Five Must-See Upcoming Film Adaptations

by bLuR-7 | created - 28 Jul 2012 | updated - 28 Jul 2012 | Public

As the Hollywood summer season draws to a close, it is time for us to move our sights away from superheroes, murdering teens and talking teddies - and focus on more dramatic fare. This year, audiences will be treated to several films that are based on well-loved novels.

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1. Life of Pi (2012)

PG | 127 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

79 Metascore

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Tabu

Votes: 500,711 | Gross: $124.99M

Ever since Fox acquired the rights to Yann Martel's bestselling novel in 2003, this adaptation has had a revolving door of potential directors, from Shyamalan to Cuarón to Jeunet, each of whom dropped the project for something else. Then in 2009, Ang Lee was eventually hired to direct. I find it interesting that the film has attracted non-American directors, each from varying cultural backgrounds - a testament to the novel's universal appeal and staggering impact. It tells the tale of Pi, a young Indian boy who survives a shipwreck to end up in a lifeboat alongside a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The book wonderfully weaves magical realism and nail-biting adventure to create a rich, satisfying story about faith and survival. And judging by the trailer below, Ang Lee has stayed close to the novel's sense of imagination and wide-eyed wonder.

2. Cloud Atlas (2012)

R | 172 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

55 Metascore

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 313,368 | Gross: $27.11M

In 2004, author David Mitchell released his hotly-anticipated third novel Cloud Atlas to ecstatic reader reviews. Audacious in both scope and format, the novel spans six eras that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next, with each story except the last being interrupted at some moment. Such technique could sometimes end up being gimmicky. But in the hands of a skilled storyteller like Mitchell, it was both profound and captivating. The film adaptation is being directed by the Wachowskis (of The Matrix fame) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) - all known for their strong visual style. One look at the extended trailer below, and you know you're in for a treat!

3. The Great Gatsby (2013)

PG-13 | 143 min | Drama, Romance

55 Metascore

A writer and wall street trader, Nick, finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby.

Director: Baz Luhrmann | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire

Votes: 408,460 | Gross: $144.84M

Arguably the most famous novel of the American Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby has been a literary icon for the greater part of the last century. It has been adapted to film four times, most notably in the 1974 version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, and has even been interpreted as an opera. This year, audiences will get to see a revisionist take on the classic with Moulin Rouge helmer Baz Luhrmann at the reins. While Luhrmann's visual excess and aural cacophony can sometimes overwhelm a film (see Australia), he certainly knows how to put on a good show. With Gatsby, he may have just found the right mix of Art Deco splendour and garish anachronism to match his ambitions. Much has been written about Luhrmann's decision to release the film in 3D, with many calling it a pointless drawcard for a story that doesn't require it. But one look at the trailer below, and you know you'll need more than two dimensions to enjoy Luhrmann's vision of the roaring 20s!

4. Anna Karenina (I) (2012)

R | 129 min | Drama, Romance

63 Metascore

In late-19th-century Russian high society, St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the dashing Count Alexei Vronsky.

Director: Joe Wright | Stars: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Matthew Macfadyen

Votes: 80,098 | Gross: $12.82M

Widely regarded as one of the greatest novels ever written, Anna Karenina's continued impact is threatened only by its very own mythology. The epic chronicle of life in the Russian aristocracy has so ingrained itself into the fabric of human history that it has been adapted no less than 40 times - in formats as varied as film, television, stage and radio! So why adapt it again? For one, there hasn't been a significant enough cultural milestone for this story since the 1935 film starring Greta Garbo. Many people would have only heard of it as a novel or film - but would have little knowledge of its plot or themes. And then there's Joe Wright, the director of the upcoming film. No stranger to adaptations (having worked on both Pride and Prejudice and the brilliant Atonement), he is a director who knows how to bring the page to life. Starring his muse Keira Knightley, once again defying the period-piece typecast she's inexorably falling into, this handsomely-mounted production looks like a very strong case to revisit this 139-year-old story.

5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

58 Metascore

A reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of dwarves to reclaim their mountain home, and the gold within it from the dragon Smaug.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis

Votes: 693,927 | Gross: $303.00M

When Peter Jackson concluded his epic fantasy series The Lord of the Rings nearly a decade ago, many fans tearfully bade farewell to some of their favourite characters from the sprawling adventure: the virtuous Frodo, the fatherly Gandalf, the unflinchingly loyal Samwise, the ethereal Galadriel. And who can forget Andy Serkis' unforgettable turn as the simultaneously revolting and pitiful Gollum? And now, ten years later, Peter Jackson brings to life the slightly lesser-known prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien's famed LOTR trilogy, The Hobbit. Reuniting most of the cast and crew from the original series, The Hobbit looks about as epic and grand as any superhero origin story. If it feels slightly familiar, it is only because of the long-lasting legacy of the earlier films. Developed alongside famed genre director Guillermo del Toro, The Hobbit is being planned as another 3-part series in the same vein as Lord of the Rings - with the first part of the series, 'An Unexpected Journey', slated to premiere in December this year.