Renegade Cinema Staff Picks: Best Young Adult Adaptations

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Best Young Adult Adaptations

 

 

best young adult adpatations

The Perks of Being Wallflower

Caleb Masters: I actually took a class in college a couple of years on Young Adult Literature and discovered how much really great stuff is out there.

I’ve got a lot of love for a lot of adaptions. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games cover blockbusters, To Kill A Mockingbird covers the classic territory, and even Howl’s Moving Castle tackles anime. My personal favorite is the adaption of The Perks of Being Wallflower.

The Perks of Being Wallflower is an anomaly because it was actually written/directed by its author Stephen Chbosky who delivered and demonstrated that not only can he write a damn great book, but he can successfully adapt it into a damn good movie. He’s one of a few hit authors who really understand how film adaption works and embraces the idea of tweaking the material.

The movie has a great cast(with leading lady Emma Watson) that really captures the complications of being a teenager during the early 90s. This was a coming of age story that I felt much closer to despite not having been in high school in the 90s because the issues the kids were dealing with were much more in line with what the world is addressing today. I really like this because the book is forced to address issues such as homosexuality, newly emerging cliques, and sexual abuse while also tackling the more typical coming of age tropes like being the new kid ion the block. This is the coming of story of a generation that we rarely see much of and it’s executed masterfully which is why I’ve seen it at least four or five times.

Ruby Le Rouge: Okay, I think I officially pick The Perks of being a Wallflower, based on the book by Stephen Chbosky. I was really skeptical when they announced that the book was being adapted for a film, but I think it was beautifully done. A lot of highschool movies come off ad tried of filled with bad stereotypes, but it manages to avoid too much of that, while poignantly portraying what its like to be different, trying to make friends when you don’t quite fit in, and that life can be a whole lot more complicated than just worries about popularity, prom and mall trips.

 

best young adult adaptations

The Outsiders

Tony Beaulieu: Beyond The Outsiders being a young adult novel back when young adult novels dealt with serious grown up themes, before they became the washed up pulp bullshit they are now, the film adaptation is directed by one of the greatest directors of all time, FFC, has one of the most star-studded casts ever, and also sports a soundtrack by Tom Waits. Do I really need to go further? Great book that doesn’t treat its audience like kids, and thanks to all the talent behind the camera, neither does the film.

 

best young adult adaptations

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Derek Johns: There are many filmsworthy of this honor I’ve got to go with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Despite a couple of minor deviations from the source material, director David Yates nevertheless gave us a mostly faithful, action packed finale and the series concludes on a surprisingly high note.

 

Best Young Adult Adaptations

 A Clockwork Orange

James Cochrane: I was reading Stephen King and other more adult novels before I was in my teens so finding a Young Adult book that spoke to me and subsequently filmed was tough, so I picked a book with a teenage protagonist. A Clockwork Orange changed my life. I saw the Kubrick film for the first time when I was 18 or 19, and during the Ludovico treatment was in full screen I went to the washroom to vomit. It was there that I realized how much film and literature can affect us deeply. I soon read the book and learned of the final chapter that was not filmed, nor released in early American copies of the novel where Burgess alludes to the notion that some people with violent tendencies (especially young adults) will simply grow out of it. I find Kubrick’s film to be one of his best, yet am saddened that he believed Alex would never be more than the monster he was.

 

Best Young Adult Adaptations

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Bethany Lewis: I think I skipped YA novels and jumped right into Stephen King. That being said, even though I never read the book, I’m going to go with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Just as a movie, I think it is extremely well done and does an excellent job at drawing non-fans into the Harry Potter world. I enjoyed it enormously as a standalone film with its dark and atmospheric production and compelling storyline. Plus, this is the movie that introduces Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, and I will literally watch Gary Oldman in anything.

 

young adult movie adaptations

The Hunger Games

Mike Luxemburg: For me, The Hunger Games barely edges out Coraline and Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Both movies in this series have approached an intensely political series of novels with surprising deftness. The camera work in both movies is varied and interesting (much more effectively in the second), and the imagery is spectacular. Beyond all that though, we find a very simple story that is propelled by well established stakes and solid performances top to bottom. I will say that the second movie is vastly superior to the first, but that just gives me hope for the series going forward. The key to a good young adult adaptation (in my eyes) is to understand that you’re shifting mediums and making sure to capture the themes and the characters more than highlight specific moments of fan service. That is where The Hunger Games series excels. Never once do the films allow you to forget that these movies are criticisms of a broken social system. The contrasts of poverty and excess, peace and violence keep that tension firmly in your mind as a viewer throughout the film. It’s an impressive achievement and one I’m not sure any other series of YA films has executed better.

 

best young adult adaptations

The Neverending Story

Eric Norcross: Add me for The Neverending Story. Great flick, great book. It’s my next case for anyway. I love the artwork, set design and puppetry. Old school filmmaking at its best.

 

best young adult adaptations

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Aidan Myles Green: What a kickass movie – a tournament setup with different wizard schools, an increasingly darker tone carried on from the previous installment, the series and its characters all growing more mature and being fleshed out…. just terrific. Add to that complex mystery plot with one of my favorite twist endings ever and you have yourself a winner. Not just a good Harry Potter installment, just a solid film period and a great time at the movies.

 

best young adult adaptations

The Princess Bride

Shawn S. Lealos: The reason I got into film instead of straight novel writing was because of the book “Adventures in the Screen Trade” by William Goldman. That book was a series of chapters where Goldman looked back on his career and the movies that was made and had a ton of great antidotes. After Goldman proved himself (which didn’t take long since he won an Oscar for his first screenplay – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), he got his 1973 published young adult novel The Princess Bride green lit as a movie. Goldman talked at length in his book about how much this book meant to him and that made the movie even more special since he also wrote that screenplay. The story of a pirate who returns to save his beloved Princess Buttercup from an unscrupulous Prince as well as three thieves (Inigo Montoya, Andre the Giant and an awesome Wallace Shawn) remains not only the best fantasy movie ever made but also my favorite young adult adaptation.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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