Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the Non Spoiler Edition

Or: You wanted to know about this new D-Box thingamajig and/or how the movie plays in 3-D and I've got the information to share.

It hasn't been mentioned on the blog much (or possibly not at all), but I have a substantial blind spot in my left eye, thanks to strabismus. There's nothing wrong with the eye mechanically, but it turns slightly to the left and as an infant, the brain couldn't reconcile the two different ocular images-so that one is ignored in processing.

Thing is, I've never really had a problem with it, except for having poorer than average depth perception (which is why I suck at baseball, tennis, football and anything where a ball is in the air) and an inability to effectively watch 3-D movies. A few years ago, Disney opened Mickey's Philharmagic at Walt Disney World and I went in, not expecting to enjoy it. Suprisingly, it all worked for me, a first in my life.

So, when the only ticket options for the local theatre's midnight showing were in the 3D theatres, I bought them. Then there was this thing called D-Box, that made these tickets more expensive than any others in the theatre. I had no idea what it was, but they were reserved seats, always a plus at a premiere.

Tickets in hand (or rather, email inbox), I searched out D-Box and found their website. I wondered if this was a rehash of sensurround, which was this novelty that Irwin Allen added to all those movies (Earthquake!, Towering Inferno and others that I was too young to see) to enhance the experience.

According to their website, and the video on it, there's a box that will basically shake, rattle and roll your seat. There was a worrisome disclaimer, which stated that people with head and neck issues should not use these seats. Crappity crap crap, says I. A trip to pick up my tickets on Thursday after work found a helpful ticket taker who told me that the controls could be modified up or down from the default middle setting, or even turned off. HP was the first movie with these seats, and the employees got a demo with another movie last week.

So, a new technology and a format that hasn't been successful for me in the past, was I going to be disappointed or frustrated with this movie experience?

Absolutely, unequivocally NOT.

It was freaking AWESOME!

The seats accentuated the movie. If the characters were flying, the seat had a sense of motion to it. As scenes opened and panned down into the action, the seat tilted forward ever so slightly. As spells were cast, the seats were 'zapped.' There was plenty of activity from the seats, but none of it really stood out from the action, which tells me it was the just the right use of a new medium. Both Ed and I played it cautious with the seats for the first ten minutes or so to find out how much they did, then we both bumped them to the highest setting.

If you are considering the D-Box seating, the added expense does bring something to the table. There is hardly anything out there from the viewer perspective to tell you one way or the other these seats. From two people with physical concerns, it was far less jarring that the gentlest roller coaster ride.

Know this: prior to your movie, the seat will run through calibrations to set itself to your size, which means it will bottom out, then the hydraullics will 'reset' you to where you were. As a result, our viewing of the movie was delayed by about 10 minutes because it seems that all seats have to calibrate before they start, and a few of the viewers had left, then returned from the concession stands about 2 minutes before the movie's scheduled start. Let it run through the paces.

The seats are separated from each other and have cup holders. I actually hung my purse off the one cup holder. If you like to cuddle up to your date at a movie, these seats are not for you.

Now, for the 3D. This movie was definitely not filmed specifically for the 3D format, meaning you will not have hands in your face throughout the movie or stuff like that. Instead, it gave depth to the action. (Yes, I could tell depth, so that tells you that it was effective) There were a couple of times where it was obvious, but not in a 'look, we filmed this in 3D' way. In the scenes at Shell Cottage, there's a wind chime, and it seemed to be closer to us than the rest of the items in the room.

Overall, the entire package of D-Box and 3D was enjoyed by all four of us, and we'd do it again for a blockbuster movie, but not for the everyday release. Since this was the last movie in the Harry franchise, I felt the expense was worth it.

Now, for the movie itself, without spoiling for others. It is near impossible to shoehorn 400+ pages into a two hour movie without leaving out important plot elements. That said, what was presented is cohesive. Some modifications from the book were made (and they've been show in the numerous commercials), but they worked with the rest of the film.

There are moments of levity, where the entire theatre was laughing heartily. There are sad moments where even the toughest guys could be heard sniffling (bring tissues). There are scenes where you will cheer and applaud (Momma Weasley's line, for instance). And there is a scene that condenses a major theme in the book into something very poignant.

We walked out with Chef saying that this was the best movie he has EVER seen. While time will tell, as far as I am concerned, it was an ending that did the series justice. As someone who typically finds book adaptations lacking, for me to walk out as pleased with the job they did with this beloved book tells me that the director definitely was sensitive to the faithful readers of all of JK Rowling's books.

Mischief Managed, indeed.





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