It sure has been a long ride hasn't it?
I mean Jesus. I was actually a fan of the books before the movies came out, but that is quite a feet, because I was bloody eleven as the first movie came out! Eleven, barely out of the diaper and still clutching to my teddy-bear at night.. actually I still do that now that I am twenty, but that's beside the point.
I was excited as hell when the first movie came out, and I enjoyed it to, I owed it all with potter, posters, video games, mugs, twigs I found in the wood and could call wands, plastic cups.. yep.
But now I am an adult and do reviews for a hobby, so I have my boring adult glasses on, bear with me for this one.
I actually re-watched all the movies in preparation for this article, so you can't say I am not doing my homework… or you can.. because I spend my time either writing or watching movies instead of doing school work.. what ever.
It all started back in the year 2001.
At the time, Fantasy movies weren't nearly as many as today.. that is to say. The genre was kind of dead to the world, same as superhero movies.
(try an imagine a world without at least two summer releases of super hero movies and a fantasy movie per summer, I dare you.. but that was how it was at the time.)
This meant two things for the movie upon the release date.
1; due to lack of comparison of the genre and lack of competition, the movie had an a lot easier time surviving the wrath of critics and movie goers a like. So though standard my not be the greatest, it could get away with it.
2; though quality wasn't so good it could get away with it.. and make lots and lots of sequels.
Today when a fantasy movie is being released, we can't be sure that it will have a sequel, even if it's a filmatising of a book series, it does not guarantee sequels (The golden Compass, Eragon, Vampires assistant.. pick one!)
That is damn lucky for the first harry potter movie, because it only works by the promise of sequels.
It spends three fourths of it's time setting up story and universe and only the last quarter is plot. That is usually inexcusable for a movie. And as I said, just because you make the first book into a movie doesn't mean you get to do the next one. That is a stupid assumption.
But having said that, the rest of the books did get filmed as well, and having that knowledge in hand, it would have been inexcusable not to set up the universe probably in the first movie.
There is no real answer to this, there isn't even any compromise clear to me.
The movie holds up as a fairly standard childrens fantasy movie, what it lacks in plot it thankfully gains in originality, there really isn't any franchises out there quite like Harry potter. you can say what you like about Quidditch, but it will still be original and unique to the potter verse.
However, I personally would have liked something a little more over the edge of normality, but that is a matter of taste.
And this movie gave us something that would be the dominate part of the next seven movies. Sets and cast!
Thank god those are right! The adult cast have always been and always will be superb, and the children cast is differently not the worst child actors I have ever seen, plus they grew into it later on and all grew into actually pretty damn good actors. that is pure luck!
There is only one casting choice I have any questions about what so ever, rest is perfection. And this might surprise a lot of you people..
Well… Alan Rickman as Snape.. no no. hear me out for a second.
In my mind, Alan Rickman is both the best choice ever and the worst choice ever, there is good and bad sides to this, so I guess we should talk about the good first and the bad second.
Well good thing, Alan Rickman is born to play parts like Snape. He doesn't sound nor look like something you would want to trust, yet he is so damn fascinating to just watch and listen to, the way he swoones around slick as a fox, he is made for swooning black robes, his deep hypnotising voice, he have a very unique presence and demeanour, just something about him you can't really explain, you just glance at him and knows there is more to the guy than what meet the eyes. When he steps into the room you know he is there, his presence is that great, he knows how to give an evil stare and he understands how to convey deep emotions without saying a word. Not anyone would be able to play Snape, it requires a very highly skilled actor, and Rickman is that. The part could easily have been horrible miss castet, it isn't.
Here's my conflicted reasoning, I think Alan Rickman is to old.
A lot of Snapes tragedy is lost on the fact that he were in his late fourtiesh in the first movie and is now.. well almost sixty. It does make a huge difference that a man is 31 or 48, especially when his reasoning is lost love. I kind of even want him to be younger in the books, and I fell he kind of is in the books, after all, Rowling keeps referring to both him, Lupin and Sirius as "young." Though they are the same age. But that was the age to make the story possible I suppose, hell what would you want? Making James and Lily having harry in the age of 17? That's a litte disturbing.
My other reason why I am a little vague about Rickman.
