From the tattered pages of our favourite books, we’ve watched some of world’s most popular characters leap to life on the big screen. Many of these films have broken box office records, wowed the critics and gone on to win awards all over the world.
Here are 10 of the best, in no particular order.
NB Ratings are attributed by the author and are subject to change. Find more information on ratings and classifications. Parental discretion is always advised.
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
This highly anticipated fantasy adventure film, released in 2012, is based on Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit and acts as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, also based on the writings of Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins joins a troupe of 13 dwarves, as they attempt to reclaim the stolen Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the clutches of the dragon, Smaug. As they make their way across a dangerous landscape, and fight battles against both nature and beast, Baggins comes face to face with Gollum, a sly creature who will change his life forever.
Adult compatibility: Fans of acclaimed director, Peter Jackson, will get exactly what they hope for and more! This is one movie thatdoes live up to the hype. Already watched it and want more? Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films should be your next cinematic destination.
Ages: Definitely not a film for young kids. Tweens 11+ are best suited to this battle-riddled flick.
2. Mary Poppins
Loosely based on the P.L Travers book of the same name, this 1964 musical fantasy film, is as popular with families now, as it was back in the day when it snared 13 Academy Award nominations! When a magical nanny descends on the Banks’ family home via her umbrella parachute, the children (Jane and Michael) are immediately enthralled. Through the use of magic, humour and song, Mary Poppins transforms a once dysfunctional family and teaches them all how to live life to the fullest.
Adult compatibility: Julie Andrews’ knockout performance as Mary Poppins is a joy to watch. And the string of foot-tapping tunes will have you and the kids humming all day long. It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Ages: Perfectly suited to kids of all ages and stages.
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to life in this family musical released in 1971. When Charlie Bucket scores a Golden Ticket and wins the right to tour Willy Wonka’s magical candy factory, he embarks on a journey that could change his poverty-stricken life forever. The only question is whether Charlie is able to pass the all-important test that Willy Wonka sets for him. With an array of colourful characters this book-to-movie masterpiece is one that will never be forgotten.
Adult compatibility: Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Willy Wonka makes this imaginative and slightly kooky film all the more compelling. If you’ve never seen it, you absolutely must!
Ages: Slugworth, the creepy spy, can give littlies a bit of a scare. Best suited to kids aged six and up.
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
This first instalment in the Harry Potter film franchise is based on the best-selling series of books by J.K. Rowling. In his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry tries to come to terms with his tragic past and learns to deal with his new found notoriety. In Hermoine Granger and Ron Weasley, Harry finds two loyal friends and together they embark on an often perilous but magical adventure of a lifetime. This film will grab you; hook, line and sinker.
Adult compatibility: The cast list reads like a who’s who of big screen royalty, and none of their performances disappoint. Richard Harris (Professor Dumbledore), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) and Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall) all deliver on cue.
Ages: Some scenes in this movie are very scary, which will prove too much for kids under the age of seven.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Based on the novel of the same name by C.S. Lewis, this 2005 movie adaptation received rave reviews and won an Academy Award for best makeup. When four British kids are relegated to the safety of the countryside during World War II, they stumble across a magical wardrobe that transports them to the fantasy world of Narnia. There, the children join the plight of the great lion, Aslan, to free Narnia from the grip of the evil White Witch. But will all four children make it to the end of this epic journey in one piece?
Adult compatibility: This acclaimed movie is visually spectacular with a beautiful narrative – two elements that make this a must-see film for adults.
Ages: War scenes, scary creatures, animals dying and an evil witch makes this film unsuitable for kids under the age of seven (at least!)
6. The Wizard of Oz
This 1939 musical fantasy film, based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, holds pride of place in the history books of American popular culture. Dorothy and her doggie friend Toto are swept up in a tornado and suddenly find themselves far away from home, in the land of Oz. Dorothy sets out down the yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz, the only one that can help get her home. Along the way, she makes some wonderful friends (The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion) and meets a few undesirables like The Wicked Witch of the West before she magically returns home and is reunited with her family.
Adult compatibility: Judy Garland’s flawless performance as Dorothy is captivating. This ground-breaking film from the 30s will delight even the harshest parent critics.
Ages: The Wicked Witch of the West and her band of flying monkeys are likely to scare some littlies. That aside, it makes perfect viewing for kids aged five and up.
This ever-popular musical drama has been entertaining families since 1968, and is based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Oliver is a young orphan who knows no other life. He escapes from his orphanage and befriends a group of young pickpockets, answering to notorious thief, Fagin. When Oliver is wrongly accused of a street crime, he is taken in by a wealthy and kind gentlemen. But disaster soon strikes when Oliver is kidnapped and taken back to Fagin’s lair. It’s a showcase of good versus evil, with an innocent and vulnerable young boy trapped in the middle.
Adult compatibility: The show-stopping tunes in this film will transport every parent back to their youth. It’s a great trip down memory lane.
Ages: Some kids might be disturbed by scenes of squalid conditions on the streets of London. Fagin, Sikes and some of the other shady characters are equally as disturbing. Best suited to kids aged seven and up.
8. Where the Wild Things Are
Based on the 1963 best-selling children’s book by Maurice Sendak, this 2009 fantasy drama film was a long time in the making. A mix of live-action, animation and puppeteering, it tells the story of a troublesome young boy named Max who invents a mythical land occupied by strange, over-sized beasts. After Max is crowned as their king, the fun really begins! But things take a turn for the worse and Max is forced to take a good, hard look in the mirror before returning to his worried mother, back in the real world.
Adult compatibility: A beautiful testament to childhood and a story that every adult should revisit.
Ages: Even though the original story book is suited to preschoolers, there is a darkness about this film, making it unsuitable for kids under the age of seven.
9. The Lorax
Based on one of Dr. Seuss’ most popular classics from the ’70s, this animated fantasy tells the tale of an idealistic young boy who strives to win the heart of a beautiful girl. To do this, he must first learn the story of The Lorax, a cranky but captivating orange forest creature who serves as a protector of the land. With voices by Danny DeVito (The Lorax), Zac Effron (Ted, the young boy) and Taylor Swift (Ted’s love interest) this movie, from the creators of Despicable Me and Hop, is non-stop family fun.
Adult compatibility: This highly entertaining film has some pertinent messages about looking after our environment. It’s sharp, colourful and makes for great family viewing.
Ages: A great watch for kids of all ages from toddlers through to tweens.
10. Alice in Wonderland
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel Alice’s Advenutures in Wonderland and the 1871 sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, this unique movie adaption comes from acclaimed director Tim Burton. When 19-year-old Alice falls through a rabbit hole at her own engagement party, she finds herself back in the surreal fantasy world she frequented as a child. All of the usual characters are there, except this time they are all a little zanier than they were before. Alice begins to understand that her purpose for returning is to conquer the evil Red Queen so that the rightful ruler can return to the throne.
Adult compatibility: Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is a sight to behold. And for that reason alone, everyone should see this distinctive film.
Ages: Given the amount of violence and the plethora of scary characters in this film it is not recommended for kids under the age of nine.
This article was written by Jo Harris for Kidspot.com.au and has been adpated for Kidspot.co.nz