On the day after the release of Deathly Hallows Part 1, I would like to discuss the previous installments. I did something similar right before Half-Blood Prince came out, where I gave my Top 10 Worst Things About Harry Potter Films 1-5. Like before, this post will largely be comparitive to the books, and I'll just be talking about the ones already out on DVD (i.e. the first six). Also, a couple things from that list might overlap with this post, but I'll try to keep it mostly new.
-OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO FLITWICK?! Besides the obvious complete makeover, he's been turned from the Charms professor to the choir teacher. Right.
-Cho Chang. She's actually introduced in this book, but it's within the Quidditch subplot that was cut. We start seeing Harry's crush on her here.
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-He's become affectionately known as RBK... that is, Random Black Kid. He apparently belongs to Gryffindor house in the same year as Harry. If they wanted to give stilted lines to a black student in Harry's year, just give it to Dean Thomas. He's horribly underused in the films as it is.
-Freeze frame blur? Really?
YEAR 4: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
So, Nick, if the critically panned Chamber of Secrets or your personally panned Prisoner of Azkaban aren't what you think are the worst film of the series, what is? Well, dear reader... this one. It does a couple things right, and even one thing amazingly well (the Graveyard scene), but everything else is just so... rushed. It's the first "big" book of the series. They also were tempted to split it into 2 films. But Alfonso Cuaron talked them out of doing it, despite him not coming on to direct the installment. It probably would have been a good idea.
-Wormtail? Why are you calling Peter Pettigrew Wormtail? Oh, that's right. You didn't explain that in the last movie, and you're not bothering to do it in this one, either. So let's just toss it in and see if any non-book readers get confused.
NOTABLE EXCLUDED CHARACTERS
-Fleur Delacour... what? She might as well have been. OK, fine... ignore this one.
-Bertha Jorkins. There's an entire subplot about a Ministry official named Bertha Jorkins that goes missing, though they think she just got lost because she's really ditsy. Her characters' entire purpose was how Wormtail got Voldemort at least partially alive and into his little weirdo baby form.
-Ludo Bagman. There's a red herring subplot involving Ludo Bagman and the Weasley twins. You're meant to think it was Ludo who put Harry's name in the Goblet, but it just turns out Fred and George won a gamble against Ludo and he paid them in fake money, but he wouldn't meet with them to pay up.
-Dobby and Winky. Yup... believe it or not, Dobby comes back after the second book (and prior to the 7th). He reappears in Goblet of Fire working in the kitchens of Hogwarts as a free elf. Winky is a house elf that belongs to the Crouch family at the beginning, but they free her (much to her chagrin), and she's put up in the kitchens, as well. Her distress (and drunkenness) sets off Hermione to start up one of the more annoying subplots of the book series--S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. But most of Dobby's point in the book was handed off to Neville (who also took this position in the next film, as well).
-Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix is first introduced in the Pensieve scene. In the movie, we just get Karkaroff. In the book, we get a few different prisoners, including Bellatrix, who is the one to admit to torturing Neville's parents along with Barty Crouch Jr.
-Bill Weasley. He has a short scene as a judge during the first task, but it's an important scene due to Fleur and, well... what you'll see in the seventh film.
-Peeves. He has a good suspense scene in this one, but as he was never introduced, he couldn't be in it.
-The Dursleys. Yup, for the first time in the series, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley were cut from the films. This was a funny one, too, as the Weasley's come to pick up Harry so he can stay at their place for the rest of the summer. Well, they come via Floo Powder, but after the letter fiasco from the first book, the Dursleys sealed up their fireplace. After literally breaking into their living room, the Weasleys totally freak out the Dursleys... not to mention Fred and George slip Dudley some Ton-Tongue Toffee, which makes his tongue grow to an obscene size.
-There's so much that it buggered up that it's hard to remember everything. Let's start with Rita Skeeter's shortened role. There was a huge subplot with Rita and how she was getting a lot of information for her column. As it turns out, she was an unregistered animagus spying on them as a beetle. Hermione uses this as blackmail later, but we'll get to that.
