…after watching Harry Potter 5 on the big screen. Why? Because it ruined everything that makes the books work. Let’s just go in order shall we?
(with Harry Potter 6 being released this weekend, I had a friend ask me about my old review of HP5. So here it is restored)
1) Nothing too wrong with the beginning. Until Dudley shows up. The scene has him taunting Harry in front of his [dudley’s] friends. When in the book we were told that Harry likes to torment Dudley in front of said friends (because Harry can get away with more “cheek” than anyone else because of Dudley’s fear of magic). Also the taunting exchange between Dudley and Harry comes off completely wrong. Harry is supposed to get mad and threaten Dudley with his wand but it’s so rushed in the movie we don’t get the feel of building anger.
2) Dementor attack – Well I see the nazgul won their lawsuit, the dementors are completely redesigned. Still this attack is sooooo typical of horror fare. In fact the attack plays by the numbers SO much, you can close your eyes and predict what’s happening on screen. The book’s scene was more nerve wracking because it touched on a nerve which a lot of lifeguards, policemen, etc deal with as their greatest fear: the victim fighting. Like them, in the book you have the hero/rescuer in a perilous situation only to have the victim/resucee make things worse by attacking the one trying to help them. (in the book, Dudley hits Harry, knocking the wand away and almost gets them both killed) Nope, instead the movie has to make this scene run in accordance to the cliche union rules.
3) Yay Ms. Figg! Totally endearing and heartwarming on screen, you can’t help but love her. Except… no explanation about her. No mention that she’s a squib. To anyone who hasn’t read the books, it appears that there’s just this random muggle involved with everything.
4) The scene in the dursley’s house… Blink and you’ll miss it (and man what’s up with uncle Vernon?). Which is a shame because in the book this is one of the most dramatic and emotional
scenes in the entire series. There’s also a touching moment of real connection between Harry and his aunt as she mentions her knowledge of dementors and realizes what it means with Voldemort’s return. It’s also Petunia that gets a howler, not Harry, and the howler gives us our first clue of how Harry’s residence in that horrid place (for him) has a real purpose. The bastardization goes downhill from here.
5) Yay tonks! I love her on page and on screen. Too bad she barely ranks about “set piece” in this one. I still think Mad-eye Moody looks completely wrong around here.
6) So in order to maintain secrecy of their flight, the Order of the Pheonix not only NOT bother with disguising Harry or any of them, but decide to fly through the busiest section of the most populist section of Britain???? In the book there’s constant cries of Moody to swerve to avoid even a busy highway, yet here everyone has to buzz a boat going down a canal – a boat obviously full of people that undoubtedly saw all these wizards and witches… Verisimilitude? What verisimilitude?
7) Number 12 grimauld place. Now here is exhibit A of how the movies just destroy everything Rowling does. MOST of the magic in her stories is of a subtle kind. You see some houses in a row – blink – hey look! there’s another house in between them! Not this slow grand show that’s on screen. Plus, why have mad-eye stomp the ground 3 times? We can’t replace those seconds with Harry reading the secret paper. I guess the secret and security of the Order is cheaper in the movie (just tap the ground 3 times to get into their base)
8 ) Wait! The twins just apperated? There’s supposed to be an obvious, loud “CRACK” when someone teleports. Argh! The magic’s that suppose to be subtle is too obvious, the magic that’s supposed to draw attention is too subtle! Did anyone involved in this film even read the books?
9) They’ll throw in a scene of the extend ears and crookshanks for no purpose but to show off. Too bad they didn’t bother using these minutes to show us more about the house, cleaning it or even finding a certain locket that will be VERY important in book 7. Despair is overwhelming me.
10) Ministry of magic scene. Not too bad, except it feels like a protracted advertisement for the set piece. The trial is almost word for word from the book. But what’s up with dumbledore? Where’s his half-moon glasses? (a defining feature) And what the deuce is up with those stupid bells wrapped around his beard? See, it’s just the culmination of all these tiny changes that MAKE NO SENSE. (I still have trouble dealing with how wrong Harry’s scar is in these movies) At least the film gives you a real sense of how off putting it is with Dumbledore ignoring Harry.
