Rewatching Harry Potter: Wrap Up and Has My Opinion Changed?

Finally, we’re through. All eight Harry Potter movies have been re-watched. As you probably remember, I rewatched the series after a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London prompted me to think my original opinions were too harsh. Although I’ve given my thoughts on each individual movie, I thought I’d wrap up the series by talking about it as a whole.

I was genuinely surprised at just how much I enjoyed the movies when watching them again. I honestly never liked the later movies, but this time I was entertained during each one. There are plenty of funny and emotional scenes throughout the whole series, and I found myself laughing in every movie.

I was also amazed that after all of this time, I still found it very, very easy to be sucked into the magical world of Harry Potter. I think this has everything to do with all of the effort that went into creating the movie series. I really do appreciate every little detail, and I think that this attention and care from the creators means that the series will last the test of time.

I still think that there are some serious plot problems in the later movies, and they start in Goblet of Fire. It’s here that we miss the explanation of Harry and Voldemort’s wand connection, and this lack of information starts a snowball of plot problems later on. I still think that Half-Blood Prince is the weakest in terms of the overall plot, and leaving out vital background information in this movie results in the two Deathly Hallows movie lacking a certain level of depth and meaning. I also wish quite a few scenes were done differently, the most significant being the final duel between Voldemort and Harry.

In conclusion, I’m really glad I rewatched these movies, as it gave me a greater appreciation for them after all of these years. They all have their moments where they are very enjoyable. However, at the same time, I will always wish for certain things to be different, and will continue to wonder how much more the movies could have been. I guess all I can say in the end is that the books are always better than the movies.

-S

Rewatching Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part 2

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I mentioned last time my thoughts on the seventh Harry Potter book, and how I thought The Deathly Hallows Part 1 was a good lead up to the ultimate conclusion. Now, as usual, my previous thoughts on the final movie aren’t too strong; the only thing I can really remember is that awkward Voldemort-Draco hug. So let’s see how I feel after my re-watch. Strap yourself in, this is going to be a long post.

Since the movie’s plot is pretty straightforward, I’ll go through each major event one by one. We shall start with the trio’s adventure into Gringotts to steal Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup… not that you know that’s what it is, because it’s actually not mentioned by name in the movie. Which I found particularly weird. However, I do like the sequence of events leading them into the vault, and the multiplying treasure scene is cool. I think the book version of the treasure burning them when it multiples is pretty terrifying, and it would have been difficult to achieve on screen in the short amount of time they have for it, so I can understand cutting it out. I really like the cuts of the scene with Voldemort going crazy after they’ve stolen the Horcrux, and I think the look of horror on the Malfoy family’s faces really hammers home just how dangerous he is.

The trio swiftly move to Hogwarts, or rather Hogsmeade, where they are helped by Dumbledore’s estranged brother, Aberforth. To be honest, the exchange between Aberforth and Harry just makes Aberforth look like a dick for criticising Dumbleore without reason. It also feels weirdly out of context, and doesn’t really achieve anything; we haven’t had enough of Harry doubting Dumbledore throughout the first part of the Deathly Hallows to warrant it. The weak explanation of the mirror shard is also pointless in this scene. However, I really like the trio getting into the Room of Requirement, and seeing all the students who are daring to stand up to the Death Eaters at Hogwarts. As the trio continue into their Horcrux Hunt, I think it would have been cool to see Harry go into Ravenclaw Tower, but I can understand the decision to have Luna direct him straight to the Grey Lady instead (oh hey, ghosts… it’s only been five movies since we last saw you!). I really love the scene where the trio return to the Room of Requirement trying to find the diadem; it’s so cool with all the props stacked up! I also like the sequence of events of Draco and his cronies attacking Harry, the Fiendfyre, and the escape from the flames.

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Run, Harry, Run!

We get the preparation and the start of the Battle of Hogwarts happening at the same time as the Horcrux hunt. McGonagall and Neville are just so, so awesome in these scenes; they really are the heroes here. I like the detail of the portraits evacuating from the frames, but I don’t understand why there doesn’t seem to be much of an evacuation of the school? We get everyone running around chaotically, but there’s no scene with McGonagall telling all underaged students to leave, and students of age to decide what they want to do. We also don’t really see many of the other Professors helping out, save for Slughorn and Flitwick. We see them later, but how cool would it be having Professor Sprout carrying some dangerous looking plants around in the background? Also, where is Hagrid in all of this? He comes in for Harry’s death but it’s sort of like… oh right, Hagrid… forgot about him. With that, I guess I can’t really grumble about Grawp being there either, right?

