That Time The Movie/Show Was Better Than The Book…

It happens, sometimes the movie or TV show is better than the book.  It’s rare.  More often, I think the movie or show is just as good as (even if different) from the book.  There has been so much amazing casting news for the past few weeks that give me hope for the future too.  Idris Elba has been cast as Roland Deschain in the Dark Tower movie.  This may aggravate people who can’t process Roland as black.  Official illustrations have always depicted him as white.  Elba is perfect for the character though.  Ian McShane has been cast as Odin in the American Gods series.  This makes me finally want to watch Deadwood.

I have a list of 5 movies or TV shows that are better than the book.  I have another list of 5 movies of TV shows that are just as good as the book.

Better Than The Book

Death Comes to Pemberly

I did not like this book.  For those who missed both book and miniseries, this takes place after P&P.  Wickham is accused of a murder and the story primarily leads up to the accusation and follows his trial.  I felt the book pushed Elizabeth to the side and robbed her of the independent spirit that made me love her.  The mini-series, meanwhile, brings her back to the forefront as active mystery solver (a role I think she would play if placed in a mystery novel).  It is clearer that she is Darcy’s equal and the couple is still deeply in love.  Matthew Rhys was a great Darcy, Jenna Coleman was a perfect Lydia, Matthew Goode made me like Wickham, and Anna Maxwell Martin was a solid Elizabeth.

My favorite moment from the mini-series
My favorite moment from the mini-series

Austenland

What?  Another Austen?  Well… sort of!  For those who don’t know either book or movie, this is more about the Austen obsession (specifically the Colin Firth as Darcy obsession) and a woman who enters into the world of themed resorts.  The movie’s success is largely due to the cast.  You have Keri Russell playing against Bret McKenzie, James Callis, and Jennifer Coolidge who are hysterical and over the top.

No, I have never done this... Firth is not my Darcy.
No, I have never done this… Firth is not my Darcy.

Hannibal/Red Dragon

I am going to pretend the Red Dragon movie just didn’t happen.  This book would never have made the list if it wasn’t for the TV show (it ended last summer).  Mads Mikkelsen was a better Lecter than Hopkins (which says a lot about Mikkelsen).  The first two seasons were great psychological games, but it was the final season’s Red Dragon story line that I enjoyed the most.  My enjoyment really focused on Richard Armitage’s portrayal of  Francis Dolarhyde, the man who believes he is the Red Dragon.  It is far darker than the book or the movie ever were.

Side note, Armitage is the man I would cast as Mr. Darcy…

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Armitage in North and South (which is basically P&P with Mills and labor unions).

Shadow Hunters/City of Bones

I can not read anymore of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books.  I got to #3 and want to slap Clary.  The original movie was a disaster despite a solid cast.  The entire thing makes much better sense as a series.  I wish more producers considered this when dealing with adaptations.  A series makes sense for these large universes.  The first season of Shadow Hunters isn’t even over yet and I already like it more.  Primarily because we are out of Clary’s head so we don’t have to hear her constant obsession with Jace.

The Magicians

I have already discussed a bit about this earlier this week, so I won’t rehash much.  So far the show has, in my opinion, handled the weirder well (geese), have kept the pace moving solidly, and integrated the other books to help viewers keep up with Julia better.

As Good As The Book

The Princess Bride

This is the best example of taking a great book and making a great movie.  Apparently it did not do well at the box office.  Whatever, it is a classic now!

As you wish...
As you wish…

Fight Club

I love both the movie and the book.  I felt the way Fincher visually left clues was subtle enough, but allowed people to come back and realize they had the answer all along.

Orchid Thief/Adaptation

Adapting a non-fiction book into a non-documentary movie has got to be the most difficult adaption process possible.  The simple idea of focusing the movie on that very process was a brilliant move on Kaufman and Jonez’s part.  It allowed the viewer to learn what Orleans wrote about without making it feel forced.  The discomfort was put on process of adapting the work, not on the work itself.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

As good as Fincher did with the US adaptation, I like the original Swedish series far more.  Noomi Rapace was what I imagined Lisbeth Salander to be.  There was a solidness to her that Rooney Mara could not reproduce.  Additionally, all three movies in the series came out in quick succession.  It made it feel more cohesive.

Carrie

I am talking about the 1976 version, not the sequel or more recent adaptation.  Carrie is a great book for adaptation.  It is a solid, concise, and focused story.  It has plenty of room to show elements.  It also had an amazing cast.  Carrie was my first adult horror book and my first Stephen King book.  It was not my first horror movie, that honor belongs to Evil Dead 2.  I like movies that play on horror in reality.  The true horror of Carrie is not her powers, but in how her classmates treat her and her reaction to that treatment.  This is the focus of the movie and it works wonderfully.

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