THE MOVIE - PART 1
A fair warning before we get into things here. These two movies are the last of the series. If you're worried about anything getting spoiled, I urge you to turn back now because to some extent, things need to be. Without further ado, here's Part 1.
At this point, if you've been keeping up, we know that Voldemort has divided his soul into several pieces. Each piece resides in something valuable to Voldemort in some way. These trinkets are known as horcruxes. Before the movie even starts, we know of three, as this was all mentioned throughout 'Half-Blood Prince'. Before Dumbledore died, he entrusted Harry with the task of finding and destroying what was remaining of the horcruxes. With their destruction, Voldemort will be able to be destroyed himself, once and for all.
As the movie starts, we see Harry, Ron, and Hermione preparing for the journey. I'm not ashamed to say things get fairly emotional here, and you can almost feel the amping up of the adventure at hand. That one, final, epic journey for the trio is definitely something I can sort of "feel in the air" when watching.
As the journey unfolds, however, the first movie sort of has the same problem the book does. It spends most of it's time on one single horcrux. At this point, two have been destroyed, and one ended up being a fake. So most of the movie is about finding and destroying that one item, even though going into it, you know there's four to go. Again, though, it was something that took me out of the book as well. But when we get to the point explaining what the Deathly Hallows are, the movie actually does a really cool read through and animation of the story explaining it all. To me, the best part of the movie.
Perhaps most controversial here is a particular scene that has Harry comforting Hermione after Ron runs off out of anger... which is kind of a long story, but in short, the locket (the big horcrux in this part) makes people pissy when they wear it. It's a lot like the One Ring in that way, but it's not a seductive item like the One Ring is. Anyway, Harry dances with her and tries to put a smile on her face. A lot of people take this as an attempt at providing the audience with a love triangle, of sorts. 'Twilight' was kind of big at the time, so that's where minds went. Truth be told, I never actually took that away from this. The main reason being, nothing actually develops out of it either way. The closest it comes is that Ron has some jealous feelings because he's more or less with Hermione now. But again, that locket magnified them. Was the scene in the book? No. But I treat it kinda like the burning of the Burrow in 'Half-Blood Prince'. Not in the book, perhaps unnecessary, but it illustrates something on an emotional level.
Aside from that, however, it's unfortunate that I have to admit that the movie does tend to drag a bit here and there. There are plenty of good action sequences throughout, but again, most of this story is about finding and destroying one thing. In the following movie, there are three more to go, including a big surprise.
I do tend to think 'Part 1' gets a bad rap, considering that it IS following the book pretty closely, overall. The effects still hold up, the dialogue is still quirky and funny at times, but there's just that unfortunate drag of them constantly relocating their camping ground. They did what they could with what they had, and did it pretty well. But I think it's almost clear that they knew their last movie had to be one big bang. When you do realize what part 2 entails though, it almost doesn't matter what happens in this one - you know it's gonna make up for any sort of disappointment you had. That said, the dividing point here is really strong, providing one hell of a cliffhanger.
COMPARING THE BOOK
This is actually gonna be super short, because frankly, there's just not a whole lot of difference going on here. Perhaps the biggest thing to be cut out of the book is the constant reading of articles and books. A LOT of it delves into Dumbledore's past. It provides us with the same sort of history on Dumbledore here as the history of Voldemort in 'Half-Blood Prince'. The difference is that it's a bit more difficult to sort of the truth from the lies, as Rita Skeeter has really dug her claws into the subject. Of course, we know from 'Goblet of Fire' that she can't be trusted with the truth, but there's enough cross-referencing here that Harry may just believe what she has to say.
The only big thing I was disappointed with that wasn't shown was a memorial for Harry's parents in Godric's Hollow - Harry's birthplace. Truth be told, for the movie, seeing the headstones was probably enough. But the idea of Harry finding a giant statue of his parents with him as a baby strikes me as a would-be-powerfully-emotional sight. But maybe that's just me.
As mentioned before, it's a little sad, but the first part of the book drags quite a bit. To give you some ides, 'Part 1' takes place between chapter 1 and approximately 24. 'Part 2' covers chapters 24-36. Chapter 24 kinda blends between them in a way, but it's not hard to tell that for those 24 chapters, despite a few action sequences, is a bit of a drag.
Anyway, I've got nothing else much to say about it. Being that these two movies are long, and dividing one book, it's not as easy to pull out a list of what they missed.
THE MOVIE PART 2
Well, it took me a while, but I managed to make it through all seven 'Harry Potter' books and all eight 'Harry Potter' movies. I'm happiest to say that Part 2 of 'The Deathly Hallows' actually covers what really makes Book 7 worth it, the Battle of Hogwarts!
The film starts off where the previous chapter left us. Again, fair warning for SPOILERS AHEAD! Our favorite House Efl, Dobby has been killed in action, which sets the stage for just how dark things get for this chapter, 'cause there's plenty more deaths to come. Harry, Ron and Hermione have found refuge for the time being at Shell Cottage, hosted by Ron's older brother Bill, and his now wife, Fleur Delacour (the Beauxbatons champion from 'Goblet of Fire'). Along with them are the Gringotts goblin, Griphook, and the wandmaker, Mr. Ollivander. One by one the two are asked questions by Harry. Griphook, about the vault at Gringotts that likely contains a horcrux, and Ollivander about the Elder wand - one of the three Deathly Hallows, which Voldemort now possesses.
