Friday, April 20, 2012
Potter, Frodo, & Edward, Oh my!
As a child, the element of fantasy was something that was not only maleable in the form of a film, it was also bearable. Neverending Story (Limahl's theme still being diggable), Little Monsters and Beetlejuice all had this "escape the real world" quality that appealed to a 7 year old who already was finding it hard to relate to others in terms of interests. What differentiates those films from what would be considered a "fantasy" based movie today can only be pointed to a subjective experience that is deeply rooted in childhood nostalgia.
Having seen the first 5 films of the Harry Potter franchise, I can only come off with a feeling of uneasiness followed by bouts of frustrated confusion. The first two being directed by Chris "still unable to escape the Home Alone feel" Columbus. The third by Alfonso Cuaron and the rest of the installments helmed by David Yates. Now, popular vote would contend that Cuaron's installment is the best. From the first four films, at least. A potent mix of just the right amount of childlike humor and dark elements to streamline it to an audience ranging from child to adult. If that is indeed the case, then I still find it hard to care about the elements that make up such story- characters being the key here. The story does indeed get darker as Voldemort is introduced later on. & as a villian, his lineage can be traced back to the franchise villian to end them all- Darth Vader. A reoccuring motif of darkness that would pervade as Harry would grow older. The problem? Everything is is painstakingly null in void. From Weasley right on down to Dumbledore. These are not memorable characters. They are people that come off as annoying. This is not even getting to the special effects department.
This frustration goes well beyond the fantasy genre and into a whole other one- book adaptations. Or to put it even more appropriately, franchises rooted in a series of books embraced by popular culture. Kicking off with Lord of the Rings in 2001, followed by Harry Potter, Twilight and currently, The Hunger Games.
The problem for me is that, having been aware of the source material for these adaptations, the books themselves never really jumped off the shelves at me. There are some things I could just never get into- pokemon, Japanese anime, wizards and sorcery. It's not like the inner child is dead inside. (Holden Caulfield would be greatly disappointed if that was the case) No. He just didn't grow up with a wand in his hand. I never even knew about Dungeons & Dragons until college. Something I am ungrateful for having now known about.
Machete wielding maniacs and chainsaw wielding butchers will still be abundantly cooler than hobbits, wizards and sparkling vampires.