Big-screen Books

Need to get that 600-page novel read in time for your book club meeting? Can’t find the Cole’s notes? Page skippers rejoice. Whether it’s a classic childhood tale, a bestselling series or an unforgettable love story, you can get your fiction fix through film. Here’s a look at upcoming movies based on bestselling novels.
– Katharine Watts

Cause for debate

cover_angelsanddemonsAngels and Demons

Dan Brown Angels and Demons book cover Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, the prequel to his bestselling novel The DaVinci Code, follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks in the film version) as he helps to unravel a conspiracy involving a secret brotherhood, the Illuminati, and the Catholic Church. When Langdon is called upon to decipher a symbol branded onto the body of murdered scientist Leonardo Vetra, he is understandably in shock, but what awaits him is even more astonishing. A scientific discovery that could change the world was stolen from Vetra’s lab—a substance that in the wrong hands could cause devastation and chaos. And it’s making its way to Vatican City where, by no coincidence, the world’s Catholic clergy have gathered to choose their next pope. This is where the adventure really begins for Langdon, alongside Vetra’s daughter, the beautiful and intelligent Vittoria (played by Ayelet Zurer (Vantage Point). Ahead of them lies a journey through old tombs, catacombs and secret underground societies—right into the middle of a 400-year-old conflict.

Viewers had their last look at Robert Langdon onscreen with Ron Howard’s 2006 adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, so anticipation for this one has been strong. The main difference in the film version is that it will be presented as a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, though it is a prequel to the book version. What remains the same though is the character of Langdon, the book-smart Harvard grad whose willingness to help and brave reaction to the dangerous position in which he finds himself make the story compelling.

cover_mysisterskeeperMy Sister’s Keeper

My Sister’s Keeper Director Nick Cassavetes has seen success with book adaptation before, with Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. Now, he delves into Jodi Picoult’s controversial novel My Sister’s Keeper, which follows the family of 13-year-old Anna Fitzgerald.

Anna has always suspected the truth behind her conception, and when she learns that she was custom-made in a petri dish as a perfect genetic match for her terminally ill sister, Kate (played by Sophia Vassilevia (Medium), her suspicions are confirmed. Donating her body for the benefit of Kate’s health started from the day of Anna’s birth, with stem cells from her umbilical cord. She has never objected to the endless surgeries and hospital visits before, not even when recovering from a painful bone marrow transplant. But at last, now age 13, Anna (played by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) decides she’s had enough. She hires a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) and begins the process of suing for medical emancipation from her parents (Cameron Diaz, Jason Patric). This is more than a story about a girl suing for the rights to her own body, though. It’s a story about a family who, in the face of crisis, has to make a difficult decision. The heartbreaking conclusion to the book shocked and saddened readers, so it’s no surprise that the author confirmed it is being tweaked for the big screen. The change in ending could go one of two ways: it may give readers the happily-ever-after they were hoping for, or it could potentially disappoint fans who believe the original ending was more realistic. Either way, it’s an opportunity to give readers and viewers a chance to choose for themselves. It makes sense—after all, My Sister’s Keeper is predominantly a story about difficult choices.

Magical malady

cover_harrypotterHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince By now, everyone knows their way around Hogwarts Castle: the secret passageways into Honeydukes and the Shrieking Shack, the warm meals that appear out of thin air on chilly winter days in the Great Hall, the even warmer welcome from the headmaster, Professor Dumbledore. And of course, the famous Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and his loyal friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). Because countless faithful readers know these secrets, it was essential that the much-loved book series be faithfully portrayed on screen. And it has been, five times. The characters, setting and ongoing intricate plot has been brought to life on film in ways that readers had only imagined. Now, director David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) takes on the darker sixth novel as eager fans anticipate its arrival.

J.K. Rowling’s sixth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, follows the now 16-year-old wizard as he navigates his way around the magic world—but this time his actions carry more weight. Dumbledore asks him to collect a crucial memory of the young Voldemort from the reinstated potions master, Professor Slughorn. But at first, Harry puts the task off to concentrate on a matter that he perceives to be more immediate: locating the culprit behind the attacks on his fellow students. When he eventually realizes the weight of importance the memory holds, he sets out to extract it from Slughorn, and ends up on going on a harrowing journey through Voldemort’s dark history. Meanwhile, Harry has to deal with all the normal parts of life as a teenage wizard: first love, Quidditch matches, apparition lessons and transfiguration homework—plus the mysterious old potions book he finds, a decades-old text of extraordinary enchantments written by the Half-Blood Prince.

cover_thetimetravelerswifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife She is five, he is 50. She is 12, he is 24. She is 15, he is 42. This is not a pattern or a puzzle; it’s life for Henry DeTamble and Claire Abshire, and the premise of The Time Traveler’s Wife, the 2005 novel written by Audrey Niffenegger. The novel portrays a couple that is deeply in love and living with a supernatural secret—Henry (played by Eric Bana in the film) has a gene that forces him to travel through time. But Claire is traveling through time the ordinary way: celebrating a birthday each year, watching the seasons come and go, playing with Barbies, then makeup, then boys, in that order. Henry’s time travels are involuntary, pulling him unexpectedly back and forth into the past, present or future—but always pulling him back to her. Yet making the decision to become Henry’s wife is a simple one for Claire (played by Rachel McAdams). She has always known that he is the man she wants to be with, and that if she couldn’t be with him, she wouldn’t be with anyone.

