Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harry Potter: Quadruple Feature

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (4/5)
A decade has passed since the Harry Potter films began, and even more years since the first book hit shelves everywhere. Brilliant works of art as they are, the films are successful world-wide and the story is known by many. Everyone knows what Hedwig's Theme sounds like and the names Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are household names. In this very special blog posts (2 or so more will come after) I will be dissecting the films and comparing them to the books, while also praising my very favorite British actors.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's book-to-movie was probably the easier adapted, seeing as they are pretty much identical. Of course there are snippets here and there that are different, but they are easily cut to keep the movie well within the 3hr time mark and flowing nicely. Remembering when I first saw it, I was pretty disappointed with the obstacles omitted from the fight to get to the Sorcerer's Stone. I was really looking forward to seeing brilliant purple and black flames and seeing Hermione shine in the moment, but after a few deep breaths and a couple of more screenings of the film, I was okay with this. Hermione's little monologue before Harry runs to go face Voldy for the first time is very beautiful and one of her better lines that she didn't have to steal from Ron.
Other little tid-bits missing was The Trio's time trying to decide what to do with Hagrid's dragon, and the little miss-hap with who actually does the detention in the forest (Neville should have been there instead of Ron), but for the sake of the flow of the movie, these were all necessary edits. The chapter "The Midnight Duel"was also omitted, as well as the characters Peeves, Piers Polkiss, Mrs. Figg and Professor Bins, and a little bit of Vernon Dursely time. All-in-all, this adaption was quite spot on, and I really have no complaints with this film. It was my first visual step into the Potter world and I love it all the more for being that. At 11 years old, there was not much I needed to complain about!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (4/5)
This movie, like it's predecessor, wasn't all too different from the books. Chris Colombus was the director again and he did a fabulous job bringing young Harry to life. The biggest scene looked over would have had to been the Death Day Party on Halloween night, which would have been pretty spectacular to see on the big screen, but I suppose they just had to cut it out to keep within budget (but it's not like the producers and actors aren't swimming in money at this point already due to the first's huge success). At least they didn't cut Dobby's character in this one. There also was a little bit of reorganizing, due to the missing Death Day Party chapter, and this is the first movie that had Hermione stealing Ron's ever-deserved lines. However, who could ever forget "Why spiders?! Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies??" And the added flying car-Hogwarts express scene on peril was pretty good movie action.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (4.5/5)
Now, this is where things start to get sticky. Starting with this one, the films grew a lot darker (cinematography and plot-wise)
and things starting becoming omitted left and right. This is also the film where the true Dumbledore was no more, and the ever disappointing Michael Gambon entered the picture. Although his performance did improve from film to film, it was hard to recognize him as the new Dumbledore my first few viewings. The director also had a very artsy touch to him, as well as a fetish for the Whomping Willow. I think the most outrageous edit from book to film was the dismissing of the explanation behind the Marauders. Sure, this may not be very important information for the defeating of Voldy in the end, but the fact that movie Harry is unaware of his father's nickname and the meaning behind his own patronous is disappointing to say the least. I also would have loved to see Harry's week in Diagon Alley getting free ice creams from Florean Fortescue, but beggers cannot be choosers. I feel like the omitting of many of the boring Care of Magical Creatures classes was a good choice, seeing as not many of us wanted to see The Trio sitting on the ground feeding flobberworms lettuce.
The addition of Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, and Emma Thompson were also fabulous. Each of them brings a life to their characters that is extraordinary, and like many of the Potter films supporting cast, they are very much brilliant at their job.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (4.5/5)
This one being my favorite book, was bound to be my favorite film. Even though there was so much excluded from the books, and many things were tweaked, I feel this is one of the last films that really had the exact mood of the current book and created Voldemort as a villain to be feared. I have never been so scared of him as I was in this movie when he burst out of the cauldron. It was chilling, I remember shaking in my seat upon first viewing. This movie was also the first one I cried during, when Cedric Diggory died.
Although much was taken out to keep the movie in time, I still adore this film. However, this movie can be the one blamed for the sheer ignorance the movie audience has regarding house elves. This film probably also has the most plot holes, especially with the extracting Hermione's SPEW determination and Dobby and Winky's characters. Regarding Dobby's importance later in the films, this also affected Barty Crouch Jr's capture. It just isn't as impacting as it is in the books, but casting David Tennant wasn't a bad move at all. The omitting of Hagrid as a half giant is also a plot hole, concerning the 5th film.
Rita Skeeter's reveal as an illegal animagus, though unneeded, is a let down as well. Also skipping over the Dursley's, the Quidditch World Cup, and Sirius hiding up in the mountains near Hogsmeade was also a let down.
However drastic these edits are, this film has some of the greatest scenes in the series. The one with Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, and Moody is really well done, as well as my favorite voldy scene of all time (which I have already mentioned). It's very much dark and twisted and I love it. The Death Eater's costumes paralleling that of the KKK's was a very brilliant move as well.

I cannot wait to watch the 5th film tonight, and te 6th and 7th Pt.1 later this week. I am so excited for the last film, I cannot quite express it well enough I think. A part of my childhood is ending with the finale of these films. I just cannot believe a decade of great movies is almost over. 4 days.

"The ones that love us never really leave us. And you can always find them in here [the heart]."

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