With moviegoers finally heading back to theaters in 2021, lots of releases that had been postponed in 2020 are starting to hit the big screen this summer. Among these are quite a few films that are based on or adapted from novels.
Making an adaptation of a literary work is a tradition as old as Hollywood itself, but, as most of us know, there’s a good way and a bad way to do a movie based on a book. Here’s five of the most interesting book-to-movie adaptations, released so far this year!
D. Eric Maikranz’s The Reincarnationist Papers is a riveting novel about a man who suddenly begins to have visions of his past lives. At first mistaking these memories for hallucinations, the lead character Evan McCauley soon discovers that not only are his inner thoughts more than what they seem, but that he is not alone in his plight and a secret society of fellow “reincarnationists” await him if he can prove his worth.
The film version of The Reincarnationist Papers, one of many movies delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, was released on Paramount+ in June. Named “Infinite” and starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the film is faithful in tone to the novel and little else. Some critics found the film to be derivative and predictable, but solid performances make this science fiction romp worth a watch.
To All The Boys: Always and Forever
The To All the Boys franchise has been a surprising hit for Netflix since the release of the first film “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” in 2018, and “Always and Forever” capitalizes on the excitement of the series perfectly. The films, based on a series of novels from Jenny Han, are teenage romantic comedies and, while they’re not high art by any means, they’re quite capable genre films that capture the feeling of teenage romance to a tee.
The third and final film in the series sees lead character Lara Jean and her boyfriend Peter Kavinsky at a tense crossroads in their relationship, and fans of the series are sure to be satisfied by the conclusion of this three-film arc. It feels earned and believable, which, for movies such as these, isn’t always easy to do. Netflix reported that “To All The Boys: Always and Forever” was watched by 51 million households during its first quarter online.
Starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland, “Chaos Walking” is a science fiction film released in March of 2021 by Lionsgate. Based on a series of novels by author Patrick Ness, this film, which features two of Hollywood’s biggest stars right now, was an absolute commercial failure. Making $22 million on a $100 million budget, the film was written off by Lionsgate before it was ever even released.
It’s a shame too, because there are some good things to be found in “Chaos Walking”. Ridley and Holland are charming as ever, and, while the pacing of the film is slow and stagnant, there is quite a bit of interesting worldbuilding going on within the film. Unfortunately though, charisma and worldbuilding was not enough to keep this film, originally announced all the way back in 2011, from flying under almost everyone’s radar.
This film stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Frances Price, a Manhattan socialite who is nearly broke. After caching out the remaining assets of her deceased husband, Price moves to Paris with her son and lives her life as if she has nothing to lose. Based on Patrick DeWitt’s novel of the same name, the film is worth a watch for one reason and one reason only: Pfeiffer.
Having the time of her life in a role for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe, Pfeiffer is clearly enjoying herself in “French Exit”. Fans of the book may not love the liberties that director Azazel Jacobs takes with the story, but it cannot be denied that Pfeiffer’s standout performance makes this one of the best book adaptations of the year.
Lastly, let’s take a look at “Dune”, a highly anticipated film that was originally planned for theatrical release in 2020 that is still not released at the time of this writing. A series of delays however have Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited film to October of this year, so fans only have to wait a few months more for what is shaping up to be one of the best book adaptations not just this year but, perhaps, of all time.
The movie, which was filmed almost entirely in Hungary, is based on Frank Herbert’s legendary novel of the same name. The book tells the story of powerful houses fighting for control of vital resources in a far-flung intergalactic future, and if the multiple trailers released for the film are any indication of the full movie’s quality, then we’re sure something great is on the way.