The book was better or based on a title by ...

We often say “The book was better”, even when the movies are good (see Harry Potter). This thread is for bad movies based on good books, or movies that are almost painful to watch because they are so different that the book it was supposedly based on.

I’ll start it with “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”. I think the people involved read the book as a bunch of words without any comprehension as to what they meant.

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Requiem for a Dream was a great movie, but as top-shelf as it was, it’s Hubert Selby Jr’s novel that ends up being way more narratively effective and mentally searing.

But in sticking more closely with what this thread is about, I’ll go with the 1995 adaptation of The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s novel is a great read, but that movie is a big ol’ hot mess.

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I always feel like I’m in the minority opinion when I say I friggin’ hated that novel. It was a slog. I think it might have been the first book that I managed to read to completion that I actually hated reading as a teenager, and I used to read all the time. Used to. God, my attention span has gone down the toilet. Maybe it was just me, because I remember reading some of Hawthorne’s short stories and liking them quite a bit, or maybe if it was because it was a difficult period in my life in general and my patience was short and I might appreciate it more as an adult, but I was just miserable reading that book.

But on topic, bad movie based on a good book? I feel like I can think of more movies that were just kind of okay based on a good book. I feel like an easy pick would be the TV miniseries adaption of Stephen King’s Langoliers, but that feels like low-hanging fruit. I’mma come back to this one.

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The House with a Clock in its Walls.

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I Am Legend by Richard Matheson has been adapted three times and yet I still like the book more. The Vincent Price one is the closest to the original, whereas the Charlton Heston one is the most enjoyable as a film.

I know there are several book-to-film adaptations I hated, but at the moment my mind is mercifully shielding me from those memories. If they emerge I’ll share them.

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While HG Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come is not the most engaging read, it influenced much of the Golden Age of Science Fiction that followed it. Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and many of their contemporaries owe a lot to the book. Asimov especially, as it is doubtful that the Foundation series would ever have been written if he had not been exposed to Wells’ work. Anyway, the 1979 film of the same name was very obviously written by someone who only read the title of the book:

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If we can include graphic novels… do not mention Keanu Reeves’ Constantine to any fan of the Hellblazer series.

I have heard it said that some have reconsidered the film in recent years and that, if you ignore that it has nothing to do with the source material beyond having a magician named John Constantine as the protagonist, it’s not a bad movie.

Here is what I say to that.

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And if we can include television series… well, compare Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels to the short-lived Dresden File series and weep.

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I watched the Rifftrax of that and I was wondering what in the world the movie had to do with the book. And it wasn’t even like say Contact where the movie is still good even if it diverges from the book significantly. It was definitely not better.

But for me, a good example is the same as the worst movie I ever saw in a movie theater: Michael Crichton’s Sphere. The movie was a travesty. It took a book that I had read numerous times and stomped all over it. I still can’t understand why having the main character in an affair was the choice the screenwriter made. I can accept some plot changes when going from book to movie simply because there are some things that are very hard to depict on screen, but when you start changing who the characters are, I get very very annoyed.

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David Lynch’s Dune is a pretty weird case, as on one hand it makes so little effort to be comprehensible to people who haven’t read the book that theaters actually handed out cheat sheets, but on the other it makes some downright baffling changes like the Weirding Way being a soundwave gun rather than a martial art that ensure the people who have read it will be pissed. And it’s a real shame because that cast is one of the best ever assembled and I can easily see each one doing a great job as the character.

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Yes, I wondered about that as well. The Scifi version didn’t have as good a cast in my opinion but they were more faithful to the book.

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I loved the 2005 movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia and was excited to see where they were going with the series. I had hoped they would go with The Magicians Nephew next instead of Prince Caspian, but they didn’t. They did the best they could I guess, but Prince Caspian wasn’t one of my favorite books in the series and seemed to lack in the movie as well. I was all kinds of hopeful when The Voyage of the Dawn Treader came out, but it didn’t live up to my expectations from the book. I would have really liked to have seen what they had planned for The Magicians Nephew had they carried on.

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My best example of this is The New Daughter, a 2009 horror movie based on the short story of the same name by John Connolly. Already, the knowledge that it’s a movie based on a short story (not a novella) gives you a clue that it might not be good. They really had to draw some elements out and add in a ton of new ones just to fill runtime.

Additionally, though, the movie just pales in comparison to the original story. Its writing isn’t nearly as skilled or suspenseful as Connolly’s. The parts that are similar to the story aren’t done well enough, and the parts that are different just aren’t too interesting on their own. The main character’s children are older than in the original story, with the daughter being a teenager, so you have to sit through teen characterization as well. (A personal dislike) The cinematography isn’t bad, nor is Kevin Costner’s acting (he plays the main character), but the movie is just kinda dull. And they say the word “mound” so much that it almost makes the word lose all meaning.

However, my dad and I had a fun time watching it because we just riffed it the whole time, as if it was an MST3K movie.

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Solaris. I’m not saying the Hollywood adaptation was bad, but it was a really different thematic journey from Stanislaw Lem’s novel.

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We’re all thinking it, so I’ll go ahead and say it: The Hobbit.

The book is a fun short story, there and back again. The movies are a mess. There is some good stuff in there, even some great stuff, but it should never have been stretched into three movies. They should have stuck to the original plan of a two movie series.

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Other threads in the forum have already had some fun calling out Johnny Mnemonic. An oddity here is that William Gibson wrote the short story and the original for-screen script (the movie we got instead was the result of tons of studio interference).

Pretty much anything based on a Clive Barker something feels better in the written form than on the screen. For every Hellraiser or Candyman, there’s a chum bucket of Midnight Meat Trains and Rawhead Rexes and, well, other Hellraisers.

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Johnny Mnemonic is the only movie I ever walked out of and demanded a refund. I’ve never seen how it ends and I don’t want to.

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The movie Fight Club is very good, but the book is even better.

Also, the book and movie Ready Player One aren’t great, but the book is still miles better than the movie.

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The book was better for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The series was better for True Blood (although it’s really close. I like that LaFayette survived the first season of the tv show.).

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I’m not into Tolkien, but my husband very much is. Was read The Hobbit and LOTR as bedtime stories as a kid. Saw all three LOTR movies in theaters. Owns the extended edition DVDs of all three LOTR movies. Hell, we even own the vinyl to the soundtrack of the Rankin-Bass Hobbit movie (inherited from his dad).

When we went to go see the first Hobbit movie in theaters, he was so pissed off. He kept going, “No, no, NO!” every so often. He was so disappointed, he didn’t want to see the last two movies.

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