Back in 2001 the Fantasy craze hit the cinema and it started with two movies. Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter. The Former was the one I went to see, Harry Potter didn’t quite interest me, it didn’t seem to hold the epicness of LOTRs and also I wondered what was the whole craze about? I didn’t get it. Harry Potter the boy wizard. In my youth I’m sure I’ve read similar stories and concepts of wizards, witches and so forth so I couldn’t fathom why this exploded in popularity. It was over popular, I even remember coming home one day to find my Grandmother reading a Harry Potter book. I think that was around the time the forth book was released and the rumblings of an ever growing fan base shook the planet to get hold of the next story. To tell the truth the popularity might have been what put me off in the end. As for the movie itself I might also say that the trailers of the first movie looked as if it were aimed towards children.
Down through the years I proudly proclaimed I had never seen a Harry Potter movie nor read a Harry Potter book to sometimes the shock of others who tell me I should and if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop. In 2009 a lot of hype (as usual) surrounded Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince”. Critics remarked how dark the Harry Potter movies had become and that this installment was reaching levels of “The Dark Knight”. Interesting I thought, I had expected Harry Potter to be a more cheerful fellow but apparently he has had a tough old time of it. This “darkness” appealed to me. Let’s just say I’m not a morning person. Wizards, witches and magic ‘do’ interest me with the right take on things. Preternatural, supernatural and the occult are fascinating subjects even if you don’t believe in them.
With this in mind I decided to give in and planned to one day sit down and watch all the Harry Potter movies back to back once they were all out on DVD, I had this idea in the back of my mind before cos it was starting to look interesting but these days I don’t have time to enjoy the simple pleasure of movie marathons. Also I thought it might be quite fun to watch at least one movie at the Cinema to experience Harry Potter on the big screen.
With the near release of “The Deathly Hallows” I started watching the Harry Potter movies from last month, usually one a week. I tried my best to space my viewings of them but was eager to see where the story was going (the addiction has started).
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
Or sorcerers stone. The first Harry Potter movie must have been a challenge for Director Christopher Columbus (the explorer?!). Having to establish a style and cast actors that would carry these films to their eventual conclusion. The whole success of the franchise rested on this first one doing well. It’s a bit cutesy. I imagine fans of the books were going mad in love for this movie. It’s a nice start and a nice introduction to Hogwarts. The acting is a little rough with their being child actors, but Radcliffe does his role well. watching his character grow I felt there’s a natural progression in his acting too, I didn’t feel their was a jarring difference between Harry Potter of the first film and most recent, however Ron and Hermione do change a lot more as Rupert Grint and Emma Watson matured as actors and played their characters with more feeling.
One thing that bugs me a little with the movie is that their isn’t really a coherent story. I haven’t read the books so it’s probably following the line of storytelling quiet closely but the macguffin “The Philosopher’s Stone” and “He who shall not be named” might have made for a stronger final in the movie had the elements being introduced earlier in the film and fleshed out more rather then some brief encounter and exposition in the forest. I sometimes feel we are just watching the Daily Life of Harry Potter. As someone who bases his knowledge of Potter solely on the movies I thought we needed more meat and looming threat to the film, more momentum.
Favorite Quote: “It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.” – Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets.
I liked this, here we have a mystery that is discussed and puzzled over throughout the movie leading to an exciting reveal and confrontation at the end thanks to the build up of tension. Tom Riddle and his diary provide a glimpse into the past of Hogwarts and some of it’s darker events. The film itself is a little bit darker too and the storyline reflects that. The film also reveals a little more about Harry too and I like that each film is pulling off a lair from this character revealing Harry to be far more complex and troubled compared to the earlier installments. As his character grows he too is becoming more of an outcast with his school mates.
Chamber of secrets gave me a few more laughs this time about. The flying car scenes were fun, as was the annoying Dobby. Less annoying than Jar Jar binks. More than Gollum.As a CGI character he isn’t in it much at all.
How is it that Draco Malfoy and his father, Lucius can openly praise ‘he who shall not be named? These guys should be kicked out on their butts for such praise of an evil wizard. Yet poor Harry who was attacked by ‘he who shall not be named7 when he was just a baby gets far more stick for that very fact. The world really does seem so backwards at times. But it just goes to show that heroes are often ridiculed and looked down on.
Did anyone else think Moaning Myrtle bared an uncanny resemblance to Harry in this movie?
Favorite Quote: “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” – Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
A big visual change takes place, the setting of Hogwarts is in a more realistic looking location due in part to it being filmed in Scotland. The colors in this movie are duller, and slightly blander. The theme is more serious and we start to see a character in Harry Potter who is filled with anger over what happened to his parents. The Dementors too are quiet chilling to behold.
It’s nice to finally see Harry have a close mentor to him on his side in that of Remus Lupin and a rather competent dark arts teacher for once. Lupins is like family to Harry because he knew his parents before. However the mystery of the dark arts Teacher is running a little old is it not? It’s a plot element in ever movie. Can’t we have one that sticks around longer than a year?
