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12 July 2007 @ 10:53 am
Harry Potter and the Crotchety Nitpicker  
Went to see the new Harry Potter last night. Overall pretty good, as the main story carried through well and it ended up where it needed to. There are some quibbles, as always.

However, it seemed to be missing some of the feel of the book. While this is the darkest of the stories in the series so far, it actually felt lighter in many ways than Goblet of Fire.

- Harry's sense of separation in the book is profound in the beginning. The forming of the DA and the results of his interview in the Quibbler are the trigger points for making him feel part of a community again. The separation is not really dealt with - though they did a good job with his separation from Dumbledore - and the Quibbler sequence is not used at all (though you do see Luna reading her Quibbler upside down in her first scene).

- The pressure of the OWLs is only barely hinted at. In the book, the pressure on Harry to not only deal with his flashes of connection to Voldemort and the ridicule from a wizarding community that once adored him is exacerbated by his desire to be an Auror and therefore the extreme pressure to get high scores on his OWLs.

- In general, the mental pressure on Harry is not represented much in the movie. You see glimpses of the pain of the Voldemort connection - though the setup of the reason to believe that Mr. Weasley really is hurt is a bit glossed over - and, of course, being ignored by Dumbledore is pretty big, but the scenes of Harry's clear enjoyment (and success) with the DA very much overwhelm the feelings of frustration and fear of failure that suffuse the book.

- Does it seem to anyone else that the DA all produced Patronuses rather easily? It took Harry a lot to get his, but the class got them all at once without a lot of trying. Maybe Harry isn't as good a wizard as everyone thinks...

- As would be expected and required when taking an 800 page book and reducing it to a couple of hours, there are some favorite sequences missing. When Harry connects to Snape's memory, it cuts off before Lily stops James from picking on Snape. They don't show any of the centaur interactions with the school (including taking over Divinations) that give a reason for the centaurs to finally run off with Umbridge. During the Weasleying of Hogwarts, they don't have a chance to show the various professors professing inability to handle the problems and thus forcing Umbridge to run around handling everything. The subplot with Hagrid and Grawp was missing the relationship with Madame Maxime. Quidditch is entirely ignored.

- The ending does not deal at all with Harry's feelings about Sirius Black, which again ties into his sense of isolation and otherness. My concern about this is that it is possible such things are important to his actions in the final book, and by not taking the time to establish them in the movies there will be a gap in backstory when the final movie is made.

- A final nit to pick - the "Levicorpus" spell is used by the DA in the end battle, when (I think I recall properly) it was not discovered by Harry until the Half-Blood Prince.

I enjoyed a number of things about the movie. I think Grawp was handled well. The overwhelming pinkness of Dolores Umbridge (and the mewing cat plates on the wall of her office) is horrifyingly cute. The Room of Requirement worked nicely. Dudley Dursley has grown into a believable bully and thug.

In spite of its flaws, there's nothing in the movie that make it a problem watching or fitting into the series - in other words, it isn't like Star Trek III: The Search for Spock or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where you just want to delete them from the canon as if they never existed. It is just (in my opinion) the weakest of the films so far, and one hopes that the escalating tension in the next books is not given short shrift due to someone's idea of making a viewable film.
Current Mood: amusedamused
madfilkentist: starwarsmadfilkentist on July 12th, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
Actually, I liked ST III.
starmalachitestarmalachite on July 13th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
Actually, I liked ST III.

More than agreed. It's actually my favorite of the lot because it refers back to TOS the most. It's also the last one where Shat bothered to play Kirk instead of himself.
jcbemisjcbemis on July 12th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
I thought they did a pretty good job of condensing the book - we wouldn't want this missle movie too long (though I missed the quidditch suff too).

On another subject, have you had a chance to talk to Brenda about my offer?
Bill Suttonbedlamhouse on July 12th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, I talked to ladyat and yes.

Email will be forthcoming.
Robautographedcat on July 12th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
It is just (in my opinion) the weakest of the films so far

Seems fair. it was the weekest of the books so far, IMO.

BTW, when are you back in ATL? We're nearing the climax of the Dragon Kings adventure, and thought you'd kinda want to be there for the finale.
Cat Sitting Stillcatsittingstill on July 12th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
Does it seem to anyone else that the DA all produced Patronuses rather easily? It took Harry a lot to get his, but the class got them all at once without a lot of trying. Maybe Harry isn't as good a wizard as everyone thinks...

Well, it does occur to me that producing a Patronus is partly dependent on your confidence that you *can* (I vaguely remember--apologies if I am mistaken). And therefore once two or three of your fellow students have produced them, your confidence might naturally be increased.

In another vein, I did have the impression that they were condensing a number of DA sessions into one series of shots, so to speak.
vixyish on July 13th, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
They did also mention in the book that it's much easier when you're not actually facing anything... Harry was trying, from day one, to do it in front of a real boggart-turned-dementor, whereas the entire D.A. were just doing it in a room with each other.
vixyish on July 13th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
Agreed, agreed, on all points agreed.

And you are correct about levicorpus-- I'm just about 2/3 through Half-Blood Prince right now.

I also wished that the connection with Luna was a little better drawn-- I like that it was there, but I missed the part where she specifically talks about the Veil, and says, "oh, but it's not like we won't see them again. They're there, just on the other side..."

And I really wished they hadn't glossed over Neville's parents. You barely got a mention of it, and if you didn't quite catch what he said, you didn't get it at all. And what happened to his parents, and his life, is so much a part of things-- the prophecy, and the choice to attack Harry rather than Neville, and especially his parents' history and Bellatrix's escape leading directly to Neville's determination to succeed in the D.A. and to his eventual success (which was also glossed over-- I don't think they fairly represented his success at all!)

Also, they really ought to have been drawing Ginny out a bit more; by this book she's already a strong character, a powerful witch, and has boys attracted to her. I wish they hadn't kept her mostly mousey in this movie, especially since she's supposed to be the love interest pretty soon.

Really, though, I'm disappointed in how the actor who took over for Richard Harris just pretty much tosses out Dumbledore's lines like they don't much matter. The ending conversation was just awful. It was Costner-in-Robin-Hood awful.
matthaios on July 16th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
I don't know...that seems kind of harsh--Costner awful? Wow.

I liked the movie, personally, but it did take away that I spent a good deal of the time comparing it to the book. I think they could have worked in an extra 15 minutes and better developed the story even just a tiny little bit. I don't think this movie was as long as the other films.

I agree they could have played out the other characters more...the secondary characters like Ginny, Luna, and Neville all seemed more like props than people.

Was this another new director? Whoever did the fourth film should have done this one.