This past weekend some friends and I were talking about the merits of reading a book before seeing the movie adaptation. Surprisingly, we were split pretty evenly about liking the books or the movies better.
For me, in most cases if I've read the book prior to seeing the movie version I tend to like the book better. But if I see the movie first and then read the book, I tend to like the movie better. I think it's because I'm very visual so if I see a character portrayed a certain way on screen, it's hard for me to picture the character differently in my mind when I read the book.
For example, I saw Forrest Gump in movie form first. In the movie, Forrest is played by Tom Hanks. A thin man of average height who doesn't come across as being intimidating because of his size in any form or manner. However, in the book, the character is described as being 6' 2" and weighing 240 pounds and he's built like a linebacker. I had such a hard time reconciling the way I was picturing Forrest (as Tom Hanks) versus the way he was described in the book that I couldn't read the book. The discrepancy bothered me that much.
Another example is Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I've read all the books so when I heard they were making a movie - One For The Money, I couldn't wait to see it. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Why? Mainly because the way I'd pictured certain characters in my mind and how or should I say who portrayed them on screen was vastly different. If you've read any of the books in the series, you know Joe Morelli is described as Italian through and through, yet the actor that portrayed him is Irish and as fair skinned as an Irish person can be. (Being part Irish myself, I know about the fair skin issue.) He didn't look the least bit Italian. And then there's Ranger. Ranger is described as a Cuban former special forces soldier who can handle himself in all types of situations. The person who portrayed him didn't come across that way at all. (On a side note I will admit that while reading the books I'd pictured him looking a lot like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and think he would have been perfect in the part.)
How about you? Do you find you like the book or the movie adaptation better? Does it make a difference if you see the movie first versus reading the book first?