Archives For Harry Potter

TIFF’12: Day 7

September 16, 2012 — 2 Comments

I had to wake up early for Day 7, not because I had a movie to see, but because I wanted to head down to the festival box office to exchange some of my back-half vouchers for tickets. I went ahead and did that, but then had nothing left to do, so I decided, to throw in an extra screening for the morning.

It’s not always easy choosing a random option at the last minute, especially since many screenings are already “rush line only.” I didn’t have too many screenings to choose from, and ultimately I settled on something with a director I didn’t care for, but a cast I loved. Continue Reading…

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Hollywood has become obsessed with the franchise. Sure, there were always sequels, and there have been plenty of series that went on for way more movies than anyone ever wanted, but lately it’s become a way of doing business. It’s impossible to get money for a big-budget spectacle unless the plan is to kickstart a potential series of money-making sequels. I’m tired of it. Sequels can be good, but this idea that every movie is nothing more than a product meant to set up the next movie that’s nothing more than a product to set up the next movie, etc, is extremely frustrating.

As evidenced by the ending of Prometheus—which I will not spoil except to say it purposely leaves things in such a way as to tie in with the Alien series and set up a sequel—all this process does is hamper the movie at hand. Prometheus has plenty of problems outside of the ending—the characters aren’t perfectly drawn, the dialogue is sometimes too oblique, the plot often moves purely for the sake of moving—but no problem is more frustrating than the final ten minutes in which the film is more focused on dealing out the cards for a sequel than creating a truly satisfying conclusion. That it happens at the very end of the movie leaves an unfortunate taste in my mouth, which does a disservice to all the things I enjoyed about the movie before its ending. The movie isn’t ruined by the ending, but it’s certainly brought down a peg or two. Sadly, this is the case with many films these days. Click to read more.

I have been to a number of midnight shows in my time, ranging from Snakes on a Plane to Avatar. I tend to think these “first” screenings lend themselves to some of the best theatrical experiences possible, though it can definitely be a risk. There’s something about midnight shows, a fanatical quality that makes them great but can also make them quite bad.

In many ways, midnight screenings are like the very best film festival screenings. Generally, the people who are willing to drag themselves out to a show, stand in line for a couple of hours and watch a movie until some ungodly hour in the morning are also the people who will be the best audience. Why? Because they actually want to be there. For example, for all this recent talk about allowing texting at the cinema, I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody pull out a phone to text at a midnight screening. That’s the difference between a regular audience where half the people are just there to be passively entertained and a truly excited and engaged audience. Click to read more.

UPDATE: WELP! I WAS WRONG. IGNORE THIS POST. Oh my…

Last year I read all three books in the popular Hunger Games series. I quite enjoyed the first book and basically couldn’t stand the sequels. The way I see it, The Hunger Games should have been one 600-page book instead of three books over 300 pages each. Oh well. Next month, Lionsgate is releasing a film based on The Hunger Games, which it hopes will become a huge franchise on par with the Twilight or Harry Potter films. I admire their ambitions, but I think they’re making some key mistakes. Not the least of which is assuming that The Hunger Games is some sort of huge publishing phenomenon. It isn’t quite that, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.

To understand what I mean by this we need to look at some figures. The Harry Potter series of books has sold over 450 million copies worldwide in various languages. Even in 2001, before the release of the first film, the four available books are believed to have sold at least 50 million copies worldwide, and likely many millions more than that.

By 2010, the Twilight series is believed to have sold roughly 116 million copies. This figure would have been smaller before the first film came out, but probably not much less.

Meanwhile, The Hunger Games and its sequels are said to currently have 23.5 million copies “in print”. That is to say, 23.5 million copies have been printed and most of those sent to stores, and a majority of those sold. Which is another way of saying the series has sold less than 20 million copies. Sure, it’s a huge success in the world of publishing, but it’s hardly the runaway cultural phenomenon many are claiming it as. In fact, the series has another problem, which is that it’s already complete. Harry Potter in particular was lucky to have books still left to be released. This meant that the excitement for the upcoming books and films built on each other into something huge and sustained for a little over a decade.

Lionsgate doesn’t seem to care about this. Both trailers released so far (a new one came out today) pretty much play just to the audience who have read the books, or who at the very least have had the books explained to them. In fact, if you don’t know anything about the series—which is likely considering their obscurity relative to those previously mentioned franchises—then it would be very easy to watch these trailers and marketing materials and come out the other end not understanding anything at all about the story.

In case you are unaware, The Hunger Games tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a girl living in a post-apocalyptic future world in which an oppressive capitol city forces children from the outlying regions to participate in a drawn out fight to the death. Katniss, of course, ends up taking part in the games, and must work to survive while at the same time stoking the flames of revolution. It’s not that difficult a premise to sell, yet the trailers do their best to try and obscure exactly what is happening. The first trailer admittedly does a better job of explaining things, but if you aren’t paying close enough attention you might miss it.

