Saturday, December 15, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Fantasy Films Based On Literature

With this weekend's release of "The Hobbit: And Unexpected Journey", we again focus our latest Top 5 Movie Guide around the film, and this time take a look at a few other Fantasy Films Based on Literature! The Hobbit is a fantasy novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien, originally published in 1937. The book was a critical and financial success from day one, and earned Tolkien a slew of literary awards. Since 1937, the book has never once been out of publish (one of very few titles to do so since that date), and has been adapted into many different formats, including stage, radio, board and video games, and, of course, film.


There have been a handful of different film adaptations made of the novel, but you have to assume that Peter Jackson's latest will be most remembered. His previous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, was one of the most financially successful film trilogies ever (and that of course was based on Tolkien's sequel trilogy of the same title).

There are many ways that "fantasy" can be interpreted; and likewise, opening the category simply to literature instead of restricting it to novels makes for even more options. But as The Lord of the Rings trilogy was already unavailable due to last week's enshrinement, we figured it best to leave the category as open as possible to provide for the most variety below. If any of the writers wished to restrict themselves anymore than what this provides, as usual, they'll make mention in their descriptions. Otherwise, there is a great slew of different titles presented below, so hit the jump and see which ones each of us selected!

Alex Schopp -
I made no special parameters for this list. I left it as open as the description details. I didn't care if I'd read any of the source material or not - I'm judging the movie, not how it compares to the source. Plus, odds are I haven't read a single book that would qualify for this list anyway.

     1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Maybe it's cliche, but I didn't really see anything else I wanted to put up here instead. This definitely isn't a very strong category for me. This movie is such a classic though and I still enjoy watching it.
     2. Big Fish (2003)
Really the only good Tim Burton film to come out in the past decade or so. Lots of great imagery, and an ending that will hit you right in the face. Just try not to tear up.
     3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Nope, that's not two Tim Burton movies on this list. I'm talking about the good version of this story.
     4. The NeverEnding Story (1984)
A childhood staple.
     5. James and the Giant Peach (1996)
I always loved the animation stylings of this movie. Not sure if the content of the film still holds up quite as well today, but I always enjoyed it when I was younger. Plus, I did a book report on the this book when I was in middle school without ever reading the book. Got an A on it.

Ben Foutch -
I limited selections to one spot per author to add some variety. Also, I had to have read the source material in order to qualify for this list - though it is not judged on its faithfulness or lack thereof. As you probably could have predicted, the horror side of fantasy takes the spotlight, but that's what has always struck my fancy. Hopefully the adaptations for "Necroscope" and the 'Repairman Jack' series will see the light of day.

     1. The Shining (1980)

"The Shining" by Stephen King: As a regular reader of our top five lists, you might be growing weary of "The Shining" and its prominence in some of my lists. I'm sorry, but the only remedy is enshrinement.
     2. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
"Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice: An unusually emotional and psychologically in-depth take on vampires. Plus, it's just good drama.
     3. Re-Animator (1985)
"Herbert West: Re-Animator" by H.P. LovecraftNot anywhere close to my favorite story by Lovecraft, but ironically enough, it's easily the best film adapted from his work.
     4. Nightbreed (1990)
"Cabal" by Clive Barker: Mythical, dark, and at times emotionally searing. An overall uneven film, but like the source, a fun take on the hollow earth theory.
     5. Watership Down (1978)
"Watership Down" by Richard Adams: Thought I'd show some respect for my childhood.

Derek Clem -
Though in life I normally do, for this list I'm not counting comic books as literature.

     1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Out of all the Harry Potter Movies this one stands out the most to me. You could clearly hear the directors voice, where the following movies following sort of all mush together.
     2. The Beastmaster (1982)
My cousin and I use to play this movie all the time growing up! Sadly, he always got to be winged monster that eats you alive and turns your body into goo. I always wanted to play that part.
     3. The Golden Compass (2007)
This cast was stellar! I'm so disappointed they didn't continue making movies from this series. And since I'm not a reader, I'll never find out what happens.
     4. The Green Mile (1999)
This movie is so great but it's so sad that it makes it very hard for me to watch.
     5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
I know this should be so much higher on my list but it's so cliche that I had to give it the #5 slot. An overall great American classic.

Nathan Hinds -
It doesn't matter if 'The Lord of the Rings' was enshrined or not. It wouldn't have been on my list since they are my least favorite movies ever!


     1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Really I could put films 4-8 on here and have it be my entire list and be happy with it. But I hear you folks like variety, so I'll stick to one. By the way, this film is also in my Top 5(ish) films of all-time as well.
     2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
I have said that taking all aspects of film into consideration: technical proficiency, what it meant for film, watchability, etc.: "The Wizard of Oz" is the greatest film of all time.
     3. Stardust (2007)
Stardust is one of the greatest movies that not many people know about. It's one of the greatest fantasy films ever.
     4. The Princess Bride (1987)
Best fantasy/comedy ever? I think so.
     5. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Other than Alex Schopp probably (who hates sweets), what kid didn't think the chocolate room was the greatest place they had ever seen.

Andy Schopp -

     1. The Harry Potter Saga (2001-2011)

I feel like this should be lower on my list based on how much I watch or care about it, but when I put it lower...it feels wrong.
     2. Hook (1991)
Is this too far removed from the original story to count? It does tell the whole story of Peter Pan in the movie and then some. So I say it does.
     3. Mysterious Island (1961)
This movie is too good. It holds so much nostalgic value for me and it makes my head fill with wonder and amazement. Gotta love Ray Harryhausen's work!
     4. The Princess Bride (1987)
I may be worn out on this movie, but I still enjoy it whenever I watch it. I just don't get the urge to pop it in much.
     5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
To much great movie history happening here for me not to put it on.

Well there we have it, folks. Quite the interesting array of titles as the word "fantasy" was interpreted a bit differently by most everyone above. As a result, we saw one of our most diverse lists ever with with some of the most titles ever featured (18). "The Wizard of Oz" stood out the most, as it earned the most votes, appearing on four of the five lists and even earning one top pick. This classic tales has been told many times over the years (and will again in next year's "Oz: The Great and Powerful"), but the 1939 adaptation is still considered one of the most iconic and classic films in American history.

While it was technically three different selections, films from the Harry Potter franchise appeared on three lists, and was the only "film" to do so. It's worth note though that on the three lists it did appear, it was the top selection each time. The franchise is one of the most successful and well-known today, and with the variety of films available, there should be something in there for everyone. While it doesn't hold a candle to The Lord of the Rings franchise (nor is it trying, though), it's still an iconic fantasy saga that should be remembered for quite some time.

Rounding out the titles with multiple selections, only two more can be noted: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Princess Bride". Each earned two votes, and again are very notable titles from this category. Each deserves a watch if for some reason you've failed to do so in the past.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this category has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!