Thursday, November 17, 2005

Harry Potter: My Three Sickles

Click here for a Harry Potter currency coverter.

Notice there’s a new Potter movie out and he’s not yet on everyone’s lips? What gives? This was a big year in Potterworld: we got a new book, installment number 6 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and a new movie on its heels, number 4 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That means the movies are two tales behind - you math-addled
mudbloods.

As for the newest book, at least it was liftable this time. Much ado was made about the high-profile death scene, although honestly it was too predictable with all the sudden brain-dumping occurring between the soon-not-to-be character and Harry Potter. In number 6 we see more into the past of Voldemort, but less into the soul of
Snape. I had sort of gotten a bit attached to Snape, myself, during book number 5. We were asked to sympathize with him so much. Now we’re asked once again to suspect his motives. Book 6 seems to be attempting to sway us into thinking Snape’s a bad fellow once and for all. But then that is one of the major themes of the series: appearances will be deceiving. You can’t judge a half-blood prince with half the facts. Oh, and stick with your friends. You’ll need them. However, these days Harry’s friends seem to be doubting him all the time. He continues to need them anyway because he can’t rely entirely on his instincts or his smarts. He’s judgmental and no star student like Hermione.

My biggest concern with Half-Blood Prince is this: for the first time Rowling seems to be writing for an eventual movie. For instance, many of her scenes begin with a subtle hint of stage direction. That fact that she’s no doubt seen
her own movies and been emboldened by their hype may have tainted a story that’s only partially done. If she could have finished the series before the movies and her great popularity, would we have a more unified, pristine yarn?

Last Friday, I was fortunate to see an advanced screening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Director Mike Newell took over the directing reins for this installment and his is the best one yet, in my humble opinion. The first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, tried too hard to keep up with its book. Somehow that translated into dull and plodding. The second movie, …Chamber of Secrets, was good enough, mostly due to a spot-on performance of Professor Gilderoy Lockhart by Kenneth Branagh. In fairness, I didn’t see much of movie three, …Prisoner of Azkaban; that book was my least favorite. Sirius Black and the old red-herring switcheroony…yawn. Movie 4 has something I haven’t seen nearly enough of in the others: smarter humor. And the kids are getting better at pulling it off. The movie is long but evenly entertaining. My only critique: not enough Snape. Oh, and I painfully miss Richard Harris, truly a superior Dumbledore…for his eye’s very special, mischievous twinkle. RIP.

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