It’s hard to believe, but nearly a decade after J.K. Rowling’s massively successful fantasy series made the leap from page to screen with the 2001 release of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, we are finally reaching the end of one of the most popular movie sagas in cinema history. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 is already in theaters, with PART 2 – the conclusion – on its way early next year. And then we’ll have only memories … and books and DVDs and countless other bits of ephemera.
As with all book-to-film adaptations, especially with a sprawling, magical epic like this one, there are many occasions where the films diverge from their source material. Sometimes they get it just right; sometimes not so much. And sometimes, they flat-out omit something for purposes of leaner storytelling, running time, or other production considerations. But where did all these HARRY POTTER movies best capture their novel roots? What parts of the books were woefully ignored? Here are our picks; your mileage may vary, of course.
FIVE THINGS THEY ADAPTED WELL:
1) THE WAND BATTLE
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX excelled in capturing the sheer frenetic energy of an all-out magical battle between good and evil. Who knew wands could look so cool?
You can’t have a successful saga without a great villain, and after a number of movies teased his arrival, Voldemort’s resurrection in HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE introduced us to a perfectly realized reptilian monster that sends chills up our spines.
3) THE TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT
Almost exactly as it is in the book, this competitive sequence was picturesque, suspenseful, and introduced us to Cedric Diggory (aka Robert Pattinson) long before he became everyone’s favorite sparkly vampire.
4) LUNA LOVEGOOD
All praise the casting of Evanna Lynch, a dead-on match for the winsome and bewildering Luna. In a sea of bizarre characters (many of whom were definitely cast well), Lynch’s Lovegood looks like she stepped right out of the novels.
Love them or hate them, the Quidditch matches are part of the pageant of life at Hogwarts, and the films have done a great job of bringing them to buzzing, whirling life with an underlying sense of menace.
FIVE THINGS THEY SADLY LEFT OUT:
1) MOONY, WORMTAIL, PADFOOT AND PRONGS
Although the third film gave us that cool map that allowed Harry to track down Peter Pettigrew, we never did get to hear about its origins and the team of Animagi that consisted of Peter, Sirius Black, James Potter and Remus Lupin.
2) SNAPE’S PAST
We could fill a book with all the things they left out of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE … although J.K. Rowling already did that. But we sure could have used some flashbacks to fill us in on Snape’s past, especially his relationship with James and Lily Potter.
3) PEEVES ETC.
A great many characters have been left out of the films, some with good reason, some for reasons of expediency. The recurring presence of Hogwarts poltergeist Peeves is missed, though there was supposedly a scene shot for the first film and discarded. And what about the Bloody Baron and the Grey Lady?
We know he did turn up in the second film, but he was left out of subsequent films to the serious detriment of the developing storyline as found in the books. How are we going to feel the right emotional impact when Dobby does return in this new film?
5) LUPIN AND TONKS
ORDER OF THE PHOENIX missed out on giving us some background for the reason why good ol’ Lupin seems to have a girlfriend (eventually wife!) in the form of shape shifter Tonks.