2011 Preview : Books Turned Movies

“Breaking Dawn”, “I Am Number Four”, “Limitless” and more…

Back when I was a boy they use to actually have the screenwriters come up with the story too. Kid you not. And they’d get no extra for wearing the two hats. Chris Columbus didn’t base ‘’Gremlins’’ on an old Robert Louis Stevenson yarn – he came up with it himself; Eric Red didn’t base ‘’The Hitcher’’ on an old Tennessee Williams poem, the story was his own; and contrary to popular belief, ‘’Hannah and Her Sisters’’ was not cribbed from an unproduced novel of Dean Koontz – all Woody Allen. These days though, it’s all about the brand – and, seemingly, putting in the least amount of work possible (That’s the reason there’s so many photocopiers in the film studio development quarter). You’ve got films based on video games, films based on old TV shows (reboots of ol’ TV shows too, like “90210” and “Hawaii Five-O”), films based on toy properties (including board games!), films based on other films (the remake trend continues throughout 2011, unfortunately) and especially, films based on books.

With the success of the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” film series, studios have been quick to jump on any and all books that lend themselves – if even slightly – to the big screen treatment. In 2011, there are no less thirty films in the works based on popular novels. When you see the films and think to yourself ‘I’ve heard this story before’, you’ll be right – you have.

Here’s a look at just some of the books cum films of 2011 :

The Twilight Saga :  Breaking Dawn Part 1

Based on : ‘’Breaking Dawn’’ by Stephenie Meyer

Stars : Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Lee Pace (“Pushing Daisies”), Mackenzie Foy (“Hawaii Five-O”), Maggie Grace (“Lost”)

The first of a two-part “Twilight” wrap-up directed by Bill ‘Dreamgirls’ Condon (!) makes its way into squee-filled cinemas at the end of the year. This is where the series apparently (I’ve never read the books) takes a slightly ghoulish turn – horrific labor, half-vampire babies, and the ditching of a pulse. Mainly, fans are all knee-shaky excited to see Edward and Bella’s offspring – heck, not just the fans, the film’s stars too! “I can’t wait to see Renesmee!” Kristen Stewart told Moviehole. “We have a very good director behind us who can help with that” added Taylor Lautner. I’m in need of new underoos.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Based On : “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

Stars : Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”), Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale”), Robin Wright Penn (“Forrest Gump”), Stellan Skarsgard (“Thor”), Christopher Plummer (“The Last Station”)

A second feature film version on the bestselling novel of the same name, director David Fincher’s chic whodunit tells of a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig, also in 2011’s “Cowboys and Aliens”, it itself based on a literary offering) who is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of Vanger’s great-niece Harriet. Henrik suspects that someone in his family, the powerful Vanger clan, murdered Harriet over forty years ago. Mikael realizes that the woman’s disappearance is linked to a series of gruesome murders in the past, and with the help of a young computer hacker, tattooed hero Lisbeth Salander (“A Nightmare on Elm Street” star Rooney Mara) starts to investigate the secretive Vanger family.  I love, love, love Fincher but can it really top Niels Arden Oplev’s version? Surprise me, Dave.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Based on : “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K Rowling

Stars : Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes (“Red Dragon”)

The concluding chapter to the highly-successful “Harry Potter” film series. With Rowling’s book such a stout offering, and packed with an abundance of story, Warner Bros decided to make two films out of it. The first, released late 2010, was – as projected – a huge hit; Part 2 is expected to be even more successful. Producer David Barron explains to Moviehole that “From the fourth book {The Goblet of Fire} onwards we’ve looked at each one and asked ‘Is this two films or one?’ and in each of the previous cases we have decided that there was insufficient story to warrant 2 films. There’s lots of character and colour… lovely things like Ron’s Quidditch in the 5th film, we had to cut that out as it was colour and character rather than story. But when it came to the 7th book we just couldn’t fit it in”.  Sometimes – though rarely – it’s not always about money. You know what? Maybe I should check out the last four of five “Harry Potter” movies so I’m up to speed when this one hits theaters.

