Adaptations are commonplace in today’s movie industry. Whether it’s taken from a book, a video game, a park ride or a bar of chocolate the importance of having an existing property to launch from has become so significant to Hollywood that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find original movies outside the independent field. Worse, it’s rare for the adaptation to stand up to scrutiny, with few films ever outdoing their source material.
But there are some…
Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, Steven Spielberg turned it into a quintessential summer blockbuster.
Taken from a Robert Ludlum novel, the film series jettisons several of the book’s elements and turned out a streamlined thriller that forced the Bond franchise to stop resting on its laurels.
One of the best Stephen King movies ever, the adaptation to film tamed some of the gorier elements to give a masterclass in psychological fear.
Sticking closer to the original text than the 1951 adaptation, you need only look at the jaw dropping SFX to see why The Thing works better as a film than a book.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
You can take your pick between the original Swedish adaptation(above) and the US adaptation (it’s not strictly a remake), as both take the step of jettisoning unnecessary baggage to avoid slowing the plot.
Stephen King hated Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel, going so far as to turn out a TV miniseries. Yet the miniseries sank without trace, while Kubrick’s movie has rightly gone on to be hailed as a classic.
If only for the shocking alternate ending.
In reducing the focus on the lives of the various characters and turning it very much into a story about man vs. Beast, Steven Spielberg invented the summer blockbuster.
I debated adding Angel Heart to the list as I felt the step of moving the action to New Orleans worked well but in the end chose not to go with it. The Prestige, Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, they were all in the running and, had the list been longer, would have been included. Instead I’m opening the question up to others.
What adaptations do you feel worked better than the original book and why?