There are some exceptions of course. Sometimes forcing a full length book into a two/three hour time slot cleans up the story. Sometimes an actor can bring something to life that the written work just couldn't. Or it could be that the added visuals and musical score are striking enough that they carry the day. Some examples?
- The Shawshank Redemption - based on a Stephen King novella. The original here is very good. It adds some texture that the movie couldn't quite get to, my favorite being a list of other escape stories. What made the movie better was the acting of Morgan Freeman. He embodies Red in such a way that you completely fall into the movie. The scene where he fears Andy has killed himself is a classic.
- Jurassic Park - based on a Michael Crichton novel. The storyline here is much the same and Crichton clearly knows how to write novels that move like an action movie. The movie simplifies (and in some cases animates) complex section of the book and makes it more digestable. Plus, the theater audience doesn't have to sit through pages and pages of Taoist exposition.
- Cliffhanger - based on who knows what. Only kidding.
- The English Patient - based on a Michael Ondaatje novel. The books is quite good in this case but the movie is a great one. It improved the product by cleaning up the storylines. Plus Juliette Binoche is heartbreaking, just heartbreaking.
What did I miss? Am I the only one that's run into this phenomenon?