Snape is not a pleasant person, he is very unpleasant! Snape both looks and sounds unpleasant,you really don't want to be stuck with this guy. He is tall, gaunt, sullen.. you know, how people who have hated life the past twelve year usually looks like.. extremely unpleasant company. repulsive in fact.. he is a gian greasy bat in lack for better words.
Alan Rickman is hot!
You can't deny it, those smooth movements and his awesome voice sends shiver down any felines spine, it's nothing to be ashamed of girls. Though that does present our problem, I would love to be stuck in a room with Rickman, doesn't matter that he is mad at me, because he seems so fascinating and mesmerizing.. that is Rickman, not Snape.
But hell, he is the movie Snape now, there is no denying that, and I can enjoy his superb acting. So I guess I have chosen just to roll with it, and just wanted to point it out.
It only took a year for next movie to come out. "Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets." Which were released in the winter of 2002.
Now we are at a point where we have already seen the cast, sets and universe, so things aint as fresh and new any longer, and the flaws of the director of the first two movies, Chris Columbus gets a lot more glaring and obvious.
Of all things, Columbus's greatest flaw towards these two movies is that he was way to faithful to the books.
The first two movies is almost page for page re-cap of the books. And no matter how you put it, that is not the same as making a good movie.
Despite Chamber of secret being the second shortest book, it is the longest movie out of all of them, and it's a slow clunky ride. We should be able to quickly move on to the plot now that we spend an entire movie setting up the universe, but apparently not.
I am not here to diss the books, they are perfect in my mind! They are early childhood and my entire youth, so even if I wanted to I couldn't say as much as one bad word against them. However, movies are not books, movies only have that much time and needs to pick a focus and stay with it to have continuously flow that keeps up the excitement in each scene, and makes each scene lead to the next. The books have a lot of themes going on, so the movies actually have to choose and focus, the first two movies failed miserable at that.
That is not to say this movie does not have it's salvaging factors, as I said. It is extremely faithful to the book, I don't care, Gildory Lockheart always made me laugh, and Kenneth Brannagh is perfect in the part. most importantly, the magic is intact.
It's not a downright bad movie, but it's not that great either, it is a bit to close to be bad, it is for the most part.. average.
So, the problem with the first two movies was that they were way waaay to faithful, concerning themselves more about being as much like the books as humanly possible rather than standing as good movies in their own right, even to the point J.K. Rowling (god bless the genius!) were drawn a bit to much into the mess, even she stated she was more concerned about the movies being enjoyable than overly faithful, thought she looked forward to see the Quidditch!
In the year 2004 we have the next instalment, enter two new important people.
Chris Columbus did at this point decide to wave goodbye to the franchise and hand to steer to someone else, coursing our first change in director.
Enter the French film director Alefonso Cuaron. Known for his darker children's film.
Interesting choice, well he were known for children's fairy tales at the time so it seemed to make perfect sense, but still as he as a director is known for a very distinct expressionistic style and mood in all of his prior movies.
And the change of the director can be felt instantaneous.
Thank god, this is an actual movie and not a wannabe book.
At this point the books had started growing in plot and themes, and the movies would no longer be able to get away with trying to follow the books page for page, sentence for sentence.
Though the first thing to springs to eye is not the new found ability to have focus, but the over all changed style. Gone is the bright children's colours and in its place we have a dark stylish fogyish world. Cuaron is differently bringing his own style, but it's differently not devoid of childish magic, actually the misty mystical fog gives a lot more magic if you ask me, especially when comparing to later films, I love Caurons over all style, "A little Princess" and "Children of men." Both his movies are movies I enjoy highly, and the misty style suits harry potter a lot, I love it's not so clean any more, but a little dirty, if you leave things foggy and a little less see through, it does appear more magical really.
The other person we need to bit welcome at this is a bit of a controversy. Sadly Richard Harris who had played Dumbledore in the two first films, and had done so to perfection, had passed away and the part had to be re-casted. Entering Michael Gambon.
However, as I don't mind him to much in this movie, lets wait to talk about him until the next one.
Prisoner of Azkaban, at last picks a focus and stays with it, delivering a good paced picture that keeps the attention to the very end and entertains, it is all in all actually quite a good fantasy movie.. but.
