Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Harry Potter Weekend

This Saturday, Lynda and I gathered forces with Raisinette and we went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It almost looked like it wasn't going to happen at all, to be honest. I had managed to secure a babysitter for Saturday afternoon, but that morning, I took Grace to the grocery store and when I returned, Lynda informed me that the babysitter had called to inform us that she had bronchitis.

I got surly, convinced that we weren't going to be able to see the movie. And trust me when I tell you that we needed to see the movie this weekend. We needed to get out of the house and lift our spirits with some fun diversions. And now, I thought all of that was going out the window.

Lynda persevered, however, and contacted our neighbor next door. I had thought of asking them earlier in the week and had even made the call to see if they were willing. But it had not seemed to be a good option at first, since their older girl was going on a canoe trip with her dad and we weren't sure that Sarah and Grace would have much fun if their older daughter (between Sarah and Grace in age) would be there. That would only leave our two girls with their younger son. Lynda wasn't going to let it go though. While I sank more and more into reluctant acceptance, she spread her magic and in the end, we secured a last minute babysitter. Hurray!

So, we got to the theatre and met up with Raisinette. Though I know there was some concern about being overwhelmed with small kids on a Saturday afternoon show it wasn't too bad. The theatre was pretty full, but there was a pretty good balance of adult to kids and the kids were, I think, old enough to be well-behaved.

I very much enjoyed the movie, though I did disagree with some of the creative decisions that were made. But, the basic fact is that OotP is the longest of the published Rowling books (over 800 pages) and the movie was barely over two hours long. Cuts had to be made and plot compressions were invented.

My specific/random thoughts on the movie:

1. This was a quiet movie with lots of dialogue. While that might seem to be a bad thing, I feel that it was done well. The fact is that this book's plot is a lot like The Two Towers--a lot of set up for what's to follow. Everyone is talking about, planning for, theorizing on the coming war between the good guys and the bad guys. There is a central mystery in the book, but that mystery isn't really emphasized as much in the movie. At least it didn't feel emphasized as much.

2. Many reviews are saying (correctly) that Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint have grown into their roles well over the years, but they are missing that it feels that only Radcliffe has been given much to grow into. It makes since because Harry's growth is central to all the books so he gets all the juicy stuff. But, it has always felt like the books did a better job of giving Harry, Ron, and Hermione co-importance. It's the nature of the movie business, but I always feel that Watson's Hermione and Grint's Ron grow a bit less important in each movie. And that's a shame.

3. The movie did a pretty good job of giving the sense of political intrigue that is discussed throughout the books, but it did it in an interesting way. The books used the newspaper stories to propel the developments outside of Hogwarts. To avoid bogging down with that, Yates spaced scenes with dynamic graphics of newspaper articles to set the scene. Nicely done.

4. The movie did include Kreacher the house elf, but just barely. While he wasn't crucial to the book, he did propel some important points. And, most interestingly of all, when the filmmakers considered writing the CG-character out of the movie, J.K. Rowling warned them that doing so would cause significant problems when the filming of Book 7 roles around. Considering how little Kreacher did in OotP, his importance in Book 7 must be pretty strong. Consider me tantalized . . .

5. I didn't like that they made Cho Chang the snitch that blew the whistle on Harry and the DA's underground spell training. In the book, that traitor role went to Cho's mistrusting friend Marietta. I realize that turning Cho into Marietta saves the filmmakers the trouble of having another character to pay AND I realize that there needed to be a reason for Harry and Cho's "relationship" to fail. I just felt badly for Cho, I guess.

6. I really wish that Fred and George had been given more of a chance to shine during their efforts to be expelled from school. The Phelps twins have done good work with their small roles in the movies and the Weasley Twins are "always good for a laugh" in the books. It's a humorous highlight in an otherwise tense book. It just felt missing from the movie.

7. It felt like this movie was filmed and release right before the final book is due to come out. The way Harry forestalled Voldemort in the final battle scene at the Ministry felt like it was written and acted with an eye on the question still to be answered in the final book. We'll see if that foreshadowing will be true or not in slightly more than four days.

I could go on and on I suppose. Its easier to think of the negatives or the things that jumped out as different, but I can't stress enough that this movie was a much more faithful adaptation of the book than Goblet of Fire. I don't feel disappointed in this movie and will enjoy rewatching it in the future.

But, my Harry Potter weekend didn't end with the movie.

On Sunday night Sarah and I met up with Shirtless and his roommate at a local Border bookstore and watched, participated in the taping of the Columbus, OH leg of the Pottercast Summer of 7 Tour. I've been listening to Melissa, John, and Sue discuss and record their thoughts on the books and movies for over a year. They've not exactly "celebrities" but they do have connections and have been lucky enough and have worked hard enough to be at the last two movie premieres and Melissa has interviewed J.K. Rowling herself.

So, they know their stuff.

It was fun to watch them discuss and it was also fun to participate. I think that Sarah enjoyed herself as well. I wanted her to see that it's more than just me and her that like the books and movies. I wanted her to sense that this is a larger thing and to give her some connection to it. Luckily, there weren't too many freaks out there that night--though there were a few. Mostly it was teenager (some with robes) and a few other adults. The crowd filled the Borders pretty well and Columbus was well represented.

They didn't talk about the movie that much, which in retrospect is not unusual since this tour is mostly focused on the book release this weekend. But I would have liked a bit more discussion on the films, which would have pleased Sarah since she has been asking me about the movie a lot since we got back on Saturday. (I haven't taken her to see it yet, since she's better watching movies on DVD when scary stuff can be skipped and she can leave the room if necessary.)

When the podcast is uploaded onto the web, I'll be sure to link it for you all so you can enjoy. You might even hear my "Ewoks!" comment shouted in the background.

No comments: