Knowing my fiance would be visiting for 3 weeks, a few months ago I decided on something that up to that point I’d told myself I’d keep avoiding like the plague. The decision I made was to watch all 8 Harry Potter films with him, having only seen the first 3 through various means and never having read the books. I felt like since the hype train surrounding them had long died down, I could give them another chance and dive into that universe. Well, having seen Part 2 of the final film last night, I can safely say it was a worthwhile decision.
Anything differing between the movies and books were essentially filled in by my fiance as we watched, though I still view the movies as a movie-goer and not a fan. Because of this, it made it hard sometimes to figure out if the flaws were just the movie’s or an extension of J.K. Rowling’s writing. Sometimes it was both in an effort to keep the movie faithful to the book. For example, we both agreed that having a maze be the final Triwizard challenge felt like it was more up to chance than actual skill like the previous two were. Even if that hadn’t been carried over from the book, I would’ve still taken issue with it.
Another problem I found was that some characters were either underutilized or barely had relevance to the story. The character Tonks, a member of the Order and apparently Remus Lupin’s lover, doesn’t get a whole lot of screentime. While I found her cool, I kept hoping for more from her character that I didn’t ultimately get. Even popular characters like Draco Malfoy seemed to have little to do, especially in earlier films. I was always under the impression that he was being built up as a threat for the later films, but even in those he does very little in the grand scheme of things. They even left the fate of Wormtail aka Peter Pettigrew up in the air, when I would’ve liked to see him get his comeuppance after appearing in the majority of the series. I do know the circumstances of his death now and why it was removed, but considering adaptations like to alter things, I don’t think it would’ve been too much to ask to have a resolution for his character. These are all nitpicky points, but you expect a bit of closure for reoccurring characters.
Of the series, I still consider “Prisoner of Azkaban” my favorite, as it was a turning point in the films and also featured characters I still like, such as Sirius Black, Lupin and Buckbeak. It also had one of the tightest cases of time travel I’ve seen in a while, which was fun to watch. That’s not to say the others weren’t enjoyable, of course, but I did find both “Half-Blood Prince” (except for the ending) and “Deathly Hallows Part 1” to kinda spin their wheels a bit. In “Half-Blood”, a good chunk of the film is devoted to Harry trying to get a memory from one of his professors, and in “Deathly Hallows”, he, Hermione and Ron are forced to go on the run for most of the movie. Again, they weren’t bad, but they felt a bit less fun to watch at times than some of the other films.
With all that said, this series was well-done all around. The casting felt right throughout, the acting and effects only got better and better, the story got more interesting and dark with each twist and turn, and the Potterverse as a whole was well-thought out and a lot of fun to explore. While I still don’t feel it’s my favorite series or adaptation and I have no plans to try to read the books, I now feel almost ashamed for insulting this series back when it was in the height of popularity. I realize now that, in light of adaptations like “Twilight” and the upcoming “50 Shades of Grey”, it had that extra bit of creativity and solid writing to stand out above many others.
Now, on a sadder note, yesterday we lost a comedy legend. Robin Williams was a big part of my childhood, appearing in movies I liked such as “Aladdin”, “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Hook.” He’s one of those comedians who felt untouchable, who was bursting with energy and silliness and couldn’t be stopped for a second. When I learned later in life that he was a huge nerd on top of it all, especially for “The Legend of Zelda” series, it only cemented my admiration and respect for the man. This is the second time this year someone I thought had their life together sadly did not, and it only makes this whole thing sadder for me. But, as with many public figures, what ultimately matters is not how they left us (although depression is never to be taken lightly), but the legacy they left us with. And Robin’s was a big one, one that left an impact on fellow comedians and fans alike. I hope he’s found peace, and that he knows he’ll never be forgotten for generations to come.