(2005) dir. Mike Newell
viewed: 01/07/06 at the Loews Metreon Theatres, SF, CA
The amazing thing about this movie is actually how it constrained the sprawling 734-page novel into a cohesive 157 minutes. Credit the writers for cutting out a lot of fat from J.K. Rowling’s heavy tome. I know because I read it not long before watching this film. I’ve kept up with the books usually just in anticipation of the movie releases, though a couple of volumes behind the crowd and the book releases. It’s good stuff.
The thing that the films do well is visualize the books. It’s all very literal and well-designed. It’s always quite striking how close the films come to capturing the world and characters to the way that one imagines them while reading.
What was really impressive, too, was seeing this film on the IMAX screen at the Metreon. I happened to catch the last Star Wars film on the IMAX too and it’s just cool. It’s hard to get over the hugeness of everything. And for this Harry Potter installment, the sweeping landscape shots around Hogwarts struck that much more of an impact on their pure vast scale. It’s really the essence of seeing something on the “big” screen.
All in all, the Harry Potter franchise is certainly not the worst such thing out there. It’s pretty fun. I can say that was I the target age range for this stuff, I am sure that I would have eaten it up. It’s not genius, but in some ways, it’s more pedestrian aspects sometimes are part of its charm. It’s guileless.