Saturday, November 26, 2005

15 Degrees of Separation...

Wow, it is COLD outside. 15 degrees to be exact. Just returned from the Monterey Bay area and wow...70 to 15 in far too short a time span. AND THERE'S SNOW OUTSIDE! I get to learn how to drive in snow tomorrow! I'd better learn fast as I'm driving to work Tuesday morning. I can't get over how cold it is though. Sorry, dwelling here.

Harry Potter.
Or as the director interpreted Dumbledore, HARRY POTTER! I always picture Dumbledore as the pillar of cool. Nothing fazes the man. Well, not in Goblet of Fire at any rate. Aside from the over-dramatizing(?) of ole' Albus, I felt the movie was as good as you can do in turning 700+ pages into a movie less than six hours long. There are differing camps, I know, I acknowledge you all. Many people felt cheated because Doby wasn't there, or Winky, or S.P.E.W., or the unveiling of certain Animagi.

Fact is, I'm glad the movie was interpreted differently from the written page. Why? Well, how many of us decided that The Grapes of Wrath was a wee bit too long our sophomore year of high school, and let's just rent the movie? How about Of Mice and Men, yes, yet another Steinbeck classic that maybe watching was less painful than reading? Breaking out of Salinas, I will admit to the world tonight that I have NEVER finished Great Expectations. I was unlucky enough to have that particular Dickens novel assigned to me at least four times in my educational career (I stopped counting long ago), and as a teacher will opt NOT to teach it myself to save my students from the very same embarrassment/close calls as I experienced. As good and entertaining as the movies all were, they were just different enough to get you in loads of trouble if you didn't get your best friend to tell you exactly how Jo died, or what they cut out of the TV version, or if it was or wasn't all a flashback.

I used to be of the camp that felt that the movie should take a play-by-play (page-by-page) view of the book. I think I went into Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone movie (in Mexico and so it was the "philosopher's stone" instead of "sorcerer's stone" 'kay?) with the expectation that all I read and saw in my head would now be visualized. I was so disappointed I could have cried. It didn't at all help that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was out at the same time and I left thinking, "That's not where that book ended!!!"

Well, times and me have changed a great deal since then. Movies are made to entertain in a different way than books are. I know, I know, it took me how long to figure that out? Hi, I'm an ex-English Teacher, current Library Page who if not knitting is reading, just ask my housemates. There is no television in this house, that's what hobbies, conversation, and red wine were invented for. We all form opinions about what we read and see and hear...what better way to add some more spice into the mix than to, shock shock, add a different way of interpreting a book onto the big screen.

This is the fourth HP movie. Let's face it, how many of us entered the theatre with just a little more than your average bit of trepidation? I mean, well, how many 4th versions of anything don't go straight to video these days? (Home Alone 4? I didn't even know we'd had a 3!!!) And if not to video, let's just remember the classics here, Rocky IV? i.e. let's fight Russia? Superman IV? with "plutonium man" or some-such atrocity??? I hear there's to be a Rambo 4...Right, sign me up, wouldn't wanna miss it... So after my disappointed first movie, and the choppy second movie, I'd grown up some more and had spent a few years cultivating that whole "conversation/debate/opinion" dialog and I was thrilled the third HP was a little more cohesive with the whomping willow time change, but still, there was just something missing (like Sirius in the stands, I know, I know, I feel your pain, let's move on).

I wasn't expecting perfection wiht HP4, but to be ENTERTAINED. And I was. It is fast-paced, exciting, dark, and funny. It is also two and one half hours long. How painful was it to sit through the rewind and play forward ending of HP3? Only one line of humor to break the slow-paced sequence, "Is that what my hair looks like from the back!?" HP4 broke up the dark bits with well-timed good, as well as bad, humor. The "learn to dance" sequence could have been skipped, but it was a good way, as any, to convey plot-moving dialog. Or is it "moving plot"? Whatever, I'm not a professional movie critic, love me, hate me, I'm just giving out my opinion. Like anyone else, I could tell you how I would have done my own 12 hour version of the "perfect" Goblet of Fire interpretation, but as the producers aren't knocking at my door, I'll just move on here.

I feel that of the four Potter movies, this one stands as the best thus far. The actors have come a very long way. I do hope the boys all get haircuts for the next flick, I mean, hello? Is it the 70s in the magical world? The older kids in the first few movies didn't have such mops, and when we meet Bill (in the books, that is) Molly is oh so anxious to trim his hair! Details, details, but the twins look lovely in long red locks. I'm glad they had a few lines again. The special effects were so much better than the first movie. How technology has progressed! Frankly, I can't wait until HP5 just to see what they do to the Black house...well, if they keep it in. Quien sabe.

So go see it! Or save big money and wait until the DVD, either way, it's something fun to watch.

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