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Harry Potter 7a (UK/USA, 2010)

The above scene does not appear in this film, because it is being held over for Harry Potter 7b.
This one is Harry Potter 7a: I’m In A Tent.

Saw this at weekend. First reaction: bloody pleased they didn’t release it in 3D. The last thing this film needs is 3D. (Of course, they will release it in 3D soon, perhaps before 7b gets its release in the middle of next year, in 3D.)

This is the last of these films and of course you know what you’re in for, you’ve either seen the earlier ones or otherwise. The main drawcard for me continues to be “watching the young actors growing up” but shortchanged by the focus on the lead trio at expense of supporters – at least Neville gets a line. The lead trio do a creditable job, with Rupert Grint in particular finally seeming settled into his role and holding the screen like a proper-type actor. It’s funny, actually, all three of them prove to have marvellous screen presence when they’re not delivering Rowling-dialogue. There’s a sequence at the piano, and a sequence dancing, where the “young actors performing dialogue” becomes “authentic characters on screen”. In short, the material doesn’t help them, which is easy to forget given the greatest performing talent in the world is filling even the bit parts all around them. (Several major actors die off-screen and are quickly forgotten, because there’s another two dozen super-thesps still to get through.)

So I enjoyed the film as I’ve enjoyed all of them since part 3 – the young actors are older, there’s lots of incident, the uneven rambling style of the novels makes for oddly-structured films that are almost refreshing as a result.

The test of this one, story-wise, was whether they would find a way to sell the biggest mis-step in the original novel. The trio is tested, and found wanting, leading one of the three to abandon the other two. In the book it’s poorly motivated, unrelated to greater themes, and generally unconvincing. In the movie they find nothing to rescue the sequence. There’s enough fuel there to spark a disagreement, and Rowling’s original version at least approaches something meaningful, but the film-makers can’t find a way to adhere to the source material and yet make this crucial emotional beat make sense. It is the absolute heart of the film in many ways, and it just generates roll-eyes.

Also, Dobby the house-elf is still an annoying git.

Anyway. It’s exactly what you expect it to be. So you don’t need me to tell you anything about it.

[So, smart guy, what would you do differently with the breaking of the trioship? Okay, I’ll have a go. MINAR SPOLIERS: to be honest I’d ditch Rowling’s source material and rework it and let everyone bray about it if they wanted. Fromt the start, Ron should be making some recommendation about what to do or where to go that fits his character (he’s representative of emotions/heart); Harry should refuse for reasons that fit his character, like early commitment to a purpose; Hermione should see both sides but using logic she’ll consistently side with Harry. As his jealousy over a perceived attraction between Hermione and Harry grows, and no other plan is working, Ron would restate his original suggestion more forcefully. Harry still refuses, but for the wrong reasons – because he lacks Ron’s emotional sense and he’s unable to let go of his initial plans easily. Hermione still agrees with Harry, also for the wrong reasons – because she’s afraid of the risk to Ron if she says yes, maybe, especially after he already got hurt. Faced with this, Ron walks out because *he feels like he’s not contributing anything useful*, as well as suspicions and pride and so forth.

To me that reads as much more coherent a motive than what we read/see, which is Ron (corrupted by Sauron’s ring) expressing frustration that there’s no plan and also I’m jellus. First reason just seems petty – is obvious cover for second reason which just isn’t enough on its own to convince.

If JK Rowling then said “nooo you must use my words exactly” then I’d do exactly the same thing but I’d do it entirely as subtext. Rupert Grint could sell it. Clever editing would help Emma W and Daniel R to do the same.

Solved! And that’s why I’m in Hollywood making movies and not sitting in NZ writing a blog. Oh wait.

{ 13 } Comments

  1. Joey | December 7, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    You know these movies are for childen, right?

  2. morgue | December 7, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    All the more reason to do a better job with them, right?

  3. Svend | December 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on writing your first Harry Potter fanfic!

    (I… I assume it’s your first?)

  4. morgue | December 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Dammit Svend I had to struggle to avoid spitting tea over my keyboard when I read that.

    This is not fanfic! This is srs screenwriter analysis! IS DIFFERENT!

    My first fanfic had Harry growing wings and being ashamed of them until Draco told him they made him look beautiful. Then makeouts.

  5. Pearce | December 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    The gold standard for HP fanfic:

    http://achewood.com/index.php?date=08082005

  6. Jon | December 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    LMFAO @ morgue. Srs.

  7. The Alligator | December 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I saw it with my lil sis yesterday: worst $9 nap I ever had. Perhaps that part about needing to read the books/see the other movies was lost on me….

  8. Vaughan | December 8, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Meh….I’ll be glad when it’s all over with. Personally I think the HP films are all sadly typical of what passes for fantasy films these days: slick, soulless and completely unengaging.

  9. Pearce | December 8, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    When was the golden age of fantasy films? Did it end when Ray Harryhausen retired?

  10. morgue | December 8, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    The Golden Age of fantasy films is the Hawk The Slayer film poster.

    (Possibly also the Dragonslayer film poster.)

  11. Vaughan | December 8, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I still have a soft spot for Clash Of The Titans actually. The remake is a classic example of what I meant in my earlier post. But no, if anything the golden age of fantasy films began when Harryhausen retired.

  12. Pearce | December 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Hm. That’s curious.

    I would have thought that King Kong, the Wizard of Oz, Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, and the Thief of Baghdad were all part of the golden age of fantasy, while films like Legend, Ladyhawke, the Sword and the Sorceror, Beastmaster, Willow and Krull epitomised the crud that came after its end.

    I don’t suppose your choice of the ’80s as a golden age reflects childhood nostalgia at all, Vaughan?

  13. Vaughan | December 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    It probably is childhood nostalgia to a large degree. Frankly, given the crud that gets wheeled out as fantasy these days, anything looks like a golden age.

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