Not a Movie Review: Charlotte's Web
Labels: movie reviews
Have fun stormin' the castle!
Labels: movie reviews
Labels: making movies
Labels: Dolly inspired
"Where are You Going, My Little One?"
"Shoes, Ships, Sealing Wax"
"You Could Stand Inside My Shoes"
"Made for Walkin'"
"Embossed on the Heart"
"All God's Children Need Travellin' Shoes"
There are still many things right with the film. As with all the other films, there is a faithfulness to the spirit and general direction of the stories. (I think Ms. Rowling has a large say in that matter).
The casting continues to be spot on. Imelda Staunton is new to this film, as the very awful Dolores Umbrage, who operating with a veneer of sweetness, worms her way into Hogwarts at the bidding of the very paranoid Minister of Magic and slowly creates a near totalitarian state at the school. She was perhaps more comical in the film than she should have been, but when she gets her evil on, it's creepy evil.
Regulars Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs (be still my heart), Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane and Alan Rickman (heart, I told you to be still) all make their appearances. And kudos to them all for taking the "no small parts, only small actors" attitude. Because Emma Thompson, for example, has about 6 lines, most of which are of the "uh, uh, sniffle, um" variety. But the fact that the cast has not changed since the beginning (except, of course, Dumbledore) is one of the things that makes the series so strong. Continuity is a good thing.
Speaking of which, props go out to the kids-who-are-no-longer-kids, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. They are growing up nicely and their acting skills have improved with every film. I also applaud their commitment to see the films through, even though there could be a downside to that career-wise. At this point, no one but those 3 could be Ron, Hermione and Harry.
And Mr. Radcliffe, who we all know is becoming quite a handsome young man, has also developed rather fine acting chops; revisit the first film if you don't believe me. More and more is being required of him in these movies and he delivers.
The creation of the magic world continues to amaze. I know they do all that stuff with computers but golly. Walls that appear and disappear and stairs that move and magical creatures...it's all too fabulous and perfect. Well, except for one thing. The terrifying, soul-sucking dementors, who make their first appearance in the 3rd book, were rendered in perfectly meme-like fashion in the 3rd movie. "That's exactly how I pictured them!" was the consensus. For reasons known only to themselves, the crew for this film changed the look of the dementors. Not only do they not look like dementors, it seems to me that once something has been established in a franchise like this, you don't mess with it. The Great Hall has looked the same through every film, the uniforms haven't changed...it was wrong.
Yes, I enjoyed the film well enough but there were glaring mistakes; or if that's too harsh a phrase, missed opportunities in this film. No. Upon consideration, I'm sticking with "glaring mistakes".
The fifth book is where the story begins to turn. In the first place, Harry is a full-on teen-ager with all the angst and "I hate everybody and everybody hates me" stuff that goes with that. His adolescent angst is palpable in the book, so much so that you eventually, as an adult, are ready to climb through the pages and smack him one. (And I suspect, if you are a teenager you read it going, "Dude. Totally. Grownups suck").
All that is missing from "Order of the Phoenix". There's a mere hint of it when Harry first hooks up again with Ron and Hermione but then he's over it. And a scene wherein he expresses some of his anger, etc. to his god-father Sirius (played by Gary Oldman. My poor little heart), it comes off as being connected to the whole Voldemort thing, making his internal conflicts more lofty and even something outside of himself. The truth is, it is his anger and arrogance and generally smelling of teen spirit that informs a lot of what happens in the 5th book. Which is way more honest, in my view. That whole "I'm just Harry" thing is a part of the story. He's got a destiny and more and more of that unfolds with each book. But this is literature with a classical point of view: his character is going to dictate his destiny. So his weaknesses, and what he does about them, are as important to the story as his strengths.
Second, the return of the darkest of dark wizards, Lord Voldemort, at the end of book/movie #4 doesn't just mean that there are going to be little skirmishes between good and evil. War is on the horizon. There is a profound tension in the book that is simply missing from this film. There is a sense of dark pushing back strong against the light, the realization that it could take more than is available to win against the darkness, particularly because the Ministry of Magic has decided to deny the return of Voldemort, make Harry and Dumbledore seem like nutters and sugar coat information to the people, even as they begin to employ the politics of fear in a bid to consolidate power. That story is present in the film, but somehow lacking all the visceral power that the injustice and frustration evokes in the book.
