Ten Great Book To Movie Adaptations
This is a list that I have been thinking about for a while, and what better time to actually get to it than with Lady Cara’s Blogiversary? Another reason why? Well, seeing as she does like books and did work in a library, though she doesn’t get to read as much as she likes, I thought this would be a prime place to post about books that were adapted properly. You have all heard how readers complain how the movies are just never as good as the books, and chances are that you, too, have felt that way about something you read and then watched. But every now and then you get a really good movie, one that was almost as good as the book, if not its equal at the very least. Obviously this is not the definitive list, as there are a lot of movies and books, but these are some that I truly and honestly do love.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 – 2003)
Honestly, I don’t look at these movies as separate entities. I look at them as one massive, ongoing epic, and just argue that with me. It is one huge journey that you undertake, and every minute is precious and perfect, even the ones with Frodo being a sissy. Moving on, I love the books, though I have not read them in years. Why? Because they are intense and they are certainly don’t make for light reading. You have to get ready, prepare yourself to go with it. The story is really amazing though. I can see why people who don’t read will find it a daunting process to read the books. But then there are the movies, and they just take everything heroic from the books and visually represent it for you, and it is awe-inspiring each and every time. It never gets old. It never loses any of its charm and magic, it never fails to draw you in and envelop you in this perfect universe of Middle-Earth. You live the struggle, the characters become your people, it’s all… you know what, I think you guys get the gist that I am a junkie and that I can wax lyrical about this all the time. It’s just… The Lord of the Rings.
The Green Mile (1999)
I am a big fan of both the book and the movie. I am a massive Stephen King admirer (although most of you will know that about me by now), he is just fantastic. I love his mind. I really do. He also gave us The Green Mile. It was a gripping and moving book; it was extremely well written and very engaging (although I expected nothing less from the master himself). The story was fresh and unique and I loved every second of it. I know it was released as a serial originally, and I am glad that it is all together as one piece of work now, and I have read it a few times and enjoyed the story and characters immensely each and every time. I love the fact that Frank Darabont did the movie. He is excellent at portraying Stephen King’s world on the screen, and this was no exception – he just gets the work. Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan played off each other well in here, and the cinematography was excellent. The rendition was exceptionally loyal to the book, and I can follow it no matter where in the movie I come in. It is a long movie, but that is great because no real skimping of the story occurred. I have gone back to both the film and the book numerous times, and feel it was one of the best adaptations ever!
Fight Club (1999)
As great a read as this was, I must say that (yes, I am about to say this) the movie was better. This is, however, not to say that the book isn’t good, Chuck Palahniuk writes exceptionally well, it’s just that it didn’t pack quite the same punch as the movie. I enjoyed the book, but much preferred the way that the movie didn’t let the Narrator/Tyler Durden cat out of the bag too early, whereas in the book it comes up quite soon that the Narrator is not sure of himself, Tyler or Marla Singer. The story is a good one though, that is undeniable, it’s just that Fincher seemed to feel the characters in such a way that he was able to draw you in and enthral you completely, making them so much more than they were in the pages of Palahniuk’s esteemed novel.
Mystic River (2003)
Dennis Lehane is a writer who just so happens to have incredibly loyal adaptations of his work. Mystic River was a heavy but excellent read, and Clint Eastwood’s rendition of the novel to screen was just fantastic. There were some minor changes of course, but nothing to detract from the overall story line at all. The book was interesting, with an array of characters that kept it flowing and it wasn’t overly predictable. Actually, although there is a murder investigation going down, the core of the story is a group of childhood friends, their experiences, as well as how they have grown up and what they have done. It is a very interesting piece of work, and I would highly recommend it for viewing or reading.
Red Dragon (2002)
I had never read a Thomas Harris novel prior to Red Dragon. I adored the movie, though I watched it before I read the book, which is rather unlike me. However, either way you look at it; this was not a bad thing in the slightest. I had an absolute blast with the book, it was tightly written, flowed smoothly and had an excellent plot with good pacing. The characters were great and solid and well presented. Then there is the movie, and I am a huge fan of the depiction of Red Dragon (and then later my beloved but cancelled NBC Hannibal). The cast was simply amazing, with excellent performances all around, the story stayed true and loyal and it had fantastic direction and camera work, which I highly appreciated. The movie did the book justice, and that is not something that usually happens!
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Yes. Just yes. I know, that is two Hannibal Lecter novels on the list (and yes, I still need to finish the last two), but this is just another example of a really good book that was taken and treated with the correct reverence, and resulted in a classic movie, no two ways about it. Anthony Hopkins is freaky as hell, breathing life into Harris’s terrifying psychiatrist, and Jodie Foster worked wonders opposite him. Everything you pictured about Hannibal when reading the books is pretty much brought to life before your very eyes, and it is both fascinating and disturbing in equal measure. The dialogue is so close to the book, and the flow of the investigation and the events mirror those depicted on the pages closely, which is why the movie feels so much more complete and flows so much better.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
I know that a lot of people had issues about this movie, and there were valid reasons and then some not-so-valid ones. Me? I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well, except for that absurd soundtrack. I read the novel for the first time before watching the film, so it was all really fresh in my mind, and I loved it. I though Baz Luhrmann dreamily captured the craziness, the opulence of the Roaring Twenties, the beauty of the times, the parties, and DiCaprio was, of course, a incredible Jay Gatsby. And no, this is not just because I am a self-confessed DiCaprio junkie. He is just that good. The film looked lovely (though there is the soundtrack to complain about and some questionable CGI effects in some places), but overall it was a pretty good watch. The narration was done by having Nick Carraway speak to a therapist to convey the story, and so much of what he was saying was lifted directly from the book. I thought that was just awesome.
