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Cinema and Movie Thread: coming at you at 24fps


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On 6/17/2024 at 12:39 PM, Bartimaeus said:

I wanted to watch at least one non-Harry Potter Maggie Smith film, and this did not disappoint: though I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the complicated and sometimes ridiculous titular school teacher that she played in the film, there's no doubt that Maggie Smith did play her most wonderfully and I very much enjoyed the film because of her. However, the much more pressing issue cloaking this film in shadow is one Miss Gaunt, whose blank and dead-eyed stare will forevermore haunt my nightmares.

The hilarious coincidence of Maggie Smith being a school teacher in a film where a Miss Gaunt is also part of the cast made me wonder if you were talking about Harry Potter the entire time here, as I  pretty much watched Harry Potter just for the performances of Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. :banana:

No mind to think. No will to break. No voice to cry suffering.

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6 hours ago, majestic said:

 I pretty much watched Harry Potter just for the performances of Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. :banana:

I am convinced that's what really carried the movies especially later on in the series

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10 hours ago, majestic said:

The hilarious coincidence of Maggie Smith being a school teacher in a film where a Miss Gaunt is also part of the cast made me wonder if you were talking about Harry Potter the entire time here, as I  pretty much watched Harry Potter just for the performances of Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. :banana:

Maggie Smith played a...very different kind of teacher in this film. Very different. From a certain point of view, I think you could perhaps say even the complete opposite. Heck, her character in this film might even be a Voldemort supporter in the Harry Potter world, though probably not for the reasons one might expect.

Spoiler

Jean Brodie's obsessed and romanticized adoration of strong, authoritarian leaders like Mussolini and Francisco proved to be...very unhelpful to the futures of both her students and her own self, as it turns out. A quote I read on Wikipedia:

The Radio Times Guide to Films gave the film 5/5 stars, writing: "[...] Never have such politically incorrect opinions been expressed with such disarming charm or been received with such trusting innocence."

She had charm in spades to be sure, but she played a fool (though you wouldn't realize or even want to realize it for much of the film because of how funny and likeable she is!), which is pretty much the opposite of Professor McGonagall.

As I said, I have some unclear feelings about the character Maggie Smith played here, but it was a marvellously played character nevertheless. I also have no idea why this "Miss Gaunt" is named so, when it seems as though no-one else I can see in the cast list has anything even vaguely approaching something so on the nose. I should find another Maggie Smith film to watch, maybe one where she doesn't play a school teacher.

The only two Harry Potter films I particularly like are the first two, but that makes sense, they're the silliest and lowest stakes out of the lot: by the time you get to Half-Blood Prince, there's barely a single speck of fun left in the whole series, because it's been completely drained in exchange for all the drama and serious plot stuff, and as someone who read the books when I was young as they were coming out, that just never really felt like a strength of Rowling's writing in the first place. Bleh.

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How I have existed fills me with horror. For I have failed in everything - spelling, arithmetic, riding, tennis, golf; dancing, singing, acting; wife, mistress, whore, friend. Even cooking. And I do not excuse myself with the usual escape of 'not trying'. I tried with all my heart.

In my dreams, I am not crippled. In my dreams, I dance.

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6 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

The only two Harry Potter films I particularly like are the first two, but that makes sense, they're the silliest and lowest stakes out of the lot: by the time you get to Half-Blood Prince, there's barely a single speck of fun left in the whole series, because it's been completely drained in exchange for all the drama and serious plot stuff, and as someone who read the books when I was young as they were coming out, that just never really felt like a strength of Rowling's writing in the first place. Bleh.

I was 16 when the first book was released here (a couple months after it became a beststelling novel in the UK). Being the counter-culture nerd that I was at the time, ignoring the books purely based on the hype around them was the proper thing to do. When the first film was made a couple of years after that, I ignored those too. Obviously.

That puts me in the somewhat strange position of having watched the movies first, as an adult, but only after my brother bought the Blu Rays. As such, the first film was not overly interesting besides establishing the characters and some of the lore. Half the film is Harry being on this wide eyed adventure of discovery with which I have no special connection, and it relied heavily on Daniel Radcliffe looking in awe and wonder, which sadly is something he did not do very convincingly - although considering the performance of the other actors in the film, this impression is likely exacerbated by the contrast between Daniel Radcliffe and, well, almost everyone else. You know, expect for Rupert Grint, but he was a pretty good fit for the role he had to play in the film.

