First off, I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. Yes, yes, I am an avid reader, but there are countless books in the world, and I only have so many hours of my life. Harry has just never bubbled up to the top.
Now, with that out of the way, I can tell you I have watched all 8 HP movies. In a row. Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. And folks, these aren’t short movies.
Why did I do this? My wife wanted to. Thought it would be a fun way to just hang out and chill over the holiday. Fair enough, I thought. I had seen most of the first movie, and parts of the Goblet of Fire, and smidgeons here and there over the years, but I never really watched them.
I think the reason I never got into the HP love fest was because, after watching the first film, it seemed really aimed at kids (yes, yes! I know it’s a kids’ book, but so are a lot of other movies I have seen) and the story seemed to meander around and be just mini-scenes of fun stuff kids do at a school of magic, without much cohesiveness or plot continuity. Yeah, I’m a writer, I look for stuff like this. Maybe it’s because they had to boil the story down to its bare elements to get the movie across, but it felt like I was just hopping from one scene to the next with no over-arcing story in mind. If I was kid, then cool. I am not.
So, I came to this movie marathon with some measures of trepidation. But, I also came to it with an open mind. I mean, if so many people, kids and adults can fall in love with the story then there’s got to be something there, right?
So we watched the first four all in a row on Friday. Yeah, we sat around for almost 12 hours straight. Taking potty and food breaks as necessary.
The Sorcerer’s Stone–I enjoyed it more this time than the last. The sense of wonder and the feeling of poor Harry as you watch him live with his in-laws was fun and a good time. Still, the entire movie felt episodic. And what was the point of the Quidditch match?
The Chamber of Secrets–I have to be honest. I was completely bored during this movie. There was no sense of wonder. I kept looking at my watch, wondering when we could start the next movie. It was just all episodes of things that seemed very loosely connected. I found it hard to find the plot of this movie. I started noticing something that began the slow erosion of my hope of Rowling’s story-telling abilities.
The Prisoner of Azkhaban–This one was okay, but I was still bored. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I think I didn’t really care about the characters too much. Maybe? Still couldn’t figure it out…but my fears from the previous movie became glaring in this movie.
The Goblet of Fire–I liked this one the best. It was fun. I thought how they got Harry into the challenge was very contrived, but I shrugged and went along with it. It was a fun story, and I am definitely not team Edward, so it was good to see him die. To me, this was the best HP movie in the series.
The Order of the Phoenix–Meh. This one was boring too. I couldn’t get into it. All the back story of the Order and the SAME GLARING ERROR I saw in the other three movies was in this one too. (I will delve into this shortly). And once again, what’s with the Quidditch matches? They don’t really seem to serve any point but to have a bunch of kids fly around on brooms?
The Half-Blood Prince–Really? This movie blew chunks. And when we found out who the Half-blood prince was…um…it made no sense…and why would I care? This movie was just silly. The only fun was getting to see more of Voldemort. He is a fun bad guy.
Okay, so before I get to the final movie(s). I want to get something off my chest.
I first noticed this in the second movie, and then I watched for it. And I saw. A lot. And it ruined it. It was two things, really. Firstly: whenever Harry would get into any sort of pickle or problem, he NEVER USED HIS MAGIC. He either fortuitously dropped his wand, or was caught off guard and had to fight without his magic. Okay, maybe that’s what Rowling was going for. Some statement that magic isn’t the answer for everything. I dislike that to the Nth degree. This is a story about a boy wizard. THE FREAKING CHOSEN ONE. And yet, he never used his magic to get out of situations. Secondly: Harry never actually got himself out of any of the situations he was in. And this one was the deal killer for me. He always got help from an adult or an outside force. Every. Single. Effing. Time. Sure, he was brave going into these situations, but—VOILA! deus ex machina at the end of every problem. Once I spied these two items, I was able to call the end of every scene. And it ruined it for me, because the hero never won the fights at the end of the stories.
