MORIARTY Mini-Reviews!! THEY! 8 MILE! INTACTO! HARRY POTTER & THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS!!
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
There are a number of films I’ve seen recently that I just can’t work up entire reviews for. It’s not that they’re bad films or that they’re not worth seeing, per se, but that they just don’t feel like they demand lengthy discourse. Some are already open, and some are still about to open. At any rate, let’s do this fast:
Lemme see if I’ve got this straight. It was Sean Hood who wrote HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION for Dimension, and he co-wrote a film called THE DARKLINGS with Brendan William Hood, who just happens to be his brother, and who happened to write this week’s Dimension release THEY, right? I envision a childhood for these two filled with crappy horror films that got turned off every single time before they were over, because based on these two films, neither one of them is cursed with the burden of good taste, and neither one of them has any idea how the hell to end a movie.
Let’s make something perfectly clear: THEY is not a terrible movie the way HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION was. In fact, Robert Harmon and his cinematographer Rene Ohashi have created some striking widescreen imagery, and Laura Regan is getting some good experience as the scream queen du jour between this and MY LITTLE EYE. But THEY is cursed with a really magnificently shitty ending, the kind of ending that makes you hate a film, a non-ending that does nothing and concludes nothing and negates whatever fun you had with what you just saw. It’s the kind of ending that a creative executive should be fired over. How did this get filmed? How did this get tested over and over and still end like this? Was this always the ending in the script? Rod Serling, king daddy of all twist ending writers, sneezed endings better than this. This is so bad as a twist or a shock or a surprise or a whatever that it makes JEEPERS CREEPERS look like PSYCHO. If you’re willing to sit through a decent little genre exercise knowing that an ending like that is coming, THEY is the film for you.
The “Wes Craven Presents” that’s been slapped on the front of this feels particularly perfunctory this time. He’s not listed as any sort of producer. My guess is he never saw the film until they asked him if they could use his name. It’s a marketing tool, nothing more. I guess they needed to find something to use to sell it, since the film provides nothing you can really use. There’s a lot of vague talk about “night terrors.” There’s some well-managed atmosphere and mood as whipped up by Harmon. There’s creepy things that crawl along just at the edge of frame. But there’s nothing you can actually sell, because the movie never delivers anything. There are nods to classic horror iconography (the CAT PEOPLE homage is actually pretty effective as used here), and Ethan Embry, Marc Blucas and Dagmara Dominczyk all do their best with underwritten supporting roles, each of them essentially providing convenient reactions to pad things along to the next cocktease, the next near-set piece, the next Weinstein scare. A filmmaker who worked for Dimension once told me, contempt fairly dripping in his tone, that Bob Weinstein’s favorite scare in the world is “a fucking cat jumping out of something.” And if you look at Dimension’s output, you’ll see that sort of thing all over the movies. Horror... real horror... should get under our skin. It should disturb us after we’ve left the theater. It’s not about a momentary shock that we laugh off. At least... it’s not primarily about that. THEY has a kernel of something at its heart, a near-primal fear of the dark and the thing under the bed and the noise in the closet. The opening scene taps some of the basic dread of childhood that Spielberg mined so efficiently in POLTERGEIST, but what happens is so much more traumatic than the rest of the movie acknowledges. It’s a film full of notions, but without connections. If THEY was able to put it all together, it might have been an able little horror movie, but instead, it’s frustrating, and I can imagine only the most patient genre devotees being able to tolerate the film’s worst indulgences.
HARRY POTTER & THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
HARRY POTTER films are harder than they look, and I’ll say this for Chris Columbus... he has a much better handle on the overall task with this, his second time at bat, and his last as director for now. He’s gotten better at almost every technical aspect involved.