-Why was so much time spent on the Yule Ball? That was one mere chapter in the book, and it takes up a huge chunk of the movie.
-They could have easily cut down the dragon challenge. There would be no way they wouldn't enchant the chain so that it can't break. There would be no way they would let a dangerous dragon chase Harry Potter of all people across the school where they can't keep an eye on him or protect him, especially since he's not even supposed to be involved. It makes no sense on any level.
-They really changed up the maze challenge. The book had sphinxes and giant spiders and all sorts of nasty things.
-Speaking of the maze, Krum had the imperious curse on him. The point of said curse is that nobody can tell you are cursed and they can make you do whatever they want. So why did they have to fog up his eyes? That takes away the point.
-The death of Crouch Sr. was so boring as compared to the book. In the book, his body goes missing and you find out later that he was killed and then transfigured into a bone so they couldn't find him as easily. But I guess they needed immediate reactions.
-In the book, Crouch Jr. gets the Dementor's Kiss and loses his soul. In the movie, he's just sent back to Azkaban. During the Azkaban breakout later on, that would probably put Crouch Jr. up there as Voldemort's right-hand man due to his success. Yet, he's never heard of again. I smell a plot hole!
-What the hell, Mike Newell? No Quidditch World Cup? Not even a few glimpses of it? Pfft... fine then.
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-Priori Incantatem. I could forgive a lot of this movie had they not screwed this up. Visually, it looks wonderful and the scene in the graveyard works great. However, Dumbledore doesn't explain WTF happened... at least in the movie. And this is hugely important for the final book. Voldemort and Harry's wands share the same core--a phoenix feather from the same phoenix (Fawkes). They're brother wands, which means they can't fight against each other. When they try, Priori Incantatem happens, where the "beams" crash and whatnot, and figments of previous spells show themselves in reverse order. They almost definitely need to have this explained in Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Update: They pretty much do... not referencing Priori Incantatem, but referencing how they can't use their wands against each other).
-Hermione blackmailing Rita. Because the animagus thing is never visited, neither is Hermione holding it over Rita's head. Because this happens, the most important news article in the whole series can't be written in the next film.
-No Bill Weasley. Because there's no Bill, Fleur can't exactly meet him...
-Where's the prize money? Since Harry didn't get any prize money for winning the tournament in the movie, he couldn't give it to the Weasley twins. Therefore, they have no money to start making Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products, nor any money to start up the store by the sixth film.
-What's with the random, no-point-to-it scene of Karkaroff going into the Great Hall just to check on the Goblet? It's obviously a red herring, but once you take that factor out, there's no real reason for him to be doing that to begin with.
-Could they have made it any more obvious that Crouch Jr. was disguised as Moody with the whole tongue thing? What the hell was that all about?
-Speaking of Moody, what's with the strap? Moody has no strap for his eye!
-Completely random, but it's always bugged me that at the end of the Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing Ferret scene, Moody's walking stick goes from crooked to straight between frames.
-Nigel. Oh, Nigel, Nigel, Nigel... couldn't they have just re-casted Colin Creevey? Or introduced him as Dennis, Colin's little brother? Oh well... I guess Nigel has just become a brand new character for the films.
-This was the book where Harry really began to connect with Sirius. In the movie, Sirius has one (really poorly done) scene, and that's it. That kind of leaves it up to the next film to set up their relationship.
-ANGRY DUMBLEDORE. WHY?
YEAR 5: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Oh, the introduction of David Yates. Yates seems to split people. Some think he's ruined the Potter films. I think they're crazy. I personally think Yates has made the best Potter films of the bunch. In fact, he managed to turn the longest, clunkiest book of the series into the shortest film, and tell it pretty straightforwardly at that. But does it have issues? Sure... let's get into them.
-I actually think one of Yates' strengths is his brilliant eye for continuity. He's brought back things from every film, from the clocks and lock-down mechanisms in Prisoner of Azkaban to the moving staircases in the first two films and more. That being said, there are a couple things I want to bring up. First, it would be animalizing the centaurs. They're very bestial in this film, whereas Firenze wasn't as much so in the first film.
