RTW: Movies that were better than the books

This Week’s Topic: 

What movie have you seen that actually (gasp) IMPROVED on the book?

I have got to be one of the biggest Neil Gaiman fans on the face of this planet. My shelves are loaded with his graphic novels, short story collections, novels, children’s books and even his alphabet book (it’s awesome btw). Whenever they make a film adaptation of Gaiman’s work, I watch with an extra critical eye because I want the film to be just as awesome as the book. So far there have been three film adaptations of Gaiman’s work and I have to say, every one of the movies improved on the original book.

Awesome fairytale book set beyond the Wall in England. While I really enjoyed the book for its quirky characters and somewhat distant omniscient narrative, I absolutely loved the movie. The film gave the large cast space to breathe, allowing each of the characters a moment in the spotlight. The screenwriters also added a cross-dressing, lightning-harvesting sky pirate who didn’t feature in the original story. This character played by Robert de Niro, single handedly improved tenfold on the book. The book is cute, the movie is hilarious. The book is a cosy fairytale, the movie is an epic fantasy. I’d almost say skip the book altogether.


Coraline is a great kid’s story albeit a bit dark and disturbing. The genius of Henry Selick who directed The Nightmare before Christmas (Nope, Tim Burton had nothing to do with Coraline). The writer’s did one magically thing that changed everything in the movie version and improved hugely on the book. They gave Coraline a best friend, Wybie – the boy next door prone to mischief and mishap. This is one film where having read the book first definitely enhances the movie but the movie is brilliant all by itself.




I was exceedingly nervous when I heard they’d made Gaiman’s graphic novel MirrorMask into a film. The artwork for the novel is done by Dave McKean. McKean is without a doubt my favourite artist for his ability to create the most surreal and macabre images with the most luminous colours. If you’ve never seen any of his works, do yourself a favour and Google him now! The film was brilliant, exceeded all my expectations and drew me right into the surreal and twisted world of the graphic novel. And why? Because Dave McKean directed the film. With the combined genius of Gaiman and McKean, they could only produce something mesmerizing and outstanding. MirrorMask is certainly that and more. If you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing write now and watch it!

Other films I’ve seen which I considered an improvement on the book include Requiem for a Dream, Prozac Nation and Into the Wild.

Have you seen any films that improved on the books?
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  • Jaime Morrow

    I loved Stardust (the movie) and have the book sitting on the shelf behind me (but haven’t read it). I haven’t actually read any Gaiman stuff yet, which is probably a crime. 🙂

    • Suzanne_Writer

      *gasp* go read! But maybe read something better by Gaiman like Neverwhere.

  • The film of Stardust is soooooooo much better than the book. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks this 🙂

    • Suzanne_Writer


  • Wow this is a great list! I am woefully under-read in Gaiman, but it’s good to know that, at least for these movies, I might be able to get the experience in a mere 2 hours! And I’ve read Into the Wild but not seen the movie yet, so I look forward to it!

    • Suzanne_Writer

      Gaiman is lovely but it can be an acquired taste. I do think his graphic novels are far better than his regular novels. Sean Penn directed Into the Wild – it’s a fantastic film with a soundtrack by Eddie Vedder – highly recommended!

  • Into the Wild was a good movie, but I can’t say I have seen any of the other ones. Stardust does sound pretty good though!

    • Suzanne_Writer

      Loved Into the Wild 🙂 Hope you get to see Stardust.

  • Lakela20

    Really enjoyed Stardust. I thought it was so creative, but I’d never thought about reading the book. 😉 And I haven’t read any of Gaiman either, but I bet my best friend has, I’m going to have to ask her if she has any of his work.

    • Suzanne_Writer

      If you’ve never read any of Gaiman. I’d suggest starting with Neverwhere. Happy reading!

  • Rachael

    Love Stardust! I haven’t read the book, but I’m hoping to. I’ve never actually read any of Gaimon’s books…

    • Suzanne_Writer

      *gasp* so many have never read Gaiman!? He’s my favourite author!

  • Prernapickett

    loved Stardust! Brought out the little girl in me.

    • Suzanne_Writer

      Absolutely – so cute and romantic.

  • Tlbodine

    I think the LOTR films were an improvement on the books 😉

    I have to agree with you on these, though. Especially Stardust. The ending was the biggest disappointment in the book. In the movie there’s some tension up to the very end…in the book, the bad guys just sort of give up. Very lame. I also concur that Neverwhere is the best Neil Gaiman book 🙂

    • Suzanne_Writer

      LOTR films definitely improved on the books.

      Yeah, the ending of Stardust the book was quite a let down. I’m glad they fixed it in the film 🙂

  • Crystal Schubert

    Wybie was such a great addition to Coraline! I sort of resented that he wasn’t in the book, haha…

    • Suzanne_Writer

      When I reread Coraline I really missed Wybie 🙁 I think Gaiman should release another edition that includes Wybie!

  • The only Gaiman I’ve read (yet) is NEVERWHERE. Did you know “they” made a 3-hour TV mini-series of NEVERWHERE? You can look it up on IMDB for more info. I think it’s available on DVD. It’d be interesting to see how it compares to the book. The write-up on IMDB sounds quite faithful to the story.

    • Suzanne_Writer

      Yes, I tried watching the miniseries. I really didn’t like it. The tone of the book is very dark and I think the producers and network tried to go for a lighter tone that just didn’t really work. It’s true to the story but not as true to the nature of the story. The graphic novel is awesome!

  • Blindkingofbohemia

    “Because of Winn-Dixie” was a far better film than book.

    • Xaniver

      I don’t know it. Will have to check it out 🙂

  • Xaniver

    Haha, that’s really interesting. American Gods was great. I think it would do better as a series though, intertwining all the different storylines from the various gods’ perspectives.