Oddly, it’s Steve Kloves who appears to have stumbled with this film, and part of the blame lies with the source material. CHAMBER OF SECRETS is probably the weakest overall POTTER book in terms of structure, and for a little while, Kloves appears to have figured out how to focus the film into a horror story above anything else. This is where the near-slavish adherance to what Rowlings wrote hurts them, though, because Kloves should have been free to really run with that concept. CHAMBER OF SECRETS works best when it’s playing dark. Harry, played with growing confidence by Daniel Radcliffe, is a little creepy this time out, and he wears it well. The other kids are growing up as well, and Tom Felton is going to grow into an absolutely ideal Draco Malfoy. He’s a perfect foil for Radcliffe, all sneer and snowy smugness, the exact opposite of Radcliffe’s rumpled charm. The cast is filled out nicely with new additions like Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle or Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart. The cinematography is handled by Roger Pratt this time, one of my heroes. This is the guy who shot BRAZIL and THE FISHER KING, who shot THE END OF THE AFFAIR and SHADOWLANDS and 12 MONKEYS. This guy’s work is exceptional, and sure enough, I infinitely prefer the look of this film to the look of the first film. Credit must also go to ILM, whose Quidditch sequence represents a quantum leap from last year’s take on the same event from Sony Imageworks. Of course, Columbus has more experience shooting Quidditch now, so some of the jump in quality should be attributed to how much more polished he’s become.
Maybe, in the end, too polished for his own good. The ending of this film is rushed, packed with exposition that doesn’t really tie into the film we’ve seen before it, and it doesn’t really play fair with its audience. If you haven’t seen it, skip to my next review, because I want to bring up some things about the film’s conclusion...
Okay... if Ginny Weasley is the one who started all this, then why did Kloves and Columbus choose to essentially eliminate her from the rest of the movie. The book did a great job of dropping enough clues for you to piece things together, important when you have this sort of a mystery at the heart of your film.
But, no. Ginny’s a nonentity, barely introduced in her first scene at the house. And the mystery of Tom Riddle’s whole name isn’t introduced until it’s time to solve it. It’s lazy screenwriting, and it depends upon a familiarity with the books to fill in the gaps. It irritates because these are essentially very good films. I think Columbus has performed above and beyond in very difficult artistic circumstances. These films are Important Product to Warner Bros., the cornerstones of a franchise that they may not realistically know how to do yet, but that they are on track for thanks to these first two movies. Is there room for improvement? Sure. THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN is a smashing good yarn, and it’s up to Kloves to find the pulse of the thing and make it really live and breathe. If they do this next movie right, they’re going to really put the audience through the wringer. I’d rather this film be the interesting warm-up that it is than see the next film stumble.
If nothing else, INTACTO is a promising debut for director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. I must admit... I’m a bit puzzled by the early word comparing this film to MEMENTO. Aside from vaguely similar titles, there’s really nothing that would stylistically bind the two. INTACTO is told in linear fashion, although elliptically. If I’d compare it to anyone’s work, it would be that of Atom Egoyan, who makes such great, devastating time bombs, movies that really don’t sink in on first viewing. INTACTO wants to be that kind of film. It wants to linger. It wants to give you pause later as you contemplate the levels of meaning. And that’s certainly a noble ambition. I’m just not sure the film has what it takes to deliver on such high goals.
The film begins with a strange game of Russian roulette in the back rooms of a casino that seems to exist on the edge of a crater somewhere. It’s an ethereal setting, and right away, the film is a visual stunner. Max Von Sydow plays one of the two combatants. He fills a revolver so only one chamber is empty, and then he and his opponent face off. At the end of the scene, we’ve been shocked. We’ve seen details like the survivor’s tattoo on Von Sydow’s left arm. But we have no idea where things are going, or what’s happening.
It’s such an odd concept for a film that even the most attentive viewer is going to need a while before they really piece it together. Basically, there are these people who are like luck vampires. If they encounter someone on a lucky streak, they touch them and they absorb their luck, drain them of it. There’s an underground of kinky games of chance, and a few of them are memorable, with a blindfolded chase through a heavy woods being a particular standout. There’s a strange dreamlike quality to the narrative that left me distanced, though, so I was admiring individual moments rather than the film as a whole.
There’s a little bit of UNBREAKABLE in this premise, too. Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is the sole survivor of a nightmarish plane crash, and the fact that he walked away without a scratch is what brings him to the attention of Federico (Eusebio Poncela). Federico is looking for someone, a battery, who he can drain at just the right moment so that he can finally face down and defeat The God of Chance, the character we saw in that opening scene. Von Sydow plays Sam as the ultimate survivor. Yes, he made it out of a German concentration camp in WWII. There’s more to it than that, though. Finally, there’s a woman, Sara (Monica Lopez), who is tracking down Federico and Tomas, who forms the final point in the strange square dance that makes up the majority of the film.
