The Best and Worst Film Adaptations

by Hope Hanson
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lord of the rings aesthetic

It’s the middle of the week, so, of course, I have another Top 5 Wednesday post for you! And today’s topic is a very, very contentious one: On-screen adaptations of books! So, today, we’re going to discuss the best and worst film adaptations!

Sometimes books are turned into movies. Sometimes the movies are great, and other times they are terrible. This week let’s look at some books that were made into movies and see if the movies were better or worse than the original book!

(This month’s prompts were provided by Alex (The Scribe Owl). Top 5 Wednesday was originally created by GingerReadsLainey.)

Now, I know the prompt says movie adaptations. But obviously, I included TV show versions of books, too! Also, I titled this “the best and worst movie adaptations.” But obviously not every adaptation is 100% good or 100% bad. So, I put some in-between options on my list, as well. And in the name of good fun, I’ve decided to do a little semi-creative categorizing for this post! Basically, I’ll be dividing the films I talk about into the good, the bad, and the weird. (Which I highly recommend; it’s an amazing movie.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my choices! And if you want to see more of my Top 5 Wednesday lists, feel free to check them out here!

The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy (Good)

Honestly, these movies are the exemplar for film adaptations! Yes, Jackson changed some of the content. (I’m looking at you, Arwen. And where is Tom Bombadil? Where is Goldberry? Where are they, Peter?) And yes, the films do lose some of the beauty of Tolkien’s writing, and some characters also lose aspects of Tolkien’s characterization that made them so wonderful in the books.

Clearly, no film adaptation is without its flaws. But for the most part, Jackson successfully kept the magic and general feel of the books. The plot, too, is true to the books, excepting a handful of points. So, I do love these movies, and I definitely consider them to be some of the best adaptations out there!

But, alternatively…

The Hobbit Film Trilogy (Weird)

Look, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy watching these movies! In fact, I do a marathon of all six extended editions every year! So, I’m definitely not totally discounting these films. However, they have their problems. Quite of few them, actually. But most of the problems don’t make the movies terrible, so I wouldn’t classify this as bad.

Mainly, though, Jackson added quite a bit to the plot of these films. After all, when you try to make a single book into three movies… Yeah, you kind of need to add some stuff. And although I wish the movies were truer to Tolkien’s storyline, I don’t think Jackson made the absolute worst changes. Most of the changes he made have genuine reasoning and logic behind them. Admittedly, some don’t, but all in all, I think Jackson could have done far, far worse in terms of creative liberty.

Frankly, my biggest problem with this film series is how long the final movie stretches on. Which is to say, pretty much all the problems I have with these films could have been solved if The Hobbit had been adapted into two movies rather than three.

And can I take a moment to talk about the CGI in these films? Don’t get me wrong; the visuals are stunning. But they’re also fake, and it shows. Not so much in the sense that it doesn’t look real, but more in the sense that it feels unreal. The end result is that this trilogy doesn’t have anywhere near the same sense of magic that the original movies do. I’m not hating on advanced, new movie tech and CGI, but I definitely think they could have toned it down a bit here.

The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters PJO Movies (Bad)

This one is universally agreed upon as being terrible. At least, the people I know agree it is. Seriously, they changed so much that did not need to be changed. Between the characters and the actual plot of the movies, so much differed from the books. I mean, seriously? The part with Kronos at the end of the second movie? What in the world? And considering how much I loved these books at the time, I was so disappointed! Again, I think that’s a common sentiment when it comes to these two films.

Stardust Movie (Good)

I actually watched the movie before I read the book, so I might be biased, but this one is so, so good! It’s visually stunning, and it stays true to both the plot and the overall feel of Neil Gaiman’s book. Also, the casting is amazing for this one! A lot of the time, what could be a decent film adaptation is ruined by weird or just plain bad casting decisions. But that’s far from being the case here. After all, what more could you ask for than Robert De Niro playing Captain Shakespeare?

Eragon Movie (Bad)

Oh boy, do I have thoughts and opinions on this one. And how can I not when they changed so much, and when all of those changes made this movie terrible? First of all, the basic plot has a ridiculous number of changes. Some of them are small, but others are pretty significant. Some of the characters were also drastically altered, and a number of the casting choices are questionable, to say the least.

Most importantly, though, why does Sapphira have feathers?! Seriously, the CGI and special effects of this movie just leave a lot to be desired in general, but this is one point that makes me especially angry.

So, I hope you enjoyed these! And I’d love to hear what you think! Do you agree with any of the points I made? What do you think are the best and worst film adaptations? Drop a comment down below and let me know!

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