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|The Harry Potterthon 2010|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Thursday, 11 November 2010 11:11|
Poor lonely boy with no friends lives in cupboard under the stairs. Decides to watch all Harry Potter films in a row. And live blog them as he goes.
We've already had Hedwig's Theme at least 5 times. And the kid playing Dudley is so ridiculously annoying I can't work out if he's actually like that or just a really good actor.
"You're a wizard, Harry!"
"I can't... be... a... wizard... I'm... just... Harry..." It's like listening to that wheelchair kid from Malcolm in the Middle. The one with really bad asthma.
Bored. Incidentally, have you ever seen Wizard People, Dear Reader? It's a rather entertaining re-reading of Harry Potter by a guy with a really... odd voice. Not that it's any easier to sit through those 2 hours than this piece of overlong trash. Still, the opening gives you a good idea of how it goes. I'll update you in 10 minutes when you get back. Just in case you miss anything.
"You've got dirt on your face, by the way. Did you know? Just there." OMG, they totally get how kids speak these days.
HUFFLEPUFF. Long live the bumbling badger of mediocrity.
"Nearly headless? How can you be NEARLY headless?" John Cleese's cameo here might actually be worse than that moment with the inflatable jacket in The World Is Not Enough.
"Ah, Mr Potter... Our... new... celebrity..." (I'M. ALAN. RICKMAN.)
Here come the OWLS! Zack's Snydey senses are tingling. So are Neville Longbottom's.
Harry catches the Remembrall. He flies back down to the courtyard. All the children run around him cheering like little Ewoks with Alopecia and pointy hats. The film ends.
Oh wait, NO IT DOESN'T.
Quidditch Match > Episode I Pod Race. Discuss. Oh wait, there's no-one else stupid enough to do this with me.
Oh noes! Someone killed a unicorn! Ridley Scott will be very upset. That centaur looks worse than the effects work in Legend. But it's about on a par with the shoddy CGI troll from earlier. Can't wait to fast forward to the later films.
Robbie Coltrane's playing John Williams on his flute. Completely forgot about that. I'm really not sure it's a good idea...
Finally - the wizard chess battle. This is clearly the highlight of the film. Not just because it encourages loads of small children to play chess, but because it also features the worst acting of Daniel Radcliffe's career:
Blah blah blah, Voldemort. Blah blah blah, Your Mum. (The formula for all exposition at the end of every film.)
"Alas... earwax." WORST. DELIVERY. EVER. Sorry Richard, but Gambon was a far better Dumbledore.
"I'll be upstairs in my room, hiding and pretending that I don't exist" - the beginning of Daniel Radcliffe's comic talents, best showcased when he's half-drunk in film 6. Yes, dear reader, there are another 4 films to go after this. And we haven't had Dobby yet.
Oh wait, there he is. He never did look like I expected. But on a scale of 1 to Jar Jar Binks, he's only a 5.
"Give... me... those... now..."
It's the return of the wheelchair kid from Malcolm in the Middle! Daniel Radcliffe's versatility knows no bounds. Presumably this is some kind of acting technique I'm not yet familiar with. I wonder if it has a name. Consider asthma-watch officially begun...
And now the flying Ford Anglia - which is honestly a better car than that invisible Aston Martin from Die Another Day. A smooth transition, too, from CGI flying to a tracking shot of the car driving along when it lands at the Weasley house.
"Where HAVE you been?!"
Hello to Julie Walters. She's having so much fun as Mrs Weasley. She might be the best member of the cast, despite the fact that she plays herself. As does Alan Rickman, I suppose. (He plays Alan Rickman, of course. He doesn't play Julie Walters.) A special mention, too, for Mark Williams, erstwhile Fast Show star and a wonderful comic talent. Great to see him get his share of the big screen throughout the franchise.
"Weasley senior..." "Lucius."
Hello to Jason Isaacs. From this point on, Lucius Malfoy outshines Alan Rickman in the bad guy stakes - Snape is almost overlooked to the point of becoming a nice character. I dread to think what would have happened if Jason Isaacs wore that moustache he had in Green Zone.
"... and 5 times winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award"
Kenneth Branagh really is excellent as Gilderoy Lockhart. Better than Hugh Grant would have been, for sure. He does have a smile that looks a lot like Ewan McGregor, though. Which I've never noticed before.
