Harry Potter and the Alzheimer’s Bowl

(Note: No disrespect to the people and their families that suffer from this terrible disease)

dumbledore_pensieveI watched the latest Harry Potter film this weekend  and came away from it somewhat pleased. Like the previous movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this movie was directed by David Yates (known mostly as a British TV director, rising to fame after taking on the Harry Potter movies). He will also direct the final two movies of the Potter series, something which I particularly don’t really care for. It is my opinion that the studio is desperately trying to cash in on the last book and have the fans pay twice for a single story. Why not make the last movie three hours and be done with it? Chris Columbus was the perfect director for the first two films, keeping the pacing just right and being the most true to the novels.

My problem with the current movie (and the previous one) is the fact that so much has been omitted from the book. I get it. It’s a movie, not a book. “The book is always better than the movie,” yadda yadda yadda. I understand that it is a completely different medium and that many times the written word doesn’t translate well onto the screen. Things HAVE to get cut. I get it.

But if David Yates had to condense the film down to 2 1/2 hours, he basically had to get the essence of a much beloved book and transform it into another work of art but not stray much from the source material. He had to skillfully fill in the gaps and answer questions people will most surely walk away with by the end of the movie. In my opinion, judging the movie on it’s own merits, I feel that it was ok but could’ve been a lot better. The ending left everyone flat (as heard from comments in the theater, no doubt they were first time fans). The most egregious error in the movie was the total lack of explanation of the movie’s titular character: The Half-blood Prince. How can you make a 2 1/2 hour movie about the 6th book and only condense the explanation of that mysterious figure in just six words at the end of the movie? The Half-blood prince was mentioned a few times in the movie when Harry discovers the mysterious potions textbook belonging to the prince but after that, nothing more until the final, albeit dreadfully anti-climatic revelation. Surely more dialogue could’ve been added to explain the character’s purpose. What’s a few more minutes of back story going to hurt?

Instead, Mr. Yates opted to add two scenes NOT covered in the book: The beginning sequence with the destruction of the bridge and the fire attack at the Weasley home. He clearly went for special effects wizardry here. Nicely done, no mistake about that, but if you’re worried about time, add what’s more important and of substance to the story than cosmetic, expensive action sequences. I would’ve gladly sat for an additional 10 – 15 minutes in the theater to see more about the Hocruxes explanation by Dumbledore (which is key for the next book) and of course, to hear more of the Half-blood Prince and his motives.

One more thing: a major character (for those who – gasp! – haven’t read the book) dies in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince and yet there’s no funeral scene. I know the movie is dark enough as it is but c’mon, you can’t show a brief funeral scene or the aftermath of it? The character’s been around for six movies and you can’t give him/her a proper sendoff?

The Harry Potter franchise is really created for the fans, for those millions of readers who’ve enjoyed the books and now want to see their beloved characters appear in flesh and blood up on the screen. Hundreds of skilled craftmen, technicians and actors conjured up their own magic and brought these characters to the screen after J.K. Rowling initially breathed life into them. It’s up to the director to interpret what he sees in the source material and bring about a fair depiction of the essence of the story. With the last book being split up into two movies, there simply isn’t any way that Mr. Yates can omit anything from the final climatic chapter of the Harry Potter franchise. I hope he does it justice. Will I  pay two times to see the conclusion of a single book? No way!

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