July 2, 2010

There's Wizardry Afoot!

Look. I know we all have our own vehement opinions on this one, so, I'll make this as concise as possible, which, for me, is saying something.

The Harry Potter movies, while not glorious cinematic achievements in their own right, are, nevertheless, decent fantasy films that do a good, sometimes great job, of adapting that beloved franchise of kids books into the motion picture medium. That being said, there's always been something that rubs me the wrong way about them. As is no doubt apparent to anyone who read the books, the later entries into J.K. Rowling's tale got progressively darker and darker until they were unrecognizable as kids books. It was, in my opinion, a great direction for the series. I loved the high stakes that were present in the last books, and how well Rowling delivered them to us.

So, why is it that all the films thus far have failed in this venture? Sure, they all incorporate the character deaths and climatic action scenes, but these do not a dark atmosphere make. It seemed to me that the filmmakers were too timid, that they wanted to make sure the kids would still be able to handle carnage on screen, and, as such, dumbed down the adult themes. Cedric Diggory died in the end of Goblet of Fire. In the book, this was a huge deal! It showed that this series was something far more then just a kid's fantasy fable, and that Rowling wasn't screwing around. When your writer is willing to kill teenagers, you know that he/she is not to be effed with! In the movie, it was a different story. I don't know why, the death of Cedric in the movie just didn't carry the same weight. Maybe it's because I knew it was coming; maybe it's because Cedric was played by Robert Pattinson; I don't know. Either way, this has been the case for all of the last few films. All the heavy events that felt like blows to the gut in the books just seemed glossed over in the movies.

Which is why I'm extremely excited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The seventh and final book in Rowling's saga was easily the darkest, scariest, saddest, most brutal and most mature of the entire series, and it seems that director David Yates and Co. are fully embracing this. Look at the poster that was just released, if you will...

These guys aren't messing around! With this poster, and the trailer released earlier this week, the tone of the last two Potter movies is clear. They will be dark, scary, violent, hard PG-13, fantasy epics! It's clear that no corners are being cut here! Every last element that made Deathly Hallows so memorable and compelling seems to be here, from the sadism and pure villainy of Ralph Finnes' Voldemort, to the sheer violence and brutality of the final battle, to the sadness and despair felt at the passing of each beloved character. These elements all grounded Rowling's book, so that you felt all these things when reading it. God willing, these elements will be used just as well to make you feel them while watching it. We have till November for Part 1. We'll have to wait and see.

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