Friday, July 29, 2011

Harry Potter: 20 Best and Worst Book to Movie Changes

20 Best Book to Movie Changes (in order of their appearance in the film series)

I. Sorcerer's Stone:
1. In the book Harry not only sees his parents in the Mirror of Erised, but many other relatives in the Mirror as well. I think that him just seeing his parents is much more intimate and really emphasizes the loneliness and tragedy of being an orphan.

II. Chamber of Secrets:

2.  In the films, the characters who change into someone else after drinking Polyjuice Potion keep their same voices. This may hinder a true disguise, but it helps a movie audience understand who is who and adds comedy. This was also done in Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2.

III. Prisoner of Azkaban:

3. The "shrunken heads" seen in the 3rd film are visually interesting and helped bring humor to this dark film. They fit right into Rowling's world even though they were not her creation. 

more heads...

4. The Hogwarts Frog Choir. Every school needs a choir right? I am sure the Great Hall has amazing acoustics and music is obviously a huge part of film so it was a wise addition that was absent from the books.
5. Harry's first flight on Buckbeak is much more thrilling and extended than the short scene written in the book. It was visually beautiful and uniquely magical!
6. The creation of the Hogwarts Bridge which is used in the subsequent films is a beautiful and romantic pathway to and from the castle. It was a visually striking set to hold scenes such as the one where Lupin tells Harry about his friendship with Harry's parents.

IV. Goblet of Fire:

7. The arrival of the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrange was dramatic and exciting. I also liked that they weren't co-ed like Hogwarts is, it added a great contrast; flirty French girls and rugged Russian men. In the book there is no grand choreographed entrance, but naturally you would want to make a grand entrance! 

"speak softly and carry a big stick..?"
V. Order of the Phoenix:
8. Having Sirius show Harry the photo of the original Order members was much more appropriate and meaningful than having Mad Eye Moody show it to him. It is a tender moment between Godson and Godfather that worked well onscreen to establish their close relationship in a short amount of time.

9. Evanna Lynch was perfectly cast as Luna and had great onscreen chemistry with Daniel Radcliffe. Having Luna show Harry the Thestrals and explain why they can each see them was a much more touching and emotional scene than having Hagrid introduce his class to them. 
10. The Weasley's fireworks were even more epic in the film than in the book and it was great to see Umbridge chased by them and then have all of her proclamations fall off the castle walls and come crashing to the ground.
11. Just before Sirius is killed near the end of the film, he accidentally calls Harry "James". In both the books and movies it is emphasized how much Harry looks like his father, but having Sirius actually call him by his father's name shows that he thinks of Harry more as his friend than his godson and would like to think he is James. 
12. In the book, Voldemort possess Harry for just a moment, but in the film there is a drawn out montage scene where Voldemort speaks to Dumbledore through Harry as flashbacks are shown. Harry fights back and tells Voldemort that he is wrong "you'll never know friendship or love, and I feel sorry for you." It is a riveting and emotional addition.
VI. Half Blood Prince:

13. The scene where Slughorn tells Harry the story about the pet fish Harry's mother Lily gave him and how it died the day she did is sad but beautiful. Harry also gives a great speech in this scene to convince Slughorn to give him the memory he needs about young Tom Riddle. The exchange of dialogue that happens between them in the book is not nearly as epic.

VII. Deathly Hallows Part 1:

14. It was emotional for us to get to actually see Hermione erasing herself from her parents memories. It makes her sacrifice more meaningful than just listening to her tell Ron and Harry that she made them forget they had a daughter like in the book.
15. The scene added towards the beginning of the film showing Harry trying to sneak out of the Burrow without Ron and Hermione shows how much he wants to keep everyone else safe and how alone he feels. Also the fact that Ron goes after him and is able to convince him to come back shows his strength, courage, and influence over Harry, a nice strong moment for Ron who was put in Gryffindor for a reason!

16. The destruction of the locket was even more epic in the film than in the book (thanks to some Hermione side boob). It was an incredible visual portrayal of part of Voldemort's soul being destroyed!