That migh seem overly harsh, but if it weren't for the Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows, it would probably be my least favorite film of the series. The Chamber of Secrets, though, is probably the one I liked best overall. Other films might have my favorite moments and performances (Brendan Gleeson and Helena Bonham Carter are just delightful), but they also all have shortcomings. Almost none of which are present in The Chamber of Secrets. Except for having the Wesley Crusher of Harry Potter: Dobby.

Some of those shortcomings I attributed to the films skipping or glossing over scenes and information from the books and therefore not being as consistent as they should be, or as logically stringent in their plot progression. This is probably worst in The Order of the Phoenix, but also very problematic in the Deathly Hallows and The Half-Blood Prince, where there are entire scenes that make a viewer wonder what the point is, or why they should even care. Never mind that Half-Blood Prince ends on a revelation that falls so flat that I wondered what the point of the title was in the first place.

A couple of years later I discovered that having Amazon Prime entitled me to a free ebook per month (sadly, a benefit to Prime that Amazon has discontinued since, without any prior notice), and the Harry Potter novels were on the list of available books, so I read those, one per month. Funny how it turned out that some of the things I like best about the later films are scenes made for those films, while all the shortcomings are still present in the books.

I have read many a fantasy and horror novel way back when I was a more prolific reader than I am today - among them books from Stephen King, and his German counterpart Wolfgang Hohlbein, whose novels - at least those that I read, that is - tended to have a problem with their endings. They are either wholly unsatisfactory, or resolve the plot in such a rushed, glossed over way that it makes the books somewhat worse in retrospective. The worst of which, by far, was Anubis from Wolfgang Hohlbein. Three quarters of the novel is very intriguing and atmospheric, building up tension and the plot very slowly, only for it to just end without any actual resolution.

The Order of the Phoenix was a disjointed mess and unnecessarily long for what little content it had (half of which was Harry moping over the death of a sparkly vampire), and The Deathly Hallows was like reading the worst part of a Stephen King novel, just sprawled out over eight hundred pages. Plot points and characters are introduced, resolved and/or discarded or glossed over at every turn, in a book that should just be there to tie up the story, and it looks like by that point Rowling's editor just signed off on everything she threw in there because who would argue with one of the most successful authors of her age. One could easily throw out half of the book without it becoming worse, and the films should really have, but instead Warner went "oh, good, TWO films to rake in oodles of cash, we approve!"

edit: I am also pretty sure I wrote a post like this at least once already. :yes:

Edited by majestic

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On 6/20/2024 at 6:11 PM, majestic said:

Except for having the Wesley Crusher of Harry Potter: Dobby.

I really hated Dobby when I read the books, but I hated Dobby somehow even more when I watched the films. Besides The Chamber of Secrets unfortunately having the highest Dobby-to-No-Dobby ratio, it's probably also my favorite.

On 6/20/2024 at 6:11 PM, majestic said:

A couple of years later I discovered that having Amazon Prime entitled me to a free ebook per month (sadly, a benefit to Prime that Amazon has discontinued since, without any prior notice), and the Harry Potter novels were on the list of available books, so I read those, one per month. Funny how it turned out that some of the things I like best about the later films are scenes made for those films, while all the shortcomings are still present in the books.

For me, this problem also applies even to the earlier books, especially insofar as the series predominantly takes place at a school of magic where students supposedly make life-long friends, grow up, and study/learn magic. You know, normal school and coming-of-age stuff. With the exception of The Goblet of Fire (the film of which is both strange and kind of horrendous for my tastes - big surprise when you hire a new director that didn't watch the previous movies or read the books and who you then ask to adapt the wackiest and most off-beat entry), I feel the movies do a much better job than the books of conveying all of that than the books did, which doesn't make a lot of sense given how easy it would be to just...write more stuff into the books. How precious little time is actually spent in the classroom learning or doing just normal school/friend stuff versus "Harry didn't have a good time in Divination and Potions with Snape proved to be no better" and then we're suddenly into the next month is a bit bizarre. The only spells the series ever mentions characters learning are always the exact ones that will be needed for the plot to function without something we've never heard of or seen before just suddenly appearing and being used. Most characters outside of the core cast which should in theory flesh out the world feel like they're only mentioned in brief, vague asides that aren't even actively written but are instead just passive descriptions of what they said or did. At times, reading those books almost feels like they were explicitly written to be turned into movies. Despite their issues, I do think the first three to four-ish books are pretty fun - heck, even movie 4, as much of a disaster that constantly goes off-style and off-script as it does, has its moments. That changes in a very bad way with book 5, and...