Red Riding Hood

Based on : ‘’Little Red Riding Hood’’ by The Brother’s Grimm

Stars : Amanda Seyfried (“Big Love”), Virginia Madsen (“Firewall”), Billy Burke (“Twilight”), Julie Christie (“Troy”), Gary Oldman (“The Dark Knight”)

I imagine it’ll be slightly closer to the source material than say, ‘’Freeway’’ (1997) was a few years back, but director Catherine ‘Twilight’ Hardwicke’s “Red Riding Hood” is still expected to be anything but a squeaky-clean family-friendly fairytale! Beautiful “Mamma Mia!” star Amanda Seyfried plays the girl in the cerise cowl, a young woman torn between two men – one of whom could be the local werewolf that’s ripping her people into pieces. I must say, it does look fun – but then so did that New Years Eve party in 1987 that resulted in burnt hair, a scratched Banamarama record and a wet spot on the carpet.

I Am Number Four

Based on : “I Am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore

Stars : Alex Pettyfer (“Eragon”), Teresa Palmer (“Bedtime Stories”), Diana Agron (“Glee”), Timothy Olyphant (“Deadwood”), Callan McAuliffe (“Flipped”), Kevin Durand (“Robin Hood”)

The science-fiction phenomenon about to not only sweep the globe (and the Morris house – yup, the wife just finished the book), but replace “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” from their plum hierarchical positions, “I Am Number Four” tells of 6 aliens who can only be killed in numerical order; as the title suggests, number four (Alex Pettyfer, from “Stormbreaker” – remember it!?) is the latest target. Guess he makes it out alive? The film also features newcomers Diana Agron (“Glee”), Teresa Palmer (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) and former Aussie sketch show regular Callan McAuliffe (“Comedy Inc”), as well as Timothy Olyphant (“Justified”) and Kevin Durand (“Legion”). The wild card is director D.J Caruso who delivered with “Disturbia” a couple of years ago but tripped up with that film’s messy follow-up “Eagle Eye”. No… wait… the wild card is Michael Bay, producer. Thankfully Spielberg’s involved too.

The Other Woman

Based on : “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” by Ayelet Waldman

Stars : Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”), Lisa Kudrow (“Friends”), Scott Cohen (“Gilmore Girls”), Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”), Anthony Rapp (“Rent”)

Looks to be another high point in the career of prospective Oscar Winner Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) – not that it’ll make anywhere near the money of the warped ballerina pic. The heavy-going drama tells of a young woman who forges a relationship with her married boss (Scott Cohen) and ultimately becomes the man’s wife and stepmother to his child. When she loses her baby, the lass’s life is turned upside down. It’s all very complicated – much like a Steve Martin, Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin movie. Interestingly enough, the film will be available On Demand on Cable TV before it receives a limited theatrical release in Feb – suppose that’s the future though, isn’t it!?

The Eagle

Based On : ‘’The Eagle of the Ninth’’ by Rosemary Sutcliff

Stars : Channing Tatum (“Dear John”), Jamie Bell (“Jumper”), Donald Sutherland (“Pride and Prejudice”), Mark Strong (“RocknRolla”)

Channing Tatum stars in this 2nd Century adventure about two men, Marcus (Tatum), the son of the unit’s commander and his slave Esca (Jamie Bell), who embark on a quest to recover the lost golden Eagle of the Ninth. Kevin MacDonald, who directed “Last King of Scotland”, wears the helmer’s hat so this has a fair chance of turning out alright (and if all else fails, Mark Strong is in it – – he can usually save a failing flick). The imminent Blu-ray blooper reel will reportedly include scenes of Tatum scorching his dick.

The Adjustment Bureau

Based on : “Adjustment Team” by Philip K.Dick

Stars : Matt Damon (“The Bourne Ultimatum”), Emily Blunt (“Gulliver’s Travels”), Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”), Shohreh Aghdashloo (“24”), John Slattery (“Iron Man 2”), Terence Stamp (“Wall Street”)

Loosely based on the Philip K.Dick (“Total Recall”, “Blade Runner”) yarn, this long delayed (uh-oh) science-fictioner fixes on a smooth-talking congressman who falls in love with a mysterious ballerina. Unfortunately, the forces are literally working against the duo – strange circumstances keep happening that prevent them from getting a break- and are determined to break them up. I’m really keen to see this, so refuse to believe the bad buzz – I mean, come on, with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt playing the lovesick leads, how bad can it be!?

