Movie novelizations are an oft-forgotten corner of the book publishing industry. Because they’re usually just rote retellings of the plot, not stories with any original content or plot twists, there’s really no reason to talk about them as opposed to the movies themselves. In fact, it seems downright odd to think of sitting down to enjoy a written version of the blockbuster "Transformers" after already seeing the (probably much more exciting) film. Yet, as Slate pointed out in 2012, many high-grossing films are still made into novels.
A movie with a thrilling plot may actually translate well to the novel form -- and a movie with a convoluted plot may even benefit from a clearly written exposition. But many movies seem to lose their special flavor when translated to prose. Without the charm of the lead actor, the visual pop of the exploding cars, or the gorgeous cinematography, suddenly these movies seem pretty drab. And, let’s face it, some movies are so meh we don’t see why anyone would want to put themselves through a book version.
Here are 11 movies that book publishers really should have left alone:
Clueless: They know this was already based on a book, right? It's hard to believe this novelization of Clueless could compete with the hilarity of Jane Austen’s Emma, on which Clueless is loosely based. Plus: not enough Paul Rudd -- or enough plaid skirt suits with knee socks.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: The novelization does benefit from the absence of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley's game attempts at chemistry. On the other hand, now it's just a generic pirate story without Johnny Depp doing a Keith Richards impression. No thanks.
Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker: No series has suffered more than "Star Wars" has from the scourge of subpar additions. The original films were so good, any novelization... or prequel... couldn't possibly improve on them. Publishers, why couldn’t we just leave "Star Wars" alone?
The Lizzie McGuire Movie: If “movie” is in the title of your novelization, maybe that’s a clue that this one just wasn’t meant to be a book.
The Polar Express: Trip to the North Making the creepy "Polar Express" movie, which is frequently used to exemplify the term “uncanny valley,” into a book is basically a slap in the face to the original children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. Who would watch "The Polar Express" and think, "I really wish I had a book version of this, but the gorgeous, classic picture book on which this movie is based simply isn’t good enough"?
13 Going on 30: Jennifer Garner is just so darn cute playing a 13-year-old trapped in her 30-year-old self’s body. But without Jennifer Garner mimicking the naive expressions and coltish bumbling of a tween, the story has lost its primary charm. What, are we supposed to imagine how funny it would be if a full-grown adult suddenly started acting like a kid? There's a reason we watched "Big" rather than reading it.
WALL-E: It’s not that the plot of "WALL-E" is bad, but without the stunning Pixar visuals it doesn’t seem all that appealing anymore. How can you recreate WALL-E and EVE’s heart-wrenchingly lovely waltz through outer-space in a novel? You can’t.
Antz: Also known as "The Other 'A Bug’s Life'." No one particularly wanted to see this iteration of movies-about-computer-animated-ants (though, in fairness, it was well-received by critics), so we probably don't need a novelization of it.
Battleship: To be clear, this is a book... based on a movie... based on a BOARD GAME. How do you even turn a board game into a movie to begin with? And why would anyone want to read the book version of the movie that, somehow, resulted? Let's all agree to skip this one and read any of the hundreds of thousands of original maritime adventure novels already in existence.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Okay, at least this is from a movie based on a video game. Video games have plots. But if you’re not going to make it a cheesy, choose-your-own adventure book, just playing the original video game seems like more fun.
The Cheetah Girls 2: How many movies about the musical hijinks of a Disney-created girl group need to be turned into YA books? Apparently more than one (despite the fact that the Cheetah Girls franchise actually originated with a YA book series by Deborah Gregory).