Cornish Pixies! If this were directed by Guillermo Del Toro, people would've been killed by now.
"Harry Potter has caught the snitch. Gryffindor wins!" I'm fairly sure that audio clip is an exact cut-and-paste job from the first film's commentary. The Quidditch match here is still better than the Star Wars Pod Race - they do feel very similar, but the Pod Race is 5 minutes longer. Incidentally, that rogue bludger destroys hundreds of wooden support beams in this match without anything in the stadium falling over. I'm not sure who gets contracted out to do wizarding sports construction, but it's clearly not the same team as the Commonwealth Games.
After taking the Polyjuice Potion: "Bloody hell!" squeaks Rupert Grint. "You need to sound more like Crabbe," says Daniel Radcliffe. Grint repeats himself at exactly the same pitch. "Excellent!" declares Danny. Iincredible child acting. Only to be surpassed minutes later by the ridiculously hammy Tom Felton. I can't wait till Prisoner of Azkaban - the performances get so much better. Actually, I'm not sure they do.
And now we're inside that curious piece of architecture: Hagrid's hut. There's an evil person (Malfoy) talking to Dumbledore and threatening him. Harry is hidden under the invisibility cloak. We could just skip 4 films and have Dumbles die now. That would free up a lot of my day.
Watching Harry figure out it's a basilisk bumping people off is like watching Hercule Poirot's idiot cousin do a Sudoku. This is painful to watch. Why on earth my mother likes this Potter film the most is beyond me.
Ok, so this door is officially Quite Awesome.
In fact, the whole tunnel/cave/pipe climax is a very decent bit of set design. Annoying that it took two hours to get here, but this is a solid ending. Even if the basilisk does look a lot like Roland Emmerich's Godzilla.
I did that once with a sparkler. Couldn't come up with a decent anagram of "I Am Ivan Radford" though... "Via Android Farm"?
In goes the basilisk fang, and there goes a Horcrux! SPOILER ALERT.
I'm actually amazed that J K Rowling hasn't published Tom Riddle's diary yet. An angsty, evil Adrian Mole just waiting to happen. "Day 1: It's so lonely being a Dark Lord. Everyone loves Bruce Willis. Nobody loves me. Mental note: must get rid of hair."
Cue another chat with DumbleBORE. Blah blah blah, Voldemort. Blah blah blah, Your Mum.
OWL! (Owl watch continues)
That Sirius Black is so hot right now. "Why would I go looking for someone who wants to kill me?" Because you're a WIZARD, Harry. And an idiot.
Ah, the Dementor attack on the train - great music from John Williams here, and a genuinely eerie hand-round-door moment. Chris Columbus wouldn't know where to point his camera for something so scary. A decent introduction to David Thewlis as Professor Lupin, too. Although I still think that John Hannah would have been a better choice.
Michael Gambon, Michael Gambon, Michael Gambon! A far better Dumbledore. He's like a lively uncle compared to Richard Harris' infirm old grandad. OMG, The Gambon totally just made a candle go out! MAGIC, INNIT.
I'm not going to comment on Dawn French's cameo.
"The Grim is one of the darkest omens in the world..." So says THE BLACK KID at Hogwarts. Incredibly subtle, using a black kid to say any line in the film that relates to words like "black" and "dark".
"Black could be anywhere. It's like trying to catch smoke..." THE BLACK KID RETURNS. No, seriously. It can't be intentional. Can it?
I love the fact that Professor Lupin plays jazz in the background of the Boggart lesson. But then John Williams goes and puts his music ALL OVER THE TOP OF IT. Soundtrack fail.
And countdown in 10 seconds to the giraffe............... THERE IT IS!
Giraffe walks across the back wall covering about 5 paintings. That kind of background detail is what makes Alfonso Cuaron's vision of Hogwarts so brilliant. Along with that massive clock. More on that later.
Another Quidditch match. This one begins with an umbrella blowing around between clouds - a striking, surrealist way to start off a brief but stylish sequence in the rain. The series was crying out for this director. In other news, The Black Kid from earlier? He totally has his own Facebook page. What a institutionally racist legend.
I do love Lupin's office. Lots of spinning, whirly, metal contraption things. It's like he lives in The Gadget Shop. Does that place still exist? Used to enjoy going there when I was 12. Enough of my life story, let's pay close attention to Hagrid's horrific orange and yellow polka dot tie.
