All the Adaptations I’ve Loved and Hated

Hello all! inspired by the recent Shadow and Bone adaptation, I decided to make a list of TV and movie adaptations I feel strongly about. As you can imagine, this could’ve been an absolutely ginormous list, so I decided to stick to best and worst adaptations (in my opinion of course 😉). So there’s nothing here I feel lukewarm or so-so about. I also didn’t include adaptations where I hated the books to begin with (Divergent, Twilight) or where the book series hasn’t finished yet (GOT). And, obviously, I have to be familiar with the original series.

Let’s get started with my favourites:

The Lord of the Rings– well, obviously. These movies were a massive part of inspiring my lifelong love of reading. And I’m one of those people that prefers the Lord of the Rings movies to the books (sacrilege, I know, but they’re my favourite films of all time).  

Stardust– this movie is *magical*. Again, it’s one where I actually prefer the adaptation to the book, because it’s just so damn good. I will happily rewatch this over and over!

Shadow and Bone– this may be a bold choice, since I saw this really recently (and isn’t a complete series yet). That said, going off of what I’ve seen so far, I think it both captures the best aspects of the Grishaverse and improves upon the source material. I can’t wait to watch more of it!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– switching things up, this contemporary perfectly adapts the source material, bringing all the humour, quirky characters and sisterhood to the screen. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve rewatched it *so many times*!

Love Simon– this is another contemporary I love to rewatch. Personally, while I enjoyed the book, the film felt a little slicker and I got more out of it.

Atonement– I’ve made no secret of the fact I don’t love McEwan’s writing style… but I adore this film. It’s an exquisitely shot, beautifully acted historical romance, with a brilliant soundtrack. And even if that wasn’t enough to make me love it- I also love the slightly different ending. It worked so well for me.

Pride and Prejudice– there’s a lot of debate about the best Austen adaptation, but quite simply, this is it for me. I can happily rewatch/reread anything Austen related- yet this is the one I binge annually. It is just classic bliss.

Bleak House– another perfect adaptation from Andrew Davies, this TV series has such strong  Dickensian energy and brilliantly brings the story and characters to life.

And now let’s move onto adaptations I DESPISE- WARNING UNPOPULAR OPINIONS AHEAD!!!!!!

The Hobbit– well I have to start with the most egregious example of an “adaptation”. Because this butchers the source material and brings nothing good to the table. I won’t go on about this too much- as I’ve already discussed it at length– but this adaptation still makes me mad. It doesn’t help that the Hobbit is one of my all-time favourite books- yet I’m still amazed that they managed to mess it up quite this much. Choosing Peter Jackson to adapt this book- when he doesn’t even like the original story- makes no sense (even if he did a great job with LOTR).

Harry Potter– okay, *deep breath* everybody, I know this is an unpopular opinion. I’ve just never enjoyed these movies. I know that a lot of people are very attached to them, but I have remained the kinda disappointed, hipster child that couldn’t get on board with these adaptations. It certainly didn’t help that they left out huge things and changed a lot (though I do like the videos by Dominic Noble exploring all the ways they messed up on that front)- I just never vibed with them. I tried to rewatch them at the beginning of lockdown 1… and gave up after trying the first couple of movies because they weren’t for me. Maybe one day I’ll challenge myself and try again- yet I don’t see myself changing my mind- sorry!

The Golden Compass– there were actually things about the movie that I liked (most specifically, some aspects of Lyra’s portrayal). However, we all know this is nothing like the book, starting with the dumb title change. If you want to see an actually good adaptation (though not perfect) definitely try His Dark Materials… but in both cases I still recommend sticking to the books first and foremost.

The Mortal instruments– I mean, do I even need to get into why? This is just one in a long string of Hollywood badly adapting a YA series (and I’m only picking on it cos it’s the one where I’ve read the whole series and watched the adaptation). They messed up half the story and the way they did Valentine was laughable… and then they blamed fans for not liking it enough for a second movie adaptation.

Shadowhunters– okay, this one might also make people angry… but I don’t like the show either! For very different reasons. I hate the acting and the weird changes and the special effects look really unnatural to me. I gave up on this show very quickly and just watched the Malec scenes (cos they’re what it’s all about anyway). Still, I do think it’s astounding that there are two adaptations of the same story and I hate them both (maybe it doesn’t help that I’ve since gone off the source material too).

Always and Forever Lara Jean– annnd this also did everything I hate in Hollywood adaptations. With this one, I think it’s more of a shame, as I actually enjoyed the way the book series ended. It stripped the story of all its meaning and most of its subtlety. I wasn’t a fan of the second movie, but then I didn’t enjoy the second book. Worst of all, I felt like where the book finally brought the couple back together, this removed any remaining chemistry they had. Not worth watching.

My Sister’s Keeper– bit of a random throwback, yet I can never quite forget how utterly betrayed I felt by this adaptation. Changing the ending ruined everything this story had to say.

And that’s all I’ve got for now! Do you agree or disagree with any of my picks? And what are your favourite book adaptations? Which ones do you hate the most? Let me know in the comments!