Yeas, there is always a but isn't there?
The third book is one out of two books in the series which is not about Harry.
Yeah that's right, the third book is actually not about Harry, what it is about is what came before Harry, it's about his mom and dad, the Marauders and the events leading the Harry's current situation.
Without Lupins condition, Sirius's friendship.. Petigrews betrayal.. Harry's world would have seemed a lot different now wouldn't it? The entire world would have seemed a lot different, and this book is about explaining what happened.. The movie kind of fail to notice this at all.
The plot is kind of the same but the explanation and reasoning is gone. The map and nicknames are there, but not as much as one line of dialogue tells why it should matter. It doesn't mention the Fidilus charm and exactly how Petigrew supposedly betrayed Harry's parents.. they never talk about just how close the Marauders friendship was. And dude, they became freaking Animagi for Lupin, it would have to be a god damn close friendship!
So.. literately, this movie is a very beautiful figure sculpted by a capable sculptur, but missing a leg.
It's a nice experience which probably entertains most people, though then they would probably just go home and forget all about it. The book gave us so much to reflect about and imagine for us selves, it's the story of the story within the story.. urh.. Well it is! But sadly... the movie is not.
Though.. could be a hell of a lot worse.. sigh.. like the fourth movie.
Urgh.. excuse me while I go slam my head in the wall.
The fourth movie is a bloody disaster! All the way from what ever the hell Michael Gambon was on, to all the time spend on mindless action instead of plot to the stupid eighties hair cuts to Robert Pattinsons eyebrows.
The brightest point in the movie is that I got to see Voldemort freaking kill Edward Cullen by the sight of him.
Oh yeah.. and Doctor who on crackers.
Anyhow, lets at least try and be serious about this for a moment, though it would be way to easy just to pull a Spooney one on this one and take a mocking walk through about everything I don't like about this.
Again, it's not the book I am talking about. It's the movie, I like the book.
Well, the steer was once again passed on to Director Mike Newell.. this man was a disastrous choice.
As much as I said you need to steer a bit away from the novels in order to get a more focused movie, which is actually a movie, I didn't mean "Take an entire detour." You would need to balance it. And Mike Newell was suffering badly from the syndrome. "Need to make my own vision regardless of source material and what came beforehand" while making this movie.
He didn't even read the fifth and sixth book, which had been released at the time while making this! That is totally inexcusable!
I mean, I will always support film directors who actually have their own vision and stands up for it, that is a good quality. But this situation is rather unique, we are talking about a movie which had three movies coming before it and would have at least three movies coming after it as well, you just can't disregard that.
Apparently Newell had the idea of showing the life of school the way he sees and remember it, as a dark work camp where the teachers are evil and hit you over the head with a book..
Okay seeing Snape hitting Harry and Ron over the head with a book was pretty funny though out of character, but hell. Snape had nothing to do in the movie so it was a clever way to integrate him somehow.. still.
This is Hogwarts, we like Hogwarts.. we want to be at Hogwarts, read the book Newell, it's a magical place. And it brings us to the next problem which I know many is aware of.
Wtf is up with Dumbledore oO;
Gambons portrayal of Dumbledore in this movie frightens me.. it frightens me a lot.
Hell, to this date I remember the cinema experience, I was one month away from being fifteen at the time, so I had stopped using a pacifier… for the most part.
And still I cringed back in the seat and tried hard not to cry while calling for my mommy, seeing Dumbledore looking that grumpy and evil while yelling at Harry traumatized my childhood at the same time as it gives reason to all of the "Evil Dumbledore" fan fics out there.
And it did not happen by chance or because if Gambon, it was Mike Newell's conscious decision to make Dumbledore the cold distant head master… dude.. at least read the fifth book! One of the important themes in that one is that Harry fells betrayed because Dumbledore keeps his distance.. well why the hell would that matter if Dumbledore was an evil gitt in the first place? Honestly.
And why even put so much effort into making the teachers into cold unpleasant shells of the characters they are based on when it really doesn't matter in the movie, plot wise it means nothing! It does nothing! It does nothing for reflection either.. there is simply no reason nor explanation given! The movie spend all of it's time on the Triwizard tournament anyhows, and as I said, spends far to much time on the tasks and to little time on the overall plot, the red threat is missing here and it gives a clunky weird picture where it's hard to find what anyone is trying to say.