"You foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach!" BAM. Hermione punches Malfoy in the face. Worth a rewind every time. If only there was some way to go back in time and relive the whole moment. (SPOILER ALERT)
Finally, we get Gary Oldman! "I did my waiting! 12 years of it! In Azkaban!" Wonderfully deranged and scraggy. Compare that to Sirius Black in the later films (all 2 of them), or Batman's Commissioner Gordon. Great range, that Oldman guy. And throughout this whole scene, the haunted house is moving in the background. Incredibly subtle and eerie visuals. Bravo.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you Timothy Spall in full rat regalia. The likeness really is quite impressive.
But then they go ahead and ruin it all with a seriously duff bit of effects work. The transformation scene pales in comparison to An American Werewolf in London. Epic CGI fail. Which would explain why the team behind it relished having another go at a werewolf for the Dr Who episode Tooth and Claw years later. It was a massive improvement. Not that that's saying much.
Can't beat a bit of the old time travel lark. The highlight obviously being Emma Watson's delivery of the line "Is that really what my hair looks like from the back?" Take note, viewers. This is the point where she first began to show signs of talent. Cracking stuff. Nice hair, too. From the back. A mate of mine still fancies her. Although he started to fancy her in the first film. He insisted on talking about it on the way home from school once. That was one uncomfortable bus journey.
You say plot, I say a chance for them to run around a lot while the camera flies through the gorgeous Hogwarts clock tower. A few pictures for you to sample its awesomeness:
Oh look, it's David Tennant. And he's waggling his tongue about. Must. Not. Get. Excited.
Enter Brendan Gleeson as Mad Eye Moody. When I first saw his picture, I was unsure. Now I'm totally convinced. A brilliant actor, Mr Gleeson. Did you see that short film where he shot the rabbit?
No wonder he's now forcing kids to do unforgivable curses in class. Ofsted would NOT allow that.
Another shot of the clock tower there. You can always tell who the good directors are - their touches are carried on by the next entry in the franchise. What did Chris Columbus pass on? 4 hour runtimes? Owls? Actually, don't knock the owls. Owls are awesome.
Solid direction from Mike Newell. You can really see the similarities between this and Four Weddings and a Funeral. (No you can't.)
"I'm not an OWL!" Shut up Hermione. You so are.
Quidditch? Who needs Quidditch when you have DRAGONS? The effects in this film are consistently impressive. Even more impressive, I think one of the Weasley twins just used the word "sod", as if Ron's use of "bloody" wasn't frequent enough. Them Weasleys have filthy potty mouths. I blame the hair, obvs.
Weasley Swear Count (approximate)
And now the romantic subplots begin. First up, Fleur Delacour. who is nowhere near as how as the book describes her. "There she was walking by... You know how I like it when they walk..." Rupert Grint is starting to get a decent sense of comic timing now. Shame about his ridiculous hair. If I told you he looked like a friend of mine, I'm sure he'd hate me for ruining his street cred.
It's all very well Hermione dressing up in pink for the Winter Ball, but Karkarov's costume make him look like a JEDI. Beat that, Emma Watson. It's also weird to see Edward Cullen walking about without bursting into shiny diamonds every time the sun shines on him.
Now for the second challenge, the water one. A far cry from The Little Mermaid, this bit. They're closer to Predators than fish.
Here's your token slice of Alan Rickman for the film. "My hand might just slip over your morning pumpkin juice..." Somehow, the thought of Snape's hand slipping over my pumpkin just makes me quiver with excitement. I am well aware that I have problems.
Great bit of maze design, here - kicks Hampton Court's arse. For some reason, Harry Potter films always seem to pull off the climaxes very well. Except for the first film, of course. Wizard chess aside, that was a bit naff. It's also incredible that Harry hasn't yet realised that Brendan Gleeson is evil. Never trust a man who shoots a rabbit. It's that simple.
Incidentally, everyone does now seem to have floppy hair like Hugh Grant. Even Robert Pattinson/R-Patz/Edward/Diggory. I blame Mike Newel for this.
