Movies BETTER than the books they’re based on

All that talk about whether or not I should watch the Ella Enchanted movie got me thinking. Despite the fact that I almost always like the book version of something better than its adaptation, there ARE exceptions. There are, in fact, MOVIE versions that I prefer over the books!

Here are some of my favorite movie adaptations. How I chose them was thusly: would I rather read the book, or watch the movie? If I picked “watch the movie,” it went on the list!

The Princess Bride movie The Princess Bride (based on The Princess Bride by William Goldman).

A classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather).

The book is really good, too, of course, but there’s just something about the movie that grabs your brain and makes you love it EVEN MORE than the book. It probably helped that the William Goldman himself wrote the screenplay!

Practical Magic movie Practical Magic (based on Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman).

Sally and Gillian Owens have always known they were different. Raised by their aunts after their parents’ death, the sisters grew up in a household that was anything but typical–their aunts fed them chocolate cake for breakfast and taught them the uses of practical magic. But the invocation of the Owens’ sorcery also carries a price–some call it a curse: the men they fall in love with are doomed to an untimely death. Now adult women with very different personalities, the quiet Sally and the fiery Gillian must use all of their powers to fight the family curse and a swarm of supernatural forces that threatens the lives of all the Owens women.

I think it’s the visuals that sucked me in with this movie– that house! The aunts’ outfits! Etc.! Also the book got really boring near the end while the movie…didn’t! So.

Stormbreaker movie Stormbreaker (based on Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz).

A 14-year-old is forced to become a secret agent and embarks on a thrilling adventure.

It’s a fun movie, with weird humor and James Bond-y action (and a Stephen Fry cameo). Another situation where the author wrote the screenplay– basically he cut out a lot of exposition and made it SUPER fast-paced.

the commitments movie The Commitments (based on The Commitments by Roddy Doyle).

The travails of Jimmy Rabbitte to form the “World’s Hardest Working Band,” The Commitments, and bring soul music to the people of Dublin, Ireland.

Basically anything with music as a centerpiece is almost always going to be better when you can actually HEAR that music at the same time you’re reading/watching the story. But that’s not only why the movie is good! The actors are fab (hey do their own singing!), there’s always something interesting to look at on the screen, and it’s a great story.

Casino Royale movie Casino Royale (based on Casino Royale by Ian Fleming).

Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007 and must defeat a weapons dealer in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, but things are not what they seem.

Mostly because I can’t stand Ian Fleming’s writing (except for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and I love Daniel Craig.

Tied for awesome:
Matilda movie Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). Roald Dahl‘s writing will always be better than the adaptation of it, but these movies are perfectly enjoyable and some of my favorites besides.

Do YOU like any movie adaptations better than the book they’re adaptated from? Which are your favorites?

10 thoughts on “Movies BETTER than the books they’re based on”

  1. I love the film version of THE PRINCESS BRIDE approximately twenty-three times more than the original book. The latter bored me, to be honest; the former is pure cinematic gold. I love it so much that I often forget it’s an adaptation.

    I also like the film version of LEGENDS OF THE FALL way more than the original novella. The novella is good, and it gives some more insight into certain of the characters’ actions, but the movie is so much more emotionally charged.

    1. It’s been so long that I can’t precisely remember, but I think Buttercup is (slightly) less irritatingly passive in the book than in the movie? I can’t get over the scene in the fire swamp when Westly’s being attacked by the ROUS and she just stands there. In the book I think we get a bit more of her inner POV which renders her less annoying imo. (I may just be making this up, though. I haven’t read the book since I was ~11!)

  2. The Hunger Games! I think I isolated why this past week. I was talking with someone who adored Katniss as a character who didn’t care for the movie. Her reasoning was that, by removing Katniss’ inner dialogue, you don’t get enough of her. But I was more interested in Katniss’ world than Katniss herself, which make the film perfect for me. The film is more interested in the worldbuilding.

    1. Blasphemyyyyyy though only because I like the book’s ending better than the movie. I mean, I can see WHY they ended it the way they did (it’s neater), but I much prefer them going off and having more adventures than staying and ruling a country they know nothing about.

  3. Every time I think of that category, the ‘adaptation better than the book’ category, I always, ALWAYS think ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Then, I think about the travesty that is Dracula. Dracula is a terrible book. That it inspired so much (I’m not even talking about any specific adaptation, I’m talking about vampire books in general) is testament to the fact that ideas can be far, far more powerful than writing which, as a lover of words, is somewhat a pity. Dracula wasn’t the start of the vampire genre (I believe Le Fanu’s Camilla was – now this is a good book) but it’s the most popular. WHY. WHY.

  4. When I was a kid I kind of preferred the Narnia Series as movies over the books. Not saying legendary CS Lewis is bad or anything, but his themes were certainly plain to see.

  5. The Lord of the Rings, as far as I’m concerned, and I would agree about Narnia too. I haven’t read The Princess Bride but I was really disappointed in the movie because everyone said it was incredible and I didn’t think it was that good. Perhaps I should rewatch it!

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