17. Obviously when Hermione reads the Tale of the Three Brothers in the book, the reader creates their own images in their mind, but the animated segment inserted in the film was beautiful and didn't disrupt the realism or cheapen the film in any way, which was very impressive.
VIII. Deathly Hallows Part 2:
18. Harry pops out of the crowd of Hogwarts students and confronts Snape and McGonagall helps defend him in the film. In the book Snape flees from McGonagall, Slughorn, and Flitwick who attack him in a corridor while Harry and Luna hide under the Invisibility Cloak.   
19. The creation of the dome shield by the teachers and students of Hogwarts was visually stunning. It was a great way to show the power of defensive magic by building a "barricade" by working together. Protective spells are cast in the book around the castle, but they are not "seen" by anyone and don't have the power to disintegrate Death Eaters.
20. The Prince's Tale was edited and acted beautifully. It was the best part of the film in my opinion, and the scene where Snape arrives at the house once Voldemort has gone and discovers Lily's body and caresses her while both he and Harry cry hysterically was not in the book at all. Snape wasn't supposed to have been there at all or have "discovered" what happened first, but it was a very emotional and fitting change.
20 Worst Book to Movie Changes (in order of their appearance in the film series)

I. Sorcerer's Stone:

1. One of the most exciting scenes in the book is when Harry and Ron have to sneak Norbert out of the castle. Ron's older brother Charlie, and some friends who work with Dragons, fly to the castle on broomsticks and sneak the (by this time very large) adolescent Norbert out of the castle.

II. Chamber of Secrets:

2. Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Weasley have a civilized conversation in the movie, whereas in the book some punches are thrown and a rambunctious scene occurs.

3. The ending to this film is almost too cheesy to stand (even when I watched it the first time as a non-cynical adolescent). Yes, everyone who was petrified was alright again, yes, the end of the year Exams were cancelled, and yes, Hagrid came back, but you don't have to have everyone clap and cry about it. Show them partying it up in the Great Hall with a giant slumber party like in the book!
III. Prisoner of Azkaban:
4. Neither Neville nor Ginny are in the compartment with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Lupin when the Dementors come onto the train like in the book. The way in which both of them react is very relevant later on, Neville's back story of his parents isn't revealed and Ginny having been possessed by Tom Riddle in the past movie isn't reemphasized.

5. The freeze frame on Harry's face screaming as he flies on his Firebolt for the first time is visually unattractive and an incredibly stupid end to a film. The whole subplot of him receiving the mysterious Firebolt (in the middle of the book) and Hermione being paranoid about it which leads to lots of controversy was totally thrown out.
IV. Goblet of Fire:
6. Dumbledore grabs Harry and violently shakes him when he asks him if he put his name in the Goblet of Fire. Dumbledore would NEVER grab a student, he is much kinder and usually very mild tempered. Harry does not fear him as he seems to in this scene.

7. Hermione PMS's throughout all of Movie Four. From start to finish she is either crying or yelling at Ron and Harry in nearly every scene. Or she is both crying and yelling like in the scene shown above. The Hermione in the books does get emotional and she does get tough with Harry and Ron at times, but Emma Watson was just downright mean and annoying throughout the film. Wizard Angst overload!

8. Not only was this visual effect REALLY bad, but it is incorrect, the effects department got it right in Movie 5 when they showed Sirius' face int he FLAMES instead of the EMBERS of the fire; it looked ugly and cheesy.

9. The Dragon Chase scene is overlong. Task One was not this drawn out or dangerous. The fact that the dragon crashes into the stands and nearly kills some of the spectators is really stupid and cheapens the sophistication of the Hogwarts teachers and Triwizard Staff's intelligence. I would have rather seen one of the several scenes they cut instead of this lame action scene.
10. All of the creatures and obstacles are missing from the Third Task maze. The series of challenges in the book is much more exciting and interesting than the vicious vines and creepy fog seen in the film. 
V. Order of the Phoenix:
11. At the start of the film, the "Order members" do not really introduce themselves. Nor is Lupin reintroduced when they arrive at headquarters, and nor is Tonks shape shifting abilities explained to be unique even for a witch or wizard.
12. I really missed the scene in St. Mungo's hospital when Harry, Hermione, and all of the Weasley's go and visit Mr. Weasley after the snake attack and they also meet Neville's parents who were tortured into insanity and there is also the reintroduction of Lockheart's character. It was an emotional and funny series of scenes in the book.
13. I was really disappointed that the Fountain characters did not come to life and protect Harry during his fight with Voldemort. As epic as the Dumbledore/ Tom Riddle; Water vs. Fire fight was. Statues coming to life would have been visually stunning I believe!
14. The anger Harry was feeling was really built up during this whole film, I was so sad that I didn't get to see him chuck and smash a bunch of objects in Dumbledore's office. Harry just sits there all emo and says "you don't understand" UG! I bet Daniel Radcliffe would have had a blast wrecking havoc to blow off all that anger and wizard angst! His godfather had just died too...wouldn't you want to smash something?
VI. Half Blood Prince:

15. HUGE-LY BOTCHED KISS!!! Words cannot describe how lame this kiss scene was. His first kiss with Cho was a lot...juicer? This is the girl he ends up falling in love with and MARRYING for MERLIN'S SAKE!!! This scene showed just a glorified peck that occurred in private, whereas in the book it occurs in front of the entire Gryffindor Common Room and it is very passionate and spontaneous. Also in the book they officially start dating and then Harry "breaks up" with her because he wants to protect her and he knows he has to go hunt for Horcruxes.  

VII. Deathly Hallows Part 1:

16. This was another botched Harry/Ginny moment. Sure, they tried to sex it up a bit with the whole "will you zip up my dress" bit, but in the book she asks him to come into her bedroom and then tells him she wanted to get him something special for his Birthday, but couldn't decide what so she pulls him in and lays one on him. Way hotter!
VIII. Deathly Hallows Part 2:

17. The back story of the Dumbledore family and Albus's relationship with Grindelwald is never fully explained. You know that their sister died, but don't learn that the brothers had a hand in her death, nor what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Dumbledore like in the book.

18. It was never established that Harry's invisibility cloak was a Hallow, nor that he has it with him when he faces Voldemort in the forest. This is part of the reason that he doesn't die. He becomes the Master of Death, because he drops the Resurrection Stone at his feet, he holds the wand that last defeated the true owner of the Elder Wand, AND he has his Cloak of Invisibility tucked inside his jacket! None of this is explained in the film. 

19. Pulling Voldemort off a cliff does not seem like a very smart thing to do. And then having Voldemort and Harry's faces mesh together made no sense. I get that they were trying to show visually how they are similar in many ways but yet are opposites. Also, the part of Voldemort's soul that was inside of Harry was already gone at this point, so it doesn't make as much sense that they "overlap" each other. None of this happens in the book, they just fight with wands...they don't try to kill each other with their bare hands; this is very un-wizard-y

20. The final showdown between Harry and Voldemort was thrilling, but the scene takes place in the Great Hall at sunrise so that the enchanted ceiling glows orange and all of the survivors of the battle watch as Harry and Voldemort walk circles around each other, Harry puts Voldemort in his place and tells him how foolish he is for believing that evil could actually triumph over good. What ACTUALLY kills Voldemort off is his own killing curse that he sends at Harry which rebounds off of the castle wall and hits him just as Harry disarms him and catches his wand, and he does not turn into confetti either!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Initial Attraction:

I am a Harry Potter fanatic and am totally bias toward the books and cannon. It bothers me when there are big changes or omissions of book to movie adaptations. However, I do have knowledge of the filmmaking process and understand and appreciate creative visual re-interpretations from the written page. I was excited and sad to see this beloved series wrapped up. My heart was pounding through the entire film and I was very engaged throughout my first viewing. Harry Potter is an admirable and lovable character that anyone can relate to and Daniel Radcliffe is not half bad to look at either ;)


I thought it was nice that they gave us a bit of a refresher showing Voldemort possess the Elder Wand.

The scenes at Hogwarts are very reminiscent of Hitler and Nazi’s the way the students are marching as Snape stands regally watching over them. The haunting melody of “Lily’s Theme” played at the opening and closing of the film gave me chills.

I didn’t feel very strongly about the scenes at Shell Cottage or in Gringotts. Ollivander helped to explain and reemphasize wandlore details that carried over from part one. I thought that Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of Emma Watson’s Hermione was hilarious, and I found the escape scene on the dragon very exciting.

I also found it sweet that you can see the sympathy Hermione has for the Dragon guarding the Lestrange vault. I think having Harry be able to “hear” the Horcruxes when he got near them smart and a good change to make in film for time constraints and lack of previous explanation.

The cinematography in the scene where the trio is pulling off their wet clothes and Harry is retelling his vision of Voldemort made me nauseous. I found the circular camera motions to be distracting.

I wasn’t happy with who they cast to play Aberforth and it really bothered me that they didn’t learn the whole story about his and Albus’ sister Arianna and the rest of their family and Albus’ relationship with Grindelwald who was introduced in Part 1 but never came up again in Part 2. I thought Aberfoth’s performance felt forced and was too brief to connect with him at all.

