Ever wonder what the term 'Don't judge a book by it's cover' means? Well, according to the dictionary, it is an idiom meaning 'you shouldn't prejudge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone.' Putting this into the context of movies you could say, 'don't judge a movie by the book it was based on.' Some book to film adaptations are very different products, some fail, and some are even better than the books. Many of the films I have seen in my lifetime have come from books, some with better results than others. So, here I'd like to give you my top 10 favorite book-to-movie adaptations. This will include books that have been split into two or more films (especially a series of books). No comic-book (DC or Marvel) films are included.
10. The Twilight Saga (2008-2012)
Now, I know what your thinking...and your right. The vampire werewolf love story by Stephenie Meyer was pretty bad. But I like (don't love) this series for a few reasons. Firstly, I love wolves. I personally love wolves because they are a form of dog, so don't judge me for that. Secondly, the main antagonist coven, the Volturi, were played by some of my fave actors including Dakota Fanning, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Michael Sheen. And my third and final reason for liking this series is Breaking Dawn Part 2. What I liked about this movie was that the filmmakers decided to add a big battle at the end, essentially making it an all-out war movie. So, don't judge me for liking vampires, because I personally don't like the blood-suckers, except when they are the good guys.
9. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Coming in at #9 is the acclaimed classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It tells the amazing story of Atticus Finch who is a single father and a lawyer. One thing that really stuck out to me was that his children called him by his name instead of "Dad." And I really liked seeing this film go from "really good" at the beginning to "great" in the middle and "amazing" at the end. It had great character development, a surprising plot, and wonderful storytelling that follows the book really, really well. It even won several awards, including Atticus being claimed by the American Film Institute to be the "greatest hero in American film."
8. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Now if your like me, you probably read some of Roald Dahl's books growing up. And the #8 spot on this list goes to the majestic Willy Wonka himself. It is a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's epic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was released back in 1971. I totally dug this movie because it was family-friendly, had Gene Wilder as a stellar Willy Wonka, and had a tone that could touch that inner child inside all of us. I loved this adaptation of the book a lot more than the 2005 Tim Burton adaptation.
7. A Christmas Carol (2009)
Now at #7, this one is very interesting: It is a Christmas story and a classic ghost story combined in this 2009 adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Now there have been several adaptations to the story, with Patrick Stewart, Michael Caine (and the Muppets), Bill Murray, and George C. Scott. But the one that got me the most was Jim Carrey's adaptation to the story. Carrey played Scrooge and the three ghosts that show him his past, present and future. And I enjoyed seeing the CGI animation of this film, it looked so real. I totally give credit to Robert Zemeckis and Jim Carrey for making the Christmas Carol adaptation the 21st Century needed.
6. The Chronicles of Narnia series (2005-?)
Coming through to spot #6 is the book based film series that isn't even finished yet, and that is The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. With films already done for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there are still four more books in the series that they need to turn into movies (hopefully soon). But the things I enjoyed the most about the films are the talking animals, centaurs, fauns, dwarfs, and Liam Neeson voicing the graceful lion Aslan who rules over all of Narnia. I also loved the White Witch, played by Tilda Swinton, who was an excellent choice to play one of the most sinister villains in all of literature.
5. The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014)
Coming in at spot #5 is the prequel to the most epic film trilogy of all time. And that is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Now this film is split into three films, thus making it a trilogy which reunites some of the cast from The Lord of the Rings. I thought I would include this trilogy in the list since we have Battle of the Five Armies to be released in December this year. This trilogy is fun, epic, exciting, and dark, all wrapped up in one. And this is the first time a book has been split into three films (which is a nice move as it gives the filmmakers enough time to really flesh out the story).
4. Matilda (1996)
Coming in to spot #4 is another classic from Roald Dahl and that is Matilda, directed by Danny DeVito, who also starred in the film himself. This film taught me that we can change the world with help from what's inside of us. It had a really fun sense to it, which was surprising since the villain is a huge woman called the "Trunchbull" by the children. And I also liked seeing Mara Wilson in the lead role (wonder if we'll see her again some time soon).
3. The Hunger Games series (2012-2015)
Taking spot #3 is the series that defined 'May the Odds be ever in your Favor,' and that is Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series. Although there are only three books in the series, the filmmakers decided to split the finale, Mockingjay, into two films (Part 1 will be out in a few weeks), just like Warner Bros. did with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Lionsgate also did with Twilight: Breaking Dawn. Now, I love this one a lot more than the Twilight franchise which makes this series higher on the list. It has excellent directors, an amazing cast, and it follows the book really tightly. The only thing I hope for in the end of Mockingjay Part 2 is a big battle at the climax of the movie. Though I would like to see the battle recommence at Snow's execution at the end. Well, we'll see what happens in 2015.
2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
Taking #2 is the most epic film trilogy ever created with everything that is beyond imagination. I'm talking J.R.R. Tolkien's epic, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, baby. It has everything in a film trilogy should have to keep the crowd coming back for more: elves, dwarfs, hobbits, orcs, goblins, and wizards galore. This trilogy had me at the edge of my seat from the first scene of Fellowship of the Ring all the way to the biggest battle ever put on screen in Return of the King. And there were even a few comedic moments with Andy Serkis' Gollum here and there. With a great story, an ensemble cast that included Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, and Hugo Weaving, and prolonged yet epic battle sequences, The Lord of the Rings trilogy will bring you to the edge of your seat every time you watch it.
1. The Harry Potter series (2001-2011)
And the #1 spot goes to none other than Harry Potter. The story of the "Boy who Lived" was by far the most amazing story (next to Lord of the Rings) about a boy wizard who ventures through his years in school while trying to avenge his parents' death at the hands of the most evil wizard of all time. Though some of the films took out most of the material I wanted to see, I still enjoyed every minute of every film. Especially the two part finale of The Deathly Hallows. I saw Part 1 as a road film and Part 2 as the final showdown. It had me at the edge of my seat from Privet Drive all the way to the final showdown against evil Lord Voldemort at Hogwarts itself. And I could not have seen a better set of actors than Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson playing Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They were the core of the series and always will be my favorite thing about it.
So that is my top 10 favorite book-to-film adaptations. Which of these is your favorite? Leave your thoughts down below.