After a pretty awesome action sequence, taking place at Gringotts, the trio arrive on the outskirts of Hogwarts, with the fourth horcrux in hand. Only needing to find one more, and knowing it's somewhere at Hogwarts, the trio proceed through Hogsmeade while the Death Eaters search for them, tipped off by an alarm. The trio is rescued by Albus Dumbledore's brother, Aberfoth Dumbledore. There's a little peak into Dumbledore's past here, as he's revealed to be a not-so-perfect man. Unfortunately this delve into Dumbledore's past has NOTHING on how the book does it, and that's likely the biggest difference one will find here. Soon enough, they manage to get into Hogwarts though. Once Harry's identity is revealed as he faces Snape eye to eye (after his killing of Dumbledore), the cue for the Battle of Hogwarts starts.
I think the biggest question on people's minds about 'The Deathly Hallows' would probably have to do with questioning splitting the film into two parts. After all, the 'Lord of the Rings' books were HUGE and they were still just three films. Well, it's sad that it sort of became a trend, but for these movies it certainly works to some advantage. Despite the fact that 'Part 1' drags here and there, it does still provide a good setup, and covers just what the book does. 'Part 2' is clearly meant to be one, gigantic climactic scene. This trend would soon be followed by the last chapters of series like 'Twilight' and 'The Hunger Games', and even 'The Hobbit' managed to be made into three films instead of what could have been one long one, or two average-length ones.
The Battle of Hogwarts is really well-executed on the big screen, as we definitely sense the danger surrounding our heroes. Almost everyone is there, too, as the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix show up to help, along with the Weasley family, and an assortment of familiar faces from Hogwarts. You can watch this and pretty much feel every emotion get triggered. There are sad moments, moments that make you wanna cheer, funny moments that are actually kinda dark, hell, it even gets a little bit scary here and there (at least for the right audience). My only real problems with the execution of it are minute details and nitpicks. It's otherwise well-adapted, and... I'll just say it, the movie actually tackles a few things better (in my opinion) than the book...
COMPARING THE BOOK
As far as this particular book comparison goes, I hope my audience can hear me out on what I have to say. In the end, of course, the books are much better than the film series. But that IS pretty standard in that a book can tell you more without having to show. A movie should show, without having to tell. 'Part 2' poses a great example where you feel kinda ripped off when you're reading about it. Ron and Hermione get the idea to head to the Chamber of Secrets in order to acquire a basilisk fang from the one Harry killed in Year 2. The movie shows this happen, along with them destroying a the Hufflepuff cup horcrux, and their big passionate kiss when it's over. In the book, the kiss comes a bit more randomly after the event, which takes place "off-page" (seriously, is that a term?) and that's about it.
Another example is in the movie, it shows that Neville and Seamus rig a bridge to explode as an extra measure to keep Death Eaters out. In the movie, the Death Eaters make it past a magic barrier, start crossing the bridge, chasing Neville, and the bridge explodes bit by bit behind Neville as he dives for safety, nearly falling to his death. In the book, it... just doesn't happen. It's one of those neat things the movie added in order to pump up Neville's character more, as the book did it in other ways, including a moment where it's said that the big prophecy involving Harry could have been about him.
The one thing I found the book completely triumphed on over the movie was the death of Fred Weasley. He's a fairly major secondary character in the movies just as well as he is in the books, along with his twin brother George. In the book, there's an explosion that takes him out as he's fighting alongside his redeemed older brother, Percy (a character the movies really just left in the dust). This occurs just as Fred makes a crack about Percy finally getting a sense of humor, and because of that, it gets emotional. Fred was always a joker, so for him to get killed so abruptly as he's cracking a joke, really tugs at the heart strings. In the movie, he's just kinda found on a table during a time Voldemort allows Hogwarts the opportunity to see to their dead and wounded. This is mostly so Harry can see the damage he's caused so he will surrender for the "greater good". In the book, if I remember correctly, the death happens right in front of Harry as well. It could have been such an impactful scene, because he really was one of the more likable characters through all the stories.
The pensieve scene is one that WILL bother people, I'm sure, but I found it to work in the movie despite it's differences from the book. It's a very long story, and we could be here all day, reliving what is seen in the pensieve and how it connects to everything, but no. One can find a whole big article about that history somewhere else on the internet. The scene essentially reconstructs past events from Snape's perspective as well learn that Snape isn't actually a horrible person, and he wasn't given a choice in the matter of killing Dumbledore. Meanwhile we see just how much he loved Lilly Potter, Harry's mother, and the lengths that he has gone to over the years to protect Harry. In the book, it's far more straightforward and covers things a bit more clearly. In the movie, it covers things a bit more rapidly, but seemingly more dramatically as well. In the end, this is one of those "which do you prefer" scenes.
