North Texas Daily

From Page to Screen: 2014 Film Adaptations

From Page to Screen: 2014 Film Adaptations

From Page to Screen: 2014 Film Adaptations
January 28
09:27 2014

Preston Barta // Film Critic

Cinema was dominated by book adaptations in 2013, with “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “The Book Thief” and “The Great Gatsby” all springing from novels, and “12 Years a Slave” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” drawing stories from the non-fiction shelf.

With each New Year, movie studios aim to top the box office by bringing a fresh batch of book-based stories to the silver screen.

In 2014, filmgoers will see adaptations of acclaimed romance and young adult novels, a handful of biographies and comic books, all converted into popcorn entertainment.

Adaptations out to steal and break audience’s hearts

First out of the gate and opening this Friday is “Labor Day.” Writer-director Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air,” 2009) returns to the big screen with his newest film and adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s staggering novel of the same name.

The film stars Kate Winslet as Adele, a depressed single mother who unknowingly aids an escaped convict (Josh Brolin). Considering the talent involved behind and in front of the camera, “Labor Day” is bound to elevate this moving story to high levels.

Coming from John Green’s critically-acclaimed, bestselling novel about two teens battling cancer who fall in love, “The Fault in Our Stars” (Jun. 6) is also one of the year’s most anticipated films.

Starring Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants,” 2011) and Ansel Elgort (“Carrie,” 2013) as said couple, the film could be a huge hit among audiences and critics, if screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber play their cards straight and avoid the melodrama.

However, readers and filmgoers shouldn’t feel too apprehensive about its film adaptation. Neustadter and Weber, who sparked a new flame in the cinema world with 2009’s “(500) Days of Summer,” are two of the most gifted screenwriters in the business. If you saw last year’s “The Spectacular Now,” also starring Woodley, then you witnessed what the duo brings to screen in comparison to the density of the novels that their screenplays are based on.

Young adult adaptations seeking franchise status

It has long been argued that young adult literary adaptations could be the female-skewing blockbuster alternative to the boy-centric superheroes that dominate multiplexes. Summit Entertainment and The Weinstein Company hope to prove differently.

The next young adult literary adaptation, “Divergent” (Mar. 21), about a talented and dangerous teen forced to choose a new path in her life, is the first book of the series out to score some big cash and earn franchise status.

In another Shailene Woodley starring film, Summit Entertainment is eager to get this series off the ground and onto the screen, especially since all three of Veronica Roth’s books landed in the top-three spots of USA Today’s Bestselling Book List.

Hoping to make you forget about “Twilight,” the next breed of vampire adaptations are upon us with Richelle Mead’s hit “Vampire Academy” series. Opening this Valentine’s Day, the first film adaptation in the six-book series stars Zoey Deutch, Sarah Hyland and Olga Kurylenko. While it doesn’t quite have the same momentum like “Divergent,” the books are one of the top series to read among teens. So maybe The Weinstein Company will surprise us with something to sink our teeth into.

In spite of this, there is one book series that has already been crowned with the well-deserved franchise status—“The Hunger Games.” The first part of the final book in Suzanne Collins’ series, “Mockingjay,” flies onto screens Nov. 21, and if it is anything like the book or previous film (“Catching Fire,” 2013), then audiences can go ahead and consider “Mockingjay – Part 1” a strong beginning to the grand finale.

True story adaptations

Writer, director and star George Clooney’s new film, “The Monuments Men,” skipped  awards season and will arrive Feb. 7. Based on the true story and novel by Robert Edsel, the historical tale follows the men who risked it all to try and save artwork from being destroyed during World War II. Co-starring Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett and Bill Murray, the film is given more of a comedic jolt in its adaptation that will hopefully entertain audiences.

Nominated for an Academy Award for his astounding work with adapting “An Education” (2009), screenwriter Nick Hornsby is out for gold again with his take on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, “Wild.” With “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013) helmed Jean-Marc Vallée in the director’s chair and Reese Witherspoon leading the charge on screen, this story about Strayed’s journey across a 11,000-mile solo hike may be one of 2014’s best films.

Comic book and fantasy adaptations

Frank Miller’s stark black-and-white world will come to life once again as director Robert Rodriguez returns to the world he last visited in 2005 with “Sin City.” However, this time around with “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (Aug. 22), Josh Brolin steps in for Clive Owen to play the role of Dwight McCarthy. The star-studded cast also features the talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba.

If you haven’t read “The Hobbit” yet, why not sit down for a few hours and breeze through the first two parts of its film adaptation. While it may take Warner Bros. and writer-director Peter Jackson years of filming and nine hours to tell the story of Bilbo Baggins, it may only take you an afternoon to read all 276 pages of the beloved book. Otherwise, you can wait until the theatrical arrival on Dec. 17 to finish what most presume is the final part of the book— “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.”

Look for our review of “Labor Day” Thursday and other spring-release films in the coming weeks on

Feature photo: Gattlin Griffith, Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet bake a pie together in “Labor Day.” Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

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