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Spiritual Adaptation / Live-Action Film

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  • A trend that reached its peak in the '90s was to take works of classic literature and make teen movies out of them. As this article by Meredith Borders for Birth.Movies.Death. explains, high school is among the last places in modern society where many of the Early Modern and Victorian social mores that figured into many such works still exist in some form, making it easy to map the characters' machinations and class divides onto a high school's Popularity Food Chain. It also helps that most teenagers and young adults, the target audience for such films, are familiar with the books through high school/college English classes. Some of these films even go out of their way to give Shout Outs and homages to the books they were based on. Examples are listed throughout this page.



  • The Jet Li film Kiss of the Dragon does a rather nice job of being an adaptation of Fist of the Blue Sky.
  • The Jack Slater movies in Last Action Hero are the nearest we'll ever be to having a film adaptation of McBain.
  • Several YouTube commenters have made the connections between the Classic Walt Disney cartoon short Lonesome Ghosts and Ghostbusters (1984). Even one of the lines Goofy utters in the cartoon is directly lifted and placed into the main theme of the film.
    Goofy (Chuckles nervously): I ain't 'fraid of no ghosts!
    I ain't 'fraid of no ghosts!;
  • Richard Matheson's I Am Legend has been adapted multiple times to film, but the best adaptation is probably an unofficial one: George A. Romero's Living Dead Series. Heavily inspired by I Am Legend (to the point where Romero himself outright called it a ripoff of Matheson's novel), it removed the vampire-like characteristics and intelligence of its ghouls but otherwise adapted its story of civilization being destroyed by a disease that turns humans into monsters quite faithfully, pioneering an entire genre of horror fiction in the process. Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) can be seen as unofficial prequels, while Day of the Dead (1985) can be seen as a spinoff story set in Florida.
  • Le Samouraï has influenced numerous filmmakers over the years so naturally there have been some movies that serve as unofficial remakes:
    • The Driver is an Americanized version of the movie but with a getaway driver.
    • John Woo cited the film as a major inspiration for The Killer in terms of plot and characters. He even admitted in an interview that "Melville is god to me" and it's no surprise that he's been attempting to remake Le Samourai for years but his efforts never came to fruition so in the meantime fans of the film can look to The Killer as the closest that they'll get to the director's vision of a modern, setting-shifted reboot
    • The Professional is a 90s themed version of the film set in New York City. Not only is the protagonist a very skilled hitman who's always dressed well for his assassination missions but he adheres to a rigid Code of Honor and lives as an outsider who has no other friends or companions other than a thing that he keeps at his apartment. He also has to protect a young girl and eventually sacrifices himself to save her from death. And much like that movie, the director Luc Besson is French.
    • Similar to The Killer example above, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a deliberate homage to the movie complete with an Anti-Hero contract killer as the main lead who follows the Japanese code of Bushido and uses a special key to steal other cars. He even dies at the end to project a young woman much like Jef Costello.
    • As the film's own page on TV Tropes points out, The American is Le Samourai in Italy.
  • Logan:
  • Erich Segal at first wanted to do a film adaptation of The Blue Lagoon with the setting updated from the early 20th century South Pacific to the then-contemporary New York. When an agreement with the estate of Henry De Vere Stacpoole couldn’t be reached, he instead wrote his original tragic love story, still influenced by The Blue Lagoon. After the script was turned down by several studios, his agent pressed him to rework his rejected screenplay into a novel. When the rights to his story were purchased by Paramount, it became the project that saved the studio from being closed by its new parent company, Gulf and Western, Love Story. Ironically, the success of Love Story revived interest on The Blue Lagoon, but due to a lengthy and complicated Development Hell and Troubled Production, a proper Blue Lagoon film adaptation was only released in 1980, at a time movie audiences were tired of tragic love stories.
  • What with the lunatics shooting guns and driving cars held together by duct tape who consider death to be just another part of life before coming back for another go, Mad Max: Fury Road is either the best adaptation of the Warhammer 40,000 spinoff Gorkamorkanote  (which is itself heavily inspired by the original Mad Max), or the closest we'll ever see to a live-action Waaaagh!.
