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    11 Movies And TV Shows That Were Perfect Adaptations Of Their Books And 11 That Just Totally Missed The Mark

    Some of these I couldn't watch more than once; some of these I've seen a hundred times.

    Hi, I'm Hannah, and I love reading and movies! So, surprise surprise, I have some pretty strong opinions on movie and TV adaptations of books.


    I've been revisiting a lot of my old fave books and films in the pandemic — here are 11 adaptations that were just perfect and 11 that I wish could be deleted from history!

    *Most of these books are going to be YA, because that's what I read, and children's, because of the nostalgia — sorry everyone.

    1. Spot on: Matilda

    TriStar / courtesy Everett Collection

    Roald Dahl imbued all his work with a sense of magic, even beyond the actual magic present in his stories. Matilda was one of my favorites of his books, and the move perfectly captured the heart of the story as well as its darkness. The characters were just as I imagined them, and the casting was perfect.

    2. Missed the mark: Eragon

    20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

    This is by far the worst book-to-movie adaptation that I have ever seen. My dad was reading Eragon to me, and we rushed to finish so we could go to our local movie theater and see the movie on Friday night. We walked out in complete and utter shock. We still quote "You can hear my thoughts!" "Yes, you and mine!" and "We'll give him a funeral fit for a king!" It wasn't grounded in any reality and the plot was mangled into something unrecognizable. Sad!

    3. Spot on: Twilight

    Summit Entertainment

    HEAR ME OUT. Robert and Kristen played those parts to perfection. They actually cast Native Americans in the roles of the werewolves, and the first movie at least was pretty damn close to the book. Also, that soundtrack?! Not that Twilight is the best book ever, but that movie was a damn good adaptation.

    4. Missed the mark: A Series of Unfortunate Events (the movie)

    Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection

    Look, this one was fun. It had a stellar cast. But Jim Carrey just wasn't creepy enough as Olaf, and Klaus and Violet were WAY too old, taking away a lot of the creepy factor. It just didn't carry the same type of dark humor the books did so well at. Also, trying to fit three books into one film just didn't do the books justice.

    5. Spot on: A Series of Unfortunate Events (the TV series)

    Joe Lederer/Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection

    This has got to be one of the closest book-to-screen adaptations, which is a potentially risky move (usually it's good to take a few liberties), but it works here because it's just done so well. The humor is perfectly captured, and the coloring and editing is spectacular. It feels larger than life while also grimmer than life, whimsical yet depressing at the same time, just like the books. They also threw in some fun cultural references through Sunny, and a bit of subtle self-aware humor that felt like a loving reference to the fact that most people who loved these books are now adults.

    6. Missed the mark: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Warner Bros / Everett Collection

    Look, I was a huge Harry Potter fan growing up, and I saw this particular film six times in theaters. But even after the first viewing, I knew it was awful. The coloring does a good job of conveying the darkness of the book...but that's about where the similarities stop. The sixth book is, to me, the grimmest book of the series, with themes of the allure of power, obsession, and suspicion. The film turned it into a high school rom-com with jokes that did not belong, and then took the one happy aspect of the book — Harry and Ginny's relationship — and made it extremely dull and lifeless.

    7. Spot on: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Warner Brothers / courtesy Everett Collection

    If you don't think this is the best Harry Potter book/movie, you're either wrong or lying. It perfectly bridges the gap between kid and teen Harry and his friends, and it's the closest Michael Gambon ever comes to actually acting like Dumbledore. We get to see some of the most iconic moments from the entire series, including Hermione punching Malfoy and "EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!" Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, and Alan Rickman shone as Sirius, Lupin, and Snape, in a film where their history was at the forefront. Also, Harry's angst is at its best here.

    8. Missed the mark: Before I Fall

    Open Road Films / courtesy Everett Collection

    I LOVED this book in high school, even if it had its problems (that ending...). The movie was okay (largely due to Zoey Deutch), but it lacked the heart of the book, and I didn't really believe Kent and Zoey's connection. I didn't feel like Juliet got the nuance she deserved, and the ending, again, felt far too Hollywood and kind of cheap.

    9. Spot on: Room

    A24 / courtesy Everett Collection

    I was a little cautious when they turned Room into a film — part of the reason the book had worked so well was because it was from Jack's perspective, and thus didn't feel like torture porn or some splashy sensationalizing of a horrible trauma. I wasn't sure how they could keep the perspective with Jack in the film — but they proved me wrong. They kept it grounded in his experience while giving a bit more to Joy without feeling like it was completely her story, and both Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson played their roles with such reality that you couldn't help but feel like you were right there with them. I've never been more anxious than I was in that truck scene!

    10. Missed the mark: All the Bright Places

    Michele K. Short / Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection

    I definitely had some problems with the book, which I felt romanticized suicide and wrapped things up too neatly at the end. The film, to me, only magnified those problems. By focusing more on Violet in general and Finch mostly only as far as his influence on her life (as opposed to the book, which had dual perspectives for both, and had them both start on the ledge), Finch felt even more like a tragic hero who only existed to lift up another, rather than his own character dealing with trauma and mental illness while also trying to help another with the same. This was a disservice to Finch and those with mental illness — and as emotionally grounded as Justice Smith was, the script just didn't allow for a more complicated exploration of his character. The Post-its also felt like a random add-on rather than a huge part of Finch's character.

