Hang A Shining Star Upon Downton Abbey

*Do NOT read this if you aren’t caught up with the entirety of season 2 of Downton Abbey!  There be spoilers here*

ZOMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGOOOOODDDDDDDDDDD was the season 2 finale, a.k.a “The Christmas Episode” of Downton Abbey, amazing!  Amazeballs!  AH-MA-ZING.  So wonderful, that I just want to yammer on about it for a few paragraphs or so. 🙂

Source: hitfix.com, ITV

Let me just get this out of the way first:  Season 2 is not without its faults.  Sorta batshit plotlines (the mysterious burn victim/cousin/shyster Patrick/Peter) some semi-worthless plotlines (Ethel’s monstrous baby?), characters losing their minds (ain’t NO WAY Lord G would make out with a maid in a closet while his wife’s nasal cavity is HEMMORRHAGING), and pacing dilemmas (the second to last episode was INSANE.  Like, InSaNe.  I couldn’t sum up the quantity of shit that went down in that one episode if I tried – and I know it aired differently in the UK so it didn’t seem as rushed, but this is how PBS shows it to us hillbillies, so we have to take what we can get :() Not to mention the martyrization (that is an actual word, mother fuckers) of the universally beloved Bates.  But I’ll shut up about that bad stuff because xmastime with the Crawleys washed away the shame of goofier episodes gone by.  It was THAT good.

First rockin’ development:  After forcefully grabbing her at the goddamned dinner table in front of her FATHER and then whining like a little bitch whilst everyone is out hunting, (and looking fabulous), Mary tells Sir Richard to beat it.  In an honest, heartfelt way.  My sis and father feel tremendous sympathy for Richard Carlisle (they claim he did care for Mary and she was using him) and while I do understand their thoughts, he was just such an unwavering jerkface, that I don’t care.  Get thee ass back to Game of Thrones, where your character is not a douche.  Yes, he “loved” Mary, but to be loved by Sir Richard is to live in a massive, empty house, treat your servants like crap, and get man-handled.  This development led to a marvelous Violet moment, as he explains he won’t be seeing the family again, and she replied, with a twinkle in her eye, “Do you promise?”

Second way-appreciated development:  Robert FINALLY found out about the Pamuk scandal.  And I LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. the heart-to-heart he had with Mary once he knew.  I get it now, the purpose has been shown, as to why my precious Bon Bon was drug through the wringer this season.  So he could make his own mistakes and therefore be understanding of the indiscretions of his spawn.  When he told Mary that he wanted her to marry a man who loved her, and not one who wanted to ruin her, I pretty much burst into tears.

Smaller plot lines get their due (this is what was so great about season 1):  Edith paid a visit to that old fart she wants to marry, Thomas abandoned a labrador retriever in the woods like the true asswipe he is, and Daisy’s William woes were settled.  I was espeically happy about that last one.  The entire William/Daisy marriage-on-a-deathbed just made me so sad, and every time Daisy stomped her feet about hoodwinking a dying man, I felt even yuckier.  I saw both sides of the coin, but who couldn’t?  Every time William’s poor, lonely father came around, spouting how his son loved Daisy with all his heart, I wanted to run out of the room.  I’m so glad Patmore used the Ouija board for good, and Violet’s advice was golden.  Best of all, they were right!  What Daisy was willing to do for her friend WAS love and she needed to stop beating herself endlessly for it.  This story allowed both characters to win – Daisy gets a dad, and sad little man who lost all his children gains a daughter.  Win/Win!