"Kill the spare!" Not the best line of dialogue to go out on, but hey,it's not like Diggory is around to complain. Let's consider it fair payback for Remember Me. Although he does die in that one too. A plane flies into him. DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT
And now it's time to get completely freaked out by Ralph Fiennes' incredibly hammy and spooky performance. Inspired casting - no-one else can do that quiet whisper quite so well. Although most disturbing of all is Voldemort's sex face:
He does that face a lot.
Dumbledore meets with Harry again. Blah blah blah, Voldemort. Blah blah blah, Your Mum.
I should add that this is the worst Potter book, so it's hardly a surprise that the adaptation is so good. But Michael Goldenberg did replace Steve Kloves on scripting duties, which I think is a big reason for it being so streamlined without being too shallow.
Tonks to Mad Eye: "Don't call me Nymphadora!" I'll be honest with you: I will do absolutely anything Natalia Tena wants me to. As long as her hair keeps changing colour.
Nice little flight sequence down the Thames. Completely unnecessary of course, but with music like that in the background (Flight of the Order of the Phoenix), who's going to complain?
"Albus... Percy... Wilfred.. Brian... Dumbledore" - I would have liked to see Richard Harris deliver that line with such charisma. Still, it's only a matter of time until Imedla Staunton pops up in her little pink costume and upstages everyone.
Oh look! There she is! Yet another brilliant bit of casting for supporting characters. The only British thesp left now is Bill Nighy. And even he's made it in there for Deathly Hallows.
"You're not going mad - I can see them too..." The bat-shit insane Luna Lovegood everybody! They held open auditions for this part. A friend of mine's sister got down to the final 5 or something. Needless to say, she didn't get it. She did get a photo in full Hogwarts uniform, though. And one of Rupert Grint too, I believe. Which obviously made that crushing feeling of rejection all the more bearable.
That pink office is horrible. An impressively quick turnaround in decor from Mad Eye Moody's old room, though. Magic? No. Child labour, clearly. And now Umbridge gets out that quill she uses to torture small children. "You know deep down you deserve to be punished..." she sings with a twisted sexual glee. Imelda Staunton has issues.
*Insert fluffy pink montage of Umbridge action here*
"Foul evil gargoyle!" Hermione unleashes a fresh barrage of choice insults on her latest victim of verbal abuse. For your own reference:
Hermione's Insult Count
And now we get The Official Harry Potter Training Montage. Which leads up to the worst on-screen kiss EVER. It's even worse than Tobey Maguire's smooch in Spider-Man.
"I just feel so... angry... all... the... time..." Asthma boy from Malcolm in the Middle is back! And in other news, Daniel Radcliffe seems to have just hit puberty.
And now it's Patronus Time for the The Harry Potter Training Montage - part 2. "This is advanced magic, guys," says Harry, as everyone in the room manages to produce a full bodied patronus almost straight away. That said, Luna's patronus is a rabbit. Which is just about the wussiest thing you could ever have to protect you from certain death.
Dumbledore disappears from his office using his phoenix bursting into flame as cover. Kingsley Shacklebolt turns to Cornelius Fudge and says in his best deep booming voice: "You may not like him, Minister, but you got to admit, Dumbledore's got style." Best. Line. Of. The. Film.
I wish all my school exams took place in that room with that giant clock. Especially if they all ended with an impromptu fireworks display. Again, a great bit of scoring from Nicholas Hooper. Electric guitar and everything.
Imelda Staunton totally just called the centaur a half-breed. Then that giant picked her up and stuff. Ha ha. Take that, right wing political values! It's like watching Nick Griffin get beaten up. While wearing a pink dress.
"He knows how to play! Itty... Bitty.. Baby... Potter..." Helena Bonham Carter has entered the room. And she's loving it. Just in case her impression of King Kong earlier on in the film wasn't enough for you.
Now some people don't like the way they did the Death Eaters when they duel, all black swishy streams and stuff. But I've got to say: I love it. This whole ending sequence in the Ministry of Magic is brilliantly judged, particularly the oppressive black marble walls that surround the entire skirmish.
GARY OLDMAN'S DEAD. Sad face.
Now we have an even better fight on our hands - Tom Riddle vs Albus Dumbledore. This entire bit was in 3D when the film first came out. I wasn't convinced, but did enjoy it embiggened on an IMAX screen. As you'd expect, they've certainly got the basics of elemental duelling nailed: fire vs water, glass vs sand, beards vs people without noses. Symbolic shizzle.
