To every rule, there’s an exception. By some cataclysm of fate, some movies exist that are actually an improvement to its original source. They’re elusive creatures, and often the audience leaves with no impression that said movies had book counterparts. And they’re rare. Originally, this list had plans for ten entries, and then five entries… but all that could be scrounged up were three. Three measly books that leaves the reader with an impression after leafing through the last page: “Eh… yes, but the book was better.”
It by no means makes up for all the movies that butchered their sources, but rather as a moment of silence for these. And a reminder that the movie industry isn’t all bad with their books. Sometimes, their artistic license saves a movie from the trash heap.
3- The Princess Bride (originally by William Goldman)
Let’s start by saying this: it’s an amazing book. Of course it is. It’s physically impossible to take The Princess Bride and make it anything but fantastic. The author himself wrote the screenplay, and it holds the same tone and meter as the book.
When I speak of better (at least in this case), I mean in terms of popularity: honestly, how many of you knew that Princess Bride was once a book? Show of hands? Anyone?
Most of you probably aren’t raising your hand. When I stumbled upon it in the library, I originally thought it to be a movie companion; it seems to translate across better, too, if one’s already seen the movie. While the book provides intriguing back-stories (particularly for the character of Fezzik), the movie’s imagery is all that comes to mind while reading the movie.
Try it. Try to picture Westley as anyone other than Cary Elwes. It’s impossible.
All in all, it’s a quality piece of literature but the movie overshadows it.
((give me some slack– there aren’t many movies better than the book, alright?))
2- How to Train Your Dragon
When Dreamworks released How to Train Your Dragon, it received praise from both children and adults. Shame that the book’s… age limited.
To be expected from a children’s novel. Its simple plot and juvenile drawings make for excellent childhood fodder, and some of its characters show caricatures of the movie counterparts enough to gather a forced chuckle or maybe a smile. Altogether, though, it’s too goony, too innocent, too… one-dimensional to be anything other than “nice” for people who have passed the sixth grade.
And I had such high hopes after the movie….
1- Stardust (originally by Neil Gaiman)
This is the only book on the list I expect I won’t get flack for because we all know it’s true. Stardust, for the few who actually watched it, became a cult classic akin to the Princess Bride mentioned above except with less sense. Wonderful plot, timing, characters…. the book, however… no.
I’m sorry, but the book is horrible.
Neil Gaiman isn’t necessarily a bad writer, but with Stardust he mashed a good idea with not-so-good pacing. What the movie describes in four minutes, he spends twenty pages on. And it agonizes the reader. He forces himself to write it in the scheme of a fairy-tale, but it fails. The author isn’t a cutesy writer, and Stardust hadn’t the mettle to be classified as cutesy anyhow.