Great books that were turned into awful movies

Almost every big studio movie is an adaptation now. Comic book movies have claimed the summer blockbuster budgets for years, and novels from bestselling authors get snatched up for development before readers even turn page one. Most are decent, well-meaning homages to the source material, but some are so awful you wonder if the filmmakers read the books at all. Here's a list of some of the worst offenders.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

It's not like anyone expected director Baz Luhrmann to lend a deft hand to what is widely considered a classic, if not the definitive American novel. This is the same guy who slapped a pop music soundtrack onto Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and shot it like a Rimmel London mascara ad. As if to attempt to match the over-stylized look of the film, the lead cast of Gatsby overacts so hard that their sincerity borders on parody. None are guiltier of this than Leonardo DiCaprio, who's not exactly a chameleon, but who's definitely capable of creating a believable character. Oddly, he chooses to portray Jay Gatsby more as a deceptive manipulator rather than the self-destructive anti-hero of the novel.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)

The 1971 classic, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, is pretty much untouchable. So when Tim Burton tried his hand at adapting the Roald Dahl novel in 2005, the only thing he managed to improve was keeping the book's name as the movie's title. Otherwise, there's so much wrong with Burton's version that it's hard to distinguish which perplexing decision is the worst: there's Johnny Depp's tone-deaf, impersonal Wonka, the glossy, overdone CGI, and the decision to digitally multiply Deep Roy to portray all of the Oompa Loompas…and change all of their songs! Watching this feels like going to your favorite burger joint to find it's now vegan and gluten-free.

The Hobbit (2012-2014)

The most common criticism of book-to-film adaptations is the omission of what devoted readers consider to be essential characters or plot elements. The three films adapted from The Hobbit, however, actually hew closely to the source material, so the problems with them lie more in their bloated excesses rather than what's been left out. Extended, overly-orchestrated action sequences and long expository conversations make the trilogy feel drawn out, where a tight two-part epic would have done fine. Additionally, Peter Jackson's decision to shoot for 3D in 48 frames-per-second, a higher frame rate to accommodate 4K and ultimately 8K HD video, made for an unrealistically clear picture. The result is devoid of filmic quality, which distracts viewers from the fantastical world of Tolkien's novel. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, while committing the aforementioned sins of omission, does a much better job with mixing an updated, fast-paced narrative with stunning, believable visuals.

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Starting with a novel that sold over 80 millions copies worldwide and handing it over to a dependable film director seems like a winning formula. Having Tom Hanks star as the book's protagonist, brilliant symbologist, Robert Langdon, shouldn't hurt either. Yet somehow, what was a page-turning thriller (admitted even by the novel's most ardent critics in terms of historical accuracy) was adapted into a film that collapsed under the weight of its exposition. The novel succeeds in using Langdon's expository narration to move the story between set pieces as each new vault, church, or museum reveals clues only an expert like Langdon understands. In the film, this leaves no room for a performance, even by the venerable Hanks. Instead, he delivers long, dry voiceover during black and white flashbacks that make you feel like you're back in Religious Studies class, falling asleep in front of an overhead projector.

Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat (2003)

Probably Dr. Suess' most well known book aside from How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Cat in the Hat is basically a cautionary tale against misbehaving and lying to your parents. It's fun, lighthearted, and at no point approaches a level of debauchery to which parents would be embarrassed to expose to their kids. The exact opposite can be said of the film adaptation, starring an uncharacteristically crass Mike Myers as the Cat. It trades Suess' wry wordplay and visionary artistic style for crude jokes and sight gags on par with the Scary Movie parodies. Probably the best indicator of what went wrong here is the fact that director Bo Welch (a successful production designer and frequent Tim Burton collaborator) opts to create his own new, modern hijinks for The Cat and kids to get into, which leads the story far, far from its brilliant source. This was his first and last go-round in the director's chair.