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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beldar & kids see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Refreshed by some quiet time since yesterday's movie, this morning my two sons and youngest daughter and I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (My older daughter, Sarah, had already seen it.)

(No spoilers follow, but there are some shocking off-set pix of the movie's stars!)

Our reactions were very mixed. Adam — who is the only one of our family who hasn't been devouring the books (he insists he'll read them all back to back when the final one comes out) — said he "liked it." But he refused to give a letter grade or more details. Kevin was much more enthusiastic, giving it a "B+ plus." I gave it a B-. But during the movie, I had to shush my younger daughter, Molly, who was grousing about how much had been stripped from the book. She gave it a C- that she insisted was very generous.

It just seemed more flat and generally less creative to me than the others. Just as an example: The credits are just reddish-purple letters that fade in and fade out against a parchment-white background. That's it; not even an interesting font. Oh, but when it gets to the cast list, it changes! To ... black lettering, with the same font and same background. There's no whimsy, no magic there at all. (I recall the credits from some of the previous films in the series as being delightful in and of themselves.)

And I thought some of the acting (or perhaps the directing of the acting) was a bit off, too. For example, what should have been a great line, taken (as I recall) directly from the book — after Hermione says what fun it was to break some rules, Ron gasps at her, "Who are you? And what have you done with Hermione Granger?" — didn't prompt a single audible laugh in the nearly-full theater we were in. I remember literally laughing out loud at that from the book.

I've read that this film's makers consciously tried to keep it short by modern standards (138 minutes), even though the books have each been trending increasingly longer. I'm all in favor of non-bloated films, but I think another thirty to forty-five minutes of this one might have added a whole lot of badly needed depth and context. As it was, well-known and much-loved characters — like Hagrid, Mad-Eye, and even Dumbledore — have so little screen time that one wonders whether the scriptwriters and film editors secretly hate them.

I even thought the musical score was dull — not inappropriate, just not ever really scary or twinkly or mystical or memorable or noticeable in any particular way.

Oh, it could have been much, much worse, I'm sure. And we're all the victims of high expectations, not only from the books but from the first four films in the series. I wouldn't have wanted to miss this one, and my kids have already established who gets first go at the seventh book when it comes out later this month — after me, of course, since I'm the one who's pre-ordered it.

But I have to admit, I was disappointed.

As for the promised shocking pix, they're from the Daily Mail, and they'd make a pretty good caption contest:


I suspect Daniel Radcliffe will shave for the "Half-Blood Prince," but I'm not sure if we'll ever know exactly whether Emma Watson's reactions to seeing this picture, besides shock, were favorable.


She, meanwhile, is reported to be the next featured "face" for Chanel:


If so, a grande old dame of fashion like Chanel signing her up as a spokes-model may be the marketing coup of the young Twenty-First Century. Not that I'm any expert or even very well informed about fashion or marketing. But it's obvious even to me that she's very classy and pretty, and as she approaches her 18th birthday, she's becoming increasingly hot — but in a rare sort of way that I suspect might provoke young women to say: "Yes, I might save up and then spend some serious money to look like that."

Posted by Beldar at 11:55 PM in Family, Film/TV/Stage | Permalink


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(1) ed in texas made the following comment | Jul 16, 2007 6:40:53 AM | Permalink

Yen, we went to see it this weekend, too. No kids, just me and the wife. I was suprised at how empty the theater was at a 6:30pm show, but, then again, it was running on six screens.
As to the movie, the overall impression was not unlike "Empire" in the Star Wars series, probably for many of the same reasons. Gotta set up the conflict lines, and show emerging plot lines for the final conflict.
As to future roles for D Radcliffe, I hate to say it, but I suspect being Harry may do his career in. It's difficult to move on to more mundane roles after playing an epic hero right out of the gate, and more's the pity. He seems, well, as qualified as any of the others that get shoved forwards, with the added benefit of not really having a lot to say off camera, which is refreshing. Ms Watson will probably do well if she can keep her head on straight.

(2) David Blue made the following comment | Jul 17, 2007 7:39:00 PM | Permalink

I liked it. I don't think the depressingly dull credits are representative of the movie as a whole, which was on the same high level as the other ones.

(3) BB made the following comment | Jul 18, 2007 10:37:21 PM | Permalink

I, for one, was glad for the limited role Dumbledore played because he gets increasingly irritating with each movie. After the late Richard Harris did such a good job portraying him in the first two movies, Michael Gambon came and slaughtered the role, portraying Dumbledore as some crazed, angry, jumpy, senile old man. In my opinion, he single-handedly brought down the movie(s) at least a letter grade.

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