Sunday, November 20, 2005

Potter surpasses Star Wars?

It's been a bit of a "Potter Week" for me.
With the fourth film of the Harry Potter series premiering this week, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and since I've read each book first, before seeing the movie, I've spent my reading time this past week deep within the 700+ pages of the book.

(Yes, yes, I know, I know. The book's been out for years, what took me so long? You ought to see my "things to read" pile on my night stand. It could seriously injure someone if it were to topple over!)

The book, like the previous three, was a fun read. No let me take that back, it was a better read! Each Potter book has been better than the previous (so much so, that there were plenty of times that I didn't want to put it down), and that's where, for perhaps the first time in the entertainment world, the books share with it's filmed adaptations.

Each Potter film has been better than the one before. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire continues that tradition.

It was a daunting task, to be sure, to try and cram the 700+ page book into a film. Even though the movie clocks in under just three hours, a lot of pages and subplots were axed. (and ya know I really didn't miss the S.P.E.W. and House Elf sub plots.)

Goblet continues the Potter saga with his 14th year (and 4th year at the Hogwarts wizardry school) with all of the familiar characters back (as well as their actor counterparts) along with a few new ones too.

The story focuses on The Triwizard Tournament, a rare deadly challenge that pits school champions against each other for the winning of the Triwizard Cup (and oh yeah, along with eternal glory).

The film does a great job of taking Rowlings words and depicting them on the screen.
As for the acting, for most of cast this is their fourth go-round with their character and they wear them well. If I have any complaint with the film it's that we don't get to spend more time with them, especially Harry, Ron & Hermione, as we get to in the book. But there's so much to get through that it would have added another three hours to the film.

I headlined this review with "Potter surpasses Star Wars?" for a reason. When you think of film series, runs like Rocky, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek and Star Wars come to mind. (I omitted the Bond films since there's really no linear flow to the films, each film comes out at random and the characters really don't grow) The Potter films thus far are achieving something those and other film runs have not. They're getting better (and that's not a knock at the first film).

Think about it, how many times is a sequel as good as, or better than the first? Godfather II and Star Trek 2; The Wrath of Kahn are two that quickly come to mind but remember how bad the next film was?

Or perhaps the "granddaddy" of them all, the Star Wars trilogy. Yes, the first two films were very good, but how about the next four? Pale imitations at best, bogged down with horrible casting, insipid dialogue and over-baring special effects.

It's only natural that the subsequent film won't be as good as the first. Most really good movies seem to "catch lightning in a bottle", or their cast and director are at the top of their game and when they return for the follow up they look as if their just going through the motions. And we wonder, why did they even bother? (or more importantly, why did we bother going to the theatre.)

Maybe it's because the written work it's based on is so strong. That Rowling herself is not "going through the motions" that she has a definite goal in mind and she knows and respects these characters so well to let them down with a sub par effort.

The same can be said for the film adaptations.

Warner Brothers are filming the films in an 18 month schedule, so as not to rush them out but also not to let their cast age too far past their written counterparts. I'm already looking forward to the 5th film and with any luck I'll have read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix long before the movie's premiere.

If I can just dig it out of this reading material pile.......

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire get's a "Expelliarmus!"

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