Despite some noticeable absences in the battle scene, I do think it was done incredibly well. In the short duels we see, there’s plenty of variety of magic going on, and a large variety of enemies our heroes have to face. I think the scene of Harry, Ron, and Hermione running through the battle to get to Voldemort and Snape is done very, very well, and is probably my favourite sequence of scenes in the movie.

Speaking of Snape… what a horrific death scene. It’s much more violent than in the books, but I think it’s done very well. I also like Harry’s uncertainty and hesitation when he approaches Snape bleeding to death on the floor; he’s the man that Harry hates, but he can’t just stand there and watch him die. Snape obviously gives Harry his memories, and I think the memories and the scenes from the previous movies were incorporated very, very well. In fact, Snape’s whole memory sequence was really well put together. Now, I’m going to point this out right from the start; I am in no way sympathetic towards Snape’s character; I don’t think the reveal of his history with Lily changes the fact that he is an absolute asshole throughout the series. So I’m a little disappointed that his memories pain him in such a good light; where’s Lily’s annoyance at Snape hanging out with the wrong crowd at school? Where’s Snape calling her a mudblood? I can see why people might be more sympathetic towards his character with these important memories cut out, because it’s not obvious that Snape turns to the Dark Arts of his own accord. His motive for betraying it for Lily’s sake only, is in my opinion, extremely selfish. The memories in this movie don’t hammer this home. I also think they could have utilised Snape’s memories more to reveal more about how manipulative Dumbledore is.

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Great casting for the kids!

All of this, of course, eventually leads to Harry’s death. I think it was handled pretty well, especially when the spirits of James, Lily, Sirius, and Remus appear. The actual confrontation between Voldemort and Harry was really good. There’s no point in complaining about Harry and Dumbledore talking in limbo since so much about Dumbledore was left out of the movies, so it wouldn’t make sense if they suddenly bought it all up. Also, that bloody Voldemort baby thing is so horrifically creepy.

And now, the final battle. Which, honestly, I really prefer the book version. I mean, Harry and Voldemort struggling against each other around the castle, and the Molly-Bellatrix duel is done pretty well, but imagine how much better it could be. Before Molly took her on, Bellatrix was duelling Ginny, Hermione, and Luna simultaneously, but then Molly takes her down without even flinching. It would have been awesome to see! I also wish we had at least the Centaurs (no point in mentioning the House Elves this late in the series) driving everyone into the Main Hall, where the final duel between Harry and Voldemort is witnessed. I can’t help but wonder what Harry did after defeating Voldemort in the movie… awkwardly walk into the battle and announce that Voldemort’s dead? In the book, Bellatrix had just died, Harry reveals himself to be alive, and then everyone watches in deathly silence as he gives Voldemort his last chance to redeem himself by showing remorse. When Voldemort laughs in Harry’s face, they both send their final spells and Voldemort dies, his body soon removed from sight. Having him just shatter in the movie sort of takes away the little humanity he has, don’t you think? While a physical body proves in the end that he is, indeed, just a man.

And finally, the ending scenes. I’m not too sure why Harry didn’t repair his old wand before snapping the Elder Wand in half, but I guess he has Draco’s now? Whatever. As for the epilogue, well I’ve never really liked it, and honestly Harry, do you really think Snape redeemed himself to name your son after him? But this is more an argument against the book than the movie. In the movie, the epilogue is handled well, and the final shot of our trio sending their kids off to Hogwarts on the platform is incredibly powerful and moving.

Overall, I really liked the fast pace of the final movie. A lot of the content and scenes are handled really, really well. I still think certain parts were misrepresented or poorly handled, and the concluding duel between Harry and Voldemort is not as epic as I hoped it would be. However, that hug is still as awkward as it was the first time I watched it. Yikes.

-S

thathugthough

*cringe*

Rewatching Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part 1

hp7The final two movies. The final book. We’ve got a lot to cover over the next two posts, so likes dive right in.

To be honest, I don’t really love the seventh book. There’s a lot in there that I do like, but there’s also a lot I had issues with. I never particularly liked the slow pace of the whole camping thing, but I did like the full exploration of both the Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows. I also like the final fight. As it seems to be with the final few movies, I’ve previously had no strong feelings towards this movie. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t actually remember too much about it before watching it; I couldn’t even remember where they cut if off for the second part! So this was an interesting rewatch.

