels are the most widely adapted sources in Hollywood; far above remakes, sequels and prequels and spin-offs, books have been getting the silver screen treatment as far back as cinema goes. But Hollywood’s mantra has always been, “more is better.” So Hollywood has gone to not only adapting single books but entire series for quite some time now. It does, of course, mean more money for the studio with each subsequent film but it also gives the filmmakers an opportunity to bring an amazing series to the big screen; and while not all adaptations may be perfectly executed works of art, there are a select few that certainly stand out.

5) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Michael Nyqvist, 2009; David Fincher, 2011)

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The first chapter in the “Millennium trilogy” and Lisbeth Salander’s dark and twisted story is not one for the weak and both Nyqvist and Fincher bring to life such an emotionally wrought yet intellectually powerful character and the women who play her in both the Swedish and American adaptations – Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara, respectively – deserve much praise for their ability to literally transform into the character. The films manage to capture all the dark tones and suspense of Stieg Larsson’s novel and it keeps you guessing until the very end. It’s definitely not a film for the faint of heart but if you can handle it, I’d definitely recommend seeing both versions just for the sake of healthy comparison.

4) The Bourne Series (Doug Liman, 2002; Paul Greengrass, 2004, 2007)

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In my experience, there are two kinds of people: those who like James Bond, and those who like Jason Bourne – I, however, am both. Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass bring Robert Ludlum’s espionage series full of twists and turns to the big screen and Matt Damon has become immortalized as the face of Jason Bourne. While Greengrass’ films are more frantic and fast-paced, Liman’s is more controlled and careful, much like the mind of the eponymous hero. If you’re not too big a fan of the subtlety, sneakiness and suave of James Bond, then Jason Bourne should be right up your alley. I wish I could say the same, however, for 2012’s “The Bourne Legacy”…

3) James Bond (1962-2012)

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In what is the longest-running film franchise of all time, Ian Fleming’s James Bond has easily become a household name synonymous with alcohol, women and an unmistakably suave catchphrase of, “Bond, James Bond.” A character that’s been under the direction of more than a handful of directors over the years and played by a select few (lucky) actors, the James Bond series is immortal, to say the least – especially with last year’s “Skyfall,” marking the 50th anniversary of the franchise. The source of many parodies, spin-offs and studies, James Bond is more than just a man or a series or a franchise… it’s a legend. And with the recent announcement of “Bond 24,” this legend shows no signs of dying.

2) The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001-2003)

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J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy series, “The Lord of the Rings,” was brought to the big screen in spectacular fashion by Peter Jackson and it was met with a wave of acclaim. Jackson created the never-before-seen world of Middle Earth and introduced all its inhabitants – memorable and legendary, conniving and ruthless – characters to a new generation who may or may not have read the books prior to the film’s release. The third and final entry of the series, “The Return of the King,” also became the first fantasy film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Though it may take you the better part of a day to watch the entire series, you’ll know that by the end of it all… it was worth it.

1) Harry Potter (2001-2011)

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Whether you grew up with the books or the movies or both, it is no doubt that Harry Potter was surely a huge part of your childhood. I, for one, was first introduced to Harry Potter in public school and it more or less stuck with me from that point on. For some, this is simply a magical series about the boy under the stairs but for others, it is a source of endless inspiration and waves upon waves of nostalgia. To see the characters (and actors) grow into their roles and change as the films progress through this decade-long series is one of its most memorable aspects. J.K. Rowling may be finished with Harry Potter but there is no doubt the strong impact her works have left on not only this generation, but the impact they’ll have on many more to come.

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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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