-Second, during the Dumbledore/Voldemort fight, the two wizards have a Prior Incantatem moment. This is impossible. The only way this could happen is if Dumbledore had picked up Harry's wand. For continuity purposes, this makes no sense.
NOTABLE EXCLUDED CHARACTERS
-Frank and Alice Longbottom. There is an amazing scene in the book that takes place at St. Mungo's Hospital where Harry goes to visit Mr. Weasley after his attack. While he's there, he meets Neville, who is there visiting his parents, who are completely mentally destroyed. Neville still gets to explain this to Harry in a scene in the film, but it's not done nearly as heart-wrenching as in the book (all those gum wrappers...).
-Gilderoy Lockhart. Yup, that's right. Lockhart does make another appearance. He's at St. Mungo's while Harry is visiting with the Weasleys. It's a very funny moment right before the heartbreak of Neville's parents.
-Marietta Edgecomb. In the book, Marietta is the snitch, not Cho. She's Cho's friend, but she doesn't agree with Harry or his methods, finally giving in to Umbridge. She ends up having a bad curse placed on her by Hermione due to her breaking the rules of Dumbledore's Army. In the film, Cho is made slightly more sympathetic by having us see it done through Veritaserum.
-Aberforth Dumbledore. Aberforth is technically in the film, but they weren't completely aware it was Aberforth at the time. He's given almost nothing to do but chase a goat out of the room. Of course, his role was recasted for the final film, as it is slightly more substantial.
-Zacharias Smith. I think he was also kind of in the film, but under a different name. He's a total twerp and member of Hufflepuff. He's pretty anti-Harry, but he's a part of Dumbledore's Army.
-Peeves. I would have liked to see Peeves if just for this movie. During the Weasley twin escape, they tell Peeves--who has never listened to anybody ever--to "Give her hell from us." And he solutes them and does so. It's an epic moment that had to be lost thanks to the first film.
-Rita Skeeter. I mentioned her subplot here in the previous film. Hermione blackmails her into writing an article about Harry's side of the story (i.e. Voldemort's return), and they publish it in Luna's father's newspaper, the Quibbler. Of course, Umbridge has it banned from school, which only makes it skyrocket in popularity.
-Dobby. Again, he's in the book helping out Harry from time to time.
-Firenze. After Trelawney is fired, Firenze is hired on to take her position as a permanent sub, basically. He also continues this role in the next book, which causes some conflict between the two characters, having two teachers teaching the same subject and splitting the classes.
-The book's Ministry invasion was over 200 pages long and included multiple rooms and some really crazy stuff. The movie's Ministry invasion was... not. They went straight to the Hall of Prophecy and then to the Veil Room. It was already the shortest movie. They could have spent a good amount of time on this climax.
-The office scene at the end of the film is drastically different from the book. It doesn't bother me too much, except for one thing: the prophecy. It's not explained almost at all. And to top it off, they weren't even given the full prophecy. They actually cut out the most important part of the prophecy, the part that would have let Voldemort know who to go after. Without that part of the prophecy, Voldemort has absolutely no reason to know it could be about Harry (and actually, in the books, it could also be about Neville... which was totally removed from the movie, though I can understand why, I suppose). And none of this is explained. All we get is the "one of you must die" and "I love you, Harry."
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-There is actually a Horcrux clue in the book, but it's in a throw-away line during a chapter about cleaning, which... of course... was completely cut from the film.
-The reveal of Grimmauld Place is kinda lame, but they couldn't do it totally right due to no Fidelius Charm introduction in the third film.
-Speaking of Grimmauld Place, Sirius' mother's portrait was really toned down to almost nothing in the film, huh? Only a book fan would have even caught anything about it in the film.
-Tonks is given almost nothing to do... poor Tonks.
-Kreacher seems like a throw-away character at this point, again given nothing to do.
-The whole subplot surrounding Percy and his family has been completely dropped, much like the character in general, really. I guess there will be no redemption moment in the final film.