One thing that struck me again and again is just how much of the movie relies on the audience to have knowledge of the books, because a lot of what happens is not explained. I am actually curious, what did viewers who never read the books think of this movie? They must have a lot of questions, when you look at what occurs in the seventh movie with no explanations within the movie, or in the previous movies; we suddenly have a new Minister of Magic; throughout the movie Harry looks into a mirror and can see someone looking back, but we don’t know how he got this mirror nor what it is; for some reason, 12 Grimmauld Place from the fifth movie is no longer used, yet Harry can enter it at will and the resident house elf will obey him; and Hermione mentions something called splinching, which happens to Ron for an unexplained reason. We also finally get the explanation of Harry’s and Voldemort’s weird wand thing from the fourth movie, which I’m sure everyone remembered at the time. And then there’s the inconsistency of Harry referring to Voldemort as “You-Know-Who”, when he has literally been using the actual name since the first movie. When he does finally say the name, it alerts the enemy to where there are, but Ron doesn’t explain the taboo curse on the word. So many unexplained parts of the movie!

However, hand in hand with what was undoubtedly some confusing book references, is some incredibly well done movie moments. The sense of build up over the opening sequences of the movie is incredibly clever, and is very powerful. Other scenes I found particularly emotionally powerful include Hermione wiping her parents’ memories and Harry looking into the cupboard under the stairs before leaving the Dursleys’ house. I also liked the first scene at the Malfoy Manor in which Charity Burbage is killed by Voldemort. It really shows how the Malfoys have fallen from grace, and just how intimidating Voldemort is; no wonder even his own followers are terrified of him. I also really like how they portrayed both Ron being affected by the locket, and the stress on the Malfoy family due to their less favourable position in the Death Eater ranks.

draco-gifThere are, however, a couple of things that were left out of the movie which I think could have made it so much better. Since there was no memorial service or funeral for Dumbledore in the sixth movie, I had been hoping- I honestly couldn’t remember- that there would be something in the seventh, but sadly not. I also would have liked Dudley’s attempt at thanking Harry and saying goodbye to him to be in the movie. I know the scene was filmed and later cut, and I honestly think it was a bad decision. I also think incorporating parts of the book version of Ron’s return to the group would make the whole thing sweeter; he manages to catch bits of their conversation whenever they mention his name, and he spends a lot longer apparating around to find them, which isn’t really mentioned in the movie.

Although I actually have pretty good thoughts on this movie (more on that later), there is one part that I think could have been done a lot better; the fight at the Malfoy Manor, and Dobby’s death. Firstly, I expected the torture scene to be a little more intense, but I can understand toning it down for the movie. However, Ron should at least be freaking out more over the pained screams of his loved one. It seems to be over pretty quickly, but I feel like it goes on longer in the book. I’m also sort of irritated that it takes so long for the Death Eaters o really, really believe that Harry is Harry. I completely get Draco’s hesitation, but Lucius clearly knows that Ron and Hermione are Harry’s best friends, and since all three of them have been missing for a while, he should naturally assume they are together. As for Dobby… I can’t really blame this film too much for it. As I mentioned when talking about the fourth movie, Dobby should have made some brief appearances in at least a couple of the other movies to make his death more powerful. Instead, he shows up out of the blue only to be killed, and it honestly just serves the purpose to emotionally manipulate the audience, which is why I’ve never found the movie-version of his death to affect me at all. They also could have clearly escaped during the time in which Dobby and Bellatrix talk, and he would still be alive.

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Ah Dobby, how have you been? WHERE have you been?

To be honest, I’m actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the seventh movie on this rewatch. We don’t have the grand buildup to a final event like we have in the other movies, and yet this movie never feels stagnant nor boring. Unlike the sixth movie, it seems to have a clearer direction, and just feels a lot tidier and better put together. Surprising, considering its the same director. I still had issues with sound; I spent most of my time reading subtitles rather than listening to voices, particularly when information was presented in the background, but I guess that’s more of a personal issue. The movie also ends at a pretty good point, leaving the audience ready to fire up for the final movie and what we know is going to be a big showdown. Will the final movie live up to what is already laid out in the first part? I don’t know because I can’t remember, so let’s find out together!

-S

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RIP Hedwig

 

Rewatching Harry Potter: The Half-Blood Prince

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Starting on the homestretch now, with the sixth instalment in the HP franchise. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have any strong feelings over the book. Slughorn was a bit of a boring character to me and the whole Dumbledore-Harry thing was slowly paced. In fact, I can’t really remember much of what happens at all. I do know the one thing I like is the whole Draco plot, and the Hogwarts battle at the end was one of my favourite book scenes… so to say I haven’t looked favourably on the movie in the past is an understatement.

I’m not going to lie, while watching this movie I made a looooooooong list of things I didn’t like, a lot of it based around editing and directing decisions, as well as special effects. But I’m not going to repeat it here because A) it wouldn’t be very interesting to read, and B) I typed it on my phone so between auto-correct and my inability to type on a touch screen, I don’t even know what I’m saying half the time, and C) some of it is really petty. Instead, I’ll first comment on casting, things I liked, things I had mixed feelings about, and finally, what I really, really didn’t like.

Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn was an alright casting, considering his character is pretty much a one-off. I liked the way he talked about the students, it really highlighted his personality. In this sixth movie we again see Helena Bonham Carter reprising her role of Bellatrix, and I will not stop commenting on how much I hate the way she portrays the character. We’re treated to her sister in this movie, played by Helen McCrory. I also feel this casting is wrong. Bellatrix and Narcissa are meant to be near-identical in appearance, and they are so different in the casting. I wasn’t expecting the two actresses to be twins, but Carter and McCrory are so different! Also, what is going on with Narcissa’s hair? She’s supposed to be bright blonde, in fact, it’s the only real difference between her and Bellatrix that is emphasised. I still wish that Christian Coulson had reprised his role as Tom Riddle, but the director felt he was too old at the time. Makeup, people, makeup.

On to what I think the movie did really well, and the first thing that pops to mind is developing Dumbledore’s character. We start to really see just manipulative he actually is towards Harry, and just how much he is willing to use him for the “greater good”. This obviously becomes important later on in the series, but I think all involved really highlighted this aspect of Dumbledore’s character throughout this movie.

There were some other scenes that really stood out to me as well. Firstly, I think they got the twins’ joke shop perfect. It has the bright, care-free atmosphere that contrasts so dramatically with the rest of the shops on Diagon Alley, and indeed, the wizarding world at this point. I also liked the whole first lesson of potions, with Slughorn talking about the potions and then all the students trying to make the Draught of Living Death. I also liked the Quidditch try-out scenes (although, randomly including Ginny on the team was a bit rich guys, considering we haven’t seen Quidditch since the third movie). I also liked the whole not-quite-drunk Harry once he’s taken the Felix Felicis potion. Although I wish it was gold, instead of just looking like water.

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Still one of my favourite scenes!

Now, something that plays a big role in this movie, but I have mixed feelings about; the romance. I’ve always felt that, although done very well, it’s a little too heavy. Ron and Hermione are sweet throughout the whole movie. Their feelings for each other have been implied for a while, and it’s nice to see it start to come out into the open. I also really liked Ron once he’d had the love potion, and Lavender and Hermione’s face off in the hospital wing, with the amused professors watching on. My main issue is with Ginny and Harry. They feel forced in the book, and they just look completely awkward on screen. I’m convinced the two actors have zero chemistry with each other. Although I’ve previously mentioned Bonnie Wright is an okay Ginny, but she either hasn’t matured into the role, or, what I think is more likely, the character is just handled so badly in the film. I still think of her as a little kid admiring her childhood hero, rather than a maturing, intelligent young witch. She’s just, well… boring. And I hate the scene with Hermione questioning Harry about his feelings for Ginny, because there’s is really little to no indication that he’s got any feelings towards her, he just doesn’t seem interested. We never see the full relationship we get in the book, but I’m sort of glad about this, because it would be incredibly dull without any chemistry.

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Both terrifying and cute!

Onto grievances, and something I’ve mentioned before; editing. My goodness, it is so hard to figure out just what is happening in some of the scenes of this movie. One that comes to mind is when Harry gets pulled into the lake by the Inferius towards the end. I get you want to create the dark atmosphere, but come on! I also found a lot of the transitions between scenes to be really choppy.

Now. Consistency. Look, I get it, there were so many different directors that worked on the HP movies, and they all want to put their own personal touch to the movies. But would it really hurt their pride to keep some things the same as previous directors, for the sake of consistency? Small set issues are irritating; for example the Room of Requirement seems to have both a tapestry and no tapestry in front of it, and is inconsistent with the fifth movie. Hagrid’s hut is almost completely exiled out of the grounds of Hogwarts. Magic duels, which were looking pretty cool in the second movie, are just reduced to flashes and bangs. Instead of hearing the spells getting called out and seeing our wizards and witches think intelligently about what they’re doing, magic warfare is reduced to pretend guns. Boring.