I’m-not-happy-about-this-but-they’re-doing-a-good-job-portraying-it:  Bates and Anna.  Or, Banana, as I like to call them.  Sigh a thousand sighs.  Everybody loved poor Bates in season 1, he was sympathetic, kind, and soooo honorable.  To watch him and Anna fall for each other is what the word “swoon” was created for.  But now, in the wake of his heinous succubus wife surfacing, removing him from the premises, and getting herself fucking poisoned to death, the stoic valet has truly become, as I saw one message boarder state, the “Eeyore” of Downton.  While I love watching Banana scenes, they always leave me frustrated.  I sympathise with someone in a really shite situation, who is helpless, and I am of the belief there wasn’t much he could do in the wake of hurricane Vera.  What I DO KNOW is that he didn’t need to tell the prosecution EVERY INCRIMINATING THING HE EVER SAID OR THOUGHT!  To tell them about the “bitch” incident was preposterous, he didn’t know Mrs. Hughes heard that conversation.  To NOT tell them about the rat poison he purchased, goes against all levels of credulity.  But what takes the cake, is to tell the lawyers that he ONCE TOLD BON BON HE WISHED VERA WERE THE “LATE MRS. BATES.”  Why, Julian Fellowes, why?  This makes NO. SENSE.  Unless of course Bates is a true masochist, and maybe next year we can look forward to some self-flagellation in his prison cell.  Sigh.  Okay, okay, okay, I want to smack myself in the face.  What was great about this episode is that seeing him in prison and watching Anna’s lip quiver every time shit’s about to hit the fan, is devastating to my heart.  Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggat are such great actors and have such wonderful chemistry, I wish they could date in real life.  The scene where they BOTH cry and try to share their final moments in each others arms = more waterworks.  As well as him asking her to promise him to live her life, even while he’s in the slammer.  I really, really, REALLY fucking hope that season 3 finds Bates exonerated, the aforementioned inn purchased, and some little Bates-bies gettin’ made.

The SERVANTS BALL!:  OMFG, I was literally speaking out loud during this scene, “THAT’S SO CUTE! GAHH!!”  To see the 1% dance with the 99ers warms the cockles of the heart.  When Bon Bon told Matthew he had to dance with O’Brien and he uttered “Crikey,” I slapped my knee in a fit of laughter and vowed to use that word as much as humanly possible.

And finally:  The PROPOSAL!  Outside!  In the SOFTLY SWIRLING SNOW.  Are you serious?  What are you, Downton, BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY?  Oh my god, did all of my internal organs melt into a pool of happiness and satisfaction, when all the lies were laid out and the bullshit set aside, and these two fricking beautiful people who need to get TOGETHER already, admitted their love, proposed/accepted marriage, and SPUN AROUNDDDDDDDDDD together.  As Tom and Lorenzo said in their as-always marvelous recap, we need a Downton snowglobe!

My birthday present to tide me over for a full frigging year

And then, LIKE THAT – it was over.  I have to wait until TWO THOUSAND AND *bangs head against the wall* THIRTEEN?!!!!!

Sigh. Loving things is hard and it hurtsssss.

~Annie

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I Am the Son, and the Heir

source: shinyshelf.com

Unless you live under a rock or are somebody who exclusively enjoys diversions like The Expendables, you must have heard of Downton Abbey, the Masterpiece mini-series (now a full-fledged, regular “series”) that airs first in the UK, then here on the usual treasure trove of awesome (that’s right) that is the Public Broadcasting System.

I became aware of this series last year, before it aired, and since it had such positive buzz, and Minerva McGonagall, I made it a point to watch.  I quickly became immersed in the lives of the Crawley family and their servant staff.  The story begins with the sinking of the Titanic, which takes the life of the heir to their family’s home, Downton.  The Crawleys have three daughters only, and at this point in time, women cannot be heirs, so things get a tad complicated.  The show follows the upstairs/downstairs dynamic and each episode has that slow burn feel, which reminds me of Mad Men, where it seems like not a lot’s happening but in actuality, there is so much subtly going on, when something huge happens, you feel it even more.

I really love the entire cast, which is made up of  a great mix of legends, unknowns, and popular character actors.  I have a mad DILF-crush (as usual) on Hugh Bonneville, who plays the patriarch Lord Grantham.  He’s a perfect “dad” figure, getting exasperated at his daughters but still showering them with love, caring for his wife, losing it, when ahem, something really fucking sad happens to them in the last episode.  Maggie Smith is marvelous as the Dowager Countess (I wish I had the opportunity to say that more often), for which she rightfully won an Emmy earlier this year.  She has so many fantastic one-liners, you will be lol-ing, I’m sure of it.

