Buff Review Show and the Goblet of Breakfast Tea

If I lived in the Hogwarts universe I would only drink tea from goblets. ‘Natch.

Anywho, made a few more adjustments to the blog page, and have progressed from “tinkering” to actually “learning” how this all works, so round of applause and cheap fizz all round.

So now, all new posts will go to the front page, but will be divided into to catergories, “Blogs” for standard posts and items of whimsy or news, and “Reviews” for actual review posts for latest material and/or older reviews of mine.

I need a bit more time to gather my thoughts on last night’s viewing of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, so to tease your taste buds (and for me to test my menuing skills have worked) here is my review for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1, the second half of which is out in less than two months now!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part.1

So the beginning of the end has begun. This was always going to be an interesting review, as the Harry Potter franchise has divided opinion since it’s creation. From the books, to the films, the games, the cereal, the fridge magnets, the limited edition Ron Weasley wigs etc., all manner of diverse attitudes on J.K. Rowling’s series have reared their heads in the past decade or so. The books helped get a generation of kids reading again, and caused a generation of adult’s headaches from their peers for “daring” to read a children’s book, be it on the tube or at work or in bed with their partners. The games have always been subject to criticism, both good and bad, ranging from complaints of the lack of charm and actual “magic” that the books and films possess, while they have been acclaimed for staying truer to the events of the books, and just recently the Lego Harry Potter game has received critical praise for finally injecting the series with some of that sparkle and wit the realistic film-based games have so often lacked.

More than anything else though, it is the films that have caused many a discussion and argument. Usually, as a film on it’s own merit, the films are acceptable and actually quite good for what they are, but as a comparison to the book there is always the problem of certain scenes, characters and subplots being cut or changed due to the inability to have a five hour film. However, for the first time in the franchise’s film history, I can say that a HP film does real and brilliant justice to the books, but as a film on it’s own, and as part of the series of films, it is comparably inferior to it’s predecessors.

Let me just say: I thoroughly enjoyed the film. But, if we were to pretend the books didn’t happen and we just had the films to go on, it would come across as uninspired and unfinished to someone who has only ever experienced the films. This is entirely due to the finale being split into two parts. It’s almost a shame more of the books weren’t split or extended when hitting the big screen, because we would have been able to allow Deathly Hallows Part 1 an easier ride. The book itself has plenty of action sequences, and the first film is definitely showcasing a larger chunk of the book than I expected- meaning that the second film will undoubtedly be able to tie everything up succinctly, and do the series justice as a whole without having to rush or cut anything out.

However, the first half of the book, and thus the first part of the double-header finale, suffers just a bit from the “lulls”. Glorious shots of the Forest of Dean and lingering glances of the British coast, although beautifully directed and imagined, take away some of the tension at times, especially when everywhere the three students travel, having turned their backs on Hogwarts, is completely devoid of human life. The tension that does remain is otherwise carried through the film well, from the first instance the Warner Brother’s symbol at the start crumbles and decomposes, and the well-known Potter theme music gently warps and twists, a definite darker tone is set for the film.

Nearly all the scenes in the film are incredibly faithful to the books, although the wedding scene near the beginning of the film feels rushed and simply acts as a bit of breathing space between action sequences, which is okay but this is one of the few scenes in the film when the pruning shears really do come out and it is just more obvious to those of us who have read the books. They’ve taken a liberty or two by adding scenes in, but they don’t really mar the film so I am willing to let it slide, unlike most of the additions to the previous film, The Half Blood Prince, which added more “faff” to a film that was already slow and “faffed” to the hilt.

Another issue for younger viewers and any adults who haven’t already read the books, is that so many names are thrown around whom are primarily new or infrequently mentioned characters in the series (Bathilda Bagshot, Grindlewald, Gregorovitch, Xenophillius Lovegood and Charity Babbage to name a few) I can see where some viewers may lose track of what is going on, especially when you barely have time to register one amusing name before another one crops us. We’ve been so used to the same cast of Hogwartians that we can at least recall a name when the face comes on screen. So when new character number eighteen appears with the name Clarastacia Whimsythropp you have every right to hurl your popcorn to the floor and just say “Right, that’s it, I’m calling HER Tracey”.

And, as it has been since The Philisopher’s Stone, Daniel Radcliffe is outshined by Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, the latter of whom seems to be channelling Frodo Baggins somewhat in this film. One moment I hadn’t remembered from the books, when the group are carrying one of Lord Voldemorts Horcruxes, an object containing a part of his soul to keep him immortal, it changes the attitudes and emotions of the wearer for the worse, much like the ring from LOTR does to it’s wearer. This isn’t to say it is a rip-off, however the scene is played very closely to how it is in LOTR and I just feel director David Yates could have avoided the obvious and gone for something a little more Potteresque.

The all-star British cast grows larger with each passing film. Staunch favourite Imelda Staunton returns as the utterly repulsive and saccharin Dolores Umbridge, but don’t expect much more than fleeting glances of most of the other series stalwarts such as Robbie Coltrane, David Hughless and Brendan Gleeson, as a lot of the film is Radcliffe, Watson and Grint, and lots of countryside and support characters popping up for their five minutes. The second half will undoubtedly see more of our favourites as we eagerly await the Battle For Hogwarts to be shown in its full glory when it is out early summer. It will be a long wait, but if a total grossing of £3.4 billion before the first part of the finale was even screened is anything to go by, the Potter train is still going strong and, when it makes it’s final stop at Platform 9 3/4s, it will all be worth it in the end. Something wicked this way comes… Just a few months to kill between now and then, so why not pick up Lego Harry Potter and go block crazy!

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About buffreviewshow

I should probably fill this out at some point tonight, but for now, just imagine a curious mixture of Graham Norton, Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman in a 22-year olds body. On second thoughts, eww... Ok just think of a dog wearing a fez until I get something written here.

Posted on May 19, 2011, in Films, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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