Thursday Movie Picks #36: Movies adapted from a Young Adult Novel

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple:
Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Today the theme is… 

Movies adapted from a Young Adult Novel

How I Live Now (2013)


An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

I saw this film three years ago at TCFF. It’s definitely one of the darker young-adult adaptations that sort of flew under the radar. I didn’t give it a stellar review as it seems more elusive than suspenseful but I think it’s worth a look for it’s intriguing survival story in a doomed distant future based on a YA novel by Meg Rosoff. I’ve always been impressed by Saoirse Ronan and her casting was the main draw for me to see it. She didn’t disappoint, even if the uneven tone of the film prevents this from being a truly compelling film.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)


Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

Seems that it’s been ages since I saw this movie but I remember being enchanted by it. There’s mystery, adventure and magic, a proper fantasy film of good vs evil filled with interesting characters. One of those characters is no doubt Mr. Tumnus, played by then-unknown James McAvoy. The child actors were wonderful but it’s the supporting cast who are the truly memorable, especially Tilda Swinton as the White Witch and Liam Neeson‘s voice lending gravitas to the godly lion Aslan. This is director Andrew Adamson‘s live-action debut, but I think he did C.S. Lewis’ beloved work justice.

Harry Potter films (2001-2011)


Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

I got into the Harry Potter franchise rather late, in fact it was around the time the first of the two final movies was released that my hubby and I started watching. Well, the first few were good but thankfully they got better in future installments, and I’d say my favorite is The Prisoner of Azkaban when Sirius Black appeared. Even amongst a stellar all-British cast, Gary Oldman still stood out in the role. It doesn’t hurt that the film was directed by Alfonso Cuarón. I have to give props to Daniel Radcliffe and the rest of the young cast for being so watchable across 8 movies and made me care about their journey. The last two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows final films are adventurous, properly dark and emotionally-engaging. I might revisit these movie again and this May I’m actually visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Universal Studios 🙂

What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films?

56 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks #36: Movies adapted from a Young Adult Novel

  1. I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter books and films, although I can’t watch the first two movies, they were kind of awful. But loved the third and last two films in the series. My favorite book is the 4th one but they totally butchered the film version, I was very disappointed. I really like the 6th book but pretty much hated the film version.

    I liked the first Narnia film, I don’t remember if I even saw the last two sequels.

    1. Hi Ted! I think w/ HP franchise, the later films are much better, esp the two final films. I forgot which one the fourth book is, but I think Prisoner of Azkaban is the 5th or 6th isn’t it? I only like the first Narnia film too, the sequels were fine but not great.

      1. The 4th film was Globlet of Fire and it’s the film that introduced Robert Pattinson to the world. Prisoner of Azkaban was the 3rd film in the series, it’s quite dark and a lot of Harry Potter fans didn’t like because Cauron changed a lot of things from the book but I loved it. Cauron wanted to come back and direct the last two films but apparently the producers didn’t want to hire him again, they probably didn’t want him to change so many things from the book like the third film.

        1. Hmmm, my memory is so hazy I thought POA was after Goblet of Fire. Y’know, I actually didn’t mind that one and I cried when R-Patz character died, that was pretty sad. Funny how he became so darn famous w/ the Twilight flick, I actually think he’s better looking in the HP movie here, ahah. Too bad Cuaron didn’t get to do more films but in a way it’s perhaps best for him as he got to do films like Gravity!

          1. The funny thing was that Cauron only accepted the offer to do the third Potter film so you can tour England to prepare for Children of Men. Apparently he’d never been to England before and it’s a perfect opportunity for him to see the land where his next flick was based at. Yeah it’s a good thing the producers didn’t want him back for the last two flicks; we’d to wait longer to see GRAVITY.

  2. I haven’t seen any of them actually. I read Narnia as a girl but didn’t trust in the movies. Haven’t even heard of the first one, so you’re right on the money as far as it being under the radar!

  3. I haven’t seen How I Live Now but it was on my short list of TIFF films to see. Prisoner of Azkaban came very close to making my own list. I’m not a big fan of the franchise itself and used to complain when my Oscar obsession made me have to watch them but couldn’t believe how good POA was. I can only imagine how good the rest of the series would have been had Alfonso stuck around.

    1. Hi Matt, I think How I Live Now is worth renting if you missed the TIFF screening. Yeah I was skeptical about the HP franchise initially too but ended up enjoying most of the films.

  4. Unique first choice, Ruth! I would be happy to watch/read that. I am a fan of Roald Dahl books and there’s been some entertaining film adaptations like Willy and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. I also love Rudyard Kipling and The Jungle Book. 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy, I think you’d enjoy How I Live Now. Great picks there, they’re redoing The Jungle Book again I believe, the cast is pretty good!

  5. Tom

    Did not know Liam Neeson voiced the Lion, that’s really cool to know!

    I might be one of the only people on this planet who will never get into the HP franchise. I just….idk. it doesn’t appeal. I’ll be quicker to watch all of TLOTR movies I think! Haha

    1. Neeson has such a distinct voice, he’s perfect as Aslan. Ahah, that’s ok Tom, it took me a while to finally get into HP too, but it turns out to be better than I expected, plus the cast is wonderful. But of course LOTR is a much better series!

      1. Tom

        Yeah, to me LOTR just has so much more of a broad audience appeal. But I really shouldn’t discount HP until I give it a good, honest go. If nothing else, maybe it’ll serve as a great DSB rant! Lol!

