For starters, if I'd known that IMAX were showing the film for the rest of the month, I wouldn't have rushed to see it at AMC last week. I would have seen it at IMAX like I planned to all along, as even in 2D it looked absolutely fantastic. All those long sweeping landscape shots were beautiful on the bigger screen, and even without the 3D parts of it made me feel dizzy...
Until now I'd always said that Azkaban was my favourite of the films, though it has now been surpassed by DH1. On that note, I forgot to mention, after finally getting to see it, how disappointed I was with Half-Blood Prince. I was really looking forward to how they'd do all the Voldemort history stuff, only to find they missed it all out. Given they've basically adapted about 90% of DH, missing so much out of HBP may well have been a mistake, as all the Horcrux stuff was sort of thrown in at the end in a quick-fire explanation, and by missing out Voldemort's back story he's become more of a caricature villain. The only history that I can remember of him in the films is Tom Riddle appearing in Chamber of Secrets, and the few scant mentions in HBP of his education at Hogwarts. Anyway, I'm no expert, as I've only seen the films twice and read the books once... it just seemed to me that HBP was rushed through in the course of preparing for Deathly Hallows...
It's such a long film that actually doing an in-depth review would be rather superfluous, so instead, I shall do a few lists...
Things I Liked
- BILL NIGHY. And his quivering!pout. Considering he was in a mere 15 minutes of the entire film, he was still awesome.
- It was shot beautifully. The reason I always liked POA was because it was so much darker than the first two films, and indicated a shift in direction towards the darker end of the books themselves. I already mentioned the sweeping landscape shots, and I think those in particular made it stand out more than the previous films, which are so constrained to Hogwarts and the immediate vicinity. I especially enjoyed the shots of the miniscule (Tardis-like :D) tent, surrounded by endless rocks or trees, which was a lovely nod to that bit in the book where Harry and Hermione silently acknowledge that they're just two teenagers, lost and alone in a tent.
- I absolutely adored the animation for the "Three Brothers" sequence. That was a brilliant way of breaking the action and saved them having to do endless reaction shots from Ron, Harry and Xenophilius whilst Hermione narrated. The animation lent itself really well to the story, and it can't be a coincidence that Death looked like a Dementor.
- The first five minutes or so when we got to see Hermione's middle-class family and house. I think it's the first time we've seen where she lives, and that scene in particular negated the need for her to explain about the "obliviate" curse later on. In that vein, the sequence where she wipes Dolohov's memory in the coffee shop was a nice little reference to that; apart from getting the Ron/Hermione shippers in a tizzy, her apparent anguish in having to do that particular curse again was more than obvious. The curse itself, I think, plays somewhat on that inherent fear that if we leave people behind they'll forget about us; even though Hermione made that decision herself to keep her parents safe, it must have been utterly heart-breaking.
- I should point out that I don't have a particular pairing in HP, probably because I came into it so late... Obviously, I know what JKR's "endgame" pairings are, and in that respect the two Harry/Hermione sequences (the dance and the locket's taunting of Ron) were interesting. I know the dance wasn't in the book, and I'm really not quite sure why it was in the film other than as a bit of light relief... It was obvious that Harry's motive was just to make her laugh, but the final few moments were very strained... almost a what-if situation, if I'm honest. Harry knows she loves Ron, just as Hermione knows about Ginny, but for a couple of seconds I think they almost forgot. I dunno, I just really enjoyed the scene, and it goes to show that even if you don't specifically ship a pairing, you can still analyse and enjoy it on that deeper level.
- Leading on from that, there was the locket sequence, which was another bit of the book I'd been looking forward to. I just thought the way they filmed/CG-ed it worked brilliantly, presenting Harry and Hermione as almost godlike figures, the two perfect people in Ron's life whom he's always secretly envied: Harry, the Chosen One, and Hermione, the genius.
- Kreacher and Dobby looked so real. I mean, obviously, because it's the 21st century and our CGI technology is amazing... but WOW. It was the eyes and skin more than anything else...
- I want Fleur's wedding dress.
Things I Liked Slightly Less
To be honest, there weren't many bits I didn't like. ;)
- Mundungus Fletcher should have been played by Bob Hoskins. A while ago both JKR and Hoskins were on Jonathan Ross's Friday night show, and she promised to write a character for him to play in one of the films... Considering it was a very Bob-Hoskins-esque character, it would have been nice if he could have done it...
- They didn't show Luna's friendship ceiling, which I was looking forward to seeing. It's just a minor point, but it bugged me.
- They also didn't show the Harry/Dudley acceptance at the beginning, that little acknolwedgement from Dudley that he might actually miss his unwanted cousin. Although we did get to see Petunia looking appropriately anguished in the front seat.
- It wasn't that clear that Bathilda Bagshot turned into / was Nagini the snake. Paul was confused by this even after seeing it twice. From what I can remember of the book (I think!), Nagini had killed Bathilda already and that was implied by the bloodied room that Hermione discovered, which itself was only implied by the presence of flies and some spatters on the walls. Which is kind of understandable, as it's a kids' film. ;) But still, that sequence wasn't clear enough. Having said that, the part where Nagini falls through the floor and then suddenly reappears made me jump twice, so it gets points for scariness anyway. :D
- I also missed the bit where Harry and Hermione find the Potters' house and it's been turned into a memorial. It just seemed a bit lonely without that, and also strange considering how he's the CHOSEN ONE and everything. It seemed a little pointless them finding the house at all (other than to mention that it was where Voldie was nearly destroyed earlier on) without the memorial attached to it.
