Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Harry Potter and the Rushed Three Hours

I wasn't really planning on posting a review of the most recent Harry Potter flick, but since all (two) of you asked, I will be happy to oblige. (The customer is always right, I say!) I should warn you that there may be some spoilers in this review, so if you haven't read the books or seen the movie, you may want to just read this instead, which gives a funny view of the whole Harry Potter series in a nutshell.

I've been a faithful fan of Harry Potter's since the beginning, and have read all of the books. I'm sure I wasn't alone when I read the end of the latest installment in a state of shock (she's written it wrong!). Many people have written the series off as "only" a children's series, but I think that, in time, it will join other timeless series such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Secret Garden, both of which I have read again and again.

While I am faithful, I am also critical, and while I believe Ms. Rowling has created a wonderfully fleshed out fantasy world, there are times that I'd like to reach into the book and shake Harry out of his tendencies to be whiny and selfish. But that's just me.

I, and my friends, very much enjoyed the first two film adaptions (helmed by Chris Columbus), and found them to be extremely faithful to the books. With the third adaption came a second director, and it was appropriately darker but still faithful and enjoyable to watch.

So now we come to the fourth and latest adaption, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

To read the rest of the review (and spoilers!), click "Tell me more!"

Well I have to tell you, I wasn't all that impressed with this latest version. The whole movie felt rushed to me, as if they were sprinting through the story in order to get through all the information. Don't get me wrong, I certainly sympathize with them on this point. The book is enormous and I remember reading that they considered actually filming it in two parts, but that really isn't a practical solution when you're working with growing kids and three more books on the horizon.

But I do take issue with what they chose to exclude. The biggest shock was the absence of Dobby, the house-elf, who helps to uncover the bad guy and struggles with his alliances all through the book. This was a huge plot point that I was very disappointed not to see. Please, PLEASE do not tell me that is was cut to make room for the ridiculous-musical-theatre-jazz-hands entrance of the two visiting wizarding schools? Because, seriously, I could have done without that. But what about the hilarious fate of Rita Skeeter? Or any mention at all of the sensuous Veelas? Nope, no time, sorry, gotta run to the next scene.

I also much prefer Richard Harris' interpretation of Dumbledore over that of Michael Gambon's. I find Gambon's Dumbledore's too rough around the edges for my tastes, and while that shouldn't affect the whole review of the movie, it did add to my distaste for it.

So there you are. Not a thumbs down, but not a thumbs up, either. As always, the visuals are stunning, it's fascinating to watch the actors grow up before your eyes, and in the end, the important bits of the story get told. I wonder if I'm not the only one who walked out of the theatre just a tad bit disappointed.

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