Last but not least, let's get to Neville's last stand. This is one where a LOT of people got annoyed at the movie for doing it how they did it. For me, it actually works better in the movie. With that said though, it's not like the book's original portrayal is anything to sneeze at. Long story short, Neville ends up being the one to kill Nagini with the sword of Gryffindor. In the book, he does this as a sort of badass and vicious "don't mess with me" act right in front of Voldemort. Kind of a big deal, and understandable that people like it this way. In the movie, Nagini is about to win a fight against Ron and Hermione. As she poses to strike, Neville does a sort of superhero entrance and slo-mo slays that snake, saving Ron and Hermione's lives. This is a scene that is meant to show off one thing - Neville has gone from forgetful loser to brave warrior, and in any case, the story holds him in such high regard, he could rival Harry. So, again, it's what you prefer. Do you like Neville, the guy who stands up to Voldemort in a more powerful and fearless way than anyone before, or do you like Neville, the guy who stood up to Voldemort with speech anyway, and rescues his friends while simultaneously destroying the last horcux?
Anyway, it's time to close this off and put the 'Harry Potter' stuff behind me for a while. It has been a fun summer, re-reading, re-watching and comparing. These books still totally hold up, and are sure to go down in history as one of the best book series of all time (hell, it's already there, let's face it). The movies, on the other hand, may have aged just a bit. As fun as the series is to watch as it's own entity, one cannot deny there's a lot of stuff lacking from the books that would have been neat to see on the big screen. Or at least to make the story more coherent, as things can get confusing by the end. But don't let it stop you from enjoying them. In the end, there is a bit of an emotional moment where you realize that in the span it took to make these movies, we watched these kids grow up right before our eyes. For them, it must have been kinda like leaving their high school friends, but with a few years added onto it.
If you have not read any of these books yet, they are among my highest recommendations as one of the few series I ever truly got into as a reader. Don't concern yourself with them being "kids books" either. They manage to get plenty dark, and the original ideas and concepts of the wizarding world provide a beautiful escape from reality.
HORCRUXES: A QUICK-REFERENCE
In the world of 'Harry Potter' book-to-screen adaptations, I tended to find this particular chapter one of the weakest (it's a close one between this and 'Deathly Hallows Part 1'). Where the book opens up some fascinating perspectives, the movie kinda just dances around some of them. But don't get me wrong. The movie does manage to nail a few things.
Now that Voldemort has returned to power, things are bleak in the wizarding world. A further danger is more clearly illustrated here as well, as the Death Eaters (Voldemort's followers) have broken the barrier between the wizarding and muggle world as well. One such scene involves the collapse of a bridge - one of the very few things the movie did better than the book, as the book tells the bridge collapse as a news article.
The sixth year goes ahead as planned, but with fair warnings for the dark times ahead. Snape (Alan Rickman) finally gets his position as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Replacing him as Potions teacher, is Professor Slughhorn (Jim Broadbent) - a man who Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) must have at the school this year. Slughorn has a fondness for meeting the most interesting wizards of the world, and Dumbledore needs Harry to persuade Slughorn to give up a very important memory for the pensieve (an sort of basin in which wizards can store memories and refer to them later if the mind gets overwhelmed); one that could be the key to destroying Voldemort once and for all. In the meantime, Dumbledore takes Harry into the pensieve in order to study what Voldemort was like growing up, so Harry can have a better understanding of how he works.
Unfortunately, for the movie, the most intriguing parts of the story having to do with Voldemort's past are barely there. Instead, it focuses heavier on developing the characters' love interests. This whole idea was in the book as well, but it's kinda what I would consider the "filler" part of the book. That's the part of the book that side-steps the actual adventure to talk about something else going on in the meantime - although perhaps often crucial to the story. But this was more about getting Ron and Hermione set up to be an item as well as, more obviously, Harry and Ginny. And the real bugger of it all is that I swear there was more going on with Harry and Ginny in the movie than there ever was in the book. It meanwhile, as I say, sidesteps more interesting things but instead casually mentions them. For example Morvolo Gaunt's ring. Oh, you don't know who Morvolo Gaunt is? He was Voldemort's grandfather. There's a whole history there. But in the movie, I believe Dumbledore even says it's "his grandmother's", and it's responsible for his strange, new, blackened hand.
The movie isn't without it's charm, and it does manage to get a few things spot on. It really could have been the best of the movies if it was to focus more on the right things. But again, just all the lovey-dovey stuff seemed to overshadow what was more important. I gave the movie high praise in the beginning, but upon re-reading and re-watching, I recommend definitely sticking to the book. I know it seems obvious that the book is better, but this is by a long shot.
COMPARING THE BOOK
I guess I've gotten the gaping part of it out of the way already. Too much focus in the movie on relationships and the kids maturing, not enough focus on Voldemort's past. I don't wanna end up sounding too much like a broken record here, which I'm sure I may already be doing. Much like with 'Order of the Phoenix', we could be here all day talking about how much MORE is seen in pensieve, in the book. So what other differences are held in the book that didn't make the movie?
Well, as we know, the wizarding world is now getting exposed to the Muggle world, as the Death Eaters are tending to Voldemort's uprising. With this, in the book, there's a pretty entertaining meeting between the now former Minister for Magic, Cornelious Fudge, and the Prime Minister of Britain. This chapter provided an interesting explanation of how disasters happening in the muggle world were actually tied in with dark magic. Fudge explains to him that a new wizarding war is on the horizon, and it just would have been a neat before-title sequence. But I digress. The movie DID do a pretty cool job in just showing it all happen, and they DO say "show, don't tell". So I'm not exactly hurt that the scene is missing, but it would have been neat to see.
