Normally you read a book, see the movie adaptation and feel a bit disappointed. How could a movie match up to such a great novel? However, there are the rare occasions you read a book, see the movie and are blown away. These are some movies that have outshone and outdone their novel inspirations...
The Basketball Diaries
I might be a little biased with this one, as I read the book after I saw the movie. I found this movie to be brilliant, and the book wasn't something I could particularly enjoy (whether I'd seen the movie first or not).
The reason I love this film is mainly due to the 'gritty' feel. As you may realize if you read my other posts, I love a realistic movie. I love seeing that side of life, because it always puts things in perspective. It stops you living so much inside your own bubble, similarly to how we can be affected by documentaries centered on contemporary issues.
The Basketball Diaries stars a young Leonardo DiCaprio and a baby-faced Mark Wahlberg. Leo plays the character Jim; a high school student passionate about basketball but whose dreams are put to one side when he develops an addiction to heroin. It can be a fairly hard movie to watch as you see the heroin take a hold of Jim's life and the things he must do to keep up with that addiction.
Based on poet Jim Carroll's life, this movie is a heart-breaking look at heroin's pull and ability to ruin all you have.
The most heart-wrenching scene, is when Jim goes back to his mother to try and get money from her for another hit. Check out the video below:
I may get a lot of hate for this one, but I feel that the Kick-Ass movie was so much better than the graphic novel. I absolutely adore the movie Kick-Ass, it will probably always remain in my top 5.
I read the novel after seeing the movie. Having developed quite a crush on Dave Lizewski, I was really not impressed when I saw the blonde and slightly creepy comic book version.When reading the graphic novel, I'd assumed there would be differences, as there usually is, but the two main things I loved about the movie were completely different! So this is why I feel the movie built upon the graphic novel and improved it. The two main changes that really made me dislike the book are in the spoiler below;
1. In the movie, Big Daddy is a good guy. When I watched Kick-Ass for the first time, I was immensely jealous of Hit Girl's upbringing, because of what her father taught her and what she could do. I love the dynamic of their relationship and was very disappointed when I found out that this wasn't the truth. Big Daddy is just a bitter, lonely old man, who brainwashed his daughter because he was bored with his own life. There was no backstory of his wife being killed by evil gangsters that he and Hit Girl decided to seek revenge upon. It is just a case of very bad parenting and killing people for fun.
2. Dave/Kick-Ass's character. I liked Dave because he seemed brave and ambitious and was doing things for the right reasons. However, in the graphic novel he comes across as quite a cowardly guy. Yes, he shows bravery when he decides to become Kick-Ass, but after that initial gumption his personality and character seems to fall flat. On another note, as much as I am tired of the 'good guy gets the girl' storyline, I also didn't much care for what Dave does when sent an X-rated picture from Katie (his main love interest). I'm not one to be 'grossed-out' by these sorts of things, and perhaps I had romanticised the character too much but I was again disappointed by his actions at the end of the book. It's safe to say that the romanticised version of him quickly deteriorated the further I got into the graphic novel.
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Even though this movie has an all-star cast, it is not your basic broad Hollywood blockbuster. Girl, Interrupted is based upon Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) and her experiences in a female mental health facility. The movie really explores the different characters Susanna encounters, and I find it delves quite deeply into what the cause of Susanna's problems, if she has any, could be. It also shows us how perhaps just because we don't fit into the idealistic world we find ourselves a part of, does not mean we have mental health issues; it could just be a case of finding people that are on the same wave-length.
Not to be disparaging about Susanna Kaysen's book, which is still a really interesting read, but I found it to be a lot less insightful than the movie. Which, I am sure we can agree, is rarely the case. When watching the movie you experience strange and dark mind games and you question things a lot. Whereas in the book, there is little room for speculation, but also no facts presented. The book is very much from Susanna's perspective and so does not let you experience some of the other characters that you do in the movie, and therefore you find the book a little repetitive and little less-engaging.
These are the only reasons I find the movie better than the book. The book is still a good read, but check out this scene from the movie below:
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS