Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One.

The motion picture event of a decade is slowly coming to an end. After ten years and grossing over $5.4billion worldwide, the penultimate film of the series gets its release. And for the first time, since the start of the film adaptations, the makers have got it right. What they had contemplated on with the Goblet of Fire, they have done with the Deathly Hallows; and seeing the first 2 hours and twenty minutes of the five hour finale, one feels a certain sense of satisfaction.

It's very difficult to adapt something like Harry Potter to the screen. One must understand that over the last ten years numerous stories that were there in the books have disappeared in the films. This task of what to keep and what not to keep is extremely crucial. One must create a fine blend out of the parts that are being kept in order to make the films feasible. It is, quite simply, a harrowing task to adapt something of such magnitude onto the screen. Seven books. Thousands of characters.

At some point of time screenwriter Steve Kloves must have asked J.K. Rowling the question as to how she came up with and gave a background to almost all the characters that she created. After a gearing up with the Half-Blood Prince the makers of the films have done a very organized task of polishing up and putting things in their rightful places. It's simply impossible for someone who has not been acquainted with the books or the previous films to understand anything. But that's how things are. The tale is so vast that it requires that kind of special attention.

What they did with the Half-Blood Prince; the frolicking of the seventeen year old wizards, their intorduction into love and loss, is completed right at the start of the Deathly Hallows. The two, extremely grave, opening sequences tells you that things are no longer to be taken lightly. 'These are dark times there is no denying'. Draco Malfoy's coming of age, perfectly shown in the previous chapter, now shifts to the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

This part seems to be more about Hermione and Ron, than Harry himself. There is a clear concentration on character. Finally. Snape, for example, is almost completely absent in this film. Hermione's wiping out the memory of her parents, a scene which was made for the film, only hinted at in the book, is given voice when she erases the memory of a Death Eater. Her charms are what keeps the trio safe whilst they go hunting for Horcruxes. It's also a film about Ron. His constant attention to the radio, listening in to check whether anyone from his family has gone missing or has been killed. His mind trailing off, finding meanings which aren't there in Harry and Hermione's friendship. The grim sight the Horcrux shows him. Dark times indeed. Harry's troubles and pains are reflected on his brow, taking complete shape only at the end with the sad death of a certain free house-elf.

Deathly Hallows Part One is, at heart, a road movie. It is a film where the main characters are on a search. On the path they find several secrets, several hints to achieve what they ultimately seek. Lord Voldemort is close, and getting stronger. Dumbledore's many truths are slowly coming out into the open.

There are also several instances where one will be reminded of the story as it has happened. The Deluminator, from the very first page of the first book, the very first scene of the first film. The first Golden Snitch Harry ever caught; in his mouth rather than in his hand. The Tales of Beedle the Bard, mentioned so many times throughout the books (Babbity Rabbity, no?). One must make a special mention of the animated tale of The Three Brothers as shown in the film. It is indeed something that the films were lacking. A certain Del Toro'ish touch to the whole thing.

Its safe to say that the franchise is finally ignoring the PG-13 cut and going the way the fans of the series would really want it to go. The first part leaves you in a rush, all geared up. Just when you think they're going to have the infiltration into Gringotts in this one itself we see Voldemort take possession of the Elder Wand. And there it leaves you hanging. It is an absolute pity than one has to wait for eight months for the conclusion.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Else To Watch II

I'm twelve. But I've been twelve for a long time.

If he tells you to stick the drugs in your ass, you stick them in your ass.

It's so dry!

Live long and prosper.

I try.

It's a gas.

What's the Klingon for I'm going to die a virgin?

..and there was light.

If you aren't an activist you're an inactivist.
The Cove

Hello. We're teachers on sabbatical and we've just won the lottery.
Quantum Of Solace

I need more telephone on my salad.

He'd always wanted a friend. A friend that wasn't invisible, a pet, or rubber figurine.
Mary And Max

Monday, July 5, 2010

What Else To Watch.

"It ought to come like leaves to a tree, or it better not come at all."
"My name is Temple Grandin. I'm not like other people. I think in pictures and I connect them."

"I'm sorry. I just got out of a long relationship and I don't wanna go from just having sex to just having sex to just having sex."

"I want to tickle your belly button..
From the inside."
Youth In Revolt

"Yeah, you're alright."
"Steven, that is the most romantic thing that anyone ever did for me."
I Love You Philip Morris

"I ejaculated in my pants."
She's Out Of My League

"Just get through the goddamn day."
A Single Man

"Now that you know, either you kill him, or I'll kill you."
Un Prophete

"Well, now that is some fucked up shit."

"People around here don't know very much about me. I'd like to keep it that way."

"Gerty, is there someone else in the room? "

"The most important thing in life is desire."

"I look both ways when I cross the street."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Alice in Wonderland.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland rides high on the success of the recent 3D release that was James Cameron's Avatar. After looking at the trailers it is no wonder that it has already smashed a couple of box-office records, including the biggest Imax opening ever. A smashing combination of live action and animation, Burton, in his own Burtonesque way creates a whole new kind of Wonderland.

By now, it is safe to say that Tim Burton has had his fair share of success with his techniques of putting a veil over most of the stories he tells. The pale and heartwarming Edward Scissorhands, the sleek and heavy Ed Wood, the unpredictable Batman, the brilliant Sleepy Hollow, the charming Corpse Bride, and the equally strange Big Fish to name a few. His latest ventures with Charlie and Sweeney Todd have met with equal success. To no surprise, he incorporates the exact same elements in his Alice. The film marks his umpteenth collaboration with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Several others are hidden behind the faces of cats and caterpillars, mice and bloodhounds, and at last, the Jabberowcky.

From the very start, one finds something missing in Alice, the film and the character itself. Mia Wasikowska's Alice is lacklustre. She seems to be misplaced everywhere, whether it is in the presence of her peers or in the presence of strange talking creatures. Perhaps Burton's advice to her is to not fit in to her surroundings? Perhaps his Alice is just that, a misfit wherever she goes. We shall never know. The opening 10minutes put the 19 year old Alice in a series of situations where she tries to show us that she is indeed different from the others around her. Much like her father who thought of 'six impossible things everyday before breakfast', Alice wonders what its like to fly or why someone cant paint the white roses red, only to be chided as silly. She is told off as if she is not to speak of such fantastical things lest the royalty around her yell 'Off with her head'. And then there is that preposterous awkward moment between her and her brother-in-law (Spoiler) when she walks in on him kissing another woman followed by the most outrageous exchange of dialogue and acting. Then again, much like Alice and Burton's other films, maybe she doesn't want to fit in. There are numerous exchanges of dialogue that go quite a distance in showing us that there are things that happen undercover. Whether it is the brother-in-law's kissing another woman or the head-to toe clad English ladies skinny-dipping, Burton for some reason, tries to fit in certain behind the scenes actions of the English royalty.

The first bit of glee comes when one sees the rabbit scampering through the bushes. Alice, abandoning all things, follows it. And then down the rabbit hole. Burton's Alice in Wonderland has some marvelous set design. Its often difficult to decipher between what is complete graphics and what is actually a set. The teapot and the room with the doors and quite a few others. Indeed, the first thing one will notice about Wonderland is its complete lack of anything looking happy. The colors, once again Burtonesque, echo Sleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. All around is grave. Danger lurks.

The broadest smile comes in the form of Chessur, the Chesire Cat voiced marvelously by Stephen Fry. It is his and Alan Rickman's Caterpillar, Absolem, who seem most pronounced in spite of the absence of their physical self. Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter seems to be a display of a wild array of accents and nothing more. Honestly, he is too decked up with make up to give us a performance. Bonham Carter seems to have tried her best at being the Red Queen. It was perhaps her rendition that was most looked forward to given the size of her head.

Alice in Wonderland is a tale of gorgeous sets and technology. There isn't much performance to see here. Its plain popping-out-of-the-screen visuals. Burton seems to have done his best to show us an older Alice. She treads on the many severed heads as she crosses the moat to the Red Queen's palace, she fights the dreaded Jabberwocky, befriends the Bandersnatch etc etc. All the above, things only Tim Burton can execute. A mark of Alice's ageing perhaps. But, as a visual experience Alice in Wonderland doesn't disappoint. The animated characters are far more watchable than the human ones in Alice. Linda Woolverton's script is weak. The dialogue gets repetitive.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is quite bland. It lacks that fine tuning that is often there in a Burton movie. Its almost as if he didn't really want to make it entirely his own. One can only take so much of Bonham Carter yelling 'Off with her/his head'. Somehow certain characteristics are better left to be read in books. It suffers from a few sorry scenes and dialogues post-conclusion. It would have been better called Malice in Underland. Watch it in 3D for the additional thrill which isn't really present in it at all. The trailers are really far better than the film itself.