And finally, the point of this whole movie. What exactly was it? The movie is titled the “Half-Blood Prince”, but the gang’s attempts to discover who exactly he is is half-hearted at best. And when Snape finally does reveal that he is the Half-Blood Prince, there’s no explanation about it at all. Hmmmm. So if the movie isn’t about figuring out who the Half-Blood Prince is, surely it serves the same purpose at the book in terms of explaining things we’ve only assumed so far, and setting everything up for the final movies? Sure, we do have Harry spending the majority of the movie trying to get one of Slughorn’s memories. And yet, we get so very little of Voldemort’s back story. And more than that, Dumbeldore’s reckoning about the Horcruxes is very bizarre; he goes from literally not suspecting them, to having found one in a cave… in the same scene. Okay, so the movie’s not about the Half-Blood Prince, not about learning more about Voldemort, so is Draco Malfoy and his attempts to kill Dumbledore the focus? This certainly seems to be the case, with Draco’s attempts to fix the Vanishing Cabinet occurring throughout the movie. But… the trio don’t seem too concerned about the possibility that he’s a Death Eater. Sure, Harry acts like a dick, but he doesn’t try to uncover more evidence about it. Then you have Draco’s final attempt to kill Dumbledore, and I’m left wondering what the point was to have all the other Death Eaters enter the castle? To prove he could do it? To target Hagrid for some weird reason? Because literally all they do can be reversed by magic.

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Finally, I want to quickly comment on the lack of the fight at the school. I do get it; we’re going to have another battle at Hogwarts in the next year of school, so it makes sense to cut out the one from the sixth instalment for a more spectacular one later on. But why, why, did they feel the need to add in the stupid attack on the Burrow scene? It is the most pointless series of events in the movie so far. It suggests that the Weasley’s house can be easily breached, when it must be a safe place to stay, otherwise why would Dumbledore be okay with leaving Harry there? Harry does pretty much nothing in the scene and has to get saved by others. Ginny attempts to be interesting, but really, the whole thing is just stupid, wasted screen time, that would have been better used for, I dunno, another Penseive visit involving Voldemort’s past?

As you can probably see, I’m not the biggest fan of the sixth movie. And after watching it again, it further cements my belief that, so far, this is the weakest of the instalments. A lot of it is really enjoyable, but the lack of direction in the plot just makes it really, really bland and pointless. Perhaps they should have renamed it “Harry Potter and the Teenage Romance”, because honestly, that seems to be what has been prioritised.

-S

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Rewatching Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix

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Onto the fifth movie and we’re officially over half-way through! The fifth book for me has always been an odd one to place. I love so much about the book; fighting authority, the secret training, and the fight at the Ministry at the end are some of my favourite aspects. I also love, love, love Umbridge as a villain. But HP5 could really be renamed “Harry Potter and the Teenage Angst” and I actually hate his over-dramatic, angry mood throughout the book. I remember the first time I watched the movie I was pretty take-it-or-leave-it about it, so let’s see if it’s changed all these years later.

Just for a change, let’s start with what I think the movie really excels on. Firstly, I think the movie perfectly portrays Harry’s feelings of loneliness and isolation throughout the film. Scenes such as sitting on the empty swing set and going to Hagrid’s cabin when he’s not there, as well as emphasising the glances between other characters around Harry on screen really hammer home how Harry feels. Under all that angst, you can’t help but feel sorry for him. A couple of scenes that I really loved in the movie include anything filmed on the Ministry of Magic set (such a very impressive set, which I’ve walked around!), the Room of Requirement appearing, the Patronus scene, the Weasley twins leaving the school, and the duelling scene between the Order members and Death Eaters. I also really loved the sequence of scenes in which we see Umbridge gain power; Filch nailing up her decrees, and her interviews with the teachers (especially Snape’s!). However, I really think they missed a golden scene by not having Umbrdige interview McGonagall, it was a highlight of the book!

Speaking of Umbridge, how fantastically did they put her character together! There is just something so satisfactory about having a good villain to hate, and I’d put Umbridge on the same tier as Envy and Pride from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, or Prince Deokheung from Faith. Everything from her way of talking, her pink costumes, and even her distributing cat-plate office is perfect. The way she treats the students and the way her punishment is dealt with in the movie is just wonderfully terrifying. They really, really got this character right, and I love that aspect of the movie so much!

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Such a good character!

I’ll take a second for a quick comment on casting. Imelda Staunton is, in my opinion, the perfect Umbridge. Sure, she doesn’t resemble the physical description of the character in the book, but she certainly plays the character perfectly. So much so that I can’t help but feel instant dislike whenever I see her face, even out of the HP universe… sorry! Evanna Lynch also makes a perfect Luna Lovegood. I also thought that Natalia Tena as Tonks and George Harris as Kingsley Shacklebolt were good choices. However, I really do not like Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. Here it’s the opposite of Imelda Staunton and Umbridge; although Helena Bonham Carter has the looks for Bellatrix, she doesn’t play the character well. I always thought that Bellatrix was less loopy and more sadistic. She’s supposed to be more in control of herself, and much more terrifying than what she appears in the movie; she’s the cold terror to Voldemort’s hot rage. However, she comes across as being more incompetent in the movies; which isn’t right because she’s the closest the Death Eaters have to a second in command; she often takes charge in the book and orders others around, and she’s meant to be very skillful; arguably the most dangerous Death Eater. The movie doesn’t do her justice.

