I firmly believe that Harry Potter has been one of the greatest things to have happened to the literary world in the 21st century. The books were not merely words written on a piece of paper; they were a lot, lot more. They defined an entire generation – just as the greybeards proudly proclaim theirs to be the Star Wars or The Lion King generation. There is also a slight irony here – the books were the platform 9 and 3/4 for your imagination to be transported in a fiefdom of magic and other wonderful things. Then someone came up with the paradisiacal idea of making the movies into films. This could have been a ‘Eureka!’ moment but unfortunately, all we got was a damp squib.

Doing justice

When expectations made of Lego blocks are stacked as high as Mt. Everest, it very difficult to live up to them. The Harry Potter movies believed it to be their onus to justify this.

While going into the theaters, people went in with their heads pre-blown by the books, and once pre-blown becomes very difficult to be re-blow. Unarguably, what J.K. Rowling created out of thin air was stuff of legends. This made the onerous task of living up to those expectations nigh impossible. When the movies were finally churned out, the books made the poor things to look like the ugly duckling, which was hardly their fault.

 

Whose role is it anyway?

You can’t expect Paul McCartney to redeem a song when half of it has already been sung by Justin Bieber

That is what happens to the Harry Potter films. The first film was directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone). So was the second. The keys to the third were handed over to Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men). Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco) took control of the fourth movie. And David Yates was finally left to clean up the mess and finish the job for the remaining movies. One question – why?

Individually, the first three directors have an impressive field-record. Chris Columbus had displayed his penchant towards making childrens’ movies through Mrs. Doubtfire and the first two parts of Home Alone. Alfonso Cuaron was a comparative neophyte, so handing the baton to him defied ratiocination. But, contrary to expectations, Cuaron sprung a surprise. Then, he too was boorishly pulled out and Mike Newell was put in charge. Newell was by far the most experienced of his predecessors. He was allowed to make one part before being replaced as well, and a mysterious David Yates was made to fill the gigantic vacuum.

In this confusion of directors, by the end, no one seemed to have a clear idea as to what was happening. All they had to do was establish a consummate director at the helm for eight parts and let him make a clean-incision of it, the way Nolan did for the current Batman series, or Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings. Instead of that, all we got was roughly decapitated Nearly-Headless Nick.

   

Hacked limbs

The respective directors ruthlessly amputated parts from the books making the movies. Instead, any Harry Potter aficionado would have preferred sitting in the theater for another twenty minutes just to experience the film in its entirety; the way it ought to have been made.

They even had the audacity to disembowel the Quidditch World Cup final in the fourth part. Thou shalt ne’er be forgiven!

No standout

Every Harry Potter book had something that really stood out, making it exceptional in its own right. Nothing from the movies is able to accomplish this feat. The movies, if seen together, just appear a farrago of characters, magic, dangerous creatures among other things, with there being nothing to distinguish them from each other.

If you had to pick just a single Potter flick, you wouldn’t be able to do so mainly because all of them are so similar and mediocre. None of them have left any lasting impressions; at least for me.

Character Problemos

There isn’t a paucity of films that have features child-prodigies as their protagonists – Linda Blair as Regan in The Exorcist, Haley Osment as Cole in The Sixth Sense – for the sake of exemplifying. The case doesn’t hold true for any of the Harry Potter movies.

Instead of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint becoming the toast of the town for their phenomenal performances (yes, phenomenal, anything less is a sacrilege), they get overwhelmed by the characters they are trying to portray. No one remembers Radcliffe as Harry. They remember Harry as Harry himself. The trio threw the best opportunities of their lifetimes to the wind, which is just a pity.

Also, Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory? Does no one see what that led to?

Feeble Finale

Harry Potter had the most touching finale I had ever read (Dobby, NOOOOOOO!), but even more touching was the fact that this saga was nearing it ultimate termination. By the end, I had more goose pimples than a porcupine’s spikes. Emotions reached a crescendo; many a tears were shed.

Then came the second ending, in the theaters. Characters were killed and nothing happened. Harry won, nothing. Voldemort (SPOILER!) died, nothing. It ended, nothing.

WHAT THE FUCK?

 Any movie, by default, is more capable of rendering you into a helpless mass of tears than a book. Yet Harry Potter 7.2, as people I wish I didn’t know often call it, failed miserably here. Everything came across as merely a formality that had to be completed. The distaste with which the martyrdom of Sirius, Hedwig, Fred, Lupin, Tonks and a plethora of others was treated with was the only reason that I felt like crying for. A grave injustice had been done to them and their memories.

 They tried, and let’s give them credit for that. Certain things were almost as stunning as they were in the book – Harry’s introduction to Hogwarts, his first Quidditch victory, Gryffindor winning the first House cup, the battle with the Basilisk, Sirius’s death, Dumbledore’s final misery along with Ralph Fiennes’ convincing, yet grossly underutilized performance, gave enough reasons for one to be infatuated with the movie.

 They even tried to impress the viewers with some breathtaking special effects, but Dobby is Cinderella’s dress, is still the grimmy, dirty, old Dobby.

 

  • http://twitter.com/AP00RV4 Apoorva Gavarraju

    I couldn’t have agreed with you more, man. You just echoed a million people’s thoughts. 

  • Anurag

    Alfonso Cuaron ‘defied ratiocination’?
    Check out ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’

  • Sid

    I agree we all have our peeves with the movies. Yet they are so much better than so many others. With 8 films, massive studio pressure, billions of fans’ sometimes contradictory expectations, and the unpredictability of working with child actor’s, one has to give Warner Bros credit for doing a lovely job. Also, if you consider Harry Potter, as embedded it is in a generation’s conscience, to be the absolute epitome of literary achievement, how would one ever adapt War & Peace, or Lord of the Flies, or Gatsby? Film adaptation, ought to be a translation of art into another medium, not its’ carbon copy. Though I wouldn’t say no to the 7 season TV series. Ah, if only they could go Game of Thrones on HP, we could finally see a SPEW meeting in action.