Top book to screen adaptations of 2019, including 'His Dark Materials', 'Good Omens', 'Catch 22' and 'NOS4A2'
May contain spoilers for listed shows
It is easy to complain about book to screen adaptations because readers often find themselves highly discouraged by the different tangents the story takes when it is adapted for the screen.
But that is not to say that book to screen adaptations always end up as disappointing affairs. For one, 2019 gave us some of the best adaptations we have seen before. From fantasy and adventure to sci-fi and satire, here is a list of the book adaptations that you must catch up on.
1. 'His Dark Materials'
Based on the epic adventure fantasy series written by Philip Pullman, 'His Dark Materials' comes at a good time for fantasy lovers, especially after the sad end of HBO's 'Game of Thrones'.
Co-produced by BBC and HBO (with the latter handling international distribution), the show is set in an alternative world where human beings have human companions called daemons, the manifestation of the human soul, who walk beside them side by side.
The relationship between a daemon and its human is sacred and forms the crux of the series. The television adaptation encompasses the epic trilogy made of 'Northern Lights' (which was published as 'The Golden Compass' in America'), 'The Subtle Knife', and 'The Amber Spyglass'.
The show, thankfully, is a much much better product than the 2007 film adaptation 'The Golden Compass' starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Dakota Blue Richards, that was, among other things, a rudimentary and highly underdeveloped project.
'His Dark Materials' also gives its characters an edge, particularly, Lyra Belacqua's character, who is a headstrong young girl with determination and will as opposed to the Lyra who was reduced to a victim of her fate in the movie.
The movie was also criticized for a pace that seemed rushed — a complaint that won't stand with 'His Dark Materials' as the show was renewed for a second season complete with eight episodes even before it premiered.
Written for television by Jack Thorne, watch 'His Dark Materials' for an epic ensemble cast of Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, James McAvoy, Georgina Campbell, Ariyon Bakare, and James Cosmo among others.
But more than that, you must watch it for the magnificently adapted storyline. Follow Lyra on her journey to save the kidnapped children.
'His Dark Materials' airs every Monday at 9 pm on HBO.
2. 'Catch 22'
Set during World War II, Hulu's 'Catch 22' is based on the satirical novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. The miniseries follows Christopher Abbott's John Yossarian, a US Air Force bombardier who finds himself running one difficult mission after the other during the war.
The series, developed by Luke Davies and David Michôd, is directed by George Clooney (who also stars as General Scheisskopf), Grant Heslov and Ellen Kuras. Through the novel and the series, 'Catch 22' keenly explores the absurdity of war and the military life through Yossarian's story.
It does so through the bureaucratic rule of Catch-22, which states that "a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers which are real and immediate is the process of a rational mind."
It adds, "A man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty".
All episodes of 'Catch 22' are available to stream on Hulu.
3. 'Good Omens'
Based on the novel 'Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch', written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Amazon Prime Video's adaptation as a miniseries is a spectacular affair.
Set in pre-apocalyptic 2018, humanity is preparing for an imminent apocalypse. But the angel and demon duo Aziraphale and Crowley (played by Michael Sheen and David Tennant respectively) work against the forces in an attempt to save the world from eternal peril.
The co-production between Amazon Prime and BBC is a six-part series directed by Douglas Mackinnon and written by Gaiman — who also served as the showrunner for the series.
The main reason you must watch the show is for its devilishly good cast of Michael Sheen, David Tennant, and Jon Hamm among others. It also features a brilliant camaraderie between two of the best English actors — Sheen and Tennant.
All episodes of Season 1 of 'Good Omens' are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Starring Ashleigh Cummings, Zachary Quinto, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Virginia Kull, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach in lead roles, 'NOS4A2' (pronounced Nosferatu) is AMC's haunting supernatural horror drama based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill.
The series follows Cummings' Vic McQueen, a young woman whose discovery of her own supernatural ability leads to a horrific trail of events.
The terrifying immortal Charlie Manx, portrayed by a connivingly brilliant Zachary Quinto, feeds off the souls of the children; deposting their remains in an icy, twisted Christmasland — a place of his own imagining where unhappiness is against the law.
Vic must work against hope and the tides of time to stop Manx and rescue all the children.
'NOS4A2' is particularly remarkable for Cummings' performance, who plays a complete transformation from her previous Dorothy Williams on 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries'.
Quinto, needless to say, is the other exceptional aspect of the series. He breathes life into the petrifying character that is Manx and will leave you horror-stricken for days to come.
In July 2019, AMC announced that it had renewed the series for a second season. You can watch Season 1 on AMC's website.