For starters, the opening of the book is far more entertaining as Dumbledore actually comes and gets Harry from the Dursleys. That's an interaction I'd have loved to see on screen, I mean, it would have meant Dumbledore finally coming along and putting the Dursleys in their place after all the crap they've given Harry. It would have been a good send-off for those characters, and they wouldn't have had to do anything to change 'Deathly Hallows Part 1' as they are only really in it to say goodbye to Harry.
Once at the Burrow, Harry has far more interaction with various members of the Order of the Phoenix. It's better explained that Tonks and Lupin are an item, and it would have set up Fleur and Bill's wedding better. The movie-going audience only just sees the wedding happen randomly at the beginning of 'Deathly Hallows Part 1'.
Getting to the Half-Blood Prince, did you notice how my movie review didn't mention it? It takes such a back seat in the movie, it's kinda ridiculous. This is mostly in reference to the text book Harry gets in his potions class. The book was written in with replacement instructions all over it. These instructions help Harry essentially cheat at his potions classes; a subject he typically didn't do great at. The movie does manage to cover the basics here, but a lot of the rest of this part was thrown into a bit of a montage.
It's admittedly a bit baffling to me that Rufus Scrimgeur had no part in the movie. After the end of 'Order of the Phoenix', Fudge loses his job as Minister for Magic, and Scrimgeur replaces him. It's not a big chunk of the book or anything, but he's always trying to get to Harry. Now that Harry has become ultimately famous in the wizarding world, Scrimgeur wants him to provide statements in favor of the Ministry, even after all they put Harry through the previous year - including hiring Deloris Umbridge, perhaps the biggest villain here who isn't Voldemort. The big instance happens at Christmas at the Burrow, but instead, the movie replaced it with a Death Eater attack. That scene got to a lot of people, but I believe it's the movie throwing us a bone of sorts. The Death Eaters have to feel like a real threat in this story, so without the scene, there's not that foreboding sense of danger.
Did any movie-goers wonder what the hell happened to Aragog in the movie? Did you notice that Harry didn't seem taken aback at all? I guess it could be argued that the Felix Felicis was just doing it's thing. But it is a topic explored more deeply in the book. All it would have taken was a little scene involving the trio going to Hagrids, and Hagrid explaining that Aragog was sick.
Finally, the one that bothers me the most is that final scene in the movie. Without spoiling too much (as if you don't know the situation thanks to the internet already) Harry chases someone through Hogwarts, and in the background there's a bit of a mini war going on between the students and Death Eaters. In the movie, it's just done almost too casually.
To finally close this off, I'll just make this one thing perfectly clear. Are the books better than the movies? Yes, generally speaking. But the movies do tend to have a certain charm of their own. However in 'The Half-Blood Prince's case, seriously, just stick with the book. It's far more entertaining, there's more going on, and it doesn't get so lovey-dovey.
Harry's fifth year story begins in the midst of the summer after the events of 'Goblet of Fire'. Spoiler alert , but not really, Voldemort has returned, and the wizarding world is divided. Most of the world is too afraid to admit that this could be true, and have therefore dubbed the truest believers to be nutters - Harry and Dumbledore being the main culprits.
However, a secret organization known as the Order of the Phoenix have Harry and Dumbledore's backs on it. Back when Voldemort was in power previously, the group were the main band of fighters who resisted Voldemort's power. Parts of the group include Mad-Eye Moody, the Weasley family, Professor Lupin, and Sirius Black just to name a few. The group works in the background of the story as they work on figuring out what Voldemort is up to - something involving a sort of "weapon" he hadn't had during his former reign of power.
Meanwhile, Harry, Ron and Hermione head back to Hogwarts, where the Ministry of Magic (the main governing body of the magical community, and the biggest representation of non-believers in the case of Voldemort's return) has decided to interfere. The annually open position for professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts is filled by the love-to-hate Deloris Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). She rather quickly works her way up the ladder to become Hogwarts' High Inquisitor, imposing a ridiculous amount of rules and regulations that pretty much prevent the students from having any enjoyment of school at all. She starts by banishing magical use from Defense Against the Dark Arts, and providing beginners texts, and proceeds to carry out some rather severe punishments if anyone steps out of line. Not even Dumbledore can do anything about it, though, as the Ministry has control of the entire situation.
Eventually, a rebellion led by Harry is formed so that anyone interested can actually practice real magic in order to defend themselves from whatever it is that's coming. That whole concept alone is what makes this one, one of my personal favorites in the movie universe. It's the first time there's a real threat that enough people know about, AND it's the young crowd taking matters into their own hands. It's pretty much the first time we see a collective group of students working together towards a common goal, be they Gryffindor, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. As for the Slytherins, they are too busy siding with the darkness, and being recruited by Umbridge to try to figure out what's happening behind her back.
I always personally found this story to be a bit underrated, as it tends to be the least liked of the books. But I've always had a thing for the new ideas that come into play here, namely Dumbledore's Army. But it doesn't stop there. In a big way, we don't see just the students working together, but the staff of Hogwarts too. Umbridge is consistently drilling them and making sure everything is up to snuff according to Ministry standards. We don't see an uprising from the teachers, but the idea lends itself to the concept of hating Umbridge even more. She's easily make my Top 5 of all time, as in "Characters I Love to Hate". It's interesting, but throughout the whole series, I would almost consider her the worst villain short of Voldemort himself.
