Rating Book to Movie Adaptations

Vincent News Editor

Books have often been said to be the movies of our imagination, so it makes sense that people are always happy to actually see their favorite book adapted to the big screen. However, unlike most fairy tales, many of these adaptations do not have happy endings. More often than not, book to movie adaptations fall short of readers expectations, and things end poorly. However, for every 3 bad or terrible adaptations, there are still a few good or great ones. Today, I have compiled a list of some of the worst book-to-movie adaptations. The rankings will be based off of how bad the actual movies are, as well as how (un)faithful they are to their written counterparts. 

To start with, we look at the movie based off of Frank Herbert’s 1964 novel, Dune. Not the “Dune” released in 2021, but rather the much lesser known “Dune” of 1984. The 1984 “Dune” had many problems, so I will endeavor to list the biggest among them here. For one, the 1984 movie tried to compress around 500 pages worth of plot into just over 2 hours, which went rather poorly. Everything felt rushed and under-explained, which is never a good thing, but especially not when covering a novel like “Dune.”

 Additionally, “Dune” just suffers from plain bad special effects. Even for 1984, many of the dramatic moments where special effects are utilized just come off as bad, or distracting. Accuracy wise, the 1984 film is reasonably faithful to the books. Of course, cinematic liberty must be taken when adapting a book to a movie, and I won’t fault “Dune” for that. However, some scenes play out far differently than I imagined;  many things are cut for the movie, and some characters are relegated to mere extra status instead of their original role. There is a lot of potential to “Dune,” and many aspects it could explore and profit off of, but in the end, it just falls short. Very short. Currently, IMDb has Dune at a 6.3/10, and Rotten Tomatoes has it at 43%. All things considered, I am going to give it a 3/5.

Up next is the 2006 adaptation of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, first published in 2001. “Eragon” suffers from many of the same problems as “Dune,” with a full length novel having to be forced into a feature length film. However, there are some interesting notes about the “Eragon” movie. For one thing, much of the CGI was in fact praised at the time, with reviews saying it was a technical masterpiece. However, the movie is very easily brought down by a bland, predictable plot, changed radically in some places from the book, as well as a host of poor acting and poor world building. Major plot twists are just dropped, tense moments are watered down, and many core features of characters are just straight up changed. “Eragon” currently has a 5.1 on IMDb, and a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. I give Eragon a 1.5/10.

Finally, we move on to our last movie. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was published in 2007, and adapted to a movie in 2013. Once again, the movie adaptation suffered a whole host of issues. Major plot points and areas of conflict were erased from the movie, like the “forbidden” part of the forbidden love shared by the two main characters. Relationships between characters were dramatically altered, for some reason. The CGI, while not necessarily bad, just felt overused and excessive. IMDb has the movie at a 5.8, and Rotten Tomatoes has it at a 13%. I give it a 1/10.