“The book is way better than the movie” is a phrase you’ve probably heard once or twice. Admittedly, it is true in most cases. We’ve all gone to see a movie adaptation of our favorite book, and felt that it wasn’t as thrilling or engaging as the novel. However, every now and then, production companies release a film that becomes a classic in its own right. This is certainly true for the sci-fi movies based on books we mention in our article.
As a genre, science fiction explores uncharted territories and unconventional ideas that push the limits of what we thought was possible. It allows us to imagine futures that are perhaps hundreds of years away from us. Maybe humanity doesn’t get a happy ending in these visions, but we are still hooked. We also get a glimpse into how artificial intelligence or advanced technologies could change the world as we know it.
Because of these dominant themes, science fiction has become an important part of cinema. There is an infinite number of possibilities in this genre, making it much more appealing to the audience around the world. Granted, not all science fiction films were great adaptations and some of them fell short.
But these sci-fi movies based on books prove that it’s possible to bring this genre to life on the big screen.
Let’s check them out!
English director Ridley Scott is no stranger to science fiction. In fact, we mention two of his sci-fi movies based on books in our article. As an innovative director and visionary, Scott remains one of the most influential and brilliant minds in science fiction filmmaking. Many fans were relieved to hear that he would direct The Martian, based on a 2011 novel by Andy Weir.
The year is 2035. The Ares III crew is exploring Acidalia Planitia, a plain on Mars. A severe dust storm is coming, threatening to topple their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). In order to survive, they have to evacuate in a hurry and abandon their mission, which they do. However, the crew ends up leaving behind their botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) on the Red Planet. Yet, he survives.
The Martian follows Watney as he struggles to survive on Mars. He has very limited resources and no outside help whatsoever. But there is something that can help him — science.
Many critics praised Ridley Scott for his work on The Martian, saying the film was a return to form for the famous director. It certainly deserves to appear alongside other sci-fi movies based on books that both critics and audience loved.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Admire him or not, you have to admit that Stanley Kubrick hit it out of the park with 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2001 is now considered one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. But, did you know it was based on a short story The Sentinel by the great Arthur C. Clarke?
Kubrick and Clarke worked closely to create the screenplay for 2001, expanding the story of The Sentinel. There are differences between the novel and the movie, but both Kubrick and Clarke knew where they were going with 2001. Now, even 52 years after its release, the film remains popular.
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the discovery of an alien monolith leads to a mysterious mission. Apparently, the monolith is capable of affecting human evolution — an ability that begs for immediate investigation.
Furthermore, Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and other astronauts embark on a voyage to Jupiter. Their spacecraft “Discovery One” is mostly controlled by HAL, a sentient computer. The astronauts are kept in the dark about the true cause of the mission, yet they are willing to participate.
After some time, HAL starts to behave strangely, and the crew believe that the computer system is malfunctioning. This will result in a showdown between man and machine and culminate in a mind-blowing trek through space and time.
The fact that 2001 deals with themes of human evolution, technology, existentialism, and artificial intelligence makes it one of the best sci-fi movies based on books.
In 1973, The Science Fiction Writers of America labeled Who Goes There? as “the most influential, important, and memorable science fiction that has ever been made.” Written by John W. Campbell Jr., this sci-fi horror novella was later adapted into a film called The Thing. Directed by John Carpenter, who left a huge impact on science fiction filmmaking, The Thing wasn’t praised at first. However, many consider it to be one of the best sci-fi movies based on books today.
The Thing transports us to Antarctica just as a Norwegian helicopter chases a sled dog right to the doors of an American research station. The helicopter blows up, killing all those aboard. This prompts R. J. MacReady and Dr. Cooper to go and investigate the Norwegian base. After their arrival, they discover that the members are either dead or missing.
Surprisingly enough, they also find remains of a strange creature. After taking it back to their base, they begin to study the corpse. It becomes obvious that they are dealing with an alien capable of assuming the shape of its victims. This means that The Thing could inhabit anyone.
For most part, John Carpenter’s The Thing stays true to the novella, which is a big plus. Although it follows a simple premise, The Thing is still regarded as one of the best sci-fi movies based on books.
Ridley Scott appears twice on our list of sci-fi movies based on books, and deservedly so. The director gave us Alien, The Martian, and, perhaps most importantly, Blade Runner. Loosely based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Blade Runner put a spotlight on the writer Philip K. Dick and his work in science fiction. This made Dick and his novels appealing to Hollywood.
Blade Runner is set in a dystopian future Los Angeles in 2019. In this world, bioengineered humanoids, known as replicants, are developed in order to work at space colonies. However, the use of advanced technology proves to be dangerous when a group of replicants escapes and reaches Earth. Rick Deckard, a former blade runner whose job was to track down replicants and “retire” (kill) them, has to hunt down these fugitives.
If you read Dick’s book, you know that the movie differs a lot from it. However, Scott did keep many of the same characters in his adaptation.
We’ll conclude our article on sci-fi movies based on books with a film that inspired our video game Ripout.
David Cronenberg should take a lot of credit for introducing the body horror genre to the world. From Shivers and Rabid and all the way to The Brood and The Fly, he has proven to have the ability to get people to watch even the most graphic of scenes. The Fly, loosely based on George Langelaan’s short story of the same name, has especially attracted viewers to the science fiction body horror genre.
The Fly focuses on an eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum). He invites Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife, a science journalist, to his laboratory in order to show her his latest invention — a set of telepods. This device enables anyone to teleport between pods. Naturally, Brundle decides to test the telepods himself. However, his experiment goes wrong and we see Brundle slowly turning into a man/fly hybrid.
Have you watched these sci-fi movies based on books already? If you haven’t, which one will you watch first? Tell us in the comments section!