There’s no escaping the fact that this is a first film. It suggests a very promising future for Fresnadillo, but as a film by itself, it’s not ultimately a satisfying experience. I am glad I saw INTACTO so that I know to keep an eye on this filmmaker, but I don’t know that I can recommend it as something you need to search out in the overcrowded weeks ahead. Not with ADAPTATION and NARC and ABOUT SCHMIDT and more rolling in. Lions Gate has had some real winners so far this year, but INTACTO is a minor gem at best, a solid double in a season full of home runs.
I’ll say this about the Eminem vehicle 8 MILE. It’s directed with a willfull integrity by Curtis Hanson, and it works on the level it aspires to. It’s a small-scale success story, a rapping ROCKY, and it works in large part because of the screen charisma of its lead.
Having said that, there’s really not much here. It’s a slight film, and what pleasures there are come primarily from how hard Hanson has worked with screenwriter Scott Silver and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (FRIDA, THE 25th HOUR, AMORES PERROS, RICKY 6) have all worked to give us a credible world in which to set the oft-told story of an angry young man trying to find his voice. I don’t know that I’ll really ever buy Eminem in other roles, but he knows how to play Jimmy “Rabbit” Smith. He smolders convincingly, and when he explodes, I buy it. I liked the fact that Kim Basinger finally let her natural southern twang fly free as Jimmy’s white-trash mom. I’d also like to take a moment to say that if that’s really Kim in her first moment onscreen and not an ass double, then I want to redouble my ovation. The film’s filled with eye candy, with Brittany Murphy playing Alex, an ambitious little hottieburger who wants to model the way Jimmy wants to rap. She’s willing to do anything to put her portfolio together, teaching Rabbit a hard lesson halfway through the film. One could make the case that 8 MILE treats its women badly, and you certainly wouldn’t be wrong. Then again, I don’t see anyone else being treated especially well. One of Eminem’s friends shoots himself in the dick. Another turns out to a be a duplicitous hustler. Even his closest friend doesn’t seem to understand him as the film ends. It’s not exactly a movie about winners.
Most of the people I’ve talked to about the movie want to talk about the last battle in the film, and it’s obvious why that’s the case. Hanson and his editors (Craig Kitson and Jay Rabinowitz) and Prieto have all worked a sort of magic here. I’m reminded of the way the musical numbers just sort of erupted in Alan Parker’s FAME. They shouldn’t have worked, but they were grounded so firmly in the world that Parker created that they made sense. They were emotionally right. The structure of 8 MILE is so blindingly obvious that it shouldn’t work. We should be irritated by how apparent it is from the opening scene that the film is going to have to end with a battle, and Eminem is going to have to win. What else is going to happen when you open the film with him choking, freezing up onstage, unable to even compete? Yet, despite the obvious nature of the ending, it works, and it works because Eminem doesn’t just win the battle... he decimates the guys he faces. It’s a glimpse at exactly what it is that sets the real Eminem apart, and it’s quite revealing.
So often, people get hung up on Eminem’s lyrics on his albums, and if you’re remotely sensitive, I can see why he might make you jumpy. He uses shock imagery to get your attention, and he wallows in excess. He also happens to be an incredible stylist in his own right. He has an innate sense of timing and phrasing that manages to be both comic and menacing, depending on how he wields it. Within the context of this film, you see him build to the routine that he uses to destroy his opponents, members of a crew called The Free World. They serve him a beatdown the day before the battle, and they come at him on a personal level when they rap against him. In each of the rounds, though, Rabbit deflects the attacks. In the last round, he is picked to go first, which puts him on the offensive, leaving it up to the Free World to rip him apart in rebuttal. Rabbit knows how much ammunition they have to work with. Because you’ve seen everything that’s come before, it connects with an almost electrical charge when he unloads on his rival:
”This guy aint a motherfuckin' emcee/I know everything he's 'bout to say against me/I AM white, I AM a fuckin bum/I DO live in a trailer with my mom/My boy Future is an Uncle Tom/I do got a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob/Who shoots himself in his leg with his own gun/I did get jumped/By all 6 of you chumps/And Wink did fuck my girl/I'm still standin' here screamin "Fuck the Free World!"/Don't ever try to judge me, dude/You don't know what the fuck I been through/But I know something about you/You went to Cranbrook, that's a private school/What's a matter dawg?/You embarrased? This guy's a gangsta?/His real name's Clarence/And Clarence lives at home with both parents/And Clarence’s parents have a real good marriage/This guy doesn't want to battle, he's shook/’Cuz ain't no such things as half way crooks/He's scared to death/He's scared to look in his fuckin' yearbook/Fuck Cranbrook!/Fuck the beat, I'll go acapella/Fuck a Papa Doc/Fuck a glock/Fuck a trailer/Fuck everybody/Fuck ya'll if you doubt me/I'm a piece of fuckin' white trash/I'll say it proudly/Fuck this battle, I don't wanna win/I'm outee”
And as he passes the mic to a stunned, chastened Papa Doc, he practically spits out:
”Here, tell these people something they don't know about me!”