YEAR 6: HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
-I actually can't think of anything wrong with the continuity in this film. It actually fixes previous continuity errors. For instance, Flitwick, who only seemed to be a Charms professor in the first two films and a choir teacher in the rest... is once again referenced as a Charms professor, while doing choir on the side.
NOTABLE EXCLUDED CHARACTERS
-Madam Rosmerta. She had a part in Draco's plan that actually helps tie together a few very minor plot holes left by the film.
-The Gaunts. This is probably the biggest cut of the film. The Gaunts is a pensieve scene where we get to see Voldemort's parents and grandparents, as well as a couple other things.
-Hepzibah Smith. This was another marginal cut in the film for a pensieve scene that ties into another category, so I'll get to it later.
-Professor Trelawney. There's a pretty major scene where we find out how Trelawney was first hired, that she was the one who made Harry's Prophecy, and that Snape was the one that had overheard it and gone to Voldemort with the first half of the prophecy (which is all he had heard). Granted, as they cut out the bulk of the prophecy, it makes it kinda clunky as to what he could have heard to begin with.
-Firenze. I already mentioned why during the previous film's section.
-Dobby and Kreacher. The two house elves appear to help Harry keep track of Draco, as Harry becomes insanely obsessive about Draco's whereabouts and plotting throughout the book.
-The Dursleys. Yup, for the second time in the series, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley are absent from the film. And how sad, as this was a funny one. Dumbledore shows up at their house and totally messes with them (mentally and physically). He also has Kreacher appear to see if Grimmauld Place (and Kreacher) belong to Harry or Bellatrix.
-So... the Weasley's house burned down, huh? I can see why they added this scene in the film. It was a much-needed action sequence in an otherwise non-action film. Still, I've never decided how much I actually like its inclusion. Mostly, I'm not overly bugged by it.
-A ton of memory sequences were cut. The book has a handful of them. The movie only has about 2 or 3 main ones. I actually kinda miss the memories, as they give us Voldemort's history. And not only that, but they give us insight into the Horcruxes.
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-Due to the cutting and/or trimming of certain memory sequences, the majority of the Horcrux clues went missing. Hepzibah Smith's scene introduces us to one of the possible Horcruxes, as well as the possibility of what the others could be--objects belonging to Hogwarts Founders. What the "Young Tom Riddle" sequence doesn't set up is that Voldemort collects trophies from his most important victims. He sees value in prominent victory. And, like Harry, since Hogwarts was a major part of his life changing and it felt like home, it would be most logical that he'd find objects that belonged to its founders to use as Horcruxes. Of course, Slytherin's locket was introduced, though not as belonging to Slytherin. The ring is introduced, as well, but without the Gaunt sequence, we don't know its significance, either. We also know of his diary, but we don't learn that it was his first thanks to the death of a girl named Myrtle (to later become Moaning Myrtle). In other words, Harry is left to be even more in the dark in the films than he was in the books.
-The book doesn't focus on the Half-Blood Prince subplot much, either, though Hermione was more focused on trying to figure out who it was. In the movie, there's almost no curiosity of who it could be. I think if this were played up a bit more, the reveal at the end would have been stronger. There is no explanation in the film why Snape called himself the Half-Blood Prince, as Hermione does explain in the book. Overall, however, there's no real point to that whole subplot besides discovering Snape is a half-blood, so it didn't really bug me that much. It's just slightly strange in the film to go from little focus to "I am the Half-Blood Prince."
-Snape could have reacted stronger to Harry's "COWARD!" That's a huge moment in the book, and the fury from Snape at being called a coward is intense. The movie had almost no reaction to it.
-The movie didn't set up the Inferi... at all, really. The book has a few moments (including a Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson from Snape) about them, foreshadowing the end of the film.
-Speaking of DADA, the book only has one lesson from Snape in it, but the movie could have at least included it.
I'm sure I missed a ton in this. I know for a fact there were one or two things I wanted to mention in here somewhere, but I can't remember what they were. If you have anything else you'd like to make note of, please leave a comment!