27 November 2010

Mr Potter

**** (4 stars)

The week long celebration of my birth ended Thursday, so I'm finally sober enough to sit down and write. Well, maybe not; but I'm not hung over and that will just have to do.

The traditional Graygrrrl Thanksgiving involves going to the movies, stuffing my face, and passing out. Now that I'm older, it also involves a quick stop at my friends Misfits Thanksgiving (which is not a nod to the power of Danzig, though I think I wore a Misfits tee one year...) to drink a bottle of wine before the family fun. This year we combined my birthday movie with out Thanksgiving movie (seems to be happening more and more these days) and saw "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1".

For those of you living in a cave or at the bottom of the sea without access to TV, book stores, libraries, movie theatres, and Netflix; this is the penultimate HP movie before it comes to a close next summer. I'm not going to recap the last 6 movies for you, I'm sure someone has already done it, but I will tell you about this one. It's been forever since I read the book (well, only a year actually) and I totally forgot everything that happened. It was nice to be surprised and upset in the movie. Usually, if I read something once it's with me forever. In the final installment, Harry and crew are on the run from the Death Eaters (Voldemort's, the ultimate baddie, minions), searching for the fragmented pieces of Big V's soul, and trying not to die while also making googly eyes at one another.

I was not excited when it was announced that this book would be split into two movies. I know it's long, but really? Greedy much? After watching the film though I can say it was probably a good idea. Did it need to be 2 1/2 hours long? No. Two hours would have covered it and we would have been fine. However, naysayers should finally shut their mouths that this could have been told in one movie. Maybe if we were back in the glory days of Hollywood when movies had intermissions, but no one does that anymore. Why don't they? I would kill to see the final installment right now. I remember what happens ultimately, but the journey to get there is lost from my mind. I want to know now!

Directed again by David Yates, the film has all the dark, mature tones the books had while maintaining some semblance of humor. I teared up twice (when did I start getting emotional at movies? I blame "Heavy") but laughed at least 20 times. Every time something was revealed I would whisper, "Oh!" or "What?" or "Oh my!". My mother and friend thought that was hilarious and kept laughing at me. Who cares? Get into the movies people!

Longtime writer Steve Kloves continues his reign as one of the best adaptation writers in the biz. Everything from the books is there with all the fluff removed. I could have done without so many long looks and it-will-be-alright stares, but I fear that was more an editing decision. Editor Mark Day has worked with Yates for years. I wish he had broken from the mold of previous films that seemed to linger on establishing shots that establish nothing. I don't care about a bird flying over Hogwarts, I know we're at Hogwarts, we've been at Hogwarts for the past 3 scenes! You're making me crazy!

The actor's keep getting better though. Each movie they mature more and more, and I'm not talking about getting older and taller. The confidence has been there since Yates took over, but I think it was really instilled by Alfonso Cuaron in "Prisoner of Azkaban" when the films took their turn to the dark side and began demanding more from it's child stars. A particular scene towards the beginning finds Harry, Hermione, and Ron on the run in the streets of London. I busted out laughing, watching Ron (Rupert Grint) starring in wonder at the "real world" around him. "Hallows" continues the tradition of "name the actor", with familiar faces in small roles. This time I wracked my brain trying to identify two men Ron and Harry impersonate in the Ministry of Magic. Thank god for IMDB! Now I know it was David O'Hara from "Wanted" and "Doomsday", and Steffan Rhodri from "Gavin & Stacey"(TV). Love those guys! Also stopping by are a who's who of British character actors: Peter Mullan ("Session 9"), George Harris ("Layer Cake"), Andy Linden ("Rocknrolla"), Sophie Thompson ("Emma"), Jamie Cambell Bower ("Sweeny Todd"), Rade Serbedzija ("Snatch"), and John Hurt is back as Ollivander the wand maker.

Alexandre Desplat is a welcome addition to the team. Nominated for several Oscars and BAFTA awards, his musical compositions make me want to buy the score on CD. His music has appeared in an amazing array of wonderful films: "Fantastic Mr. Fox", "The Queen", "The Beat That Skipped My Heart", "Lust/Caution", "The Golden Compass", and "Twilight: New Moon" (which I will forgive him for). He is brilliant!

So, should you see the movie now or wait until next summer to see them both at once? I say go now. You want to see this on the big screen (though I would advise against IMAX- too much fast motion and random Steadicam shots would make you ill). Also, if you don't see it you will be forced to join the other weirdos in the caves and underwater cities until you do. That last one sounds kind of cool though. "You haven't seen Harry Potter? To Atlantis with you!"

[side note: What's up with charging $4 more for ETX (Enhanced Theatre Experience). All you get is a slightly bigger screen and upgraded sound. I won't even mention the digital projection as the rest of the theatres I visit have that too. Really? $4? You're website says $2 and that seems pushing it. Maybe if you had those awesome motorized chairs that vibrate and pivot I would consider it. Oh! Who's tried those new chairs and why doesn't Dallas have them? If Nowheresville, TX can have them, I want them too!

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