As I was rereading (and finishing) the series, I had an overwhelming urge to buy the movies as well. I have seen the first five movies previously, but I haven’t rewatched them in years. Thankfully, I found the 8-disc movie set for a bargain on half.com. The set doesn’t include much in terms of special features, but it was exactly what I wanted – all of the movies in one compact case.
Year 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I couldn’t stop smiling while watching this. The first book wasn’t as magical as I remembered, but the first movie had all the magic that I remembered and more. They did such an amazing job with this movie. Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe were so young and adorable. And I forgot how perfect Alan Rickman is as Snape. I am still amazed by how well the movie captured the setting and overall feeling of Hogwarts. So many book-to-movie adaptations end up ridiculously corny – I’m so thankful this didn’t.
Year 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I liked this movie overall, but it left me questioning some cinematic decisions. The biggest question: why did traveling by floo powder make everyone look like they never bathed? Harry screwed up, so that was understandable, but everyone else shouldn’t have been so dirty. We learn in later books that floo powder is a very common transportation method – it is even used by the Minister of Magic when he visits in the Prime Minister. It wouldn’t be a popular transportation method if everyone stepped out of the fireplace looking that disheveled and dirty. The other issue I had was with Dobby – I like Dobby in the books, but I’m not a big fan of the movie house elves. I think the Malfoys are my favorite characters in this movie – Tom Felton (as Draco) and Jason Isaacs (as Lucius) did an excellent job.
Year 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
There were parts of this movie that I liked (mostly the scenes with Buckbeak), but it isn’t as good as I remember it being. Having recently reread the book, the movie’s deviations from the book were too glaring. The scenes work in the movie, but they were better in the book. For example, I prefer Harry overhearing Mr. and Mrs. Weasley talking about Sirius Black in the book over Mr. Weasley telling him directly in the movie. It added a dimension to the story that the movie lacks. Additionally, Sirius himself comes across better in the book than in the movie. For one, the book characters seem to fear Sirius the Outlaw more than the movie characters do. However, I did think the movie makers did a great job with the Boggart – I loved Snape in Neville’s grandma’s clothes. I also forgot how much I liked Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore.
Year 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
As I was watching this movie again, I couldn’t help but feel like it should have been two movies instead of one. That isn’t to say the movie was bad – it was probably the most action packed of the first four. But so much was left out of the movie that it pales in comparison to the book.
Year 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I loved the supporting characters in this one. Luna – she is such a fun character, and I really like the actress portraying her. Imelda Staunton plays a believable Delores Umbridge, and allows me to loathe her character just as much as I wanted to – I loved watching the centaurs carry her off. Fred and George’s exit from Hogwarts was perfect! I liked that they included Harry’s dreams/visions in a way that was clear. I think it’s funny that, my memory of this movie was basically just the ministry of magic battle scene even though it is only a small part. Clearly, that scene was memorable, though I was annoyed with the changes from the book having recently read it. They removed Kreacher’s role in convincing Harry that Sirius really was in danger – that makes me wonder how the next movies deal with Kreacher (and the other house elves). The hardest scene for me to watch is still Sirius’s death. I just can’t be okay with it, and the movie makes it worse. I’m also disappointed that the movie leaves out a lot of the stuff that Dumbledore explains to Harry at the end of the book. Overall, this movie was more enjoyable before I had read the book, because I didn’t know what all I was missing.
Year 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
This is another one where I felt they changed so much. I didn’t necessarily mind having Luna find Harry on the train instead of Tonks finding him. What was up with the attack on the Burrow? That wasn’t in the book, and I don’t understand why they added it to the movie. What did that add? I liked the last few scenes for the most part (Harry & Dumbledore leaving to get the locket and on), but it definitely didn’t hold as much meaning as in the book. In the book, there was a real fight and people got hurt. The only similarity in the movie was Dumbledore’s death. With that said, Alan Rickman did a brilliant job with his portrayal of Snape during this part. The image of everyone’s wands alight in honor of Dumbledore brought tears to my eyes.
(And I finally have an answer for why I knew how all those parts happened – I hadn’t watched the whole movie before, but I have definitely watched the horcrux and death scenes previously. I still can’t remember when or why, but I’m glad to have that much of the answer at least.)
Year 7 – Part 1: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
I liked the movie overall, and thought the mood of it was spot on. I loved Emma Watson’s portrayal of Hermione’s emotional torment at hurting her parents to protect them – she captured the emotion perfectly. I was surprised to see they kept Bill’s injury considering they didn’t provide an explanation for why Bill was attacked by a werewolf since they removed that part of the scene after Dumbledore’s death. I hated the change to Hedwig’s death – she didn’t give him away in the movie, Harry gave himself away through his use of a defensive spell instead of an offensive one. That said something about Harry’s personality and highlighted the difference between himself and Voldemort – they should have kept it. However, Voldemort’s face when Lucius’ wand breaks is priceless. Loved that! I also loved the emotion Ruper Grint brought to the scene where Ron leaves Harry and Hermione – he really brought that scene to life. There were a few other changes that were jarring to me, like Harry and Hermione wandering around Godric’s Hollow without a disguise or cloak or anything, but I tried to sit back and just enjoy the movie. I am definitely glad they split this book into two movies though, and I think they chose a great ending point. I wasn’t sure where to expect them to make the split, but this worked well.
Year 7 – Part 2: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
This may have been my favorite of the movies. It has its flaws, but the mood was right and I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to the movie series. Let’s start with complaints – changes to Nagini’s death, failure to properly introduce Lupin’s kid, and Harry destroying the Elder Wand. I didn’t understand why Neville couldn’t just kill Nagini like he did in the book. Why did it take everyone and their brother chasing her around the castle for him to finally kill her in the movie? The conversation between Remus and Harry in the forbidden forest about Remus’ son seems weird since we were never told (in the movie) that Remus had a son. I can’t imagine viewers who hadn’t read the books knew what was going on. Then, the Elder Wand’s destruction didn’t make sense – that isn’t what Harry did in the book and why didn’t he fix his own wand first?
However, there were also several things I really liked. And, like I said, this was probably one of my favorite movies in the series. First, Snape’s scenes were perfect. Absolutely perfect. All of them. Alan Rickman brought every ounce of emotion he could to his portrayal of Snape, and had me balling as I watched the Lily-Snape memories. I could have watched that sequence of scenes a million times. I also really liked Harry’s dream-like sequence after Voldemort kills him in the forbidden forest. It fit the image in my head, and stayed very true to the book. And, while a lot of people complained about the epilogue in the movie, I actually thought it was an improvement over the book epilogue. It used the parts of the book epilogue I liked, and it gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings I was looking for.
As with most book-to-movie adaptations, the movies couldn’t possibly include everything the books did and the the movies changed things I wished they hadn’t. However, I enjoyed watching the movies. The casting was fantastic, and I especially loved watching some of the inexperienced actors and actresses as they developed their craft. The sets and special effects were well done, which helped bring the series to life. And I loved the soundtrack. On the whole, I have to say I really liked the movies.
How did you feel about the movies?