It’s a great moment. It’s a moment that makes the whole rest of the film worth sitting through. It’s a totally shameless ending, and it doesn’t matter. Everybody brought their A-game to this one, and in that great final beat, they all pay off on the investment by Universal and Imagine. This isn’t an Oscar contender. It’s not even a great film. But it’s got a great sense of self, and it does what it promises. You can’t really ask any more.
So with that, I’m out of here, too, and I’ll be back tomorrow with that Michael Caine interview, and I’m working on two huge DVD columns for the rest of the week. Loads of good stuff to come. See you soon.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Nov. 26, 2002, 11:03 a.m. CST
Cannot wait to read you review.
Nov. 26, 2002, 11:43 a.m. CST
Moriarty you rock. I think your critical reviews are much more blanced and intelligent without having to resort to some sort of deviant sex act in order to make a point. You are able to clearly articulate why a film is good or bad, essentially finding specifics rather than generality. Take over the site. Plan a coup already. You have earned it.
Nov. 26, 2002, 12:17 p.m. CST
SPOILERS. While Ginny Weasley was very underused (making her into more or less into the token victim rather than an actual character we might care more about), which was perhaps a weakness, I really don't think that fact hurt the movie at all. In fact, I'm actually glad that Columbus kept himself restrained and didn't show his hand until the very end, as anything more might have let us in on the secret too early, leaving us to wait impatiently until the Potter clan figures it out for themselves. Tip your hand too early, and the audience spells everything out for you before you get there - Ginny's gonna be the victim, Tom Riddle's name is a hint that he's actually Voldemort, the chamber is in the bathroom, etc. Screenwriters who seem to make a habit of tipping you off as to where they're going always annoy the hell out of me - I'd rather that foreshadowing in this kind of mystery be left more in the hands of the director, through the use of an established tone, or where he subtly directs your attention. Any mulling about "Tom Riddle... Tom Riddle..." would have made it obvious - oh, hey wait a minute, there's a t, o, m, r, etc, in that name, I'll bet it spells something with Voldemort in it! A riddle, very clever, ha, now let's wait until Harry figures it out. Instead, Columbus waited to let Tom explain it - and you know that the very instant he starts putting letters in the air, the audience knows the punchline. For being a "children's movie", Chambers did a better job of not speaking down to the audience than the vast majority of blockbusters I've seen in recent years. Personally, I thought this movie exceeded in every respect where the original fell flat. The first movie felt long, it trudged through material ploddingly. Chambers, despite being nearly 3 hours, absolutely flew by because the pacing was better, the action was scarier, and the mystery was genuinely enthralling. If Azkaban can keep up the pace with a new director and Radcliffe realizes he's got a cash cow right now and he would have a better career if he DOESN'T jump ship before the 4th movie (I'd give a better shot at his two co-stars having a successful career post-Potter), this series may be well on its way to making some serious history.