I have an absolute “couple crush” on Bates and Anna, the quiet, stoic, kind, completely adorable valet and housemaid.  I believe these two are a definite fan favorite, as there are loads of YouTube videos dedicated to them already (and gifs galore, as evidenced here to your left); almost double the amount for Downton’s other popular couple, Matthew and Mary (Have I ever mentioned how much I love the internet?  This one in particular is quite lovely, although beware if you click – spoilers for season 2 abound).  They are always showing each other such generosity, courteousness and respect.  Anna sticks up for and is continually trying to help the man she loves, who she actually pursued.  She’s definitely my favorite female character – competent, not psycho (unlike several of her co-workers), and cares about her employers.  Bates is so kind and honorable, and such a sympathetic character, how could you not root for him?  If these two don’t get together in season 2, I am going to be really, really devastated.  However, Mr. Bates has quite the complicated past that still hasn’t all been revealed, so I fear for their happy future 😦 😦

But there are plenty of characters and storylines, something for everyone, really.  Servants – loyal and kind ones, villanous ones, pitiful ones, Maggie Smith – being awesome, sisters – being deliciously treacherous to each other, love stories, war stories, health drama, status drama, baby drama,  – it’s all here, in an excellent, elegant package.

I was delighted to discover that PBS’s website has tons of little featurettes to watch, about the costumes, Highclere Castle in England where about half of the show is filmed, Q&As with the cast – if you’re hungry for material, it’s all there.  They’re taking full advantage of the serious popularity of this show – hell, they’re even doing a “twitter event” for the season premiere.  Yeah, I’m definitely going to go to there.  I took this goofy quiz to find out which character I am and got Mary.  Boo.  Although, I do feel like a spinster-in-training, dissatisfied with my circumstances, so maybe it’s right on the nose.

My love for this show even extends to the soundtrack, which is just a lush, beautiful score that completely evokes all things English, and is so terribly beautiful and sad-sounding, it almost makes me want to cry every time I hear it.  In fact, you should click that link and have it playing while you read this post. 😉

I got season 1 as a Christmas gift, (yay!) so I have recently watched everything again, to familiarize myself with the plot for season 2’s premiere on January 8th.  It was totally better the second time around.  Maybe it’s this time of year, but British drama is so comforting during the winter months.  Look, if you hate period pieces or costume dramas, by all means, skip this:  It’s not for you.  But if you’ve ever swooned over Pride and Prejudice or Remains of the Day, get yo’self to pbs.org (or Netflix, where all seven episodes of series 1 are available to stream – you have no fucking excuse!) and watch this now.

~Annie (a.k.a. Mary Crawley)

Downton Abbey

So Say the Words I Long To Hear…2011 Emmy’s Recap

My random, rambling, errant thoughts on last night’s Emmy’s broadcast.

The opening number was stupid.  Jane Lynch is lovely, classy, joyful, and a blast to watch, but who writes this shit?  It is so gaggy and lame to view just sitting on my couch, I can’t imagine what all the “cool” hollywood people think as they’re forced to watch that crap, like the Clockwork Orange.  Also, the EmmyTones?  Are you fucking kidding me?  What a great group of actors, singing the stupidest things ever, to awkward silences and forced claps.  How they even managed to stand up there and get the words out, I’ll never know.  *Shudder*

How fun to get to watch Modern Family sweep the first 20 minutes of the show.  Gag me as Steve Levitan talked about his kids walking in on him and his wife “doing it” and how that was inspiration.  It came off as smug and creepy.  Listen, it’s a good show.  I watch it, I laugh.  But it’s not the best comedic show on television, goddammit.  In my well-informed opinion (I faithfully watch every nominee), Parks & Recreation was the most consistently funny, crazy, awesome comedic show this past year.  The others are all gravy, but P&R blew it out of the park.  Oh, oh, and somehow Phil and Claire Dunphy BOTH get to win?!?!  Those two characters are annoying as shit, stupid and lazy, and my least favorites on the show.  I do not think they’re the best male and female comedic supporting actor/actresses on TV.  Julie Bowen’s physique is terrifying, and while Ty Burrell sure seems like a swell guy, nobody makes me laugh like Jane Lynch and Eric Stonestreet.