  • Maleficent: Similar to Frozen (2013) (see the Animated Film page), the film serves as a live-action adaptation of Wicked with both works reimagining a traditionally villainous character in a heroic light by crafting a sympathetic backstory for how they became evil.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers (2012) could be argued as a great movie adaptation of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, with both stories featuring a group of superheroes with attitude being recruited by a bald man with a presence to fight an alien with a fancy staff who wants to conquer Earth. To top it off, the Sixth Ranger was brainwashed into serving the villain before being knocked back into consciousness and has the closest relationship with The Chick (or in this film's case, the only woman) on the team. Together, they fight endless waves of mooks and giant monsters, and while they don't have a Megazord, they do have a helicarrier. In fact, in the wake of Joseph Kahn's Power/Rangers gritty fan film, those who didn't like it pointed to this film as a better alternative since while it's certainly darker than your average Power Rangers season, it still has the defining elements that made the show, most prominently teamwork and the sense of victory, as well as some lighthearted moments to balance out the darkness.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier may be the best movie adaptation of Metal Gear Solid that we ever get to see, in particular Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. It's about a long-time veteran soldier, who's the sole survivor of a government program to create genetically-enhanced soldiers, coming out of retirement to fight a terrorist leader with ties to his past, having a rivalry with someone with a fake left arm, and working to uncover a conspiracy in the ranks of the government while they prepare to devastate the world with a powerful superweapon, usually within the very organization they work for. The movie even has its own tanker level, and a scene where we find out that the government conspiracy is led by a sentient A.I. that took over for the long-deceased human villains. Also, the eponymous Winter Soldier is revealed to be an old friend of the veteran soldier, presumed dead but taken from the battlefield and transformed against his will into a cyborg assassin.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy:
      • A number of fans have pointed out the similarity of the film's central characters to the original regular characters of Farscape. (Peter = John, Gamora = Aeryn, Drax = D'Argo, Groot = Zhaan, and Rocket = Rygel.) Some of the changes made to the film characters compared to the original comic versions make them closer to the Farscape characters (in particular Peter being abducted by aliens and Trapped in Another World instead of voluntarily exploring space, and Drax being an alien rather than an augmented human). Notably, James Gunn is a fan of the show, and cast Ben Browder (who played John Crichton) in a small part in Vol. 2.
    • Just take a look at Ant-Man's heist at Pym Tech if you want to know what a live-action Pikmin movie would look like.
    • Doctor Strange (2016) is a better Green Lantern film then the actual Green Lantern movie, as pointed out here and here by Jeremy Jahns and Couch Tomato respectively.
    • The Nostalgia Critic, at the end of his video on The Lion King (1994), called Black Panther (2018) the "real" live-action remake of that film. Specifically, both are epic stories set in Africa about an heir to the throne who is usurped by a tyrant who kills his father and leaves him for dead, and undertakes a long quest to return to his rightful place as king. Both have scenes where the hero and villain duke it out on a cliff's edge, and the heroes of both contact the spirits of their dead fathers, though T'Challa's reunion with his father is a bit more heated than Simba's. And both stories are themselves heavily inspired by Hamlet. The heroes even both evoke big cats, though Simba from The Lion King is a literal lion while T'Challa in Black Panther is a human who uses the imagery of a panther.
    • Many critics and fans have called Thor: Ragnarok the best He-Man movie ever made. This is thanks to its mixture of sci-fi and Swords and Sorcery, retro '80s score and aesthetic, colorful cast of heroes and villains, and the fact that it stars a muscular hero who wields swords and lightning.
    • Captain Marvel has also been called pretty good adaptation of the Green Lantern mythos. It's an epic Space Opera centered on the origin of a superhero with energy manipulation powers, the main character is part of an elite intergalactic military force, and the story begins with a lost alien crashing to Earth. Even if the main character's name is "Carol Danvers" instead of "Hal Jordan", the story manages to hit all the beats that Green Lantern fans love: the colorful space battles, the exotic aliens, the lovably cocky hero who flies fighter jets... It's all here.
      • A lot of viewers have noted that this movie makes for a surprisingly good live-action Dragon Ball Z film. Some even consider it to be a more faithful adaptation than the much reviled Dragon Ball Evolution. Like Goku, Carol is an immensely powerful warrior with the ability to fly and shoot energy from her hands, with no understanding of her past, and learns she was part of a legacy of genocidal alien conquerors (the Saiyans/the Kree) who are the sworn enemies of a race of pointy-eared green aliens that later turn out to not all that bad. The movie even climaxes with the main character unlocking her hidden power and entering a glowing Golden Super Mode to defeat the villains.
      • It could also be seen as one to She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Both female leads gain superpowers and defect from an Evil Empire after belatedly learning that it's, well, evil and that her enemies were Good All Along. Carol's relationship with the Supreme Intelligence also calls to mind Shadow Weaver's manipulative raising of Adora.
  • The Masters of the Universe film is described on That Other Wiki as being the best Jack Kirby's Fourth World movie ever attempted. Though Word of God from the director indicates he meant to do an homage to the work of Kirby in a general sense, not the Fourth World in particular.
  • The Matrix:
    • It can be called a sci-fi version of Mage: The Ascension, as it's about a group of people who discover that their world is an illusion, unlocking great powers in the process, and are then pursued by just-as-powerful beings who are tasked with keeping the illusion alive.
    • It was also very heavily influenced by Ghost in the Shell with its mix of cyberpunk action and philosophical musings about the nature of humanity and consciousness. The Wachowskis were huge fans of its anime adaptation, which they have cited as one of their favorite films and which they screened for producer Joel Silver in order to show him what they wanted to accomplish with their film, and many scenes are lifted more or less directly from it as shout-outs. In fact, the success and influence of The Matrix was a big part of why the 2017 Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell met a lukewarm reception — as far as most Americans were concerned, The Matrix did it first.