Mars Needs Moms

Based on : “Mars Needs Moms” by Berkeley Breathed

Stars : Seth Green (“Austin Powers”), Joan Cusack (“School of Rock”), Dan Fogler (“Fanboys”), Mindy Sterling (“Austin Powers”), Breckin Meyer (“Garfield”), Billy Dee Williams (“The Empire Strikes Back”)

Simon Wells directs and Robert Zemeckis produces this 3D computer-animated reassign of the popular children’s novel. The flick – which sounds like it comes complete with a barrage of life lessons and family value messages – tells of a youngster who witnesses his annoying mother being captured by Martians and vows to save her. One to take your unappreciative 3-year-old who spends more time belting the shit out of their parents than hugging them to.

Jane Eyre

Based on : “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë.

Stars : Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”), Michael Fassbender (“Inglourious Basterds”), Jamie Bell (“The Eagle”), Judi Dench (“Casino Royale”), Sally Hawkins (“Vera Drake”)

The umpteenth film based on the 1847 novel of the same name, director Cary Fukunaga’s “Jane Eyre” stars Aussie Wasikowska as a young orphan who overcomes many obstacles and ultimately finds both happiness and love. One for the wives! (Or for those overworked fellas who fancy a good nana nap in an air-conditioned room).


Based on : “The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn

Stars : Bradley Cooper (“The A-Team”), Robert De Niro (“Machete”), Abbie Cornish (“Stop Loss”), Anna Friel (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”), Johnny Whitworth (“3:10 to Yuma”)

Bradley Cooper headlines this seemingly less somber film adaptation of Glynn’s dark novel about a copyrighter who discovers an illegal drug that promises to spike intelligence and personality in mere minutes. The drug, unfortunately, comes with a milliard of side effects – including spontaneous outbursts, blackouts and side-splitting headaches – not the least of which is death. Robert De Niro, back slumming it at the moment in “Little Fockers”, apparently has some good moments as a business mogul that takes the addicted scribe under his wing – which sounds promising (But I think I said the same about “Masters of the Universe” when James Tolkan signed on, so don’t go lining up just yet based on my word).

The Lincoln Lawyer

Based on : “The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly

Stars : Matthew McConaughey (“Fool’s Gold”), Marisa Tomei (“The Wrestler”), Ryan Phillippe (“Crash”), Josh Lucas (“Hulk”), John Leguizamo (“Moulin Rouge”), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), William H.Macy (“Fargo”)

Mercifully, nude bongo-player Matthew McConaughey presses pause on the rom-com phase of his career to reprise the type of legal eagle role he played in “A Time to Kill” (which he was rather brilliant in). The Brad Furman directed flick tells of a lawyer who conducts business out of his car; one of his clients is a high-profile Beverly Hills resident. I’m actually interested in seeing a Matthew McConaughey movie again… I know, shocking! (Hopefully Kate Hudson doesn’t cameo)

Water for Elephants

Based on : “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen

Stars : Robert Pattinson (“Twilight”), Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”), Christoph Waltz (“The Green Hornet”), Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”), James Frain (“24”), Ken Foree (“Dawn of the Dead”)

Can whitish, reflecting “Twilight” vamp Rob Pattinson convince audiences this time – he convinced me with his strong performance in 2010 drama “Remember Me” but sadly nobody came to see it so most are still of the assumption that he runs on batteries – that he’s more than a tree-hopping neck nibbler? The flick, based on Gruen’s wonderful novel, stars Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski, an orphan who – he jumps on the wrong train – winds up hanging out with a traveling circus called The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Of his new pals, it’s Marlena – the married wife of a trainer – that Jacob takes the biggest shine to.  Francis Lawrence, of “I Am Legend” and “Constantine” fame, directs. Am I the only one reading who’s keener to see this than “Breaking Dawn”?