The end result of the movie is satisfying, to say the least. As an adaptation, I'd have to say this is one of the best ones. It's got some of the best sets and character development throughout the series, and doesn't manage to leave too many important things out of the book. But I'll get into that next.
COMPARING THE BOOK
So, I guess there's no doubt some of my readers are asking themselves "But HOW could it be one of the best adaptations? The book is HUGE! They would have had to cut out a lot of important stuff, right?" Well... honestly, you may be surprised. Part of the reason this is one of the more disliked books is due to all the filler. It can be interesting, but none of it truly lends itself to the full story. There are bound to be a few exceptions, but in just about any case you CAN find a way around it with your imagination. Though it's perfectly understandable to not wanna have to do the work.
For a few gaping examples, I'd turn to a few sections of the book that take a fair amount of time to read for little tidbits of information. There's about three full chapters in the book that go between the snake attack on Arthur Weasley to the end of Christmas. The big set ups from this are to show Harry can see what Voldemort is up to, and to get Harry to Occlumency (blocking out thought intrusion) classes with Snape. The movie does a good job of getting all of the info together that's needed, and having it still make sense in a shorter amount of time - something any good film adaptation should do.
There are, though, a few things the movie cuts out unnecessarily that would have been nice to see. For instance, when it comes to Ron and Hermione, you might be wondering what happened to their respective stories from the book? They both actually become Gryffindor prefects. Hermione spends much of the time trying to get ready for her O.W.L.s, and helping Harry where needed. So there's not a HUGE gap for her. Ron, on the other hand, has a whole story about getting onto the Gryffindor Quidditch team. In fact, speaking of Quiddtch, it's sadly thrown right out of the movie. One of the biggest things that happens in the book is that Harry, Fred and George step out of line after a Quidditch match against Slytherin, banning them from Quidditch as long as Umbridge is there. Knowing hoe important Quidditch is to Harry, that would have lent itself in a big way to the hatred for Umbridge we all felt.
Perhaps the biggest adaptation faux pas for me was showing Percy Weasley working for the Ministry of Magic. There's a whole thing in the book about how Percy has gone against Harry and the rest of his own family by siding with the Ministry, and being a prat about it. He disbands from his own family, even sends Ron a letter saying how he shouldn't hang out with Harry or anyone who believes him on what he says. In the movie, he kinda just shows up in Dumbledore's office, has no dialogue, and to the fans who haven't read the books, this is downright confusing.
Further character cameos are also pushed from the film adaptation. Dobby is in this one again, and actually tells Harry about the Room of Requirement (where Dumbledore's Army meets and practices). Once again, the film essentially replaces Dobby with Neville in this role (the former being informing Harry of Gillyweed in 'Goblet of Fire'). There's also a cameo from Professor Lockheart, as he's still at St. Mungos Hospital from when Ron jinxed him in 'Chamber of Secrets'. He doesn't serve much of a purpose though, so cutting him was practically expected.
I'm sure there are other holes I'm missing here, but you'll have to forgive me for not remembering every detail of a 956 page book. The good news is that this was the biggest obstacle I knew I had to get through. If not for the thickness of the book, for the overwhelming and frankly irritating temper Harry has in the book (another thing that places this on the less-popular list). By the way, that might be the best thing the movie adjusts for the better. Harry is irritable, but not nearly as bad as he was in the book - a formula thankfully remedied in the proceeding stories!
The fourth year begins with what appears to be a nightmare of Harry's, involving Wormtail (Timothy Spall) speaking to a raspy voice in a chair, a mysterious stranger doing the same, seemingly plotting, and the death of some random caretaker. He also wakes up with his scar hurting, which can only mean bad news.
Putting that on hold, for a time, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) head with Ron's family to the Quidditch World Cup. There, a disturbance takes place, involving dark, cloaked figures reigning chaos on the camp sites. Eventually, the Dark Mark is cast; a sure sign that the Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is well on his way.
When school begins this time around, Hogwarts ends up playing host to wizarding schools Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. The purpose being that an event called the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place there over the next year. In order to enter, one must be over 17, and must write their name and school on a piece of parchment, place it into the Goblet of Fire, and the champions are chosen at random - one representative from each school.
However, when Harry's name impossibly comes up as a fourth champion, he finds himself facing much more dangerous obstacles than he's yet used to. Because of this, the conclusion is draw that someone, somehow entered Harry's name into the tournament with intent to do him serious harm.
Adding to the cast are the other Triwizard champions, Fleur DeLacour (Clémence Poésy) of Beauxbatons, Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) of Durmstrang, and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) of Hogwarts. None of which have what you'd call "major roles", but they do well with what they're given. Yes, even the soon-to-be sparkly vampire.
The biggest treat about this movie is the further advancement of the series' visual effects. The movie does a very good job at bringing us deeper into the magical world by making us feel it a bit more here than we have quite yet. The older films all show very slight improvements with their CG, but I found 'Goblet of Fire' to not only succeed the previous films at CG, but overall atmosphere. And it's because of this, that the let-downs are so much more harsh.
As far as an adaptation goes, this misses out on quite a lot of opportunity for fan service. It's also the first time the audience is pretty much made to accept that there are significant chunks of the original story missing. I'm happy to say, for myself, that I was able to manage that expectation quite well... but it doesn't mean the movie didn't cut out stuff I REALLY wanted to see on the big screen.
