I am probably in the minority again, but up until this year I have never read or watched any of the Harry Potter books or movies. But I finally decided to give them a try and I can safely say that the books are far better than the movies, especially from Azkaban. I have watched all the movies and am working on finishing the last two books, so sorry if I miss anything obvious in the 3 lists I’m about to present. Also, it will be a crossover between the books and the movies, which will become evident once we delve into the bad stuff.
I figured I’d list 5 of each in this post, so let’s kick this off.
1. The very colorful universe
Truthfully, wizards and witchcraft are two subjects which have been used again and again in both cartoons and live action movies, but rarely does a universe have so much flavor and color as this one. From the original feel of the spells, due to the fact that they have different names than the classical ones, mostly Latin based to the large variety of colors and gimmicks such as house ghosts, magical and mythical creatures, which all have a role in the story, it’s truly a trip to a very magical place.
2. The power of friendship
This becomes even more evident starting with The Goblet of Fire, when Harry tells Cedric about the dragons and Cedric returns the favor with the whole golden egg hint. In Order of the Phoenix it jumps to the next level with the DA meetings and the final battle, where it’s not just Harry, Ron and Hermione, but many others including the adults from the Order.
3. The school nostalgia trip it takes you on
This one’s self explanatory, right? I mean you can’t help but feel nostalgic about your school years when watching this and as I’ve said in a previous post, the school years are actually some of the more important years in one’s life and are definitely filled with moments you will be remembering forever.
4. Minerva McGonagall
The adults at Hogwarts are kind of irresponsible most of the time, aside from Minerva McGonagall. She seems to be the only one that cares about student integrity (and I mean both physical and mental integrity), the only one that suggests Harry skip the Tri-Wizard Tournament, the one that protects the students when the Death Eaters take over etc. Plus, she stands up for her house students, but in a fair way (see also Snape for the exact opposite of this)
5. The wisdom of Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore made a few mistakes along the way, but most of the time he seemed like this wise old teacher you kind of wished you met during school. The one that was able to guide you through any and all challenges you might face and one of the few teachers not proud enough to admit he made a mistake (in Order of the Phoenix).
Now that we have the good out of the way, it’s time to look at the less successful parts of this franchise.
1. The Hogwarts curriculum (at least in the movies)
Seriously, it’s like these guys don’t learn anything useful…kind of like real life school to be honest. This is more evident in the movies though. Especially when Dobby dies. Is there NO spell that could mend his wound? Maybe it’s explained better in the books, as I’ve said, I still have 2 to go, but still…where are other useful spells for drying clothes when under water or ANY spells to protect themselves from jinxes?
2. Harry’s inability to do ANYTHING without help
For a main character, Harry is quite incapable of doing anything without some sort of help. Let’s take it movie by movie. In the Sorcerer’s Stone he manages to defeat Quirell because of Voldermort’s inability to touch him without burning, so there is that. But in Chamber of Secrets he goes into the Chamber without so much as a rock to his name in order to defend himself and has to rely on some sort of ex-machina in the form of Fawkes. In Azkaban he would have been screwed without Hermione and Albus Dumbledore. In Goblet of Fire, he would have been screwed without Hermione again (the summoning charm) and also without Hagrid, Cedric and fake Moody. While Fake Moody makes sense, as it was in his interest for Harry to win, the others…well, you get the idea. In Order of the Phoenix I get that the Order was needed because there were so many Death Eaters who had ambushed them at the Ministry. In the Half Blood Prince there wasn’t really anything he could do, Snape would have overpowered him easily should he have interviened. And in Deathly Hallows, he once again would have been screwed had it not been for Hermione.
3. The irresponsible adults
Seriously, apart from Minerva, every other adult is like: “meh, they’re kids and they’re dealing with things that even adults have trouble in mastering, what could go wrong?”. See any and all actions from Azkaban and beyond.
4. The incompetence of the Ministry of Magic
Seriously, J.K.Rowling must have really hated the Ministry when she was a teacher to have them portrayed as a bunch of buffoons with no grasp on reality. This is really evident in Order of the Phoenix (especially in the book, not so much in the movie), with Umbridge being the lead singer of the incompetence band.
5. The insane amount of info cut from the books in the movies post Chamber of Secrets
This really bugged me, because if you are a person who just wants to watch the movies, you’ll get really confused from Azkaban and beyond (more on that below).
And now, let’s lighten up with some of the more silly aspects I have noticed.
1. The unbelievable confusion created in the movies by leaving out important aspects from the books
Examples include Hermione asking Hagrid about the Buckbeak meeting result even though no meeting was mentioned before that, Neville randomly finding the Room of Requirement without people realizing why it would be needed, Remus’s son being mentioned even though you don’t really know who he had the son with (I mean, you kinda sorta get that it’s Tonks, but without no focus on it, it’s a shock), the random wedding at the beginning of Deathly Hallows even though you hardly knew Bill and Fleur were a thing.
2. Hermione’s hormonal rage in The Half Blood Prince (the movie)
I’m actually looking forward to see if this is a thing in the book, but I found her reactions to Lavender and Ron’s fling funny…and annoying at the same time. Lavender likes Ron, she goes and kisses him. You like Ron, you sit there sulking HOPING he realizes you like him without doing a thing and then get a hissy fit…flawless logic.
3. Filch dancing with his cat at the Yule Ball
I don’t think there is anything more to say about this.
4. The portrayal of Dolores Umbridge in…most of her scenes
In the book, Dolores Umbridge is the kind of person you want to strangle, beat with a bat and then strangle her some more until her annoying “ahem, ahem” sound becomes “choke, choke”. She was a sadistic teacher who enjoyed taking everything from students and who got drunk on power. In the movies she’s just…I dunno, nothing special. I mean yeah, she takes over Hogwarts but you don’t actually feel her enjoyment of torturing students. And the satisfaction of Hermione leading her to the centaurs is all but gone.
5. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named doesn’t really do anything that villainy up until the last movie (somewhat true also for the books)
Let’s sum up this guy’s adventures after Harry was born. He failed to kill a toddler, failed to kill the same toddler when he grew up to be a kid because of the same curse that backfired on him when the kid was a toddler, spends another almost 3 books getting back to his human-ish form, fails to kill the same kid AGAIN, this time in front of his groupies, fails to kill the same kid AGAIN at the ministry, gets rid of the only one he ever feared, fails to kill the kid AGAIN at the beginning of Deathly Hallows (the movie), gets the wand of his greatest threat which is the most powerful wand ever and fails to kill the same kid AGAIN! And to top it all off, he ends up getting killed by the same kid along with his friends. And seriously, after Harry was born, what does this guy do? Sure, he kills that old man in the beginning of Goblet of Fire (although I’m not sure if it was him or Wormtail), but most of the dirty work is done by his minions. I get why the people who fought him before Harry was born might be scared, but he doesn’t seem to do…anything. And funnily enough, after he thought he killed Harry, instead of going full psycho on everyone, he starts gloating!
So yeah, this is a bird’s eye view I have on this universe. I might end up reviewing the movies and books separately, but for now, this is all I’ve got.