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10 Best Movies Based On TV Series

Writer: Casey Chong

Michael Pena (middle) plays the mysterious Mr. Roarke in the big-screen version of "Fantasy Island".
Michael Pena (middle) plays the mysterious Mr. Roarke in the big-screen version of "Fantasy Island".

Remember "Fantasy Island" back in the late 70s through 80s? The series, starred the late Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke who grants wishes to his guests on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

It ran for a total of 7 seasons until 1984 and even saw a one-time revival in the shortlived series headlined by Malcolm McDowell in Ricardo Montalban's lead role.

Fast forward to 2020, Blumhouse chose to dust the old series and gave it a supernatural horror twist under the direction of Jeff Wadlow (2005's "Cry Wolf" and 2018's "Truth Or Dare").

As we wait for the arrival of "Fantasy Island" this month, check out our selected list of 10 best movies out there that are also based on TV series!

 

1) "21 Jump Street" (2012)

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "21 Jump Street".

If you were born in the 80s and 90s, chances are you're familiar with a certain 1987 TV series called "21 Jump Street", which starred the then-young Johnny Depp in the leading role as Officer Thomas "Tom" Hanson. The series, of course, turned him into a star long before he made it big in Hollywood. Depp would go on to stay on for four seasons but opted not to come back for the fifth and final season in 1991. It would take a little over 20 years before the long-forgotten TV series made a huge comeback in the form of a film adaptation directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller of "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" (2009) fame. Although they still retained the series' main premise about young police officers going undercover in high schools, the big-screen version of "21 Jump Street" is tonally different from what we used to know in the 80s. Instead of replicating the series' formula from A to Z, Phil Lord and Chris Miller's version is given an 18-rated makeover - a result that might scream blasphemy for those who enjoyed the series back in the day. The radical approach somehow worked in their favour, thanks to the movie's gleefully off-the-wall comedy tone and better-than-expected odd-couple pairing of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill with surprise cameos from Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise themselves. It even became a surprise hit, paving the way for an inevitable sequel called "22 Jump Street" two years later.

2) "Mission: Impossible" franchise

Tom Cruise in a scene from the first "Mission: Impossible" movie back in 1996.

Never mind the fact that you may or may not have seen a single episode of the long-running "Mission: Impossible" series, which was first ignited back in 1966. But you are most likely to recognise the classic Lalo Schifrin theme music, which is still retained to this day in the Tom Cruise-led "Mission: Impossible" movie franchise. The big-screen version made its debut in 1996, with Tom Cruise leading the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team as Ethan Hunt. The first film famously deviated heavily from the series' formula, notably Brian De Palma's radical approach of turning the espionage thriller into Hitchcockian territory and even included a shocking reveal of turning Jon Voight's Jim Phelps into an unlikely antagonist. It has since become one of the underrated films in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise and its subsequent sequels introduced more spectacular and practical stunts. The latter is particularly evident with Cruise devoting himself in performing most of his own stunts such as scaling the Burj Khalifa in Brad Bird's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" (2011) and hanging off the side of a plane mid-air in Christopher McQuarrie's "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" (2015). Although the "Mission: Impossible" franchise is over 20-years-old, it shows no sign of slowing down with the untitled seventh and eighth films being filmed back-to-back under returning director Christopher McQuarrie.

3) "Star Trek" franchise

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in the "Star Trek" reboot franchise.

The late Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek" television series has a long history stretching way back in 1966, where William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy led "The Original Series" in their respective iconic roles as James T. Kirk and Spock. The series ran for three seasons until 1969, but would see subsequent revivals including the likes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" as well as "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Star Trek: Picard", where the latter two are currently running on streaming platforms. As for the big-screen versions, there are currently 13 movies in total including the three instalments from the rebooted franchise initiated by J.J Abrams. The latter features an entirely new and younger cast with Chris Pine playing James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock while it has more action and humour that appeals to both current and older generations. Of course, longtime Trekkies would most likely pick the 1982 sequel "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan", which is widely praised as the best "Star Trek" film ever made.

4) "The Addams Family" franchise

Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston in "The Addams Family".

Initially a comic strip back in the late 1930s, "The Addams Family" made its television debut in 1964 and has endured a series of revivals in the form of live-action and animated series. Then came the 1990s where the franchise was given a new lease of life in the form of a 1991 live-action feature film, with former cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld (who later directed "Men In Black" six years later) making his promising directorial debut that successfully delivered the macabre fun of the TV show. Of course, part of the first film's success was largely credited to the stellar cast including Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd and Christina Ricci. It paved way for a sequel titled "Addams Family Values" in 1993 and even though it received better reviews, the movie failed to replicate the phenomenal success of the first film. By the time the direct-to-video version of "Addams Family Reunion" arrived in 1998, the popularity of the franchise had already waned and it would take two decades before "The Addams Family" was revived (again) with a 2019 computer-animated feature.

