Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hairless Potter & Holding ME Prisoner

All right, I'll confess that for me, when it comes to Hairless Potter, the books are simply untouchable.

With that said, my wife and I just watched Hairless Monstrosity & the Over-Cinematography of Crapaban last night.

I'm pretty sure the last time I saw this episode in the series was around five years ago, so my memory was pretty fresh and untarnished going in. (Although, I guess recently listening to the whole series on audio book could be considered at least somewhat of a bias . . .)

This movie was terrible.

Simply awful.

It's drawn out for almost two and a half hours and yet, at the end, I felt like I just left one of those photo booths where they snap a few, quick pictures and call it good.

I felt like I had the rug ripped out from underneath me.

As F-Word will very much appreciate, my emotions were stripped away and I felt like an uncomfortably disrobed Daniel Radcliffe, all shame and dignity left off stage and out of sight.

So why did this movie leave such a filthy taste in my mouth (you know, like in 7th grade when you used to drink Hawaiian Punch?) and why am I wasting my time ranting about it?

To answer the second question first, I've simply been smitten by the skill, rhythm, and charm of J.K. Rowling's immaculate series. I loved every single book. With that love in mind, I would have liked to have had at least some kind of qualitative continuity in the movies . . .

To answer the first question, let me try and list a few major gripes, in no particular order.

1. What's with the cinematography!

I get it, this Cauron guy, or whatever his name is, thinks that he is an arteest! For the love of my sanity, can we move on from the random (and out of place) whomping willow shots? And what's with the constant, "I'm staring out into nowhere and yet it's so very gripping" pauses? They felt so unnecessary and a wkward, the best comparison I can make is when Anakin gets super uncomfortable (at least for the non-brain dead audience) with Padme on Naboo, sputtering on about how soft it is there (and next to him) compared to Tatooine . . . barf.

2. Unnecessary crap replaces essential details

Many people will argue that, "Come on, Brawg," the movies simply can't replicate everything in the books. Although I wish they would and could, I certainly agree. However, when we start throwing out crucial moments, like when Crookshanks bounds in to turn off the whomping willow so Harry and Hermoine can hop into it, with the wisping willow which eventually tosses them right in, is when we start getting absurd.

Another poignant example is the scene where Sirius is rescued by H&H. Cauron totally changes the feel of the scene and yet wisps us away with loads of over-dramatized footage which equates to a lot of boredom and a disgruntled Yours Truly demanding, "How can ya have any pudding if ya don't eat yer meat!"

One more quick example is Harry's patronous charm. For some reason, in the movie, he figures the spell out in like five seconds, and yet we sit around watching him and Reemus kickin' it for like ten minutes while random metallic orbs float around. Three words: What the crap? (And BTW, why is the patronous some kind of overdone-sound-bite-force-field instead of a charging Stag? Argh!)

3. The true nature of key characters is maligned and defaced
Take Ron, for example. Cauron clearly wants us to think this red-head is a useless panty-waste whose sole purpose is to whimper and complain. The real Ron has his moments of insecurity, but he's predominantly a witty and pragmatic (not pansy) figure.

Dumbledore. It makes me want to, as my late maternal grandmother would say, "toss my cookies," just thinking about this one. Dumbledore is not a cooky weirdo! He's not so unobservant as to pound Ron's injured leg with a glazed look that says, "I don't know who the heck I'm supposed to be, but I'm clearly not dignified and sagacious." The real Dumbledore is commanding, serene, and almost omniscient. Gag.
Finally, Hermoine. When did she get so annoying? The real Hermoine is a know-it-all, but she's not a "Let's punch her in the face" (instead of Malfoy) type of character.
Enough said.

4. Over-dramatization

Perhaps this topic belongs as a subgroup in one of the previous three, but I just can't get over how much I was bothered by how the movie (and previous movies, for that matter) overdid the minor details.

Two immediate examples come to mind. a) The (now) wisping willow scene alluded to earlier. What's with the tree grabbing H&H for like five minutes, only to ever so conveniently toss them right where they were trying to get in the first place? It's almost as if the tree were an unwelcome Uncle Rico figure who's just there to take up time (although in ND it's humorous).

b) The Werewolf scene. In the book, this is like five words. Lupin turns into a Werewolf, Sirius fends him off as a dog, and the Werewolf leaves . . . there's no false Hermoine mating call and we don't even know why he leaves, it's not relevant to the plot!

5. This is a FANTASY, not a normal people at a cool school adventure

One of the things that the "critics" loved the most about this movie is how the characters and flow received much less emphasis on everything being magical and much more time on everything being practical. While I will agree that Rowling does a tremendous job of this feat in the books, the movie has it all backward. The "wizards" are almost always dressed up in muggle attire and acting like idiots. Yet, and ironically, the "pragmatism" notwithstanding, details which Rowling portrays as natural and routine in the book are treated with HUGE sound-bites and "special" effects.

My one example on the irony portion is Professor Tralawney (or however it's spelled) and her hugely booming voice when she makes the prophecy to Harry. It's like she's turned into a glorified zombie with a megaphone . . . Just plain overdone.

In summary

This movie glosses over key details like the prophecy and how Harry relates it to Dumbledore, etc. and tools around with overdone effects (both in the footage, sounds, and, occasionally, even the music) and superfluous scenes.

I have no idea how this movie got such "good" reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. My best guess is that all the movie critics out there like to see some yipee cinematography and a few bangs here and there.

For the rest of us who appreciate plot, substance, and substantiality, I say, GIVE ME MY TWO AND A HALF HOURS BACK!!

(And don't even bother mentioning the amount of time you think it might have taken me to write this rambling rant.)

1 comment:

Steph said...

WOW. I'm glad to know you loved the books as much as Jon and I do. I wish we could all get together to see #6 next month. Jon and I are geared up to tear it apart. Not that I think it CAN'T be good, but more that previous experience has shown me it WON'T be good. I know that movies aren't books, but I still agree, that there are a lot better ways that the adaptation can be approached. Hawaiian Punch. Tee hee! :)