Deciding to start mood reading and to reread Harry Potter during the holidays was the easiest decision I have ever made. Deadlines, shmeadlines. Sometimes a girl just has to read what she wants. Originally, I had not planned to rewatch the films during this little personal event, but after finishing the first two books, I decided it was the perfect thing to do to bring out the Christmas spirit in me.
Then I decided to chronicle this event with this post. Basically I want to discuss rereading/rewatching and whether the magic still exists, what resonated with me, what I didn’t like (if anything). In a way, mini book reviews, but more from an emotional perspective than an analytical one. I want something to come back to next time I decide to reread this legendary series. And you know I will. I have not reread it nearly enough times as it is.
I have decided to break this post up into two parts. The first part covers Years 1-4. The second will cover the rest. It’s just too long already and I’ve just finished typing up Year 3.
There are spoilers in this post. You have been warned. If you have not read this series by now…I don’t even know what to say to you. LYNNNNNN.
The Book: This is and will always be one of my favorite books in the series. I know it’s a lot of exposition, it gets us ready for what is to come, but there is something magical about being introduced to Hogwarts and all the other magical places for the first time. Who can forget Harry entering Diagon Alley for the first time? His first flying lesson? The very beginning when he is placed on the Dursley’s doorstep by McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Hagrid? The sorting hat ceremony? Our first introduction to Nearly Headless Nick, Peeves, Filch, and Mrs. Norris? The first Christmas spent at Hogwarts? Hagrid bringing Harry his first birthday cake and putting a tail on Dudley? All of this is unforgettable. I never remember the detail in books. But there is detail in this book that I will never, EVER, forget.
The plot itself is nothing particularly special. But it is not the plot of this book that makes it what it is anyway. It’s the building of a world with distinctive, special characters that resonates with the reader anyway. At least it was for me.
The Film: On the film front though, this is my least favorite, I think. It will be interesting after I have watched them all again to see if I feel the same way. And as cute as Harry, Hermione, and Ron are when they are all little and innocent, the film feels more like a highlight reel of the book than it does a film with a story that stands alone. Basically, it doesn’t flow. Watching it, I just felt it was super choppy. The beginning is actually pretty okay, but once Harry gets to Hogwarts, it lost some of the magic. That is not to say that I disliked it. Oh no. I could never dislike anything HP-related. I just feel it could have been more smooth. The other thing I noticed was that some of the acting felt a bit stilted, and it is no surprise that the poor acting came from the kids. I don’t blame them though. Wasn’t this like everyone’s first time on screen? They did wonderfully with the experience they had to work with, but it is something I had to note. Obviously I loved the book more here, but the movie is still worth watching for the nostalgia and for seeing some of your favorite book scenes come to life.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ~
The Book: I feel like this is a lot of readers least favorite Harry Potter book. Mine is The Half-Blood Prince for obvious reasons, but I actually really love this one. It continues the magic of the first, still has a fairly lighthearted tone, and contains some of my favorite scenes from the series: The Whomping Willow and the arrival at Hogwarts in the flying car, the release of Dobby from The Malfoy household, The Polyjuice potion, Harry arriving and staying at The Burrow. There’s also a lot that I find annoying though: I cannot stand Gilderoy Lockheart, and I was never a huge fan of Ginny Weasley. This is probably my 5th least favorite book of the series–I dislike Half-Blood Prince and Azkaban more. It’s all relative though because I still love this series more than most things in my life.
My favorite thing is the friendship growth between Harry, Ron, and Hermione in this one though. That stands out as does the scenes in the Forbidden Forest and the Camber of Secrets. Aragog. And who can forget Moaning Myrtle? Jesus Christ is she annoying. 😛
The Film: I pretty much LOVED this film. And I was shocked by how much I did, because I remember loving the first film much more the first time I saw them. It’s just that…I love Dobby. I love the Quidditch scenes. I love the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets and how it is portrayed in the film. I love Hogwarts at Christmas, hence my scheduling this post on Christmas Ever. Basically, I just love the adaptation here and I think it was directed and constructed brilliantly, which is a wonder considering the director here is the same one from the first film!
