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WAIT FOR THE MOVIE: The Must-Watch Big Screen Book Adaptations of 2013

January 25 2013

Buggers, Giants, Gods and Oz brought to life.   

by Kellie Sheridan

I am not a movie buff by any stretch of the imagination. When people think of me, they think “books,” one hundred percent of the time. Okay, maybe both “books” and “intensely nerdy” come to mind. But this year, everything changes. 2013 is a year that will see so many great books come alive on the big screen, and I couldn’t be more excited. There is something for every kind of genre fan, as well as a few big-buzz titles that are sue to get even the most mundane people out to the theater.

Here are, the must watch movie adaptations of 2013… which is most of them. Books are good stuff, people. I’m telling you.




Based on: Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm (based on the German folk tale)
Year: 1812
Directed by: Tommy Wirkola
Release Date: Friday, January 25

Classic tale, new twist

Years after the events of the original tale, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have learned from their experiences, and honed their skills to become expert bounty hunters. They specialize in the hag-like witches that Germany is apparently teeming with. Tacking on a paranormal element to a classic figure or tale has become something of a fad lately (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and are always full of nerdy goodness. This version of the usually candy-filled story looks pretty badass, even without all the German accents, and the lead actors will probably take us on a memorable ride. These witch hunting siblings will blend in well with the supernatural-loving crowd, and a slow January gives them a decent chance of getting noticed in the box office crowd too.


Based on: John Dies at the End by David Wong
Year: 2007
Directed by: Dan Coscarelli
US Release Date: Friday, January 25

Just so you know… they’re sorry for anything that’s about to happen

Until I started researching this list, I had no idea this was being turned into a movie, let alone had already been released via Video on Demand. I’ve heard great things about this book – which started out as an online serialized story in 2001 before being published in paperback 2007, and then in hardcover in 2009. It is categorized as a “comic horror story” and features some supernatural drug use as well as some epic bromance between Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes). Paul Giamatti also features, which is a bonus. The story looks to be both trippy and scary all at once, and the special effects look promising. Based on the title, I’m guessing it doesn’t end well.




Based on: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Year: 2010
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
US Release Date: Friday, February 1

Cold body. Warm heart
He’s still dead but he’s getting warmer
There’s nothing hotter than a girl with brains
Dead sexy
Bros before brains

This is the movie I am most looking forward to as of right this second (but that’s only because we’re so far away from the insane one-two punch of November and December). Warm Bodies looks both hilarious and heartwarming, all while being about the undead. R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie, but after meeting his dream girl things events start to unfold that could change the entire world. The idea sounded immensely stupid to me, at first. But after seeing the trailer, this movie has become an absolute must see.


Based on: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, Book 1) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Year: 2009
Directed by: Richard LeGravenese
Release Date: Wednesday, February 13

Dark secrets will come to light

Ahh, young love. No more vampires and werewolves, now we’re moving to the southern U.S. and fawning after a witch (or in book terminology, caster). Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich star as Lena and Ethan, but the book is written from Ethan’s perspective, so maybe that alone will be enough to up the ante in the YA romance story genre. Granted, this series is better written than Twilight, but if you didn’t like those movies you probably won’t like this one. Plus, the trailer features Florence + The Machine, so that means it has to be awesome. Right?! Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson also star.




Based on: Jack the Giant Killer (folk tale)
Year: circa 1711
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Release Date: Friday, March 1

Something giant is coming

Jack (Nicholas Hoult, again) is a character we’ve all heard about more times than we can count. A stupid boy who trades his cow for some magic beans, leading everyone to think he’d been conned before a beanstalk appears, leading Jack to adventure and treasure. Somehow, I never pictured this story becoming a live action movie, but based on the trailers it looks like it just might work. A strong cast (Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, Stanley Tucci) and X-Men director Singer will hopefully hold this film together so that children everywhere can continue to hear Jack’s story long after books go extinct.


