Concluding a decade of Harry

We recently took advantage of a generous friend’s babysitting of the kids for the evening, and went to see a movie. Certainly not something we have done since Philippa was born, so it was a rare treat. Although, we chose to see a movie that was our habit to see for the last ten years – the latest Harry Potter flick. Watching the fantasy adventures of Harry and his friends has been a regular feature during much of my adult life. It is strange to think back on when we saw the first movie at the Rivoli Cinema One, when we saw a later one with Spanish subtitles in Europe, and how during all that time we got married, had two children, and had many adventures of our own.

After watching the final film, I had a strong urge to begin reading all the books again. I’ve now completed the first four books, and am eagerly looking forward to the final three.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

A satisfying conclusion to the eight film series

Over the course of eight films, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that they got better at adapting J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books. The first film tried too hard to contain the whole book rather than being a movie experience in its own right, perhaps to please the rabid fans, but disappointing the rest a little. The film-makers got better at leaving things out, to identifying the key plot points, and with the final two films, giving themselves twice as much movie time to fit the story into.

The movie of the first part of the Deathly Hallows was desolate and depressing, but thankfully its follow-up is perkier. That said, the actors playing the darker characters get more screen time than usual, and they really shine.

It was probably also an advantage for me to have read the Deathly Hallows book ages ago, allowing me to forget much of it. I understand that there were some inexplicable changes made for the film adaptation, but unless you are a rabid fan, it’s just minor stuff. All in all, I found it to be a very satisfying way to complete the series.

Rating by andrew: 4.0 stars

It was very interesting to re-read the first book again. When I read it originally, I found it a nice bit of fluff. It is a fun tale, but not particularly sophisticated, nor were the characters very deep. However, now that I’ve had the benefit of a whole saga’s worth of character development, the characters in the book read with a richness that J K Rowling didn’t actually write into it. As a result, it’s been a much more rewarding experience than I was expecting.

A child-free night out

Thanks to Uncle Ben’s kind offer to babysit, we were free to go see a movie (!). The most simple night out becomes something requiring planning and logistics, now that we are parents. However, we almost left it too late to see the latest Harry Potter film before it vanished from cinemas here.

As I’ve said before, we’re not the maddest of mad keen Potter fans, but we have seen every Harry Potter film at the cinema. In order to see the second one, we had to see it in Madrid. Luckily, it was a subtitled rather than a dubbed version!

If I was a mad keen fan, I probably wouldn’t have called it “the second one”, but all the titles blur together. Harry Potter and the Random Jumble of Words. So, this movie was the sixth one, and apparently there are two more to go.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Best realisation of the Harry Potter universe yet.

The sixth Harry Potter book is not the best one of the series, so the sixth movie is starting with a bit of a handicap. If I’m to be honest, it’s a handicap that it doesn’t completely overcome. But, plot aside, there are many other excellent aspects of this film, and I found myself really enjoying it.

The first thing is that the acting has come a long way from the beginning of the series. All the cast put on a good showing, and it is a delight to watch them realise the characters.

I also came away with the impression that the visual effects director was a genius. The special effects in the film (aside from the first couple of minutes in London) were appropriately done, effective, and rather artistic. The quidditch game in this film actually felt like a game that you could imagine people liking.

On the other hand, this is a dark episode in the the Harry Potter series, and is not one you would take small children to. A number of the scenes felt like they could have been lifted from a decent horror flick.

Don’t expect all of the book’s scenes to be present in the film. And don’t expect the book to be faithfully interpreted. If you are a mad keen fan, you probably won’t appreciate it. However, I think they’ve set things up well for the sequel (both of them).

My rating: 4.0 stars

Harry Potter launch

I wasn’t there for the iPhone launch, but I was there for the Harry Potter 7 launch! Kate and I pre-ordered our books at Dymocks, and went to the event held at the Collins St city store to pick them up. We’re probably not the maddest of mad keen Potter fans, but we do like a good spectacle.

We arrived at Flinders St station a little after 9am, and saw people already reading the book. Some of them were walking and reading, so keen were they to begin it! Many were carrying balloons, since Borders was supplying black balloons as part of their Harry shtick. Unfortunately, Dymocks was a little too good at sales fulfillment, and the queue had mostly disappeared by the time we got there at about 9.10am. However, the choir (!) was still singing, and there was a happy, festive atmosphere.

Needless to say, we bought two copies, rather than one of us having to wait for the other. But, we both finished the book (which has almost exactly the same number of pages as Harry 6) by the end of the weekend. It was fun, a little heavy on the exposition, but brought about a satisfying conclusion.