  • Mean Girls draws direct comparisons between its plot and that of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, another story about a group of people who plot to overthrow a tyrannical dictator (and things quickly turning rotten afterwards), albeit on a much smaller scale. One famous scene has Gretchen rewriting a piece of dialogue from Shakespeare's play in which Cassius tells Brutus why he doesn't think Caesar deserves to rule, clearly seeing herself as Brutus and Regina as Caesar.
  • Michael Clayton has been called "the best John Grisham movie ever made".
  • While the Conan O'Brian and Adam West comedy series Lookwell never made it past the pilot, Mindhorn serves as a good movie adaptation, albeit a British version.
  • When the first trailer for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children came out, many called it Tim Burton's X-Men.
  • Midnight Cowboy is often described as being like an urban 1960s Of Mice & Men, albeit one where the "George" character (Ratso Rizzo) dies and the "Lennie" character (Joe Buck) survives instead of vice-versa.
  • Mortal Engines owes a lot to the Final Fantasy franchise's Sword and Gun Steampunk Zeppelins from Another World mishmash. There's even "extradimensional energies" that act as Magic by Any Other Name.
  • The final act of mother! is basically a bigger-budget studio remake of Begotten.
  • Moulin Rouge!, although officially a loose retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, is basically a composite adaptation of the operas La Traviata and La Bohème.
  • Movie 43, between its Vulgar Humor, its laundry list of celebrity guest stars, and it being an Anthology Film, is pretty much a live-action Robot Chicken.
  • The Mummy (2017):
    • It's an Urban Fantasy horror story about a secret London-based organization devoted to fighting supernatural evil, making it probably the closest we'll get to a film adaptation of the Templars from The Secret World.
    • The plot also shares more than a few elements lifted from Hellsing, including Dr. Jekyll's role being virtually identical to Integra's, and his office in fact looking quite like her office. At the end of the film, Tom Cruise is essentially a male Seras Victoria.
  • My Girl can be viewed as a stealth adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia with the genders reversed. This has lead some fans to view the Terabithia film version as a stealth gender-bent remake of My Girl.
  • Some fans of "Weird Al" Yankovic are convinced that Napoleon Dynamite is an Adaptation Expansion of the song "That Boy Could Dance" (from "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D). After all, both involve a clumsy, geekish outcast who dazzles everyone at school with his amazing dance skills. Watch the video and decide for yourself.
  • Ray Liotta's Narc has quite a bit in common with Max Payne, moreso than the actual Max Payne film did.
  • National Treasure:
  • The Neon Demon, about a young model who becomes target of beauty-obsessed stylists, jealous competitors, a creepy boyfriend and unpredictable criminals, plays like a westernized take on Junji Ito's Tomie series, including a gore-filled third act.
  • Ninja Assassin is pretty much the best and closest one could get to a Ninja Gaiden movie.
  • "O" is a high school version of Shakespeare's Othello.
  • Office Space, Mike Judge's satire of office jobs and the culture therein, is most likely the closest thing to a live-action Dilbert movie ever made.
  • Ever wondered what if Grand Theft Auto was set during the twilight of Hollywood's Golden Age, with the player getting to drive in 1969 Hollywood with the radio blaring period music, with a mission of getting to fight the members of the Manson Family? Look no further to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, specifically the day-to-day life of Cliff Booth.
  • Overlord (2018):
    • It's an action-horror movie about a team of four paratroopers in Normandy (plus a photojournalist and a female French villager) the night before D-Day who discover Nazi mad science experiments to create undead Super Soldiers. In other words, it's Call of Duty: Zombies: The Movie.
    • The film's pulp sci-fi take on World War II can also make it seem like a film adaptation of Wolfenstein that they couldn't get the rights to. Tiago Svn and Ed Stevens of Cracked made note of it in this article, pointing out everything from the castle setting to the protagonist having a very similar facial scar to BJ's to specific plot and aesthetic elements right down to the fact that the title font is almost identical to that of Wolfenstein.
    • If anyone remembers the Xbox 360 game Operation Darkness, which had Those Wacky Nazis involved with the supernatural, then this is the closest to a movie adaptation of that game.
  • Oz the Great and Powerful is pretty much a non-musical movie adaptation of Wicked since it serves as an origin story to a prominent character in the Oz mythos (specifically Oscar Diggs) and the Wicked Witch of the West plays a big role throughout the story even going so far as to show her backstory of how she became evil just like the novel.

  • Pacific Rim, being Guillermo del Toro's love letter to classic Humongous Mecha anime, has been compared to many works in that genre.