Matt Lewis was awesome as Neville he was cool and heroic and sweet. I loved the scene welcoming back Harry, Ron and Hermione and the “lightning has struck” code for his return. The awkward moment with Harry and Ginny was cute and sweet in a weird way, but I don’t understand why they make their love for each other feel so embarrassing.

The scene with all of the students in the Great Hall was an awesome chance for Alan Rickman to have his last suave drawn out Snape speech. I LOVED when Harry stepped forward and confronted him verbally; it was very exciting to watch since it wasn’t in the book that way.

However, I didn’t feel like his reinforcements were big enough, the people on Harry’s side didn’t seem like their numbers were big enough, especially considering that Voldemort has hundreds of followers with him when he attacks the castle.

The scene where the girls start screaming in the Great Hall and Voldemort gives a speech as he possesses everyone’s mind was riveting and eloquent. I also loved the brief exchange between McGonagal and Harry in which she shows the warmth she has for him. McGonagal also shows how badass she can be in this film which was awesome since her shining moment(s) from Half Blood Prince were not filmed. Her quip to Seamus about his “pyrotechniques” was hilarious.

I thought that the glistening shield that created a dome to protect Hogwarts was beautiful and effective. Luna was so sweet in this film; Evanna Lynch has great chemistry with Daniel Radcliffe. “Harry Potter you listen to me!” was hilarious; she is truly one of Rowling’s greatest creations and was perfectly cast.

The scene with Helena Ravenclaw was slightly disappointing, because she didn’t tell Harry the whole story of how Tom Riddle tricked her and her relationship with the Bloody Barron. Kelly MacDonald was a great addition to the British cast though.

Since I am a HUGE Harry/Ginny fangirl and have griped about their wimpy kisses in the past I will retract my anger here (slightly). The kiss that they shared on the stairway amongst the chaos was both sweet and passionate, I squealed inside when Ginny looked at Harry and whispered “I know” before they parted. EEK!!! Little things like that go so far, because that says so much with so little, and they never quite established in the films how much they do love each other.

Showing Ron and Hermione in the Chamber of Secrets was a smart move for the movie and interesting to see, I think it was smart to have their kiss occur then in private and in the heat of the moment instead of in front of Harry. The bit about Harry talking in his sleep was very funny also!

The scene in the room of requirement had amazing special effects and was very frightening. I loved when Ron freaked out when Malfoy and his cronies were trying to curse Hermione and he yells “that’s my girlfriend!” It was a nice detail to see Goyle (if anyone was wondering Crabbe’s absence was due to a Pot scandal) attempting to put out the Fiendfyre but not being able to. It was also great to see Hermione on a broom flying through the fire!

The battle of Hogwarts felt much smaller and more intimate than in the book, there just didn’t seem to be enough bodies in the castle. I was mad that they killed off Lavender and I was also mad that it was Hermione and not Ron that “saved” her. And I would really like to know where the heck GRAWP was? They showed other giants so it couldn’t have been a money constraint. That was Rowling’s whole point in including him in the Order of the Phoenix movie and establishing his character, because he returns for the final battle and wreaks havoc. The trio was amazing in this one though and their wand fighting skills were superb, I am happy that they portrayed them as able adult wizards.

Snape’s death scene was sad and actually frightening. This was the point where the waterworks really started for me. I am going to jump aboard the Alan Rickman deserves an Oscar train and ride it until the nominees are announced. His acting in this film (and throughout the series in fact) was ASTOUNDING!!!

I will go on record saying that the “Snape’s memories” montage was the most beautifully tragic and emotionally moving segment of the entire Harry Potter series and perhaps in the history of cinema. Two scenes that really stood out for me were when Dumbledore told Snape that Harry was an accidental Horcrux and had to be killed and when Snape shows Dumbledore his Patronus is a Doe and Dumbledore asks “even after all this time?” and Snape replies “Always…” I honestly cannot find the words for higher praise, I feel as if that series of scenes will never fail to make me cry. The image of Snape holding Lily’s dead body and both he and baby Harry crying hysterically is forever etched in my mind. The image was a very moving change and addition from the book.

Harry deciding to meet Voldemort in the forest and face his death was not as drawn out and emotional as it was in the book, even with his direct interaction with Ron and Hermione. I really craved Harry to tell both of them how much he loved them even if it would have been a bit cheesy.