Based on: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Year: 1900
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Release Date: Friday, March 8

Find yourself in Oz

We’ve all seen the classic, now we get to see what happened long before Dorothy landed her house on a wicked witch. James Franco stars as Oscar “Oz” Diggs, a nobody of a man who gets swept away from Kansas to the magical (and odd) land of Oz. Much like Dorothy, he’ll have some adventures and meet some unusual travelling companions, and with a little luck our hearts will be warmed. While it may not be the groundbreaking visual movie that 1939’s The Wizard of Oz was, the effects look colorful and fun. Here’s hoping for Oz as we’ve never seen it before, in the capable hands of Spider-Man director Raimi. Whether success with Oz the Great and Powerful will lead to a remake of the 1939 classic remains to be seen. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Zach Braff also star.


Based on: Carrie by Stephen King
Year: 1974
Directed by: Kimberly Pierce
US Release Date: Friday, March 15

You will know her name

Stephen King’s teenage horror story is being remade for 2013. This time starring Chloë Grace Moretz as the titular character. Despite the movie being just a few months out, only a teaser trailer has been released. In one word, it looks… creepy. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if this movie lives up to either the book or the 1976 version, starring Sissy Spacek and featuring in many a teen girl’s nightmares after an ill-advised sleepover.


Based on: The Host by Stephanie Meyer
Year: 2008
Directed by: Andrew Niccol
US Release Date: Friday, March 29

You will be one of us
Love never dies
Choose to believe. Choose to fight. Choose to love.

Did you know that Twilight, author Stephenie Meyer wrote another book. Yes? Okay, did you know it’s actually really good? Well, it is. The Host is a sci-fi flick with a really unusual story. There are no spaceships or globe-headed aliens here. In The Host, we’ve already lost the war and Earth is currently populated by peaceful aliens wearing our bodies. There is a love story here, but there’s also a genuine conflict, a resistance and of course, aliens! Directed by Andrew Niccol, of Gattaca and In Time fame, the enormously talented Saoirse Ronan stars.

Full disclosure, the trailers don’t have me jumping up and down in my seat. Visually, it looks good, but I’m not convinced they’ve managed to capture the feel of the book. Time will tell.




Based on Oblivion by Arvid Nelson
Year: 2010
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Release Date: Friday, April 19

Earth is a memory worth fighting for

Ugh, Tom Cruise. Why are we still putting him in movies? Hopefully Morgan Freeman can balance things out a little, as Oblivion looks like it will be one of the most purely sci-fi films of the year, and probably a must-see. After a devastating alien war, Earth has been abandoned, and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one of its few remaining care takers. From there, adventures are sure to ensue.

Tom Cruise + Aliens + Post-Apocalyptic adventures= good movie? Perhaps.




Based on: The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce
Year: 1996
Directed by: Chris Wedge
US Release Date: Friday, May 24

Discover a world beyond your imagination
Prepare for something epic

As the only animated movie on this list, Epic is already set to draw some real attention during the summer movie season. All of the trailers for this movie look stunning, and it seems to be in the same vein as Rise of the Guardians. The voice-acting cast ranges from Amanda Seyfried to Pitbull to Josh Hutcherson and back to Beyoncé, plus quite a few other noteworthy actors. I’m hopeful that this movie will live up to its name.




Based on: World War Z by Max Brooks
Year: 2006
Directed by: Marc Forster
US Release Date: Friday, June 21

Remember Philly!

This version of World War Z only gained a spot on this list by being based on a mind-blowing book. All the signs point to this movie being just another zombie flick, and I’m already disappointed. World War Z: The Movie, will follow Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) as he fights zombies and tries to protect his family. Other than the use of the word zombies, this has nothing to do with World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which takes place after the end of the zombie apocalypse, as humanity begins to rebuild. There’s an interesting idea for a zombie movie… let’s make that one, okay?




