The Steam Press: Book-to-movie adaptations that went from text to travesty

Mackenzie Broderick, Blogger

Greetings, culture lovers!

As a new year dawns upon us, the Steam Press looks to the fresh horizon, and what do we see? Plenty of book-to-movie adaptations slated to debut in 2014. Though I have yet to actually read any of those books, I have read plenty of others that turned into travesties caught on camera.

Travesty #1: “Ella Enchanted” 

Have I forgotten? No. Will I ever? No. “Ella Enchanted” was the book I finished only to immediately flip to the beginning and re-read. It contained every element needed to satisfy the soul of a pre-teen girl: true love, a masquerade ball, self-empowerment and a curse symbolic of the female condition — someone give Gail Carson Levine a Nobel Prize already.

The 2004 movie, however, took all of that out and replaced it with a poorly-rendered snake, an evil uncle, musical numbers worthy of a community-college performance and an elf with less nuance than a Keebler cookie mascot. As Kanye would say, Jesus wept.

Travesty #2: “Quest for Camelot”

I actually do enjoy this movie, though at the same time I recognize that it contains exactly zero artistic merit. But, it wasn’t until I watched it a few years ago that I noticed the quick credit — “Based on the book by Vera Chapman.” It turns out the animated movie with a two-headed incestuous dragon that excels in Elvis impersonations is based on “The King’s Damosel,” a reimagining of the Arthurian legend.

In the book, the Garrett character sips from the Holy Grail and wishes not to heal his battle wounds, but to regain his sight in order to see his love before dying. In the movie, people make ill-timed and anachronistic “Taxi Driver” quotes.

Travesty #3: “My Sister’s Keeper”

Author Jodi Picoult leaves readers with mixed feelings. On one hand, her novels are blatantly manipulative and overwrought, but on the other hand, reading this novel for an eighth-grade book group wasn’t as bad as expected.

When the movie adaptation was announced, I knew it would be a shameless tearjerker. But there was hope, namely in the not one, not two, but three romantic subplots, each filled with sexy sexytimes.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when the movie left out all of them. Then, of course, there was the matter of the altered ending that changed the entire meaning of the story.

Though the Steam Press admits that occasionally the movie is better than the book, a glowing review is much less entertaining than a self-righteous rant. Expect more Steam next week, gentle reader!

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