The movie version is directed by Robert Schwenke (Flightplan), who is new to adaptation, so the end result is hard to predict. What can be said is that Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana offer an authentic physical depiction of the characters described in the story, hopefully that is a promising indication of what’s to come. But even if the adaptation isn’t accurate, the main storyline will surely be intact. After all, a film is made up of individual scenes—which is exactly how Henry lives his life. The brief scenes that make up his memories eventually accumulate into his life’s defining moments.

Frightening Fantasies

cover_shutterislandShutter Island

Shutter Island Denis LeHane’s Shutter Island, set in 1954 on the eerie and isolated isle of the same name, exposes the isolated Ashecliffe Psychiatric Hospital, where unethical treatments take place under the watch of questionable doctors. When a patient escapes, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels is assigned to the case. Desperate to go (for reasons of his own), he packs his bags and makes his way over, unsure of what lies ahead. An investigation ensues to find the escapee, but along the way it becomes apparent that it might not be the patients who are the crazy ones. Shutter Island seems to influence everyone that comes near it, making them question everything and trust no one, including themselves. Prolific director Martin Scorsese takes on the adaptation, once again teaming with Leonardo DiCaprio (who plays Teddy Daniels), a pairing that has repeatedly proven fruitful with hits such as The Departed, The Aviator and Gangs of New York. This is not LeHane’s first novel to be adapted for the big screen either; Mystic River, the 2003 adaptation of his novel of the same name, was nominated for six Oscars and won two. Sci-fi and book lovers rejoice: this promises to be a faithful adaptation that will send shivers down your spine and make you question if everything is really as it seems.

cover_wherethewildthingsareWhere the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are In Maurice Sendak’s classic childhood tale, a little boy with a big imagination is sent to his room without dinner when his mother tires of his mischief. “I’ll eat you up!” he continues to yell as he makes his way upstairs. He arrives in his room only to find that it has been transformed into a mystical land. But instead of being scared, Max embraces it. He travels across the water in a boat that appears before him, straight into the enchanting forest ahead. His bravery impresses the Wild Things that dwell there, and they crown him as their ruler. He enjoys it for some time, but when he goes to leave, they repeat the same threat that got him sent to his room. “We’ll eat you up!” Max’s incredible courage is the only thing that can get him home now—well, that and the smell of dinner. With what promises to be incredible imagery, Maurice Sendak’s story will be brought to life through the voices of Forest Whitaker, Catherine O’Hara and James Gandolfini, under the direction of Spike Jonze. No matter the outcome, another classic childhood story can now be added to the bookshelf and the DVD collection.

Life and Death

cover_newmoonNew Moon

New Moon Would you wait hundreds of years for your one true love? Would you then, because you love them so much, leave them for their own safety? Edward Cullen would—in his hundreds of years of existence, he has never felt this way about a girl, and the brunette beauty only has eyes for him. The second book in Stephanie Meyer’s bestselling book series follows Edward and Bella, the unlikely coupling of vampire and human, as they navigate their way through a seemingly impossible relationship. Finally together after an eventful past year, the couple believes everything is perfect. Unfortunately, they are in for a surprise: there is a vampire with a vendetta against Edward, and she wants to hit him where it hurts—his heart. To protect Bella, Edward leaves her side, not realizing that by leaving her, he is doing more harm than good.

Chris Weitz, who both adapted the screenplays for and directed Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and Nick Hornby’s About a Boy, is now taking over from Catherine Hardwicke as the Twilight director. Once again starring Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella, the second film is set to be as much a draw as the first for lovers of the paranormal romance.

cover_lovelybonesThe Lovely Bones

Lovely Bones Ever wondered who would attend your funeral? If you were 14-year-old Susie Sammon, the main character and narrator of Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, you wouldn’t have to. Though Susie was murdered and buried along with any evidence, her spirit is alive—and she’s watching as the events following her death unfold. Her killer remains unknown, and she’s doing everything in her power to get her family to discover his identity. But it’s nice to be around them, to follow them unseen, getting to know them in ways she never did during her short life. And having the case closed feels like a resolution, which she believes would mean her permanent ascent into heaven, officially closing her time on earth.

Director Peter Jackson takes on the film version, which stars Saoirise Ronan (Atonement) as Susie and Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg as her parents. Jackson’s adaptations include the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, making him a good fit to adapt another supernatural novel.

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