On 6/20/2024 at 6:11 PM, majestic said:

That migh seem overly harsh, but if it weren't for the Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows, it would probably be my least favorite film of the series.

In film The Order of the Phoenix's defense, I think the book is way worse than the film, which you kind of allude to later in your post. I expected the movie to be pretty unbearable because of how awful the book was (it does not help that Harry, whose eyes we see everything through, becomes an absolutely unlikeable bastard during this whole book, though I'll blame it less on him as a character and more on all of the idiotic circumstances that start at the end of The Goblet of Fire which Rowling wrote), meanwhile I was looking forward to film The Half-Blood Prince because while still very messy, it had been a hugely welcome and much more enjoyable respite compared to The Order of the Phoenix. To my surprise, I got almost nothing out of movie The Half-Blood Prince while I felt movie The Order of the Phoenix did about as well as it could to minimize how atrocious its source material was. I guess the flipped expectations helped the one I didn't like and hurt the one I did.

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How I have existed fills me with horror. For I have failed in everything - spelling, arithmetic, riding, tennis, golf; dancing, singing, acting; wife, mistress, whore, friend. Even cooking. And I do not excuse myself with the usual escape of 'not trying'. I tried with all my heart.

In my dreams, I am not crippled. In my dreams, I dance.

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On the topic of Harry Potter, we did the Warner Bros. Studio tour this last week and it had some fun Harry Potter stuff. I got put into house Slytherine by the sorting hat, but I think that is because I was wearing a green shirt. The merch was also pretty reasonable. I ended up with a nice Leaky Cauldron beer glass.

I wonder where they will go with the IP at this point? Fantastic Beasts was a bit of a letdown. Hogwarts Legacy was great. JK Rowling is persona non grata. It's in a bit of a weird place.

 

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I read the Harry Potter books as a kid and they haven't really stuck with me in the way (some) Steven King books did* or Lost Highway, which I credit for breaking my mind when I recorded it by accident and went in completely blind. By the time the last movies dropped I had really lost interest, retrospectively it's worse because not only are the films mostly uninteresting to me, but because the last one started the horrible trend of releasing movies in parts. 

JK going far off the deep end doesn't really help either. Even if I was interested in that universe I wouldn't want to be supporting someone that awful. At least Daniel Radcliffe seems cool, and it's hilarious that instead of trying to be a mega-star or whatever he does very weird films/shows and stage plays.

*I guess reading IT when you're around the same age as the Losers Club is going to make it hit a lot closer to home.

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Watched the restoration of PHASE IV. Very nice looking film. The ant photography is great. They include the theatrical and original end and while I can appreciate the visuals of the 2001-ish attempt at a purely visual conceptual finale, I think the end deflates the tension of the film and needed at least some narrative or emotional line drawn.

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18 minutes ago, Amentep said:

Watched the restoration of PHASE IV. Very nice looking film. The ant photography is great. They include the theatrical and original end and while I can appreciate the visuals of the 2001-ish attempt at a purely visual conceptual finale, I think the end deflates the tension of the film and needed at least some narrative or emotional line drawn.

I remember that movie scaring the beejeebus out of me as a kid... I've been stomping on ants irrationally ever since

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2 hours ago, Amentep said:

Watched the restoration of PHASE IV. Very nice looking film. The ant photography is great. They include the theatrical and original end and while I can appreciate the visuals of the 2001-ish attempt at a purely visual conceptual finale, I think the end deflates the tension of the film and needed at least some narrative or emotional line drawn.

Visually, I remember everything about it looking great, and I didn't even get to see the new scan from the negatives that Vinegar Syndrome did which looks so much better than the old extra-regional transfers. But the story and characters ultimately left me, uh, feeling like the cinematography and premise both got rather let down.

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How I have existed fills me with horror. For I have failed in everything - spelling, arithmetic, riding, tennis, golf; dancing, singing, acting; wife, mistress, whore, friend. Even cooking. And I do not excuse myself with the usual escape of 'not trying'. I tried with all my heart.

