Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter (some spoilers ahead)

After not seeing three movies on the big screen and seeing the last at the $2.00 movie theatre the week before it came out on video (which was pretty cool, btw), we saw Order of the Phoenix on opening day.

Over the years, the lesson has been a hard one: never, EVER go into a movie and expect a faithful adaptation of the book. I'd been burned many times. Patriot Games, Raise the Titanic, The Firm and others left me yelling at the screen, furious that the director ruined the book. As a result, I've learned to be a lot more forgiving. I now walk into the movie expecting nothing more than approximately two hours of entertainment. And so it was with Order of the Phoenix. Two and a half hours is not enough time to cover 900 pages. It ain't happening, folks.

We were smart-the tickets were purchased online. This is a nifty feature. We still paid less than the after 5 price for the showing. The 2:30 show did sell out-there were only six empty seats in the theatre. All we had to do was slide the credit card into the little automated ticket machine outside the entrance and bingo-4 tickets popped out. Into the multiplex we go, where we find TWO queues for later showings, the next one (3:30) already had about 40 people in line. There were comments as we passed "how are THEY going into the show NOW?" 10 minutes prior to showtime. Magic, you fool! :) That right there made the extra 4 dollars worth it!

So we got there with enough time to find seats together-in the front row. That's okay, beats the last family outing to the movies, for Cars we had to split up. At 2:30, the promos begin. One is for a Walden Media epic, "The Compass". It looks REALLY good. Another looked promising with a story about the Loch Ness. There were a few other promos, but nothing else stands out at the moment (forgive the RSD-I've got colander brain).

Then, the main attraction, Harry Potter. This was the darkest of the films so far, which is like the books. In the interests of brevity, many elements were left out (Ron and Hermoine as prefects, NO Quidditch, Dobby, Firenze, etc). The ill fated Harry/Cho romance played out a little differently-there just wasn't time to bring in the incidental characters to make these things work the way they do in print.

In all of the advance previews, both Ed and I thought they screwed up in casting Luna Lovegood. The young lady playing her is much too pretty compared to JKR's descriptions (brunette and homely). However, this young lady captured the flakiness of Luna very well. For Hogwarts to be based in England, this is the first student with an Irish Brogue!

Similarly, Delores Umbridge was perfectly cast. The woman was spot on in her malevolance at Harry in particular and all of Hogwarts students in general. Her punishment to Harry comes back to haunt her in the Forbidden Forest, after all, he must not tell lies. (IMO, the funniest line in the movie). Helena Bonham Carter appears to channel Robert Smith of the Cure's 80's makeup and hairdo and gives Bellatrix LaStrange proper attention as a evil whack job.

Which brings up another point. There was more humor in this movie. Several scenes had the whole audience cracking up, and one had a collective "DUH" (though I said "No Shit, Sherlock")
There is an IMAX 3D version of the movie. I'd like to see the IMAX, but I'm on the fence whether these scenes have to be viewed in 3D.

I had some fear that this movie would be too scary for the kids. They've handled things well on the TV at home, but sometimes seeing it larger than life is intimidating. They did fine, in fact, they both loved it. I still feel I did the right thing by not bringing them to PoTC2 in the theatres, as the CGI created scarier creatures. Perhaps OotP wasn't as scary, as theyd already seen the Dementors and Voldemort in the last film (also viewed on the big screen).

One son has already asked if we can go see it at the movie theatre with the tables. He wants to see it at the $2.00 movie theatre! It was explained that it won't be there for a long time, but he's fine with that. Heck, I'm with him-enjoying some beer and snacks while watching this again sounds like a good date to me!

In short, if you're a book to movie purist, you'll be frustrated. If you can let the changes go and enjoy the movie on its own merits, GO. You'll enjoy the fast paced storytelling that OotP contains.

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