What makes a movie adaptation good?

Having finally finished the Harry Potter series (the original 7, people have told me to stay away from the Cursed Child, at least for now), aside from the void left when finishing an amazins book series, I was left annoyed at how different the Harry Potter character from the books seems to be from the one from the movies at times. Not to take anything way from the actors, they held their part ok given the script that they had. But I do feel that that particular script tends to stray away from the original source material too much.

I’m not going to say that there is no possibility that a movie might be better than the book, even though statistics don’t really help movie studios in this case. But I am going to go through 5 things that I think make a movie adaptation good. Spoilers from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings ahead, by the way.

1. Keep the most important events in the movie

There are a few moments in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings where you’re like ‘what just happened?’. And while explained in the books, they are completely left out of the movie. Examples include the reason Harry always had to return to his abusive relatives and Saruman’s dissapearance with no explanation in Return of the King. I’m not saying you have to include all side events, but can we please have the most important ones present in the movie? It really helps with the storytelling.

2. Do not add events with unexplained consequences

There is this scene in The Half-Blood Prince where the Weasley house burns down, but is magically restored in the beginning of the next movie without no explanation. The idea is that the moment was NOT present in the book. If you plan to add events, you may want to explain the consequences of said events and explain how everything was fine and dandy 6-9 months later.

3. Explain the importance of certain objects/items/rooms that appear in the movie

Lord of the Rings did a better job at explaining whatever each object is supposed to be doing, but Harry Potter comes short in this aspect, with random appearances of artefacts and Rooms of Requirement who are treated as plot devices in the movie, rather than useful assets which are required for a reason. I don’t care if it’s a sentence or a word or someone asking themselves a question about their use, it should be explained why an object is useful and why it’s required for it to be in the scene.

4. Do not alter the protagonist’s character (too much)

It’s kind of hard to mimic every emotion the original author had for every character, but for the main ones, it’s best to be as accurate as possible. The Lord of the Rings characters come off as these super-hero types who were so sure of winning, I don’t know why they were even worried, while in the books, you cleary see they have their doubts and fears and regrets about the things that they cause or happen to them. One of my main gripes with the Harry Potter movie series is that in the later movies, Harry the movie character seems to be a different one than the original Harry Potter from the books, with the latter becoming an actual leader with the confidence of literally humiliating You-Know-Who before the Elder Wand backfired on him. The same goes for Neville Longbottom. The movies still portray him as a bumbling idiot, when in reality he became the leader of the DA in Harry’s absence.

5. Don’t leave out important side characters

This is more prominent in Harry Potter, where you have the complete absence of house elves (which play an important part in developing Hermione’s character), Peeves (a lovable Poltergeist who very much enjoyed trolling everyone he could), Charlie Weasley, Percy Weasley in the final battle (missing out on a very emotional family reunion), Phineas Nigellus Black (very important during Deathly Hallows) and I could go on. I know it’s hard to include everyone, but leaving out so many side-characters takes away so much from the story, and the audience is left with a never-ending series of Deux ex Machina moments that leave everyone quite unsatisfied.

So yeah, these are 5 things I think makes a movie adaptation of a books good. These are of course based on my 2 favorite series and there is a good chance I’ve missed a few points. Feel free to add any down in the comments section. Until next time, have a nice pre-Friday (I think it will be Thursday regardless of where you read this from when it goes live).

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