This week finally sees the release of Youth in Revolt, the film version of C.D. Payne's 1993 novel. Considering the book's length (about 500 pages), director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Gustin Nash faced the unenviable task of deciding what should remain and what should be excised. How do you make a 90-minute film that pleases the novel's legion of fans while remaining accessible to a larger audience that has never read it?
It's a challenge familiar to sci-fi fans. We've probably all experienced that moment of utter disbelief that a favorite story or novel has been twisted and mangled beyond recognition. But when the filmmakers get it right, honoring the spirit and creating a work that lives apart from its inspiration, it's magical. Regrettably, I don't read as many novels nowadays as in my earlier years, so I've never read the source material for some of my favorite science fiction films (e.g. Children of Men, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Planet of the Apes). Still, it was difficult to narrow my choices down to just ten. Here's what I ended up with: a list of my ten favorite sci-fi adaptations. What are yours?
Screenwriter Stephen Geller took on a near-impossible job, adapting Kurt Vonnegut's wondrous novel, which was inspired by Vonnegut's real-life experiences during World War II. Oddly enough, George Roy Hill's direction is as sprightly as you'd expect from the man whose previous film was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Yet Hill's jaunty approach was exactly the right way to capture the spirit, the basic trajectory, and much of the flavor of the novel, producing a picture that feels both tied to the year in which it was released (1972) and transcendent of time and place.