Wednesday, November 24, 2010

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’– Harry is all grown up!

The Harry Potter series is all grown up in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1’ the seventh installment that sets up the penultimate ending in Part 2 this July. I have to admit, I was never a big fan of the Harry Potter movies (don’t give up on me yet Potter Maniacs, read on) – I didn’t read any of the books either! So far, the first six movies reminded me of amped up Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys movies. You know the kind, the villain is revealed early (or it is the person you always suspected, but is least expected by the main players), the young tikes forge ahead and solve the mystery. All they needed was Scooby Doo tailing behind them.
In this installment, the kids and the story have grown up considerably. The tone and the filmmaking took a much darker turn; this is no longer a children’s story.

We catch up with Harry, Hermione and Ron being forced to go underground as the evil Valdermort extends his clutches to kill the young Potter. He has now taken over the Ministry of Magic and we are quickly led down the path of a Nazi parable. In order to defeat Valdermort, our young heroes must locate and destroy a series of ‘horcruxes’ that are key to Valdermont’s defeat as each holds a portion of his soul.

What is most interesting, to me at least, is how much the series has gone from basic kiddie fare (under the direction of Chris Columbus) to much darker adult fare under the steely hand of David Yates. The current Potter film has a bleak feel to it – filmed in almost a documentary style, void of bright colors and filled with deep rich undertones. The score by Alexandre Desplat is excellent and adds to the grim storyline. Filled with some pretty terrifying images, Yates and Ralph Fiennes do an excellent job at communicating the pure evil of Valdermont. Daniel Radcliff (Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) are outstanding especially considering they have grown up with the series. Unlike other actors who have tired of being in a certain role or approach the role with an ‘it’s a paycheck attitude’ (Twilight fans I am sorry, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are awful!), these three young actors have embraced their roles fully and that makes the story all the more interesting. You can see they are comfortable with their roles and even relish in the opportunity to explore the darker elements of them.

At 2 ½ hours, the movie is rather long and I am told there is still a lot of book to go. While it slowed down somewhat towards the middle, I never lost interest and the time did not seem to drag. This is a well done film; all of the pieces come together nicely: story, acting, direction, cinematography and sound all combine to produce one of the best Potter films to date. This 4 star effort is worth a repeated viewing on the big screen. A note – Part 2 is being prepared as a 3D film. I am doubtful that I would spend an extra $5.00 for 3D based on the reality they are adding the effects after the fact. This is a film that can stand squarely on its 2D feet!

Back to my Redbox this week! Hopefully you all tuned into ‘Fringe’ last week and are hooked! If not – check it out! Since we are in the holiday season, this week’s pick is Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ the animated version starring the voice of Jim Carrey. ‘A Christmas Carol’ has been adapted for film, TV, radio and stage over 86 times and this current version is one of the better adaptations. This is a heartwarming film and perfect for the cold winter nights ahead and guaranteed to get you in the spirit! At $1.00 for the DVD version and $1.50 for the BluRay version, this 3 ½ star film is worth it!

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