I have seen more movies this month than I have in the last year. With Disney releasing its 50th animated feature tomorrow that promises to be either to be the masterpiece that I've heard ramblings about or a the total dud that I've been dreading, I thought it wise to get the reviews of two more movies out of the way. No matter how it ends up, Tangled will deserve its own post.
Today's theme is book adaptations - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Let's start with the later shall we? I don't have the same book to movie baggage with this one that I have with Harry Potter and that I had with the previous two Girl With A Dragon Tattoo movies, but to be fair I have rather liked the director's adaptations so far. Even though I came away from the second movie wondering if certain points would be lost a person who had not read the novel I felt the first two films translated the themes and character's of their respective books to the silver screen better than most I've seen.
However, the rapped pass in which these films have been released means that I had to see The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest before I had read the book. I know what you are thinking, that book has been out for almost a year, however its a rather popular book and as of this morning I am number 63 on the library hold list. I don't have much hope of getting my hands on the thing before New Years. So I have no Novel to Movie to compare here.
If you haven't read the books or seen the first two movies, you need to do your homework before going to the theater. This movie is the last in Stieg Larson's Millennium series and the whole story is amid at tying up loose ends. What unfolds is a fast past conspiracy story in which paranoia becomes the norm for anyone even indirectly associated with the central character Lisbeth Salander.
Lisbeth has the potential to be one of the great characters of the modern novel. Even in film as Noomi Rapace who plays Lisbeth in all three Swedish movies has come to embody this character. Pity poor Kate Mara, the young actress chosen to play Lisbeth in the coming Hollywood version of the saga. She will be compared to Rapace, who has captured just the right blend of psycho majesty and emotional cripple in the character.
We learn so much about Lisbeth throughout the course of the books and films, and yet I left the theater wishing I knew her better. Really, without giving too much of the story away that kind of sums up this movie for me. It made me want to read the book so I could find out what was left out. My friend assures me that was made it onto the screen was the mostly whole of Lisbeth's story, and if that is true, I am immensely saddened that Stieg Larson didn't live to write more.
Over all a great work of art. I'm not sure how it ends the series for me though. I give it a 3 out of 5, but I do think it is a must see - even if not in the theaters.
Harry Potter is a different animal. The first book came out in 1997 when I was a freshman in high school and needless to say, Jo Rowling's character's have been my old friends these past ten years. I was even willing to look past some of the bloated writing (what part of Goblet of Fire was worth 600 pages?). Conversely, the movies that started as rather unimpressive and shallow, and have become better and better with each installment (save Goblet of Fire).
Half-Blood Prince, among the worst of the books in my opinion, was turned into one of the best of the movies, thanks to excellent editing from being forced to condense the novel and the amazing direction of David Yates, giving the series the needed darker tone. Yates returns for Deathly Hallows, and while the first installment suffers from not being able to stand on its own, it has certainly left me excited for next July.
Without giving away spoilers, Deathly Hallows opens with warnings of the impending threat kicking off a more political aspect immediately gives the film a distinct feel that separates this one from previous installments. When the film eventually settles into the series of camping scenes, they are slightly less annoying than they were in the novel, and actually give the trio some much-needed character development. Its kind of sad that it took this long to actually get some real character injected into the movies, but at least it finally happened. Also worth noting is the facial hair worn by Radcliffe and Grint, officially making them no longer twelve.
Speaking of no longer twelve, please do not bring your young children to this movie. Harry Potter has grown up with its audience, and this film is the darkest yet. Yates has gone even darker than his take on Half Blood Prince, and the results are great. The film was given a PG-13 rating for a reason. I felt comfortable with my eleven year old seeing it, but I did worry for her friend's little brother who is six.
With the characters in the woods for so long though, the supporting cast is left rather useless unfortunately. Alan Rickman's Snape, one of the best parts of previous films, only has one scene near the beginning. However, some returning characters make the most of their limited time, notably Brandon Gleeson as Mad Eye Moody, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange and Imelda Staunton as Delores Umbridge.
The biggest fault is its inability to stand on its own two feet. The film ends at the appropriate time for an intermission, but lacks the punch required of a proper ending. Deathly Hallows will be better reviewed once the film is complete. Fans of the novels should be pleased with the extended length, and fans of the films should at least enjoy the excellent visuals and astounding direction. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I is an extremely promising sign of what is to come.
I give it an overall 4 out of 5 with the potential of a 5 rating if the second part proves to be as good as I hope.