Nov. 26, 2002, 1:53 p.m. CST
Its not the films fault its just that the source material is entirely naff. For Gods sakes, as Harry Knowles pointed out in his Patricia Highsmith bit , there are better books out there to make films of. Just one example of what pisses me off about Harry Potter is The Dursleys(?). Is it just me or is the way they treat Harry, the way he lets himself be treated and the way everybody else lets him be treated , only something that would exist in a Roald Dahl type world. Fine but for 90% the feckin books it is standard boys own adventure type dross and the weird existence with his adopted parents doesn't fit at all. Its lazy trite bollocks the whole exercise and I'll bet that Rowling gets found out as she progresses these books. Books to film please : David Gemmells Jon Shannow books (any of em), Terry Pratchett( any of em including Good Omens),HitchHikers Guide, Any Phillip Pullman book. Ta.
Nov. 26, 2002, 6:36 p.m. CST
...and so are good characters, but this Potter flick just grated on me as much as I loved it. Sure they had a series of complex riddles that made sense in hindsight and are entertaining for the next viewing, but too much of the movie in the MOMENT is drenched in Deus Aux Machina (God in The Machine - pardon the spelling). SUDDENLY THE ANSWER APPEARS AND NOW ITS SUPPOSED TO MAKE SENSE. I DOUBT THE AUDIANCE THIS MOVIE WAS MADE FOR COULD FOLLOW THE MYSTERY AND WAS JUST CONTENT TO FOLLOW ALONG UNTIL THE NEXT BULLSHIT GAME OF QUIBBAGE! *ah - that felt good* For example, Wes and Harry are about to meet their doom at the hands of the spiders in the cave and POOF along comes the car and saves them. How the fuck did the car know where to go? How is it these kids can't be found sneaking around on the school prenmisis but the car that was on death's door 45mins ago can find them off campus? Little things like that just use up the good will of many of us. The Movie was great but they should've called it HARRY POTTER AND THE TEDIOUS SCOOBY-DOO STYLE MYSTERY!
Nov. 26, 2002, 7:17 p.m. CST
nice reviewing moriarty, keep it simple. thats all for now, carry on.
Nov. 26, 2002, 7:34 p.m. CST
by midnight fairy
I absolutely loved this film. I would've watched it just for that one shot of Eminem's ass. Hehe, just kidding. Anyway, great film...great directing, very well done. And Eminem was fantastic. The film is so well done...I was completely drawn in to it; at no point during the film did I feel like I was sitting through a movie. I was right there, watching life in the Detroit ghetto. I kinda had to "snap back to reality" once the credits started rolling. And of course Em's freestyling is pure fun. Midnight Fairy's review: Wonderful movie. I loved it.
Nov. 26, 2002, 7:37 p.m. CST
Poppycock. What "circumstances" are these? Rowling's involvement? Phuey. The very fact that that nit-picking litigating old bag doesn't have the sense to leave the films in the hands of FILM-MAKERS and insists on "meticulously overseeing the production" (not my quote - her money printers, er I mean "publishers") says everything that needs to be said about these Potter so-called movies ("visual equivalents of audio-books" would be a better description, but not as snappy). But far from making for difficult circumstances, it makes the director's job easier, because he/she (nothing says the next one has to be a man) needn't put any effort into making the film, he/she can just stick slavishly to the source material and blame that when it all goes wrong. (Hmmm - slavishly and effortlessly copying something that has gone before.... sounds familiar.... seems to me that Harry should be proclaiming in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS that the Potter books don't need to be REMADE as movies in the first place!). I see no-one else has yet done so, so let me be the first to point out that Peter Jackson (Ok guys/gals, get the groaning and sighing over with... done now? Good) had a far harder time of it - he took all responsibility for realising Tolkien on screen on his own shoulders (and those of his associates) and the Tolkien estate was deliberately kept at arms length (even further than that in fact). Yet what he has produced under far greater pressure than Columbus - albeit mostly self induced - is technically and artistically superior to the Potter mush. The miracle being of course that it achieves this whilst deliberately deviating from the letter of Tolkien on many points, yet as a result ends up _feeling_ far more faithful than it is. More Tolkien than Tolkien, if you like.
Nov. 26, 2002, 8:46 p.m. CST
Nov. 26, 2002, 10:15 p.m. CST
I don't think I'm alone when I say I'm impressed how much the very busy Moriarty has managed to contribute to the site lately. I hope his screenplay isn't suffering, as a result. Good work, Moriarty. Everyone else, feel free to attack me for saying something nice: "Plant!"
