The Books Behind 2010’s Summer Movies

Movies rarely do justice to the books they were based on. Right? Well, ok, sometimes they do (we’re looking at you, The Princess Bride). Don’t take a critic’s word for it (or your opinionated uncle’s word, either). Before you cozy up to a tub of popcorn at your local theater this summer, try cozying up to the books that begat these big screen stories and characters.

1. Vampires and Werewolves and Squealing Teenage Girls, Oh My!

Movie: Eclipse

Tagline: It all begins…with a choice.

Starring: Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black)

Coming to Theaters: June 30

Based on: Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse

The Skinny: After the critical failure of New Moon, the second Twilight saga movie, Eclipse directors are attempting a darker, edgier three-quel. Which is fitting, since the story opens with a string of killings, centers around an interspecies war, and ends with – spoiler alert! – other unpleasantries.

Continuing her surprisingly sinister role as Jane, a Volturi vampire, is the angel-faced starlet Dakota Fanning. That’s right: whereas Pattinson and Stewart will forever struggle to escape their Twilight personas, Fanning is actually using the series to break free from typecasting.

2. The Girl Who Didn’t Ski Topless

Movie: The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)

Starring: Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander) and Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist)

Coming to Theaters: July 2

Based on: Stieg Larsson’s Flickan som lekte med elden

The Skinny: Providing a much-needed alternative to the promiscuous, blonde, meatball-eating Swede of the American imagination, the protagonist of The Girl Who Played with Fire is an awkward, vengeful hacker who finds herself accused of a triple homicide. Oh yeah, and gets sucked into the world of sex trafficking between Sweden and Eastern Europe.

This adaptation is the second in Larsson’s Millennium series, which begins with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The third movie is set to be released in the US in the fall under the title The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Unfortunately, Larsson died unexpectedly in 2004 – just three quarters of the way into the fourth novel.

3. Plasma Bolts and Broomsticks

Movie: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Starring: Nicolas Cage (Balthazar Blake), Jay Baruchel (Dave Stutler), and Teresa Palmer (Becky Barnes)

Coming to Theaters: July 14

Based on: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Der Zauberlehrling” (a.k.a. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”)

The Skinny: Set in modern-day Manhattan, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice follows a master magician in his quest to find an underling and fight the forces of evil. (Apparently, a college physics student with a dry sense of humor is just what the witchdoctor ordered.) Together, the two take on dragons, a steel eagle, and the guy who played Diego Rivera in Frida.

Although it does appear to include the now classic out-of-control broom scene, to say that this feature-length film is based on Goethe’s 1797 poem is a bit of a stretch. Even Walt Disney’s 1940 adaptation took its own liberties with the story and it’s not even ten minutes long.

4. Hey, Little Sister, What Have You Done?

Movie: Ramona and Beezus

Tagline: A little sister goes a long way.

Starring: Joey King and Selena Gomez (Ramona and Beatrice Quimby)

Coming to Theaters: July 23

Based on: Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series

The Skinny: Weaving back and forth between fantasy and realism, Ramona and Beezus explores the mind of a rambunctious third grader struggling not to tick off her older sister. Between exploring the cosmos and packing her bags for Paris, Ramona even manages to put some energy aside to help save her family’s home.

First created in 1955, Cleary’s Ramona has become a much-loved figure in children’s literature. Hopefully, the fact that Selena Gomez (of Disney Channel fame) plays alongside an unknown child actress won’t turn the heart and soul of the series into a side story.

5. Knight Owl

Movie: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Starring: Voices of Jim Sturgess (Soren), Rachael Taylor (Gylfie), and Ryan Kwanten (Kludd)

Coming to Theaters: September 24 (ok, teeeechnically, not a summer movie… this film opens two days after the autumnal equinox)

Based on: The first three Guardians of Ga’Hoole books: The Capture, The Journey, and The Rescue

The Skinny: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is about Soren, a baby owl that is abducted and sent to a re-education camp after getting booted from the nest by Kludd, a nasty older brother whose name happens to be the title for a ranking member of the KKK. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot more to this movie than CG ornithology.

In the style of the Redwall series, the Ga’Hoole books slyly inject human ethics into a fantasy animal world, meaning that by the end of September, twelve-year-olds across the country will have subliminal lessons in morality pumped into their brains in 3D. And if the first adaptation is a success, fans and producers alike will be happy to hear that there are twelve more Ga’Hoole books to go.

4 thoughts on “The Books Behind 2010’s Summer Movies

  1. Dominika says:

    Another one on the summer movie list is Eat Pray Love, which seems like a stupid girly book but is actually a nice account of the lessons learned about pleasure, god and combining the two.

  2. Hey There. I really love checking out your site because the writers always post excellent articlesExcellent writeup. Great work once again. I will add this blog to my faves. I am planning to subscribe to your feed also. I am anticipating bollywood movies this year……

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