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I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Jurassic Park. The book, while containing some cool concepts and a lot of action, was written with tone-deaf prose, had an overly misanthropic, cynical tone, and never made me care one bit about the characters.

The movie just fucking ruled on every level. Tightened the plot, changed Malcolm from a wordy mouthpiece to a delightful, funny, and appealing mouthpiece, made Hammond a tragic hero instead of a one-dimensional villain, gave Grant and Satler an actual relationship, not just “oh… we’re colleagues,” and killed off the characters that made sense. Not to mention hearing a couple sentences about a dinosaur doesn’t compare to seeing one brought to life before your eyes.

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I’m late to the party but my favourite adaptation of this sort was “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

Patricia Highsmith’s book pulled you into the head of its psychopathic main character through icy logic. Ripley kills because he simply must and Highsmith makes you understand why and go along. Must’ve been horrifying to read that in the ’50s.

Anthony Minghella’s movie can’t be that cerebral — it needs visuals and more of a plot — so the movie takes the opposite tack. Ripley is suddenly younger, more sensitive. He kills because he has no choice and Minghella seduces the viewer into the film with pretty actors and gorgeous Italian scenery.

By the end, however, the effect is the same: the audience finds ourselves rooting for a serial killer, complicit in his murder spree. Not as creepy as the book’s impact back in the day but still an effective little thriller.

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