See the movies or hit the books -- EW asks if film adaptations of new releases like ''Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'' and ''Dark Water'' live up to their literary roots

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl (Puffin, $6.99) Unlike the trippy 1971 version starring Gene Wilder, screenwriter John August’s take on crazed confectioner Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) sticks close to Dahl’s 1964 classic. His one departure? Conjuring up a psycho-dentist dad for the young chocolatier. The Last Word Holy snozzberries! Dahl’s clever storytelling and whimsical creations (square candies that literally look round) take the cake, but director Tim Burton’s quirky film deserves a sample.

Dark Water Koji Suzuki (Vertical, $21.95) Though he doesn’t stray from Ring-master Suzuki’s creepy-girl-haunts-family plot, screenwriter Rafael Yglesias embellishes ”Floating Water” — the anchor of the Japanese horror-meister’s 1996 short-story collection — by saddling his soon-to-be-divorced heroine (Jennifer Connelly) with debilitating mom issues and excessive plumbing woes. The Last Word Skip both; a water ghost just isn’t that scary. For better gotcha mo-ments, check out the 2002 American adaptation of Suzuki’s The Ring.

Must Love Dogs Claire Cook (New American Library, $13.95) Screenwriter Gary David Goldberg maintains the plot of Cook’s over-cluttered 2002 novel — DWF (Diane Lane) seeks SWM (John Cusack) — but cranks it through the rom-com machine, adding a best bud for him and a cinematic anthem for the lovers (Doctor Zhivago). He also de-nerdifies the pair; Cook bizarrely dresses her 40ish heroine in denim jumpers. Over avocado turtlenecks. No wonder she’s alone. The Last Word Lloyd Dobler holding a puppy — need we say more?

War of the Worlds H.G. Wells (Signet, $5.95) Screenwriters Josh Friedman and David Koepp swap Wells’ married Brit protagonist for a more Spielbergian antihero (Tom Cruise’s divorced dad Ray looks to reconnect with his kids). Otherwise, they stay fairly true to Wells’ surprisingly un-stodgy 1898 alien-invasion novel. The Last Word Credit Spielberg for awesome special effects, but Wells zaps the audience with his urgent tone, concise prose, and less abrupt ending. (Apologies to Morgan ”Voice-Over King” Freeman.)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Movie
  • 116 minutes