Harry Potter 6 plus Trailer Trashin 2

17 07 2009

For a change, I saw a movie opening week. I won’t include spoilers this time– even if you don’t care, I do.
In 4 words: best Harry Potter ever.
Better, even, dare I say it, than the book. I found the book incredibly aggravating when I first read it, less so on re-reading a couple weeks ago, but still kind of artificially inflated. The movie is of necessity shortened and tightened up, and it made for a much more sensible and interesting story.
But more than that…Harry Potter has always been something of a guilty pleasure, seeing as how it’s aimed at younger readers. I’ve enjoyed the books, but part of me always feels I should be reading something more sophisticated. The movies have been pretty uneven for me. Again, I have the sense that I’m not the target audience, not quite enamored enough with the source material. The Half-Blood Prince is different. I enjoyed it unreservedly. The script is stronger, the directing is more subtle, but I think most of all the acting is hugely improved. Daniel Radcliffe struck me as painfully untalented in the first three films, but now he’s come into his own with a vengeance. Despite all the tragedy and horror, it’s just a joy to inhabit Hogwarts and hang out with the gang.

Before the movie we saw the trailer for Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. It looks really entertaining, but I have to voice the same complaint I always voice. If you’re going to make Sherlock Holmes (or Godzilla, or Robin Hood, etc etc etc) then make Sherlock Holmes. If you’re going to add a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with the the character, for Frith’s sake make up your own 19th century detective and call him something else! I know, I know, then you couldn’t cash in on the name recognition and branding. Tough!! Suck it!!!! If you’re making something different, call it something different, don’t betray the mythology!!!!!

I have the opposite comment for the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are. The Oregonian’s Nestor Ramos had it right when he called the trailer so powerful and affecting, we can only hope the movie lives up to it. It strikes me what a different approach Spike Jonze is taking in adapting a children’s book compared to all the Seuss-wrecking that’s been going on in theaters. Sure, Dr. Seuss writes a wackier book than Maurice Sendak, but it serves nothing and no one to bury the source material’s charms under a mountain of hyperactive uber-cool pop culture. I wish American studios would take a cue from Wallace and Gromit or Spirited Away. You can appeal to kids without treating them like idiots.

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