With that, let’s look at what I didn’t like so much about the fifth movie. Apart from a few trivial issues, which I’ll list in a second, the bulk of what I dislike is limited to a few scenes. Firstly, Sirius’ death scene. I just hate the whole way it was handled. Bellatrix was literally just being chased, and for that matter, seemed to be against someone equal to her, stops out of nowhere, and kills him outright. It happens really randomly and just doesn’t feel right. I also hate that Sirius’ last line is him mistakenly calling Harry by his father’s name. I just feel like it undermines his character so much. I was also pretty underwhelmed by the Dumbledore vs Voldemort duel. The cinematography was cool and all, but is this magic or some sort of weird bending? Finally, I really dislike the whole Voldemort-possessing-Harry sequence. This has nothing to do with the acting, but rather just the way the whole thing is put together. At best, it’s cringe-worthy, at worst, laughable. I also find Harry’s “You’re the weak one. And you’ll never know love,or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.” to be one of the lamest lines I’ve ever heard. But perhaps that’s just me.

not-sirius

But why must Sirius die?!

Apart from the ones above, the only other issues I had with this movie was either consistency problems or minor grievances. For consistency, the centaurs are a lot more beast-like in this movie compared to the first, Moody shouldn’t be missing his eye in the old photo of the Order members (considering we see him with both eyes in the flashback of the fourth movie), the Marauder’s Map should feature a lot more, and they changed the way that Sirius uses fireplaces to talk to Harry compared to the last movie. Minor grievances; Dudley is at a psychotic level of creepiness at the start of the movie, I really dislike the changed Dementor design, we’ve gone from caring about Muggles seeing wizards in a flying car in the second movie to not caring about them seeing wizards on broomsticks or Thestrals in the fifth, Neville can see Thestrals as well, Tonks’ special ability isn’t given any notice, Percy’s allegiance to Fudge is not touched upon, literally none of the other Death Eaters try to get the prophecy off Harry in the Department of Mysteries, and they sure like to move Hagrid’s hut around a lot. I also think if they had the prophecies talking when breaking, the whole Department of Mysteries scene would have been one hundred times cooler, and I really wish they had included Marietta Edgecombe, Cho Chang’s friend who betrayed Dumbledore’s Army, in the movie. It’s one of the rare times we see how brutal Hermione can be, and the boils spelling ‘sneak’ across her face would have looked pretty cool.

Overall, I enjoyed the fifth movie a lot more than I ever remembered enjoying it. I think this movie is much better than Goblet of Fire, and perhaps also Prisoner of Azkaban. There’s just something about the way they nailed the atmosphere and Umbridge’s character that really makes it, even if we get the not-quite-right Bellatrix and the stupid death scene of Sirius. So far, I’d say this is probably my second favourite of the movies, which is a massive change!

-S

bitch-please

 

Rewatching Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire

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Ah yes. The fourth movie. One of my favourite books in the series, but I can distinctly remember sitting in the darkened movie theatre, looking up at the big screen, and thinking… why is everything so wrong? Watching it again twelve (yes, twelve!) years later… why is so much handled poorly?

Okay, lets start off with the things that I liked the most, to give the movie a fair chance. I really love the atmosphere of the Quidditch World Cup at the beginning of the movie. I also like the post-match celebrating in the tent (before everything turns sour). This first part of the movie is extremely important to set up a contrast with the end of the movie, and the jubilant atmosphere is perfect.

My favourite scenes throughout the movie include Rita Skeeta’s interview with Harry, where I love the attitude of the Quick Quotes Quill. The Moody-Malfoy-Transfiguration scene is everything I wanted it to be, and more. Finally, while the dancing scene with McGonagall is not cannon, it really, really should be, because it was probably my favourite scene in the whole movie. Neville is so adorable!

Finally, I have always loved the design of the Goblet of Fire and the Pensieve props. I think the prop makers have really taken heed of the descriptions in the book, but put their own personal flair on them to bring them to life. Really, really well done!

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Now onto what I didn’t like about the movie, starting with the more minor grievances first. I’m still annoyed that after the fantastic build up for the World Cup, we don’t even get a bit of the match. Sure, I wasn’t expecting the whole thing, but at least a cut of a few goals, maybe a chat part way through; ‘The Irish are slamming them!’, and then BOOM, Krum gets the snitch. So disappointing. I also don’t understand why we don’t have the whole Weasley clan there, and why they aren’t sitting in the Top Box like they should be (although the cut of Malfoy boasting is a cute alternative). Also, Winky? Ludo Bagman? The second I can understand leaving out, but the first… well, more on that later. I really do not like the Death Eater costumes. There’s already enough for everyone to make comparisons to the KKK, you don’t need to put in flashing neon lights. Side note, and this is as much an issue in the book as it is the movie, why has no one told Harry about Death Eaters or the Dark Mark? Hell, why hasn’t Harry looked into the group of followers of the man who murdered his parents?! Sometimes he’s such an idiot protagonist.

