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Love, Blood and Rhetoric
One of us, one of us... 
20th-Aug-2009 02:32 pm
Angel blood
I've now seen all the Harry Potter movies.

So, now, I suppose, I shall have to get around to reading the books.

On the movies - I found them entertaining enough, nicely performed on the whole (although Emma Watson was singled out as being strong in the first couple of movies, I found her wooden and painful, but then child actors generally are), with brilliant supporting casts.

I do have a few questions about Harry Potter as a whole as well as some observations about the movies under the cut. Bear in mind that I've only seen the movies, I haven't read the final book (books?) so I don't know what happens in the end.

Observations first:

By golly this stuff is slashy. I mean, the homoerotic undertones are certainly fitting for the British public school setting, but even so.

Neville is awesome.

Anyone who's not about 17 themselves and is claiming any of the junior cast to be sexy after they've seen the early movies worries me. I mean, brrrr. They're only about 12.

Does Snape do more in the books? I mean, he's meant to be a major character, correct? But all he does in the first five movies is loiter in the background and whack a few kids around the head.

Also: Ginny. What the hell? Where did that relationship come from. Is she as utterly devoid of personality in the books? She made so little impression. The only thing she did as get kidnapped and I'm not sure why we were supposed to care about that since she barely appeared in the movie previously. It actually took me a few minutes to remember who she was and then it was only as "Ron's sister", which is a poor lookout for a supposed major player.

Is Slughorn meant to be quite so sympathetic? Maybe it's lovely old Jim Broadbent, but I loved the poor sod. Potentially he could have been creepy and rather disturbing (particularly in tandem with Dumbledore pimping Harry out to him) but I felt terribly sorry for him.

On Snape killing Dumbledore - I'm gonna assume he did it to both save Malfoy, as per his oath, and because Dumbledore drinking that stuff had poisoned him and he was going to die or be influenced by Voldemort anyway.

Speaking of Voldemort, that "he who must not be named" thing got old fast.

Anyway, thoughts on the movies themselves:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Dodgy CGI in parts (particularly whenever someone was getting flung around - they looked more rag doll than human), but a decent enough movie. It's the supporting cast that carry this one, really, since I thought the kids themselves were rather wooden, but to be expected from child actors. Considering its length, it held up okay, though and the story was harmless enough. A little too sweet for my tastes, though, and Harry was such an annoying little swot I can't blame the criminally underused Alan Rickman wanting to slap him. And Hermione's even worse, the smug little so and so. Average more than magical.

Rating 6/10

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

More natural performances from the kids this time means that the movie holds up a little better, as well as more going on in terms of plot. Again, it's mostly the performances that hold this one together more than the plot - Kenneth Branagh totally hamming it up was entertaining - along with the slightly darker tone. (Although I wish it had been darker still. The sickly sweet ending made me cringe rather.) The finale was just a bit too random for me - there was a decent mystery brewing throughout which was suddenly replaced by a series of random events with magical swords and phoenixes appearing from nowhere, characters I had no knowledge or interest in put in deadly peril, dying characters randomly healed ("Oh yes, I just remembered, X has magical healing powers! Hooray!") Oh and Dobby, the annoying little shit. I would have drop kicked him out of a window.

So, again, in danger of being too twee but just about saved by giant bloody spiders and other bloody horrible things and an unexpected twist with the villain.

Rating - 6/10

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Much improvement here, although the plot meanders a bit. Much more mature performances from the kids, although I still found Emma Watson wooden - but the maturity's no surprise considering a couple of years passed between movies. And it looks it. It's somewhat disconcerting to have actors who've aged a couple of years (which at that age is a lot) playing characters who are supposedly only a couple of months older. Definitely much improved over the first two movies though: the story's darker, the direction more risky and desaturated, the tone less twee and sickly, David Thewlis and Gary Oldman both put in nicely judged performances and there's genuine suspense. The new Dumbledore is a bit jarring as Michael Gambon has a very different take to Richard Harris, but slight quibbles aside, this was enjoyable and pleasantly dark.

Rating - 8/10

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

A step backwards here, really. After the character-centric and decent plot of the last movie, this one falls back to a rather weak narrative that doesn't feel big enough to carry a whole movie by itself. I sat there waiting for something to happen as part of the bigger picture, but after about 2 hours of filler - repetitive tasks that never really seemed to go anywhere, teen angst and pointless misunderstandings - it was only the last 20 minutes or so that seemed worthwhile. And even then, it's the big villain popping up and soliloquizing for ten minutes without any kind of pay off or being connected with the main plot in any kind of way that I could see. (Why did Voldemort need Harry particularly and why sen David Tennant to screw with him? And why does Voldemort have no nose? How does he smell? Terrible!) The cameos aren't as appealing either - Miranda Richardson as an unpleasant gossip columnist seems to be from another movie entirely, for example. Although Francis de la Tour and Brendan Gleeson are entertaining enough.

Oh, and that's not a goblet. That's a bloody urn.

