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Old January 14th, 2012, 4:38 am
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Re: A series completed: Analysis of all eight movies in one

The movies

Which movie out of all eight of them is your favourite? Why?
"Favourite" can mean too many things. So, I’ll break them down.
Best Film as a movie: Prisoner. This was, hands down, the single best film of the series. It did an amazing job of telling Rowling’s story of Harry’s Hard vs. Wrong Choices in accepted truths. The direction, performance, pacing, etc., all were top-notch.

The Film I most enjoyed: Goblet. It was not quite as good a film as Prisoner, but for whatever reason, I found that I just enjoy watching it more. The film does a really good job of telling Rowling’s story of Harry’s Hard vs. Wrong Choices of Personal Valour. I think my objections were that it was not as well adapted as Prisoner: some of the "clunky" aspects of the books remained in the film when I think that they could have been easily adapted.

Best Adaptation: Order. Rowling’s story of Harry’s Hard vs. Wrong Choices of Personal Isolation might be her best story of the lot: but the book is by far her worst telling of a story. The film did a great job of streamlining Rowling’s poorly editted morasse and really focused on the story.

Best Guilty Pleasure: Prince. It is fun, even if it did totally lose Rowling’s story of Hard vs. Right Choices in Personal Politics for Tween Sexual Alchemy.

If you could name one moment which you consider your favourite for all movies which one is it?
The best "single moment" was probbly Harry’s Patronus moment in Prisoner: that was one of the few "spine tingles" I got out of the series.

My favorite scene was A Prince’s Tale.

Directing

Which director did the best job of portraying the Wizarding World?
That is not a criterion by which I would judge a director: his/her job is to tell a story, not portray a world.

To that end, I think that Cuaron did by far the best job of telling a story. Yates did well in 3 of 4 films, and Newell did well in his one turn, but neither of them quite got to Cuarón’s level.

Would you have preferred one director for all eight movies?

No, for several reasons. First and foremost, the stories are too different from one another. The first couple of films needed a director such as Spielberg who could spin a children’s tale in a way that would still engage adults. The 2nd two stories needed a surreal turn: Cuaron was great, but Rowling’s suggested director of Terry Gilliam would have been great, too. Order needed someone who could do "stark," whereas Prince and Hallows needed someone who could do young adult stories.

The second reason is that any director good enough that I would like to see do HP films was not going to committ to one project for that long.

Storytelling

Which story arc has been fleshed out the best during the movies? Examples: Coming of Age story of the Trio, Harry vs Voldemort, The Marauder vs Snape, Snape as Dumbledore’s inside man etc.
The movies didn't really do these as arcs, but, then, most of these were not really arcs in the books, either! Neither books nor films did much with "coming of age" outside of poorly written romance (the Bildungsroman narrative style notwithstanding). Neither books nor films did much with Snape vs. the Marauders besides present it as a historical detail: there was no "middle" or "end," just a beginning. For Snape, it was not an arc so much as a "reveal" with one answer. Had the films followed the book, then we would have gotten the answer in Prince (but keep in mind that a lot of people rejected that answer then): the films simply saved the "reveal" until the last film.

The romantic arcs were done as well in the films as in the books, but that is faint praise at best! I did hope that the films would improve Harry+Ginny, and they did a little, but not enough to make it "good."

SPEW was a true arc, but that did not involve the protagonist, so it was well cut. (In a way, that is too bad: I liked the arc, but as it needed to be redone to have something to do with Harry.

That leaves the overarching plot of Harry vs. Voldemort, and that was pretty well done. The big "gotcha" of Harrycrux certainly was well tied-up in the end for both book and film. And we cannot say that it was presented more poorly on the films given how many Hardcore Harry Potter fans were adamant that Harry could not be carrying a piece of Voldemort’s soul on his forehead!

Finally, I would add that one constant failure of the series was to use short flashbacks to remind people of plot points established in prior series. In the books, Rowling always provided literary equivalents of flashbacks, with brief synopses of characters and plot points when they re-appeared. For example, why wasn't the Riddle from the Diary ever reshown in Prince or Hallows when showing people the destroyed Diary? Why wasn't the prophecy reshown when it came up again in Prince or Hallows? Etc., etc. If you are trying to communicate continuity, then this is the device for doing so. However, it was done all too rarely in the series.

Acting

Which character has had the best portrayal (script wise and acting wise)?
Harry. He is the protagonist and thus gets by far the most with which to work. Radcliffe has grown into a really good actor, too.

Which actor or actress in their role has been a revelation to you?
None. I mean, it is cool seeing Radcliffe evolve into such a good performer. Grint did well, but Rowling provides so little for Ron to do that he does not get much of a chance: fortunately, Ron's lower moments from the books are largely cut, which will probably help Grint's career as being stereotyped as book Ron would be pretty bad for him. (I still am not sold on Watson as an actress.) However, I cannot call that a "revelation" per se.

The adult actors performed as I expected, having seen most of them before. (Well, I suppose that the series did reveal David Tennant to me!)

Music

How important has music been to you while watching the movies?
The right score in the right moment can really put a scene over the top. I mean, think of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields: yes, Théoden’s St. Crispin Day speech is wonderful on its own, but against that music, it became iconic. Conversely, there was the horrid score of Chamber, which actually undercut scenes by being out-of-place.

The series had quite a few good musical moments. The Graveyard "thematic dual" was brilliant, as was the heart-beat based Battle of Hogwarts theme. Major kudos to those!

Who is your favourite music composer?
After the first two films, they all did good jobs. (Williams redeemed himself with Prisoner!)

Which soundtrack is your favourite?
Death Hallows 2. There are a lot of really vibrant pieces, and the score does a wonderful job of capturing the story told by the film (if not that of the book).

What is your favourite music track?
Harry in Winter. That actually captures the poignancy of youthful infatuation wonderfully, and the nice "misstepped" counterpunctual nature of the two themes foreshadows that it is to be a near-miss.

Cinematography, Set Design, Costume Design etc.

Which movie has the best cinematography?
Goblet.
Best set design (props etc)?
Order
Best special effects?
Hallows 2
Best costumes?
Goblet.

Overall verdict
Are you happy with the Harry Potter movies as a completed series?[/quote]
For the most part. With the exception of the first half of Hallows, the post-Columbus films did good jobs of telling stories, and Prisoner, Goblet and Order all succeeded in telling Rowling's stories quite well. I do wish that they could get a time machine and put someone other than Columbus directing the first two films. (Note to Time Travelers: please do NOT use Michael Bay, either.)

My biggest grip is that they should had been much more aggressive about adapting Rowling’s story to the cinematic medium: the greatest flaws of all of the films was adhering too closely to the books. I fear sharks when I am swimming, but not on land: it is the lions and T. rex’s that scare me then. It is the same principle here. We only have to look at how much more popular and acclaimed the Lord of the RIngs films were than any of the HP films to see what is possible with proper adaptation.


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Last edited by Wimsey; January 14th, 2012 at 3:44 pm.
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