We all know that the source material is often regarded as better than adaptations, however what is an adaptation that you think is better than its source material?
A lot of the time whenever there is a book-to-movie adaptation, unless I've read the source material first beforehand, I tend to see an adaptation first before reading the book if it interests me. This just kind of happened naturally for me (due to having watched a lot of movies and television more than reading a lot of books when I was younger), but I like this method since it oftentimes allows me to squash those automatic nitpicking habits and consider them separate entities telling the same story in different mediums. There are certainly exceptions for sure, but in general I try to step back and be more objective when comparing the two. There are a lot of adaptations that miss the mark, and a lot that actually do it well, and then there are those that actually surpass the source material by making it better. It's all subjective, of course.
Practical Magic is infinitely better than the book (of the same name) it's based on. I talked about this previously during a brief review since I read the book for the first time recently, and I was incredibly disappointed by it. I was only familiar with the movie, which I love, and was curious about whether the book was to add anything else to the experience of the story. Unfortunately, not so much. I personally found it boring, the characters were flat and dull and the story itself goes nowhere. I was reading through it hoping that something was going to happen, but nothing really did. Plus, you know it's bad when your eyes glaze over paragraphs or even skip ahead hoping that something actually happens. The 1998 movie, however, not only brought actual personalities to the characters but also gave it actual magic and liveliness to the story that the book severely lacked. Sure, it took a lot of creative liberties to the point where it's merely "based on", but it had to when there seemed to be almost no substance in the actual book itself.
I would say that the movie kept the central theme from the book, which was about the sisterly relationship between Sally and Gillian and how they're both very different from each other, but everything else had to be invented and reinvented to fit the narrative beats for a movie in order to make an actual cohesive story. Which does happen a lot with adaptations, but this one even more so. The main climax, for example, isn't even present in the book, and there's also more character growth that happens with Sally and her love life that happens in the movie. So yeah, overall the movie adaptation is definitely better and more entertaining and enjoyable.
As I mentioned earlier this year during another meme, Legend of the Seeker is a show that severely improved upon book series it was based on. Granted, I haven't read the books myself, but I've been warned of them (and of the controversial author that wrote them) by a lot of people and just by going off the excerpts and things I've read that happens...yeah, the show definitely was much better. For starters, it's less misogynistic and its main hero isn't a macho self-righteous douchebag. Instead the show celebrates and empowers many women characters, allowing them to have agency of their own, and Richard Cypher is actually a kindhearted person who has the traits equivalent of a golden retriever. It strays away from questionable things that happened in the books and mostly does its own thing, which I think was very wise of them to do. The show may have only lasted two seasons, but it was perhaps one of my favorite lighthearted fantasy shows to exist, and it's something we desperately need more of.
And lastly, I personally think The Hobbit trilogy did a good job with not only bringing the book to life, but expanding and adding more layers to the story, particularly with using things from the Appendices and connecting it to The Lord of the Rings as a whole. Yes, the movies themselves had a troubled production and there have been many criticisms over them, which I acknowledge and understand. However, I do think this trilogy improved on some things that the book didn't have. Most notably getting to more of the characters, their individual personalities, their motivations, their relationships with each other, their personal internal struggles and conflicts, these things weren't really explored enough in the actual book. I also loved the movies adding in more women into the story, as well.
I'm sure there are some others that I cannot recall, but these are the ones that immediately jump to mind when I think of adaptations that are better than or improve upon their source material.