My wife finally had to tell me to shut up because I was like, “Oh, he’s about to drop his wand.” Then I would say, “Oh, Snape was in the cave and will now come out and save Harry from the werewolves.” or “Oh, which adult is going to magically appear and save him this time? Dumbledore? Hagrid? (who saved him in the alley and countless other times.) Rowling seemed to have an adult just standing around waiting to save Harry whenever he got in over his head. And that, to me at least, is lazy writing. Oh, and every new teacher was always either the bad guy or was involved in the plot. Maybe these things aren’t as apparent when you watch the movies apart or read them, but it was achingly apparent watching them all back-to-back. And Quidditch. What’s the point? Is it like obligatory? I don’t even understand the game. Why are there all the other players trying to make goals, when all that needs to be done is for the Seeker to grab the little golden ball? Huh? I was confused.
So I come to the finale. We schedule a time aside to watch The Deathly Hollows all at once. I was looking forward to it, because I wanted to see if Rowling actually had the hero not just be brave, but actually GET OUT OF THE FINAL PICKLE ON HIS OWN.
The first movie was a complete snorefest. I mean, they just hang out in the wilderness for a few weeks while they try to figure out the horcruxes? (And yeah, I figured out that Harry was one too). I was like…um…shouldn’t they be DOING something besides just hiding out in a tent? Then Ron gets mad, then Ron comes back. Exciting stuff. What was the point of him leaving to begin with?
An hour could have been cut from that movie.
I read somewhere that the DH part 2 was basically just an entire fight scene, so when it came time to start that one, I was finally excited. Boy, there were some good fight scenes, but there were a lot of boring crap too in the beginning.
And to be honest, I didn’t understand the ending of the movie at all.
They tell us Harry must die (which I guessed) which I was fine with.
So Harry opens up the seeker gold ball and (SHOCKING!) the resurrection stone comes out. Then he drops it. Huh? Then he goes to meet old Voldy. Voldy hits him with his wand. Harry gets hit. Then next we see Harry in the afterlife. Or, I guess we don’t, since Dumbledore tells him it’s all in his head, and he can go back if he wants to. (anti-climactic much?) So like…um…Harry didn’t need to die after all? Or did he die and then got brought back to life by the resurrection stone? What was the point of the resurrection stone? Was all this explained in the book? And then, when Drako’s mom comes over, she leans over Harry and says, “Drako, is Harry alive?” And Harry nods his head. I was so utterly and completely confused, I almost went to order the book online so I could read the ending for myself, because whoever the director of the movie was, he just made this hot mess of an ending that made zero sense. And what the hell was that bloody Voldemort mess under that table in the white dream Harry was having? Seriously! This is supposed to be a kids movie and all this complete and utter nonsense is taking place?! How is a 12 year old supposed to make sense of all this?
And then at the end, Harry and Voldy fight as Hermione and Ron kill the snake. As in: once again, someone else did the deed. Hell, the two lovers didn’t even kill the snake. Some spare with buck teeth from the rest of the movie did. What the hell!!?
Oh, and another thing: when Harry and his pals went into Bellatrix’s vault, where the GOBLIN TOLD THEM THERE WAS A FAKE VERSION OF THE SWORD, didn’t Harry throw him the fake version? The goblin wouldn’t have been able to tell in the heat of the moment.
Then we see 19 years later, Harry taking his kid to Hogwarts. Uh. Ok. Cool? *shrugs*.
I guess that’s my entire feeling of the Harry Potter movie series. Shrug.
We were in one scene where Harry and his pals were going to the Ministry of Magic, and no one in my living room could figure out why they were going there. My daughter (12) even said, “I don’t know why they do anything they do.”
Now will come all the people telling me I simply must read the books and that I will understand so much more after reading the books. And the books were so much better than the movies. Sure, sure. I get it. I get it BIG time. However, when I watched the Lord of the Rings movies…(even after reading the books) I could make sense of the story. I could understand what the stakes were and the ending (While somewhat anticlimactic) was good. The movies, while an interpretation of the books, are still their own entity and must tell a cohesive story on their own.
Am I one of the few who just don’t get it, or am I not giving it a fair shake because I am going strictly on the movies?