Film-maker, author on same page?

Film-maker, author on same page?
IN THE JUNGLES OF INDIA: The live-action remake of The Jungle Book features Neel as Mowgli (pictured left) and Scarlett Johansson voicing Kaa the python, among others.
PHOTO: Walt Disney

We are living in a golden age of literary adaptations. Today, it is not unusual for a book's movie rights to be sold before the book is released.

While there have been several great adaptations over the decades that have overshadowed their source material - The Godfather and The Shining, for instance - it is the surge of interest in young adult fiction that seems to be powering the book-to-movie trend.

Some of these adaptations have become cultural phenomena, like the Harry Potter movies based on J.K. Rowling's books.

Then, there was Peter Jackson's film version of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, which stands head and shoulders above most adaptations since 2001.

But there have also been many cringe-worthy big-screen massacres of good books. The Golden Compass, based on the first book in Philip Pullman's incredible His Dark Materials series, did so poorly on screen that the other books were left alone.

To judge matters for yourself, read the books before heading to the cinema.

Here are seven books made into films that will be released this year.


Golden Village Pictures

Author: Veronica Roth

Release date (Singapore): March 17

Director: Robert Schwentke

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller

The story:

In Tris Prior's dystopian world, every 16-year-old has to choose a "faction" to belong to so the society can be neat and orderly. In this last part of the trilogy, Tris and her friend Four have to escape the wall enclosing their beleaguered city to find a peaceful solution for the threatening chaos.

Quick take:

It seems to have become en vogue for film-makers to divide the last book into two-part movies. While the first movie, Divergent, was surprisingly enjoyable, the sequel, Insurgent, was a bit of a mess so this third chapter can hopefully redeem the saga.


Author: Rudyard Kipling

Release date (Singapore): April 7

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Bill Murray (voicing Baloo), Ben Kingsley (voicing Bagheera), Idris Elba (voicing Shere Khan)

The story:

Mowgli, the "man cub", is raised in the jungles of India by a pack of wolves and makes friends like Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear. But he also has to learn to survive the dangers of the wild and threats like scary tiger Shere Khan.

Quick take:

Kipling's collection of stories was given the Disney treatment in 1967, complete with catchy songs. As with many Disney films, it took great liberties with the original material but has come to define the work. This new movie is a live-action remake and has a stellar voice cast.

There is Idris Elba as Shere Khan and Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the python.

The movie's storyline and effects will have to live up to its cast to avoid it being labelled as a beastly adaptation.


Walt Disney

Author: Roald Dahl

Release date (Singapore): July 21

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton

The story:

Young orphan girl Sophie makes friends with the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), the only giant who does not eat children. The two set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

Quick take:

One of the great Roald Dahl's many best-selling children's books, made into a film by Walt Disney and directed by blockbuster maestro Steven Spielberg... that certainly sounds promising.

This tale is filled with whimsy, adventure and heart, and if done well, could be a classic.


Author: Paula Hawkins

Release date (worldwide): Oct 7

Director: Tate Taylor

Cast: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans

The story:

Each day, Rachel Watson takes the train to work, and on the way, passes the home of what she calls the "perfect couple" - young, beautiful and seemingly in love. But one day, Rachel sees something that calls that perfection into question. Then the woman goes missing and Rachel begins to wonder if she should get involved. And whether she can trust her alcohol-soaked memory to recall what she saw.

Quick take:

It did not take long for the cinema folks to turn this best-selling 2015 book into a movie.

Even before it was released, comparisons were being drawn with Gillian Flynn's 2012 megaseller, Gone Girl. So there is a fear that this movie will not live up to the hype. And they have moved the setting from the book's Britain to the United States in the movie - that is a cause for concern.


Author: Dan Brown

Release date (worldwide): Oct 14

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster

The story:

Robert Langdon, the Indiana Jones of symbology, is drawn into a harrowing world centred on one of history's most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces, Dante's Inferno.

Quick take:

Like Lucifer flung from heaven, the quality of Brown's books plummeted sharply after The Da Vinci Code. Expect a few action scenes, eccentric killers from ancient conspiracies and Hanks delivering history lectures while sporting a ridiculous hairstyle.

Surely he deserves better than this?


Warner Bros Pictures

Author: J.K. Rowling

Release date (worldwide): Nov 18

Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell

The story:

Newt Scamander arrives at the Magical Congress of the United States of America for a meeting with an important official. He carries a magically expandable briefcase housing a number of dangerous magical creatures. When they escape, the American wizarding authorities go after Newt, which threatens the already fragile state of magical and non-magical relations.

Quick take:

J.K. Rowling is a master storyteller and her cinematic return to the Harry Potter universe does sound exciting. The movie apparently features a fanatical society dedicated to eradicating wizard-kind, which sounds like an awesome plotline.

Harry may not be in it but this movie has the potential to bewitch audiences just as the others did. Ah, who are we kidding, it is going to make more gold than there is in Gringotts.


Author: Ransom Riggs

Release date (US): Dec 25

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Terence Stamp

The story:

After his grandfather's murder, apparently by a make-believe creature, 16-year-old Jacob Portman goes to Wales to learn more about his grandfather's life. He discovers that the man had lived in a now-derelict orphanage for "peculiar children" who had special powers.

Quick take:

What a cast! Aside from the delectable Eva Green, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson make appearances too.

Director Tim Burton always makes visually striking films but the movie's timing may make it feel very "seen before".

A fantasy adventure with magical creatures? Fantastic Beasts would have been out just a month before. A school for people with magic powers? X-Men Apocalypse is also coming out this year.

Miss Peregrine's scrappy orphans will have to muster enough magic to rise above these obstacles.

*Release dates may change

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