Jun 5, 2011

Harry Plotter: Movie 3

I really want to keep writing and reading about Harry Potter, but writing in great length about the books and movies has gotten a tad tedious. I spend time trying to write and craft a review, only to realize that every thought I have has been expounded upon (at great length) by the Harry Potter Wiki or one of the innumerable blogs dedicated solely to all things Potter.  Thus I came to a decision: I will still be reading, watching, and commenting on the Harry Potter series. My comments, however, will be much more brief, and hopefully will just highlight the series and not over-analyze the series. Frankly, I think it will be good for all of us. (Spoilers Ahead)
Lily, James, and Sirius Black, in happier times
The third movie is such a welcome relief from the first two, which were so tedious. Director
Alfonso Cuarón injects the series with a dark humor present in the books but heretofore unseen in the movies. It’s kind of wickedly fun, and that pun both delights and pains me in equal measure.

Harry learns the 'truth'
The film is much less faithful to the source material, with it acting as a kind of sister film to the book rather than a literal translation. If that upsets you, think of it as a Mood Piece.

This is the last movie before Ralph Fiennes swoops in as Lord Voldemort. I’ll leave judgment on his performance for a later date, but it is amazing that a Harry Potter story can succeed, and indeed flourish, without his presence. However, the lack of Voldemort may have kept viewers away, as this is still the lowest earning Potter film to date.

Quidditch is filmed brilliantly, and the game really seems like dangerous fun (unlike Christopher Columbus’s Quidditch, which felt like a sullen crafts fair).

The cast coming together for the semi-penultimate showdown of the book!
I have talked at length about the brilliant job that has been done to cast these characters in the film. And while Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, and Timothy Spall (as Trelawney, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew respectively) are great additions to the cast, Michael Gambon is just dreadful as Dumbledore. While he improves as the series progresses, in this film he’s manic and cloying and conveys none of the silent strength that Dumbledore is supposed to have in spades. It’s just incredibly inferior to Richard Harris's performance in the first two films.

The werewolf transformation is ridiculous and cheesy and not in a good way. Lupin basically turns into an angry, thin, Chihuahua-looking thing. Above (^^) is what I think should have happened.

The Whomping Willow becomes its own character. It kills a bird for kicks! While it’s in ¾ of the film to show the passing of the seasons, its presence throughout makes it a much more interesting set piece for the final showdown. It also makes the Added Action Sequence, wherein Harry and Hermione are tossed about by the Willow, an interesting addition rather than a groan-inducing time waster.

This looks a lot more fun that it probably would be in actuality
Also, Cuarón makes the Grim more of a character, and actually makes it a valid threat, which the book couldn’t manage. If a person hadn’t read the book yet, the Grim may seem like an actual threat.

IT'S A GRIM! - Oh, no wait, it's just your Godfather fighting a  werewolf
The final bits of the film, with the time travel and the two timelines converging, are a lot of fun to watch on film. In fact, the whole movie is a lot of fun. And scary.  It can occasionally feel a bit overwrought, and someone needed to tell Daniel Radcliffe to stop waxing his eyebrows, but overall this film deserves an:

Film Grade: A
Book Grade: A-

Check out my book review HERE
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