While the second season of Wheel of Time just began airing, and it remains relatively early to conclude that the adaptation hasn't done justice to the source material, lots of fans of the popular books expressed large dissatisfaction with the first season of the TV show. The poorly adapted show didn't stay true to its source and made key changes to the characters, magic system, and overall feel of the world that fans struggled to connect to the epic world of the books.
Having said that, it is worth noting that the show has a lot of potential and just might improve in subsequent seasons, as viewers are already seeing with the second season currently airing on Apple TV Plus. Unlike the Wheel of Time, which has a chance to redeem itself, find here twelve other poorly adapted shows and movies dubbed failures by audiences and discontinued by their studios.
1. Percy Jackson and The Olympians (2010)
Perhaps this book adaptation disappointed viewers the most. Adapted from Rick Riordan's beloved books that started a loyal fan base across the world, the movies deviated so largely from the plot that they became nearly unrecognizable. The adaptation aged up the cast by four years, and Grover even spotted a beard. This made it difficult to evoke that teenage, childlike wonder and beauty the books created. The story also seemed condensed to fit into screen time, and it failed to show the eponymous main character's struggles as clearly represented by author Rick Riordan.
Hollywood nixed the series after the second book, but currently, Disney has a new series in development. While it generated a lot of buzz and excitement, fans remain hopeful this one would get it right.
2. The Hobbit (2012)
In a bid to make more money, Warner Bros. decided to turn this simple, easy-to-follow story into a three-movie saga that complicated things for the worse. To compensate for the span, the series introduced a lot of filler in each movie, so much so that Tolkien fans who held this story close to their hearts began wondering if the movies even took inspiration from the books in the first place.
The playful relationships between the dwarves that seemed central to the story got sacrificed in the movies for a more serious, grand adventure.
3. Paper Towns (2015)
The Fault in Our Stars, a large-scale success, made adapting more John Green books seem natural for anyone who saw how both the book and film touched the hearts of millions. But somehow, the directors of Paper Towns failed to represent onscreen the beauty of the novel.
The movie fell flat in many areas, including its acting, and inevitably failed to warm its way into the hearts of viewers.
4. Twilight (2008)
Lots of people have reservations about Stephanie Meyer's books, given the love triangles and formulaic plots. But overused tropes seem a lesser crime when compared with the movie adaptations that even made matters worse by focusing only on the bad elements of the books.
The movie gained wide popularity just like the novels, but that didn't stop critics from expressing their displeasure with each movie in the series.
5. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)
Take a dark, introspective, time travel and beautiful love narrative, turn it into a more or less straightforward romance story, and the result is The Time Traveler's Wife. Characters in the book who played key roles somehow got expunged from the movie, leaving it somewhat bare in places. On its own, the film still entertains. But fans of the novels, with the knowledge of the parts excluded from the books, will have a hard time settling into this one.
6. Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Infidelity to source materials contributes to the failure of many movie adaptations. Adaptations, by nature, need to cut elements from the source. But when a movie cuts key elements in the name of running time, the whole story collapses. Such is the case with Beautiful Creatures.
Fans complained Richard LaGravenese's adaptation of the 2009 romantic fantasy book by Karmi Garcia and Margaret Stohl failed to draw on the rich story provided by the book and charted its own path, rolling two beloved characters into one person. And they were right to feel cheated.
7. The Great Gatsby (2013)
News of another adaptation of the classic American novel of the same name generated a lot of buzz, seeing that Leonardo Dicaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Amitabh Bachchan signed on to the project. Finally, someone would do right by the book after previous failures.
The movie didn't live up to expectations and failed to fit into the gigantic shoes of its source material. It felt again like the producers hoped for the popularity of F. Scott Fitzgerald's work to carry the movie rather than by its own merit as a project. The film version also did nothing to dispel the public notion that Fitzgerald's book is unadaptable.
8. The Book Thief (2013)
In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Liesel Meminger, a young orphaned girl living among the horrors of World War II Germany, finds comfort and escape in stealing books and learning new words. Death itself narrates the novel, which works pretty well on the page. But this style of narration doesn't translate to the screen and leaves the audience needing more. The film does the book a disservice because the story because millions of readers hold it dear. Maybe not all books need an adaptation.
9. The Golden Compass (2007)
Adapted from the first installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass makes an effort to live up to the philosophical depth, complex characters, and sophisticated story of the book. But sadly, it fails.
Instead, the movie turns an imaginative story into a regular, Disney-like tale where animals talk and good wins. It barely scratches the surface of the insight into religion and science Philip Pullman layered into the book.
10. Tales from Earthsea (2006)
Miyazaki Goro, director of Tales from Earthsea, embarked on a project to represent the imaginative world of Ursula K Le Guin's Earthsea in one movie. Unfortunately, this task proved too ambitious for him. The world felt lifeless on screen, bereft of the hum and detail that characterizes Le Guin's worlds. The movie also didn't develop main characters like Ged, Tenar, and Cob, leaving a large portion of the story half-baked.
The most notable failure of this film, as criticized by Le Guin herself, was the alteration of the skin tone of the darker-skinned characters. Le Guin had particular notions about race and its representation in art. So, for the producers to ignore this central element of her work showed how little they cared. That says so much about the movie.
11. The Last Airbender (2010)
This live-action movie did a huge disservice to the beloved popular cartoon.
A delicate dance between seriousness and pure laugh-out-loud comedy pervaded the cartoon but lacked in the movie. Everyone felt stiff, tough, and battle-ready at all times. Thankfully, Netflix has a new adaptation set to hit screens soon. Hopefully, this new version will do better than The Last Airbender could.
12. The Girl On the Train (2016)
The novel had a compelling and brilliant plot. The screen adaptation did not.
The writing lacked exposition; much of the plot of the novel involved a woman trying to solve a mystery on a train. The film didn't quite explain this notion. Scenes that should have lingered came across as glossed over, and moments that should have rushed got extended.
Perhaps better directing and writing would have brought more life into the movie. The finished product left a lot to desire when compared with the success of the book.
Chisom is a Lagos-based fiction writer, poet, book reviewer, film critic, and entrepreneur. He holds a degree in English literature. Chisom is particularly interested in books and films and how the former medium is sometimes translated into the latter. He also enjoys writing science fiction and investigating the places the genre intersects with fantasy. His stories and non fiction writings usually focus on Black people and Africans being recognized in spaces where they have been historically marginalized. Chisom loves attending writers conferences and enjoys hanging out with fellow writers from all walks of life. When he's not watching movies or writing about fantastical things, he's tweeting about movies and fantastical things at izom_chisom. His work have appeared on Second Skin Mag, Omenana, Apex Mag, Isele, Sci-fi Shorts, All Worlds Wayfarers, and Mythaxis. He now writes for Wealth of Geeks and his geeky interests include mind-bending scifi films, high fantasy TV, horror, and comic book characters.