11) Now they’re leaving for school and Sirius has a going away moment with Harry. This is NOT a bad deviation from the book. In the book Moody in his insensitive way gives Harry the photo of the old Order of the Phoenix and tells him about it. This does work better to have Sirius give Harry the pic instead. It gives them more of a bond and develops the relationship between them even more which aids the shock and drama of this story’s climax.
12) Hey there’s Luna! She’s very pretty. The actress playing her does such a good job. She alone almost redeems this whole thing. No talk about her dad owning a tabloid nor will Harry’s “redemption” of said paper (and reporter) have any part in this film. Which I guess is something that can be taken out, but if you do then you should cut out the plot line of the “mainstream” newspaper bashing Harry all the time. The contrast between the two papers and the resulting destruction/salvation of Harry’s reputation by them is great. If you leave out one, then just cut out the other.
13) Umbridge is spot on. I think she’s not as wide in the movie as I think she is in the books, but she still makes your skin crawl and really makes you hate her. I do hate the one scene she has with McGonagall. In the book it was a battle of wills that Minerva clearly won. On screen she’s too easily defeated. (plus the entire scene plays out on a set of steps with the characters moving up and down a step as the argument goes in an effort to beat us to death with subtlety) But why did they change the hand that torture quill cuts into?
14) The spinning papers are annoying and a poor vehicle to give us a sense of what’s going on. They should have found another way of conveying these ideas (heck even a narrator).
15) My brain just hurt again with another one of these pointless changes. In the movie, Mr Weasley is attacked OUTSIDE the department of ministries, in the movie, he’s attacked inside the prophecy room. This SLIGHT change completely alters the way the story works. First, I wonder how in the world a snake opens a door. (seriously, how does it) Now let me explain how the whole McGuffin worked in the book.
So there’s a prophecy. Voldemort tries to control someone into just fetching it for him, but the thing is enchanted such that only the people it’s about (in this case: Harry & Voldemort) can retrieve it. This is mentioned in the movie. So why doesn’t Voldemort just go in and get it? Because of the ministry’s security! He literally cannot get through the first door there on his own without ruining the secrecy of his return.
But in the movie, if his snake (that can open doors apparently) can get into there without much trouble, why then doesn’t Voldemort just walk in and grab what he wants? There’s NO indication on screen that there would be ANY difficulty with him doing this. Thus the entire crux of the story (Voldemort tempting Harry to get in and get the prophecy for him) completely falls apart.
16) No scene in the hospital I see. Yet instead of taking us there and SHOWING us the horror of Neville’s family, they have the actor give an Oscar scene later in the movie. Ugh, at least there’s another good touch of Sirius and Harry. Though we could do with a little more (such as the fact that Tonks was also ‘burned off’ the family tree, and that Sirius is related to the Malfoys).
17) Once again, they violate Rowling’s magic with the room of requirement. No I’m not talking about Neville finding it vs Dobby, that was ok. In the movie the room has a grand dramatic entrance as if it was a major character. But in the book the idea is that you’re just walking along and suddenly there’s a door you don’t remember being there before. It doesn’t take 10 minutes to fade or appear and Umbridge didn’t have to blow it up. In fact in the book it was terrifying how undiscriminating the room was. You need a place to practice magic? There’s a place. You need evidence that students have been breaking the rules? Look! There’s the room. (just happens to be identical to the former)
18) The montage of Harry teaching is well done. But they should have just dropped the stupid “relationship” with Cho and used the time to show MANY more plot-relevant items.
19) “Hi I’m Ginny. Please don’t forget about me. I’ll be very important in the next movie!”
20) Once again a powerful and dramatic scene (Umbridge in Dumbledore’s office) is butchered for… I guess to give us more time to show “wow” things.
