Yup, it's Harry Potter week here at G.O.F. The poster to the left features the lovely Luna Lovegood. A sadly wasted character in the new film. I hope she gets a bigger part in the final two flicks. (Does she? Tell me, no wait, don't tell me.)
So the movie that's smashing box office records is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. It's pretty good overall. This is a high quality series, as Nikki Fine put it, it's better than it has to be. Meaning that there's a quadrillion or so Potter fans out there, box office potency is pretty much guaranteed . But regardless, the HP crew go out and do their best to make solid, entertaining movies.
Set design? Lovely. Costumes? Enchanting. Does anybody not believe Hogwarts is a real place? Maybe if we found the right train we could be walking those hallowed halls.
The acting is top notch, someone give the casting director who found Daniel, Emma and Rupert a bonus will ya? My MVP for this movie is Rupert Grint, maybe it's because he was set up to be the odd fish, but seeing Ron Weasley coming into his own is very satisfying. Grint's a great comic actor, able to be goofy and ground the magic wunderkinds at the same time.
My only quibble with the new movie is that ... well it doesn't feel like a movie, more just an installment. Following the outline of the book, the entire film has the feel of an extended set up. The story lacks a true villain, instead of battles there are skirmishes. I can't help but feel the more satisfying way to enjoy this series would be as a mini series or waiting for the Hagrid-sized box set.
Still, for fans, this is a good film, filled with the type of craft we just don't get consistently in the film biz anymore. It'll do, as Farmer Hoggett once said.
Oh, and about that record breaking midnight screening? Well that's what happens when a generation of kids, grow up reading the series. They were 8 or 10 years old when they first cracked open the first book. Now they're certainly old enough to enjoy a late night screening. So it's not that surprising HP raked in 22 million in one night. How many Potter readers are there anyway?
The challenge going forward will be make the next two movies in a way that satisfies the maturing audience. The final two films will screen in late 2010 and 2011! It will be an audience of 20 year olds watching those. Chaste kisses in school hallways and scary spells wont cut it. But I'm looking forward to seeing how the filmmakers raise their game.
THE BEST POTTER SO FAR?
As I had to refresh my memory, it's been so long since the last Potter pic, so I've been thinking about what's my favourite film in the series.
In the end I'll have to go with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Alfonso Cuarón only directed one film, but he was able to push the series to the limit. It was darker and stranger. Gorgeous, gloomy and truly gothic. Remember the triple decker bus? Remember the cast? David "Naked" Thewlis as Prof. Lupin. And Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. Oh, and I almost forgot Emma Thompson.
So what to do now that's you've seen the Half Dead Prince and it's over a year until the next film.
We'll here's a couple suggestions to tide you over.
If you like Rupert Grint. Look for lovely little film called Driving Lessons.
It's about a quiet boy who befriends a retired actress (Julie Waters channeling Katharine Hepburn)…quite charming.
If you like Alan Rickman, and come on, who doesn't? Look for Snow Cake. A Canadian/UK co-production starring Rickman and Sigourney Weaver. A small town story about loss and lust.
If you want to see Prof. Snape caught off guard, this is the one.
(WARNING, TRAILER CONTAINS A SPOILER)
And finally, as always the Potter pics are a smorgasbord of talent. The newest recruit is the droll Jim Broadbent who plays Prof. Slughorn, an expert on potions. If you want to see more of him, in a less fidgety roles, try, Topsy-Turvy. There he plays Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan. Directed by British treasure Mike Leigh in one of Leigh's most accessible and colourful films. You can find that trailer HERE. "Laughter, tears, curtain." as one character says.