Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When the Movie is (GASP) Better Than the Book

This smorgasbord of unpopular opinions is inpired by Christina's excellent post from yesteryear, even though it commits the high blasphemy of thinking Ella Enchanted the movie is better than the book (for the record, I flipping love that movie, but ohmygodno). I know it's basically high bookish blasphemy to EVER think the movie is better than the book. I mean, they cut that one subplot and that ruined the tension and took away from their relationship! They totally cut that one scene that makes the WHOLE SERIES! They gave Movie!Ginny the personality of a paper sandwich! They made Harry and Voldemort grapplehug while they fell off a tower WHAT WERE THEY THINKING I MEAN REALLY--

Whoops. Tangent. We're here to talk about the movies that are BETTER than the books, not the movies that are sort of great on their own but will never ever capture the true DEPTH AND BRILLIANCE of the Wizarding World and Ginevra Weasley, boss heroine, and what Albus Dumbledore was actually--

No. Okay. FOCUS.

Disclaimer that this is my PERSONAL opinion, and you'll disagree with me in some places and agree with me in others and call for my head for a few, but all is fair in books and movies. And despite Christina's Ella Enchanted blasphemy (and inability to appreciate the original Princess Diaries/Chris Pine in a blue button down), I actually agree with a ton of her picks.

I'm only including books I've read, which means I can't include a 4 page ode to the glory that is the movie version of How to Train Your Dragon or my endless love for the LOTR movies because twelve year old me only made it like 200 pages into Fellowship before I lost the will to live.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
I enjoyed Divergent the book way back in...2013? I WAS SO YOUNG... but the movie solved a lot of the problems I had with it AND had the bonus of Theo's beeyooteeful face/Shailene's dreamhair/Theo's beeyooteeful abs. We will not speak of the atrocity that is Insurgent or the CATACLYMSIC WORLD DISASTER that was Allegiant Part the First and Only.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
This is my least favorite Austen novel, though I'm an Austen mega fangirl so I think even my least favorite novel is pretty good-seeming-like. I usually I don't like when adaptations muck with the original, but the way this movie moves things about and straight up alters characters just makes for a great movie with a splendid cast. Shout out to the BBC adaptation of MP with Billie Piper, which is actually quite loyal to the book and yet I liked it quite a lotly. Despite her distracting brows, she makes Fanny a lot more interesting than the passive, cousin-loving snoozefest she is in the book (sorry, Fans.)

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
I read the book first as a kid and adored it. I even wrote extremely derivative versions of it as a weensy child, which was  a sign of my truest love way been when. So I'm deeply fond of the book. But the movie is just one of my favorite things of all time. It's so gorgeous, so romantic, so funny, SO WONDERFUL. Like, the movie is the business. It's everything. EVERYTHINGGGG.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
A lot of you know I was a huge Twilight fangirl back in the days of about 2007 or so, back when I was a junior in high school (I'm so old hahahahausfsuydifuhsdsdjscry). I went to see the Twilight movie in theaters with a bunch of my friends AND WE WORE T-SHIRTS WITH EDWARD'S FACE ON THEM oh god the follies of youth. So while I don't want to go and burn every copy of Twilight living because hello, my love was strong, yes I read and loved Life and Death THAT SHIT WAS GOOD OKAY DON'T @ ME, I also don't think it's precisely exactly the greatest novel in the world. There are a loooot of wasted pages and Bella Bella-ing and Edward begging to be staked and snooze. But I have a lot of love for the movie, which also has this slight hokey independent film-ness to it that makes it oddly charming. LIKE WHEN THEY PLAY BASEBALL IN OLD TIMEY CLOTHES AND HISS AT EACH OTHER. Come on. That's gold. They also make actual jokes in the movie which Book!Bella and Edward somehow never managed to do.

