The films have embraced the dark melodrama that the novels only dabbled in
Seven years ago, the Harry Potter series seemed like it was going to be hard to put on screen. Rowling’s books were long, endlessly complicated, and full of things like butterbeer, grindylows, fizzing whizbees, and boggarts.
But early reviews of the eighth and final installation of the Harry Potter series are in, and the word is that director David Yates and his cast have managed a task with near impossible expectations, to the tune of a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It looks like the new movie, like the rest in the series, hasn’t just managed to yank a couple more million out of some blockbuster novels. It’s been able to take the Harry Potter story and turn it into the epic Rowling couldn’t manage.
The basic story in Harry Potter is an old one, and a good one. The boy of destiny is plucked from ordinary circumstances and becomes incredulous when he’s told the truth behind his real identity. Some training, trials, and a crisis of self-confidence later, he emerges as the true hero ready to defeat ultimate evil.
But the Harry Potter books were not built on Rowling’s ability to craft a narrative. They were built on her ability to craft a world. The most memorable moments were never plot developments, but rather things like the introduction of Hogsmeade, the Quidditch World Cup, or the first reveal of Diagon Alley.