Say it Isn’t So!

I loved the book City of Ember. LOVED it. Was so excited to see they were making a movie about it. Unfortunately, my free movie tickets won’t allow me to see a movie until it’s been out for two weeks, and my conscience (ie, my husband) won’t allow me to pay $9 for a movie, so I haven’t seen this one yet.

And then, I read this post on Kristen Nelson’s blog.


Why, oh WHY does Hollywood take a wonderful book like City of Ember, and ruin it? You’d think the fact that it was successful would encourage movie-makers to leave it alone, but noooooo. My indignation calls to mind the movie versions of just about every Stephen King story ever written (with the exception of The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption).

So, in an effort to assuage my outrage: what movies have you seen that decimated the books they were based on? Or (if you’re determined to see the glass as half full), what movie did a good job of representing its accompanying book?


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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11 years ago

You know, I liked the movie Stardust, too (didn’t read the book). But I think you had to be a writer or avid reader to enjoy it. Almost every one else I talked to hated it. People just don’t understand good storytelling these days :).

11 years ago

Lets see, I like the movie Stardust better than the book. I saw the movie first so I was a little biased but I really wasn’t impressed by the book.

With Harry Potter, I’m a bit of a canon nazi. In terms of accuracy, the first two by Christopher Columbus were excellent and true to the books. Remember, they were children’s books/movies, those first two. Then the third one came out and I was less impressed and it just went down from there. It really irked me that they claimed to have to edit so much out for time but then they added stuff that was completely absent in the book and rearranged things. That pissed me off. I just don’t see the point other than the shock and awe factor. In Goblet of Fire, for instance. In the movie, Harry’s chase scene with the dragon. WTF?

Children of the Corn is the ultimate, demented story. The movie? The ending did a complete 180 and damn the neverending sequels.

I though The Dark Is Rising stayed pretty true to form in terms of movie adaptations go.

Pet Sematary was good too, from what I can remember.

11 years ago

The only movie I’ve ever seen that was better than the book is Interview with the Vampire. I love the change they made to the end in the movie.

The book ends with the reporter going off to find Lestat – it’s a very quiet-low-key conclusion. In the movie (spoilers ahead), Lestat hides in the back seat of the reporter’s car and attacks him. Very horror-movie, but still unexpected and much more gripping. It ended the movie on a fast-paced, jaunty note.

I’ve never read the book more than once, but I’ve watched the movie three or four times, always enjoying that ending.

11 years ago

Ella Enchanted. Ugh.

Also, I thought How to Deal just gutted two wonderful books by Sarah Dessen.

11 years ago

courtney, i feel exactly the same way about the HP movies: really liked the first ones, but then when the later ones came out, I absolutely loved them and thought the originals weren’t done so well.

Zoe, I think you hit it on the head. Movies are usually made to achieve blockbuster status–at the sacrifice of quality. so sad.

11 years ago

I don’t know if this will be a popular opinion… I originally thought the first two Harry Potter films were WONDERFUL when I saw them, just brilliant. But then Alfonso came onto the scene for Azkaban, and Order of Phoenix happened and I thought both were mind-blowingly awesome, they trounced the first two. So, it might not be fair of me, but now when I watch the Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets I get really underwhelmed and wish they had been put into different director’s hands because I think they could’ve been so much more!

11 years ago

I can see this turning ugly…. whenever I bring up movie tastes with my friends and it always guarantees an argument.
I loved the Lord of the Rings movies, and I liked Howl’s Moving Castle better than the book. But Hollywood KILLED the Golden Compass/Northern Lights, The Dark Is Rising, Narnia to a degree, and (back a long way) the Never Ending Story. Hitchiker’s Guide wasn’t so bad: the book is soooo out there that I think a movie adaption must have been difficult. Harry Potter isn’t my favourite either. Mostly I think that when a book is adapted with artistic intentions, it isn’t too bad: you can get away with some pretty drastic changes. But when a book is adapted to fill the summer blockbuster timeslot, then things get dodgy pretty quickly. One of My very favorite books Johnathan Srtange and Mr Norrel, is being adapted for film. Since one director/writer has already quit, I think it is sadly going to fall into the latter category.

11 years ago

CR, I agree on both counts.

Just me, as for the Bourne series, the only things I think the movie got right were the character’s names. I’m putting Ella Enchanted on my to-read list. Can’t believe I haven’t gotten to that yet.

Rachel, I agree that the HP movies were done fairly well. What I liked about them was that even though they were movies for kids, I enjoyed them as an adult, whereas most kid movies make me yawn.

Wulf: Hitchhiker’s Guide–excellent example. That movie was hideous.

Hana, it’s funny you should mention The Shining because although I didn’t think it was much like the book (which I think is awesome), I still loved the movie. Casting Jack Nicholson was sheer genius ;).

11 years ago

– Fight Club
– The Shining

– almost everything else

I’m looking forward to the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

11 years ago

Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy–wonderful book; movie just couldn’t do it justice, though it was fun.

300 — great movie, true to the novel; though it’s a graphic novel, mind you, and not a full length fiction.

Rachel Burton
11 years ago

I rarely like movies based on books, but I agree about the Shawshank (actually, in this case, I liked the movie more). I don’t think they did too bad a job with Harry Potter though.

11 years ago

How about Return of the King? Could they have changed the plot much more?

Any of the Bourne movies. Right idea, wrong era and everything else. I like the movies, but they aren’t like the books at all.

Ella Enchanted. The book is delightful. The movie makes me ill.

C.R. Evers
11 years ago

The Movie Eragon was HORRIBLE! I loved the book.

I didn’t read the Bourne Identity serires but my husband did, and he said the the movies are nothing like the books.

11 years ago

dusty, I didn’t read that one, maybe because the movie was so uninspiring.

bish, I fully agree. the book is always better.

kate, thanks for replying. I haven’t read that one either; maybe I should 😉

angela, lol, I’ll pass that one.

11 years ago

I thought they did a good job of ‘It’ and ‘The Stand’, too, but yeah, the big H definitely butchered most SK films.

I’m not going to read the Ember post you linked to, cause I still want to see the movie…just a little less excited now…*sighs*

And tell Mr. Creaky Wallet Syndrome that 9 bucks for a movie isn’t as bad as it could be…here it’s around 11 bucks for a regular theatre (5 bucks for the cheap, the-movie-is-practically-out-on-vidoe-now theatres.)

11 years ago

Good post!
‘The Power of One’by Bryce Courtney was absolutely murdered by the film. I didn’t recognise it as the same story.

Bish Denham
11 years ago

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest comes to mind as a movie that stuck to the book. Over the summer I finally read Stardust. I actually liked the movie better than the book. When we saw Prince Caspian (sp?) both my husband and I were disturbed by the violence. It’s been so long since I read the book I don’t remember if there was all that violence in it or not.

Usually though, the book is almost always better than the movie.

11 years ago

I’ll never forgive Hollywood for what they did to ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’.