Monday, July 18, 2011
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes
Director: David Yates
Runtime: 130 min.
Verdict: Quite possibly the nadir of blockbuster filmmaking.
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, often, during the course of the Oscars broadcast, claims with great pride – “We tell stories.” Looking at Deathly Hallows (I& II), and for that matter almost every movie in this franchise, one might be tempted to advice the AMPAS to be careful about what they are wishing for. There is, by my estimate, close to zero cinematic quality in these pictures, and almost every frame exists not to narrate but to illustrate. Rather, not even illustrate but merely point. Illustration requires a certain level of expertise in the ways of the medium, but pointers, well, you know is something like this franchise. Heavy knights probably built in concrete jump to the ground to protect Hogwarts from the giant malevolent creatures of Lord Voldemort, and you might imagine either of them having a bit of character, you know. At least something like those goofy little mummies in The Mummy Returns. But no, they exist only because they existed in the book, and because post-LOTR fantasy filmmaking demands their presence. They just turn up, attend the roll call and they vanish.
Or consider for example the big dragon like thing guarding the Gringotts bank. It is probably held captive. What is the reason for its existence if it doesn’t guard the vaults? While the bank security is firing away curses at them Harry and his friends jump onto it, release it and fly away. You want to think of a word to describe the series. Convenience is one. Deus ex machina is another. Harry Potter is a horcrux himself. So for Lord Voldemort to die, he has to die too. Fair enough. He dies. There comes one of those unimaginative depictions of afterlife, where everything is pristine white (remember Bruce Almighty, or The Matrix Revolutions?). Dumbledore unleashes some cryptic mumbo jumbo on the unsuspecting audience, you know, because nothing in afterlife is ever spoken plain. And bingo, Harry Potter is back. No stakes, nothing.
Harry Potter has to find a horcrux which is a diadem. A cryptic maiden unleashes another set of mumbo jumbo about the location of it. Harry walks into the Room of Requirement. He is searching for it. As an audience, we have no idea about the geography of that room, and neither do we know what lies where. It might as well be an attic. Harry walks, stops, turns behind, lifts something and bingo, there lies the diadem. It might as well be hanging on the wall. As I always cite with a narrative of this sub-standard a quality, I do summon Mark Twain again, in his full glory shredding Fennimore Copper The Last of the Mohicans – “It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn't step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred other handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one. In fact, the Leatherstocking Series ought to have been called the Broken Twig Series.” This is a movie where the supposed epic fight between the protagonist and the antagonist feels like one of those girlfights, hairpulling and everything, reminiscent of the one caused by Amitabh Bachchan in Sharaabi. Enough said.
Posted by Satish Naidu at 12:34 PM