Friday, November 19, 2010

Midnight Memoires (A Harry Potter Review)


Travel back in time with me, if you will, back to November in the year 2002 when the world was eagerly waiting with breathless anticipation the arrival of the first very Harry Potter movie. It was a Thursday night, the night before the premiere, our tickets for a Friday night show had already been purchased and I was already bouncing with excitement.

Then, at 8 o'clock, the phone rang.

It was my sister, B. She was calling to tell me that a theater down her way was doing a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

"So we can see it at midnight?" I asked. "As in four hours from now?"

She confirmed this was so. I said then, "I'll be there in an hour."

And thus, a tradition was born.

I found out last night that B hadn't really anticipated me wanting to drive down to watch the movie at midnight for which we already had tickets (purchased a good two weeks in advance) for another day (Silly B.). Joe didn't really get it either. "What about the tickets you've already bought?" he asked. "What are you going to do with them?"

"Uh," I said as though the answer were perfectly obvious. "Go again? Duh."

And so we did.

When the first movie opened, we were able to walk right into the uncrowded theater at 10pm and purchase tickets for a show two hours later. We went to Denny's afterward to kill time and walked into the showing about a half hour before it actually started. There was no problem finding good seats because there wasn't that many people there.

What I love about a midnight showing is that you know you're surrounded by die hard fans and they're all just as excited as you are to see what's about to unfold. And when the first Quidditch scene in the first movie came to a close, everyone cheered. There's an awesome kind of energy that comes along with a midnight show that just can't be duplicated.

Until you go to another midnight show.

As the years progressed and other Harry Potter films were released, I was at the midnight opening for all of them. We started having to buy our tickets earlier and earlier (thank goodness they started selling them online. Saved me a two hour trip) and starting having to show up at the theater earlier and earlier in order to get a decent seat. My group thought I was insane to insist that we arrive at the theater two hours early for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix but they came to see the brilliance of my mania.

B managed to hold me off until 9:30pm the night Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opened but when we got to the theater that night, the line was already out the door and wrapping around the building. B looked at me and said, "I am not waiting in that line." Fortunately, my ticket buying mania paid off and we were allowed to bypass the line, go directly to go and claim our seats in a theater that was already half full. At 9:30pm.

I think it was then that B realized just how damn early I'd want to get there for the next one. To her credit, she still came along.

The next one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One), was last night. My friend, Kim, arrived first at 7pm and got in line. About ten minutes later, the line was out the door. B was working and so she and I didn't get there until 8:45 when the line was starting to work its way around the side of the building. It was summer when Half Blood Prince opened but last night was a cold New England November night and once again B looked at me and said, "I am not waiting in that line."

But thanks to Kim, and Kim's professor who ended class early, we didn't have to wait. Outside anyway. We went inside and squeezed into the space Kim had managed to snatch away from the total Mean Girls who cut line in front of her before our arrival. Seriously, I thought Kim and the Mean Girls were going to get into a fist fight at one point. We had the last laugh though when we were allowed to get into our theater just before 10pm and the Mean Girls were forced to wait and watch us go.

Oh snap. That's right, girls. Karma's a bitch and she does not approve of line cutters.

So now we arrive at the part where I actually review the latest Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie. If you know me at all, you know that it's going to be a rave. You just know that I'm going to love it because I have loved them all. I think I may be the only person on the face of the earth who loved Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fight at the ministry is so flipping awesome. I could just watch it over and over again. And frequently do).

I watched the majority of this movie with my hands over my mouth as I watched, very intensely, Harry, Ron and Hermione battle their way through everything. It's not like I didn't know where the story was headed and that the three of them would be all right because, you know, I've read the book so many times that I'd have to be barefoot in order to count them all. But the action was so damn good. And the quiet parts (and there are a lot in this book) were so damn good.

And plus, did I mention that it's funny? I have to go watch the movie a second time (Saturday afternoon) just so I can hear all the parts I missed the first time because I was laughing so hard.

Now let's talk about what gets cut and/or changed. I'm not going to go into any great detail on this part because I know there are people out there who have not yet seen the film and I don't want to ruin anything for them. So, I'll just say that yes, some changes have been made. Some things have been cut out. I'd like to go on record as saying that I have no problems with any of the cuts, except for maybe one. Well, make that two. I'll tell you about them later if you're interested. The screenwriter, Steve Kloves, makes changes that are smart (especially one involving Hedwig). There's a scene involving Hermione, right at the beginning, that breaks my heart but I absolutely loved its inclusion.

You also have to be careful not to miss the animated section where Hermione reads the tale of the three brothers because it's so damn beautiful. Seriously, kudos to the animators.

These three kids have come a long way from the first movie. They're really great actors, all of them. They've learned to really know how to turn a phrase and make it funny or devastating, whatever the situation calls for. Those quiet moments I mentioned earlier? The reason they work so well is because Daniel Radcliff and Emma Watson say so much without having to say a single damn word. They were adorable in the first movie and I think they're bloody fantastic now.

The casting of these movies has not missed a single beat. Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) joins the cast as Rufus Scrimgeour and although his appearance in the film is tragically short (I've always been sad that he never showed up in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), he nails it. Rhys Ifans (the freaky roommate from Notting Hill) is great as Luna Lovegood's father, Xenophilius. And I know that he's been playing this role for a few movies now, but Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort? Genius.

My only complaints about this film is that (1) it's too damn short (Yeah, I know it's a two and a half hour movie but I would have loved it to have been twice that long) and (2) I have to wait until July to watch the second half. The Battle Of Hogwarts is going to be bloody brilliant.

Do you think it's too early to get in line?

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