    • Humanity building giant robots to combat an alien threat. While this may be a common plot in the mecha genre of anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion is probably the first show to come to mind for many, at least younger, anime fans. To specify: 20 Minutes into the Future (as opposed to the more common "far into the future" and "another world entirely" settings), aliens that are specifically interested in human extinction arrive, not from space, but from the depths of the Earth itself. These aliens are giant monsters who fight humanity directly, instead of using robots themselves. To combat these, humanity creates equally gigantic robots that requires the pilot to mentally synch not only with the robot, but also with a co-pilot. (While this is only done literally in Evangelion 3.0, in the original series the "robots" had to have a human soul implanted in them to function and both this soul and the actual pilot had to synch with each-other and the "robot".) The monsters also appear one-by-one instead of organizing in an army. Oh, and let's not forget the yellow fluid and the journeys into characters' minds. The sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising takes the similarities even further, introducing a counterpart to Shinji Ikari in the form of Jake Pentecost, the son of a war hero who was neglected growing up and is now in charge of piloting the mechas needed to save humanity, as well as sending the teenage rookies out in the mechas during the climax (albeit in this case after the adult pilots are killed or incapacitated).
    • Alternately alternately, it's the best Getter Robo movie we're ever gonna get.
    • Go back a bit more, to the beginning. Rocket Punch. Breast Fire. Pilots in the head docking with the body. Hell, the whole drivable robot concept. It's Mazinger Z, all the way. By extension to almost all the above, this makes Pacific Rim the closest to a live-action Super Robot Wars film ever.
    • The movie has several (coincidental) similarities to the X-COM franchise as well. Alien threat that forces the nations of the world to band together and form an organisation dedicated to fighting them? Check. Council of nations that threatens to pull their funding because they're not getting results? Check. The alien-fighting organization forced to sell alien components on the black market to make ends meet? Check. Researchers vivisecting alien corpses in order to better understand what they're fighting against? Check. A final assault on the aliens' homeworld? Check.
    • "Mysterious giant monsters are rising from the sea, and the nations of the world combat them by fielding stylish, two-pilot giant robots whose pilot teams all have a close relationship. On a tragic mission several years ago, our hero lost his trusted partner, and with a renewed crisis, he has to get back in his revived mecha with a new rookie girl who also serves as a love interest." Why, that sounds rather like Godannar.
    • Not mention it has been referred once or twice as an "adult" Power Rangers.
    • It's also the best screen-adaptation of Muv-Luv Alternative we could ever get.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • The series is sometimes thought of as The Movies Of Monkey Island. If one were to see the trailer for the original Pirates of the Caribbean while being unaware of what it was actually based on, it wouldn't be a huge leap to expect it to be a straight-up Monkey Island movie. This isn't surprising, as both were inspired by the same theme park ride (after which the movie is named). The second PotC especially features a few uncanny similarities to the Monkey Island games, such as Jack using a casket as a rowboat and a voodoo priestess hiding in a swamp. (Both borrow the casket thing from Moby-Dick, though.)
    • The films also bear a strong resemblance to the marine horror stories of William Hope Hodgson, especially The Ghost Pirates and "The Derelict".
  • Polaroid is the closest thing to a film adaptation of the Goosebumps book Say Cheese and Die! we're going to get — both center around a cursed camera that does horrible things to anyone it takes a picture of, and both have major characters named Bird.
  • Predator is Beowulf, adapted to the 1980s and with an alien as Grendel. A group of elite warriors are called into a foreign land, where a mysterious creature is killing the locals. They manage to wound it once, but are slowly killed off until the leader sheds his armor and weapons to hunt down the beast.
  • Prisoners is likely the closest (and best) we'll get to a live action Heavy Rain, as its own film adaptation is seemingly locked in Development Hell.
  • Years before Lois Duncan's novel I Know What You Did Last Summer got an official adaptation, Prom Night (1980) could be said to have been the best film version of it out there. (Duncan would probably say it's a better film, in fact, as she hated the I Know movie.) Both stories deal with a group of teenagers who had previously covered up an Accidental Murder, and are now being harassed and attacked over it by somebody who knows their secret.
  • Prometheus:
  • The Purge:
    • Some critics consider it to be The Hunger Games but with adults.
    • The sequels, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year, are this to Manhunt minus the Snuff Film elements. A person (or a group of people in this case) try to survive the night against various gangs of masked psychopaths in a lawless city, including Gas Mask Mooks that look nearly like the Cerberus. Anarchy even has a plot line of the wealthy capturing victims to hunt for sport.
    • The character of Leo from Anarchy and Election Year, a Vigilante Man played by Frank Grillo who serves as a protagonist in both films, has been called a better translation of The Punisher to the big screen than many of that character's actual film adaptations. Both films as a whole have also been seen as Genre Throwbacks to '80s dystopian action films like Escape from New York and RoboCop (1987).
    • One writer has compared the films to the first BioShock game. To wit, while the films don't have that game's underwater city or genetic splicing, they do take place in a similar dystopian world where ultra-libertarian social Darwinism has caused society to degenerate into violent chaos for its own sake, justified by a Might Makes Right attitude. The masked psychos roaming the streets also resemble and behave like some of the more eccentric Splicers.
