When it comes to books, there’s usually nothing worse than a movie that isn’t faithful to the original. As a result, many great books fail as movies, and it’s a tragedy because so many good movies are often ruined by bad source material.
Fortunately, the converse is often true as well. Some movies based on books are better than the source material, and in some cases, the adaptation is so good that it manages to surpass the book itself. For example, the Harry Potter series, which is one of the biggest book franchises of all time, hasn’t been adapted into a movie yet because they know it will be hard to top the awesomeness that is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Similarly, the Twilight Saga is one of the most popular series of novels ever, but it might never be on the big screen because they know that it is impossible to top Bella’s beauty and Edward’s fierce protectiveness in Twilight.
There are many other examples of this phenomenon, which is why we’ve decided to do a list of the 10 best movies based on J.K. Rowling’s characters. These are all phenomenal cinematic adaptations, and they might just become some of your favorite films. So sit back, relax, and get ready to be wowed because here are the top 10 movies based on J.K. Rowling’s characters:
1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
One of the most exciting cinematic events in recent history was the premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on Tuesday night. Based on the Harry Potter series of books, this new take on the classic Wizarding World is unlike anything we’ve seen before. It combines the charm of the books with the wonder of the magical world brought to life on the big screen.
The movie opens up with a bang as we’re introduced to the four Hogwarts’ of this era –– New York, Chicago, Dublin, and London. The story then flashes back to the early 20th century as our hero’s parents, Peruvian writer, Magizoologist, and ex-slave Victor Frankenstein (played by Johnny Depp) and his wife Elizabeth (played by Katherine Waterston) –– set off on a research trip to Paris. On their way to the French capital, there is a terrible accident that leaves them with no memory of the event and a child named Albus Severus who they’re forced to raise as a wizard. But their lives are still haunted by the events that led to their tragic fate, and it will be up to Albus to learn the ways of magic and to protect his family from harm.
Fantastic Beasts is an entirely different adventure than anything Harry Potter fans have seen before, but it still retains the charm of the books. While the original series mainly focused on Harry’s escapades at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry –– where he discovered he was a wizard and had to overcome his fear of magic –– the new movie expands the scope a little bit. We follow Albus Severus (played by Jude Law) from his first day of school to his first year in college, so his journey is analogous to that of Harry Potter’s, albeit a little bit different. While we don’t get to see Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Fantastic Beasts, we do get to see various other magical institutions, like the Magical Congress of the United States, or the Magically Delicious Cake Shop in London.
2. The Prestige
Anyone who’s ever seen a Wayne’s World movie knows exactly what kind of movie The Prestige is. Filmed in a mockumentary style, it tells the story of L.B. Jeffries, who is credited with creating the modern day film industry, and his rivalry with legendary editor, Alfred Hitchcock. In the process, we’re treated to some incredible sights and sounds that are as fresh as they are unforgettable –– from Thomas Edison’s original mechanical camerawork to the distinctive “zip-zap” sound of nitrocellulose smoke being fired –– to name just a few. The film also featured a soundtrack that was composed by the great Hans Zimmer, and it’s still regarded as one of the greatest soundtracks ever made.
One of the things that make The Prestige so special is the way it treats its subjects with such respect, never once diminishing the genius of its subject matter. In some instances, the movie even builds up to an incredible climax only to pull back and ask the audience to respect the historical figures involved in the film. For example, when discussing L.B.’s rivalry with Alfred Hitchcock, the movie doesn’t paint him in a bad light, and it even shows clips from some of his more notable films, like Rebecca and Spellbound. The director, Michael Clayton, even uses clips from those films to great effect in the climax of the movie.
3. Deathly Hallows: Part 1
It’s been almost 10 years since Harry Potter’s adventures ended, and fans of the series have been eagerly waiting for the culmination of the saga. On August 31st, 2007, J.K. Rowling finished writing the last book in the series, and the movie adaptation was immediately set to begin production. Three days later, on September 3rd, 2007, HP Pottermore was launched, and with it came the culmination of 21 years of Harry Potter magic as we were introduced to the seven wonders of the internet. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was released on July 31st, 2008, and it featured a lot of revelations about Harry Potter’s parents and relatives, including one that shook us all to the core –– one of them being revealed to be a murderer and the other a Nazi collaborator. But even though this was a shocking conclusion to our beloved story, it was nevertheless beautifully made and packed with emotion.
This is one of the most important Harry Potter movies in terms of establishing character arcs and plot developments, rather than just being a collection of cool battles and unforgettable scenes. Before the premiere of Part 1, it was widely reported that the movie would contain a flashback to the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. But while this might have been exciting to see, it would have ruined the emotional impact of what was otherwise a very intimate story about family and love. As it turns out, we didn’t see the epic showdown that many had been anticipating for years. Instead, we got to see Harry and Voldemort come to an uneasy truce and set off on a journey to locate and destroy the ghosts of those they’ve killed. This was a far more emotional climax that many were expecting, and it left us feeling pretty blessed. This is the kind of movie that could only be made by a world class director like JJ Abrams, and it shows how much he understands and respects his audience. The only other filmmaker who could have done this movie is Martin Scorsese, who has made a similar emotional foray into historical fiction with Silence. It would be remiss of us not to at least mention this amazing accomplishment, as it is one of the greatest films of all time. It isn’t simply that it stays true to the book, but it even surpasses it as a work of art.
But since it’s almost 10 years old now, we’re going to focus on the sequels, aren’t we? While many fans may have wanted to see a movie about Harry Potter’s last year at Hogwarts, this was certainly not what J.K. Rowling had in mind when she wrote Deathly Hallows. She had always hoped that her work would be extended beyond the seven books that made up the Harry Potter series, and she certainly didn’t want to limit herself to one story. As a result, she wrote a series of novellas that were linked to the main story line, but were originally intended to be stand-alone tales. Three of these tales were made into the movie Deathly Hallows: Part 2 –– a prequel that picks up shortly after the conclusion of Deathly Hallows: Part 1. We’re introduced to a young and rather disillusioned Voldemort, who sets off on a quest to seek revenge against Dumbledore, who he believes betrayed him by helping Harry Potter to defeat him. This is where Deathly Hallows: Part 2 picks up, as Voldemort attempts to unravel the secrets of immortality that Dumbledore learned during their rivalry. Meanwhile, the remaining novellas –– which are set thousands of years prior to Part 1 –– are told in flashback, as Harry and Dumbledore search for the remaining Horcruxes that are scattered around the world.
4. The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight is one of the most influential and successful superhero movies of all time. It’s very highly anticipated, and it premiered to great acclaim back in 2008. This is an origin story for the Batman character, which incorporates a number of Batman’s greatest battles and foes into one cohesive narrative. It also introduced us to the genius and prolific talent of director, Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight is an incredibly cinematic achievement, and it helped launch the now eight-year renaissance of the superhero movie genre.