This summer there are a number of TV shows and films coming out that are based on great reads. Before you rush to the theaters, hit up your local library or bookstore or Amazon for these selected titles. And arm yourself with the knowledge to debate how they translated to film.
1. The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10, 2013
The book we all had to read in high school (and most likely didn’t) returns to the big screen with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. Baz Luhrmann is known to be pretty faithful to source text (see: Romeo & Juliet) but the focus of the film is going to be the 3D and the Jay-Z produced soundtrack. Don’t skip out on a refresher read.
2. Behind the Candelabra
Premiere Date: May 26th on HBO
One of Steven Soderbergh’s retirement films is the story of the famed pianist, Liberace, and his torrid love affair with Scott Thorson. The HBO film is an adaptation of Thorson’s autobiography with Damon portraying the scorned lover. The film hits all the high notes as biopics typically do. But this is one juicy story.
3. Much Ado About Nothing
Release Date: June 07, 2013
Joss Whedon managed to secretly film an adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy. What’s interesting here is the king of TV sci-fi taking on a romance. But it’s more than a chick flick there’s deception, infidelity and mistaken identity, oh my! If you didn’t read the play in high school (let’s be honest, most of the focus was on the tragedies) then sit down for a quick read.
4. The Bling Ring
Release Date: June 14, 2013
Okay, so this film isn’t based on a book. It was inspired by The Vanity Fair article by Nancy Jo Sales about the real life story of star-robbing teenage capers. Coppola is known for adapting text (The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette) but also is known for using broad strokes. The film version of this story is likely to fit her visual eye rather than actual events.
5. World War Z
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Based on the trailer alone, it’s clear this film is straying far from the book. But in it’s defense, it’s not the easiest narrative to adapt. Each chapter captures a different story and perspective on the zombie apocalypse while still moving the narrative forward in a compelling way. You really should read the book, if for nothing else, to weigh in on the movie versus book debate. Reminder: Enjoy each one separately but (secretly) enjoy the book more.
6. Under The Dome
Premiere Date: June 24, 2013 (CBS)
Stephen King’s Kindle-friendly novel (1,074 pages) is one of his best in the latter half of his career. Like The Stand before it, Under The Dome is an epic tale with tons of characters and weaving story lines. The good and bad here is that there is a lot for the show to use but also a lot to skip or leave out. Brian Vaughn, the showrunner, said the show will deviate from the book. The book is a hefty read but totally worth it if you want to get the details and characters likely lost in the adaptation (much like The Walking Dead).
7. Red 2
Release Date: July 19th
Because the first film was based on the three-issue comic book series, the sequel will diverge into new territory. But with that said, it’s worth going back to read the original series about a retired CIA agent.
8. Kick-Ass 2
Release Date: August 16th
The film will adapt two(!) graphic novels: Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass 2. Needless to say, a lot will be simplified or cut out from the screen version. The two novels dive into Hit-Girl’s life at public school and the rise of even more masked avengers. The first film was a thrill and the second looks equally as fun but anytime a graphic novel is being sourced, it has to be read. We all saw what happened with The Watchmen. Faithful as it was, it was a completely different experience.
9. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Release Date: August 23rd
Prepare yourself for another YA series. This time it’s a story about a young girl who is on a mission to rescue to her kidnapped mother. Of course there are supernatural elements, hot brooding men and five sequels that follow. The books are not nearly as good as The Hunger Games but it’s certainly more enjoyable than the Twilight series.
Release Date: September 27th
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in this adaptation of Ron Rash’s fourth novel set in Depression-Era North Carolina and follows a married couple struggling with a timber empire and the knowledge they can’t bear children. The book has one of those great opening paragraphs:
“When Pemberton returned to the North Carolina mountains after three months in Boston settling his father’s estate, among those waiting on the train platform was a young woman pregnant with Pemberton’s child. She was accompanied by her father, who carried beneath his shabby frock coat a bowie knife sharpened with great attentiveness earlier that morning so it would plunge as deep as possible into Pemberton’s heart.”
Other films coming out this summer that are based on novels: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Copperhead, Epic based on The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, R.I.P.D. and 2 Guns.