COMPARING THE BOOK
As mentioned previously, yes, this is the first of the stories one must expect things to be cut from the movie. But it's interesting to see just how much was actually chopped, while it still runs over 2 and a half hours. After this, if you can't accept the edits for the future films, it might mark your tipping point to the "books were better" crowd. Although, I suppose that crowd includes most people who have read the series quite easily, including myself. But I have to admit the movies are certainly not without their charm.
Getting into the differences, perhaps the foremost thing to talk about is that there's actually a whole subplot going on in the background of the main story. In this, Hermione starts a movement for the liberation of house elves called S.P.E.W. (The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare), after seeing how they are terribly mistreated, and in a very big way, slaves. The thing is, the house elves thrive on being of service, and without that purpose in their lives, they are known to go mad. If you like 'Rick & Morty', they could very well be compared to the Meseeks. This is to such an extent that the idea of liberation and freedom, frankly, disturbs and disgusts the elves. This also brings Dobby back into the story, as he's free and happy, but generally regarded by others as a sort of nutter.
Going into the movie, you pretty much had to expect them to ditch that story for time. But it is a way to show Hermione's character development in a big way. It's the first time she really and truly and stubbornly fights for something, and up until now, she's kinda just been the brains of the outfit.
There's another bit of a subplot involving Hagrid, who is still the Care of Magical Creatures professor, raising "blast-ended skrewts". It kind of serves as the dark humour of the story, as they're such horrible creatures, yet Hagrid takes good care and babies them. It all builds up to something Harry runs into in the final challenge. Which brings me to my next point.
There were two things I very much wanted to see on the big screen, but never got the chance to, and they still bother me to this day. First off, we have the Quidditch World Cup. There's a whole chapter on it where it describes the game in pretty good detail. It's fairly short-lived, but exciting nonetheless. The movie goes as far as to build you up to the very beginning of the match and suddenly cut to the Weasley's campsite.
Secondly, the final task is done completely different in the movie. In the film, the challenge had a bit of a deeper meaning in that it was about being able to not "lose yourself". The challenge itself ends up being the obstacle. In the book, however, Harry runs into a blast-ended skrewt, a boggart in the form of a dementor, strange mist that turns the whole world upside down for a few seconds, and of course a Sphinx with a riddle, who most readers of the book missed in the movie. Oh, and that Sphinx leads Harry right to a giant spider. The book was far more interesting in that regard. I guess I get what the movie was trying to do, and it does work for the story... but dammit, given how good the visuals were in the movie, it all would have been awesome to see and NONE of it is there.
The movie did okay with adapting a few things though, and I daresay making a few adjustments better. For example the second task was done quite well as far as adaptation goes, as was the climactic scene in the graveyard. However, there are little changes that work in favor of characters like Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) who has great development throughout the books, but a lot of the movies put him further into the background. In both movie and book, we get a glimpse into Neville's painful history in which his parents were horribly tortured by Death Eaters (Voldemort supporters). But in the movie, he also helps Harry with the second task where Dobby does in the book, and makes an appearance after having a great time at the Yule Ball, likely his first great time ever, really. They may be subtle, but it's nice that the movie gives him that recognition as not just a "confused loser boy".
Some may have been taken aback by the disappearance of Ludo Bagman, head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. But, if I'm honest, the movie does a pretty good job getting the appropriate info across without the need for the character. The book gives him a bit of depth as well, so it may have added a lot of extra unnecessary time to it all.
Other bits missing include a whole background mystery on the disappearance of a woman named Bertha Jorkins, and a bit more on the Reeta Skeeter side of things, where we discover an interesting character trait about her in the book that is never once brought up in the movie.
A lot of the changes for the movie work all right, but a lot seemed unnecessarily switched as well. Why not have given Hermione the powder blue dress in the book instead of the baby pink one, for instance? Not that big a deal, sure, but it's noticeable enough. Or better yet, Harry's communication with Serius, which is a big chunk of the book, but it gets cut short in the film.
A good way to sum up how to feel about the series now is a line that Hermione utters at the end of the movie - "everything's gonna change now, isn't it?". And in the words of Harry that follow, I say "Yes..." (that was actually a kinda cringe-worthy scene to watch, but yeah, the changes from the books are gonna be significant from here on in!)
Harry Potter enters his third year under new and one-off director, Alfonso Cuarón. Along with him comes the new Dumbledore played by Michael Gambon, who does a fine job of it with the shoes of Richard Harris to fill.
This time around, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has to deal with the talk of a murderous madman named Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who has escaped from Azkaban Prison. It seems Harry is particularly vulnerable to his escape, as Sirius apparently had his hand in the murder of Harry's parents by pointing their whereabouts out to Voldemort.
With the escape of Black, Hogwarts plays host to the Dementors - creepy, cloaked figures who feed on happiness, and thus cause despair to those they effect as well as the potential sucking out of souls. They are also the guards from Azkaban, and with Black at large, they are sent to float around the outskirts of Hogwarts and guard it from Black.
Meanwhile, a new professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts is employed, named Remus Lupin (David Thewlis). He eventually develops a report with Harry. We are also introduced to the Divination professor, Trelawney (Emma Thompson), who forewarns Harry about a perpetual death omen. Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) has been promoted this year as the new professor for Care of Magical Creatures, as well.
