hymnia: (Sleeping Fairy)
My (belated) thoughts on the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2:

My brain has been thoroughly steeped in Harry Potter for a few weeks now, and that really hasn't been the case in a long, long time. Even when the last book came out four years ago, I was engaged and actively participating in fandom, but I wasn't exactly obsessed. But about a month ago I decided to re-read Deathly Hallows, in anticipation of the final film release, and after I had finished that, I started re-listening to the audiobooks, starting from the first book. I'm now on Order of the Phoenix, and when I started that book, I realized that I also wanted to start re-reading [profile] fernwithy's companion stories that begin with a story concurrent to OotP, so now I'm alternating between that and canon. (It suddenly occurs to me that I could have re-read Hermione, Queen of Witches and Ron Rants during the first four books. Missed opportunity—oops!) I've also been reading some Snape-related essays and fanfiction. And between all that, and, of course, going to Wizarding World and the new movie release with several fandom friends last week, I've been very much back in obsession mode.

Well, I've decided to take a break from all that consuming, fannishly speaking, and do a bit of producing. There will be no carefully organized film review here—just my thoughts, more or less off the top of my head. But before I start, I think it's important to recognize that different types of audience members—FREX, 1) fans of the books, 2) casual film-goers who haven't read the books (or maybe read them ages ago but haven't re-read, obsessed over, or particularly remembered what they read), and 3) critical film-goers who may be anywhere on the spectrum of familiarity with the books but have more concrete ideas about what makes a good effects-heavy action/adventure film—may have a hard time seeing things from the POV of the other group(s). Realistically, I can make guesses about what would or wouldn't make this film “good” for the other types of audience members; in the end, however, I can only really speak as a fan who knows these books very well, loves them very much, and is probably a bit less picky about how “cinematic” a film is as long as it's true to the books, especially in terms of characters and themes.

My overall reaction to DH part 2 is very close to my overall reaction to DH part 1, which is that I love it. It was lively, engaging, and it portrayed many of the great moments of the book with near accuracy, including word-for-word dialogue of some of the best lines. I have several quibbles and just a handful of major criticisms, but unlike most of the films prior to DH part 1, I feel that these issues are forgivable, because the overall package is very good.

Here Be Spoilers )

One of these days, I do want to go back and view the pre-DH films again, as most of them I haven't seen more than 2 or 3 times at most, and nearly all of them I haven't seen since they were in theaters. (Yeah, can you tell I haven't really been a big fan of the films? The odd thing is, there's only one, Prisoner of Azkaban, that I would say I really *dislike*. I just haven't liked them enough to sit down and re-watch them on DVD/TV.) Perhaps I'll find that I like them more now, or perhaps not. Either way, I would like to re-visit them and see how I feel, now that the franchise is complete.

Joie
hymnia: (Hotaru flies)
I just wanted to repost here a comment I made to [livejournal.com profile] spin1978 about anime-to-film adaptations. Of course, this line of thought flows partly from the general adaptation-fail (not just the racefail) of The Last Airbender, but it's largely inspired by an interesting point that Ebert--himself a fan of Hayao Miyazaki's anime films--brought up in his review of TLA. Here's the relevant quote:

The first fatal decision was to make a live-action film out of material that was born to be anime. The animation of the Nickelodeon TV series drew on the bright colors and "clear line" style of such masters as Miyazaki, and was a pleasure to observe. It's in the very nature of animation to make absurd visual sights more plausible.

Since "Airbender" involves the human manipulation of the forces of air, earth, water and fire, there is hardly an event that can be rendered plausibly in live action. That said, its special effects are atrocious. The first time the waterbender Katara summons a globe of water, which then splashes (offscreen) on her brother Sokka, he doesn't even get wet. Firebenders' flames don't seem to really burn, and so on.


I'm not sure if this is the sort of problem [livejournal.com profile] spin1978 had in mind when he made the offhand comment to me that "most [anime] would be better left as anime," but it's what I immediately thought of. So here is my response:

To me, that's kind of like saying since novels are almost always better than their respective film adaptations, they'd be "better left as books". I can't really fault people for wanting to try taking a good story and changing it from one medium to another. But changing media successfully is tough. Hollywood has had many years of practice at changing book-to-film, and so it has managed to eek out a fair number of successful adaptions (at the cost of a huge number of failures, of course). In recent years, it's also starting to get the hang of Western comics to film adaptations.

Manga/anime to film adaptations, though, it has very little practice with, so of course it's understandable to be skeptical that they can pull it off. I prefer to be a little more hopeful. I realize that one of the trickiest challenges they will face (if they're smart enough to realize it) is how to translate fantastical and even absurd images that are easier to believe in animated form into something realistic-looking enough for live-action. I can only begin to guess how that problem might be solved, but I think it's worth a try. They might consider borrowing the approach of some of the better Western comics to film adaptions like the Batman Begins/Dark Knight series, since those were dealing with essentially the same problem. How, for example, can you take a character like The Joker and put him in "real life" and make him seem realistic rather than cartoony? Well, you cast a good actor who can play a nuanced villain, and put him in makeup that looks like the amateur job a real psychotic criminal would put on himself, rather than what a professional Hollywood makeup artist would put on an actor.

