Bigger Screen :: Harry Potter

July 14th 2011


After eight movies over ten years our long national nightmare is almost over with the release of the last* Harry Potter movie this week. This beast has been with us for longer than the 2nd Bush Presidency. I’m exhausted.
The first two films are rubbish. Hollywood hack Chris Columbus (Home Alone) directed both, and they are overlong messes with very little to recommend them. The kids weren’t really up to scratch acting wise, the special effects were poorly realised and of course, fucking Quidditch. I hate fucking Quidditch. It’s bullshit. The whole movies pauses while everyone takes off to play this impenetrable game. If the Battle For Hogwarts has an intermission for a fucking Quidditch match I might just burn down the cinema.
“The Prisoner of Azkaban” is consistently claimed as the series high point. At various times through the series they have flirted with directors like Spielberg** or Guillermo del Toro, but part three sees the series employs its only big deal director, Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men). It certainly helps, but I think this one had the dumbest story (I really hate time travel fixes), and suffers most from the fact that none of these films really has an ending (the notable exception being, presumably, the next one). It also commits the epic movie sin of threatening to have Gary Oldman as your villain, but then revealing that it was the stupid rat man all along. Still, it sure did look pretty. Note this was also the beginning of the media greeting each new installment with hysterical predictions of sex and ’darkness’. I’ll give them the darkness I guess, but these have got to be some of the least sexually active high school students in cinema history.
I’m a bit hazy on “The Goblet of Fire“. Lots of fucking Quidditch, Dragons, and after a four movie long tease the bad guy finally shows up, missing his nose (That’s a point, what the hell happened to his nose anyway?)…
…But then he disappears again. That’s OK though because next up is “The Order of the Phoenix“, and that means its time for an ode to the legendary horrible cow, Dolores Umbridge. Imelda Staunton’s performance here might just be my own personal series high point. Her passive aggressive squeaky giggles, hot pink cardigans, and collection of decorative plates with live pictures of cats on them ought to give her a place in evil cinematic history. I couldn't care less about Voldmort, but if part 7 part 2 features Dolores being decapitated and eaten by Hagrid the giant, I will be forced to give it at least a soft pass.
I am on the record as really liking "The Half Blood Prince", and I stand by that. I think it’s a really sweet movie, filled with nice character moments, top performances, and some genuinely funny humour (a first for the series). If I wanted to revisit any film in the series, this would be it. Looking back now though, it’s clear that of all the films, this one suffers the most from being a place holder. Until the last twenty minutes, nothing really happens. The main story arc consists of extracting a memory from Jim Broadbent’s head, and it turns out all they had to do for that to happen was to get him pissed.
Then the dreaded Part 7 Part 1. What a bummer of a (half of a) movie. You can find my review on FBi’s podcast page so I am not going to go over it again. Its worth reiterating though, for all of you budding screenwriters out there, that you should never assemble all of your good guys at a wedding, stage a huge attack on that wedding, and then have your hero’s teleport off without telling you what happened. 


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