Best Sci-Fi Book to Movie Adaptations

Bringing written word to life, some of the best sci-fi book to movie adaptations have been a hit on the shelves and in the box office.

“The book was better than the movie” is a common phrase every movie goer has heard when viewing book to movie adaptations. Yet that isn't always true. Sometimes, when a book is transformed to the screen, the moments you had to conjure up with your imagination are brought to life right before your eyes. Those monsters, characters and epic action scenes are even more intense and entertaining. Sci-fi book to movie adaptations are a popular evolution in the genre and allows the fans of the greatest authors to relive their favorite literature moments as they're brought to life by some of the most well known directors.

Children of Men is a futuristic, dystopian book to movie adaptation set in the year 2027. The dystopian element of this society revolves around infertility. Miraculously, a pregnant woman, named Kee (portrayed by Clare-Hope Ashitey) is discovered, and in order to protect her fetus, which is quite possibly humanity’s last hope, she must be protected by lead protagonist Theo Faron (Clive Owen) as they struggle for survival. With 42 wins, 71 nominations, including 3 Oscar nominations, Children of Men proves that sci-fi book to movie adaptations don’t have to suck.

Maybe all it takes to properly adapt a book to a movie is a genius director. Well, in Dr. Strangelove, this is exactly what Stanley Kubrick has done. Dr. Strangelove follows the political turmoil after a mad U.S. general orders a nuclear bombing because of a delirious belief that the communist are plotting against America. Additionally, this movie showcases one doesn’t need a hundred of million dollar budget, since a meager $1.8 million budget was enough to yield a 96% on Metacritic.

Holding true that the previous statement of all the movie needs is a good director, Steven Spielberg presents Minority Report, a tale of a futuristic era in which police can apprehend criminals before the actual crime is committed, into a detective himself is accused to be a future perpetrator. Although, being Steven Spielberg alone didn’t produce a well acclaimed film. Serious planning was involved. In fact, three years prior to production, Spielberg gathered a team of ‘futurist’ to detail what the year 2054 would resemble.

While not being as successful as the Minority Report, Spielberg’s War of the Worlds is still a fairly decent movie. Perhaps where Spielberg failed in this alien invasion flick is being torn between remaining faithful to the source material or creating his own spin. Although, the poor reviews for the movie could just be the fact that alien invasions are far too cliche at this point in the cinema realm, and Spielberg’s War of the Worlds didn’t do too much to expand the genre.

Blade Runner is a film set in 2019, which in the time of 1982, was viewed as a futuristic year. Unfortunately, society is still at a slow pace to achieve the spectacle marvels of the cyborg crime-fighting movie, which dazzled its audience with visual effects and notable actors, most prominently Harrison Ford, who played the blade runner, Rick Deckard, himself. For thirteen weeks in a row, this movie charted #1 on the box office worldwide, grossing over $32 million on a budget of approximately $28 million.

Kubrick makes another appearance in this list with his marvelous portrayal of the dangers of artificial intelligence with 2001: A Space Odyssey. This movie has been regarded by numerous critics for serving as one of Kubrick’s most masterful uses of suspense, and not only that, but the ambiguity threaded throughout the film skyrockets this movie’s re-watch ability to the point of even considering it a classic in the realm of sci-fi.

Super heroes exist in 1985. Not only that, but they are being killed of as part of a sinister plot that threatens the entire fabric of history. While being criticized for not being as masterful as the original graphic novel, what the movie adaptation gets right is cast and costuming. Especially when the source is a visual story, costumes are so impactful in the way novel watchmen fans have transitioned, and many truly believe they have seen their favorite characters be brought to life perfectly, leaving not much to wonder as to why this film won numerous awards for its wardrobe.

Sometimes, a movie thrives off of ‘coolness’ factor alone. In a setting where attractive young adults, both male and female, take off into space to combat colonies of alien bugs, Starship Troopers bleeds pure awesome, even if the plot is cliche and rehashed from various other action movie, let's be honest, you can be the most snobbish movie buff out there, but all of us eventually just want to sit down and watch alien insects get blown to bits.

Similar to the rise of the Hunger Games novels, the Divergent series primarily made its fame from targeting young adult readers who wanted an action packed world with hints of romance and mystery. In this dystopian universe, individuals are organized via factions based on particular skill sets, except a handful of people, known as divergent, who belong to neither faction, and must fight for their lives as they are targeted for being different. The cast of the series, most notably Theo James who portrayed Tobias, attempted to make the film as realistic as possible by doing their own stunts.

Total Recall is a film that had all the tools necessary to achieve greatness. The original book had a fantastic plot of a man experiencing visions of Mars, in spite of having never visited the red planet. The film features a stellar cast starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and earned an eager fan base. Yet, director Paul Verhoeven failed this film by incorporating cheap CGI that only took away from the continuity.

Ambiguity quenches the thirst of curious movie goers, and Kubrick achieves just this in A Clockwork Orange. It is a fictional film about sketchy rehabilitation treatments for violent criminals, encapsulating the idiom, “food for thought.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyemphasizes that sci-fi films do not have to be without comedy, and this flick expertly weaves the two genres together – in spite of its low rating, which, according to critics, was most in part of the dramatic changes the film made to the book’s charming and quirky characters.

While being known to deviate greatly from the source novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth still provides a light family movie that gives viewers a break from the critical thinking required for previous films, such as Kubrick’s.

Sci-fi book to movie adaptations already have great material, and with enough loyalty but creative vision to translate the medium, something masterful can truly be created, or, you can just end up with yet another flick plagued with being bested by the book.

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Eddie Wong
Eddie Wong
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Eddie Wong

Lives in Malibu, California. Loves movies. Cutting expert, lover of Final Cut Pro 7. Parents wanted him to be a doctor, but he just wants to edit.

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