    • On a similar level, the series can also be seen as Dead Rising minus the zombies, such that Daniel Dockery of Cracked has suggested (at #1 on the list) that the films would work a lot better as video games drawing influence from Dead Rising. Both works take place against the backdrop of a breakdown of law and order that causes people to let their primal urges run wild, as seen with Dead Rising's psychopaths and The Purge's more colorful participants, many of whom see the collapse of society as an opportunity to throw off its shackles and fully embrace who they "really are". The action operates on a Cosmic Deadline; in the Dead Rising games (until the fourth one got rid of the timer), you only have a certain amount of time to complete the story before the military destroys the city, while participants in the Purge have only twelve hours to let loose and/or survive before the final siren. They also serve up highly cynical satire of American society, portraying it as a land where people are obsessed with guns and violence and can't be bothered to care about the dispossessed. The only difference is in how it happens: Dead Rising uses a Zombie Apocalypse as the catalyst, while the titular event in The Purge is an annual, government-sanctioned holiday.
    • James DeMonaco, the creator of the series, has cited as inspiration the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Return of the Archons", in which the Enterprise visits a planet holding a "Festival" where the Hive Mind temporarily relaxes its control over the populace and allows them to act out their most violent urges.
  • The Raid unintentionally becomes a movie adaption of the Dynamite Deka series, aka Die Hard Arcade and Dynamite Cop, by Indonesia (with a Welsh director). The movie has it all: a SWAT team infiltrating the building, a bad guy barking orders on the top floor, and waves upon waves of mooks on each floor. Even some movie critics said the movie feels like an adaption of arcade beat'em ups from the '90s.
  • Uwe Boll's Rampage is a better adaptation of Postal (particularly the first game in the series) than his own movie adaptation (which was based more on the second game).
  • The live-action adaption of Rampage (2018) is currently the closest King Kong vs Godzilla movie we'll have in modern times, until the MonsterVerse reaches that point.
  • Ready Player One (2018) is known right now to be an adaption of several works:
    • It is not hard to imagine this as a film version of Garry's Mod. The premise, of being able to play and mess around in player-constructed environments and use iconic fictional characters as well as real historical people, is very similar to the game, just without the mechanics.
    • Others have compared it to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is helped by the usage of a Suspiciously Similar Song of "Pure Imagination" in the trailers (later confirmed to be an outright cover) and the fact that Gene Wilder himself was approached with the role of Halliday.
    • Some people, especially anime fans, also compared it a bit with resident MMO-gone-serious series Sword Art Online due to its premise, an opinion that seems to be shared by its own creator. Curiously enough and for enforcing this, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, who voiced the main hero Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito, works in the Japanese dub of the film.
    • The battle portion could be compared to South Park's Imaginationland trilogy/compilation movie, which culminates in a gigantic battle between good and evil armies consisting of hundreds of characters from pop culture and beyond.
    • The film can also be considered this to VRChat to some extent when it comes to modified avatars
  • The movie Real Steel had been called Rock'em Sock'em Robots: The Movie. It's actually an adaptation of the 1956 story and 1963 Twilight Zone episode "Steel", which in turn is said to have been the inspiration for Rock'em Sock'em Robots.
  • Some critics have described Rebel Without a Cause as a 1950s Romeo and Juliet of sorts. Both deal with teenagers grappling with romance, violence, and alienation from the older generation and society in general; James Dean's character Jim can be seen as the Romeo character, his love interest Judy as the Juliet, doomed friend/semi-love interest Plato as the Mercutio, and Judy's equally doomed original boyfriend Buzz as both Tybalt and Paris. Nicholas Ray actually cited Romeo as a strong influence on Rebel, calling it "the best play written about juvenile delinquents." These parallels may have helped pave the way for West Side Story, the era's direct transplant of Romeo into the world of modern "juvenile delinquency," the film version of which starred the same leading actress as Rebel, no less.
  • The [REC] movies have been compared to what the Resident Evil and Doom movies should have been.
  • When it was announced, Red Sparrow was frequently described as "the unofficial Black Widow movie", albeit with Jennifer Lawrence instead of Scarlett Johansson and a general lack of superheroes. The film's director Francis Lawrence even commented on the comparisons.
  • Discussed in Reservoir Dogs, where the guys have a Seinfeldian Conversation about the 1970s cult TV show Get Christie Love!. Nice Guy Eddie incorrectly recalls that Pam Grier played Christie Love, and Mr. Pink clarifies that Pam Grier was exclusively a film actress, while Get Christie Love! was meant to be "the Pam Grier TV show without Pam Grier".
  • Due to copious amounts of Gorn, grim tone, and similar time period, some have felt that The Revenant is about the closest we have gotten to a film version of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.
