I think what defines a good book-to-movie adaptation is different for everyone. Some people want a film to stick as closely to the plot as possible, others are just happy if the movie manages to stick to the author’s intentions. For me, I think it’s all about capturing the same tone/atmosphere as the book. If I cried at the book, I want to cry at the film too. And as much as I know it’s near impossible to stick exactly to the book’s plot and not miss anything out, I don’t appreciate films changing major elements of the original novel.
Before you read my best and worst book-to-movie adaptations, I would like to say that I always recommend reading the book before watching the film! It’s good to know how the author actually intended the story to be portrayed, so even if you actually end up preferring the film, at least you know how it has been changed.
This story is mainly narrated by Louisa Clark, a twenty-six-year-old who finds herself out of a job; in trying to find a new one, she meets Will Traynor, an adventure lover who was involved in an accident two years earlier and as a result is now a quadriplegic. Their personalities and upbringings could not be more different, but as they are forced to spend time together, they discover they have a lot more in common than they initially thought. When I read this book, I absolutely fell in love with Moyes’ writing; the romance, and heart-break were both enchanting in equal measures. I really loved both the main characters, and their relationship, and the tone of the whole novel was just heart-warming. And the film, for me, captured exactly the same atmosphere. I think Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of Louisa was brilliant, she really captured her quirkiness perfectly and never sacrificed that by trying to be stereotypical. In the same way, Sam Clafin’s performance as Will was both dignified and a very believable portrayal of someone struggling with such a difficult situation. The film made me laugh, and most importantly, made my heart full – would definitely recommend watching it!
This was one of my favourite books of 2017. I love books set in this time (early 20th century) and just the setting of the novel was absolutely stunning. I actually only found out about the book when I watched the film trailer, saw that it was based on a novel, and immediately got myself a copy. The novel centres on Tom and Isabel, who fall in love after Tom comes home from WWI, and live on a remote island so Tom can carry out his duties as a lighthouse keeper. When they find a newborn baby washed up on shore, having suffered many miscarriages, they have to decide whether to adopt her, or try to find her real mother. This book, for me, was heart-breaking, and as much as I didn’t agree with all the decisions made in the book, it was easy to see how desperation, and pain, can lead a person to make them. Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender were both enchanting as Tom and Isabel; they portrayed their fraught relationship, but unwavering love for each other, perfectly. The plot didn’t differ too much from the book either, which is always a big plus. So overall, it just ticked every box the book did, which really, is the best outcome you can hope for.
The Fault in our Stars
I think most people will agree that both this book and this film are incredible. I don’t read a lot of YA, but this is one of the few YA books which I adore. It centres on two people, Gus and Hazel, who meet in a cancer therapy group. They start to get to know each other and realise how well they fit together. John Green’s writing in this novel is absolutely stunning, and the film captures this brilliantly. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort portray the main characters perfectly and, as a result, the film is even more heart-breaking than the book. I was sobbing by the end of this film, and I loved everything about it. Yes, there are things missed out, but they’re never going to fit everything into one film, and most importantly they don’t miss anything too detrimental. And I also think they do a really perfect job of recreating Green’s tone and writing style, which is why so many people love that book. Overall, read the book, then watch this film, and I promise you will not be disappointed.
Before moving on to the worst ones, I would like to make a point that I did not mean to pick 3 romances and my top 3, but as a romance-lover, it just happened! (Also, I’m kind of horrified by how similar all 3 of those movie posters are!)
Mortal Instruments (Netflix series)
When they announced that they were going to be making a film of this series, I was so excited! I completely devoured these books when I read them, and they are one of the reasons I fell in love with reading when I was at school. The protagonist Clary, finds herself entangled in a world full of monsters and magic and is guided by a people called Shadowhunters. When the film came out, I saw it and actually didn’t mind it at all. It stuck pretty well to the book’s plot and the characters were all portrayed how I’d imagined them in my head. But, then the reviews came out, and it turns out not everyone liked it as much as I did. So they decided to scrap the movies and instead bring it out as a TV show on Netflix. And wow, it is weird. I haven’t actually seen that many episodes, so maybe I just haven’t seen enough of it to get a real sense for what it’s like, but the main reason I fell in love with the books is because they’re action packed, filled with hoards of magical creatures and all the characters are worth investing in for their own individual reasons. The show, however, was so jumpy and CGI-infested that it just comes across as some teen-show-cum-mythological-adventure with some really terrible acting. Plus the whole thing feels like it was made for a much younger audience. I think for a series that I connected with so well, it was such a shame that this show didn’t capture the same great feel books I’d read.
The Girl on the Train
This was an amazing thriller when I read it. It has suspense throughout and I loved the ending. Focusing on Rachel, an alcoholic who every day watches a couple from her train seat, she finds herself involved in the disappearance of one of the people she watches. But claiming she’s innocent, she has to overcome her demons to get to the truth. I don’t really need to write much else in this review, other than, why is a film who’s book is set in England, suddenly set in America? As a film, it wasn’t bad at all; Emily Blunt’s acting is great, and it leaves you as on the edge of your seat as the book did. HOWEVER, the film focuses a lot on Rachel’s alcohol addiction, and so sacrifices every other element of her personality. For example, in the book, she is unashamedly promiscuous, a factor completely missed out in the film. And while there are always going to be differences from the original novel, I think, for me, this film takes the biscuit.
And just as a final note, there’s a lot everyone could say about the Harry Potter film adaptations. Most of them aren’t my favourite, but at the same time, I let them get away with a lot because the books are so magical and the actors are so young, that of course, they are not going to be the best. But, for me, The Goblet of Fire and The Order of the Phoenix were the most disappointing. What happened to the Triwizard Tournament? Where was Neville’s sub plot? Where was Mrs. Weasley’s boggart encounter? So. Many. Questions.
Do let me know what you think the best/worst book to movie adaptions are!