For Lead Actress in a Comedy series, I loved how all the ladies stood up onstage together.  All I could think was that I wanted to hang out with them.  Martha Plimpton’s dress was FANTABULOUSO and damn did she wear it well.  I was also a huge fan of Laura Linney’s black shirt-dress, I thought it was flattering and sexy.  It was really adorable to watch everybody be so happy for Melissa McCarthy for her surprise win (pretty sure she mouthed ‘holy shit’ when her name was called) and while I do really freakin’ love her (shout out to Sookie!), didn’t they kinda give this to her cuz of Bridesmaids?  Is Mike and Molly really that great? (I don’t watch it, so my judgement here is completely crap – feel free to let me know if I’m wrong)

Charlie Sheen time-out!  WTF?  He seemed well put together, and like he meant what he said, but oh holy shit seriously?!  Dude, you talk about drinking tiger blood and how you’re a warlock and then you’re all normal, wishing CBS well??  HUH?  I’m confused.

Jim Parsons MORE THAN deserves his award, in my Big Bang Theory-lovin’ opinion. Sheldon is one of the most original, insane, awesome characters on TV and he’d be nothing without Parsons’ delivery.

Peter Dinklage is awesome, he’s my favorite male character on Game of Thrones.  His speech was great; I got a little teary when he told his wife how much he loved her and that she was awesome.  I know these people are winning an award for acting, so who the hell knows if they mean it, but hearing them profess their love always gets me all weepy.

Julianna Margulies doesn’t need to keep winning for The Good Wife, if only so we don’t have to keep hearing her thank her “spectacular” husband for the umpteenth time.  I am going to start throwing up on instant sight of her.  (Random love professions are sweet – see:  Dinklage.  Incessant, bi-yearly gushfests are nasty – see:  Margulies)  Biggest snub of the night was not giving the Lead Actress in a Drama to Connie Britton.  Why not do another hubby/wife winning duo and give it to Coach Eric AND Tami Taylor?  A gross error.

And on to Coach Eric, ah, Kyle Chandler,  you wondrous creature.  I had goosebumps and got teared up when Drew Barrymore and the new Charlie’s Angels (one of whom was Minka Kelly, a former FNL cast member) were so flipping excited and screamed his name, that was cute as shit.  He was clearly stunned, so gobsmacked that he forgot to thank his real life and on-screen wives, but I can’t care cause he’s amazing and adorable and perfect in every way, I’m-sure of it. *flashes crazy grin*

As much as the young guys singing “Hallelujah” did a beautiful job, it was awkward to have people singing live during the in memoriam. :/

Definitely want to have sex with Jeremy Piven. *Shiver*

Can I just say how HAPPY I AM that Downton Abbey was recognized?!  Shit you guys, that show was AWESOME!  Do yourself a favor and watch it.  While I’m at it, also the Masterpiece Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch and my lovely little British Bilbo hubby Martin Freeman. (PBS is da bomb, ya’ll) I wish I could have seen the Entourage guys hand Minerva McGonagall her award for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries though. 😦 But dammit, I was happy Maggie Smith won, cause she was delicious as the Dowager Countess.  Mental note:  Need to start saying “Dowager” more often.

Also, Kate Winslet is incapable of NOT being goddess-like.  What does one have to do, to become so fabulous?  I couldn’t love her anymore unless she had given birth to me.

Random scary moment:  What the FUCK was with the Lonely Island montage/medley?  I just don’t understand the reasoning there…. it was so, so batshit, and in a scary bad way.  I felt awful for Michael Bolton, I was so humiliated, I could hardly look at the screen.  I don’t understand why they needed Ed Helms to play Justin Timberlake, and there was a huge American flag, and Akon, singing the “I Just Had Sex” song…it seemed like what would go on in a crackhead’s brain.  Woof.

Final thoughts:  Sweet Christ, I watch a lot of TV.

~Annie

I’ll Keep On Smiling From The Times I Had With Them – Part 5 of 5

*This contains spoilers, and is also, really, really long*

Alright, it’s here.  It’s finally happened.  And it’s over.  *sigh*  And it was … interesting.

I wanted to write this review at 3 am this morning when I burst into my house after attending a sold out, nerd-filled showing at my local favorite theater.  But I needed time to marinate.  I feel as though I need to see it a second time to fully appreciate and understand, but I like to keep things timely, if I can.

The Harry Potter series (in case you haven’t figured out if you’ve glanced through this blog) is one of my favorite things, pretty much ever.  I got into the game late (2009), even though my lil’ sis (Prof. X) was a devout believer from the start.  And now that it’s over, I feel empty.  As if there will never be anything else like this, something that captures your mind, heart, and soul so entirely,  you truly cannot fathom how you existed before you knew about this world and these people.  So um, yeah … it means a lot to me.

