Monday, July 20, 2009

Harry Potter

I tend toward sci-fi more than fantasy myself, and my imagination is completely uninspired by magic and wizards and elves and the like (I prefer fiction where the rules are more or less like what they are in our world), so it should come as little surprise that I've largely ignored the Harry Potter craze. I've read none of the books--I have precious few reading hours and I'd rather spend them reading Tolstoy than Rowling--and I've seen about the last 30 minutes of the third movie, which is supposedly the best, and I was totally unimpressed. But I did see the most recent movie over the weekend, which can be attributed entirely to the fact that I am now in a relationship while, in the past, I either wasn't when the books/movies came out, or I was in one with someone that wasn't particularly interested in the phenomenon. So, I was able to avoid it until now, but I guess having some encounter with this phenomenon was inevitable.

So, having said all this, my opinion of the film was...that it wasn't bad. Actually, I thought that the filmmaking was quite good--David Yates, the director, managed to coax good performances out of all of his (mostly children) actors, the mood and tone of the film were consistent and well developed, and the movie began interestingly enough such that I was interested to learn what would happen. Unfortunately, the film was (in my opinion) not terribly well paced, and it seemed like the middle act could have been severely trimmed to get the movie down to a lean two hours instead of a bloated 2.5-plus hours. Not knowing the greater context of the films I don't know how essential the soap opera elements are to the series--perhaps they're emotionally necessary payoffs or setups to future storylines--but they weren't as compelling as they should have been. The the stoner comedy elements near the end were simply odd. Once the plot kicked back in again, I got interested again, and the death at the end of the film was handled with quite a bit of grace and earned sentiment. But it felt to me that there was a better film that could have been made, one which kept the main threads advancing consistently throughout the film, rather than shunting them aside for the interpersonal drama. At some points I was getting a very heavy later-BSG vibe. Again, I generally liked the movie, but parts of it were a long slog.

I am happy that I saw it, though, if for no other reason than that I feel that I more or less got the feel for this world and its characters, and I guess I understand what people like about it. Truth be told, it was significantly better than I thought it would be, especially in the acting department. I don't think I'll be visiting this world again, but it was solid enough that my faith in American culture isn't quite shot yet (what little is left after the success of the Transformers series, anyway).

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.