Things wrap up with a philosophical insight from the barmy Lovegood girl. "Things we lose always have a way of coming back to us. I think I'll go have some pudding." Amen to that, Luna. Amen to that. (Pudding FTW)
Nice pick up from the previous film - lots of flashbulbs and sad faces. Then a great set piece with a bunch of London landmarks getting trashed by Death Eaters. Some of those alleys do look a bit shoddy on a small screen, though. Think Sweeney Todd. You know what I mean.
"11. That's when I get off." Oh look, a waitress is hitting on Harry Potter. That would NEVER HAPPEN. (Still angry about Free Willy 4.)
Jim Broadbent as a chair reminds me an awful lot of that secret service chief in the Leslie Nielsen spoof Spy Hard. He disguised himself as furniture too. How far cinema has come over the years... It's also nice to see Dumbledore's naughty side. Not only does he use a toilet and steal a knitting magazine, he even makes sleazy comments about the waitress from earlier. DumblePERVE more like.
Harry enters the Great Hall after getting his nose broken by Malfoy. Ginny: "He's covered in blood. Why is he always covered in blood?" Methinks ickle Weasley has a taste for the red stuff.
I love the way they talk about Professor Slughorn "collecting" people. It makes him sound like a serial killer in some cheap and nasty torture porn flick. I'm not sure what Jim Broadbent would make of that.
"Day 30: Met a strange man today. Told me I was special and then set fire to my wardrobe. I think I'll make him my nemesis." (Tom Riddle's Diary, page 7)
Curious how whenever there's a dorm party, you never see any cigarettes or drink. Unless you count Butterbeer, which at times seems to be alcoholic and at others comes across like a cream soda pop. Either way, the most rebellious these kids seem to get is loud music and the odd indoor firework. My childhood wasn't like that.
Emo moment! Fans of Twilight will love this - Hermione getting soppy on the stairs. But this is Harry Potter, so it's never quite that simple. Emma Watson's magicked up some friends to fly around her head and keep her company. In stumbles Rupert Grint, all red hair and sexy polo shirt (phwoar). "What's with the birds?" he asks. Then he realises: they aren't just birds. They're ANGRY BIRDS. J K Rowling totally pipped the iPhone to the post.
Always nice to catch a glimpse of the double staircase in the divination tower - again, something kept from the 3rd film. Thank you, Alfonso Cuaron. Thalfonso Cuaron.
Ah, the old fight in the toilet ploy, eh boys? Steamy little bit of conflict right here. With a nice bit of poster paint blood to finish, complete with watery flooding. Classy.
Liquid Luck time! The closest we'll ever get to seeing a drunk Harry Potter. "Personally these plants always sort of freaked me out..." This is perhaps the best acting Daniel Radcliffe has done in his whole career. Including the stuff with the horses. Just went to find the clip where he says "Not to mention the pincers" on YouTube while the DVD was playing and it synced perfectly up with the telly as soon as it loaded. Freaky.
"Day 42: Want to know how to split soul into pieces. Will ask Jim Broadbent. He's bound to know. Still not Dark Lord." (Tom Riddle's Diary, page 174)
OMG! Dumbledore's stolen Gandalf's beard!!!
And here come the zombies... This is the best chapter of the book (possibly Rowling's best piece of writing full stop) and they did a damned good job getting it right on screen. Although the whole bowl/cup thing Gandalf (sorry, Dumbledore) drinks from is a little bit on the gay side.
"Hide yourself below, Harry." Now this is the controversial bit. In the book, Harry's immobilised so he can't do anything to save Dumbledore. Here, he just stands there hiding like a coward. Conflicted character drama? Sure. But a pointless change from the book? Definitely.
And now Snape starts to talk. "Yes... I AM the Half-Blood Prince..." Then he stops talking and walks away. Perhaps the worst way that crucial exposition could have happened. Although asking Alan Rickman to shout the lines would be kind of weird.
Oh, Dumbledore's totally dead by the way. SPOILER ALERT
And so ends Potterthon 2010. My brain has actually stopped working. The only thing I know for sure? I really do hate The Columbus Years. And I can't seem to get this Mysterious Ticking Noise out of my head...
Roll on Deathly Hallows Part 1.