Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter, Movie Watch 2011. part 2

well that was.. Something.

Early on Thursday morning I woke up. Something about #5 just kept bugging me. Gnawing at my subconscious as I slept. I walked over to the book case and extricated the offending volume. I checked the page count. just shy of 900 pages. A truly huge tome. By far the biggest in the series. Eclipsing the first, by over 600 pages. With this knowledge I knew I was right in my ill feelings. I picked up the DVD cases and had it full confirmed. Harry potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has a run time of 142 minutes. For a 300 page book. Harry potter and the Order of the Phoenix has a run time of 139 minutes.. for a 900 page book. This is ridiculous in the extreme, Deathly Hallows is 200 pages shorter than Order of the Phoenix yet it got a 5 hour long film in two parts. To make matters worse, They kept nearly all the annoying and bothersome bits of #5. They left out stuff that would haunt #'s 6 and 7 and require backtracking, or simply hoping no one asked about those Yucatan sized plot holes left by their excision. One can only hope that there will be an eventual extended cut which will include a number of these very important elements.

Starting about 11am I watched Harry potter and the Halfblood Prince. What an improvement this was. It was just as complex as the the book, finally began tying up loose ends and making reference to objects found back as far as Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Most importantly, it moved the story forward. It was an all around good film, except it has no ability to stand alone, something that the preceding 5 did have in some regard. It's too complicated to really summarize, or would spoil to much of the payoff for you watching the previous 13 hours of movies.

Skipping ahead to about 6pm. I left the house to get supper, then headed over to the theatre. I had tickets to see both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back to back starting at 9pm. 6 hours of potter mania where waiting for me a scant 16 miles down the road. I was not unimpressed.

Many people turned out in costume. Something I've not seen since The Return of the King came out. The demographics of the theatre were the most surprising. 6 out of 10 potterheads present were female. Had I known that, I probably wouldn't have put off reading/watching them so long. C'est la vie.

Movie #7.1 and .2 deftly continued the trend started with #6. Really the three movies could constitute a narrative build similar to a micro trilogy to cap off a series of standalone films. They did suffer slightly from the material left out of #5. Even to me, only an extremely casual reader of the series was able to point out a number of instances. Most of them revolved around the other orphaned boy residing at Hogwarts, Nevil Longbottom. The other thing the films did was try and soften the edges of Albus Dumbledore. To make him less of a Machiavellian schemer than he was in the last books.

The theatre cried over an animated elf, Cheered when Tim Burton's main squeeze bit the dust courtesy of Mrs. Weasley and booed audibly whenever Ralph Fiennes was on screen. The special effects were good enough to have me empathize with a particularly wretched dragon forced to work security in the depths of the goblin bank Gringotts. My dislike of David Thewlis, which stemmed from his character in Dragonheart, has been forgotten. But I'll say that even at a 5 hour run time, many many characters simply got fly-bys or were in group shots. I really can't say anymore than that without potentially spoiling the end. However I will say, I did find myself desperately wishing for Conan to run in from off screen and kill Nagini the giant snake.. after it having escaped death for the 4th or 5th time.

It was a good night. Consider me a Convert. But I'm glad I'm a convert on my own terms. Rather than having jumped on the bandwagon earlier, I chose to ignore it and let it pass me by. Only going to its last performance, slipping out before the final curtain call.


I forgot to add something else. It struck me as humorous that Ralph Feinnes plays Voldemort, while his brother Joseph portrays Merlin in the Starz show Camelot.

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