Twelve years later and there’s still two things I really can’t stand about the opening of the Triwizard Tournament. The first is the introduction of the Beauxbatons; it’s so cringe-worthy. The second is the weird introduction of Moody, and the fact that McGonagall, the deputy Headmistress of the school, is, firstly, so surprised to see him there, and secondly, so scared of him. Minerva you’ve fought alongside this man for years! I find much of the Triwizard Tournament to be pretty disorganised, especially the whole champion selection scene. Dumbledore looses his shit real quick when Harry’s name comes out of the goblet, although this has been memed about for ages. I long for a calm portrayal like the one I imagine Richard Harris would have given. I also didn’t like the over-the-top dramatic dragon scenes. Harry having to single-handily defeat a DRAGON is dramatic enough without the chase around the castle, and this screen time would have been better spent elsewhere. I love Neville, but I really wish we had Dobby appearing to help out in the second task (a quick throw-away line to explain he now works at the school), and I also wish the maze in the third task was as interesting as the one in the book.

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Other, even smaller, things I didn’t like include: the Imperius Curse shouldn’t make the spiders fly around the place; one of the Patil twins is in Ravenclaw; Ron is much more of a dick in the movie than he is in the book; Peter Pettigrew is super chilled when cutting off his hand, there’s no moaning like there is in the book; I really wanted a shot of fourteen year old Harry fighting off the Imperius Curse when facing Voldemort; Daniel Radcliffe really can’t sob well; we get a lovely pan up when everyone’s mourning Cedric to reveal that the ceiling of the Great Hall is apparently no longer enchanted; and this is the first movie where we have no ghosts just mulling around in the background, which I find rather sad.

Okay, last bit of complaining, but these ones I think are more important. I really, really, hate the way that the Crouch Jr. story was handled. Right from the start, when he’s at the mansion with Voldemort and Pettigrew, you just know it’s going to be wrong. When Harry later tells Dumbledore about seeing Crouch in his dream, it would have set off massive alarm bells if it had actually happened, but he just kind of waves it off, which is not right. Furthermore, if all Crouch Jr. has to do is get Harry to Voldemort, why doesn’t he just disapparate him away when he encounters him at the World Cup? You can understand why he doesn’t do it at the school with Dumbledore right there, but all he had to deal with was Ron and Hermione, which he would have taken care off easily. Instead it just seems like Voldemort feels the need to make Harry go through all of the school year first. I also hate that the story is presented like he escaped from Azkaban and no one noticed. Didn’t we just make a big deal in the last movie how impossible it was to escape from that place (not that it was handled well in that movie either)? Also, no one seems to notice he’s missing? Dumbledore’s line of ‘I think Azkaban is missing one of their prisoners’ when seeing Crouch Jr. really irks me. I like to think there’s some rookie Dementor thinking to himself ‘if I keep volunteering to take his food to his cell, maybe no one else will notice’. I can get why they needed to simplify the story to make it suitable for the movie (goodbye Winky, goodbye Voldemort controlling Crouch Sn.), but at least come up with version that doesn’t fall apart so easily!

Secondly, the movie’s attempt to make Igor Karkaroff the one possibly responsible for putting Harry’s name is the goblet is, frankly pathetic. We get one shot of him entering the Great Hall to see the goblet with no one else around, Sirius mentioning he’s a former Death Eater, and him and Snape examining their Dark Marks… and that’s it. Nothing else happens, and it really doesn’t feel like the trio suspect him at all. They should have just left it out completely.

The last major issue is to do with the Harry-Voldemort wand connection. I don’t mind that they didn’t do the whole golden web thing, but they should have at least had the Death Eaters freaking out to show how unusual it is. I also don’t like the fact that Dumbledore does not explain about core of the two wands, leaving both Harry and the audience wondering. But hey, it’s not like it drives the plot of later movies, right?

Yeah, that was a lot of complaining, I’m sorry. Luckily, casting choices are looking a lot better. Roger Lloyd Pack as Barty Crouch Sn, Katie Leung as Cho Chang, and Clémence Poésy as Fleur Delacour are all satisfactory castings. I don’t think Stanislav Ianevski as Victor Krum was a particularly good choice, but considering his character does pretty much nothing the whole movie, it doesn’t really matter. The better castings in the movie include Brendan Gleeson as Moody, Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter, and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. I despise the tongue thing that David Tennant does, but otherwise he’s a good choice as Barty Crouch Jr.

tongue

PLEASE STOP!

