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!

My Top 5 Austen Adaptations

I’ve been in a really romance-y mood lately… which has led me down an Austen adaptation rabbithole. Watching and rewatching a crazy amount of these has got me thinking about which ones are my favourites and I thought it would be fun to share them with you lovely people. Quick note: it’ll be glaringly obvious to fans that Mansfield Park is missing- that’s not cos there aren’t any good versions, it’s cos (as is no secret) I’ve never liked the story. Now that’s out of the way, onto the list!

 

BBC Pride and Prejudice- to my mind, this is THE BEST adaptation of anything, ever! Yes, this is my completely biased view 😉 I tend to rewatch this every. year. (thank you Beebs for including this in your boxsets!) This is, in every sense of the word, PERFECTION. The acting, the first class writing lifted from the book, the wonderful choice of locations… this is always going to be my favourite.

BBC Sense and Sensibility- so, confession time: I’m not hugely fond of the movie version- though it has some sensational performances from the likes of Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant, I feel like the story could’ve done with a bit more space to breathe. Which is why I was so excited to check out the new(ish) BBC adaptation- and I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed! I watched this for the first time recently and almost felt the need to rewind and watch it all again. The acting and writing was brilliantly done- but most importantly this hit me right in the *feels*!

Emma 1996- this might be an unpopular opinion, because I think most people prefer the TV version (which is understandable, because that’s a great version too). In truth, I don’t know why I love this version so much- especially since I often prefer the TV serials for Austen, given they allow the stories to develop over a greater time span. That said, I simply LOVE the performances in this- particularly Jeremy Northam who is my definitive Mr Knightley (who, yes, just happens to be my favourite Austen love interest).

Northanger Abbey– even if this wasn’t the only Northanger Abbey version that I’ve seen, it’d make the list, because it’s a lot of fun! It’s completely different to a lot of other Austen adaptations, playing on some of the themes in quite a hilariously modern way, upping the imaginative gothic levels and heroines’ fantasies… and for some reason this rather tickled my fancy.

Persuasion 1995- I watched this most recently and I was delighted with it. I’d seen a more recent version and wasn’t quite blown away (especially disappointing because at the time I watched it I probably would’ve classed this as my favourite Austen). I was so happy with this version however and would definitely recommend it for those looking for an Austen fix! 

Have you seen any of these? Which are your favourite Austen adaptations? Let me know in the comments!