Oh, also, I love the shit out of Hermione in this film. She has some of the best lines, and her story arc is fun and brilliant. She is fast becoming my favorite character, not that she wasn’t before.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ~
The Book: This is my 6th least favorite book of the series. I know a lot of people love it and even consider it their favorite, which is cool, but I am not a fan of time travel plotlines. I love Hermione’s badassness in this, but having to deal with an animal in peril is not one of my favorite things ever. I still love J.K Rowling’s writing, and the Sirius Black storyline plus the secret passage and trips to Hogsmeade are brilliantly done. And we also see the introduction of Remus Lupin, who is one of my favorite characters.Also, I loved the Knight Bus scene at the beginning and the Dementors are deliciously creepy. So most of it is good! But the last third of the book is just not something that I love.
Though I do love the shit out of the Marauder’s Map. This book is worth it for that alone.
The Film: I just finished watching this and I have to say I am kind of disappointed. Once again, I loved Hermione’s badassness but this film just strays too far from the book, in my opinion. I loved how the scenes were interpreted, but so many little things were changed that didn’t need to be. An example, to my annoyance, is when Hermione leaves the Divination classroom; why did a crystal ball need to roll out after her? Harry taking it back just seems really off the wall and jammed in there–this is how he finds out about Pettigrew’s return to Voldemort, rather than during his final exam with Professor Trelawney. Also stupid? Hermione howling like a wolf in the end to distract the werewolf. Unnecessary. Why could they not have stuck with the book on these simple issues? I wasn’t a fan. I think as a whole the film was entertaining, but I can’t imagine this was one that book purists were satisfied with. As magical as it was, I was not. Especially since they severely cut the Diagon Alley scenes in the beginning–also why does Harry not receive the Firebolt until the end of the film? Really irritating.
But I loved the Boggart scenes. And Harry learning the Patronus Charm with Lupin. This is where Harry truly begins to grow into his own and become a powerful wizard.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ~
The Book: Ahhhhh, my second favorite book in the series. At least it was. I still like it quite bit but it doesn’t quite hold the magic it did for me the last time I read it. I’m having a tough time pinpointing why that is, to be honest. I think this is one of those books where, once you know what is going to happen, some of the suspense and fantasy wears off. At this point I can say that Chamber of Secrets is still my favorite book. Which is kinda weird because I feel like it’s a lot of readers’ least favorite book of the series.
Finally I can be the black sheep on something. It’s something I have always wanted.
That said, there were things I did love. Make no mistake, this is still like a 4 star book for me. This is not me disliking it, this is me liking it less than other books in the series but not ALL other books.
I love the Tri-Wizard stuff. Especially the 2nd task but I also love when Harry fights the dragon. I love Mad-Eye Moody even though he’s not really Mad-Eye Moody. I really noticed the absence of Quidditch though. I loved the World Cup stuff in the beginning, which brings me to the MOVIE. GRUMBLE.
The Film: Thanks for all the lovely stuff on the Quidditch World Cup, director! Oh wait! There WASN’T ANY. You bastard. You left the best parts of the book out! The happy parts! The stuff that really mattered to the plot, actually. You know how Harry sat in the Minister’s box in the book? Leaving that out of the movie really screwed up everything because it pissed me off. They didn’t give a SHIT about staying true to the source material. And why leave it out? It didn’t make anything BETTER.
Listen, I know that this is a LONG book. I know that they had to leave stuff out to fit it into a decent time frame so we weren’t all sitting there for six hours. But this was not the way to do it. That wasn’t the only thing that pissed me off, but that was what set the stage for the rest of the garbage to come.
And okay, I didn’t hate it all. The movie was really suspenseful when it came to the tournament stuff. But I don’t like how they showed us who the antagonist was right at the BEGINNING instead of leaving it for us to guess like the book did. That was freaking stupid. And it ruined the tension.
I also didn’t appreciate how the dragon scene was interpreted. The CGI was cool, okay, but wow did this movie ever stray too far from the source material. As exciting as it was, it was disappointing for a lover of the books.
Though I WILL give them credit for the maze and the rebirth of Lord Voldemort and all those scenes at the end. They were well done. At least we have that.
The second part of this post will come next week on New Year’s Eve.