For those who have read the book first and feel grossly offended, please treat this movie as a stereotype hollywood commercial sci-fi movie, of which the director/producer is less sentimental but more hippie-type and artistic, both infiltrating and infiltrated by American popular culture's force. Through this way, you will probably change your perspective and find this two-hour-activity less wasted.
I waited a long long time until I finish the first book (have not dared to start the other two yet) before I watch the movie. The book is incredible and intriguing mostly. Throughout the reading process, I cannot help imaging how a movie will describe the Tower, the Words, the Man from the Lighthouse, and so on. Also, it will be very interesting to see how Natalie portrait an underachieving, self-centered and taciturn woman. Moreover, I am very grateful for my own stamina to wait until I read through the book. Normally, it would be preferable to read a classic book than putthing through a sci-fi as I am devoid of visual imagination of landscape and environment. Trust me. You will feel so much worse, awful and agonized when you go through the reading process after watching the adapted play or movie than indulging yourself into reading before you get a chance to review the visual presentation of the based story.
For the former, if the prodcuer happens to be some academic visual art master and serious thinker, it just adds another layer of pain to the whole reading process, as they are able to depict every minuest detail of the book so delicately beautiful that you just voluntarily give up your instinct to picture them in your own mind throughout the reading. As the reading goes on, you are just enthralled by the director's accurate observation and understanding of the original book while you will surely lose your self-satisfaction in connecting with the writer at some level since somebody else has helped you do and also done a marvelous job. If, unfortunately, the film producer happens to be a bigheaded finding it demeaning to deliver the presentation fully as he or she was told from the author on one hand while on the other hand, just is relunctant to let go of certain details of the story, while he or she is reading the original book, the reader maybe somehow get a refreshing experience to re-appreciate how good the author was to knit the plots from a different perspective. Yet, as you have already been aware of the ending through the movie, no matter who directors the movie, it just ruins all the fun and excitement of a time-killing entertainment. So I wait patiently, I hold back my curiosity and I finish the book first.
As to the latter (I mean watch after you read), very likely you will find that the producer may not appreciate the beauty of the book as much as you do; he or she may implant more extraordinary elements to his/her work which appear to be totally illogical and unrelatable; the movie may still happen to share the same theme as the original book writer is trying to convey. Nevertheless, it does not jeopardize your viewing experience too much while you are going through a 2-hour visual expression exhibition. You don't have to suffer from three-day-reading just because you want to finish an award-claimed book but you have already lost your interest in appreciating its original wit; you don't have to test your stamina to see whether you can complete a book just for the sake of finishing it and loath to give up in the middle only because you don't want to be taken as a quitter. Actually now you get to be a commentator and critic as you have finished the book and can use all you knowedge from the book to judge, to compare, to roll your eyes and to giggle how lousy/remarkable someone else's presentation turned out to be.
So don't blame the director for not delivering a good film that is not even close to the original book; don't make fun of his superficial interpretation of the mystery Area X and don't reprimand his disrespect of the author by not finishing the first book. There is nothing wrong of him to borrow just a concept of a book and develop it into his own story which sounds so hollywood, so cliche, so lame for him, but you have to admit he gave a most easily understandable version for basically every one who is willing to go to the cinema.
When reading the book, other than knowing Ms. Portman is the heroine, I cannot match any of the character with any famous actor or actress. But somehow I kept picturing Frances McDorman to play the surveyor role, strong, ex-millitant but also big-headed. What surprised me most is the performance of Jennfiier Jason Leigh. The psychiatrist in the movie is so much different from and so much consistent with the role made in the book and Jennifer performs her role in the movie so electric that I would think she can deliver equally well if she were to ask to perform exactly as the book describes.