But the sequels go all big budgety and blah and everyone starts acting like they've been preserved in some kind of jelly and they wear terrible wigs and Taylor Lautner flexes too many things, who has that many muscles, and pubescent wolfboys are bursting out of their clothes, just no.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Another one where I quite like the book, I just LOVE the movie. I could watch that movie every week and never get tired of it. It's just so PURE and ROBERT DE NIRO AS A CROSS DRESSING PIRATE CAPTAIN and Claire Danes is so lovely and Charlie Cox is so cute and there is a ghostly Greek chorus of dead princes and Mark Strong and IT'S SO LOVELY, IT'S JUST THE LOVELIEST FILM, IT MAKES ME HAPPY

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Okay, hear me out. I don't know where I fall on the schism of Mockingjay the book opinions--I tend to change my mind a lot depending on which analysis i'm feeling at the moment--but the movie versions (particularly part two) solved a lot of my problems with it, mainly Katniss' passivity. I know a lot of people did not like Part 1 in particular, but I did, and I thought Part 2 was really extremely amazing/life ruining/the whole shebang/tears for centuries.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I LOVE THIS BOOK A LOT, JUST WANT TO PREFACE THAT. I loved it as a kid, and I love it now. But there's a MAGIC to this movie that's undeniable. (Plus Dickon and Mary are so real, i will fight you, teeny tiny OTP COLIN WAS JUST JEALOUS). I also love the movie (and super old school and loyal BBC adaptaion) of A Little Princess, but that book was my deepest love as a kiddie, so it wins.

Wives and Daughters AND North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Oh look, another one where I quite like the books but FLIPPIN' ADORE the BBC adaptations. The biggest problems with Gaskell's novels for me are the lengths (W&D is ENORMOUS). Obviously a miniseries gets to adapt and shorten, leading to tighter storylines and not as many musings on Christian theory and the minutiae of Victorian social class demarcations and snooze and snore and just kiss already. Plus, North and South has RICHARD "BOYFRIEND" ARMITAGE and the greatest, most anachronistic kiss scene of all time that's not in the book and I. DON'T. CARE. BECAUSE. IT'S. PERFECT. TATTOO. IT. ON. MY. EYELIDS. FOREVER.

Also, in Wives and Daughters' case, Gaskell died before she wrote/published the last chapter, so it actually ends before it ends which oh my actual God. The BBC version gets points for, you know, having an ending.

Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare
This might be my favorite Shakespeare play, and that's 1000% because of the movie which I LOVE TO PIECES. Kinda funny I've put this on this list, because the movie uses only the play script so they're kiiinda the same thing, but the bits the movie chooses to cut and focus on make it a better story for me. And the cast is just so WONDERFUL. The chemistry is so real and the setting is divine. I've always wanted to tromp around a sun-baked Italian castle in a chemise, hair blowing wild, singing SIGHHH NO MORE LADIES SIIIIGH NO MOOORE

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
I read this as a kid and rather liked it, but I also saw the movie as a kid and just thought that Alexis Bledel running through fields in her frothy white dress with Handsome McWhat's-His-Name was just the ultimate in all the beautiful things ever

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Don't get me wrong: like most readerly kids who grew up in the early 2000s, I loved these books (up until the last one where they're all tragic grown ups. WE DO NOT SPEAK OF THAT. I'M SERIOUS ANN BRASHARES WE HAVE BEEF EVERLASTING) But this movie is just so delightful and I love it so and it's missing the sort of....contemplative, emo pretension that the books have that gets real old.

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
This movie was the BUSINESS back in the early 2000s when I was forming as a human, and I just love it even though it's maudlin and evil and emotionally manipulative. Whatever. I'm all about Mandy Moore and Shane West falling in TRAGICALLY DOOMED LOVE. I tried the book and...well, let's just say Nicholas Sparks and I are never going to be friends.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
Y'ALL ARE GONNA CRUCIFY ME FOR THIS but this book series bored me to tears as a child. I think it may be because I got far enough in when CS Lewis TURNED on Susan for daring to wear lipstick and pantyhose or something and that just really irritated me. But I'm actually quite fond of the movies, even if Aslan drives me a bit bonkers. Especially the second movie. Prince Caspian has WAR AND ACTION AND BEN BARNES SPEAKING IN A VAGUELY SPANISH ACCENT BUT LOOKING SO ATTRACTIVE WHILE DOING IT AND THERE'S A SHIP AND I JUST REALLY LIKE THIS MOVIE, OKAY (though the deus ex lion-a is ridiculous) (but like, HOT BEN BARNES, OKAY, I am so easy)

