If you've been following this page, or especially on social media, you know I'm currently hooked into The Southern Reach trilogy. This first book in the series by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation, has a movie starring Natalie Portman coming out later this year. And of course there are a couple of other high profile book-to-movie adaptations coming out this year as well: Ready Player One and A Wrinkle in Time. This got me thinking about some of the great (and not so great) movie adaptations that exist out there. I posed the question about what books made for best or worst movie adaptations and got quite a few responses!
Let's start with my own nominations.
Harry Potter - Best
In my opinion, the Harry Potter series makes for one of the best overall movie franchises out there. While not every movie totally nails it, they were done well as a set. I really like that similar to the books, the earlier stories are much more aimed at kids. As the characters grow older, so does the tone of the movie.
One of the strengths of these movies is that the writers did a nice job of pulling out the side stories. If you've read the books, you know there are lots of side plots, and that can be a challenge to maneuver for a movie, but they did a nice job. Having JK Rowling involved probably didn't hurt!
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Not the best
I probably should not have included "worst" in the title so I could fit a "Don't Panic" joke into this! The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite books of all time. It's one of the few that I've actually read multiple times. It's fun, and I still get joy every time I read it.
The movie....well, that's another story. The problem here is that the changes made to fit the "Hollywood story" were bad. I'm going to focus on one, and the one that really took a lot out of this story for me. The love story with Arthur Dent and Trillian. There is no love story in the book, at least not between them. But this major point was changed for the movie in order to have the "boy meets girl" story. It's such a shame, because this is such a beloved story, but did not hit as a movie.
There were a lot suggested that I either haven't seen the movie, or I haven't read the book (or both) so I may not have much commentary on some of these.
The Silence of the Lambs - Best
This is one of my favorite movies. There's suspense, some action, and plenty of mystery. I caught part of this on TV a few months back, and outside some of the fashion, this movie holds up really well. I haven't read any of the books, but I'll probably have to add them to my list!
The Hunger Games - Best
The Hunger Games is one of those series I found out about late, and I'm so happy I did. A friend suggested the first book for a book club we were doing at the time. Fortunately, the entire trilogy was out because as soon as I was done with the first book I had to keep going. While the first book was by far my favorite, and one of the few books that has made me cry, I didn't love the movies quite as much. I'm not exactly sure what it is. I do think they are really enjoyable, but if they're on TV I won't get wrapped up into it like I do with Harry Potter.
Divergent - Not the best
Unfortunately, I did read these books. (That sentence might tell you where this paragraph is going!). Actually, to be honest I did think the first two books weren't bad. I wasn't stumbling out the door to go get the next one, but I thought they were OK (plus I had already committed to reading the trilogy with a friend). But the third book was....not good. Like the kind of not good that I was upset I had wasted time with reading the series at all. As for the movies, which I refused to watch, I did a little research and found that the first movie did OK (Made almost $300M worldwide on a budget of $85M), but each subsequent movie went down from there, with the last movie never being made. So that tells you something.
The Chronicles of Narnia - Not the best, but not the worst
This is a book series I've never read, but I know it ranks up there as classic kid's literature. From a financial standpoint, the movies did OK. I haven't talked to anyone who really loved the movies, and I've only talked to one person who really hated them. So what does that mean? Well, they only got three movies into the series before calling it quits.
That's just a short list of the book-to-movie adaptations out there. Another topic came up while I was thinking about this post, and that is short stories that have been adapted to movies. As I was thinking about this, I realized a lot of the movies I wanted to talk about were actually based on short stories, so come back for a post on that soon!
In the meantime, which were your favorite (or least favorite) adaptations and why? Leave us a comment below and let's discuss!