As some of you may know and others not, I have co-written two traditional Christmas pantomimes in recent years, and writing another one always seemed like a good idea. One of the subjects that caught my interest was the Harry Potter series, so I was recently rather dismayed to find out that David Yates had beat me to it.
Let’s rewind and see how it came to this tragic discovery:
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Yes. Anyway. Since it has been a couple of days since I watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I decided to rewatch the trailers (all eleventy billion of them) in order to prepare for my very first blog post.
The results were staggering. The images, the music, the dynamic camera moves, the stunning pace: it all transported me back in time. Back, not to 2005, when I read and greatly enjoyed the book, but to 2001.
Mhm… some of you may think. 2001. That’s odd. Why 2001?
Planet of the Apes, that’s why.
The images were great. The music was stunning. The pace was riveting. And back then I still had some respect for Mark Wahlberg. (Yes, I liked M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening a lot. And Mark Wahlberg was good in it. But some sins can’t be forgiven. Shooter, for example.) Analytically speaking the only difference is that with Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Plot I knew that the movie would be shite a pile of excrement ten miles high.
How did I know this?
Well, that it was directed by the same person who did Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a dead giveaway.
What he did to the sixth Harry Potter film was nothing short of dooming the series to a slow and painful death. Sure, all the upcoming movies will make mountains of money and the critics will praise them over the moon, but ever since Yates took over the helm, plot elements that will be crucial to the culmination of the series have been cut, rewritten and generally shat on in a way that pretty much makes the story unsalvagable.
That having been said let’s focus on the main event of the evening, Harry Potter and the Hard-Boiled Persimmon.
The beginning of the movie had been praised much, mostly by bloated movie critics who are more likely to judge a movie by its projected ticket sales than by its actual merit. Still, I expected the opening sequence to be stunning, and it was. The only thing that wasn’t quite expected was that the magic would only last thirty seconds. But it’s an imperfect world, I guess.
I was also rather surprised that the abduction of Mr. Ollivander was featured in the movie, seeing that it isn’t in the book. Yes, I understand the concept of poetic license, and it’s a good one, in theory, but it was interesting to see the poor man abducted, his shop smashed to smithereens, dozens of witnesses around and for the rest of the movie no one seems to care.
At about seventeen hours into the movie the unforgettable Lavender Brown makes her entrance. Please note that I use ‘unforgettable’ in this context as a negative term. She doesn’t have the pigtails, she doesn’t have the freckles, the writing is far too bad and she doesn’t turn to the camera to say ‘Hello boys and girls’, but for all other intents and purposes Lavender appears to have escaped from an asylum for unbelievable panto characters. I shall make a point of finding said institution (I suspect it to be near the Leavesden Film Studios where Harry Potter and the Hollow Brick Penguin was filmed) and donating some money to hire more guards. Or maybe buy an extra layer of barbed wire for the fence. Just to be on the safe side. It is bad enough that David Yates will be directing the next two movies – nothing I can do about that – but I’d rather not take any more chances.
There are, however, some things that I have to admire about the movie. The marketing, for example. Turning Harry Potter and the Hobo Bear Practitioner into a crossover with the other hugely successful film franchise of the 2000’s, namely Batman The Lord of the Rings, was a daring and visionary move. Having Gollum appear in a multiple cameo part as Inferi 1 – 217 was something Hitchcock would’ve been proud of, or Kubrick, or Woody Allen, back when he was good. Stunning. David Yates, I salute you.
Finally, I shall also take a few seconds to congratulate Steve Kloves for finally getting rid of his image as a good screenwriter. Having written movies such as the first four movies in the Harry Potter series, the wonderful Wonder Boys and the equally fabulous Fabulous Baker Boys, his longtime fans as well as key figures in the industry felt that it was high time for a new direction in his writing: straight down. His stunning new style is maybe best showcased in the antepenultimate scene of the movie (it might also have been the penultimate scene, I just thought I’d show off my vocabulary… neat, eh?). To have Snape simply and boringly explain that he is the Half-Blood Prince really gets rid of a lot of inconvenient plot and dialogue in one fell swoop. I and all my friends who are admirers of the series weren’t in the least disappointed. Congrats, Steve.
There is other stuff that I feel the need to lament in great detail, but I’m running out of sarcasm. Still, it would have been nice to hear a word or two about the elder wand, or about the Ministry of Magic and the current political climate in the wizarding world, or maybe to catch a glimpse of Dobby. But maybe I’m just daydreaming of a place were fantasy movies are still good.
Nice thought, though.