Typically, I do not like sequels. I just don’t. And it’s rare indeed that I fawn over a movie that’s based on almost any book I’ve read, because my experience (which isn’t so very small in this area) is that the books are always better. Every time. Without fail. So when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, though I was dubious about the passion perfectly reasonable people of all ages had about the series, I did not expect the movie to come out as anything but a disappointment.
I was in for the best kind of surprise, the kind where my experience was proved wrong and the movie was worthy of the same title of the book. (Don’t get me wrong; the book’s still better. But the movie’s good. We have watched and rewatched it enough to just about need a new DVD.) And the second movie put my expectations for the series of movies into the stratosphere. Then the third proved my experience right, and left my husband ranting the whole way home. For the fourth movie, we were OK. Just OK. It wasn’t as bad as the third (which would have probably sealed the deal on us being back at the theater for any of the future movies), but it wasn’t the same caliber as the first and second.
We walked into the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, unsure if we would leave ranting or raving, glad to have sacrificed money and sleep or enraged at the interpretations of a complex set of themes and subthemes that left the essence of the book completely out of the picture.
When we left the movie, and on the drive back to the sitter’s, and then on the drive back to home, and probably for tidbits of the non-homework-immersed portion of the day when Bob is able to talk, we’ll be saying the same things over and over, rehashing how well done the movie was, how right they got it, even though they had to cut an enormous amount (it’s no small feat to translate a tome as thick as Order of the Phoenix (869 pages) into anything resembling the same storyline with only a few hours to work with).
The movie captures the book. Oh sure, a lot was cut. It had to be, or we would still be sitting there twelve hours later. But, and I continue to marvel at this, they got it right, they gave me the snapshot and the reenactment my imagination so wanted. I saw the Ministry of Magic, which was far superior to what I thought, and I met Luna Lovegood, my husband’s new favorite character (casting genius, I tell you!). The thestrels were right on, and the Room of Requirement was…perfect. I catch myself using the same phrases for this book-movie transition that I used the first two times.
In under three hours, the movie crew got the gist of what Order of the Phoenix was about, and gave me reason to hope that Half-Blood Prince will be decent too (much as I dread seeing that book played out on the big screen). Though I didn’t leave the movie sobbing (and, I assure you, there was quite a pause for sobbing when I read the book), I did find it emotional in a way that only seeing someone’s plight can be; even though I prefer the books to the movies, every time, there’s something about seeing that teenage angst that touches my heart in a different way than reading about it ever can.
I was reunited with old friends in this movie the way I am in a good book. Over the years, these characters have become people to me, references that rank with my other best friends of the literary world. (I’m not saying these books are the best books ever, because I don’t believe that; I’m expressing my enjoyment and the fact that they have a capacity for lighting that reading passion and fire, even in a crusty old bibliophile like me.)
it’s always nice to meet someone else who gets how real characters can be for real booklovers. 🙂 no one was more surprised than me when sirius and remus started standing side by side with strider and aslan in my head. that’s an enormous feat.
i felt the same way about movie five – i was so surprised it captured everything i wanted it to! and the end of the movie, i teared up a little but i didn’t cry. when i read the book i set it aside to have a little cry before going on. i was a little relieved the movie didn’t get to me like that!
Well, I had given up on reading the books a chapter or so into #3. I enjoyed the movies well enough, but they didn’t really induce me to start back up again. That is, until #5. I am actually reading Order of the Phoenix right now. I have to say that I do find the character development in the book a little disappointing–not because they’re not well-developed, but because the development itself is a bit disappointing: Harry’s temper, first of all, and Sirius’s willfulness. I’m glad they minimized some of it in the movie, actually, but I have been happy to find that the movie and book are equally good in this case–I may read the ones I’ve missed & close in the gap!
I love love love the HP books & movies. Until the last book came out, Order of the Phoenix was my favorite. I was somewhat disappointed in the movie because it left out a lot of important stuff about the Order of the Phoenix but it was still amazing. After watching it numerous times I love it more. 😀