Reviewed By: Emily Taylor
From: Rexburg, Idaho
Reviewed on: 11/28/2005
Another weekend, another date. I finally make it in to see Harry Potter. Despite my relatively high reviews of the prior movies, they have been out long enough for me to develop the proper amount of cynicism and analysis to their merits. I also like to imagine myself separated long and far enough from this fourth film by a hectic weekend and approaching finals. I also had serious doubts about this. The 4th book was a long book. Were they really going to try to cram everything into a few hours?
And… I think they’ve finally gotten the whole how-to-make-a-Potter-movie thing down. Hooray!
First off, they were intelligent with the time. Yes, this movie is approaching three hours. But considering the amount of material Newell had to work with, I’m happy with three hours. Very happy. Thank-you, Mr. Newell and whatever producers and editors got this thing rolling out. Thank-you for taking the risk of challenging the short attention span of modern society and realizing that the Potter books are long and you can’t force them into one-and-a-half-hour segments!
So if you do have a short attention span and aren’t very good at staring at a glowing screen for long moments of time without the option of various shows coming on to distract your attention—yes, staring at the same glowing vision—this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re okay with that, then I hope you can appreciate the great flow of the film and the selections of plot. No, no one attempted to fit every detail from the book in. That would have been impossible. But, with a few tweeks and twists, we have the main plot with its major details. No, not every little subplot is strung in, but bits and pieces of those subplots were scattered in and there in a very charming way. I was able to forgive them for the things they skipped. The flow is excellent. My theory is that one of the reasons I put up with three hours was the skipping around—I mean that in a good way. Newell knew when to end scenes and get back to them later, and just what elements of the story to put in.
And, hey, we even get the occasional eye-candy. My big complaint about Cuaron’s direction of the third film was his love of eye-candy. Oh, it was pretty enough, but he focused entirely too much on making magic look good. This time around, the rule if plot first—still admittedly pretty. What a concept! If you want eye-candy, include it in the darn story line! Really, it isn’t that hard according to Newell. A lot of money was spent on this film, and it is obvious it went somewhere.
I guess it is time to put in my confession: this movie is PG-13. It comes off as a PG-13. It has many PG-13 moments. And I have to admit that there was probably no way to put this as a PG. In fact, if it had been rated PG, I would not have seen it. I’m sorry, but the book was PG-13 material. Not to ruin anything for any non-book-readers who adore the movies, but bad things happen. And these bad things happen to be necessary for later stories. And these bad things happen to warrant a PG-13 rating. So be warned, this will frighten small children and probably anyone not familiar with the books. I agree with Darryl White: this is indeed the culling film if you have not read the books.
Another thing I must second Darryl White on: the emotion was perhaps the best thing in this movie. All the other films were very dry, but I admit, this one had me crying, and I have to give Newell another hand for taking what could have easily gone to either cheesy or heartless and succeeding. The entire movie was that way—there was a good sense for what Newell wanted you to feel, and he was good at getting you to feel that emotion.
Hopefully I will not look back and regret the positivism in this review. But I honestly do think there is another hope for Potter films in this.