Nov. 26, 2002, 10:20 p.m. CST
The begins-with-"I" movie you've heard compared to MEMENTO is Gaspar Noe's IRREVERSIBLE. Check out my report from TIFF if you need a refresher.
Nov. 26, 2002, 11:18 p.m. CST
just say so. I used to like the music, but it's way too pop, it's everywhere and now I can't help but hate it. He essentially cheated in the last battle, anyway, though a nice way to end, if not very interesting....
Nov. 27, 2002, 12:09 a.m. CST
Not quite. It's so goddamn tiresome when people read Harry Potter reviews and have nothing better to post than "PJ should be promoted to God," or "HP sux compared to LOTR," or "there are two types of people: those who "get" LOTR and those who don't." Somebody please find MeatCleaverMojo and tell him that he has work to do. Look, I'll say without hesitation that the Fellowship of the Ring was clearly superior to either of the first two Harry Potter films (and yes, they are films, not soulless cash cows), and yes, it was a great movie-going experience, but what, exactly, do you stand to gain from declaring any of this information? I don't think many people who visit this website actually do think that the Harry Potter books or movies are better than Tolkien's world, probably a good percentage that don't care for the Potter movies at all; however, it's quite remarkable how most of them don't feel the need to express that opinion whenever an opportunity arises. By publicly shunning the inferior "hackjob,", does that make you more erudite; and does being erudite make you an overall better person than those who don't go out of their way to compare the two? And if you are so much more important than everyone else, then what the hell are you doing trolling a Harry Potter talkback? Maybe you're frustrated that 'your' book goes unappreciated while tripe like Harry Potter flies off the shelves. Well, you can get over your misery, because at least you can "appreciate" the depth of Tolkien's works. First of all, that's quite an exaggeration of LOTR's diminished poularity. It still is, and will be, hugely successful. Also, if you truly think that people in general are of disappointing character because they have yet to be enriched by "The Lord of the Rings," then you're the ones with ridiculous worldviews, and your realist stance on the human condition belies your love of an adventure/fantasy. Maybe it won't be as widely embraced as you'd like, but as long as there are film clubs and English Lit, Tolkien's works will never go unappreciated. There. I've just gotten my groaning out of the way. Have you?
Nov. 27, 2002, 1:23 a.m. CST
Hehe, I always imagined a note like that attached to the end of the HP movies, just like the Bond movies. I have to say, the first two Potter movies were, to my surprise, very watchable. I have now read the books, and with this new director, I can easily say that the next movies are not going to just be the good cinema we have already seen. They are going to be downright classic, must-see cinema.
Nov. 27, 2002, 2:45 a.m. CST
by Darth Siskel III
My favorite part of Potter2 was Dobby. God Bless that little bastard. I hope he's in the next movie.
Nov. 27, 2002, 3:14 a.m. CST
I didn't post merely to state that "PJ was God blah-blah". The Moriarty "review" offered the view that Chris Columbus has difficult artistic circumstances to work in. I went to some length to explain why I thought this was in fact not the case and merely provided Lord of the Rings as an example of how good product CAN come out of difficult artistic circumstances where they do genuinely exist. In other words "Oh it was tough <whine>" is not a valid excuse for producing bad movies. I'm sure there are lots of other examples too, but given the genre similarity and the fact that both films are adaptations of well and widely loved books it is inevitable and most appropriate that Potter should invite comparison to LotR. But that WASN'T the ultimate point of my comment. Go back and read the whole thing instead of pedantically picking out that one aspect of it and you might understand.
