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Movies from Books, 2013

Publishers Weekly has a list of the 10 most anticipated 2013 movies from books. Here are my thoughts on each.

10. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
I confess, I know little about this, as I’ve never read the book. It has a promising cast including Colin Farrell and Jennifer Connelly (something for everyone, then…!), but it’s also Akiva Goldsman’s first attempt at directing a full-length film. With time travel and strong fantasy element, it’s an ambitious project. Jury is out, and this could go either way.

9. A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre
John Le Carre’s writing is taut, dense and thrilling, and lends itself very well to intelligent film. Those expecting an action-packed spy thriller such as the Jason Bourne movie will likely be disappointed, but if you’re one who enjoys being engrossed deeply in a film and paying attention, it’s bound to be excellent. With acting chops like Philip Seymour Hoffman on board, I’m confident this will be good.

8. The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
The latest from Martin Scorsese (which of course means Leonardo DiCaprio stars – those two seem joined at the contract, lately), this will be slick and tense. It tells the true story of the author’s illegal financial dealings and eventual criminal conviction. Scorsese’s a hell of a filmmaker, but the subject matter makes this a renter for me.

7. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters from the series by Rick Riordan
While young readers love the celebrated Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series from Rick Riordan, critics were divided on opinion about the first film (The Lightning Thief), with many feeling it was more style than substance, and too formulaic, while others argued its trueness to the book was the only way to do it justice. This will likely be more of the same – fans of the books (and of the Harry Potter films, for that matter…) will probably find much to like here.

6. Beautiful Creatures from the series by Kamy Garcia
This is not my wheelhouse, so I will refrain from much comment. But if you are a fan of Twilight or The Vampire Diaries or Jennifer’s Body or any similar such fare, this perhaps might be up your alley.

5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Part two of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, from Tolkien’s single (and not even all that big) novel. Avoid the 3D, but see it. Of course see it. What, do you want to relinquish your nerd card? I’ll be there.

4. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Ok look, don’t judge me. I know the Twilight books were nauseating, poorly written, repetitive and juvenile. But you have to admit (or at least I do) that the story was compelling. Enough so that I still finished all four books, even while bitching and griping about the quality of the writing. But Meyer can tell a good story. Then I read somewhere (this is utterly unsubstantiated and may be an out and out lie of a rumor) that Meyer had “dumbed down” the Twilight books at the behest of her publisher, who thought Meyer’s original drafts were too sophisticated for the teenaged target group. So when I heard Meyer had also written a book for adults, The Host, I gave it a go. And except for the romantic scenes (I think Meyer and I just have very different ideas of love), which made me retch, the book is really, really good. Couple that with Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder, and I expect this to be decent. But it’s from the director of Gattaca, so….let’s call this a yellow light intersection. And the good news is, if you accidentally confuse it with the 2006 Korean horror movie of the same name, you’re still in for a definite good time, as that movie is awesome.

3. World War Z by Max Brooks
Look, if you read Brooks’ other book The Zombie Survival Guide and had the same reaction has me (“heh, this was cute and funny for the first 50 pages, but I’m done now”0, do not let that dissuade you from reading and seeing World War Z. That book was so good. Loved it. It was so painstakingly crafted, researched and presented that at points (particularly when reading late at night), my hamster brain actually began to blur the lines of common sense reality and allow in the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. The book seemingly factually covers every angle of an attack – regional differences, climate, aftermatch, class differences and the like. It’s a really excellent book. This is the movie I’m most excited about in 2013 for sure – though I am nervous about Marc Forster as director. Stranger Than Fiction was surprisingly wonderful, Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner were best left unwatched. And by that I mean unmade. World War Z has some excellent acting talent in it, including the much-underrated David Morse.

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The second part in the trilogy, Catching Fire was the weakest of the books and I expect it to be the weakest of the films. That said, it will probably still be dazzling and exciting, with strong performances from Jennifer Lawrence (if you want to see just how good an actor she is, rent the mindblowing adaptation if Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone) and co., and will probably kill at the box office. Particularly as more bandwagoners will have jumped aboard by now.

1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Oh, jeez. From the director who brought us X-Men Origins: Wolverine…. *polite cough* So, I admit, I don’t have much footing here as I’ve never read Ender’s Game (I know, I know, my to-read list resembles The Leaning Tower of Pisa), but I expect a lot of science-fiction fans to be bitterly disappointed when Ender’s Game comes out. I lack faith that even the adorability-duo of Abigail Breslin and Asa Butterfield or the awesome-aging-actor street cred of Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford can save it… I just smell a stinker. But I was wrong once back in 2002… perhaps I’ll be wrong ago. Let’s hope so, for all those Ender’s fans holding their breath and waiting for opening day.

And as a happy bonus, here’s the World War Z movie trailer:

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