Top Five Best and Worst Movies From Books with Kiernan Kelly

Top Five Best and Worst Movies From Books with Kiernan Kelly
Thursday July 27, 2017

First, as much as I love writing and books, I love movies, too. Usually, I find the movie to be not as good as book, and for a variety of reasons. Bad scripts, bad actors, deviations from the book…lots of things can contribute to making me want to throw a rock through the TV screen. On the other hand, there’ve been a few movies I absolutely adored, even more than I loved the book. Today, I’m offering a Top Five list for movies-from-books I loved, AND a Top Five list for movies-from-books that failed miserably in my humble opinion. What do you think? What are you favorites and most-hateds?


Top Five Best


1. Wizard of Oz. I loved the book – the whole series, actually. I’ve read them all as a child and repeatedly again through the years, but the movie is so special to me that I need to rank it above the book. Yes, it deviates from the book – a lot – but the music and dancing, and childlike wonder of changing from black and white to color makes it one of my favorite all time movies.

2. The Godfather. Mario Puzo’s book was phenomenal, but I think the performances in the movie were so spot on that it ranks the number two spot on my list. One of my go-to movies that I’ll watch over and over again.

3. Jurassic Park. I loved the book, but I adore the movie. Come on… dinosaurs. I remember watching the movie for the first time and actually thinking to myself, “where did they get the trained dinosaurs?” When the movie released, it was the most spectacular example of CGI to date, and still holds its own against new technology today. The only quibble I really have with the movie is probably something that got lost in the editing. In the book, they explain that the triceratops got sick because it swallowed rocks to aid in its digestive process, and picked up the Indian lilac that way, which made it sick. There’s no mention made of how the trike got sick in the movie, and even though there’s that whole extended scene with the trike, the tongue, and digging through the dino poop, they never solved the mini mystery. That irked me. Other than that – dinosaurs!

4. Harry Potter Series. Okay, okay, and HP Book fans please point your wands elsewhere. I know they didn’t cover all the details in the books – they couldn’t, considering the length and depth of the books, not if they didn’t want to have to make fifty movies in the series – but what they did tackle mirrored the books well, in my opinion, and did a really good job of it. I thoroughly enjoyed the movies, with the Goblet of Fire being my absolute favorite.

5. Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I’m probably going to make a lot of enemies here, but I’m going for it anyway. I didn’t enjoy the LoRT books at all. I found Tolkien’s writing to be dry, and invariably tedious. I tried to like them. I really, really did. I just found myself pushing through to get to the end, rather than enjoying the journey. That said, I loved the movies. I know they deviated on several major points from the books (Haldir’s presence and death at Helm’s Deep comes to mind), but I love them anyway. The CGI, the storytelling, the epic-ness of them, the cinematography… everything came together to make a thoroughly re-watchable series for me.


Top Five Worst


1. Clan of the Cave Bear. Has anyone read Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series? It’s my absolute, without a doubt most favorite series of all time. I own them all in hardback, and have read so many paperback copies into tatters that I got them specifically in ebook so that I’d always have copies with me. The first book in the series in Clan of the Cave Bear, and when the movie version came out starring Darryl Hannah, I sped to the theater to see it. Oh, my God. I wanted to claw my eyes out. Then I wanted to hunt the people down who made the atrocity, and claw their eyes out. Clan of the Cave Bear ranks up there with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Plan Nine from Outer Space for World’s Worst Movie EVER. It’s an disgrace that barely follows the book’s plot, and does it such an injustice that the author, Jean Auel, has refused to allow any other film adaptation of her work. I don’t blame her one bit, either.

2. Interview with a Vampire. I loved the book. It was my first exposure to vampires who combined decadence, sex, and danger into fabulously wicked characters who lived in a richly detailed universe. The movie, however, was meh at best. I was okay with Brad Pitt, but blond Tom Cruise made me want to break out the garlic and stakes. 

3. Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. I began reading him as a young teen, and haven’t stopped since. Many of his adaptations were stellar and ultimately rewatchable, even though none of them came close to portraying all the details and nuances in King’s books. The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, and Misery come to mind. 1990’s IT was saved purely by Tim Curry’s genius performance as Pennywise. That said, some of the worst movies of all time came from King books, which annoys me because I love all the stories. The worst of the worst, IMO, was The Mangler, a film made in 1995 and starring Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street). It was based on a short story in a collection called Night Shift. It was about a killer laundry pressing machine. Seriously, only King could write something like that and make it plausible enough to be an enjoyable read. No one could ever make it into a believable movie, and – surprise – the movie adaption proved it. Ugh. Stupidity at its most stupid.

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’m a huge fan of the book. After all, it’s the story that gave us the answer to the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything (SPOILER ALERT – it’s 42), and the reason why a towel is the most useful thing in the universe. If you haven’t read it, turn off Facebook and go read it immediately. Seriously. Go.  The movie, however, is a different story. It fell far short of Douglas Adam’s masterpiece of pun, fun, and space-y goodness. Not even Martin Freeman, who I adored as Watson in Sherlock, could save it.

5. Finally, I’m going back to Anne Rice to round out the list. Queen of the Damned was a good book, full of angsty vampires and ancient evils. The movie wasn’t much more than an attempt to cash in on the wallets of goth teenyboppers. Although I will say Aaliyah was stunningly beautiful in her turn as Akasha, it’s a shame this is the movie that stands as a testament to her talent.


Give me your lists! I want to know which movies you love and detest!!