    11. Spot on: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

    Masha Weisberg/ Netflix /Courtesy Everett Collection

    The book was adorable and relatable, yet still emotionally resonant and riveting, and bringing it to the screen worked perfectly largely due to the charms of Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, as well as their chemistry. I can't speak for the sequels, but this first installment was a perfectly charming exploration of first love and the dynamics of high school, just like the book.

    12. Missed the mark: The Lorax

    Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    How did a film with a voice cast this star-stuffed turn out this bad? Maybe it's because the picture book this story was based on just...didn't need to be turned into a movie. Its political message felt largely obscured and it just did not feel like a Dr. Seuss story at all to me.

    13. Spot on: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    Murray Close/Lionsgate / courtesy Everett Collection

    All the Hunger Games adaptations were decent, but Catching Fire has to be one of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations and one of my favorite movie sequels of all time. The casting (in particular, Jena Malone as Joanna, Sam Claflin as Finnick, and Jeffrey Wright as Beatee) was flawless, and the splashy Capitol lifestyle was contrasted with the grim reality of the games even better than in the first film. The political undertones and tension was much stronger and handled super well.

    14. Missed the mark: The Hobbit

    Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros. Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

    The first one was alright, and the second wasn't horrible, but...did we really need nine hours of the Hobbit, a book that really could've been covered in half a movie? They stuffed way too much in here and really milked the source material for all it was worth, taking too many liberties and cheapening the source material. The Lord of the Rings films are so good that I wish they'd just left it at that.

    15. Spot on: Holes

    Walt Disney / courtesy Everett Collection

    I'm pretty sure everyone around my age range loves Holes. As they should — it's a great adaptation of the source material and a classic all on its own. Adults (especially big stars) often feel out of place or don't hold their own in movies with a large cast of kids — but here, Sigourney Weaver is completely bone-chilling, hateable, while still feeling layered.

    16. Missed the mark: The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

    20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

    While it was a decent action movie if you hadn't read the books (my dad enjoyed it), it was like a slap in the face if you had. They completely changed the ending (which ruined the entire setup for the third film), and it felt very much like without Dylan O'Brien, no one would be watching. Kaya/Teresa basically faded into the background, and the normally excellent Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, and Aidan Gillen all felt one-dimensional. The first movie was alright, but I didn't even bother watching the third after this one.

    17. Spot on: Crazy Rich Asians

    Sanja Bucko /Warner Bros. Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

    Crazy Rich Asians was a great, hilarious book — but the film elevated it to a new level, adapting it to better fit the rom-com format with a star-studded cast. Focusing more on Rachel (yet still leaving room for the supporting cast to shine) made this film more grounded and relatable, and Gemma Chan in particular absolutely killed it as Astrid.

    18. Missed the mark: The Golden Compass

    New Line Cinema / courtesy Everett Collection

    Oh, lord. Another one I rushed to see then was vastly disappointed. High-concept fantasy and sci-film adaptations are really hit or miss (usually miss), and this one just did not do the book justice, featuring a pretty bad, sanitized hack-saw job of the book. It pretty famously watered down the messages about religious corruption, which was the entire point of the book, though there was still, of course, a huge controversy about it being "anti-religion."

    19. Spot on: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    Warner Brothers / courtesy Everett Collection

    This is another example that excelled because of its casting. A fresh-faced, pre–Gossip Girl Blake Lively was EXACTLY who I pictured as Bridget, and America Ferrara was an absolute breakout star of this film. The characters all felt authentic to their ages and that time period in the same relatable way the book did, and it was very much a love letter to the book and its fans. As for the sequel...we don't talk about that.

    20. Missed the mark: A Wrinkle in Time

    Atsushi Nishijima / Disney /Courtesy Everett Collection

    This is one of those films that tried to do too much. LOVE the cast, love the messaging, just don't like the execution. A Wrinkle in Time (like The Lorax) is one of those books that just doesn't make sense to be turned into a movie. A Wrinkle in Time isn't grounded fantasy like Harry Potter, where we're dying to see it come to life on screen — so much of it feels like we're supposed to imagine it on our own, and not always come up with the same thing. The visuals were beautiful, but just not what I imagined, and it didn't feel like it held the same magic as the book.

    21. Spot on: The Princess Diaries

    Disney / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Okay, if I'm being real, this wasn't a "spot on" adaptation in that it did feel really different from the book — but in a good way! Like Crazy Rich Asians, it felt like many of the changes were natural in turning the style more cinematic and genre-fitting, and like with many of these examples, Annie Hathaway brought a new perspective to the character from the book. Casting Julie Andrews in particular was a stroke of genius, and I honestly wish we'd gotten more screentime from Sandra Oh and Caroline Goodall as the principal and Mia's mom, because even the minor characters were great.

    22. And finally, missed the mark: The Giver

    David Bloomer/Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

    The Giver was NOT another thrilling dystopian novel like Divergent or The Hunger Games, and it had no business being turned into a movie that felt like an iteration of those. I love Taylor Swift, but she had no business being in this movie, and the rest of the casting felt similarly strange. Overall, it just did not feel as dark and interesting as the book.

    What do you think? Any that should definitely be on this list? Let me know in the comments!