For the most part, I thought that the first 2 movies followed the books EXTREMELY closely, and the parts that were cut out of the book were extremely minimal. Most of the important dialogue was also identical to the books. But having just re-watched Prisoner of Azkaban (the third film), I'm left a bit pissed.
They changed SO MUCH STUFF. Seriously. It didn't follow the book at all. The main story is basically the same, but several major events were put completely out of order (Harry receiving the Firebolt broom), and huge chunks of the story were taken out. Some, admittedly, for length (as I'm sure it will be for the rest of the films, since the books went from 300 pages to over 600), but what's annoying is that in this film, they added a few scenes that weren't in the book. Some of the important main story dialogue was also modified (for no apparent reason).
A few major differences (off the top of my head):
- Aunt Marge doesn't float out of the house.
- There is no mention of shrunken heads on the Knight Bus (or in the tavern at Hogsmeade).
- There is no mention of a clock tower at Hogwarts (and in the film it is featured prominently in many scenes).
- Harry never gets the chance to step up to the Boggart before Lupin sends it back into the cupboard (it doesn't transform into a Dementor). As it's explained later, Lupin was afraid the Boggard would transform into Voldemort, and freak-out the whole class.
- There is no mention of that long wooden bridge (and when Harry and Lupin have their conversation about the Boggart, it's in his classroom, not on the bridge).
- Harry receives the Firbolt broom at CHRISTMAS, and then Hermione is worried it might be from Sirius Black (because the broom came with no note), and it is confiscated by professor McGonagall who has professor Flitwick check it over for hexes (which takes weeks). Harry finally gets the broom back just in time to use it in the following Quidditch match (and he wins).
- Snape brews a potion for Lupin to keep him from changing into a werewolf. There's a whole mini-drama where Harry thinks Snape might be trying to poison Lupin, and when they're in the Shrieking Shack, Snape had been on his way to give Lupin his potion, which is when he saw the map, and went after them.
- The conversation (back story) about Sirius Black at the tavern between the teachers happens with Harry, Ron, and Hermione sitting in the tavern at another table (next to the teachers), and they hide Harry under the table.
- The whole scene with Malfoy in front of the Shrieking Shack (snowball fight) happens completely differently, Hermione wasn't even there, it happens at night/evening. Harry is seen by Malfoy, and has to run back to the castle in the secret passage before Malfoy can tell on him (because he wasn't allowed to be in Hogsmeade). This is when Snape catches Harry in the hallway with the map.
- Speaking of the map, Peter Pettigrew is never seen on the map by anyone except professor Lupin, after he confiscates the map from Harry/Snape.
- The scene at the end with all the Dementors and Sirius is also different. In the book, Harry is also with Hermione: the three of them being attacked.
- Etc, etc.
So yeah, really mixed feelings on this one. I know that this one was a different director, but still used the same producer as the first two. It also had the same writer, so I don't know why it was so different.
As I'm flipping through info on Wikipedia right now, I'm incredibly surprised to read this: "However, it was, at the time, the most highly acclaimed film of the series, and is widely considered by critics and fans to be the best installment of the franchise." Really? It's definitely not my favourite in the series.
I know this is SUUUUUPER old news by now, but if you want, please share your thoughts.