21) ALL the students have detention? Ok it’s believable that Umbridge could use that torture quill on Harry because he is socially and politically vulnerable but I cannot buy her getting away with using it on ALL those students without there being political hell to pay. Again, not in the book.
22) If you’re going to screw up the Weasley’s grand rebellion that bad, just don’t show it. Too bad they didn’t take all that time of paper montages and apply it into a school rebellion montage. Where the students are openly fighting back and the teachers are passively aiding them. Instead we get to watch the gnome quietly cheering. *sigh*
23) I had someone asking me about the flying thressal scene. Yes in the book Harry & Luna have to help the students find the invisible flying mounts. The movie apparently hopes you won’t remember that the other students can’t see them.
24) You’d think the ministry would have built their prophecy room better so that the entire thing wouldn’t fall apart after one small explosion.
25) The arch is supposed to have a BLACK curtain hanging there. It’s part of the hint that the arch is THE doorway to death. Which of course alters the scene of Sirius’s death.
26) Ok, the wizard battle is pretty nifty, though I notice they all seem to have undergone a power boost. However, notice how the evil wizards can “swoop in” and carry children away but they can’t pry a globe out of Harry’s hand? I was disappointed Dumbledore didn’t bring the fountain statues to life to aid him in the fight.
27) Now I might be able to forgive the movie BUT THIS IS THE LAST F’IN STRAW! The book had an ending COMPLETELY unique to it. But no, we have to change everything around and get as many rip offs in a row as we can.
Movie: Let’s remind everyone of when Gandalf died in LOTR.
Book: The death is so shocking that Harry doesn’t even realize what happens at first and believes his godfather will be back at any moment.
Harry gets the upper hand on Bellatrix
Movie: “Strike her down and take your place by me on the dark side!” – Return of the Jedi in case you don’t know
Book: Bellatrix laughs at Harry (noting that “righteous fury” doesn’t work with the unforgivable curse) and manages to get the upper hand on him!
Voldemort possesses Harry
Movie: I haven’t even seen the exorcist and I could still see this scene coming from it. Everyone just stands there and stares at Harry who manages to repeal the invasion.
Book: This reviewer of the movie made a very important point of a key phrase from the book being left out of the movie’s script.
“A more problematic failure has to do with the film’s elimination of an exchange, toward the end of the book, between Dumbledore and Voldemort concerning the evil of death. After informing Voldemort, “merely taking your life would not satisfy me,” Dumbledore adds, “your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness.” The cutting of this bit of dialogue makes potentially misleading the subsequent discussions and battles.”
See, in the book Voldemort took over Harry in an effort to bait Dumbledore into killing Harry in an effort to get the great evil, turning Dumbledore’s words back at him. (“If death is nothing, then kill the boy.”) No, we have to cut this intriguing dilemma out.
28) Another VERY important feature of the book was when you realized that Professor Trelawney was the one who made the prediction about Harry and Voldemort (thus adding another layer to Dumbledore’s efforts to KEEP HER INSIDE THE SAFETY OF HOGWARTS). The movie gives us NO clues or indication of any these dynamics. Here’s an idea filmmakers! Instead of having Harry listen to the prophecy in the hall of mysteries, have Dumbledore show him the memory of the prophecy LIKE THEY DID IN THE BOOK. In fact, the conversation at the end of book 5 is arguably the most important closing conversation of the entire series. So of course the movie decides to trim it down to one of the shortest. If Rowling wants to go kick their… well, I’ll back her up.
29) *sigh* Yet again I find Harry and Luna have amazing chemistry on page and on screen. I really wish they had ended up as couple more than him and Ginny. There is so much sparkage and potential there…
30) THE MOVIE’S OVER! THE PAIN IS ENDED!
There was a discussion board I was on that I think hit the nail on the head. Harry Potter would work a thousand times better as a 7 season TV series than as 7 movies (and Rowling has enough money to finance a high quality show). Here’s hoping I get to see the wrongs of these flicks corrected in my lifetime.