Is a fabulous film. I spent about the first half hour gently snippy about the places where it departed from the book, but then lost myself in it. I think the places where it diverged widely from the book (mainly the pirate ship) were infinitely better than the bits where it stuck closely, but irratatingly wrongly, to the original storyline.
It was blessed by having 4 of the most attractive female leads I have seen in a long time too.
There were lots of places where it had been "filmified", with more sword fights and being thrown out of windows and running around often on horses. I wonder if this is an absolute difference in what works well in different media, or if it is more because of audience expectations and a different culture. Still, if I was reading a book I don't think I would want to read / imagine a horse galloping and nothing else for 2 minutes. So maybe it is a difference in media.
The people of Wall were the ones who suffered most. Victoria is more of a tease and a bitch in the film than in the book, and her charactor is much less rich in a world where she is stringing two bright young men along. The subtlety in the book of Tristan only talking to her at all because she has come into the shop to speak to Mr Monday has gone completly as she swaggers into the shop and uses her power over Tristan to make him leap to her commands. Duncan is a lot shallower as the batcholer bringing up his son than the colourful family in the book with sister and adoptive mother struggling to love and be a family in the face of lifes mistakes. Still, if they'd done that they couldn't have easilly made him Mr Una in their happy ever after.
The thinness between Wall and faerie also bothered me. For a start, things from faerie carried into Wall ought to stop being magical - otherwise the key point that Yvaine can't cross the wall doesn't work. Yet Tristan gets into faerie by using a magical candle in his bedroom. And by the end of the film half of Wall turn up in Stormhold to see the coronation. In the books the feeling is faerie and Wall are drifting further apart, the market coming less frequently and on the verge of being forgotten forever. Yet here they seem to be coming together.
The ending is another strange reversal, which takes the books shiveringly chill beauty and turns it into a warmer more comfortable message. The book ends with Yvaine alone, her mortal husband dead, forever unable to get back to her mother and sisters in the heavens. It's breathtakingly, tragically beautiful. The film ends with Tristen blessed with eternal life and both of them up in the sky with all the other stars. I think I prefer the happier ending, but it doesn't have the crystally beautiful bittersweet taste of truth to it.
The things that annoyed me most were the tiny things that wouldn't have added much time to the film, but that had been simplified and straightened from pretty subtle things into bright simple things. The main one being the conditions under which the Lady Una will be free - in the book there is an elaborate prophecy to be fulfilled, but in the film it is just when her keeper dies. You'd think she'd just stab her or poison her a bit sooner... But also Victoria's vow to Tristen - in the book she promises him whatever he wants if he comes back with the star, which leads to one of my favourite moments in the book when he comes back and reminds her that she didn't promise her hand in marriage, but whatever he wanted, and... anyway, it's funny. And in the book, Tristen lets Yvaine go - and it's key and significant, because if he had kept her as a prisoner and she had escaped he could never have got her back, but because he let her go it's all OK. In the film of course, she escapes her chains. Dramatically, with added unicorn. Lots of things had been made blunter and more obvious (like the king of Stormhold having a deathbed conversation about where his daughter is, ah yes, she was stolen by a witch). Maybe you have to do that in a film.
But it was wonderful, and I adored it. I will be saving up for the DVD when it comes out.