Okay, after all of that, you’re probably sitting there thinking I hated this movie. Rather surprisingly, I actually didn’t. In fact, I’d say I enjoyed more on this watch than I did on my first. It’s just got a lot of fun elements in it, and a lot of the atmosphere is spot on, so if you can just sit back and watch it, it’s not bad at all. However, when you start to think about it, plot points start to fall apart and you realise just how messy a lot of it is. Of course, there’s a lot of things that I personally do not like, and a lot that I was really looking forward to seeing that never came, but that’s because I’m such an avid fan of the book, so I was expecting more. However, I do think this movie is just making things harder for the series by skipping the all-important information to make later movies better, and just to make the whole series run smoothly. Overall, as a massive fan of the book, I find Goblet of Fire equal parts enjoyable, disappointing, and frustrating.

-S

neville

Neville ❤

 

 

 

Rewatching Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban

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Onto the third installation of the Harry Potter series, and the movie version of my favourite novel in the collection.

There were a few things that I really liked in watching the movie again. Firstly, I liked how the third movie is noticeably darker in tone, starting the progression from the wonder of the first movie to the horror of the last. I also liked the way the way the romance between Ron and Hermione starts to get introduced in a couple of scenes (so cute!). Finally, the creators’ decision to use animatronics instead of CGI for everything really pays off. Twelve years later and the movie still looks fresh and sharp, rather than badly aged.

buckbeak

I think the third movie is the start of major differences from the books. There’s a few petty things I could easily pick on. Sirius Black is meant to be much bigger in dog form; he’s described as “massive” in the books. In my mind, he was big enough to almost look Harry in the eyes. Remus transformed as a werewolf also didn’t seem right to me; he looks far too human, whereas in the books he’s much more wolf-like, with only a few distinctions. I also expected the Dementors to look something more like the Ringwraiths from the Lord of the Rings, with large hoods instead of face coverings. However, I can understand the creators’ decision to make them look very different, given the two movie series were released around the same time.

A couple of other things that I think are unusual decisions, but more on the petty side, include Harry only getting his new Firebolt broomstick at the end of the movie (as opposed to part-way through), and Ron not getting threatened by Sirius with the knife. I know neither are major events, but I still think that they’re weird things to cut or alter.

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Not exactly the most impressive dog, right?

However, there are two big differences between the book and the movie which I think is a really bad choice. Firstly, there is a lot of inner-group fighting between the trio, specifically Ron and Hermione, in the book. It’s the first time the three start to have any real arguments, but it’s reduced to squabbling in the background in the movie. I think that this fighting helps to show that the characters are still young, which helps with their overall growth throughout the movie series. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is the fact that James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew’s story isn’t told in full. Not only isn’t it explicitly stated that they are the Marauders of the map, there’s no explanation as to why no one knew that Sirius could turn into a dog (in fact, it’s never asked how he escaped), or that Sirius and Peter’s Animagus abilities are directly related to Remus being a werewolf, or even that James was also an Animagus! It’s such a shame, because it’s such a waste of some really interesting background, and it would also help concrete Sirius’ character, since he seems to go from raving mad lunatic to Harry’s would-be guardian very quickly.

mauraders

Shame that the movie audience doesn’t get to learn their real identities!

Moving on to casting decisions. I think that Gary Oldman as Sirius Black and Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney are perfectly accurate. Although I think Timothy Spall doesn’t match Peter Pettigrew’s description that accurately, his mannerisms are spot on and perfectly rat-like. Richard Harris will always be the perfect Professor Dumbledore in my mind. Although Michael Gambon does a praise-worthy performance in the role, I still miss Harris’ presence. Finally David Thewlis as Remus Lupin. I just don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I think Thewlis is a fantastic actor, but to me, he is simply not Lupin. It’s not only that he doesn’t match my imagined physical appearance of Lupin, but I also don’t feel like his mannerisms are entirely correct. I picture Lupin has being very soft spoken, calm, and very kind, which I don’t think lines up with Thewlis’ portrayal as well.

lupin

Not the Lupin i was expecting…

All in all, the third movie is a bit of a mixed bag for me. It was always going to be the movie I was the most pickiest about, because it was always my favourite book. I think that the basic plot line is handled very well, and the special effects are downright amazing. However, I don’t agree with all of the casting decisions, and I think there are some big things from the book that the movie neglected. Overall, I still enjoy the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I think I even look at it more favourably with this re-watch.

-S

punching-malfoy

Best scene of the movie?