Monte Carlo

Based On : “Headhunters” by Jules Bass

Stars :  Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”), Corey Monteith (“Glee”), Katie Cassidy (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”), Selena Gomez (“Another Cinderella Story”), Andie MacDowell (“Sex, Lies & Videotape”), Catherine Tate (“Doctor Who”)

Can’t imagine this will be much; Leighton Meester, surrounded by some Tiger Beat fodder, headlining a film from the writer/director of “The Family Stone” about a young British woman who is whisked off to Monte Carlo after being mistaken for a Heiress. Assume they’re aiming for the “Princess Diaries” crowd? In which case, it’ll likely do well – particularly with the cast (actors from “Gossip Girl”, “Glee”, “Wizards of Waverly Place”, “Melrose Place”). Bring Bubblegum. Hold the Bieber.

Mr Popper’s Penguins

Based on : “Mr Popper’s Penguins” by Richard and Florence Atwater

Stars : Jim Carrey (“I Love You Philip Morris”), Angela Lansbury (“Bedknobs & Broomsticks”), Carla Gugino (“Race to Witch Mountain”), Madeline Carroll (“Flipped”), Philip Baker Hall (“The Shaggy Dog”)

Jim Carrey seems to do well in films like this (see “The Grinch”, “Horton Hears a Who”, “A Christmas Carol”, “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”) so expect this to be one of the big money-makers of 2011. The family comedy fixes on a businessman who inherits half-a-dozen penguins and consequently turns his apartment into a winter wonderland. Apparently Brett Ratner through snow around his apartment last year, too – – just saying.


Based on : “Drive” by James Sallis

Stars : Ryan Gosling (“Blue Valentine”), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Carey Mulligan (“Wall Street Money Never Sleeps”), Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”), Albert Brooks (“Broadcast News”)

I was just reading an interview with Gosling in which he describes director upcoming actioner as ‘Blue Velvet meets Purple Rain ‘ – whoa! Sure to be different this one! Based on Sallis’ book, the flick tells of a Hollywood stuntman who discovers a hit has been put out on him. Expect lots of action, some deadly thugs, music by Morris Day, and the ghost of Dennis Hopper using a ventilator? Maybe?

We Bought a Zoo

Based on : “We Bought a Zoo” by Benjamin Mee

Stars : Matt Damon (“The Adjustment Burea”), Scarlett Johansson (“Iron Man 2”), Elle Fanning (“Somewhere”), Patrick Fugit (“Almost Famous”), Thomas Haden Church (“Easy A”), Angus Macfadyen (“Pride and Prejudice”),

Personally, this is the one I’m looking forward to the most [of these novel inspired flicks] – and largely because it’s Cameron Crowe, one of my favourite filmmakers; he never lets me down, but also because it sounds like a really sweet story, and well, I think it’d be really hot seeing Scarlett Johansson tame a tiger. Based on Mee’s memoirs, the flick tells of a man who ships his family off to London where they begin operating a zoo. I personally don’t want to know any more than that so I’m searching for info. Sorry. Just look at that cast! Damon! Johansson! Church! Fugit! My fingers are crossed, tight, for this baby.

Hugo Cabret

Based on : “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznik

Stars : Jude Law (“Repo Men”), Chloe Moretz (“Kick Ass”), Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat”), Emily Mortimer (“Shutter Island”), Christopher Lee (“Lord of the Rings”), Ben Kingsley (“Shutter Island”), Ray Winstone (“The Departed”),

One of the must-see flicks of 2011, “Hugo Cabret” marks Gangstertown regular Martin Scorsese’s debut as a kiddie filmmaker; not that this is going to be any “Air Bud Spikes Back” – no sir, not with the team Scorsese’s rounded up here (look up there!). But if the anointment of such luminaries as Kingsley, Lee and Winstone doesn’t excite you then the premise just might – the film involves “a 12-year-old orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station in 1930 and a mystery involving the boy, his late father and a robot.” The film has, not surprisingly, shot in 3D. Bobby really needs to start hanging out with Marty more.

….And there’s plenty more!

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