Why I Don’t Like the Harry Potter Movies

Posted: July 25, 2007 in Movies

As a Harry Potter devotee, I had confidently expected to like the films as much as I adored the books. I should have known better, really, because rarely have I liked a film as much as I did the book on which it was based, but there you are, the magic of Harry Potter has addled sounder minds than mine.

The thing about all the HP movies is that they are so dumbed down. In all the marketing hoopla, it is easy to miss the fact that J.K. Rowling actually writes neat, tight prose and has an excellent eye for detail.

And that’s what I miss most in the HP movies — the subtlety and the details. I can understand that with Chris Columbus at the helm, Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets were not expected to be exercises in subtlety (they were meant for genuinely young audiences anyway), and I thought Alfonso Cuarron redeemed the franchise a great deal in the darker Prisoner of Azkaban, as did Mike Newell in Goblet of Fire and Michael Yates in Order of the Phoenix, but the fact is that the films are too busy being Hollywood spectacles to be real narratives.

There is barely any scope for human emotions, and virtually nothing left to the viewers’ imagination. Take OoTP, with its ensemble cast of some of the finest talents in British filmdom. I thought it a crime to waste the outstanding Emma Thomson as Sybill Trelawney, and the delicious Alan Rickman gets hammier by the day as Snape. Helena Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange is yet another exercise in theatricality, and the gorgeous Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort could have been anyone, really. Other than the superb Imelda Staunton (remember her in Sense and Sensibility?), no one lives up to potential.

The point is, since we all accept that HP IV through VII are not exactly meant for the youngest readers, why not make the films toe that line instead of populating them with cardboard characters as is the custom in children’s films?

Needless to say, I do not await the film version releases of Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows with any sense of anticipation.

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