Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter - Keep 'em coming...

Since millions and millions of people have already seen this movie or read this book I will assume you already know most of the details and just give you my opinion. First, as a movie it's fantastic - telling the story with a quick, dramatic style that achieves it's goal of smushing 700+ pages into 2 hours without sacrificing the storytelling aspect. If you've missed the other 4 movies, I would skip this until you've watched the others because it doesn't explain much of the back story, as if they finally realized they don't need to. The new characters added in this movie - Dolores Umbridge and Luna Lovegood (played by Imelda Staunton and newcomer Evanna Lynch) are really terrific. Umbridge is played as a scary Martha Stewart/Jackie O' devotee with her perfect little pink suits and perfect decorating, but with a scary fascist dictator persona inside that uses torture and rules to try to enforce her ideas. They do good montage-type scenes to link the crimes with the new rules that she has added to a wall at Hogwarts, which of course comes crashing down eventually. They don't quite make all the links the book does with Umbridge really being a racist (she supports purebloods and gets thrashed by centaurs) who only wants control, but she's still scary and Staunton does a great job. Lovegood is perfect, as a flighty, airy, surprisingly deep character who Harry can relate to, while overlooking her oddities. Finally, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has really grown up, and the actor has been working on his craft quite a bit. While the actors who play Ron and Hermione don't get as much screen time, so their weaker acting comes out more often, Harry is really good - his performance actually shows the depth going on within him. He's angry that his friends (and Dumbledore) seem to be keeping him in the dark, he's scared of all the nightmares about Voldemort, and really pissed off that people don't believe him that Voldemore has returned. Radcliffe does a good job of making this turmoil clear, which is difficult since it takes up pages and pages in the book, and no more than a few seconds of discussion in the movie, so Radcliffe has to portray these increasingly complex feelings with his acting. He's no longer the cute little boy, and while I disagree with critics that this is a "coming of age" story, he's definitely growing up and making it work. Go see this in the theatre - even the slower, more frightening opening musical lines make it obvious this is a movie to be seen on the big screen.

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