  • The 2015 zombie film The Rezort is about an island resort complex built after a Zombie Apocalypse where tourists can come to hunt zombies for sport. While the Jurassic Park-with-zombies inspirations are obvious, it can also be seen as a film version of Dead Island, although in this case, the zombies are supposed to be there.
  • Orson Scott Card, author of Ender's Game, the adaptation of which took decades to premiere, considers Rise of the Planet of the Apes to be "the first truly successful adaptation of my novel... to appear on the screen." In the past, he'd made similar statements about Serenity.
  • Graham Dury of Viz considers the 1987 British comedy Rita and Sue and Bob, Too to be a better film adaptation of Fat Slags than the eponymous film.
  • Many, many film adaptations of the Robin Hood story add elements of the Walter Scott novel Ivanhoe to the mix, such as a knight returning from the Crusades, Saxon fighting against Norman tyranny, and him rescuing his ladylove from a castle. The Errol Flynn film The Adventures of Robin Hood and the Patrick Bergin film Robin Hood (1991) are two of the most notable examples.
  • RoboCop (1987) is basically an adaptation of Judge Dredd, being the story of a visor-wearing supercop hunting criminals in the dystopian metropolis of the future, complete with political satire and Black Comedy. In fact, there were plans for a film adaptation long before the 1995 Stallone version, but the release of RoboCop scuppered it.
  • The Rocketeer is for all intents and purposes the Art Deco Batman or Superman movie people have been crying for.
  • Run Hide Fight is about as close as anybody is ever going to get to making a film adaptation of the Newgrounds game Pico's School, albeit with a gender-flipped protagonist. Both are unabashedly pulpy "Die Hard" on an X stories about school shootings, in which the protagonist is a student who fights back against a gang of four nihilistic, antisocial classmates who represent contemporary teen delinquent stereotypes (goths in Pico's School, social media addicts in Run Hide Fight), all while the police outside do nothing to stop them.
  • Rurouni Kenshin would make for a good live-action epilogue for Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai.
  • Savages, like Double Impact listed above, also has the basic plotline of the first Double Dragon game. Criminals have kidnapped the girlfriend of two guys who now have to battle their way to get her back.
  • The eighth Saw film, Jigsaw, has been seen as a surprisingly close adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, which it gives a highly prominent Shout-Out to. While it's not actually set in Hell, the story, like that of No Exit, revolves around a group of horrible people who can be redeemed from their suffering (in this case, their impending brutal deaths) by simply confessing their sins to Jigsaw in front of the people around them — yet all of them are too proud to do, afraid of the shame that this would cause them and the judgment that they would receive from those around them, resulting in them paying the price. There are even very close parallels between the crimes committed by Estelle in No Exit and Anna in Jigsaw, the two of them having both killed their infant sons in such a manner that drove their lovers to suicide.
  • Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is considered by many as a film adaptation of Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights due to how similar the plot is and how faithful they are to the cartoons.
  • The Scorpion King is considered to be a better adaptation of Conan the Barbarian due to costuming, style, and story than the first Arnold Schwarzenegger film. Considering that John Milius was interested in making a Viking movie instead of a Conan movie, it's not that hard.
  • Despite being an adaptation of a comic that came out years before, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has been said to be the closest thing to a movie adaption of No More Heroes.
    • Some fans would argue that this is the closest thing they could have a live-action adaptation of Revolutionary Girl Utena. While the original comic book also made a reference to the anime, the franchise share the similar theme with it as well.
  • Cracked's David Wong once expressed this opinion about Shaun of the Dead, opining that it was one of the first movies ever to successfully bring Douglas Adams' unique brand of humor to the big screen, even if Adams didn't actually have anything to do with it. Adding to the irony, he argued that the movie captured Adams' style far better than the actual film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was released exactly one year after it.
  • She's All That is a high school version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.
  • Showdown in Little Tokyo and Black Rain is as close one can get to a movie version of SNK's Burning Fight.
  • Side Effects is the closest you'll ever get to seeing the Half-Life mod Afraid of Monsters in film.
  • Snow Day was originally written as a film adaptation of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, and it shows.
  • Snowpiercer
    • This video by CrayTrey argues that it is the best BioShock film adaptation ever made, specifically the kind of BioShock movie that Terry Gilliam would make. (It even has a character named Gilliam as a possible Shout-Out.) Even discounting the fact that the protagonists' journey to the front of the train is structured like a video game, both are set in hermetically sealed environments filled with claustrophobic corridors where escape is made impossible by hostile conditions outside, with stratified societies overseen by the eccentric billionaires who created these places in line with their flawed personal ideologies (Objectivism in the case of BioShock's Andrew Ryan, Ecofascist feudalism in the case of Snowpiercer's Wilford). Curtis Everett, the protagonist of Snowpiercer, can also be seen as a more heroic version of Frank Fontaine from BioShock in his rebellion against Wilford. It even has a climatic scene very similar to Andrew Ryan's big speech to Jack in BioShock, a Fantastic Drug that has driven many people insane, the exploitation of children being a key component of the systems that keep things running, and society going down in flames by the end. Furthermore, while BioShock sought to deconstruct the Objectivist themes of Rand's Atlas Shrugged, one could see the villains here as the kind of bad guys that Rand herself could have written. Wilford is a fascist tyrant who preaches that salvation comes from serving him, Gilliam is a socialist tyrant who preaches that salvation comes from serving each other (at his command, of course), and the two of them are working together to maintain the train and its oppressive system.