27 thoughts on “All the Adaptations I’ve Loved and Hated

  1. I hated The Hobbit films too and I was really disappointed in myself!!! I do love HP though!

    I’ve just started the Shadhunters books so was going to watch the show but I’m not sure if I’ll get on with it or not!

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  2. LOTR is incredible. The Shadowhunters show had such cringy acting, I gave up after a few episodes and the movie was no good either. I enjoyed watching HP and The Hobbit even though they’re not very good 😀

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  3. The Atonement adaptation was amazing I liked both the movie and the book. I also enjoyed Dominic Noble’s commentary. Far more than the movies. 🙂 (I also hope he makes videos about the Shadow and Bone adaptation.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I came here to comment agreement on the Hobbit, and I see that I’m no the only one. I couldn’t even stand to watch past the first one. I was tempted by Cumberbatch voicing Smaug, but just couldn’t do it…

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  5. I haven’t watched the Hobbit films but I loved loved loved the LOTR films, they captured the spirit of the books exactly!! And aah yes the Shadow and Bone adaptation,I loved it! And I haven’t read the book yet but I liked Love, Simon too. As for the Harry Potter films but I really feel that I watched them because everyone else has.

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  6. I LOVED LotR movies, apart from Moulin Rouge, it’s probably my favourite movie. The Hobbits ones, I still like and annoyingly have a crush on Mr Grumpy Oakenshield. I just don’t love them like I love Lord of the Rings. Personally, I never really got into HP … Books or the Movies. I enjoy, but don’t worry about them too much.

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  7. Oh, I agree with so many of these! I adored the first Lara Jean movie, but the 2nd and 3rd just never captured the magic. The Hobbit movies were so bloated and overdone. What a shame! I do love the Harry Potter movies for what they are, although they can’t match the books and leave out and change so many important elements. I’ve only watched a few episodes of Shadow and Bone, and haven’t read the books, but I like it so far!

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  8. The Shadowhunters show has long been something that I know is terrible, but that I also enjoyed immensely, enough that I’ve watched it a couple times, and I’ll probably continue to rewatch it in the future. Then again, I unabashedly love the series and just have no cares anymore when it comes to plot or anything that usually puts me off a book. I really can’t say why, but I will be a ride or die Shadowhunters fan forever.

    It took me actual years to read Atonement, during which I probably rewatched the movie enough times that I could have finished reading it in that time, but alas, the movie just so much better!

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  9. Why did they ever think anything would top the BBC Pride and Prejudice. That’s the adaptation that gave me hope for adaptations to come! Hahaha.
    I like all the HP movies except I felt the last one was missing something truly ‘wow’ to cap it all off.
    I’m glad you think the LOTR movies are better. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get around to reading the books but I adored the movies!
    Loving Shadow and Bone at the moment. Currently starting episode 7 and although I wasn’t sure I’d like the mixing of Kaz et al directly into Alina’s story… I think it works brilliantly and gives us something new to savour. Although the whole ‘looking Shu’ thing is still not sitting well.
    Loved this list!!

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  10. Totally agree on LOTR, P&P and Bleak House! Oh but I do love the HP and Hobbit films even though there are a lot of changes. Golden Compass – it could have been so much better! It looked great and I loved the choice of actors but it was really toned down and the ending was cut off.

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  11. The Stardust movie is one of my all time favorite comfort movies. It doesn’t matter when or where it’s on, I will watch it when I come across it and then I got the book and I didn’t like it at all? haha I so have to agree that the movie is better.

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  12. I definitely wish that they didn’t do the Hobbit in three movies, there was no need. I do like Martin Freeman though.
    And while I love basically all the Pride and Prejudice adaptations, this one is really good. Fun list!

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  13. DUDE The Hobbit was so bad lol How is it that the LOTR special effects are BETTER than The Hobbit when it’s older?! lol AND THREE MOVIES? for such a short book?! Ugh.

    I like HP but I also have not read the books haha. They were banned in elementary school for me and by the time I thought of reading them, movie 3 was coming out. I read the first one a couple years ago and didn’t like it. It kind of sucks…I feel like I missed out on some magical childhood thing.

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  14. I absolutely agree with LOTR (also with the liking the films better than the books). These are the best films ever made in my opinion and I will not discuss this, it is a fact. Generally, I agree with this list a lot, with the exception of the HP movies 😀

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  15. Definitely agree with you on The Golden Compass. That glittering cast list was wasted in such a bad adaptation. I think my biggest problem with it was that stupid decision to change the ending. The book had a fantastic ending and I don’t see why the film decided to cut it. Thank God the TV series did it right.

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  16. I will forever be salty about the Hobbit adaptation. To start, it didn’t need to be a trilogy. Legolas did not need to be in the movie for more than a minute, if that at all, and the CGI was so terrible at times I cringe. I adore the book and it’s such a shame that they used The Hobbit as a launchpad to play about with their high-tech new toys that took any sense of realism out of the movies.

    On the other hand, I totally agree with your sentiment on the Lord of the Rings movies being better than the books. That franchise perfectly captured and heightened the essence of the book. I’m also impressed with how they’ve adapted Shadow and Bone. I thought the way they linked the Crows narrative to the Alina one was well done.

    I have no real opinion on the Potter movies or the books. They’ve never appealed to me tbh.

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