5) "The Fugitive" (1993)

Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones in "The Fugitive".

A murdered wife. A one-armed man. An obsessed detective. The chase begins. That's the tagline seen in every poster of "The Fugitive" back in 1993. Based on the '60s TV series created by Roy Huggins and featuring David Janssen as the wrongfully accused Dr. Richard Kimble, the big-screen version was a huge hit in the box office with Harrison Ford's engaging lead role proving to be one of the major draws of the film's success. The movie also famously won Tommy Lee Jones an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his relentlessly no-nonsense portrayal as Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard. In fact, his role was so popular that Warner Bros. even gave him a 1998 spin-off in the form of "U.S. Marshals" but it didn't turn out as critically and financially successful as the 1993 film.

6) "The Simpsons Movie" (2007)

It's trouble as usual in Springfield in "The Simpsons Movie".

Sure, those who have watched "The Simpsons" since 1989 would agree that the animated sitcom has overstayed its welcome a long time ago, and yet, it has remained active until now (Season 31 at the time of writing) and even broke the record as the longest-running US primetime scripted TV series. Of course, there's the movie version released back in 2007 and it was a big hit (over USD520 million against a USD75 million budget). "The Simpsons Movie" is also notable for introducing Homer Simpson's (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) pet pig, "Spider-Pig". Despite the huge success of the movie version, talks about the inevitable sequel remains elusive until today.

7) "The Untouchables" (1987)

(L-R) Andy Garcia, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner and Charles Martin Smith in "The Untouchables".

It's easy to forget that "The Untouchables" used to be a TV series back in the late 50s and early 60s, where it ran a total of four seasons. The 1987 big-screen version saw director Brian De Palma and screenwriter David Mamet upgrading the old series with a far more captivating result, which boasts an all-star cast including Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Robert De Niro. Sean Connery, of course, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor while De Niro had a field day playing the lead gangster role of Al Capone. The movie even made the then-young Kevin Costner a major star. Those who have seen "The Untouchables" would remember some of the movie's iconic moments from Ennio Morricone's distinctive score to the slow-motion stairway shootout scene inspired by 1925's "Battleship Potemkin".

8) "The X-Files: Fight The Future" (1998)

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in "The X-Files: Fight The Future".

The 1990s was a decade filled with landmark television series and one of them happened to be "The X-Files". Created by Chris Carter, the 1993 sci-fi drama series centred on two FBI agents (David Duchovny's Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully) investigating unsolved and strange cases related to paranormal activities. The first few seasons were notably a huge hit among fans and critics to the point it inspired a big-screen version in 1998 to tie up some of the loose ends between Season 5 and 6. A second film appeared a decade later under the title of "The X-Files: I Want To Believe", which served as a standalone movie rather than tying up more loose ends from the series' continuity. The result is largely muted and pales in comparison with the 1998 film. As for the series, "The X-Files" originally ran a total of 9 seasons before it was subsequently revived for two more seasons in 2016 and 2018.

9) "Traffic" (2000)

Benicio Del Toro in "Traffic".

Adapted from the 1989 acclaimed six-part British miniseries "Traffik" which explored drug trade from various perspectives, Steven Soderbergh's acclaimed crime drama boasts a superb ensemble cast all around (Benicio Del Toro's Oscar-winning supporting role of a straight-arrow Mexican cop, Javier Rodriguez, is especially noteworthy) and a solid script (Stephen Gaghan won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay). "Traffic" proved to be a huge hit in the worldwide box-office, raking over USD200 million against a modest USD46 million budget.

10) "Twilight Zone: The Movie" (1983)

John Lithgow in "Twilight Zone: The Movie".

"The Twilight Zone" has an illustrious history going way back to the original black-and-white series, which made its debut in 1959. The series was renowned for its anthology-style standalone episodes that blend various genres from science fiction and horror to fantasy and psychological thriller. It proved to be a success that the series was revived three times in different decades, with the current one been seen since 2019. The success of the series inspired a movie version in 1983, which has four standalone segments ("Time Out", "Kick The Can", "It's A Good Life" and "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet"). All four segments were respectively directed by renowned filmmakers (John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller), with the latter that starred John Lithgow as the paranoid plane passenger who witnessed a creature wreaking havoc on the wing particularly impressing the most. The movie version was also notoriously troubled for its controversial "Time Out" segment directed by John Landis, where a helicopter stunt mishap tragically killed screen veteran Vic Morrow and two child actors.

Cinema Online, 22 February 2020


Related Movies:
Fantasy Island (13 Feb 2020)
21 Jump Street (10 May 2012)
Mission: Impossible Fallout (26 Jul 2018)
STAR TREK (07 May 2009)
The Addams Family (31 Oct 2019)

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