Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Harry Potterthon

As April arrived, we were already fifteen films into James Bond. As recompense, or balance, we have decided to watch all the Harry Potter films in as short a time as possible. I've never seen any of them before, although I've read three of the books in a weekend in Stockholm, which was enough to convince me they all had identical plots.

The first film starts sluggishly, with some embarassing special effects to convey Robbie Coltrane, a motorcycle and the backstory through the air, which was rather a bad sign. That, combined with some not-very-good CGI owls, didn't augur well, even if Uncle Monty from Withnail & I is eating breakfast inside the suburban house we find ourselves in.

I get the feeling they didn't adapt the books, so much as vomit them up onto the screen undigested. That's borne out by the first film being more than two and a half hours long. Two and a half hours. After we've dispensed with Harry's Muggle adoptive parents, it feels like we get an hour of children mugging at bad special effects to a soundtrack of off-cuts from the Star Wars films. It's not like they didn't have a budget for new music, surely?

I've only ever see Daniel Radcliffe before in a trailer for The Woman In Black from this year, so he looks disconcertedly youngj his face so smooth that he could be a poor CGI effect just like the broomsticks, the owls, and the three-headed dog. What is it with adaptations of the first book in juvenile fiction series and CGI'd dogs? The Hunger Games' terrible computerised dogs might be a homage to the cerberus-a-like in Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone.

I suppose it's slightly preferable to other leitmotifs of fiction, like the Colonel Blimpism of the Bond novels, or everyone always dying in every John le Carre, but it's hard work nonetheless. It's odd seeing so many great British actors and actresses trying not to smirk as they ponce around in robes. After an hour, with midnight approaching, we abandoned our first assault on Harry Potter and went to bed. Only seven and three-fifths left to go...


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