I have a confession to make that may shock my fellow Harry Potter fans. You ready for it?
I don’t like the Harry Potter movies.
Obviously the movies are not as good as the books. I was always willing to admit that. It was only recently that I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t just that the books were so much better, but also that the movies also just aren’t that good. On a plane ride this past week I decided to give the movies another chance. I thought that maybe watching them movies when I hadn’t recently read the books would make them more palatable. It did the opposite.
Watching the movies without having recently read the books just made it more obvious how much of a mess they are story wise. Without the backstory and proper set up, events seemed to happen randomly. A good example of this was the Buckbeak plot line in Prisoner of Azkaban. In the book, we get the build up of the trio helping Hagrid try to build a case to defend Buckbeak and so when Buckbeak is sentenced to death, it’s sad. In the movie, we meet Buckbeak at the beginning, and then we don’t hear about him again until Hagrid announces that he’s been sentenced to death. At which point I didn’t care all that much, and it was weird to see the trio so miserable about it. Why should the audience even care about Buckbeak, a creature we saw in a single scene? I think people forgive a lot of flaws in the movies, because they can remember the explanation from the books and mentally fill in the gaps. If there were no books and just the movies, it would be more obvious just how poorly the movie story lines are constructed.
The films also butcher the characters. The movie trio only physically resemble their characters in that they have the right hair colors and Harry has a scar and glasses. Their personalities are completely different, and the chemistry in the movies is wrong. Ron goes from Harry’s loyal best friend to dopey comic relief. When I see people say that they hate Ron, I instantly assume that they either haven’t read the books, or have let terrible movie Ron supersede book Ron.
As much as I love the acting of some of the other characters, they weren’t really good fits. Controversial opinion: Alan Rickman did an amazing job with Snape, but he was wrong for the role. He was much too old considering that Snape is supposed to be the same age as Harry’s parents (they would have been in their 30s during the series), and Rickman has a noble gravitas that Snape could never hope to have.
But Katie, you say, they have to make changes to the story in order to condense the long books into movies. True. But they didn’t do a good job of it. Want to see a proper book to movie adaption? Look at Lord of the Rings. Those books are huge, and things did get cut or changed, but the movies still feel like the books. The Harry Potter movies don’t feel like the books.
Did I enjoy the hype surrounding the movies and love getting dressed up with friends to go see them? Absolutely. But the nostalgia I feel for that doesn’t cloud the fact that the Harry Potter movies weren’t great. My dream is that they one day remake Harry Potter as a big budget tv series and can dedicate the time to actually getting the story and details right.
There’s much more I could say, but that’s enough for one post. Maybe I’ll get into more detail in the future, because boy do I have lots of feelings about this topic.