While most of the movies that are book adaptations have been disappointments, there have been some movies that have done total justice to the book. In some cases, I also found that the movies were better than the book. I'll start with the good ones first. Please note that I have not read all the books in the world and have not seen all the movies, so the opinions below are just based on my reach of the books and movies.
When it comes to movies doing justice to the book, the first book that comes to my mind is my all time favorite book, Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather'. I read this book 10-12 years ago and was totally blown away. Don Corleone is one of the best literary characters in history and he owned each and every scene in the book. The writing was flawless and the impact huge. The first time I ever cried while reading a book was when the Godfather dies (If this is a spoiler alert, I'm sorry). As soon as I was finished with the book, I watched the movie. I cried at the exact same scene again. Marlon Brando was the perfect Godfather there could be. His baritone, his mannerisms, brought the character alive from the book. Also, Al Pacino as Micheal was such a treat to the eyes. For me this would always remain the best book to movie adaptation.
The only book or rather story that I have read of Stephen King is 'Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption'. This is one of the four stories in the book 'Different Seasons' and I read just this story. I read the story only after I watched the movie, which also happens to be one of my favorite. The story is concise and brief, but the movie explored every angle of the story and showed it brilliantly. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman were the perfect cast and did total justice to their literary counterparts. This is a movie that I have watched more than a hundred times and still can watch it any day.
The other movie that did total justice to the book was the Hannibal series, by Thomas Harris. I remember shuddering after I finished 'The Silence Of The Lambs' and 'Red Dragon', the books I mean. They were gory and creepy, but the writing was splendid. The creativity and the characters were so well etched that one cannot forget even a single scene in the book. When I watched the movie, I was again blown away. Sir Anthony Hopkins is such a brilliant actor that I can never imagine him as anything else apart from Dr. Hannibal Lecter. His voice still gives me the creeps at times. Ralph Fiennes too did a brilliant job in the Red Dragon. Such movies can be watched again and again.
Now let's come to the movies that I thought failed its book completely. 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', was a brilliantly made movie with Rooney Mara's career best performance but it failed to bring out the actual essence of the book. While the scenes involving Salander was shown well, the actual mystery was terribly watered down. I remember being disturbed for days when I read the book. The movie did not have this effect. 'The Girl On The Train' is another example. While the book drags in the first half and picks up later, the movie just dragged. Emily Blunt was brilliant and so was Justin Theroux, but again the revelation of the mystery wasn't shown well. The voice message, the shock on Anna's face, could be imagined very well in my mind but the way it was shown was very luke warm. Just like all movies adapted from Dan Brown's books. While I love and respect Tom Hanks, the movies were long and tedious and very difficult to understand. The books at least had everything spelt out.
There are some movies that were so much better than the book. The first example that comes to my mind is 'The Devil Wears Prada'. Meryl Steep! Oh, Meryl Streep! I just fell in love with her character. When I read the book, I hated Miranda Priestly and Andrea. I thought Anne Hathway was really good in the movie too. But the book was a dud. After a few pages I just dragged myself through the book, skipping chapters in between. The same thing happened to me with 'Lessons In Forgetting' too. I saw the movie first and loved it! The very reason why I bought the book. Then the book killed me with boredom. The multiple stories and the mixing of first and third person narration troubled me. Maybe it was because I read the books after I had seen the movie, but I hated the books. I'd choose the movie any day.
I have a lot of other adaptations in mind. Twilight, My Sister's Keeper, 3 Idiots, Bricklane, Harry Potter etc, but I'll reserve them for later. The post has gotten long enough already.
Tell me about your favorite book to movie adaptation. Also, the adaption that is your least favorite. Trust me, I'd like to know. If you know any book and its movie that is good, please let me know as well.