Coming in, I had high expectations.  Part 1 was very faithful and websites like Rotten Tomatoes had nothing but awesome buzz and tons of snippets of early, excellent reviews.  At the age of 30, one would think I’d eventually learn not to get too amped up, but I guess I’m still a 3-year-old at heart.

The film picks up right where the first left off, and then jumps right on in.  The pace is brisk, and it’s all very action/emotion-packed, but that petulant 3-year old in me is bothered by the changes that were made and things that were glossed over.  Many, many things are omitted:

  • Any explanation of why the Hufflepuff cup or Ravenclaw diadem were chosen as horcruxes, and how they came to be such objects, let alone how the kids figured out how they were going to find them, is just eliminiated.  Harry literally says something to the effect of “I have a feeling the cup is in the Lestrange’s vault, let’s go.”  No, it would not have been prudent to try to explain 100% how those things came to be, but it just felt so rushed, that the horcruxes ended up seeming quite easy to destroy, which is certainly not the case on the page.
  •  There’s no Dumbledore back story here, which breaks my heart because I thought it was so sordid and tragic, and as always it makes you understand why the character is who he is, the choices he makes.  Why mention that Dumbledore has a shady past in Part 1 if you never bring it up again?
  • Certain deaths that take place, while not explained in great detail in the book either, are literally relegated to Harry glancing over at their dead body; if I was a casual movie-goer, I’d have no goddamn clue who any of the dead were, or why I was supposed to be sad.
  • Harry never uses the Elder Wand to repair his own, he simply snaps it in half and dumps it over a cliff.  (!)
  • When he finally kills Voldy, once and for all, it’s only the two of them, no one else witnesses, and it’s like, never mentioned again.
  • The Epilogue is clunky (although to be fair, ’tis the same in the book, so I shouldn’t be bothered).
  • Harry never asks Neville to kill Nagini, he keeps bugging Hermione and Ron to do it, and they keep failing.
  • Harry never explained Snape’s true allegiance to Voldy, they just fight and blast themselves all over the castle, and the awesome scene in the trailer, where he says “because I have something to live for” is nowhere to be seen.
  • They don’t let Ron call Draco a “bastard.”  Can’t you say “bastard” in a PG-13?
  • When certain characters died, they exploded into confetti….when, in the entire saga, has this ever happened?
  • I also had problems with Voldemort himself … he honestly at this point has become a bit silly.  Many in my screening laughed when he was on-screen.  He even awkwardly “hugged” Draco.  Yes, you read that right.

Despite the tone of this post, I don’t want to vilify the film too greatly; in defense of screenwriter Steve Kloves, there probably wasn’t much way to get exposition like the story of Helga Hufflepuff’s cup in without making three movies.  The film did get some things right, one in particular, spectacularly, and I’m ready to go full bipolar and change to the happiness gear:

  • Some of the characters are finally allowed to get the screen time they’ve always deserved.  McGonagall (the marvelous Maggie Smith), who is kind of badass throughout the series, finally gets her awesome scenes on-screen, and we get to watch her duel with Snape, and cast the spell for Hogwarts to start protecting itself.  These were some of my favorite parts of the book, and while they’re a bit truncated here, they were still included, and for that I’m thankful.
  • Neville (Clive Owen-minus-fifteen-years lookalike Matthew Lewis) gets to shine as the badass that he is, fulfilling his pivotal role of chopping the shit out of Nagini.
  • And finally, Snape.  I was TERRIFIED that they’d ruin his death scene and memories, two of the most heart-wrenching, touching, and pivotal moments in the entire saga. Shockingly, most of the Prince’s Tale is included here, and it’s done marvelously.  All the credit goes to the ridiculously talented and plain EXCELLENT Alan Rickman, who hits it out of the park, conveying the pain, tragedy, unrequited love, regret, bravery, and sacrifice that his character embodies.  The death scene was sudden, shocking and violent, even though I knew it was coming.  It’s fair to say a pin drop could be heard during this stretch of the movie; almost 24 hours later, I’m still slightly stunned that the filmmakers managed to get this part so RIGHT.