The scene with Harry’s “ghost family” that appears after Harry takes the resurrection stone out of the snitch was sweet and emotional (at this point my face is already stained with tears). I really wanted him to hold onto them a bit longer before dropping the stone and  for them to stay by his side when he faced Voldemort. Also, Harry’s line addressing Lupin’s son made no sense since it was never established that Tonks gave birth in parts 1 or 2.

The scene where Harry and Dumbledore talk in King’s Cross was well done, but I was disappointed that Harry wasn’t naked. LOL but the film editing nerd in me loved that they kept changing the direction of the path Harry and Dumbledore were walking. However, the part of Voldemort’s soul that was left unwanted under the bench was too repulsive for words; it looked like an aborted fetus. I did love that they included my favorite Dumbledore quote “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Another Harry/Ginny detail that I latched onto was the reaction of Ginny when she thought Harry was dead and her father’s attempt to restrain her. The Voldemort/Draco hug moment was weird and disturbing. I don’t think that Voldemort would really attempt to hug anyone, but at the same time I remember in the book how he was trying to portray himself in a likable way and show shades of “mercy” to those left alive.

Harry jumping from Hagrid’s arms and taking off like a bat out of hell was so epic it made me do a fist pump. It was much more badass than him hiding under the cloak like in the book.

The “not my daughter you bitch” could have been delivered with a little more gusto by Julie Walters and I found it strange that Bellatrix shriveled up and then burst, but it was still another fist pump worthy moment.

The Harry/Voldemort fight/chase/abuse was brutal. It got dirty when Voldemort was literally kicking and slapping Harry which was the sort of demeaning treatment I am sure he thought Harry deserved. However, I do not understand why Harry thought it was a good idea to pull Voldemort off of a ledge so they both plummeted to their deaths, and what was up with the face morphing? That part made no sense to me.

Having both Hermione and Ron trying to kill Nagini was very exciting and scary. It made the task seem that much harder and more epic when Neville finally slices the bitch in half!

I would much have preferred to have seen the Harry/Voldemort showdown take place in the crowded Great Hall and heard Harry tell off Voldemort and call him Tom and tell him to try for remorse. I also didn’t like that Voldemort wasn’t actually finished off by his own rebounded killing curse. The way the scene occurred in the film, Harry simply defeated him and 7/8ths of his soul were destroyed, but there was still 1/8th left inside of his body. It was also weird and haunting when he exploded and bits of him were floating in the air…

The penultimate scene with Harry, Ron, and Hermione standing looking at the destruction on the bridge was a nice ending, but it bothered me that Harry didn’t mend his own wand before destroying the Elder Wand.

The epilogue “19 years later” was adorable beyond words; I was squealing with glee and so happy that it dripped with sentiment. I know that some fans were not pleased with it when they read it in the book, but I think Harry really deserves some sappiness after all he has been through. I thought the makeup was convincing and realistic and I also though the actors did a great job playing older. Daniel Radcliffe was the sweetest father ever to his son Albus and I appreciated the verbatim dialogue from the book. The very last shot of Harry, Ron, and Hermione watching the Hogwarts’ train depart from Kings Cross was full of nostalgia and magic!

Disappointment: Here is my biggest gripe with Part 2: they did nothing to explain that Harry became the Master of Death because he was the true owner of all three Hallows. They did not establish that he had his Invisibility Cloak stashed under his jacket, nor that he dropped the stone near to where he fell when Voldemort “kills” him. The movie is called Harry Potter and the DEATHLY HALLOWS!!! Why would you, as a filmmaker, spend all that time setting up a plot point to not utilize it in its most crucial moment?

Surprises: At times I felt this film was borderline “R.” Firstly when Voldemort got pissed when he realized Harry had taken the cup from the Lestrange’s vault and started killing everyone in sight and then walked amongst the corpses as the blood stained his bare feet. Secondly was when Snape is killed by Nagini violently attacking him several times, the scene disturbed me even though you “see” it through a dirty window.  

Watch-ability: Every visual aspect of this film from the special effects to the camera work was beautiful. The acting was top notch from all of the principle actors (hint hint Academy) and the film was visceral, moving, emotional, and jam packed with nostalgia. I have never been so aware and moved by a film score before especially not during the first viewing. I tip my hat to Alexander Desplat (hey that rhymes) because I appreciated his beautiful themes he contributed and his incorporation of John Williams’ magical composition of “Hedwig’s Theme”. All in all this film was a beautiful piece of art that was a high note to end the cinematically epic and historical Harry Potter series.

Stay tuned for another epic Harry Potter post where you can read my thoughts on the adaptation of the series as a whole.