50 Worst Movie Adaptations

The Scarlet Letter (1995)

The Adaptation: Charmless version of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s scathing social commentary that bears little similarity to the material it’s adapting.

What They Got Most Wrong: Casting Demi Moore, who exposes her bodyparts when really she should be exposing Hester’s inner turmoil.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

The Adaptation: The busty adventurer finally makes her way to the big screen thanks to Brit director Simon West and Angelina Jolie doing a pretty decent English accent.

What They Got Most Wrong: Failing to come up with a) a decent plot and b) decent characters. Thank goodness Jolie’s at least watchable.

Fantastic Four (2005)

The Adaptation: Aiming to be an antidote for Hollywood’s increasingly sombre and serious comic book movies, Tim Story’s throwaway adap seeks out light-hearted, PG thrills, but ends up entirely lacking substance.

What They Got Most Wrong: It's so feather-light it ends up being completely flyaway.

Alone In The Dark (2005)

The Adaptation: Christian Slater is a supernatural detective in what is widely considered one of the worst films ever made. Yes, ever. The film’s tagline, ‘Evil Awakens’, is entirely fitting.

What They Got Most Wrong:
More casting woes! Tara Reid as a scientist?! And Slater as a gun-toting detective?! We need to go lie down.

Bonfire Of The Vanities (1990)

The Adaptation: Brian De Palma tackles Tom Wolfe’s expose of 1980s New York life, but isn’t able to capture that scornful social satire. No wonder they called it unfilmable.

What They Got Most Wrong: Tonally, it’s an absolute mess, with De Palma forgoing serious drama in favour of flat comedy. Ouch.

House Of The Dead (2003)

The Adaptation: Based on the Sega light arcade game, and starring Erica Durance of Smallville fame. She mostly steers well clear of it all, merely playing ‘party girl’. Wise move.

What They Got Most Wrong: Hiring Uwe Boll to direct. Or, wait, did he hire himself? Either way: fail.

Bicentennial Man (1999)

The Adaptation: Robin Williams sticks to the family market, desperately seeking out tears and titters as he butchers legendary author Isaac Asimov’s seminal novella.

What They Got Most Wrong: Williams’ involvement dooms the project to over sentimentalism. Total scrap.

Street Fighter (1994)

The Adaptation: Kylie Minogue and Jean Claude Van Damme in the same place?! Oh yes – they united for this campy duff based on the videogames.

What They Got Most Wrong: Let’s see… it’s camp, it’s sloppy, and clearly whoever made it has never played Street Fighter.

Far Cry (2008)

The Adaptation: Monster movie from hack director Uwe Boll. How he convinced such a great cast of German actors to play with him, we’ll never know.

What They Got Most Wrong: Taking a budget of $30m and using it to wipe Uwe Boll’s arse.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

The Adaptation: Talk about annihilating a franchise. This second Mortal Kombat flick was based on MK3 and has an evil emperor trying to open a portal to the Earthrealm. It stinks.

What They Got Most Wrong: It’s out with the old and in with the new, as great swathes of the original characters are dumped for this sub-par follow-up.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.