The Snape-amazement kind of nulls and voids my disenchantment with the rest of the film, and I’m hoping that with another viewing, I might pick up a few more snippets that I missed the first time around, or I’ll just be in a less psyched up frame of mind, ready to see things a little differently.  Overall, I was simultaneously disappointed, and greatly entertained.  I was hoping that with two films and almost 5 hours, nothing would have been missed. However, The Deathly Hallows is an enormous, insanely complex tale, that wove together thousands of pages of plot details and character bits from ten years of story-telling; we as viewers should not expect it all to fit.  Given that it seemed to be a lackluster adaptation, but overall enjoyable film to just sit back and watch, I can’t put it at #1 in my personal ranking.  After some soul-searching, I decided it fits below Part 1.  As time goes on, this may change, but currently, this is the final ranking, and it’s with a heavy heart and choke in the back of my throat that I use the word “final.”  I know we’re all luckier for something of this magnitude to be in our lives.     

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban – the best :)
  2. Deathly Hallows, pt. 1
  3. Deathly Hallows, pt. 2
  4. Goblet of Fire
  5. Chamber of Secrets
  6. Half-Blood Prince
  7. Sorcerer’s Stone
  8. Order of the Phoenix – the worst :(

~Annie

The rest:  The Trailer Test, Part 4, Part 3, Part 2.5, Part 2, Part 1

You Put A Spell On Me, I Don’t Know What To Do – Part 4 of 5

And so begins the last week before a Harry Potter movie is released, ever.  I feel comfortable commencing absolute excitement, obsession, and all-consuming sadness.  To honor the emotional roller-coaster and epic cultural event, all of my posts this week are going to revolve around the boy who lived (why yes, I get made fun of constantly).

Part 4: Ahh, Just Right                                                                                                           Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Deathly Hallows isn’t my favorite book, but it’s damn close.  Every storyline, every character, every moment, serves a purpose.  Loose ends are tied up in knots, there’s heart, deaths, tears, enough action to please even Michael Bay … I can’t imagine any series ever being wrapped up so perfectly.

Many people have expressed anger or annoyance that the book was split into two films; I for one cannot understand how anyone who has actually read the thing would feel that way.  If one film had been made, David Heyman (producer) has said himself they’d have to leave out things like Snape’s memories.  You know, the chapter that explained the crux of the ENTIRE STORY.  So leaving out explanation like that I find to be completely unacceptable.  Was Warner Bros. pumped up to make even more money?  Undoubtedly.  However, a creative and integral choice was made when they decided to go with two; it allowed them to be more faithful, explain more things, and do justice to the finale.  How is that bad, in any way?  Who possibly loses in that scenario??  Definitely not me, who gets to see an extra film.  The 5th and 6th installments left out so many plot points, to try to tie the end of the story up, and explain things, even in a “for dummies” way, REQUIRES two parts.  It could have been done, but would have been a travesty and greatly dishonored one of the most cherished, and magnificent, stories of all time.

The film looks crisp and beautiful; here, finally, David Yates’ vision finds a harmony between that level of darkness that’s only visible in a theater, and the light of being out in the real world, not solely in a gloomy castle.  I’m usually averse to wasting screen time adding bits that never would have happened on paper (the Burrow burning down in HBP, I’m talking to you) but the extras here were welcome, even pleasant.  The much-maligned “dance scene” between Harry and Hermione that totally never happened worked on-screen – it was a break from the all the heavy drama that was going down, and provided a nice showcase to see these lifelong friends actually act like it.

Honestly, one of my only complaints with this film is why they failed to explain the trace put on Voldemort’s name – in several scenes, it’s used and Death Eaters promptly arrive, with no explanation.  Although, it might get mentioned in the second part, which means I can’t file a formal complaint yet … so I guess I have no complaints.  The kids acting has never been better, there are dozens of emotional punches packed, everything looks FANTASTIC, and even clocking in at 2 hrs and 26 minutes, this puppy is BRISK.  It moves along, and you don’t want it to end.  They got everything of chief importance in there, which is truly saying something, given how little filler there is.

Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 is a terrific adaptation of about 2/3 of the book, and as a movie, is exciting, sad, and engrossing.  Does it serve to set the stage for part 2?  OBVIOUSLY ( ;)), but what so many fail to realize, is that part 2 means nothing without the groundwork of that stage.