So tell me: which movie or TV or web series adaptations do you love MORE than the books? Also, this, for no reason:



  1. Oh my gosh, I love the movie Stardust. I wasn't a huge fan of the book, but the movie is amazing! I haven't read the book North and South, but wow that BBC adaptation is amazing. How swoony is Richard Armitage???

  2. We're gonna fight today, Gillian! But first, I agree with Divergent (although the movies do get way more outlandish as they go on), Stardust (I just can't with the book bc Tristran?! WTAF were you thinking, Gaiman?! Also no De Niro in the book so the movie is automatically waaaaay better), and also the movie adaptation of Much Ado is my favorite thing ever. SIGH NOT SO THEN LET THEM---LEEEEET THEM GO! I love it to pieces!

    I also love Prince Caspian, but I've never read those book so I automatically have to say the movie is better there.

    Sisterhood.... mmm, I do love the movies, but I still love the books. Especially Girls in Pants. It's my favorite because Carmen & Win ARE AMAZING EFF YEAH.

    Here's where I'm going to fight you: Howl and A Walk to Remember. HMC is a GORGEOUS movie, but it takes a sharp turn to crazyville about halfway through that I just can't go with. The book's twisty-turny-ness was something i wholly embraced, but the movie went completely off the rails when they go visit Suliman. As for A Walk to Remember, HELL YES to Mandy Moore and Shane West emo-ing it up and making out on stage and whatnot. Here. For. It. Also for the amazing early 00s Switchfoot soundtrack. However, the book was amazing and set in the 50s (I don't know why, but that worked for me) and also JAMIE FREAKING LIVES IN THE BOOK FIGHT ME I HAVE PROOF.

    Also, Christina is actual trash for daring to suggest the Ella Enchanted movie is better when CLEARLY Ella and Char's adorable sweet teenage love is far preferable to Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy's new adult angst, but I'll still take Hugh in those leather breeches and also Queen singalongs, Parminder Nagra as Jess, and Eric Idle and Heidi Klum being around for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

  3. Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations are ALWAYS better than the books. I read The Notebook and it was garbage, but the movie really gave the characters more depth (plus...Ryan Gosling).

  4. I have a lot of quirks, and one is that if I have seen the film, I won't read the book. So, I don't have a lot of books and movies to compare, but a few do come to mind. Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl. Andrews made Gregg more likable in the movie, and I thought it was a smart choice. There were too many years between reading Narnia and seeing the movie, but I did think the cartoon version was quite amazing. I think I watched it every time it was on as a kid. =)
    Sam @ WLABB

  5. Yes for Stardust and North & South. Also, Much Ado. I was gonna be all sad about Tuck Everlasting but somehow got distracted by Prince Caspian...hrmm....

  6. Prince Caspian movie all day, every day. For real, I went to see it SIX times in the theater, I was obsssssessssed.

    Ella Enchanted is the greatest book of all time and I am in firm denial that there was ever a movie made of it. Point, blank, period.

  7. I'll go with Paper Towns. I loved the book, even, but I thought the movie was so well done, both touching and funny. And just a little bit better than TFioS.

  8. I love this!

    I definitely maintain my long-held opinion that LOTR movies are better than the books. I also add Holes to this list (I think the movie ties things together better).

  9. I wholeheartedly agree with you on Secret Garden and Much Ado About nothing! Love the movies and the books were okay, it may be because at the time it was assigned reading and well me and assigned reading do not mix well at all. Anyway great post!




Note: comments on posts older than 90 days are automatically moderated, so they won't show up here immediately. Thanks for commenting! :)