Monday, June 07, 2004

That felt good!!

In case you haven't seen the movie or the trailer yet, that is what Hermione said after punching Draco in the face in PoA. And it being the title of this post is an indication of the fact that I saw the movie last saturday.

I went with Ashu and Sapna (our friendly neighbourhood couple) to the theatre and actually made them leave home almost 40 minutes before the scheduled starting time of the movie so that we might get reasonably good seats. After all the movie had a record breaking opening day on friday; there was every reason to expect a packed theatre except that it was a 10:40 pm show. What greeted us was a completely empty hall. we were the first to enter it and promptly took the best seats (this was at about 10:15, about 25 minutes too early). Here, I would like to put on record my heartfelt gratitude to Sapna because she showed amazing control and didnt thrash me (as she is wont to do with Ashu :D ) for literally dragging them to the theatre so early.

Anyway after some trailers (Spiderman 2 and The Polar Express among them) the movie started. And within a few minutes of the beginning I had already started to feel uneasy. This was not what I had expected. It was too "jerky"... too uneven.. The flow just wasn't smooth. It probably doesn't really matter to children (almost all of whom have already read the book), but I don't see how can someone who hasn't read the book enjoy the first half. The second half, however, redeemed the movie to a large extent.


I guess Cuaron just took the shrieking shack drama and the Sirius/Buckbeak rescue as the "theme" of the book and hence spent a lot of time on that. This made most of the second half flow nicely and smoothly on the screen. Moreover, these sequences are really what make PoA such an amazing story. In my opinion it probably has the best climax among all the five books and that shows in the movie. Another good thing about the movie was the interaction between Lupin and Harry. All those scenes came out well. In fact, in one of those scenes Lupin talks about Lily and seems to have had romantic ambitions about her in their youth. He said something like "She was there for me when no one else was". This might be one of those hints to future books that Rowling was talking about. Emma Watson didn't disappoint and played the now-teenager Hermione extremely well. Her chemistry with Ron is made much more obvious here than just the awkward hug at the end of CoS.

Buckbeak's parts were done extremely well. It looks very real in most parts. and Harry's flight on Buckbeak is one of the best shot scenes in the movie. The Marauder's map is also presented extremely well. In fact one of the many ways in which the movie moves away from the book is related to the map.

Now, onto the not-so-good parts (besides the uneven nature of the first half sceenplay/editing). This was the longest among the first three books but the makers decided to make it the shortest movie! another 20-30 minutes would probably have made the movie much better from not just the perspective of the fans of the book but also of those who were unfamiliar with the story. There are some things that I'd have liked to be explained in the movie. Like the whole Crookshanks/Scabbers thing. The movie never really shows anything of the sort. They only show Hermione and Ron having a little fight (actually just a banter or sorts) regarding the cat/rat thing but nothing that anyone would remember at the end. To me this was disappointing because I thought it was one of those very brilliant foreshadowing events that Rowling plants in her books. While reading PoA you never realize that even this innocuous/unimportant looking sidetrack will be related to the main story in such a nice way. The fact that Crookshanks' being a half-kneazle and not a cat might be important in the last two books means that Cuaron has left another thing for the later directors to fit in their movies. Similarly, it was never explained who Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were. I don't know how anyone is supposed to understand why Lupin knows so much about the map. The map's authors was another foreshadowing of what was about to happen in the shrieking shack later on. As the movie stands right now, no one will know about animagi and things like that which are likely to be very important later on. Also, people might wonder why Harry's patronus looked like a stag in the end and not before that. and why stag? Anyway, that might not be anything very important. Though I'd have liked to see that. As I said, the movie could've done all this in 15-20 minutes.

Anyway, bottomline is that the movie doesn't look good in the beginning but ends very well. Overall, its better than the first two movies though. However, that doesn't mean its great cinema.

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