In fact, come to think of it, there is a general glossing over of the "Order of the Phoenix", what it is, the resistance movement it represents, the political tensions within that organization. And, in what I personally found to be a complete outrage, the character of Tonks is in the movie but not even once called Tonks, let alone allowed to play her very delightful role in the story. And that last bit is just a personal disappointment but still.
Finally, there is something very important relative to "the prophecy" that is left out all together. If things happen in the 7th book as I suspect they will, that could pose some interesting complications for the last two films. It so wouldn't have been a big deal to include that information and in fact, would have made for a more dramatic ending...just as the revelation did in the book. I kinda want to slap whoever decided that the Longbottom stuff was inconsequential. Puleeze.
The Child pointed out that there have been almost as many directors for this film series as there have been Dark Arts teachers at Hogwarts. More to the point, a little IMdb research provides a explanation for the slapping urge noted in the last paragraph. While the directors have changed, the screenplay has been done by the same guy in all of the films...except #5.
Steve Kloves of 1, 2, 3, 4 and also 6, which is now in production, obviously has a sense not just of the books but of the continuity between them. New Guy, who I'm going to ignore, didn't do a horrible job but it was, in the final analysis, a sloppy job. There. I said it.
Hopefully Mr. Kloves has picked up the loose threads and pulled things back together. Because the fact is, the end is near. The seventh and last book is out on Saturday and by this time next week, all the world is going to know how this epic story ends. That will necessarily inform how fans view the 6th movie.
I did not hate this film. It was not a waste of money. It's better than #3, not as good #4. But that's alright. 2 more movies to go. I remain hopeful.
Labels: Harry Potter
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Labels: Exalted Order of Koihead
Thank you. Thank you very much. Try the veal and don't forget to tip your waitress.
Me likey shiny things.
Technically, he gave me the award for my food blog, but I'm celebrating here because I need something to write about that doesn't have anything to do with Chicago.
One apparently receives this award by doing nothing other than making a reader think. I'd have thought "Here's the Dish" makes you want to eat, but I learned a long time ago that when someone pays you a compliment you smile sweetly and say "thank you". So thank you, Red. Sincerely. I'm flattered.
Of course, with privilege comes responsibility. I must now give the award to 5 other bloggers who make me think. And I can't give it back to Red, although that would be fitting. And he already gave one to JP so I won't, although I could, because he gets way too distracted if there are too many shiny things.
It's fair to say that everyone over on that there blogroll have made me think from time to time but I guess if I have to pick just 5 they would have to be:
Lex at Gladly Suffering Fools. He was one of my early blog finds and I find him to be thoroughly entertaining as well as frighteningly intelligent. He's got a lawyerly brain and so brings a rigorous analysis to the issues of the day, something I missed dreadfully when he went on a bloggy hiatus. He re-emerged just last week and I hooted and hollered when he did. Then I told The Spouse he was back and we did a little dance. That's how good he is.
Jon at I Laugh, Therefore I Am. Jon is properly described as a gentle giant and his blog reflects that. He is an excellent story teller and fine observer of daily life. And even when he's writing about something as simple as riding the train or being in a fourth grade math class, he always manages to say something that makes me go, "I never thought of that before".
I have a label that reads "John Iwanski is brilliant". Nuff said. Iwanksi is deep, marvelously funny and has the ability to look at things in a way that is wholly unique from any perspective you have encountered before. If you don't read him, what's wrong with you?
My favorite bartender is entirely too self-deprecating to regard himself as someone who makes you think but a visit to Sling's Domain is like hanging out on the porch with a good friend. You sit there and swill a beer and eat some chips and laugh a lot and then he says something profoundly poetic or poetically profound and you just sit there stunned. And then he hands you another beer.
It isn't just the boys who are brilliant. If you don't make your way over to Bad Alice you are missing out. She's a fascinating woman who writes with profound honesty about her past and her present. She's funny, intelligent, wise and very often the only comment I can ever find to leave on her blog is "Wow".
So these deserving recipients now have the opportunity to present the award to 5 bloggers who make them think.
The rules are:
1. If you are tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).
Now I have to dust the mantel and find a spot that will show off my shiny thing to its best advantage.