When the Movie is Better than the Book (REALLY!)

I do concede that it does not happen often; however, it does happen.

Sometimes the movie really is better than the book.

I can almost hear the high-pitched screams of my fellow book-lovers.  I can almost hear the gnashing of teeth.

Hear me out.

It can happen.  And when it does, the effect is almost magical.

And no, I’m not talking aboutThe Hunger Games.  I saw it Saturday but do not feel that the movie is better than Suzanne Collins’ novelization.  Certain scenes were done well, though, such as the Reaping…

But I digress.

I am a huge fan of Sideways (the movie, 2004).  With Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen, and especially Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne’s film was brilliant.  What made it stand out was the acting and the directing.

Sideways won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and this was well-deserved.

The cinematography in this film is particularly enjoyable for me.  I love the angles.  It’s a great movie.

But the novel by Rex Pickett was just mediocre.  It was only onscreen that I got a feel for the characters.  What was written on the pages of the book was simply rendered better on screen.

I feel the same way about another recent Alexander Payne-directed movie: The Descendants.  This surprises me, considering the fact that I’m no big fan of George Clooney.  Sure, he’s handsome, I admit to that.  But movies should be about more than eye-candy.  Clooney has made a career on playing himself.  He’s just George Clooney being George Clooney, with the exception of O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and The Descendants (2011).

Yet Clooney shines in this film, as do his co-stars, Judy Greer and especially Shailene Woodley.

The panoramic, lush Hawaiian backdrop truly delivers on the big-screen.

I did not like Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel.  I thought the pacing was slow and the characterization could have been better.

I felt the movie, though, should have took home the Academy Award for Best Picture.  It had a terrific ensemble cast.  The setting came to life and so did Clooney.

My last choice may be controversial.  It’s actually a tough one for me, considering I loved the novel.  In fact, it’s a favorite of mine.  I even love to re-read it, and fellow booklovers know that a reader cannot say that about every novel.

It is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  This movie blew me away.  It was everything I hoped for, plus some.  Rooney Mara, a virtual unknown, stole the show and literally became Lisabeth Salander.

Stieg Larsson’s novel crossed many genres.  Larsson created unforgettable characters, some of the best we will ever see on a page.

But the film took my breath away.  Even the usual stiff Daniel Craig gave a wonderful performance.

It certainly does not happen every day.  These are actually the only instances I could come up with when the movie is better than the book.  Yet it clearly does happen.  And when it does, well, it’s pure magic.

I’d love to hear from you.  Have you ever enjoyed a movie more than you liked the book?  If so, please share!

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4 Comments

Filed under book review, books, fiction

4 responses to “When the Movie is Better than the Book (REALLY!)

  1. I’m going to be linched for this, but The Lord of the Rings. There’s ALOT of filler in those books and tho I cannot deny they are indeed good books, I didn’t enjoy reading them much.

    • bookmagnet

      I loved The Lord of the Rings movies! Never read the books. I did read (and still love) The Hobbit. Looking forward to the release of that movie.

  2. I agree with you totally. Never say never. And I don’t believe that one can claim that a movie will ‘never’ be as good as the movie they make it into. I actually just finished reading ‘GWTDT’ two days ago, and felt much the same as you. I’m eager to see the movie and will catch it tomorrow night. Your review has given me hope that indeed the movie stands a chance at being as great as the book…if not better.

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