Harry Potter: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Well, let’s just come out and say it: I am an avid Harry Potter fan. I love the books. I love the movies (for the most part). I love anything and everything to do with the series. However, the first five movies are already out on DVD, and the sixth isn’t slated for theatrical release until the end of next year. But I don’t care to wait that long to do an HP review, so here’s a nice (long) article that details my feelings for the five movies that are currently out. Because this is an article and not a flat-out review, I’ll do this in a different kind of method (also to save a bit of room, since I will be reviewing 5 different movies). I’ll mix my thoughts together on how I feel about the movies as both a movie and an adaptation, but I’ll separate my thoughts into three categories: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. So here goes (Minor spoilers if you haven’t seen/read them yet)...

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Good: It introduced us to the movie-world of Harry Potter. It gave us a great cast: Alan Rickman is the best Snape imaginable; Emma Watson did a wondrous job in this movie as Hermione; Harry looked like Harry, Hagrid like Hagrid, and Richard Harris’ Dumbledore was awesome. There was an underlying power without forcing it. He was both wise and humorous at times. Overall, the movie was very faithful to the book. It didn’t really stray much at all. Even the Dursley’s were portrayed wickedly awesomely. As an adaptation, it worked.

The Bad: Some of the acting, specifically from Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint), was cringe-worthy at times. The special effects, while they might have been great for their time, just look cheesy now (like the Troll… or CG Harry on the Troll or playing Quidditch). Also, the visuals (not the special effects… just normal visuals) were way too bland. The grass was flat and bright green and boring. Their clothes were either school dress robes or itchy sweaters and khaki pants, which looked like it might as well have been school uniform, because nobody really noticed they ever wore muggle clothes until movie 3.

The Ugly: It turned WAY too cheesy at points. For instance, when Harry caught Neville’s Remembrall and came back down on his broom, the whole crowd of first years comes up cheering like he just saved the world.

Overall, Sorcerer’s Stone gets a Keanu ‘Whoa’.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Good: Again, like the first, it was a great adaptation. New additions to the cast, specifically Christian Coulson (Tom Riddle); Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart); Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy); and Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), were wonderfully cast and did an excellent job. This movie even has one of my favorite lines from the movies that makes me laugh every time (“Celebrity is as Celebrity does. Remember that.”). Also, the special effects were better than the first movie. The Basilisk was much cooler looking than the Troll. Also, any visual effect that can make a 40 year old woman look 14 or so is amazing (Moaning Myrtle).

The Bad: Again, like the first (as it has the same director), the visuals were boring. Also, Emma Watson’s acting as Hermione starts to deteriorate, though not too bad. Unfortunately, we start to see a lot of Ron’s lines and such coming from Hermione a lot more, and Ron is really turned into a slapstick comedic sidekick. Ron’s supposed to be a brave, loyal friend.

The Ugly: Yet again, way too cheesy at times. For instance, the ‘There isn’t a Hogwarts without you, Hagrid… Cue entire school cheering even though almost nobody actually likes, or really knows, Hagrid.’ And that’s the END of the movie? Come on, seriously?

I give this one a Keanu ‘Whoa’, as well.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The Good: Um… it was pretty? Oh, and Sirius Black is played by Gary Oldman. That dude is awesome. And Hermione punches Malfoy.

The Bad: While some stuff was pretty, it was also pretty pointless. For instance, the giant clocks to symbolize the ‘time’ theme. The Whomping Willow time-sequences. The theme of this book was not TIME. That only played a SMALL part toward the end of the movie. And that brings us to the end. At the end of the book, there is a super-long Shrieking Shack sequence where everything is explained, then followed by a brief time-traveling sequence. So what does the movie do? It flips those around. It focuses everything on the time-traveling and shrinks the Shack scene to maybe 5 minutes or so. And then, after the Shack scene, when they actually do the time-traveling, it’s like ‘okay, let’s just reshow the ENTIRE last 45 minutes of the movie, but from a different perspective’… and that’s exactly what it does. And after the first time you see it, it’s incredibly boring.