In my dreams, I am not crippled. In my dreams, I dance.

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48 minutes ago, Bartimaeus said:

Visually, I remember everything about it looking great, and I didn't even get to see the new scan from the negatives that Vinegar Syndrome did which looks so much better than the old extra-regional transfers. But the story and characters ultimately left me, uh, feeling like the cinematography and premise both got rather let down.

You can definitely tell Saul Bass' strength was more in visuals than in narratives.

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I cannot - yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do "must" and "cannot" meet? Yet I must - but I cannot! ~ Ro-Man

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On another note entirely...

 

 

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I cannot - yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do "must" and "cannot" meet? Yet I must - but I cannot! ~ Ro-Man

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14 hours ago, Amentep said:

On another note entirely...

 

 

I was about to post this, it looks excellent and its " day 1 " watch for sure

Vampire movies need to be  dark and terrifying. I dont like this recent interpretation of Vampires where they go around helping people and saving cats in trees 

This is exactly the type of Vampire theme I want to see and its based on  the Dracula classic book 

 

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

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"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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On 6/23/2024 at 1:09 PM, Bartimaeus said:

For me, this problem also applies even to the earlier books, especially insofar as the series predominantly takes place at a school of magic where students supposedly make life-long friends, grow up, and study/learn magic. You know, normal school and coming-of-age stuff. With the exception of The Goblet of Fire (the film of which is both strange and kind of horrendous for my tastes - big surprise when you hire a new director that didn't watch the previous movies or read the books and who you then ask to adapt the wackiest and most off-beat entry), I feel the movies do a much better job than the books of conveying all of that than the books did, which doesn't make a lot of sense given how easy it would be to just...write more stuff into the books.

The Goblet of Fire film was tonally different in many ways too, like the angry Dumbledore while book Dumbledore was always friendly and supportive. Not that I would have known, having experienced it the other way around, but he was noticably acting out of character with no explanation. Could have been the best, the basis was there. Whacky, fun characters, a school ball, visiting students from different schools.

On 6/23/2024 at 1:09 PM, Bartimaeus said:

How precious little time is actually spent in the classroom learning or doing just normal school/friend stuff versus "Harry didn't have a good time in Divination and Potions with Snape proved to be no better" and then we're suddenly into the next month is a bit bizarre. The only spells the series ever mentions characters learning are always the exact ones that will be needed for the plot to function without something we've never heard of or seen before just suddenly appearing and being used. Most characters outside of the core cast which should in theory flesh out the world feel like they're only mentioned in brief, vague asides that aren't even actively written but are instead just passive descriptions of what they said or did. At times, reading those books almost feels like they were explicitly written to be turned into movies. Despite their issues, I do think the first three to four-ish books are pretty fun - heck, even movie 4, as much of a disaster that constantly goes off-style and off-script as it does, has its moments.

I don't know if some parts of the novels were written with a movie adaptation in mind, but what I recall having read is that Rowling specifically adapted some parts of the movies for her later books, like Alan Rickman's performance of Snape influencing how she wrote and imagined the character. The first movie came out after the Goblet of Fire book, and while negotiations for the rights to the books might have happened significantly earlier, dunno - well maybe Rowling thought she could get a movie adaptation after the runaway success of the Philosopher's Sorcerer's Stone, but that just complicates things unnecessarily. She's just not that good of a writer, and I suspect that, given the success of the books and films, her audience was not overly interested in class hijinks.

What is somewhat noticable is that plot elements keep popping up without much prior notice. I have honestly no ideas how much of the overarching story she had in mind while writing the early entries, but given how the series just keeps coming up with elements that should have always been a part of the universe but just never came up before, it cannot have been a whole lot. If I would want to be especially snarky it was fairly obvious that she didn't even have an idea how to finish the first book, and Quill just defeated himself by touching Harry. Because love. Okay, that is probably something specific to watching the film/reading the book as an adult, but that's a major asspull that never sat right with me.

Then there are the titular Deathly Hallows, retconning Harry's cloak and Dumbledore's wand into a group of three items that are only necessary so that Voldemort can inadvertently destroy the one Horcrux he did not intend to make without actually having Harry die in his final confrontation.

