Last December, after working at Warner Bros. for well over a year I decided it was time to give in and watch the HARRY POTTER films that more or less put food on my table. Having acquired the Blu-rayTM boxset, I started watching the films in order. Having just seen the final film in the series HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2 last night, I've decided to revisit my recaps.
First up was HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE which introduced us to Harry, his family and his friends (and enemies) at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I consider this the "pilot" for the series since it seems to set up the basic premise of Harry vs. Lord Voldemort which I expect will carry through the rest of the series. The film moves along pretty well, though the overly long Quidditch sequence begins to feel like I'm watching a video game. What I do like about the films (so far) is that even though they take place in "current day" they have a timeless feeling about them. There are very little references to the outside world: no product placement, nobody uses a cell phone, etc. I also like seeing some of my favorite British actors taking home a paycheck. Maggie Smith, the late Richard Harris, John Hurt, Robbie Coltrane, John Cleese, Alan Rickman and Julie Walters just to name a few.
The second film, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS or THE SNAKE IN THE TOILET picks up a year later and revisits some themes introduced in the first film while layering a whole new batch of subplots and characters that I expect will be built upon further in the series. The great Kenneth Branagh is a welcome addition to the cast in a comic role. So far my only real complaint about the films is the running times. Jeez - how do little kids stay put for two and a half hours? I can't imagine that they understand everything that is happening on screen since the plots are almost as labyrinthine as the production design, which is gorgeous. I can't help wonder what Disney would have done differently if they hadn't passed on the rights to the series. Two down...5 to go.