Another bad thing would be un-Hermione-ing Emma Watson. She went from bookworm, bushy-haired ‘insufferable know-it-all’ to… for lack of a better word… hot. And that’s it. She lost everything that made her Hermione. They straightened her hair, put some glossy makeup on her, and shoved her in a pink hoodie… then took away all her books. While talking about looks, this movie also made Tom the Barman a hunchback. It also introduced the HP world to Michael Gambon. I can never forgive Cuaron for that. I can say he was actually ‘okay’ in this one… but my God, that’s about it. Finally, there was some bad acting from the likes of Emma Watson and Daniel “He Was Their Friend” Radcliffe.

The Ugly: Everything else. Okay, okay, I’ll give more details. Yes, Cuaron made a visually stunning movie. Besides that, he ruined it. The book was about ONE thing… it had ONE purpose plot wise. That one purpose was the following: Give the backstory of Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin, and James Potter as best friends, mischief makers (and nuisance to Snape), being known as the Mauraders (also known as Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs), and what occurred between them. What of that did the movie do with this incredibly important part of the book (you know, its purpose?)… it CUT IT OUT. Well, not completely. It IS revealed that Pettigrew backstabbed Harry’s parents and framed Sirius… but it doesn’t reveal HOW. It doesn’t get into the Fidelius Charm or the Secret Keepers or exactly HOW Sirius was framed. It doesn’t tell about how James saved Snape’s life, which is one of the major reasons Snape hated James and therefore hates Harry. It doesn’t even tell us that Sirius, Peter, Lupin, and James were the Marauders, and Harry is lugging around the freakin map the ENTIRE MOVIE… it just never reveals who they are. And Lupin has the PRIME opportunity to do so at the end of the movie when he’s giving the map back to Harry. So what do we have in the end? A pretty/pretty pointless movie. And it has a freeze-frame ending.

This superficial movie gets The Zed Word from me.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Good: It was a cool cinematic movie. It was the first of the bunch to really have a cinematic feel to it. It wasn’t super pretty like the previous… it just had a cool feeling. For the new actors, Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter was dead on. Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody was just about perfect (I didn’t like that eye-strap at first, but I got used to it). The movie was also quite action-packed. Ron also, finally, has a bigger role. He gets to be all upset at Harry for a good chunk of the movie, and Rupert Grint does a great job with it. Neville also gets a boost into the picture, and Matt Lewis does a great job with him.

The Bad: No Dursley’s. It’s not the end of the world, really. Their part in this book wasn’t super important, but it would have been cool for them to be in the movie. They also cut down on the champions a lot. There were about two lines from Krum in the entire movie, a couple screams from Fleur, and a few decent scenes with Cedric, but they had to set him up for obvious reasons. Oh, and this movie also introduced us to Nigel. I have no idea who Nigel is, because he’s not from the books, and they apparently can’t use a canon-character for his part, but there he is. Finally, Emma Watson’s acting sinks into a bottomless pit by this point… too many excessive heavings of air between every word.

The Ugly: Michael Gambon. He’s number one on this list. My God, can you get any LESS like Dumbledore? Throwing Harry into stuff, yelling all the time, being so angry. It was horrible. Gambon only got decent during the ‘eulogy’ and the final speech with Harry in the dorms, but it was already way too late for that. And he didn’t explain Priori Incantatem to Harry! That wasn’t Michael Gambon’s fault, but that annoyed me about as much as not explaining the Marauders in the previous movie.

Another thing was that they cut out too much. The movie was very choppy. It was like they went from big scene to big scene without much middle ground, and they extended what did not need to be extended (like the first task). Too much importance was also placed on the Yule Ball. The entire middle of the movie is dedicated to it. I think there’s maybe one chapter in the book. Rita Skeeter became nothing more than an annoying journalist, and her animagus subplot was cut, which affected what could be done in the next movie with her (she had to be cut out). Dobby was also cut from the movie, which basically messed up the rest of his stuff for the series (I feel bad for who gets stuck with movie 7). All of Dobby’s stuff was given to Neville. And although Neville had a bigger and more important role in this movie, the stuff about his parents was given a throw-away line that you can barely hear over the commotion of the court room… and the blame was placed on Crouch Jr. instead of Bellatrix (as she was cut from this movie, too). I could go on, but let’s just put it this way… the first 200 pages of the book was shortened to the first 15 minutes of the movie. The rest of the movie is like that, too.

But while they did zip and rush through it, they didn’t remove the point of the book, which was Lord Voldemort’s return. They kept important scenes, as well as fan favorites (Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret). So, to me, that makes it a slight improvement (slight) over Prisoner of Azkaban.

