Usually I don’t pass judgement on movies based on books. For example, Lord of the Rings may not have been an awesome adaptation, but that’s partly what made it an awesome movie series. I mean, as much as I lament the change to Faramir’s characterization, the ending of Two Towers wouldn’t have been very suspenseful if he hadn’t gone ring-crazy and dragged Frodo and Sam through a war zone. (In the book, they all just hung out in his secret waterfall base for a while. Before the hobbits leave, Faramir reassures them that he wouldn’t even try to take the ring if it was the only way to save Gondor.)
Here are a few exceptions off the top of my head…
The book was better
Eragon had it’s moments as a movie, but the book was so much richer and more detailed.
The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorite books growing up. Especially with all the hype that’s surrounding the prequel, I encourage people to check out the original book. Did you know that the events in the movie only cover the first half of the book? Glinda doesn’t just show up after the wizard flies off in the balloon. Dorothy and her friends have to journey to her realm before she can reveal the secret of the ruby slippers.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was an awesome movie that tried to be just as awesome as the book, but failed.
(Speaking of Hitchiker’s Guide movie, anybody recognize Arthur Dent?
The movie was better
Speaking of Martin Freeman, I’m going to risk offending literature fans by admitting I’d rather watch an episode of BBC’s Sherlock than read one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories.
V for Vendetta. No offense to Alan Moore, but the movie left out the slow parts and boiled the original graphic novel down to all the good stuff.
Extra: There was a book?
In most cases, if a movie is based on a book, I have at least a casual interest in reading the book first. Or soon after seeing the movie. Or someday!
Because of this, I’ve noticed a lot of movies that were surprisingly based on books. “Day the Earth Stood Still” for example. Sure the 2008 movie was based on the 1951 movie…but the 1951 movie was based on a short story called Farewell to the Master. (I liked the 1951 movie the best out of all of them.) Other movies based (or inspired) by books: Meet the Robinsons, How to Train your Dragon, and does anybody else remember The Last Mimzy?
Extra 2: There wasn’t a book?
Not all movies were inspired by the book they’re marketed with.
After years of being disgruntled with an I, Robot that didn’t seem to care much for the original collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov, I realized it started as an original screenplay called Hardwired, and not too many changes were made after they got the rights to call it I, Robot. And of course it languished in development until Hollywood found something popular to market it with. I guess it all turned out better than their original plan, which was to edit it beyond recognition with an action plot and space marines.