Oh Oh It’s Magic! PT7 um PT 1 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, 2010)

225278id1g_HP7_27x40_1Sheet.inddFinding the world becoming more and more dangerous, Harry and his friends leave behind the muggle world.  We see them saying their goodbyes, or in the case of Hermione, tragically causing her non-magical parents to forget she even exists. Several members of the Order of the Phoenix arrive at the now empty Dursley residence for Harry. To protect him, several of the members take the polyjuice potion to assume the likeness of Harry, creating multiple Harrys.

There is an attack by Voldemort and his Death Eaters, but with one exception, all arrive safely at the Weasleys.  There is a wedding for oldest Weasley Percy and Fleur.  The head of the Ministry of Magic arrives to deliver Dumbledore’s last will and testament.  He leaves a gift for Harry, one for Hermione and one for Ron. Harry receives the Golden Snitch he caught in the first film.  Ron receives Dumbledore’s De-lluminator (last seen in the first film)and Hermione is given a storybook.

At the wedding, there is an announcement from the Ministry that it has fallen into the hands of Voldemort.  Harry, Hermione, and Ron flee together. Rather than return to Hogwarts, the three dedicate themselves to tracking down and destroying the remaining Horacruxes. As the Half-Blood Prince explained, these are objects in which a wizard has put a portion of their soul. This involves murder, making it an especially heinous form of magic.  Only by destroying these objects can Voldemort be truly vulnerable.

The Deathly Hallows kicked off a trend in movies adapted from book series.  When it was announced that they were going to split the film into two parts, some felt it was merely a cash grab.  And while I won’t disagree that there was surely an element of that from the studio, I also feel it would have seriously hampered the series to try and force the story into a single film.

There are some notable moments, for instance, there is a terrific animated sequence that tells the story of the “Deathly Hallows”.  Radcliff and Watson are really quite good in this film.  And yet, Part one struggles a bit as an independent film.  It is rather slow at points, focusing on the bleak and hopeless tone.  It is, at times, incredibly oppressive. And while it ends with a somewhat exciting escape, it still is kind of hard to enjoy the film on its own.    But more on this in Part 2.

The Ah-Mahzing Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man, 2012)

spider-man-amazing-movie-posterAfter Spider-Man 3 had it’s tepid response, Sony tried to cover it’s butt.  They had Raimi developing a fourth Spider-Man film…and 500 Days of Summer Director Marc Webb (the humor there was not lost on anybody) was developing another Spider-Film.  Sony decided to go with Marc Webb’s version and dumped the entire Raimi version.  Webb promised this would not be a reboot, even though it would have an entirely new cast.  In the end, we definitely got a reboot.

And the film has a focus that Raimi’s series never thought of.  Peter is really upset about his parents disappearing.  There is a big conspiracy based subplot where Richard Parker was actually involved with  the experiments that result in Peter getting bit by the spider.  And instead of the spider being some random research lab, Peter is bitten at Oscorp.  On the other hand, it is nice to see this film not seeing how many villains that they can pack in.  Instead, we are offered one new villain.  And he was not featured in Raimi’s trilogy.  He was set up, as Rhys Ifans is playing Doctor Curt Conners, who was played by Dylan Baker in the previous set of films.  But we never met his alter-ego the lizard.  And they make Peter part of his creation, because Everything Must Be Tied Together.

Really, there is plenty to like here.  Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield have a wonderful chemistry.  They were dating at the time, but that is never a guarantee of onscreen chemistry.  Emma is great in the role of Gwen Stacy, while Denis Leary is her Police Chief father.  Leary brings his working class everyman persona to the role and it is quite effective here.  Sally Field and Martin Sheen make for a fine Aunt May and Uncle Ben.  Andrew Garfield is likeable, and his Spider-Man is a wise cracker…but..Peter is excessively morose.  He is constantly in a state of passive rage.  And while there is comic book precedence for this in the early years, it feels out of place here.

Uncle Ben’s death seems…lacking.  Peter storms out after an argument.  Peter does not prevent a robbery at a convenience store, but it does not seem as effective as the comics version or Raimi’s first Spider-Man.  Peter’s darkness, especially in relationship to his missing father (and it is really his father, Peter seems to not feel the same emptiness in regards to his mother).  Peter has never been that haunted by the loss of his parents, he saw Aunt May and Uncle Ben as his parental figures.

One the biggest holes is…there is no J. Jonah Jameson.  And it makes the film feel not quite like a Spider-Man story.

The Peter and Gwen story is compelling and the relationship between Peter And Captain Stacy make for great tension.  At the same time, Peter makes a promise to Captain Stacy that he almost immediately breaks…and Peter is flat out unkind to Gwen in a moment where she really needs his support.  He of all people should understand her loss, and he is pretty much a jerk.

The whole conspiracy aspect feels unnecessary and worse, drags the film down, even though it hinges on the conspiracy to make sense.

The effects are good, and they have improved a lot since 2002. The Spider-Man models and the Lizard look great, and are very slick.  In the overall design, I appreciated the look of the new Spider-Man costume.  It is colorful and stays faithful to the traditional costume of the comics.

There is plenty to like, some things that improve on the last incarnation and yet…where it fails, it fails pretty big.  It is entertaining, but still does not reach…great.

 

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