Not that Chamber of Secrets is free of asspulls, there is enough setup to explain how Harry survives his poisoning, and that the Sword of Gryffindor is enchanted to help brave Gryffindors in times of dire need, but there's zero indication that the Sorting Hat can just act as dimensional portal. Whee, enough of that before Hurlshot says I'm overthinking a silly fun fantasy series with magic (which is probably not wrong), but Chamber of Secrets is a good example that if everything else is good enough, a little plot hole or deus ex machina does not hurt one's enjoyment.

On 6/23/2024 at 1:09 PM, Bartimaeus said:

In film The Order of the Phoenix's defense, I think the book is way worse than the film, which you kind of allude to later in your post. I expected the movie to be pretty unbearable because of how awful the book was (it does not help that Harry, whose eyes we see everything through, becomes an absolutely unlikeable bastard during this whole book, though I'll blame it less on him as a character and more on all of the idiotic circumstances that start at the end of The Goblet of Fire which Rowling wrote), meanwhile I was looking forward to film The Half-Blood Prince because while still very messy, it had been a hugely welcome and much more enjoyable respite compared to The Order of the Phoenix. To my surprise, I got almost nothing out of movie The Half-Blood Prince while I felt movie The Order of the Phoenix did about as well as it could to minimize how atrocious its source material was. I guess the flipped expectations helped the one I didn't like and hurt the one I did.

I was looking forward to reading The Order of the Phoenix because I expected it to explain the film and fill in gaps - what I got was a novel that I actively had to force myself through reading at times. It was easily the worst of the books, and inexplicably the one with the most pages, with a lot of them spent on going nowhere at all while Harry mopes around enough to get Gary Oldman killed. I guess I should really watch the film again after reading the book, it might really change my view of it. :p

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5 hours ago, majestic said:

Whee, enough of that before Hurlshot says I'm overthinking a silly fun fantasy series with magic (which is probably not wrong), but Chamber of Secrets is a good example that if everything else is good enough, a little plot hole or deus ex machina does not hurt one's enjoyment.

It's good to know my nagging affects more than just my children. :p

I might actually be closer to your line of thinking on the books though. I mean I read them and thought they were fun. I'm very appreciative of how they inspired a lot of young readers to tackle some pretty thick books. My wife has dyslexia and reading has always been a chore for her, but Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were accessible enough for her. But it isn't high literature. That sounds snobby, but I think I read them right after I'd finished off my Russian lit phase in my 20's (Bulgakov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy) so I earned my snob badge with some pretty dense texts. Bulgakov isn't dense, btw. He is a delight to read and I still go back to his works.

Anyways, I've never felt the need to revisit the books. The movies, on the other hand, are fun to have on in the background during certain times of the year. They are whimsical. As a family, we've watched them, we've visited the theme parks, we've got the swag. It's a fun IP to immerse yourself in.  

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While I appreciate the effect Harry Potter had on getting people back into reading, I have to say my enjoyment has always run into the slight wall that I'd just finished re-reading a batch of the Books of Magic comics from Neil Gaiman.

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And that always makes me go "Huh." when it comes to Harry Potter.  Much as I know that idea is sharing from the same background. Gaimain himself has repeatedly said that any similarities are merely because Rowling and himself are drinking from the same well.

Still, it always had a slight jarring effect for me.  That, and how much the story beats are repeated through the series. Harry is excited. Harry has a fun time with friends. Mysteries ensure. Harry has a falling out with friends. Friendship triumphs and mystery is overcome with the help of those friends.

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15 hours ago, majestic said:

I don't know if some parts of the novels were written with a movie adaptation in mind, but what I recall having read is that Rowling specifically adapted some parts of the movies for her later books, like Alan Rickman's performance of Snape influencing how she wrote and imagined the character. The first movie came out after the Goblet of Fire book, and while negotiations for the rights to the books might have happened significantly earlier, dunno - well maybe Rowling thought she could get a movie adaptation after the runaway success of the Philosopher's Sorcerer's Stone, but that just complicates things unnecessarily. She's just not that good of a writer, and I suspect that, given the success of the books and films, her audience was not overly interested in class hijinks.

