Posts Tagged ‘harry potter’

Mild Fantastic Beasts spoilers

la-et-hc-first-look-harry-potter-prequel-fantastic-beasts-20151104

Both franchises, Harry Potter and Star Wars, recently launched new films that explore more of their respective universes. But there’s a right way to do this and a wrong way.

The right way is “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” This movie introduced all new characters that fit snugly into the Harry Potter world. It felt right, while still being its own movie.

Characters apparate, and the movie doesn’t have to explain to you what’s happening. If you’re here, you already know. There are recognizable names and creatures and spells, and that makes you feel comfortable.

But, there are enough new things that keep it from being more of the same. Yes, we see yet more of muggle vs. magic…again…but we also see what happens to young wizards who are told that their power is evil, and that they should be ashamed of it. We see what happens when power is bottled up, with no healthy outlet. And we see the real world problem of child abuse in a fantasy world.

In short, it gave fans what they wanted, and things they didn’t know they wanted.

Star Wars Episode 7 was two hours of fan service. It didn’t really bring anything new to the saga. There wasn’t a feeling like it was breaking any new ground. It was too safe.

“Rogue One” tells the story of how the plans for the Death Star were found. It’s kind of like a Star Wars Tales comic, where they would tell one-shot stories about some obscure characters or side quests. Again, it might be too safe. You pretty much know how it will begin and how it will end.

Star Wars needs to step outside of its safe zone, and take some chances. If they are committed to making a new one every few years, the creators can’t be afraid of one of them only making $1.5 billion instead of $2 billion.

We don’t need to see a prequel that just tells you how Han Solo got his clothes. (I’m sure they’re going to tell us anyway.) We need to explore these worlds.

Of course, Fantastic Beasts had J.K. Rowling writing the story. She has already mapped out the marriages and children of most of the students at Hogwarts even though we (might) never see these stories. George Lucas seems to be out of the loop on the creative end, and that might make a difference. Some people say a good change, some say a bad change.

Other Worlds cover

About 30 minutes into this movie, I thought, “Geez, this is going by awfully quickly.” I had completely forgotten that all the build-up was in the last movie. If I could watch more than one movie in a sitting, it might be that they form a more natural build to a plateau of action.

That said, the director David Yates understood timing. There were many shots that were long enough to take in the scenery and the emotion. They were even a welcome break from the scattershot action movie trailers that came before.

But the speed necessitated that things had to be cut. We never saw the Fred Weasley death scene, unless you sort-of saw it when Voldemort called off the Death Eaters. We also got gipped on Lupin and Tonks. Occasionally, the movies will show something the books didn’t, and this is one thing my wife and I both wanted the movies to fill in. We saw them reach for each other, so I guess that was more than the book gave us. I was hoping for a little more from the Molly Weasley/Bellatrix Lestrange fight, but it got the job done. We’d never seen Molly duel, and it would be cool to see her let loose like McGonagall, who kicked ass!

I wonder how much Emma Thompson got paid for her 3 seconds as Sybil Trelawney? Certainly, I’m glad she wasn’t dropping crystal balls on Fenrir, who also showed up for 3 seconds. But, that’s the nature of movies, they excise or marginalize lesser characters and parts. Hagrid was a huge casualty. Did we really need to see the Carrows?

The one scene from the book that was missing – the only one that really sticks out – was Harry’s declaration in front of everybody that Snape was a hero. This could have happened when they were done apparating. The apparation fight was a nice touch, and as they are flying wild, they could have landed right in the middle of everyone.

I’m glad they only hinted at Dumbledore’s past. My main criticism of the books has been that more than half of the action happens more than a decade ago. Everything that’s happening now got it’s start at various times: When Dumbledore was gathering power; when Tom Riddle and Hagrid attended Hogwarts; when James, Lily, Remus, Sirius and Severus attended Hogwarts; and when James and Lily were killed.

I was happy with Neville Longbottom, who has always been my favorite. I root for the underdog, and I feel that if I was in that world, I would be the bumbler who always felt like a second-string extra.

I found that I had to try to cry quietly because I didn’t want to miss any of the dialogue. The biggest tearjerker was Snape’s pensieve scenes.

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/deathly-hollows-2-everyone-will-cry/

 

My wife started crying in the opening scenes, with Snape looking out over Hogwarts. No one knows why.

