Adaptations of the source material that went above and beyond
"Yeah, the movie was good, but it was NOTHING compared to the book."
You don't have to wade to deeply into a conversation about cinema before someone whips out this tried and tested opinion. And, to be fair, that opinion is usually all too accurate.
However, and as much as bibliophiles probably hate to admit it, sometimes cinema has done a better job at telling the story than the original book did in the first place.
Here's our selection of some of the books that ended up better on the big screen, including some you may not have realised were even books in the first place.
Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton (1990)
It was three short years between the book hitting shelves and the ultimate sci-fi summer blockbuster than Steven Spielberg gave us. While the book was very clever at mixing cutting edge science with edge-of-your-seat set-pieces, it was also a little too clever for it's own good sometimes, dedicating pages to the hi-tech thought put into the genetics behind the process of bring the dinos back to life. Also, they killed off Jeff Goldblum's character, which was entirely unforgivable.
Drive - James Sallis (2005)
Truth be told, the book was very average, and how director Nicholas Winding Refn seen the potential in it is beyond us. However, a mixture of Ryan Gosling's purely magnetic charisma, that still hugely influential score, and the up-played relationship between the Driver and Irene (Carey Mulligan) were all massive steps in the right direction.
Who Goes There? - John W. Campbell Jr. (1938)
While we all know that John Carpenter's The Thing is a remake of Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another World, but both are actually based on this novel, which Carpenter's take sticks far closer to than Hawks did. Although the scene with the spider-head is probably pure Carpenter, and is one of the reasons why the absolutely terrifying movie is better.
The Orchid Thief - Susan Orlean (1998)
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) was given this non-fiction novel as his next project, but instead turned in a script about the process of adapting books into movies, and how Hollywood wanted to turn this beautiful, subtle non-fiction drama into a standard action-thriller. In the end, we got Adaptation, one of the best and most insightful movies about writing that has ever been created.
Red Alert - Peter George (1958)
Initially, Stanley Kubrick had intended on turning this novel into a thriller, just like the book, but before long, he just couldn't fight back the idea of absurdity that was running throughout the story, and eventually turned it into Dr. Strangelove, one of the greatest comedies of all time.
Queen Bees and Wannabees - Rosalind Wiseman (2002)
Initially, this self-help book was intended for high school girls and their parents, to help them navigate the world of cliques and aggressive teen girl behaviour. However, once Tina Fey got her hands on it and projected her own high school experiences on to messages behind it, we ended up with Mean Girls.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson (2005)
Purists will claim the 2009 Swedish version is better, while others will argue the 2011, David Fincher adaptation is superior, but either way, both are better than the original novel, which did possess a very intricate and dark murder mystery at it's core, but padded around it too much detail about things that really didn't matter all that much. Did we really need to know the minutiae of Lisbeth Salander's hacking computer? No. No we did not.
Jaws - Peter Benchley (1974)
Another of Spielberg's blockbusters that proved better than the book, and this time he knew the do away with all the romantic plots that tied the readers up in knots as they waited for the shark to return and eat some more of the locals. No, he just focused on the ocean, the three guys on the boat, and the Duuuuuuh-Duh.
The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger (2003)
Anyone with a love for fashion and glossy magazines was nose-deep in this novel upon it's release, but the movie bumped things up a notch by casting Meryl Streep as Amanda Priestly (who was, essentially, Anna Wintour), and gave some depth to the boo-hiss villainess of the book.
Nothing Lasts Forever - Roderick Thorp (1979)
Retired NYPD cop Joseph Leland visits his daughter's office block just as German terrorists arrive to take it over. Can you tell what it is yet? Yep, Joe Leland become John McClane, his daughter was morphed into his wife, and Nothing Lasts Forever became Die Hard, one of if not the best action movie ever made.