I had a few leftover thoughts from my review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I was struck by which parts of J.K. Rowling’s material made it in and what didn’t. There’s a scene in the movie that’s not in the book, when Bellatrix Lestrange lures Harry into a trap by taunting him, “I killed Sirius Black!” On the other hand, the book’s opening scene with the recently fired minister of magic talking to the British prime minister was cut. It would have been cute to cast serial Tony Blair portrayer Michael Sheen as the P.M., but given that the current British prime minister is Gordon Brown, a better fit would probably be Albert Finney. Then again, Brown’s probably not going to last much longer in the job, and David Cameron is being touted as his successor. Who’s the best lookalike? Paddy Considine? Matthew Macfadyen? I’m open to suggestions.
Readers of Rowling’s novels will remember that the character of Horace Slughorn is written as an enormously fat man, but in the film he’s played by Jim Broadbent, an actor who isn’t thin but is well short of fatness. The trouble here is that all the great fat British actors who are old enough to play the part have already been used up in the Harry Potter series — Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Richard Griffiths as Harry’s uncle Vernon, Timothy Spall as Peter “Wormtail” Pettigrew. That only leaves the filmmakers with heavyset actors like Albert Finney, Ray Winstone, and Tom Wilkinson.
The subplot with Hermione trying to organize Hogwarts’ elf laborers in Goblet of Fire got cut. I didn’t mind that so much, but I did miss the subplot about Quidditch hero Ludovic Bagman, who helps out the bad guys because of his gambling debts but gets off because his fellow wizards worship his exploits as an athlete. Too bad: Vinnie Jones would have been perfect for the role.
Anyway, when it comes to future movies, I’m hoping to see more of Hermione’s parents. They are both non-magical people, and Hermione suffers discrimination from fellow wizards on that basis. (You can see it in the current movie, when Slughorn loses interest in her after finding out that her parents are dentists.) The Weasleys’ family issues are detailed in great depth in the books, but the Granger parents aren’t even peripheral; we just hear about Hermione packing them off to Australia with new identities before the big good-vs.-evil showdown. Yet there’s so much that could have been done here: What is it like to be parents to a kid with magical powers? What’s it like to be their kid? Maybe we’ll get a hint in one of the two remaining films.
Also, I’d like to see more done with Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf leader who’s engineering a master race of werewolves to take over the world, and he’s only allied with the evil wizards as a matter of convenience, hoping to eventually take them down, too. In addition to being a fascist, he’s also a child molester who preys on small children and turns them into werewolves who’ll serve as his loyal soldiers. Rowling created this badass villain and then didn’t give him anything to do or even a satisfyingly appropriate death scene. The movies have left him even more underdeveloped, and his encounter with Ginny in a field doesn’t work unless you know his backstory from the books. Some work needs to be done here.
Lastly, I was disappointed that Rowling never showed us American wizards. Call me chauvinist, but we got to see wizarding practiced by the French and the Bulgarians in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Surely the Yanks would put their own spin on the magical arts. Rowling only gives a sideways glimpse of the Americans during the Quidditch World Cup. Some British writers have no clue when it comes to writing American characters, and if Rowling sensed that she was one of these, maybe it’s best that she didn’t try. Still, Harry’s many Stateside fans would probably appreciate a shout-out to the U.S. of A. in one of the movies.
Cinematical has this list of Harry Potter parodies through the years. I can think of one they missed: This one mashes up Harry with Welcome Back, Kotter and calls it Welcome Back, Potter. The Sweathogs go to Hogwarts. Outstanding.