Now, it will continue in Pottermore, which is just as well, but it’s hard to deny that there was an ending here. And it was a satisfying ending.

 

I had written a review of Part One here:

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/review-deathly-hallows-part-one/

I’m not ready for the last Harry Potter movie.

I’m ready for the deaths of key characters. I’m ready for the war. What I’m absolutely not ready for is the credits.

The first movies of the series filled us with wonder as we first saw Hogwarts in all its glory. Hagrid’s Hut. The Shrieking Shack. Now, we’ll see it all be dismembered pixel by pixel in vivid computer animation. At least I’ll only be seeing it in 2D (Yes I bought my tickets already).

Once those credits roll: That’s it. There’s no more. It’s over.

No more movies. No more anticipation. No more hours-long discussion over how they’re going to handle different parts of the books in the next movie. No more debate over whether something is going to be changed. No more releases of studio pictures. Cast interviews. Trailers. Nothing!

The journey of reading the books for the first time is long over. The end of that was painful as well.

Now, we’ll have to say goodbye to its celluloid legacy. It’s going to be a theater full of people crying, and I’m not prepared for that at all. It’s going to be like Toy Story 3.

Review: Deathly Hallows Part One

This contains spoilers only if you haven’t read the books. Mainly you’ll learn about what was included and where the movie leaves off.

Was it a bad sign that I was actually nervous that this movie would be good?

I’ve been so disappointed with movies that I don’t let myself get worked up for anything lately. And maybe that was why I was surprised by how good it was.

No review of this movie can avoid comparisons to the book for what was put in and what was left out. I think the parts they left in worked, and the stuff they added in worked.

It still wasn’t better than my favorite of the series, “Order of the Phoenix.”

The things they added were really good. Harry trying to dance with Hermione to lighten her mood, the awkwardness of getting caught kissing Ginny…they all felt right. I don’t remember Hermione mindwiping her parents, but it was sad.

Some scenes were extended, like Hagrid and Harry fleeing Privet Drive, which made sense. It was an extended action scene to show how dangerous it is now.

The one where they’re running from the Snatchers was hard to watch. Too much flashing around. Why not just apparate?

I had seen Hedwig being freed in press photos, and thought he was going to be spared. I thought that would have been better. It was too sad to lose her in the book. But it wasn’t meant to be. I guess it was better than losing her in a cage, but still, she should have been free.

And I still never bought that Delores Umbridge was a Death Eater. A prudish, power-hungry, cruel bully, yes. But not everything needs to be so black and white. Not everyone needs to be on one side or the other.

Rufus Scrimgeour didn’t have much of a role in the movie, or a point really. I guess they had to explain that there was a new Minister of Magic, but for all his function in the movie, it didn’t really matter. Wouldn’t it have been great for Umbridge to become minister, the job she clearly coveted, and then it turns out she’s the one who’s murdered by Death Eaters when “the Ministry has fallen?” Scrimgeour has to bring Dumbledore’s will to the kids, but wouldn’t it have been painful if the person doing this was Umbridge? And with all the magic they have, couldn’t Dumbledore’s voice been recorded into his will?

I knew that the movie would end where it did. Dobby’s death and the escape from Malfoy Manor was a key point-one where there were a lot of characters around. It was an emotional touchpoint that a lot of people focused on. I also appreciated that there wasn’t any wrap-up dialogue at the end, which always seemed hollow in the other movies. They always had a few words exchanged between the main characters, and no amount of words could sufficiently sum it all up.

People watching this movie all have the book in their minds, they’ve read it recently. So the argument has changed: There’s no “they needed to explain this for people who didn’t see or read previous movies and books.” No one’s going to see the 7th installment without prior knowledge. And if they do, they accept that there’s no way to get all the references. But will it hold up in 20 years, if they haven’t reread the books during that time?

Again, there’s too much to explain to get everything. There’s only so much dialogue you can give to Ron to push the plot along and fill in the holes.

Looking at the ads, people I know didn’t understand why they were introducing a Snatcher with such a prominent role this late in the game. But it makes sense to have some of the Death Eaters more prominent-something I wished they had done from the earlier movies, so it didn’t seem like these people came out of nowhere.

At least in this one, they weren’t even pretending to have a full movie. That was the problem with “The Half-Blood Prince.” It was trying to be a movie, when in reality, it was just a chapter.