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Archive for August 12th, 2011

After taking ten years to watch the first three Harry Potter movies I have now seen the other five in under a week.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) Directed by Mike Newell: The fourth movie in the series offers a change direction from the first three movies. While the earlier films share a format that starts with the daily goings on at Hogwarts giving way to a mystery the three young protagonists have to solve, The Goblet of Fire combines a more action adventure story with a paranoid thriller. Ralph Fiennes finally puts in an appearance as Voldemort and does a great job.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Directed by David Yates: If the Goblet of Fire has pretensions to be a paranoid thriller political, The Order of the Phoenix takes is more a political thriller as the two sides become more clear. Imelda Staunton’s Dolores Umbridge is evil personified made even more sinister by her cheery grin and fluffy pink outfit but the greatest addition to the franchise is Helena Bonham Carter’s slightly deranged Bellatrix Lestrange. A much darker movie than the Goblet of fire with a great ending.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009): Directed by David Yates: With a story that lacks direction it feels like we are treading water before the inevitable showdown between Harry and Voldemort, we do get a glimpse of what is to come with a fantastic climactic sequence.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010): Directed by David Yates: Being new to the Harry potter universe and watching all the movies in a short space of time I was getting a little tired of the repeating story (Harry’s bad home life – train to school – new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor – quidditch match, won by Harry – Christmas break – solve a mystery – end of the school year) however I miss them now they are not here in this movie. If the Half-Blood Prince is treading water this movie is sleepwalking towards the final movie. It does have some good moments and is often fantastic to look at.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011): Directed by David Yates: To add to the themes and genres already explored this movie is also heist movie with its first set piece being a bank robbery. It also features battle scenes that may not rival Lord of the Rings in their scale but are impressive in their execution and spectacular in their presentation. There is so much going on that despite its 130 minute running time it often feels rushed. Taken on its own merits this isn’t a big problem, but put into context with the other movies in the series it all seems a little silly when you consider the time wasted in the previous two movies. The entire movie is centred around Harry; although Hermione and Ron have a reasonable amount of screen time they do little of significance. The rest of the supporting cast is largely relegated to the background, this is a shame as (warning plot spoiler) characters are killed off cheaply. Alan Rickman’s Professor Severus Snape is still the best character in the movie, it is also good to see Maggie Smith’s having fun with her character Professor McGonagall, one of the franchises most under utilised characters. All things considered, along with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban this represents the high point of the franchise.

So what did I think of the series as a whole? Having not read any of the books I have no reference point to compare them to their source material and can only comment on the movies within their own medium. From a negative point of view the stories are repetitive and often predicable, the direction is a little hit and miss. Worst of all some of the movies mange to appear rushed and overlong at the same time. On a more positive note the best of the movies have a great visual flair, there are a fantastic array of characters who are all perfectly cast. Taken as a whole it is one of the most complete movie series, no other franchise can boast a coherent story arc and continuous cast over so many movies. In conclusion not my favourite movie saga but one I am glad to have finally caught up with.

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