Seldom (probably never) have I found the movie adaptation of a novel to be the equal of the novel itself. Some movies do come closer than others to having the same emotional impact, but the written word just has too many built-in advantages for it to be a fair contest.
I watched the movie version of The Kite Runner early this morning before I took my father out for our regular Sunday lunch date and I found it to be one of the better movie adaptations that I've seen in quite a while. The written word can place a reader inside the heads of the main characters in a way that movies cannot equal, ensuring that one has a clear understanding of the motivations, emotions, and thought processes of those characters. Movies can come close but they do so by eliminating plot elements or action scenes because the amount of material that can be covered in two hours, or less, is limited.
Movies, however, have a distinct advantage when it comes to scenery and atmosphere, especially with readers like me who struggle with visualizing foreign locations and cultures. The Kite Runner movie excelled in doing just that because much of the film was shot in China and Afghanistan. In the case of the China sequences, the scenery was breathtaking; in the case of what was shot in Afghanistan, the look was so authentically bleak that it was impossible to escape the helplessness of a population so completely under the thumbs of 7th century barbarism.
As always, though, I am going to recommend that you read the book before you watch the movie. This movie is a perfect companion piece to Kahled Hosseini's powerful novel - but it is still only that, a companion piece, and I think that is as good as it ever gets.
My September 12, 2007 review of The Kite Runner
My September 22, 2007 post on the movie
My October 6, 2007 post on why the movie release had to be delayed for 6 weeks
I don't know that anyone still rents DVDs - if so, this one is worth the effort. It is also playing on Showtime right now for anyone who has access to those films.