Things I Hope Will Be In Part 2
Paul should probably avoid this bit. ;)
- The Snape background stuff. Because it really surprised me in the book after HBP. I don't imagine they would miss it out, though... he's a character who deserves to be redeemed after everything, and it would be awful if the film omitted it.
- The very very ending of the book, as in what happened years later. Just because I want to see if they make up the actors to look older or just try and find similar-looking people... ;)
- McGonagall kicking literal arse. Again, I doubt they would miss it out, but I really missed Maggie Smith in part 1.
- "All was well." Whether it's narrated or just forms part of the credits.
- Finally, I do wonder if they feel like animating the rest of the Tales of Beedle the Bard at any point, because they would make brilliant extras for the DVD or just a great film in their own right.
Um, yes. At 2.5 hours, it's a very long film, mostly people talking punctuated by a few action scenes. That being said, they managed to keep the momentum going. In the book I was sucked in because JKR is literally the Queen of Cliffhangers; obviously that's more difficult in the film. Despite the lack of much really happening, it did compel you to keep watching; the occasional touches of humour broke through the overlying angst very effectively, and I think one of the most interesting things, and one of the things that makes it go so quickly, is that it's a complete change of format. In the other books, everyone is at Hogwarts by chapter five; in Deathly Hallows the school doesn't make an appearance until the last quarter of the book. I personally felt like it hadn't really started yet, and then realised I was on chapter 20 or something and halfway through the novel.
So, epic but enjoyable. Even sitting through the first 90 minutes again didn't feel like a slog, just that I got to enjoy it a second time. My prediction for when they would end the first film was only slightly out (I thought it would be immediately after they discover what the Deathly Hallows are, but that's because I'd forgotten about the Snatcher sequence...), and I thought the ending was brilliantly conceived.
I think that's more than enough. There's two days' worth of thoughts here!
So yes, that was quite enjoyable. As for trailers, Mars Needs Moms looks quite cool. In terms of upcoming films, I really want to see Black Swan, and The King's Speech to a lesser degree. It's Oscar season so a lot of good films are coming out. :)
Before HP7, incidentally, we went to Darren & Andrea's on Saturday afternoon / evening, as Andrea was building Paul a website for his and Richie's weekly acoustic night, Broken Amp. We had a go on their XBox Kinect, which is the weirdest thing ever... I think I still prefer the Wii, as you need even more bloody room for the Kinect and it's exhausting. AND TERRIFYING, as it watches you. Darren made us chilli and then we played four rounds of Scrabble and watched a bit of the run-up to the Comedy Awards before heading home. It was a pleasant, sedate evening.
On Sunday evening we invited Lisa up to share our roast dinner, as we had a gigantic pork shoulder joint from Asda. It was £7.00 for just under 6lb of meat!! It was quite possibly the best pork joint I've ever done: the scratching was lovely (apparently!) and actually crisped up, and the meat was just falling off the bone and coming off in those lovely tender stringy bits like you get on hog roasts. OM NOM. Obviously there's still loads of it left. I'm going to make some soup tonight to take to work, and will probably have some more nomalicious pork for tea. :)
I am currently working on two embroideries (again!) and there are photos to follow of the main ongoing project. The other one is a tapestry that my mum started several years ago, which should be pretty quick to finish as it's basically a "fill in the colours" job - and there are less actual stitches involved. ;) There are two in the bag of stuff she gave me: the one I'm finishing is called "Spring" and the other is "Summer", so I will post photos of those when they're done also.
I've also ordered another cross-stitch project from Readicut of Scotney Castle gardens... which actually turned out to be a bit of a cheat. I bought it because the picture looked so detailed in the brochure that my brain just went... "WTF how is that an embroidery?!", which I imagine is the reaction of all the other people who have bought it. It turns out that picture is ACTUALLY A PICTURE, not a photograph of the finished project like it's supposed to be... but having said that, there are still about 54 different colours of thread to work with, so it'll be complicated enough. ;)
Still, though: the whole point of putting a photograph of the embroidery on the front is that you can refer back to it whilst you're doing the sewing... so I am deathly curious as to how the painting on which the embroidery is based will help. Hm. It'll be several years before I start it anyway, as I've got a Chinese fan embroidery to do before that. ;)
So, as I say, I meant to post this last night, but had no internet. Which was especially annoying because I didn’t actually sit down at the PC until I’d done the washing up, put washing in, made soup for work and eaten my dinner, which was about 7.30pm. So instead I uploaded the embroidery photographs to post later, and finally got around to installing Sims 3.
As anticipated, this game is going to EAT MY LIFE. I’ve never played any previous versions of the game before, though I have some experience of Sim City and Theme Park. I'm currently working with a pre-created family and town just to see how the game works. It's bizarre how oddly addictive living your life can be. Or, well, not your life, but the life of a computer-generated person... Once I get to grips with it I'll probably start creating my own Sims, with the end goal of attempting some sort of fandom-based characters and watching the subsequent insanity ensue...
The only downside is that despite installing extra RAM in order to meet the basic requirements, it's STILL running slow because my video card is too old - so for all the hours of my life it would have eaten on its own, double that for the slowness issue. I need to buy an external hard drive anyway to get all our music and pictures backed up (and Vista can then eat hard-drive space to its heart's content), at which point I'll investigate video cards as well. If it's not one thing, it's another. I'm debating at this point whether it might just be cheaper to buy a whole new PC off ebuyer. :|
Also I don't know if some of the slowness was down to the fact that the internet was b0rk. The opening splash page took ages to load because of that (it was trying to download content, obviously) but I don't know if that affects gameplay.
In any case, installing the RAM was no problem so hopefully a video card will be just as simple...
I have some work annoyances to post, but I'll do them in a separate entry, as this is quite long enough...