I get it, book lovers. We all stick to the party line that
"the book is better than the movie," point blank. But let's be honest here: adaptations vary. You've got your solid, not-quite-as-good-as-the-books movies like the Harry Potter series. You've got your beloved, fan favorite films that some people like more than the book, like And then you've those truly great books that somehow ended up as the worst cinematic travesties in living memory. Here are a few books that are a million times The Princess Bride. better than the movie. Harry Potter Box Set, $52, Amazon; The Princess Bride, $6, Amazon
Usually, when we're screaming about book to film adaptations, we're upset because our favorite scenes or characters were left out (I, for one, am still upset about Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday Party). Most adaptations have to cut a subplot or two, though, because novels just have a lot more room for detail. So I'm not saying that these book-based movies are bad because they didn't follow the author's original text to the letter. These movies go
way beyond being "unfaithful" adaptations. They're just plain bad.
So, if you've ever seen a beloved book get absolutely wrecked on the big screen, here are a few books that are just
so much better than their trash movies.
'The Golden Compass' by Philip Pullman
Just... what happened here?
is a brilliantly crafted fantasy novel, full of adventure and intrigue and theological underpinnings. A bear punches another bear's jaw off. It's great. But the movie was just wall-to-wall exposition, bad CGI, and a valiant attempt to avoid offending anybody that wound up offending The Golden Compass everybody, Catholic and Atheist alike. Click here to buy.
'Cloud Atlas' by David Mitchell
The book is an ambitious, profound meditation on humanity, spanning six time periods and six protagonists in
six masterfully written short stories, each nested within the next. The movie... not so much. To be fair, the Wachowski Siblings made a visually gorgeous film. They just took a wrong turn by making it three hours long, incomprehensibly confusing, and having multiple actors in race-changing makeup. Really, people? Click here to buy.
'Ella Enchanted' by Gail Carson Levine
Every '90s kid and their '90s mom loves
It's the clever, feminist take on the Cinderella story that we all needed as kids. The book is witty and lovable. The movie wants very badly to be a life-action version of Ella Enchanted. Shrek. It chucked out all the nuance of the book in favor of unfunny slapstick and unnecessary karaoke. Click here to buy.
'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings movies do a pretty solid job of adapting three long, complex novels into three long, complex movies. But then someone decided it would be a good idea to adapt
into three long, complex, bloated movies... even though The Hobbit The Hobbit is a relatively short, charming children's book. One movie would have been plenty, thanks. Click here to buy.
'The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I'll admit that
isn't everyone's favorite book. But it's still far, far better than any of its film adaptations. The Demi Moore version in particular is a hot mess that revolves around baths and action scenes and very little transcendentalism. The Scarlet Letter Click here to buy.
'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' by Alan Moore
graphic novel brings together famous characters from English literature in a sort of a Victorian Justice League. There's Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Mina Harker from Dracula, and so forth. It's dark, literary, and expertly plotted. The movie is just... cheesy. Really cheesy. And clunky. And trying way too hard to be Batman. Click here to buy.
'The Giver' by Lois Lowry
Before the teen dystopia genre was much of a genre,
The Giver was already one of the best loved YA novels of all time. But, despite its all-star cast, the movie was an all-around flop. The book explores themes of individuality in a world of forced conformity... and the movie just about conforms to every tired Hollywood trope imaginable. Click here to buy.
'The Bonfire Of The Vanities' by Tom Wolfe
is a satirical novel that takes on racism, class inequality, politics, and greed in New York of the 1980s. It's been hailed as "the quintessential novel of the '80s" for its incisive social commentary. The movie The Bonfire Of The Vanities tries to do all those things, but it fails. Miserably. The result is a confused, tedious comedy with nothing to say about anything to anybody. Click here to buy.
'Eragon' by Christopher Paolini
Eragon the book gets some flack for being a little derivative of Tolkien and Star Wars and the like, but most people agree that it's a grand, fun, fantastical adventure about a boy and his dragon. Sounds pretty solid for a film adaptation. But Eragon the movie is a stuffy disaster that looks like a video game cut scene. Of all the clunky CGI dragons, Saphira has got to be the clunkiest. Click here to buy.
'The Lorax' by Dr. Seuss
How does one choose between terrible Dr. Seuss adaptations? There have been
many. But has got to win for missing the point of the book so spectacularly. The book is a short, affecting children's story about environmentalism and greed. It urges children to agitate for social change. So far, so good. But the movie, in addition to being deeply irritating, changes the plot to be the story of a young boy planting a tree to impress a cute girl. Oy. The Lorax Click here to buy.