Nov. 27, 2002, 7:29 a.m. CST
by Spam Gamgee
Nope, but he'll be in the fourth one, Goblet of Fire
Nov. 27, 2002, 8:19 a.m. CST
I wouldn't say the Potter films are very good movies... I'd say they're decent enough. But knowing what was expected from them; that's a disapointment. This latest Potter film was better in most ways than the first film. They fixed the underlying boredom and emotionless core that haunted the first. This one does actually have some excitement, urgency, and intensity to it. Unfortunately it fails on other levels. For me, the problem with this latest Potter flick were all the holes. I'm guessing Columbus ran into the problem Jackson did with Rings. The second book is much larger than the first. To keep the film at an acceptable time frame, he had to cut some things. Unlike Jackson and his staff of writers, Columbus didn't rewrite scenes to incorporate more of the story into the film. There's really know adaptation here. It seems the problem with this second film lies more with the scriptwriter than the director himself. He left these great building, developing, transitioning moments that Rowling uses throughout the story out on the cutting room floor, leaving it up to his builtin audience of readers to fill in the blanks for themselves. Unfortunately, I don't know about you guys, but when I go see a film, I like to see a complete, comprehensable film that flows from beginning to end. I don't like gaps in story telling. I like things being developed, moments being built, and these moments being delivered, and then getting hit with reactions and the results of these reactions. I mean, I've read the books, every one of them to print to date, but when I go into a film all that goes out the door because no matter how faithful or unfaithful a movie is to a book, it's still a different story teller, you're going to be left with a different telling. Chamber of Secrets fails to deliver on so many ways. Primarily, it's the things left out... But I also came to realize something else at the end of my viewing of the film... Some things just aren't filmable. The ending to this second story (more so in the film because of the lack of development and gaps in storyline) is insanely convenient and outright silly, I was left feeling more a dislike for the movie than it actually probably deserve. If we are to look at a movie just on the merits of a movie, and as the old saying goes, "an ending can make or break a movie," then Potter should never walk again. I'm not certain how, but the book didn't seem halfway near this contrived... Maybe this is the time where a director (and/or writer) should take some artistic license and try to come up with the same result but in a different, more acceptable fashion. In any event, that's my take... Do what you will with it. And sorry about the grammer, I'm in a hurry. My server's going down.
Nov. 27, 2002, 12:31 p.m. CST
No shit. And not because JKR is meddling or similar nonsense (although we should be glad that she has some control, otherwise we'd be watching some shitfest with Spielberg and Haley Joel Osment). These movies are incredibly difficult to film simply because the books are SO FUCKING COMPLICATED. You have a ton of characters, the plot of each individual movie plus the overarching story of Harry finding more about his history and what really happened to his parents. Not to mention that seemingly unimportant characters and events often turn out to be crucial later on. And people DEMAND that these movies not deviate too much from the books - these are some of the most widely read books of all time, not like LoTR where people may have read the books decades ago and don't really remember the details. The critics may complain that the movies are too similar to the books, but the general public complains because they're missing too much. To be honest, I think these books are harder to adapt than LoTR - much of the character of the HP books comes from the insane amount of detail, subplot, and rich supporting characters that are simply IMPOSSIBLE to put into a film. Do I wish the HP movies were better? Sure. But I realize that it's probably virtually impossible to make them much better than they have been so far (although I have my hopes up for 3 and 4).
Nov. 27, 2002, 10:34 p.m. CST
I just watched Memento and Proof back to back....so, if I close my eyes....
Nov. 28, 2002, 12:59 a.m. CST
I completely understand why you initially brought up Harry Potter in your post. Your reference to the fact that the Harry Potter books don't need to be remade at all, since they're in essence remaking another series, is what got me thinking about HP trolls. I never said that you called PJ God, but I was just covering my bases. This might've been the wrong thread to bring it up, but all that stuff has gone on (with frequency) in other talkbacks. The snide remark to Rowling's inferiority and lack of creativity just got me irked. So I'm sorry if I offended you, going over your post I realized that I was a little harsh in reply to your statement, but my complaints still apply to other people.
Nov. 28, 2002, 1:31 a.m. CST
Almost everyone on this site can get pedantic when they have too much time on their hands, including you, Mr.CGI-Eyelines. It's just something I felt needed to be said.
Nov. 28, 2002, 6:03 a.m. CST
I loved it and though that it improved upon the novel in many ways. Yet, Moriarty is right in the points he mentions and I was wishing they had made more of Harry's relationship with Ginny and hint at what will come later in 'Prisoner' and 'Goblet'. As for working out the Tom Riddle anagram - well - you would have to leave your brain at home not to get it. Otherwise, this kicked Philosopher's Stone into touch. My six-year-old daughter found it enthralling and didn't blink for it's entire duration and never went to the toilet once (twice during FotR). Trying to see it through HER eyes, I can understand how reviewers have compared it to 'Empire Strikes Back' because this was one scary movie that was chock-full of the Dark Side. BRING ON ALPHONSO CUARON !!!!
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