I feel like "Alan Rickman changed how I wrote the character in later books" might be a cover for a similar but perhaps more embarrassing explanation on Rowling's part, but that's admittedly mostly mean-spirited speculation on my part: she either didn't know what she eventually planned on doing with the character (i.e. she hadn't actually planned how the/his story would end) OR at some point during the making of some of the early movies she realized that what she had been doing with the character just didn't really jive with what she had planned (i.e. she had planned it, but a fresh look at the series from the very beginning helped her realize that it was a poor plan which wouldn't satisfactorily come together and so happily took the opportunity to agree to some needed adjustments and even try to integrate them as much as she could into her own writing). Movie Snape ends up working a hundred times better than book Snape ever did (especially because in the books, we only ever see events from Harry's explicitly hateful perspective whereas in the movies, Snape is afforded a somewhat more measured perspective on the part of the audience outside probably just the first film), and I'm not feeling particularly generous to the idiot writer with a professed love for re-writing and retconning her characters and story on Twitter just for funsies.

16 hours ago, majestic said:

The Goblet of Fire film was tonally different in many ways too, like the angry Dumbledore while book Dumbledore was always friendly and supportive. Not that I would have known, having experienced it the other way around, but he was noticably acting out of character with no explanation. Could have been the best, the basis was there. Whacky, fun characters, a school ball, visiting students from different schools.

Like I said, director that didn't know what they were doing because they didn't really care about the source material or making the film fit in with the previous entries. Movie Goblet of Fire had a lot of additional nonsense that it really just didn't need...except for cutting Dobby out of the film. Despite all its sins, I can at least say good job for that...although it only further weakened how much the audience should care about him and his eventual sacrifice. Whatever, I wouldn't have cared about Dobby no matter what.

16 hours ago, majestic said:

Not that Chamber of Secrets is free of asspulls, there is enough setup to explain how Harry survives his poisoning, and that the Sword of Gryffindor is enchanted to help brave Gryffindors in times of dire need, but there's zero indication that the Sorting Hat can just act as dimensional portal. Whee, enough of that before Hurlshot says I'm overthinking a silly fun fantasy series with magic (which is probably not wrong), but Chamber of Secrets is a good example that if everything else is good enough, a little plot hole or deus ex machina does not hurt one's enjoyment.

I think I can forgive something like that because it's not really key (it would be pretty trivial to have just...you know, mention the sword being in Dumbledore's office when Harry visits him earlier and then just have Fawkes carry the sword to him, although it certainly would have heavily telegraphed how the basilisk would eventually be defeated) and I think it kind of fits in with a lot of European mythology...Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and all that. One of those things that feels like a cute thematical fit but then makes you wonder how anything actually works in this poorly written universe that doesn't seem to have any actual hard rules, especially when the author seems completely disinterested in doing any work to flesh anything out.

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How I have existed fills me with horror. For I have failed in everything - spelling, arithmetic, riding, tennis, golf; dancing, singing, acting; wife, mistress, whore, friend. Even cooking. And I do not excuse myself with the usual escape of 'not trying'. I tried with all my heart.

In my dreams, I am not crippled. In my dreams, I dance.

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On 6/26/2024 at 9:32 AM, majestic said:

enough of that before Hurlshot says I'm overthinking a silly fun fantasy series with magic

Tbh, I was thinking the same thing when reading through your posts. :biggrin:

Also, no mention of time-turners? People usually get stuck on that plot point the most.

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"because they filled mommy with enough mythic power to become a demi-god" - KP

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Watched Furiosa. Pretty good. The CGI felt a lot worse in the trailer. Guess they just happened to pick the most CGI-y scenes they could find for it.

Loved that the one guy looked like Max. Basically implying there are more Max-like characters in the world.

"only when you no-life you can exist forever, because what does not live cannot die."

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On 6/27/2024 at 11:56 AM, Bartimaeus said:

I feel like "Alan Rickman changed how I wrote the character in later books" might be a cover for a similar but perhaps more embarrassing explanation on Rowling's part, but that's admittedly mostly mean-spirited speculation on my part: she either didn't know what she eventually planned on doing with the character (i.e. she hadn't actually planned how the/his story would end) OR at some point during the making of some of the early movies she realized that what she had been doing with the character just didn't really jive with what she had planned (i.e. she had planned it, but a fresh look at the series from the very beginning helped her realize that it was a poor plan which wouldn't satisfactorily come together and so happily took the opportunity to agree to some needed adjustments and even try to integrate them as much as she could into her own writing).

