As an avid book lover, it’s quite hard for me to admit that sometimes—sometimes—movies can be better than their literary counterparts. Especially since I grew up insisting the opposite was true. While I do believe that books can bring more depth, detail, and development, there’s just something magical about sitting in a movie theater with ants in your pants, anticipation nearly killing you, as you wait to see a world that has thus far only lived inside your head come to life in loud and vivid color. When done correctly, it intensifies your adoration for those worlds, even the ones that will only ever exist in fantasy. When done badly, you’re forced to defend the essence of the story, because despite sitting through a cringe-inducing train wreck of a film, it’s still one of your favorites. It was incredibly hard to choose only five (which is why my honorable mentions are a mile long), but here are the page-to-screen transitions that I loved, hated, loved to hate, and hated to love.
1. Harry Potter
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
AS IF anything else could be my #1. I’ve already mentioned the impact Harry Potter has had on me in other ways, so it should come as no surprise that when I first met Daniel Radcliffe with his little lightning bolt forehead and adorable British accent, I was hooked. He was truly the perfect Harry. The films paid beautiful homage to J.K. Rowling‘s beloved book series and the franchise only improved as the years went on. A decade of my life was dedicated to the anticipation of the next film. When I finally turned the last page of the last book, I thought to myself, how in the world would the film live up to it? I needn’t have worried. David Yates performed magic. The trailer alone completely riddles my body with goose bumps and when I saw the film on opening night, I had heart palpitations for the entire two hours. I cried like no 23-year-old should cry while watching a fantasy film “for kids.” I damn near peed my pants when I walked through the gates at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando two summers ago. There will never be a book series or film franchise that I will champion more than Harry Potter.
2. The Hunger Games
★ ★ ★ ★
Truthfully, my star ratings are ranked more along the lines of how much I love them, not how well they translated to the silver screen, because they all did a damn fine job of that. (Well, except Twilight. That pile of poop really deserves NO stars.) Anyway, I jumped on board The Hunger Games buzzwagon a few months before the first film came out. I fell in love. It was the first time I’d ever heard of or seen Jennifer Lawrence (can you imagine?) and Suzanne Collins‘ story was my first YA dystopia. I found it intriguing. The film was SPOT. ON. in comparison to the book and wonderfully acted. J.Law IS Katniss. Catching Fire, my favorite book of the trilogy, was even better on screen. The bigger budget in Francis Lawrence’s capable hands blew me away. I can’t wait for Mockingjay.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
★ ★ ★
The book, a short little paperback that took barely a night to read, was a touching story about a high school outsider told solely through letters. While I’d definitely recommend it, I wasn’t overly amazed. I was, however, thoroughly enchanted by the film. Brilliantly directed by the author himself, Stephen Chbosky, “Perks” was perfectly casted and poignantly acted. I cry nearly every time I watch it.
4. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
I loved reading this series and I loved how the first film became one of my go-to instant-good-mood movies. It made me wish that I had grown up in a fab foursome of best friends just like Lena, Bridget, Carmen, and Tibby. It’s been a long while since I read the books, so I’m not positive how much was changed, but I do know that Ann Brashares gave readers (and therefore, viewers) one of the best stories on female friendship. What I didn’t love was how lazily the next three books were crammed into one sequel. I just read that they’re turning the much later published fifth book, Sisterhood Everlasting (which takes place ten years later) into a movie sometime soon. And now I’m excited all over again.
You know, the books weren’t that bad. My freshman year of college, I actually really liked them. But now I can’t read a single sentence of Bella’s internal monologuing without seeing Kristen Stewart’s bucky beaver teeth in my head. My former roommate and I were both fans, so we went to see the first movie together. Disappointed barely begins to cover it. No, they did not get better as the years went on. More tolerable, but not better. The acting never improved. The special effects never reached their potential. And after a while, I began to see why feminists were denouncing Bella as a role model for young girls. Stephenie Meyer‘s vampire saga sits in hardcover on my bookshelf, right next to all my other favorites, but I’ve never looked at them quite the same way since.
I loved all of the following (except The Host, which was an absolute disaster): The Princess Diaries (2001), LOTR (2001-2003), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe (2005), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Marley & Me (2008), Angels & Demons (2009), The Help (2011), Something Borrowed (2011), The Host (2013), Divergent (2014), and anything by Nicholas Sparks, which is usually completely hit or miss.
I’m very much looking forward to The Fault in Our Stars. I am not, however, looking forward to Fifty Shades of Grey—coming VALENTINE’S DAY 2015. Really? The pornographic drivel started out as Twilight fan fiction. Enough said. Check out this link to see if any of your favorites are coming to the silver screen in the near future.