This one gets a Stop Saying Okay! Okay.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Before I get into it, I just want to say that I give Michael Goldenberg (the new screenwriter) and David Yates (the director) awesome props for what they did with this movie. Not a lot of people stop to think about what they had to work with, and a lot of the insane fanboys and girls get on my nerves reading some of the things they say about this movie. First of all, they could only work with what they had been given from previous movies, which wasn’t a whole lot. It would have been tough to include Dobby due to Goblet. It would have been confusing to do the Fidelius Charm on Grimmauld Place, as it was cut from Prisoner. There were numerous things that they couldn’t do because the previous movies screwed them over, which now takes me into the review.

The Good: This movie was amazing with its continuity. For once, it felt like it belonged to a series and was connected with the rest of the movies. Not only did Yates use clips from all of the previous movies, but he mentioned them as well in dialogue. It brought back the moving staircases from the early movies. It brought back the giant clock thing from Prisoner. It also brought back the door locks from Prisoner. There were just so many little things that makes you realize how much effort Yates put into making this movie. The movie was also very visually stunning, and it kept the point of the books.

The acting was phenomenal. Newcomer Evanna Lynch EMPITOMIZES Luna Lovegood, and Imelda Staunton as Umbridge was a perfect match, as well. Helena Bonham Carter was also my personal choice for Bellatrix, and she did it amazingly, too. The other characters were done well, too. Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint were pushed to the limit, and Dan especially pulled it off. This was his best performance to date (that possession scene rocked). Emma Watson wasn’t annoying, either. Her hair was a bit bushier again, and her bookwormness was hinted at a bit. Hell, even Alfie Enoch (Dean Thomas), who is normally atrocious in his one or two lines, pulled off a great couple lines in this one. Finally, in the acting, Michael Gambon. For the most part, he was decent. His entrance at the trial was great, and just how I’d imagine it. Though, I do have a few things to say about him, but I’ll save those for later.

While the movie didn’t go in the order that the book did, everything important was still there (for the most part). Yates and Goldenberg were able to mix scenes in the book together to shorten time. Yates was able to relay important information through the newspaper montages without taking up too much time. Overall, he was able to take almost every single important thing from the book and put it into the movie without it feeling too choppy. The one thing that blows my mind is when all the crazy fanboys and girls utterly despise Yates for cutting out Quidditch. It was a HUGE part of the book, but it wasn’t an IMPORTANT part of the book. Cutting out Quidditch cut out at least 300 pages or so from the close-to-900-page book. There was nothing vital about Quidditch in the book that needed to be in the movie. In all honesty, this was a weighty book where almost nothing of vital importance happens.

The Bad: One scene with Dumbledore/Michael Gambon. Right after the Trelawney sacking scene, he yells at the kids “Don’t you have homework to be doing?” or something along those lines. Was that line SERIOUSLY needed? Come on. Another thing would be Mrs. Figg. She was a cute old lady, but that was NOT the Figg in the book. The Figg in the book was yelling all the time and going nuts.

The Ugly: Snape’s Worst Memory. This was a big letdown. They took one of the greatest parts of the book and brought a chainsaw to it. It was literally only about 30 seconds long. That’s gonna come back and bite the 7th movie director in the butt. Also, leaving out the locket (and possibly Mundungus Fletcher) is going to bite the final director in the butt, too. The only other complaint I have is the final ‘Dumbledore’s Office’ scene. It was about 3 minutes long and didn’t explain everything it needed to explain. It didn’t explain much about the Prophecy. It didn’t include Neville’s link to it (which was upsetting, but understandable). And on that note, part of the prophecy was actually CUT OUT. It seriously can’t be THAT much of a pain to include an extra couple lines, can it? Anyway, the office scene could have been much longer and explained a lot more, like it was supposed to.

Overall, I felt that any real issue with the movie was Michael Goldenberg’s fault, not Yates (since Goldenberg wrote it. Yates just works with what was written). I thought Yates did an amazing job with what he was given, and I’m psyched about the next movie, which he’s tackling, too.

I give this one a Keanu ‘Whoa’.

So all in all, what would I consider my favorites of the series in order?

Order of the Phoenix
Chamber of Secrets
Sorcerer’s Stone
Goblet of Fire
Prisoner of Azkaban

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