Friday, July 13, 2007

Nutshell Reviews: The Harry Potter Series

Before I post my Nutshell Review of Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix, I suppose it's worth noting how I felt about the previous movies, especially as this is the fifth in the series. Likewise, I'll mention how the books hold up as I go along, just so we're all on the same page.

Philosophers Stone, or Sorcerers Stone in the US, was a good movie that set everything off. The actors were all well chosen, and the story held together on the big screen. This was great, as the book is a little weak, with a few parts reading very amateurish. Not that I'm complaining about that. It was JK Rowlings first, and she did a damn sight better that I could ever have done!

Chamber of Secrets was a great movie that I felt really surpassed the novel. The younger actors had a better feel for their roles, the teachers were flawless and it was done by almost the entire same crew as the first movie, resulting in a superior execution. I felt the whole Tom Riddle plot was handled far better on screen, or maybe it was just condensed enough to be faster and more enjoyable. I remember reading the novel and being bitterly annoyed that Voldemort was once again shoe-horned in as the big-bad, without actually ever appearing again! Somehow, viewing the movie made that less of an issue.

Prisoner of Azkaban is by far and away my favourite novel. The series took a turn for the darker, the twists and turns of the plot made it a far more enjoyable read, and the characters were really coming together. The Dementors were a cool idea, and the thoughts of a whole prison of them was chillingly frightening. But the movie fell very flat. It was too short, with loads of the book left out, as well as many important explanations in particular, the connection between the Marauders Map and James, Sirius, Remus and Peter, and a clear explanation of their childhood connection. Anyone who read the book knew what was going on, but there were many left scratching their heads. There was little excuse for this as well, as the runtime of 141 minutes was the shortest of the series to that point, and it felt it too. Finally, while the Dementors were well done, after watching the Ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings not too long before, they really could have been done much darker. I do however realise that this is at heart a kids movie, so that's a point I'll just have to accept and move on.

Goblet of Fire proves to be my favourite movie, while being the book that drove me crazy. It was so huge and full of fluff side plots that simply padded out the page count that I was glad to see the movie cut everything down. Focusing solely on the Triwizard Tournament, the movie was fast paced, lead by a confident and capable cast for both students and teachers, with a strong plot that honored the source material. The special effects were once again an improvement on the previous instalments, and the action was blisteringly paced throughout. Back up to a runtime of over 2 and a half hours (157 minutes to be accurate), I sat patiently enjoying the story until Lord Voldemorts triumphant return! And boy, was it worth the wait. Ralph Fiennes was an excellant choice, and the make-up was incredible. Walking out of the cinema I could hardly wait for the next installment, and more of Fiennes Voldemort that it would hold.

And with that all done, on to the new movie!

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