Based on: R.I.P.D. by Peter Lenkov
Year: 1999/2000
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Release Date: Friday, July 19

Justice is eternal

This movie is still being somewhat elusive, and there’s not much out there on either the movie or the original four-issue comic book mini-series on which it is based (low to middling reviews). What I can tell you is that the name is clever enough to catch my interest, and it’s starring perpetual man-candy, Ryan Reynolds, as a recently deceased cop who joins a group of undead police officers reporting to Heaven known as the Rest in Peace Department (R.I.P.D.). From there, it looks like we’ll be dealing with more explosions than hijinx, but I can’t say for sure. Best guess for this movie is that it will go largely unnoticed. Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon and Mary Louise Parker also star.

Other comic adaptations of the year include Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Wolverine 2 and Man of Steel, but no doubt you will already have heard about those.




Based on: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) by Rick Riordan
Year: 2006
Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
Release Date: Friday, August 16

No poster or tagline available

Demigod Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) returns to continue his legacy in the world of Greek mythology. The first film of this series, 2010’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, was a solid middle-grader flick, and we can expect much of the same here. If you’re a fan of this particular brand of myths and legends, then check it out, just don’t expect too much. Although, with the direful Chris Columbus out of the directing chair, we might hope for better… until you realize that Feudenthal was the creative force behind Hotel for Dogs. Still, look for Nathan Fillion as the sneaky god Hermes and Buffy’s Anthony Stewart Head as training centaur Chiron. And at least they had the sense to shorten the title this time.


Based on: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Book 1) by Cassandra Clare
Year: 2007
Directed by: Harald Zwart
Release Date: Friday, August 23

There is a world hidden within our own

This is the YA book-to-movie adaptation that fans of the genre are itching to see. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is set in New York City and follows Clary Fray (Lily Collins) as she is initiated into the world of the Shadow Hunters. The mythology that Cassandra Clare created for her books will likely appeal to a broader base than the love story that Beautiful Creatures is built around, but it may be worth waiting for the DVD release if you aren’t already familiar with the books.


Here we hit the dreaded post-summer lull. There are a couple adaptations that come out between the end of summer and the start of the Christmas season, but nothing worth getting excited about. Use this time to get a head start on reading for the 2014 batch of movie adaptations. And then…




Based on: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Year: 1985
Directed by: Gavin Hood
US Release Date: November 1

What is reality?

Sci-fi fans the world over are excited for this movie adaptation. If you haven’t read Ender’s Game yet, it needs to be the next book you pick up. It’s nearly impossible to put down. Now to be fair, those are some pretty high standards that this movie is going to have to live up to. There hasn’t been enough promo material released yet to even begin to guess at how good this movie will be, but if it’s is done right, it will be an iconic sci-fi film. They’re going to have to make some changes from the book (Ender is a very young child at the beginning of the book, and difficult to relate to), so fans of the book should go into this prepared to be open-minded in order to allow Orson Scott Card’s world to do its thing and blow our minds. Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin and Ben Kingsley star, with Hugo’s Asa Butterfield cast as the aged-up Ender. Worryingly, director Hood as X-Men Origins: Wolverine on his resume. Only time will tell.


Based on: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins
Year: 2009
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
US Release Date: Friday, November 22

Every revolution begins with a spark

I’m fan-girl squeeing just thinking about this movie. Catching Fire was (arguably… by me) the best book of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, and this is sure to be a heart-stopping movie. Subtract most of the child murder we saw in the first movie, add in a giant clock arena with acid rain, and you’ve got Catching Fire. Plus we shall continue to pretend like anyone would pick Josh Hutcherson over the littlest Hemsworth brother, and love every second of it.




Based on: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Year: 1937
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Release Date: Friday, December 13

Poster and tagline unavailable

Yes, please. While the first movie in this new trilogy came out to somewhat mixed reviews (mostly leaning towards the ‘pretty dang cool’ end of the spectrum), I don’t think anyone is ready to jump ship quite yet. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) still has a lot to do before he can go home and nap in his hobbit hole. This next movie’s name is kind of odd, but as Smaug is “played” by Benedict Cumberbatch, here’s hoping for some dragon action in this movie. It’s hard to say how much of the original source material will be used in this film, but it’s going to be awesome anyways. Middle-earth, here we come!

– Kellie Sheridan


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