  6. Harry Potter series is, indeed, the milestone for this kind of adaptation, but I love that you pick Narnia as well; the first movie was okay, although the sequels were merely hit or miss. I liked the idea how Narnia series wasn’t adapted in its entirety, ’cause it gave more ‘linked’ feeling to the audience, frankly.

  7. I don’t remember much about Narnia and I haven’t seen How I Live Now. The Harry Potter series was pretty great. Sure wish the books and movies were around when I was young. A slam dunk choice Ruth.

    When I was younger YA films were just called teen movies. Coppola’s The Outsiders, Rumble Fish and also That Was Then… This is Now (S.E.Hinton). Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me (Steven King) and The Princess Bride (William Goldman). Lastly there was a cult movie that I dug called The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier) that was Keith Gordon’s (star of Christine and Back To School) directorial debut. It had a a great 80’s soundtrack (Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Yazoo and Johann Sebastian Bach!) and starred a young Adam Baldwin.

    While John Hughes movies weren’t based on YA novels it’s hard to argue that he captured the young adult experience better than any other filmmaker out there. Even still to this day. A sister who taught English at my Catholic high school even introduced my class The Breakfast Club in class back in ’85. Pretty cool for a teacher no less a sister. Kinda makes me nostalgic for those days.

    1. Hey there Dave! Glad to hear you’re a fan of the HP series, they’re surprisingly better than I thought, and I LOVE all those great British actors!

      You’re right that the John Hughes movies are highly influential to a lot of teens and even those in college, they’re quite timeless too aren’t they? That’s awesome about your sis, I remember in ESL class in college my teacher introduced me to the great Alan Rickman when she invited us over to watch Truly, Madly, Deeply 🙂

      I remember The Outsiders too, boy all those young actors have gone on to become big movie stars, esp Cruise.

      1. Hey Ruth when I meant sister… I meant as in nun. In the Catholic church you become a sister before you take your vows to become a nun. LOL.

        I also had a cool history teacher who showed us Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. She used to quote it all the time in class.

        1. Mwahahaha sorry, I thought she really was your sibling! Yes I’m familiar w/ that, I went to Catholic Jr High and High School too, in fact my high school is an all-girl school so we have a few nuns as our teachers. Wish one of ’em would show us Monty Python, ahah, but we don’t have any TV in our classrooms back home.

          1. We didn’t have have TV’s in the rooms like they do today. They’d just get the AV nerds to wheel in the TV on a cart and pop the VHS in the machine. My goodness we had to rent the gymnasium from the public school Jr. High and rent the classrooms from the attached grade school. Only 250 people were enrolled in the school with 55 in my graduating class. It was intimate to say the least.

            Now that I think about it we also watched the TV miniseries Masada (O’Toole) and Ben Hur in Latin class and once the entire school was bussed into Pittsburgh to see Gandhi in a movie theater. Good stuff.

  8. Harry Potter! ❤ I really liked the first two Narnia movies too, but I think they dropped the ball with the 3rd one. Still, a very good series. I hated How I Live Now, and I wanted to like it so badly. lol

    1. Yay, high five! 😉 Yeah, the third Narnia is so forgettable, I barely remember anything about it! But the first one still stuck w/ me. Y’know, I didn’t love How I Live Now either, but I think it was still better than a lot of YA adaptations out there. Plus I always like Saoirse Ronan even in so-so films.

  9. Only the Harry Potter series for me. Love that you used a scene from my favorite in the movie series as the representative image, Ruth. Alfonso Cuarón’s, The Prisoner of Azkaban.

    1. Hi Michael! Oh the reason I use the image of Prisoner of Azkaban is because it’s my fave of the series. Glad to hear you’re a big fan, too! 😉

    1. No Mark, I think there are still people who haven’t seen the HP franchise yet, but if you’re so inclined, I think they’re worth your while.

  10. I’ve only seen The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe which I thought was pretty good. No, not even one Harry Potter flick. How I Live Now sounds very interesting. Great post!

    1. Hi Dell! Hope you give the HP franchise a shot one of these days, they’re actually one of the better YA adaptations IMHO. Same w/ How I Live Now.

  11. Cool post. Wasn’t the biggest fan of Narnia but I liked McAvoy and loved Swinton, who just owned that role. It was the first time I really noticed both (though Swinton was also pretty good in Constantine). Harry Potter is my favorite movie series. Order of the Phoenix is my favorite of the 8, followed very closely by Azkaban.

    1. Hi Fernando! Narnia was the first time I ever saw Tilda too, I rented Constantine years later and remembered her. Glad to hear you’re a fan of HP series too. I’m super excited to go to the Wizard World of HP later this May!

  12. Ho I Live Now? Don’t know it at all, book or movie.

    Harry Potter books are awesome, movies were pretty great representations.

    The Narnia movie lacked some sort of spark for me, some sort of whimsy. It almost seems like that movie needs to be filmed with older effects, if that makes sense some how? Like Neverending story era production. Modern CGI didn’t work as well.

    1. Hi Ian, How I Live Now is pretty much under the radar, I haven’t heard of the novel until I saw the film too. Yeah I think Narnia films fell short of HP films which is too bad as it has very good message.

  13. Abbi

    I really liked How I Live Now.

    I’m going to go with worst three:

    Beautiful Creatures
    Mortal Instruments
    Ender’s Game

    1. Hi Abbi! Glad to hear you’ve seen How I Live Now. I’ve only seen one of the three on your worst list but I think I’ll avoid the other two 🙂

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