Monday, 20 July 2009

Problems with Potter

I went to see HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE recently and noticed a few problems. This isn't a review - more like a series of observations. Obviously, it contains major SPOILERS for the film.

First off, this is the best of the series by a mile. It's the only Potter film I'd actually like to see again. Opening with a direct attack on the 'Muggle' community was a smart move as it essentially invited us (muggles) into the story.

Another inviting element to the film was Professor Slughorn. He's a very grounded, British old man, who acts as the audience in the film. A very good move with his character.

One of the first scenes showed good old Harry attempting to chat up a nice attractive lady. And succeeding! Yes, I know - shocking isn't it! Personally, I thought it was way too easy and was expecting her to be some sort of assassin. Seems not.

Anyway, this was the start of probably the biggest theme of the movie - relationships. The film uses every opportunity to develop teen relationships, addressing the 'first love' mentality. We have Harry pursuing Ron's sister Ginny (and her going after him) and Hermione lusting after Ron (and being pretty damn confused about it all).

It was all done very well, making some fairly amusing moments. Such as Harry standing up when Ginny approached the table (like a true gentleman). However, when no-one else does so, he looks like a complete arse and it's all too clear how he feels.

Here's the problem with these relationships - they're not needed.

While they make for good moments and character development, you can remove almost every single relationship scene (between Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione) and the story is unaffected. They needed to be thrown into the plot more, not be secluded in their own personal scenes. Clearly, it was a way of developing character relationships in readiness for the final film/s. But it was too much, too late. This sort of thing should have been done in smaller doses earlier on in the series.

Don't get me wrong, they're great scenes, but their purpose is way too obvious and they don't tie in with the main plot.

Another problem is the finale. Here's where we stand (SECOND SPOILER WARNING!):

Harry hides away as Malfoy stares down Dumbledore. As Snape enters, we realise what's going to happen - Dumbledore will die. Alas he does, at the hands of Snape. Now, earlier on, Malfoy used some conveniently placed transportation device to get a bunch of Death Eaters into the castle. Why? In the book, it's so they can beat the hell out of everyone. The Death Eaters face off against tonnes of wizards in a huge, climactic battle. In the film however, this isn't the case. They're let in, watch Snape kill Dumbledore, run through the castle breaking a few windows, set Hagrid's house on fire and bugger off! So why were they needed?

Yes, so anyone reading the book will have been awaiting the finale battle and anyone unknowing of said battle, will still have been expecting it because of the tension build up etc. But it never came! The whole ending was an anti-climax. While finishing on Dumbledore's death is a good move, it's not when you've built up 'battle tension' for an entire movie.

This brings me to my biggest peeve when it comes to Potter. JK Rowling has no idea how teenage boys act. Simple as that. It's the same in the books as it is in the films. Whenever Harry gets royally pissed off (and I mean really angry), he pulls out his wand and does battle. Here, we see him chase Snape through the grounds of Hogwarts, trying to stop him with spells.

No no no!!!!

Imagine yourself in Harry's shoes: you're 16/17 and have just gone through hell (practically) with Dumbledore - the guy who has been like a father to you f0r 6 years. Someone - a guy you may have hated, but trusted - has just killed him. In cold blood. You wouldn't use fancy spells to battle him, you'd let loose! Nevermind the fact that Snape is far more powerful than you, you would forget the wand and beat the shit out of the bastard! Anger would take over. No teenage boy in that position would still be thinking with his wand (the real wand, not the wand). Fists! That's what angry teenage boys think with.

Every Potter book and film falls victim to it and will continue to do so. Annoying as hell.

Anyway, they're just my opinions on what's wrong with the latest Potter film, which - on the whole - is a pretty good movie.


Anonymous said...

Although I agree its the best film so far there are a few things I kinda disagree with you on - though only kinda.

One the anti-climax of the battle that never was... I agree it was building to it but since the last few books all end in a similar vein we needed to feel like it was still building to the very last film, we can't just have battle after battle all the time, it would be tendious. We also needed to have all the deatheaters watch Snape kill Dumbledore (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE NEXT FILM) So they believe he really is a villan. It also highlights how afraid they are of Dumbledore to still need their numbers to face off to one old man. I also think the lack of battle shows that Dumbledore was such a beloved character that his death is ending enough. (Although I think they could have made more of it to be honest - the book was so moving the film was disappointing here).

2. how young boys behave, this is only relevant with regards to the violence thing. If you get boys into a fight and there are weapons to be had they will use them, if they TRUELY HATE and have nothing left to lose, they will cause maximum damage, Harry's wand will do that and he feels it is an extention of himself anyway, which supports your arguament so I spose no matter how you look at it, he'll use his wand instinctively - you know why that's believable? Because its fiction and we are allowed areas where we suspend our disbelief. The problem with that scene was that it came after Dumbledore's death so the audience are like, who cares? Same goes for the reveal that snape is the half-blood prince, too little too late.

I agree with you about the relationships thing though, I dont feel it has been built up enough and with enough subtlety over the series and its what makes the books so wonderful, funny and its the way JK paints her characters so fully that makes them so charming and accessible. The films are failing her there.


Anonymous said...
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Ron said...

My biggest problem is why was Dumbledore, written as one of the most powerful wizards so easily removed of his wand by Malfoy? Why didn't Harry try more to intervene while this was happening?