Current rank (verrrry curious to see how I’m going to feel Friday morning!):

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban – the best :)
  2. Deathly Hallows, pt. 1
  3. Goblet of Fire
  4. Chamber of Secrets
  5. Half-Blood Prince
  6. Sorcerer’s Stone
  7. Order of the Phoenix – the worst :(

~Annie

The rest of the series:  The Trailer Test, Part 5, Part 3, Part 2.5, Part 2, Part 1

Wait Until I Come I’ll Take Your Soul – Part 3 of 5

Is the title of this post a tad dramatic?  Maybe, but in all honestly, the 5th and 6th films (two of the most important, foreboding, and enormous of the books) in the Harry Potter series were total failures on many levels, and I need to get it off my chest.  These films are like knives in my gut.

Part 3:  The Blasphemous                                                                                                                                                                  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix & Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Both of these books begin to unveil the labyrinthine truths behind everything that has ever happened in the series, and guess what?  Said truths focus on the adult characters, their pasts, their sins, and Harry begins to discover and learn facts that change him forever. This is one of my major problems with the films once David Yates took over as director – the adult characters were relegated to the background, and their storylines trimmed to, in some cases, nothingness.  For instance, Snape’s fairly prominent role in Order was somehow turned into about 4 minutes of screen time, McGonagall is almost entirely omitted, and everybody remembers what happened to her in the same book.  I’m WELL AWARE that everything on the page cannot be transferred to the screen, but since Order, it has felt like the filmmakers purposely tried to diminish these vital aspects of the story, because they just wanted to focus on the main trio, apealling to the masses of youngsters who love the franchise.

Some of my many problems with the fifth film are that it’s boring as shit, terribly paced, and overall, the story is just hacked to pieces with an ax.  SO many events of importance are omitted to the point where it’s just like, why the fuck did you even bother to make this movie?  There were ONLY two good things featured in this installment:  Umbridge (Imelda Staunton nailed the uptight, prissy terrorist), and the final, surprisingly awesome battle scene between Voldy and Dumbledore.  Someone named Michael Goldberg wrote this screenplay (this is the only film without Kloves penning the script) and this may be the most unfortunate thing to happen to the franchise.  He’s the first person who trimmed so much fat (that turned out to be lean meat), I honestly don’t know how Rowling didn’t go after this guy with weapons of mass destruction (I know, I know:  Her hands are tied when it comes to the films, and she continues to state that she loves each one).  I wondered what else Michael Goldberg had ever written and guess what I found?  He’s one of the co-writers of the current Green Lantern film, which I have not seen, but is getting decimated by critics, and the poor writing is one of the main complaints.  So, cheers to you Michael Goldberg.

In my opinion, Half Blood Prince was much gloomier than Order – shit gets BAD.   And there’s lots of meaty information divulged.  But here, inexplicably, Kloves/Yates and company have decided to make this a PG rom-com. The book’s side plot of Lavendar hearts Ron has been brought to the fore-front, and the kids hormones and teeny-bopper love issues (which were nothing of great importance in the book) are the main plot.  !   What.  In the.  FUCK.  Were they thinking?  Honesty, how can they live with themselves?  When Lavendar Brown has more screen time than Snape ( I apologize that my irrational Snape love colors all my posts, but he’s the most complex, interesting character in the books and if you can’t agree with that, go fly a kite – in a lightning storm) something’s definitely rotten in Denmark.  The filmmakers have said that this is the darkest film, blah blah blah, you know what’s dark?  The color scheme.  Everything is so grey/blue/cyan-ified, unless my house is pitch-fucking-black, I can hardly see what’s happening on the screen.  I give them credit for trying to make the thing look unique, but when I saw the 6th film in theaters (at this point still not having read a single page of any book), I remember being really angry that Dumbledore’s death was less poignant and intense than Cedric Diggory’s.  That hurts, on a cellular level.

I’m sad the prophecy was never properly explained.  I’m sad Dumbledore got the shaft; there was no funeral to honor this beloved character.  I’m pissed Snape’s memory of getting terrorized by the marauders was chopped up into little pieces like it was at the mercy of Jigsaw.  I’m sad they dropped a grenade on the Tom Riddle memories – which has done a massive disservice to the entire franchise by relegating Voldemort (who in the books is a much more Hitler-like, complex bad guy) to the one note “evil for no reason except he’s fucking evil” villain.   Hmmmppff.