    • Similarly, this video by Rhino Stew calls it a Darker and Edgier sequel to Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Specifically, he pegs Wilford as a grown-up Charlie Bucket who took Willy Wonka's (or rather, Wilford Wonka's) name after he inherited the factory, along with numerous shout-outs and similarities in the supporting cast and in various plot details. This video by Nomadic Kong builds on the theory, arguing that the plot of Snowpiercer draws direct parallels and homages to Charlie's 1971 film adaptation, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, right down to specific scenes that are nearly identical and even the use of "Pure Imagination" in the score.
      "They're both two movies about groups of people that work their way through a large, fantastic structure. One by one, a person from the group is removed in each room, until one person makes it to the very end, who then found out that the entire thing was a test because a wealthy industrialist needed to find a new successor."
  • The Speed Racer film is just as viable an adaptation of F-Zero as it is of the Speed Racer anime.
  • The Spirit may not have captured the, uh, spirit of the comics it came from very well, but it's a much better adaptation of an entirely different superhero: The Tick. Just compare how often they run across rooftops while monologuing about "MY CITY!" and invoking tortured metaphors.
  • At times, Spring Breakers feels like either the best Grand Theft Auto: Vice City adaptation ever made, or a deconstruction of such. It's got the Florida setting (albeit set in St. Petersburg instead of a pastiche of Miami), the neon-drenched style that heavily evokes The '80s (despite being set in the present day), the sociopathic Villain Protagonists running headfirst across the Moral Event Horizon because "spring break, bitches!", and a winking self-awareness of its own "gangsta" attitude that's used to satirize pop culture's obsession with cool criminals. By extension, it also has some of the GTA series' few female protagonists, and the only ones with any defined personality.note 
  • Star Wars:
    • George Lucas originally wanted to do an adaptation of Flash Gordon, but couldn't afford the rights. Instead, he decided to make his own original story, influenced by Flash Gordon and the stories that influenced such in turn, particularly Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars. Interestingly, the success of A New Hope led directly to a proper Flash Gordon adaptation three years later.
    • Rogue One is effectively what Dark Forces would be like if it had been a movie. An unusual example of this trope in that both works are part of the same franchise, albeit Alternate Continuities. It also draws elements from the Han Solo trilogy of novels, given that Jyn Erso has parallels to Han Solo's former flame Bria Tharen, who became a significant Rebel officer who died stealing the Death Star plans. Likewise, the second part of the movie could be a live-action adaptation of X-Wing, since the game also depicts space battles in which parts of the Death Star plans were stolen even if the participants are different.
    • The Last Jedi:
      • To FTL: Faster Than Light. Both have the protagonists get tracked and chased by the antagonists even as they perform Faster-Than-Light Travel, with the latter being a galactic supremacist group whose fleet vastly outnumbers the former's.
      • It can also be considered a film version of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, as a Deconstruction of Star Wars, particularly the Jedi-Sith conflict, that stars a female main characternote . Both the film and the game follow installments that played franchise-wide tropes relatively straight and hit familiar story beats.
  • By Steven E DeSouza's admission, the Street Fighter movie was more of a G.I. Joe movie than a Street Fighter one, due to to the heavy military elements (which are not nearly as prevalent in the games), as well as Hasbro's involvement with the merchandising.
    Capcom had forged a partnership with Hasbro long before production began to warp the G.I. Joe toy line into Street Fighter: The Movie licensed dolls, just in time for Black Friday. "You can look at this movie as the first G.I. Joe movie," says De Souza, "Because G.I. Joe was in a swamp at this time. It was not selling. So Hasbro wanted to reboot the G.I. Joe line by thinly disguising it as Street Fighter."
  • Continuing the not-video-game-movies series, Street Kings feels a lot like Max Payne, only set on a hot night in Los Angeles rather than a cold night in New York. If they'd included Bullet Time it would be perfect, but that would run into some different issues.
  • A lot of viewers have noted that the first Taken movie as the closest thing there is to big screen adaptation of 24, minus the more political aspects. Similar to the show, it involves an ex-government agent having to jump back into action to save his daughter (who coincidentally is also named Kim) within a time limit, and said protagonist has a thing for employing methods of Pay Evil unto Evil into the crooks who come his way, especially the poor misguided idiots who dared to harm his loved ones. A few actors who appeared in the show even have roles in the film. Bonus points for the fact that the time limit of hours the protagonist of is given, 96, is a multiple of the number 24.