At least the highlight of the movie is the finale. It is actually even so good that movie audiences at the time totally forget how bad the rest of it was and left we a good feeling in their stomachs.
I am of cause talking about the church yard scene and Voldemorts resurrection, and it is kind of awesome. Also because there have been build up to this specific point for three movies, the audience had spend so much time just hearing about Voldemort and see various shadows of him, but they were nothing more than that, just shadows. And there he is, in full glory… killing Edward Cullen.
I'm sorry the joke is to obvious.
And I have to give credit where credits due, all people who are actually cool already knows that Twilight is a brain dead franchise for the sort of girls who are giving fanfiction a bad name because they only like graphic slasher fics that only they can read because they have no brain left to burn out from the just wrong mental imprints.
But Robert Pattinson is not that bad an actor, he can be good. In fact, as usual with harry potter, the entire new casting wich includes Moody, Barty crouch junior and of cause Voldemort himself. Is excellent!
So if for nothing else, we have that. Lets please move on to talk about more pleasant things, like the next director who took the steer with the fifth, sixth, seventh and eight movie.
Where the bloody hell did you spring from and where have you been all of my life?
David Yates. As he was announced I had just begun actually getting into stuff like this.. you know, directors and production of movies and shit.
And I was worried, because. Well.. he was unknown. The man had never ever done a cinema movie in his life, all he had done was a couple of television movies and some BBC episodes of TV-shows.
I had a great difficulty understand why you would put a man who so far hadn't moved beyond television behind such a big movie, wouldn't that be quite a gamble?
Apparently somebody in Warner Brothers knew what he was doing, because out of all of the directors, David Yates is in my opinion the best match for the franchise. He both honours the books but also manages to keep a strict story line that interpretates rather than copy, not his own vision of school, but the books them selves, he understands them! more than any of the other directors.
The fifth book can't have been easy to make into a movie, it is the largest book of all of them, and a lot happens. Not only that, the psychological aspect of Harry's journey is not an easy one to convey.
The fifth book is the heroes breaking point, it's where things are now really dangerous and on the edge, but not quite out in the open and Harry suffers the greatest strain, it's the point where he either breaks or learn from mistake and rises to face the real battle.
Every hero in any good story breaks at some point, they must in order to rise again and win the fight. And Harry both breaks and rises simultaneously here in the fifth book.. a rather unique breaking point actually, but well made Mrs. Rowling :D
The movies does not quite get that, but hell how could it?
Dolores Umbridge is possible the scariest female book villain ever! You would not be able to put her probably on screen, by they are making the best out of it anyhow, and what we are getting is one hell of a creepy scary aunty with that sugar smile of hers and evil sweety giggle D:
Scenes like the Umbridge montage where she takes the school, the Weasleys flying around Hogwarts with their fireworks and the battle in the department of mysteries are great fun sights to behold. And on the same time as we keep the story as simple as is possible with such a complex book as Harry potter five (not easy task, which is probably why it doesn't succeed entirely, though it tries.) Yates gives lots of small visual treats to hardcore fans in the back ground, like Nevielle actually caring around a Nimblus Nimblotonia and Luna reading the Quibbler upside down.
That is not to say the movie is perfect, it isn't.. hell, search me I have no idea what the hell Voldemort did at that train station wearing a business suit (the hell? Can anyone explain?)
It gets a bit cramped and a bit bumpy on the way, but my god it actually tries, and it tries to maintain the fine line in between "vision" and "Faithfulness." Quite admirably. It's a job well done and an actual above average movie though not amazing.
And this brings us to the last movie I can talk about right now.
Harry Potter and the half blood Prince.. Seriously I could kiss David Yates, and I am not to shappy looking if I might say so, so he need not run away in horror because of it.
Harry Potter and the half blood Prince is hands down so far the best movie of all of them!
It was also here I became aware of how good Yates is at transcend meanings that was before described with words into visual pictures. Don't say it, show it. That is the difference between a book and a movie.
There are three instances that jumps into the front of my mind while thinking of this concept in the movie.