Gone Girl (2014)
While I was not completely swept up in the mass hysteria of either the book or the film, it cannot be denied that Fincher was extraordinarily well chosen to realise the story of Nick and Amy Dunne. I am not necessarily a fan of Flynn, but found that Gone Girl was more engrossing and less disgusting than her other work. When the film was on the way, I thought that Ben Affleck was ideally cast as Nick Dunne, and I was not let down when I got to this. Rosamund Pike was an superb Amy, she captured the essence of the twisted character, though I still think her performance has been overhyped by too many. Fincher takes you on this rollercoaster ride, and it looks great and is well-presented and acted. It does keep you engaged and it is a one of the better adaptations I have seen in quite some time, and no matter what my issues are with any of it, that cannot be overlooked.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic, both as a novel and a film. While the book certainly had more meat to it, the film took the driving point of the novel and brought it to screen, and Gregory Peck made sure that you were sold from the beginning. The story was beautiful, entertaining, sweet and sad, and the movie managed to capture all that, though it focused more on the issue of race as dealt with in the book as opposed to all the other little things that featured in Harper Lee’s novel as well, but it does not make for a stale experience. I think they are both worth the time, and should definitely be experienced in both formats.
Shutter Island (2010)
While I know there are a lot of naysayers when it comes to Shutter Island, I am firmly in the camp that loves the movie. I thought it was really good, and Scorsese was on fine form once again, especially paired up with the flawless Leonardo DiCaprio. Not only that, as entertaining a watch as it is, it also happens to be a very trusty adaptation of Lehane’s book. Yes, as I said, Lehane does get good renditions of his books. Teddy Daniels’s story was gripping and flowed well, and Scorsese kept the two very close to one another, which is a good thing for those who were a fan of the book, and awesome for the viewer because they get all the pieces of the puzzle, not only certain ones that were decreed alright for the audience.
The Hunger Games (2012) and Catching Fire (2013)
I enjoyed this book trilogy, I did. Initially I thought they were just children’s books, but they are not just that. They are an entertaining read, though they can be frustrating at times. I think the world knows that I am not the biggest fan of Katniss in the books. She was incredibly selfish and condescending and bitchy and weak, resulting in the fact that she irritated me more than anything. However, I could not let that detract from the fact that the story itself was not that bad. Suzanne Collins is certainly not the greatest writer of all time, but she had a good story to tell, and did a decent job of it. Then the movies came, so much hype and rage, and The Hunger Games was good. It was very accurate in terms of the novel, and managed to kill off a lot of my frustration with Katniss. The books are told from Katniss’s point of view, first person, which is a little difficult to depict on screen. But they managed to do it. It was a good piece of cinema, though flawed. However, Catching Fire dropped and oh my goodness, it was just amazing! It stayed so close to the book, was just brilliant and came together well. I was floored with the portrayal, and felt that Francis Lawrence did a damn fine job with the source material and the implementation. This is one of the rare times that I will say that the movie was equal to if not surpassing its original source. It was absolutely excellent!
I am sure by now you all know how hopelessly addicted I am to Drive. I am unduly fascinated by it, and I cannot even begin to tell you all how many times I have watched it. I am not ashamed. I know I will watch it many more times to come. Anyway, let’s move on from that. This is a book that I honestly and truly disliked, it was awful. I don’t know who read this and saw the potential for what went on to be Drive, but this is one of the few times that I have to be grateful about how they veered away from the source material.
The Fault In Our Stars (2014)
John Green’s novel has been an addiction of mine since curiosity got the better of me and I read it. I do not regret it for one moment, and I have read it time and time again because it truly is a striking story, both hilarious and heart wrenching at the same time. I love it and I hate it because it makes me feel so many things at once. Plus Augustus Waters is a slice of perfection. I was so worried about the movie; I didn’t want this story to be messed up. Never fear, it was not messed up, though I am firmly of the opinion that you lose a lot of the experience if you only watch the movie and haven’t read the book. Obviously things were left out of the movie, but if you read the book you can fill in some blanks, just knowing what the original source material says rounds out the experience so much more for me.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
This one was definitely going to be on here for me. One of my friends has a Hunter S. Thompson obsession, and he loved the movie and the book and insisted that I read the book (knowing how much fun I garner from reading). I know the legend of how Fear and Loathing came to be, and I know Thompson was quite a good journalist and author. I got the book (and then had a stroke, thinking the ink splat stains on the pages were my fault, only to realise it was printed that way) and read it quickly. A recorded drug trip by Thompson, which he then used to write the infamous book? Come on, it had to be entertaining. And it was. The movie that came later had Johnny Depp helm the role of Hunter S. Thompson, and he did a damn fine rendition of the man, so kudos for that. The scenes were so close to the book and the absurd trip that was experience was captured beautifully, even though the effects weren’t the greatest, I think it lent credence to the bizarre nature of the experience. It was a good adaptation, though I know that many people will not be a fan of it. I liked it. The book was entertaining and a very quick and well-written read and the movie was just a very visual representation of Bat Country. Well done guys!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
One of the rare cases where I enjoyed the movie more than the book, but only just slightly. It was neck on neck for the most part. Difference? The movie contained less melodrama than the book, and that is where it scored some points for me. I also think that Chbosky having such a large hand in the film is what kept it so good. It is a coming of age movie that looks at a sad, depressed boy, and Logan Lerman was so good here. It was my first introduction to his work, and he handled it so well.