Rating - 6/10

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The eponymous Order don't really do a lot, do they? Harry is so VERY ANGRY, you can tell because he says so, even if he doesn't seem particularly nonplussed most of the time, more bored. At least he doesn't go all Anakin anyway. Gary Oldman turns in a good performance and the plot's tighter this time around and actually seems necessary to the whole as well as adding a few thrills for its own sake. The highlight of the movie for me was the Orwellian villainess in the shape of pink lace clad, kitten loving monster Dolores Umbridge, with Imelda Staunton obviously having enormous fun in the role. A genuinely great villainess, that one and a fully realized performance, unlike Helena Bonham Carter who pops up to shriek a lot and gnaw on the scenery in a performance that makes Kenneth Branagh's hamminess look positively subtle. I'm not sure I quite understand why Harry didn't point out to anyone that Malfoy Snr was EVIL after the last film, though. That sort of thing should come up, surely.

It's all a bit formulaic and dreary a lot of time, not helped by Daniel Radcliffe's rather emotionless performance, but it's hard to dislike when Imelda Staunton is just that bloody good and the darkly satirical tone is certainly not childish. Oldman's death is weak though - He just seems to float slowly though a doorway thing. It would have been nice if they'd explained in movie why that finished him off.

Rating - 7/10

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Voldemort's back, the world knows and the movie starts with mass destruction and terror… and then descends into some kind of teenage romcom for no reason I can discern. Will Ron admit his love for Hermione? Will Harry ask out Ginny? Who the hell cares? The main problem is both relationships seem to come from absolutely nowhere and there seems to be utterly no reason for any attraction between the pairings (Harry describes Ginny as "brilliant". She is? Well I never saw that, she's just been a minor background character for all of the movies. What does Hermione see in Ron? Some reasoning for her sudden obsession would be nice.) The main issue is half the movie's taken up with this, ultimately forgettable.

There's some decent stuff - the fall of Malfoy was solidly depicted, Jim Broadbent's character was intriguing and well performed - but otherwise it's all rather dull and dear me, the romance is feeble and intrusive. Where was Snape? Why were we supposed to care who the Half Blood Prince is? If Harry's the chosen one, shouldn't he be, y'know, doing something instead of wandering around trying to get off with his mate's sister and fixing sports matches? It'd be nice if something happened in the movie at all and even the well-known death was a non-event and the lead up weirdly nonsensical.

Weakest of the bunch.

Rating - 5/10


20th-Aug-2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
Neville's awesomeness comes across a lot better in the books.

Snape is a bit more prominent in the books, and although Half-Blood Prince didn't feature him a whole lot per se, the whole "Half-Blood Prince" thing is explained way better in the book. As opposed to the non-existent explanation in the movie.

Ginny...well, many fandom wars have taken place because of her. lol. Um, it makes more sense in the books again, because you do see them develop a friendship a bit, but because romance isn't a big focus of the books, you wind up being told more about her and their relationship than you actually get to see it.

Slughorn: yeah, I'd say he is supposed to be somewhat sympathetic. He's not evil, he just routinely thinks of himself first.
20th-Aug-2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
I'd say Neville's awesomeness came across pretty well in the movies, personally, but if he's even better in the books, I have a reason to read them.

Jim Broadbent's just lovely and eccentric and lonely and sad. I just wanted to give him a big hug. I suspect I found him more sympathetic than he was meant to be, though, although I'm not quite sure what he did that was particularly bad. A student asked him about something and he told them. From what happens in the movie he didn't explain HOW to, not in enough detail to perform the magic, that I can see, so I wasn't sure why he felt so horrible. Riddle knew about Horcruxes before he went to him, yes?
20th-Aug-2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
The 6th movie was an awful disappointment, especially regarding the Half-Blood Prince himself. I swear, I totally forgot the book until Snape mentioned it in the end. And yes, Snape is much more prominent in the books, especially regarding Harry's father tormenting him (you could see 3 seconds of that in one of Snape's flashbacks when he was teaching Harry Oclumency - in the movies, they totally ignored that after and before). Basically, after the second movie, it feels like they wished they could get rid of Snape at all, while in the books he gets more and more background, backstory and interactions.

Neville have, as they say, took level A in badass. Seriously. I was so angry they have completely cut him out in the 6th movie, he barely appeared in a couple of scenes. :/

Speaking of Voldemort, that "he who must not be named" thing got old fast.

*smirks* And after you read the books, you'll see why I'm smirking.
20th-Aug-2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
Without knowing the book, I don't know how it holds up, but is the story as slight, or is there more to it? Most of the movie just seems to be people hooking up and idiotic comedy with Ron's stalker girlfriend.
20th-Aug-2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Well, to be perfectly honest, the 6th book is my least favorite because of the pointless romance but the revelation that Snape is the Prince... in the book, you actually CARE about it! :O

I wanted the movie out ASAP, so we could see the 7th book, which is... wow. I really don't know how will they do it, considering they've ignored a LOT in the previous movies, that's essential for the 7th movie. I'm really afraid for one plot twist from the book 6 that was ignored in the movie, which seems to implicate that it will also be treated in the 7th as it didn't exist.
20th-Aug-2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
Well, the 7th book is being split into two movies, isn't it? Gives more hope they'll shove some stuff back in and maybe reveal some stuff they had to miss out in flashback?
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