Gary Oldman is in this but unfortunately not nearly enough. As the only family Harry has left it’s nice to see the character have someone who is really on his side for once and whom supports his studies and gives hope for Harry’s future.
Michael Gambon takes the role of Albus Dumbledore and this is where I feel the character really comes into his own. All due respect to the fine portrayal by Richard Harris but Harris’s Dumbledore was older, a little more dithering and reminded me more of the atypical Wizard as portrayed in stories featuring the likes of Merlin. Gambon does his own take on the character and respectfully does not try to copy Harris. Gambon’s Dumbledore is full of energy and sarcasm, a darker more brooding type. Human. I like it, I like it a lot. Gambon has made Dumbledore my favorite Character of the Harry Potter Movies.
Favorite Quote: “A child’s voice, however honest and true, is meaningless to those who’ve forgotten how to listen.” – Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Perhaps my favorite of the bunch so far. This was thrilling, it had the Triwizard tournament that held up the main plot of the film nicely. The opening scenes of the film with the Death Eaters attack at the Quidditch World Cup, it reflects something akin to a terrorist attack on the wizard world.
The ending is simply devastating and changes the game of the movies forever. We get a glimpse once more into the past in rather cool fashion and we get a villain David Tennant and Brendan Gleeson as Mad eyed moody who teaches the three forbidden curses.
Harry has to out think and out play the other wizards of the tournament facing off Dragons and saving his friends. The final challenge leads to a most unwelcome outcome. Voldemort is back and he and Harry Duke it out. Again, how does Harry hold his own against such a powerful dark wizard when he is kicked around by others of lesser standard. The blast of wand against wand is just awesome and reminds me of something out of dragon ball.
We are also introduced to the pensive for the first time. A very useful thing for seeing into the past and it’s these little gimps to Hogwarts past which I love as they tease by revealing little details to the backgrounds of important characters.
Favorite Quote: “No spell can reawaken the dead, Harry. I trust you know that. Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” – Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Brilliant, brilliant opening. Fantastically shot and chilling as Harry and his cousin are attacked by the Dementors,
The Order of the Phoenix is good but less impressive than the Goblet of Fire. Firstly the Order themselves. Where the heck were these guys before now? The purpose they seem to serve for this movie is for the melee at the end of the movie. However it is nice to see so many excellent cast members. The talk over Voldemort not actually returning seems to reflect politics of today. Ignoring the truth of something and confiding in ones own ignorance. Embracing the comfort by ignoring dangers.
The storyline involving the new Dark Arts Teacher Umbridge was less interesting, I felt this was something of a misstep. After introducing Voldemort in the previous film the threat level for Harry has shot up ten fold. Yet here the looming darkness and visions Harry has of Voldemort take a back seat to the year under Umbridge’s rule. Not that I disliked the storyline but I took up too much screen time. Her character is more comic relief than threat and I couldn’t wait till they got her out of the way.
The macguffin of the movie is the prophecy. Not much else interesting about it except that it leads to a thrilling battle between Harry and Voldemort and Dumbledore and Voldemort which was pretty darn cool. Voldermort looks a little different in this movie. A little less scary, he seems to be growing a bit of a nose.
Favorite Quote: Harry… It’s not how you are alike. It’s how you are not…” – Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Things are shaping up pretty nicely. Harry seems to be truly alone this time at the beginning of the film. Dumbledore’s relationship to him grows closer as he reveals more about his past and his need for Harry’s help. I like how the relationship has grown between the two over the past few movies and finally Dumbledore has taken harry into his confidence and has asked for his help. Some scenes between the two characters are truly heartbreaking and hard to watch, particularly as harry feeds bad potion to Dumbledore.
The most interesting part of the movie was the back story to Voldemort’s character, told through the memories viewed in the pensive . I liked these scenes a lot as I have liked in previous movies where Harry views parts of the past. I was a little disappointed more scenes from the past weren’t included as I have heard the book features a lot more exposition on this. Draco Malfoy too might have been more interesting if there was a little more exploration into the workings of this character as a parallel to Voldermorts journey into darkness in his youth.
The Horcruxes are a cleaver concept and are a little similar to the idea of ‘The One Ring’ from Lord of the Rings. Voldemort uses these to safeguard himself from total destruction and these tie in nicely with the events of previous movies in particular The Chamber of Secrets.
The ending of this film leaves us asking how worse can it get. I have a feeling I’m going to find out very soon.
Favorite Quote: Once there was a young man, who like you, sat in this very hall, walked this castle’s corridors, slept under it’s roofs. He seemed to all the world a student like any other. His name: Tom Riddle. Today, of course, he’s known all over the world by another name, which is why, as I stand looking out upon you all tonight, I’m reminded of a sobering fact: Every day, every hour, this very minute, perhaps, dark forces attempt to penetrate this castle’s walls. But in the end, their greatest weapon… is you. – Albus Dumbledore