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Harry Potter

Last week Ian and I went off to the Harry Potter movie.  Despite the flaws and the letdown of the final book, I still really love this series.  Hogwarts is a real place for me, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are equally real.

This movie did a very nice job with the character development part of the story.  One of the real surprises and frankly, treat was the performance turned in by Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy.

In short I enjoyed the film right up to the end where it collapsed like a souffle that’s had the oven door slammed.  There was no tension.  No emotional reaction.  Nothing.  It was just flat.

When I level a criticism like this I feel like I need to offer an analysis, and my solution.  It’s also a really good exercise for me to hone my own skills.  So here is my take, and how I’d have fixed it.

Bluntly there was too much teenage romantic angst.  Yes, it was sweet and it was cute, but I had no sense of urgency.  The movie opens with Voldemort and the Death Eaters destroying a bridge in central London.  There is a brief mention that “people are disappearing”, but people seemed to be more worried than terrified.

There was a scene in the opening of one of the novels where the Minister of Magic briefs the newly elected Muggle Prime Minister.  This might have been a place to do that scene only use Dumbledore to brief the mundane world.  It might have helped ground us in the dangers of the situation.

It needed to be a lot clearer why Slughorn’s information was so crucial.  I’ve read the books so I knew this was about trying to figure out how many times Voldemort had split his soul, and where he might possibly have hidden those fragments, but that didn’t come clear to Ian (who hasn’t read the books) at all.  It seemed like they had no idea that Voldemort had split his soul, except later Dumbledore seemed to know he had split his soul because he shows Harry the journal and the ring.

We also needed to see a lot more of Dumbledore’s withered hand, and really see that the condition is worsening as the school year goes on.  

And frankly I needed more action when the Death Eaters invade Hogwarts.  I know the seventh book ends with a giant wizard battle inside the school, but it’s going to be a year before we see another Potter film.  Give me something more than Harry skulking, Dumbledore dying, and then Snape and company calmly walk off the property.

Casting issues — the girl playing Jenny Weasley is cute enough, but very bland, and there seemed to be no chemistry between her and Daniel Radcliffe.  There was a lot more sizzle when he took Luna off to the Christmas party.
And finally Snape.  Don’t get me wrong.  I _love_ Alan Rickman.  I saw him perform Dangerous Liaisons on stage in London’s West End, and I wanted to lurk at the stage door and mug him.  He is a wonderful actor.  But he is too damn old to be playing Snape.  Rickman is 64 years old.  Snape and Harry’s father were in the same class at Hogwarts.  The indication is that Lily and James got married right out of school.  Even if they waited four or five years to have a kid that would have put them in their early forties.  (You can tell I really like these books and I’m a big Potter geek.)

It did look like the director realized that fact.  In some of the scenes it looked like Rickman’s face had been airbrushed to remove the deeper wrinkles.  Which rather pulled me out of the movie because it wasn’t as obvious in some of the group scenes.  Suddenly he had creases next to his mouth.

Overall I enjoyed the film, but so far the third film has been the best.

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