One is the over all look, of Diagon Alley and Hogwarts.. it made my mid life crisis arrive around twenty years early.
I mean Jesus! The set of Diagon Alley.. empty, devoid of colours.. magic and any kind of happiness.. empty.. before filled up with people.. now empty.. and sad.
I don't ever want to grow up.. what he does with moods and set designs is incredible, it is really telling without saying or using words, just showing... using the same sets, but now so damn empty and cold.
The second instant that spring to mind is when Harry and Ron stands together in the hall of Hogwarts and observes all the small eleven year old kids below them.
Wauw, the symbolic picturing here you know. The eleven year old kids were our starting point, but now they are so big and stuff.. and stands there… and I am missing my pacifier now.
Unlike the third movie it is not misty dark with magic hidden in the corners.. no.. it is dark dark.. devoid of happiness dark.. the kind of dark you get from war and despair, and growing up.. dammit.. absolutely amazing. And so sad! What happened to the colours! same sets just empty as I said, I am having mid life crisis here! And I am only god damn 20!
The third instant in mind, which I think, shows an amazing gift in interpretation and craftsmanship of the director is the scene by the tower in the finale act.
Instead of hiding beneath his invisibility cloak Harry hides beneath a sort of half roof, he have clear view to Dumbledore and he stands by the only entrance to the tower where Dumbledore is.. he is not body binded or anything so he can act if he chooses to do so.
Dumbledore stands up there and is confronted by Draco and the death eaters.
Then Snape arrives, and he is standing right next to Harry.. they are literately inches from each other. Snape signals to Harry to keep quiet by hushing him… and Harry nods, choosing not to act.
That is wordlessly and visually showing Harry choosing to trust Snape, they are that damn close, only inches. The deatheaters has not seen Snape, they have not seen Harry. Harry is not body binded, he could Hex Snape if he chose to do so. But he chose to finally trust Snape… And then Snape kills Dumbledore betraying Harry's trust. wauw.
It is not how it happened in the book, you could not have written it like that in the book. But it is a magnificent movie interpretation, using the medium, as it is, visual. The mood is so extremely intense, even though I naturally read the book and knew what would happen, my heart was still in my throat, and the emotional pay off of Snape's betrayal extraordinary.
That was visual movie beauty!
The sixth book is the other book that is not about Harry, the fifth was his breaking point and uprising, the seventh is the finale stand.
And the sixth is just there in between.. so what do you do with such a book? Well, you reflect on what have happened so far, why it happened, and what will probably happen in the future as well as why.
The sixth book is not about Harry. It's about Voldemort and Snape, and in a way that makes it about Harry to, as Voldemort and Snape is reflections of Harry in different ways.
Voldemorts, Snape and Harry's early childhoods are identical, as eleventh year old children they are identical. They were all raised by the muggle world, and hated it. They all grew up without love, they are all very powerful and intelligent and they are all half bloods. The only thing dividing them and making them different, is the choices that they made.
Voldemort did choose the dark, he did choose to become the dark lord, Harry consciously choose the light, he chose love.. and Snape.. Snape chose something in between.
That is what the book is all about and reflects upon, all though it first became really clear after reading the seventh book and then re-reading the sixth one. Hell, lots of stuff in prior books first made sense after the seventh book! Who would have known Snape spend his childhood scaring Petunia with ghost stories of Dementors? Who would have guessed?
And more importantly, the movie understands that! It uses it and does indeed reflect. The title "Half blood prince." Is not just a reference to Snape, it's a reference to the entire half blood trio of Voldemort, Snape and Harry. And the movie acknowledge that fact. Unlike the third movie which walks around lacking a limp the sixth movies not only honours it's source material, but understands it as well, something the other directors kind of didn't, and on the same time it has the guts to stand on its own as an independent medium.
David Yates.. you are amazing and I salute you.
I can't wait to go in a watch your next movie Thursday!Oh, and for those blasphemic people who doesn't know of it yet, you should totally go to Youtube and watch the legally uplouded. "A very Potter Musical." that thing and it's sequel is a work of geniouse and features some of the best lines ever written by men.
Remember, you might think that killing people makes them like you, but it doesn't! it just makes them dead.
Thanks, see you with next update or review of the new movie.