I've heard that Tolkien didn't want his books to be made into live-action films, either, for essentially the same reason. Well, he died before the technology that made it possible even existed. But technology alone is not enough--a successful adaption has to balance respect for the source material with a willingness to make changes where needed to make the story appropriate to the new medium. That's something Peter Jackson and his team did very well. The films weren't perfect, of course, but they were very good--and hugely successful as a result. I'd say most of the Potter franchise came close enough to the right balance, too.

Anyway, I'm not going to rule out the possibility that Hollywood can make good film adaptations of popular anime. Between technology and a few smart decisions--like The Joker's makeup job--and, of course, sensible casting (which means, in the vast majority of cases, that they're going to have to start grooming good Asain-American actors instead of whitewashing stories that are clearly steeped in East Asian culture), I do think it's possible.


[livejournal.com profile] peachespig also brought up the problem of squeezing a large amount of story (20 epsidoes, in the case of TLA) into one feature-length film. This is, of course, also a problem with novel-to-film, and even MORE of a problem with Western comics-to-film. Again, I don't think this problem is insurmountable, and I think considering how much broader of an audience can be reached by live action films compared to anime (which has grown over the past 20 years from a niche market to a larger but still not-quite-mainstream market in the US), I really can't blame Hollywood for wanting to try.

Joie

ETA: io9 has posted a hilarious satirical review of TLA. It's the funniest thing I've seen all day:

Later in the film, Katara says my favorite line ever, "We need to show them that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in their beliefs." It's as if Shyamalan had a cue card that he was planning to turn into an actual bit of dialog, but he forgot. There's a lot of cue-card writing in this film, and it feels like Shyamalan is leaving things as sign-posty as possible, in order to make fun of the by-the-numbers storytelling in so many Hollywood epics. The master has come to school us all.
hymnia: (Default)
...that I have a newborn niece, as of about 5:00 AM this past Saturday. Sorry, it was kind of a strange weekend and I wasn't online much. Then the news broke on Facebook when my dad posted pics, and some of you got the news there. And in all that, I somehow forgot I still hadn't announced on LJ.

So yes, I'm an aunt for the second time, and now in addition to my nephew, there's also an adorable tiny lady that I can and will do my utmost to outfit with every cute purple thing I can find. :D

In other news, I saw Wolverine last Friday night. I thought the movie was good overall but was a bit disappointed in Gambit. The Gambit in my mind is more suave, more rugged, and a bit older* than Taylor Kitsch. Ah well.

*I know, my complaint that he's too young can be explained by the fact that it's a prequel. Also, Rogue is too young compared to the comics as well, so maybe if they pair them up in future movies WHICH THEY SHOULD, it would balance out better. So I'm more forgiving on that, BUT it does sort of add to the general impression that "that's not my Gambit".

Joie

Tribond!

May. 20th, 2007 09:45 pm
hymnia: (Default)
It's been a long time since I've posted a tribond question, but I had an idea for one last night that I had to share.

For those of you who have never played the game before, the goal is to find the common factor between three things.

Here's the question, complete with visual aids )

So...what do they have in common?

Also, you know those "100 Greatest [fill in the blank]" film lists? Well, this one that [livejournal.com profile] connielane pointed out is AWESOME.

Joie
hymnia: (Default)
7 weeks to go, guys. :D

Some recommended reading: The Premature Prediction ~ A very interesting prediction about how the end of Book 7 might go down, with some thoughts on the origin of Lord Voldemort and the nature of the connection between him and Harry. This is a follow-up to The Changeling Hypothesis, which you might want to check out, also, if you haven't already.

And a little meme gacked from [livejournal.com profile] claudia_k.

Come up with your own movie “Top 5” category (for example, “The Top 5 Best Insults”). Or you can steal someone else’s category—we’re easy! Then list the relevant movies/scenes.

I do not consider this to be a definitive list of the top five movies in this category, nor are they even necessarily my five favorites, but they are the five movies I like in this category which first came to mind.

Joie's Top Five Cinematic Surprise Endings:

5. Memento ~ I love non-chronological story-telling, and the way this movie works from the two bookends to a climatic point in the middle that Explains It All never fails to impress me.
4. Gosford Park ~ Definitely not your average whodunnit. The answer to this mystery is heartbreaking and perfect. And the fact that's it's solved by perhaps the only character worthy of knowing the truth (hint: it's not the idiotic detective sent in to investigate the case) makes it even better.
3. The Trouble with Angels ~ This lesser-known Hayley Mills film is a favorite of mine. It fools you into thinking it's nothing more than a light-hearted comedy about schoolgirls' pranks, but the girls' final year of school brings the story to an unexpected and poignant conclusion.
2. The Sixth Sense ~ One of those great twist endings that just completely pulls the rug out from under you, and makes you rethink all your previous assumptions.
1. The Empire Strikes Back ~ What can I say? It's classic. And I obviously have Star Wars on my mind lately. ;)

Joie

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