All I can say is, Half-Blood Prince is paced better, and if you don’t worry about the book, it’s a decent film.  That’s why it’s a few spots higher in my personal ranking. Phoenix however, (minus Umbridge and that final action-packed ministry scene) sucks as a film, and is an abortion of an adaptation.  I wonder if Goldberg had never written that film and planted the seed into the heads of the suits that you can cut most of the book out and still make tons of money, would the following two films have contained more meat of the story?  Did the suits tell Kloves (who wrote faithful, decent adaptations before his one-film break) post-Goldberg – “cut this shit down?”???!  I found this awesome little nugget on the interwebz, and you can see that films 1, 2, and 5 have a GINORMOUS disconnect between length of film vs. length of book.  Oh wow, the ones who match up approximately are decent films (6 is not a bad movie, it’s a bad ADAPTATION), and 5 is both the longest book AND shortest movie.  That is fucking warped and ass-backwards.  I’ll never be able to get over this.  Ever.

Current rank:

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban – the best :)
  2. TBA – although you can figure it out by now 😉
  3. Goblet of Fire
  4. Chamber of Secrets
  5. Half-Blood Prince
  6. Sorcerer’s Stone
  7. Order of the Phoenix – the worst :(

~Annie

The rest of the series:  The Trailer Test, Part 5, Part 4, Part 2.5, Part 2, Part 1

There Ain’t No Road Too Long When You Meet In The Middle – Part 2.5 of 5

Part 2.5:  The Happy Mediums                                                                                                  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The 4th Harry Potter film finds itself in the comfy position of #3 on my personal favorites list, and also the second of the “Happy Mediums” – the films that found a groove between being completely fair and reasonable adaptations of the marvelous source material, and at the same time, good, entertaining movies that can stand on their own, if need be.

Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Prince of Persia, Four Weddings and a Funeral) took over the directing reins for the fourth film, and seems to exist in a middle ground between Columbus and Cuaron.  He was able to showcase the growth of the characters and give the film its own look and feel, but reign in some of that unique director vision, allowing the Harry Potter world to just be what it is.

Goblet is a massive book (approximately 700 pages, depending on the edition), and a favorite of many.  It’s the last hurrah, in a way, before the series take a dark, much more adult turn, and the film captures this all perfectly.  It’s fun and adventurous, adding new characters, ideas, and places to the awesome world, all before the dire, tragic end that leaves readers/viewers knowing things will never be the same.

Steve Kloves penned the script for the fourth time, and it had to present the biggest challenge, up to that point.  The book is stuffed with action, characters, and details, which don’t feel like too much while reading – on the contrary, it’s like you can’t get enough.  Obviously, there’s no way in hell that’s all fitting into 2 1/2 hours on-screen, so there are many, many things left out or changed (Winky and Dobby’s stories – gone, the Barty Crouch details – changed, some omitted).  However, they kept in enough things of importance that will matter later (the lesson about the Unforgivable Curses, the wizard council scene through Dumbledore’s Pensieve), and miraculously, Kloves managed to weave a majorly enjoyable film that still does the book justice.  Had I been a fiend back then, seeing this film would have given me hope that the future, humongous books would all be given same treatment (I would have been wrong, but more on that in the weeks to come).

This film is great because it hits on every emotion.  The effects are light years better than the prior films.  The kids continue to grow into their roles, and do better here than ever before.  Robert Pattinson is the perfect Cedric Diggory.  His death scene is intense and extremely moving – as it should be.  Brendon Gleeson is a rockin’ Mad-Eye Moody.  The graveyard battle between Harry and Voldy is scary, awesome, disturbing, and makes me cry, every time.

In all honesty, I wish Newell had continued to direct the rest of the films.  I think he captured the magic and adventure, action sequences, along with the darker, ominous parts of the story, superbly.  His style, along with the balance found by Kloves’ script, cements this film as my third favorite.

Current rank:

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban – the best :)
  2. TBA
  3. Goblet of Fire
  4. Chamber of Secrets
  5. TBA
  6. Sorcerer’s Stone
  7. TBA – the worst :(

~Annie

The rest of the series:  The Trailer Test, Part 5, Part 4, Part 3, Part 2, Part 1