It is very rare for film adaptations of novels to exceed the source material or even live up to it. The reason for this is several different reasons, whether it’s because of the time constraints of a film, which means many scenes have to be cut from the book, or because it doesn’t match the original perception of the readers.
However, on some occasions, a film adaptation can not only be as good as the novel it’s based on, but also far superior. Between Stephen Spielberg turning a pulpy Michael Crichton novel into a magical cinematic experience and Francis Ford Coppola turning trashy gangster fiction into the greatest movie of all time, these are Reddit favorites.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
So many mystery mystery novels have been adapted over the decades, and few manage to do the source material justice. However, Mwprice102 thinks the 2011 adaptation is better than the book it’s based on. The Redditor explains that “there are basically hundreds of pages of stuff from the book that was cut for the movie that I didn’t miss at all.”
The girl with the dragon tattoo is an exceptionally long book, and much of it is unnecessary. But thriller writer David Fincher managed to create the biggest, most important moments in the book and tie them together with a tight, compelling narrative. The 2009 Swedish adaptation also does a great job.
American Psycho (2000)
American psycho is one of the most interesting character studies of the 21st century, as it follows a wealthy businessman who turns into a serial killer. But there are a lot of differences between the book and the movie, and Reddit user Mafternoonshyamalan thinks that’s for the best.
The Redditor thinks the book is “dull, repetitive and boring until it’s nauseatingly violent. The film strips it all down and actually manages to get to the heart of what it was trying to say.” But the film also forgoes much of the violence of the novel, as much of it is off-screen, leaving the viewer to think about the most unimaginable things. And there are also a lot of outrageous moments in the book that would be totally unbelievable in the world the movie builds, like when it lets a rat eat a woman’s body.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Maybe_Im_Really_DVA asserts that jurassic park is much better than the classic novel, explaining that “While the book is great, the movie just has that magic that can’t be beat.” The book is just as entertaining as the movie and created all the classic characters, but many of those characters are much less likable in the novel.
On top of that, the film was so innovative at the time and even films released today, nearly 30 years later, struggle to match the practical and digital effects realism of the 1993 film. And no time of the book is not as terrifying as its on-screen counterpart, whether it’s the velociraptors in the kitchen or the first encounter with the T-rex.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
Exmo_therapist thinks that The Bourne Identity is much better than the book, saying that “it’s hard for me to find many situations in the books believable by today’s standards. A younger, more vicious version of the movies seems more believable.”
The Bourne Identity is to be thanked for almost single-handedly changing the action movie landscape of the 2000s, and there wouldn’t be another major Hollywood film so influential in the genre until John Wick in 2014. After Thick headed, nearly all action movies used Shakycam and took a more realistic and grounded approach to storytelling. The movie started a whole trend of gritty spy movies.
The Shining (1980)
TheCenterOfEnniu Think 1980s the brilliant is much better than Stephen King’s novel of the same name. This is neither a popular nor an unpopular view, for the idea that Stanley Kubrick the brilliant is better than the book has fans divided.
Moviegoers tend to prefer the Kubrick-directed horror classic, and Stephen King fans tend to prefer the novel because the movie takes so many liberties with the source material that it’s almost completely different. This is why Stephen King himself hates the film adaptation.
The Godfather (1972)
I_never_post_but has a few fighting words to say about the source material of The Godfather. The Redditor argues that “the book is pulp at best, trash at worst, but was used as the basis for two undisputed cinematic masterpieces.”
The Redditor is right when they say the novel is more pulpy, as it leans more on the violent and exciting side of gangster fiction, like Luca Brasi being a much more menacing and ruthless hitman. The book isn’t as layered or as detailed as the movie, either. The adaptation is the second greatest movie of all time according to IMDb, the sequel is a close third and The Godfather Part III is great in itself.
The Mist (2007)
Anyone who’s seen the Stephen King film adaptation Mist I can’t forget the shocking way it ended. To save his three friends and his son from being monster food, he shoots them in the head with his four remaining bullets, allowing himself to be torn apart by the monsters.
It’s emotionally draining and completely traumatic, but it’s one of the film adaptations with darker endings, as it doesn’t happen in the novel, which ends much more upbeat. Radthereptile claims the movie is better because of the shocking ending and points out that “even Stephen King says it’s better and he wishes he had thought of that ending.”
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen brothers, two of America’s greatest filmmakers, often write original screenplays, but every now and then an existing story catches their eye. This was the case in 2007 when they adapted Cormac McCarthy’s There is no country for old people.
However, much like how the Coens tend to leave their movies open and ambiguous, McCarthy works the same way, and that’s why Shadownight311 thinks the novel is worse. The Redditor claims the book is “a bit confusing, as the author seems to hate punctuation. The movie was so much better and easier to follow.” McCarthy rarely uses commas, and it’s unclear whether what’s being read is dialogue, description, or something else.
Although some Redditors think Jaws is boring, it was unprecedented in many ways at the time. The 1975 film started the summer blockbuster trend, it was a horror film set during the day and, according to Ryan0413, it’s just as much better than the book.
It seems Spielberg is good at turning unlikable novel characters into lovable movie characters because, just as was the case with jurassic parkit is difficult to identify with the characters of the Jaws delivered. The Redditor explains that Spielberg, “had to change the characters because when he read it, he rooted for the shark.”
Die Hard (1988)
die hard is one of the most thrilling action movies ever made, but because it has the simple premise of a cop gunning down a group of terrorists in an apartment building, few would believe it’s actually based on a delivered. The film is an adaptation of Roderick Thorp Nothing lasts eternallybut Mksavage1138 is one of many who think the film is far superior.
The Reddit user notes that the “writers deserve 99% of the credit.” Although many of the action scenes and even dialogue are taken directly from the book, the novel has a much darker, guilt-ridden tone compared to the more thrilling 1988 popcorn movie.
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