Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter, Movie Watch 2011. part 1

In the last few days I've watched films 1-5 for the first time. Just as I earlier this year read the book series for the first time.

When I read the books back in the spring, I mostly enjoyed the earlier books in the series. I found them to be relatively light pseudo fantasy fare in the vein of Roald Dhal's whole body of work. They really do remind me of James and the Giant Peach and Big Friendly Giant and all those sorts of things.. Having Flying Cars reminded me a lot of Ian Flemming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They are frightening, slightly demented.. but none of the villains approach the level of evil that the Child Snatcher or The Witches possess.

But starting with Book #4, this began to change. Almost from the very beginning when the death eaters attack the Quidditch World Cup. This is telling the reader/viewer that, the world is changing. Grab a helmet.

My feelings are that for the most part, I enjoy the films more than the books. Up to a point. That point is book/film #5. The Order of the Phoenix was by no means my least favorite of the series. That would be giving it too much credit. No I abjectly Hate, Order of the Phoenix. The book/films entire purpose is about the attempts of some individuals to reset the status quo. to put the genie that is Voldemort back into his bottle.

It forces characters to conform into molds they wouldn't conform too in any real life setting I've ever encountered. The character who really shines in the film is probably Alan Rickman's Snape. Who for the first time is really given a big part and we get a glimpse into his childhood and why he hates James Potter so much. On the other hand, the wonderful Gary Oldman is yet again wasted entirely in the 5th film. Having shown up in #3, and disappeared entirely during #4... it was nice having him back. But they just didn't do enough with the Black Residence or Kreacher or Sirius.. or frankly any of the Order of the Phoenix members. Choosing to almost entirely focus on the school.

It comes across in both places as excruciatingly stupid. It makes the characters themselves buffoons for drinking that koolaid. It denies us any knockdown dragout wizard magic fights for nearly 500 pages, or just about 2.5 hours. Along with that it at best plays down, and at worst outright ignores the momentous impact of what happened at the end of the last book/film. There is a distinct lack of feeling that, Though the world is different now. It's best if you keep calm and carry on. It's a seachange in the cultural undercurrent.

It didn't help that I really hate seeing Seigfried Farnon (Robert Hardy, who is an Expert at the Longbow in real life, having written two books about Agincourt and the Long Bow.. which makes him pretty bad ass in my book)as the worthless Cornelius Fudge either, or that I hate Helena Bonham Carter in just about anything she is in. It makes it difficult for me to even pay attention.

Tonight I'm going to watch #6, and tomorrow I'll be watching #7 & 8 in theatres.

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