  • Blumhouse's Thriller has virtually the exact same story as Prom Night. It's so close, beat-for-beat, that it could easily be called a more faithful adaptation than the film's own remake. The only big difference is swapping the senior prom for the homecoming dance.
  • Gerry Anderson has actually said that Team America: World Police is a better adaptation of his Thunderbirds than the actual live-action Thunderbirds film, though he also felt that Team America's raunchiness hurt it, since it meant his kids couldn't watch.
  • With Christian Bale starring, Terminator Salvation is the closest thing to a Batman vs. Terminator film we will ever see.
  • THX 1138 is what would've happen if Jean-Luc Godard made a film adaptation of 1984 or Brave New World.
  • Tomb Raider (2018) is obviously based on the video game franchise of the same name (specifically its 2013 reboot), but with the changes made to the story in the translation to the big screen, it also works as a solid adaptation of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Whereas Lara Croft's goal in the 2013 game was to rescue her friend Sam and get off the island, with discovering the tomb of Himiko being simply a means to that end, here she's racing a team of men led by Mathias Vogel to find Himiko's tomb, just as Nathan Drake was racing a team of men led by Gabriel Roman to find El Dorado in Uncharted. The twists on the true nature of the treasure they're seeking are also nearly identical. In a case of Doing In the Wizard, it turns out here that Himiko wasn't a supernatural villain like she was in the game, but rather, an immune carrier of a disease that turns people into rampaging psychopaths — not unlike what El Dorado turned out to be in Uncharted.
  • Train to Busan can be the closest thing South Korea can have their own adaptation of Stephen King's stories as both share similar allegory, themes, and tones with his body of works (The Stand, The Mist, Cell, and The Langoliers to name a few).
  • Béla Tarr's The Turin Horse is the best adaptation of The Gay Science ever made.

  • The Underworld film series is a better adaptation of the Old World of Darkness than the official adaptation, the TV show Kindred: The Embraced. It was so close, in fact, that White Wolf and Nancy A. Collins (writer of the Sonja Blue vampire novels and the WoD-set novel Love of Monsters) sued the films' producers, claiming copyright infringement.
  • Upgrade:
    • Being a cyberpunk story about a formerly disabled man who, upon being given an almost omnipotent technological replacement, uses it to seek revenge against the ones who caused his disability, the film is probably the nearest to a movie adaptation of Goku: Midnight Eye we will ever get.
    • It is also considered by some comic book fans to be a Truer to the Text movie adaptation of Venom than either Spider-Man 3 or the actual Venom movie, especially with the interaction between Grey and STEM and how the latter turns the former into a superhuman fighting machine upon taking control of his body. The Nostalgia Critic concurred at the end of his review of Venom, telling everyone to go see Upgrade instead.
  • Valley Girl takes William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and moves it to the San Fernando Valley.
  • Did you know they made a Castlevania movie? It was called Van Helsing.
  • Warm Bodies is pretty much Romeo & Juliet WITH ZOMBIES!
  • Where the Wild Things Are, in addition to its own source material, could be said to be the best adaptation of Calvin and Hobbes we're likely to ever see, given Bill Watterson's attitude toward licensing.
  • Wild Things, a darkly comic erotic thriller set in Florida about a complex web of lies and betrayal, is widely considered to be a much better Carl Hiaasen adaptation than many of the actual adaptations of his novels. Amusingly, it came out just two years after the critically panned Striptease, which actually was based on one of his novels.
  • Willy's Wonderland is blatantly a Five Nights at Freddy's movie all but in name with the exact same premise of a silent, average protagonist that has to deal with demonic animatronics out to kill him at a decrepit family restaurant that has a dark past. The only differences are that the protagonist is a janitor who only agreed to take up the job to fix his car instead of a security guard who willingly signs up for the occupation and rather than being alone, he has help from a group of teens to fight off the animatronics. And compared to The Banana Splits Movie, Willy's Wonderland is even more similar to FNAF. The movie even shares the same plot twist of demonic animatronics possessed by serial killers just like William Afton/Springtrap in the game.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Ever wondered what a big-budget Portal movie adaptation would look like? Blink's fight scenes give you a pretty damn good idea.
  • Zombieland:
    • It could be considered a good Left 4 Dead movie. Wichita even looks a bit like Zoe. And in turn, the Dark Carnival campaign in Left 4 Dead 2 could be considered a good adaptation of the ending of Zombieland.
    • It could also be viewed as an adaptation of Dead Rising, particularly with regards to how players approach that game looking for the coolest ways to kill zombies.
  • Zoolander, about a vapid male model who gets caught up in a conspiracy by international terrorists, can easily be seen as a stealth adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' Glamorama, except Played for Laughs. Apparently, Ellis agreed and considered suing Ben Stiller over it, eventually reaching an out-of-court settlement on the matter.

Alternative Title(s): Live Action Films


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