On top of this, the style of the world is really weird, and quite off-putting. This is part of the concept, of course, but when the concept isn’t clear in the trailer then all you’ve got is a movie that looks closer to The Golden Compass than Harry Potter. It’s a dangerous line to straddle, and with Lionsgate pretending like everyone on the planet already knows and has read the books, this could spell trouble for them. The worst thing will be if the movie turns out to be mediocre or bad. Twilight could withstand this issue, as could the earlier Harry Potter films, but they had enormous built-in audiences. The Hunger Games doesn’t.

In my opinion, Lionsgate needs step up their game and sell this movie to those who aren’t already familiar with the series. There’s an easily marketable movie in there somewhere, but it isn’t helped by sticking to those who are already fans.

Or maybe I’m off base. What do you all think about the current marketing strategy for The Hunger Games? Do you think it’s worked? Have you already read the books? Are you excited to see the movie?

This week I saw a themed blog post concept on Jessica’s blog, The Velvet Cafe, and I have decided to steal it. Of course, she stole the idea from Top 10 Films, and Alex over at Benefits of a Classical Eduction stole their idea as well. We’re all stealing from Top 10 Films, and they sort of stole the idea from the movie Last Action Hero. I’m betting that movie stole its idea from somewhere else, but that’s neither here nor there.

The real question is, what is Houdini’s Magic Ticket. Well, Top 10 Films informs me that in Last Action Hero, a character is given a magic movie ticket that allows him to transport himself into the his favourite movie. The blogging idea is simple: if you had a magic movie ticket, what movies would you want to go into? Daniel Stephens, who wrote the original Top 10 Films post, came up with a few categories, and I’m going to stick to those.

So join me as I venture into the crazy world of the films I would love to be a part of! Click to read more

My love for what David Yates has brought to the Harry Potter franchise can be exemplified by one short scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. After weeks of wandering about the beautiful English landscape with nothing to show for their adventures, Ron decides he’s had enough and leaves. Harry and Hermione are left on their own and after pitching their tent in a new cliffside locale and settling into their grief Harry hears some music. He is sitting outside the tent when he hears the sounds of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Taking that as his cue, he goes inside the tent and sits down lazily on a chair. He sees the sadness in Hermione’s eyes as she is lost in the music and her own thoughts, and so he gets up, takes her by the hand and begins to dance. What follows is a heartwarming montage of their dancing, Harry’s extremely awkward movements and all. It’s a slice of joy amidst a world of darkness and loss, and when the song is over the dance ends and once again all Harry and Hermione have for comfort is each other. There is a moment, a split second, when it seems like maybe they will take that comfort to another level and truly embrace, but the moment passes too quickly and Hermione’s thoughts move right back to where they were just a few moments earlier. It’s a small scene filled with life, love, friendship and sadness and it rings as one of the truest expressions of character and emotion I have scene in a film in a long time. Click to read more

There is always a lot riding on the final entry in a great series, but I don’t think expectations for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows could have been higher. The Harry Potter series was already far and away the best-selling book series ever published and the fans were ravenous. J.K. Rowling’s last book about the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends needed to be great. It needed to be epic. And most of all, it needed to be satisfying. I can tell you, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows does not disappoint in the slightest. Click to read more

David Yates really is a hero. He was chosen to direct Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and did an amazing job. he was then asked back to direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, becoming only the second director in the franchise to do more than one film. Bringing him back was a great decision as with the fifth film, not only had he crafted the best Harry Potter film up to that point, but with the sixth film he was actually able to improve upon what he did before and make an even better film. Yes, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the best Harry Potter film, and also one of my favourite films in years. Click to read more

The penultimate chapter in the Harry Potter series has arrived. It’s time to talk about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I’d like to warn anyone who might read this review that there will be SPOILERS. But not just spoilers for Half-Blood Prince. I fully expect that anyone reading this already knows what transpires between Snape and Dumbledore. No, this review will contain SPOILERS for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Again, I imagine most people reading this review have already read the entire book series, but there may be a few of you who have only seen the films, in which case I’d be giving away events that take place in Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Now that we have that housekeeping out of the way, I’d like to get right into my review of what I consider the very best book in the Harry Potter series. In my mind, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince may be a clear stepping stone into the final book, but I also think it is the best, most compelling book in the series. Click to read more

All hail David Yates, the director who finally moved the Harry Potter films into the realm of greatness. Many people credit Alfonso Cauron with the first great Harry Potter film, and though he definitely paved the way for Yates’ work, Prisoner of Azkaban is a decidedly mixed success. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a great film that I could stand alongside any other great film without any qualms. It’s a superb combination of beautiful cinematography, great acting, wonderful writing, and astonishing action. Click to read more