It seems this is the first year the trio doesn't go looking for any sort of trouble for the better of the school, which is something I enjoy about this chapter in the saga. It remains one of the darker stories, but it's more about Harry staying safe and going to his classes than him looking for adventure. And that helps make room for interesting new classes like Care of Magical Creatures, where we get introduced to a Hippogroff (eagle/horse hybrid).
I think the best thing the movie took from the book and made its own was the concept of time travel. Without going into too much detail and potential spoilers, the movie adds a detail about the idea of time travel that the book doesn't. It's a little adjustment, and doesn't ruin anything at all. If anything, it adds to it.
I have to admit though, I used to claim this as the best overall movie in the series. Upon re-watching it though, I caught a few things I didn't like about it. The biggest thing is that conversations seem to just appear out of nowhere here with no real beginnings. Example - when Hermione says "I think they're funny", she's referring to the Monster Book of Monsters (quoted by Hagrid in the book), but when she does it, she has this stern look on her face like she's really making a point about it, and her foot is down on the subject. The way it's acted out makes it look like there was something I missed. Or how about later (potential spoiler, sorry) when Hermione tells Lupin "I trusted you!"? Not an incomplete conversation, but what the hell sense did it make for her to say it? Anyone who has read the book or watched the movie should kinda connect that it ought to be Harry that says something like that. In fact, I'm quite sure he DOES in the book.
Now, those are nitpicks, but with this movie also comes the first time massive cut-outs were done. The first two films got away with more or less just being a visualization of the books. They could get away with a few changes, and it wasn't entirely bothersome. But this is the first time significant things got the axe. I'll get to that in the comparison, but it's enough that my opinion of this film has dropped quite a bit.
COMPARING THE BOOK
As I said in the review portion, some significant stuff from the book got cut from the movie this time around. I would say two major things, but only one of them truly significant.
Quidditch actually ends up playing a more significant role in the book. It's Oliver Wood's last year, and last chance to win the Quidditch Cup for the school. In the movie, we see the match the Gryffindors have against the Hufflepuffs (by the way, that seeker who gets hit with lightning in the movie is technically Cedric Diggory) but that's it, because that match actually was significant to drive the story. But what they do leave out is that the Gryffindors actually do get to the final match against Slytherin, and it's actually a pretty intense game. It should also probably be pointed out that Harry's Firebolt broom is given to him at Christmas in the book as opposed to the end of the year. It's a shame the Quidditch stuff got chopped, being that it ends up being a pretty significant moment in the end. Oh, and Cho Chang is also introduced in the book as the Ravenclaw Seeker. (Cedric and Cho will be seen in the next movie in case you don't know who I'm talking about)
The second, and more significant change is the Marauder's Map. The names "Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs" are on the map in the movie, but we're never once told the significance behind the names. This significance is dished out nearing the end of the book, but there's a whole backstory to it that includes Harry's Dad, Lupin, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. Why they didn't add it when all the pieces were there is beyond me. It's really quite a touching story, so if you're curious, check out this link.
Aside from those two sort of gaping things, the movie does a pretty good job of things. For me, though, I have to remain a bit upset about the lack of story behind the map. It really could have made things a bit more touching than they ended up being in the end.
Harry Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) second year begins with a run-in with a House Elf named Dobby (Toby Jones). The Elf warns Harry that he must not go back to Hogwarts for his second term. However, Harry ignores the warnings due to the fact that the Dursleys make his life a living Hell.
Upon his eventual arrival at Hogwarts, Harry begins to hear mysterious and murderous voices, whispering throughout the halls. Eventually, a series of attacks prompt the trio of Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) to dig deeper. Soon, Ron and Hermione end up learning about Harry's strange ability to communicate with serpents, and his potential tie-in with the attacks have them working hard to try to clear Harry's name.
It ends up getting rather interesting just to see how much darker this story is than the last one. Where 'Philosopher's Stone' felt like a good, fun adventure for kids of all ages, this one manages to speak to a more mature audience, as well as tell it's younger audience that the 'Harry Potter' universe doesn't exactly just mess around. Students end up getting "petrified" left and right, as a result of these mysterious attacks, it features giant spiders that have no qualms about straight up eating people, and the overall atmosphere of the film can get rather eerie, especially upon learning that sudden death seems to be a potential thing in the Harry Potter universe.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to take away from this story is the subtext in some of the themes here. Perhaps most noteworthy, the concept of "muggle-borns" vs "pure-bloods". In other words, if you were a witch or wizard born from either two non-magic users, or your parents were half and half, you could earn the unfortunate nickname of "mud-blood". On the flip-side, pure-bloods who thought this way were, when it gets right down to it, essentially Nazis boasting about their perfect Aryan Race. Now, whether I'm looking into that too deeply or not doesn't necessarily matter, because the young audience watching this is to learn the valuable lesson about not discriminating just because someone's different.
Wiith this chapter in the Harry Potter Saga, however, comes a spot of rather major sadness. With these first two films, the character of Albus Dumbledore (Headmaster at Hogwarts, and arguably the greatest wizard alive) was played by Richard Harris, who sadly passed away shortly before the release of the second film. He is replaced by Michael Gambon in the later films, who, by all accounts, does a fine job of it. Harris, though, fit the overall description of Dumbledore much better.