Yeah, can't really agree there. One of the things that Rowling did very well (all imo and ymmv, of course) was to illustrate the difference between someone being merely 'mean' and being 'evil'. Snape was mean, vindictive, grumpy etc, but we never saw him do anything evil- similarly, we saw Draco do a lot of 'mean' stuff but when he had the option to do something actually 'evil' he didn't. And Snape was counterspelling Quirrel as far back as the Philosopher's Stone. That isn't proof absolute of her always having a specific plan, but he was clearly always intended to be set up as an antagonist rather than a villain. It would be pretty difficult and almost certainly more clumsy to have set everything up in the first few books.

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..we only ever see events from Harry's explicitly hateful perspective..

That is probably the biggest issue. Other similar(ish) series like Wheel of Time or Song of Ice and Fire use the same limited 3rd person perspective, but have multiple people's perspectives rather than one* which allows for more nuance; and whatever else HP is a ~teenage schoolboy. So in ASoIaF you start off with Jaime obviously being the bad guy (and he is one of course, he's just not the worst guy) because you see everything from Eddard's or Catelyn's perspective, but once you start getting Jaime's viewpoint you can at least understand him more. That isn't really an option available to Rowling even if she'd gone the multiple pov route due to Dumbledore and Snape simply knowing too much, but she does at least repeatedly have Dumbledore saying how much he trusts Snape, which is fairly close.

*I have noticed some people have difficulty with those perspectives clashing and thinking it makes the writing inconsistent; I've always kind of wondered if it's due to Harry Potter despite there clearly being times when Harry is wrong about something that he strongly believes via his own perspective.

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I seem to recall in one of the interviews with Rickman after the last film was made, he did say that Rowling took him aside during the first film and told him how Snape would end and that helped shape his portrayal through all films that followed and that he kept it a secret the whole time.

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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2 hours ago, Zoraptor said:

Yeah, can't really agree there. One of the things that Rowling did very well (all imo and ymmv, of course) was to illustrate the difference between someone being merely 'mean' and being 'evil'. Snape was mean, vindictive, grumpy etc, but we never saw him do anything evil- similarly, we saw Draco do a lot of 'mean' stuff but when he had the option to do something actually 'evil' he didn't. And Snape was counterspelling Quirrel as far back as the Philosopher's Stone. That isn't proof absolute of her always having a specific plan, but he was clearly always intended to be set up as an antagonist rather than a villain. It would be pretty difficult and almost certainly more clumsy to have set everything up in the first few books.

Gleefully trying to get Sirius Black and Remus Lupin executed in book The Prisoner of Azkaban over their childhood quarrels is where he officially stepped over the "cruel, petty, depraved human garbage of a bully, but technically not evil" line for me. The fact that it's not directed specifically at any of the core cast doesn't really change that. Movie The Prisoner of Azkaban 'mysteriously' just about completely glosses over that entire conflict between them and puts his character in much greater of a bind due to a lack of information...but in the book, he is explicitly written as having been in the room under the Invisibility Cloak and having heard much of the exposition dump by an unsuspecting Black and Lupin, and he just doesn't care about any of it, he becomes quite literally sick in the head with the possibility of being able to get Sirius killed. I don't think he was ever planned to be a villain, but if she had spent the same amount of time consistently making it clear what a piece of crap Snape is in The Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince as she did throughout the first four books, I think the character's turnabout would have been much more difficult to understand and accept. Well, who knows, the entirety of The Order of the Phoenix was "quite different" from the four proceeding books, for some reasons organic and others seemingly less so... Rowling got very serious with the story and squeezed so much into it, some of which just doesn't go anywhere. If she had his whole character planned out from the beginning, the way he's initially portrayed throughout those first four books just seems a bit at odds with how he's portrayed for the rest of the books and all the movies, and the coincidental timing of The Order of the Phoenix coming three years after the previous book and also after the first two movies doesn't help either.

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How I have existed fills me with horror. For I have failed in everything - spelling, arithmetic, riding, tennis, golf; dancing, singing, acting; wife, mistress, whore, friend. Even cooking. And I do not excuse myself with the usual escape of 'not trying'. I tried with all my heart.

In my dreams, I am not crippled. In my dreams, I dance.

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