book talk: the worst movies adapted from books

The Worst Movies Adapted from Books

Posted May 18, 2018 by Amber in Memes / 15 Comments


One of the most difficult aspects of being a reader is the inevitable disappointment of falling head over heels in love with a book, losing your mind with excitement when a movies goes into production, then having a film be absolutely THE WORST.

It’s so heartbreaking.  And it’s an endless cycle.  We know the movie won’t live up to our expectations.  Then we get excited for the next book.  And on and on it goes!  I’ve written about this a couple times, in discussion of the monstrosity that was Eragon, and more recently with my broken heart and Ready Player One.  While it’s true not all film adaptations are bad, we find so many of them lacking the richness of the books we love.

For example, I am mortified to watch The Dark Tower.  It’s one of my favorite book series, and I’ve heard nothing but bad things about the movie.  Mostly that it’s horrible and disappointing, and a mishmash of all seven books and Random Weird Stuff That Doesn’t Make Sense.  I was so, so excited when I heard that Midworld was coming to film, and now I can’t bear the idea of watching it.

What even is this?  I think that the Blinky lights on the walls are supposed to be gunshots…  Where’s the plot? … Anyways….  I guess it doesn’t matter because it’s not The Dark Tower without Eddie and Suze.

I can think of so many movies that make me sad, because there are books behind them that are genuinely good.  But the public won’t be seeking them out, because the movies were painful.

A lot of Michael Crichton falls into this category.

Most folks these days will know this movie.

Who doesn’t love that iconic scene?!  Jurassic Park is a stellar book and a stellar film, even with the discrepancies.  Other of Michael Crichton’s novels didn’t come to the silver screen in such a pretty light.

Congo always comes to mind, because even watching the hokey film, you can see the science and intelligence behind the storyline… but those apes.  And the lasers?  Ack.  Tim Curry’s character was also pretty… oy.  I like Tim Curry in most things (I adore him in Clue and Rocky Horror) but… not in Congo.

Guys, there are so many movies that didn’t translate well.  Many of them I can give passes to, because they make decent films if you haven’t read the book.  But what about Tom Cruise’s Lestat in Interview with a Vampire?  Horrible, ruined the film.  And overall I did not enjoy The da Vinci Code (even though I LOVED Angels and Demons and thought Inferno was pretty decent).

It’s hard to love movies and books, guys.  They ought to come together and be brilliant.  But they just… don’t.



What are some of the worst book-to-film adaptations you’ve seen?

Are there any times where you liked the movie better than the book?

What ruins an adaptation for you (casting, script, special effects, etc.)?

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15 responses to “The Worst Movies Adapted from Books

  1. Eragon is always the first one that comes to mind when I think of bad movie adaptations! They completely screwed themselves over for any chance of making a sequel because they left out or changed everything that was important for the second book!

    Ready Player One was a bad adaptation but a good movie on its own.

    I know True Blood is a TV show not a movie, but it was pretty bad as an adaptation as well. The first half of the first season followed the book pretty well, but then it took a left turn and didn’t even try to pretend it was following the books.

    • Amber

      Eragon is my first, too! I wish it was better. 🙁

      I do think that a lot of book to film adaptations are perfectly acceptable without book knowledge. I can see how non-readers will really enjoy Ready Player One, but knowing how much more it could be super bummed me out. The banes of being a reader!

      I actually didn’t read the first Sookie Stackhouse book until after I’d seen the first four seasons of the show. It DEFINITELY doesn’t follow. Although one change I really liked was what the show chose to do with Lafayette. He ended up being a really great character, so I was glad to have him. 🙂 A lot of diehard book fans really disliked the show, though!

    • Amber

      I really did not enjoy Mockingjay on my first read, but I liked it better on the second. I though the movie did a really excellent job of bringing in the good parts – I actually was *rooting* for the movie to change a couple parts I didn’t like, but alas, no.

  2. I’m scared to watch The Dark Tower film as well. I keep hearing horrible things about it, and honestly? Putting seven books, of The Dark Tower series no less, in one film can’t end well…

    I haven’t seen Ready Player One yet, but from what I watched of the trailer: I could barely recognize the book in it!

    Interview with the Vampire wasn’t as terrible as Queen of the Damned, though. That was an abomination. Don’t get me started on The Hobbit films, either. The Hobbit isn’t a very thick book, but they somehow managed to drag it into three films that completely lack the atmosphere of the novel. Ugh. The only saving grace is Smaug, which makes it such a waste.

    The later Game of Thrones seasons made me cringe enough to drop the series entirely.

    As for Eragon; I guess I’m kinda lucky that I watched the film before reading the book.

    • Amber

      I do think that reading the book AFTER seeing the movie generally enjoys the viewing experience! I used to be the type of person who tried to reread everything before the movie came out, and ended up angry all the time. Now I reread after!

      The Hobbit felt so badly like a money-pinching situation on a franchise. They could have made one – maybe two – really good movies, and instead pulled another installment out of it for ticket sales. So disappointing!

      I’m waiting until my husband finishes the series before watching The Dark Tower. That way I have someone to be angry alongside!

    • Amber

      A LOT of people are enraged by Ella Enchanted! I saw the movie so long after reading the book (like… maybe 10 years) that I forgot all about the plot of the book until I re-read it last year! I have no idea what happened to the plot. XD But it’s entertaining enough on its own, like you said.

  3. I hated the film version of Allegiant, even though I quite enjoyed the first two Divergent films. It was just a complete mishmash of ideas and felt so rushed and unbelievable, such a letdown. I can’t think of any others I really hated. Casting is really important to me and I think I’ve just been lucky that my main fandoms (Harry Potter, Narnia, etc.) all got an excellent movie cast.

    • Amber

      I think a lot of people hated Allegiant! If I remembered correctly, I believe Part 2 was released right to TV and streaming without a box office release. Ouch.

      I haven’t read the Narnia books (I KNOOOOOW), but I LOVE LOVE LOVED the casting in that film anyway. Harry Potter, I remember they were super careful about the casting. Great people though, every one of them. The Lord of the Rings did very well with that as well.

  4. I like to pretend the Percy Jackson movies don’t exist haha. Just,, did they only read the blurb on the back or something? Did they read a (bad) online summary and just went with it? Percy Jackson could’ve been such an amazing franchise, and yet.
    I can’t think of a movie that I liked better than the book, but I prefer Shadowhunters over The Mortal Instruments which I think is a pretty unpopular opinion in the book blogging community lol

    • Amber

      I had the good fortune of reading Percy Jackson after I saw the movie, so that one was not quite so painful for me. Although, you can’t be alone in your feelings because there’s a whole FAQ section on Rick Riordan’s website telling fans how completely uninvolved he was! XD

      I have no opinions one way or the other about The Mortal Instruments, so your voice is safe here. 😉

        • Amber

          Oh wow – that’s really showing disappointment an adaptation! Though I can’t see what good the movie would do in school, honestly. The education value of the Greek mythology was stripped, for sure. 🙂