It's a longish movie to get through at 2 hours and 43 minutes. But in the end, it's a fun enough adventure that it's hard to imagine it's actually that long. The time does go by nice and fast, as no part of the movie really drags. There's always something being revealed, always something happening, and often a very genuine empathy for those involved.
COMPARING THE BOOK
Once again, most of this one managed to make it to the screen, as the book is one of the smaller ones. Not a whole hell of a lot got cut out here either, and the overall adaptation is very well done.
A few things that would stand out to the hardcore would likely include Nearly Headless Nick's deathday party. Taking place at Halloween, this is where the trio actually first meet Moaning Myrtle. Another aspect can be sort of seen in a deleted scene, in which Harry finds an envelope for the caretaker, Argus Filch, for a beginner wizarding correspondence course. This leads to him being revealed as a "squib" (a non-magic person born into a wizarding family).
There's a few other things that end up being bigger deals in the book than the movie as well, for example, the relationship between Percy Weasley and Penelope Clearwater - they are seen together in the halls once in the film, and are only known by being greeted by Nearly Headless Nick. In the book, it ends up being a sort of big, secret reveal Percy is a bit embarrassed about. In the end, though, none of it ends up being vitally important. The main story is all still there, and the film remains one of the better HP adaptations, in my opinion.
So, this special month, I decided to do something a little different and more in-depth than usual. I will start each review by reviewing it as a film first, and then comparing it to the actual book. Thanks to good old Stephen Fry, I have a collection of well-narrated 'Harry Potter' stories on audiobook, so I'll be doing it that way. No way could I read all 7 books in a month's time. I've gone through the series before, and yeah... I'm a bit of a slow-mo reader, personally.
But moving right along, we begin with 'The Philosopher's Stone', the story that started what may very well be the best known and beloved book series since 'The Lord of the Rings'. Here, we meet Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), an orphan who is made to live with his Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths), Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw), and cousin Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling). There, he is raised as a sort of peasant boy, as the Dursley family has a grudge against Harry's real parents for being, shall we say, "unnatural". This lasts until his eleventh birthday, where after a series of mysterious letters that the Dursleys kept from Harry, he finally meets a giant named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) who takes matters into his own hands, and comes to take Harry away to Wizarding School at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Evetually, Harry also learns of the real cause for his parents death, and why the Dursleys have been such assholes to him this whole time. As opposed to the car crash they were said to be in, it turns out a dark wizard by the name of Voldemort actually murdered them. He also tried to get Harry in the process, but the curse had somehow reflected off Harry, leaving his famous lightning bolt scar.
It's very much an introduction to a wonderful, magical new world of imagination that we haven't really seen before. The rest of the story involves Harry and his new friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) solving a mystery about a robbery from Gringots Wizarding Bank involving something very important called the Philosopher's Stone. Their biggest suspect for the robbery is their Potions teacher, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), but he was one of the wizards meant to protect the stone, and eventually it all becomes a sort of lesson on not judging a book by its cover.
When you look back on the movie now, it's kinda like watching the 'Star Wars' prequels, only in that the CG is quite painfully dated by today's standards. It's often hard to look at, namely during scenes like the fight with the troll in the dungeon, or even the Quidditch match. But, to be fair, CG hadn't set the bar with Gollum quite yet. I don't think it's enough of a problem to really take you out of the movie, as the story, magical ideas and characters are still fun and imaginative. The rough CG is really just a fault of the time that's passed and how well it's all been developing since 2001.
It still remains a fun movie for what it is, and it was of course mainly directed at a younger audience. I always enjoyed that there are several lessons to take away from this story as well. Don't judge a book by its cover, it can take great courage to stand up to your friends, you may have to make important sacrifices in life for the greater good, nobody likes a know-it-all, and of course, never trust a guy with a face growing out the back of his head.
COMPARING THE BOOK
With the film's running time of 2 hours and 40 minutes (give or take), and the fact that it's probably the thinnest book of the series, it's not hard to imagine that they didn't tamper with things too much. Most of the movie was about bringing the world to the big screen, and bringing it all to life, and they did it all incredibly well.
The seemingly most glaring thing that didn't make it into the film was the lack of Peeves the Poltergeist, who actually WAS cast with Rik Mayal. It's something that has had fans in a bit of an uproar since. Here's his side of the story.
Another one that stands out to a lot of people is the lack of the potion challenge after the kids go through the trap door. Every other challenge from the book made it to the big screen, and they all consisted of either huge set pieces or great amounts of pricey CG. It kinda boggles the mind that a room full of cups couldn't be managed, even if the scene was just a minute long.
It's a bit curious to watch the deleted scenes of the film and seeing how much the altered from things they took from the book. One example being, when the kids find out who Nicolas Flamel is in the book, it's on a chocolate frogs box, and it's also like that in the deleted scene. However, the movie altered it a bit to just have them figure out who he was from the book Hermione took out for "light reading". Another example being Harry being a bit of a smart ass to Snape in his class by pointing out that Hermione knew the answers to his questions, and saying he should call on her since she obviously knows. It was a short deleted scene from the movie that would have added to the sense of humor Rowling wrote so well.
Otherwise, the changes are subtle enough one can deem them unnecessary to worry about. Like when they first run into Fluffy in the book, Neville is actually with them. He just doesn't do much else but act afraid though, so cutting him away from that particular scene is pretty forgivable. He still does what's important for his character development, and that's what's important.