Harry Potter: the books, the films (part 2)

The middle of the Harry Potter series features some of the strongest and weakest parts in the series. The center piece of the series includes moments that sucked in countless young readers into the Multicultural world of Hogwarts for the long haul. From Hermione’s time-turner and the introduction of Sirius Black in The Prisoner of Azkaban, to the strange new teacher and the arrival of Voldemort in Goblet of fire, and to the one where Harry’s friends, both close and acquaintance, must grow up and enter a darker world in Order of the Phoenix; there is never a question that the supporting cast, the families, and much-loved Dobby continued to develop and entertain.

The Prisoner of Azkaban is my personal favorite film. It is the highest rated of all the films on the website Rotten Tomatoes and as of September 2011, this film is the 33rd highest grossing film of all time. This is the film that decided for many who did not read the books whether or not they “got” the series and would continue to follow it. The book was a big technical step for Rowling and she took a lot of risks with the sequencing of the story that really paid off and was widely accepted as genius. Professor Lupin is introduced here, having an integral role in James Potter’s life the future success of the gang bringing down Voldemort and the death eaters. The introduction of Gary Oldman playing the character Sirius Black could not have been better. I clearly remember reading the book and when I got to the part about the psycho escaping and all of the horror stories floating around, I was truly frightened for our heroes and believed the legend of Sirius’s loyalties. I was astounded by the twist about his relationship to Harry and his intimate and trusting relationship that would blossom through Goblet and especially Order of the Phoenix. Bravo. The ending, the map, the back story, Wormtail’s escape, the implications for the next installment. I couldn’t wait! (Only the first three films were rated PG). (rating: A)

For all the misgivings in some of the scenes in Goblet of Fire that unfortunately pull you out of the films, mostly due to producers and sometimes performances, one cannot say that the magic was not there or that the highly anticipated ending and big reveal of Voldemort’s return was not done with great relish. What hurt Goblet of Fire and all of its long haired males (joke) was the Tri-Wizard Ball and the horrible song that the “Weird Sister” performed (ugh, watch it with subtitles), and the general stop-and-go faltering of its pace. This film introduced characters that made the world seem deeper and more believable, but we meet many characters that don’t really matter. Having said that, in its defense, it was great for the main characters in subtle ways and did build on Neville, the Weasley family, Luna Lovegood, and Harry’s relationship with his past. Goblet of Fire did show what that awkward stage of all teens’ lives can be, and though it wasn’t my cup of tea, a lot of people praise exactly what I am condemning. We shall agree to disagree. It hooked many by relating to the act of simply growing up. Rowling, you sneaky thing. This is my least favorite film. (rating: C +)

Order of the Phoenix was the point of no return. These characters where growing up. The story was going to keep getting darker. Shit hit the fan. The end is coming. Not only was crucial information revealed about Dumbledore and Snape, but the continued involvement of the Ministry of Magic made it seem that this was not just affecting some kids at Hogwarts. This was serious and would affect the world around them; including other wizards, witches, and muggles. Yes. Even them. Killing Sirius Black genuinely made me sad. By this point, everything was taken away from Harry. Any hint of a family he may have had was lost, and honestly, I really wish Rowling had writeen Sirius’s death in the sixth book, not the fifth one. Next to Dobby, I think the fans really love Sirius to a similar degree. If they had not yet gotten cute, this is the film where Rupert Grint and Emma Watson really matured and starting becoming heart-throbs to the adoring fans. The make-up, hair, and costuming played to their character’s personalities and appearances. Emma, call me. I also believe this was the film where all the actor’s finally got comfortable with their roles and finally performed with continuity. No longer kids, they honed their craft as actors. Thank god, because the three movies that followed could not be messed up by poor acting. (rating: B-)

David Yates directed Phoenix, and would continue to finish out the series with it’s epic and serious tones. He would direct Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows pt. 1 and pt. 2.

BTW — Alan Rickman kicks ass. Much love.

MH

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Filed under Book Reviews, Movie Reviews

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