July 18th, 2009
As you might glean from my last post, I saw Harry Potter recently. My thoughts on that aside, I’ve got to say that one of the things that stayed with me after I left the theater had nothing to do with brooms, horcruxes, or even Ginny Weasley!
One of the previews we saw right before the film was for Where the Wild Things Are:
I instantly knew what I was seeing as soon as I saw the shadows of the Wild Thing’s horns, and got really excited. As a kid I remember loving this book; when I heard they were going to do this film a while back, I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out, but was certainly curious to see. My excitement eviscerated any concerns I had upon hearing the Arcade Fire song, “Wake Up” (more acoustic than the album cut, FYI) over the studio logos! I got so excited, I actually had trouble containing myself in the theater.
As I let it wash over me, I suddenly got very sad. I don’t even particularly like that Arcade Fire song all that much (Neighborhoods 1, 2, 3, Crown of Love, and Rebellion (Lies) would all easily outrank it), but there was something in the pairing of those two things that struck me in a strange way. Something about taking a story from a part of my childhood so far gone, so long forgotten, drudging it up and juxtaposing it with an incredibly recent aspect of the same life [I only heard Funeral for the first time last August] that caught me funny.
Come to find after viewing the trailer a few more times and reading about the film some that Spike Jonze is directing the movie. I knew I knew that name, but couldn’t remember from where. More clicking; Ah! He directed Adaptation! One of my favorite movies of all time, which (due to its emotional content) got me through a handful of rough points in my life! How weird, that the same guy is back again, messing with my head this time with only a trailer…
Enough about my baggage though: The Film! It looks awesome. The fantastic people from Jim Henson’s Workshop are doing the suits for the Wild Things, and the faces are done with computers. For one, I’m just plain stoked about this. After the disappointment endured suffering through countless Hollywood films that put all their eggs in the CG basket, I’m really excited that someone’s hybridizing it for the forces of good [I always bitch that the new Star Wars films look fake while the old ones look real, mainly because the new ones DO look fake, and the old ones DO look real, on account of the new being mostly CG, and the old all making use of models!]. But the result of using both in this movie looks fantastic.
Past that, the music will also be a hybridized effort between Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the Arcade Fire! Ahhh. Excitement abounds; I might even pay for the soundtrack if it’s good. I read somewhere that the camera work was done by hand, for the majority of the scenes involving the Wild Things, to give it an other-worldly sense, which seems to work well for such a film.
What I’m most excited about is to see how they fill this. In the trailer, I see shit blowing up everywhere Where the Wild Things live, and none of that is in the book. I actually found the book sitting out at a store I was at down in Harvard Square, and I paged through it real quick. Most of it is actually about Max being a punk, and getting sent to his room without dinner for being a pain to his mom. Then he dreams/imagines a world where crazy Wild Things live. They make him king, because Max seems wilder than they do!
Then proceeds about 6-7 text-less pages of them just like, parading around Wild Thing-land. Then Max gets lonely for his mom, and goes home. Nothing explodes in the book. What gives, Spike Jonze? I don’t mean to be like “you changed it! boo!” at all. I understand that adapting a pretty-short-mostly-illustration-children’s-book into a 2 hour film isn’t easy. You gotta add stuff, in this case: conflict? I feel like the parts of the book with words comprise maybe… 40 minutes of film, if you stretch it, embellish it a little. That comes up at least an hour short, meaning that a lot of stuff, the body of the work, I’d expect, must happen Where the Wild Things Are. I’m pretty geared up to see how that pans out. The explosions, the maritime scenes, and the varying landscapes all look really
interesting EXCITING, and I’ve got a good feeling that they’ll stay true to the original message and tone of the work.
Let’s just say I’m going to be seeing this the first day it’s out.
I just hope I’m not the only person older than 12 that came not on account of a child.
There’s one in all us.
July 15th, 2009
I’m almost falling asleep, so the full thing will come later.
1) Very funny. I felt as if I laughed a good deal.
2) Kinda short? It didn’t seem like a great deal happened.
3) I am maybe getting it confused with parts of the final book, I do admit.
4) In any case, the ratio of time spent in the theater to time spent getting to see Ginny Weasley was not what I was looking forward to. There was a kiss, which was good, but I was kinda geared up for makeout (it was so masterfully done in the book, but I guess that’s the way it goes…)
As I said, more to follow.
POST SCRIPT [Includes Spoilers]:
Yeah, upon further mulling, I’m having trouble coming up with a full-blown critique of this film. I really enjoyed every minute of it. Thankfully, this film has a fantastically small amount of the “Harry Potter Forms Conspiracy Theory Against Draco Malfoy” attributes that mar previous films. I don’t know if that’s because of the book, or the editing of the film, I just know those parts always used to make me wince, and make me hate the character.
Not much of that to be found here. Really, the film was pretty character-oriented, and I typically don’t care for that. I’m a dude that’s big on plot, and not a whole lot happened. Certainly we learn about horcruxes, and Dumbledore meets his end at Snape’s hands, but aside from that, what?
I’m left wanting a little bit, for a few reasons:
1) The title of the film is the “half-blood prince”. That entire attribute of the film is handled in the most cursory manor possible, and I expect they would have cut it, if not for the title! The book reads more like a suspense thriller, and Harry’s obsession with the Prince was not conveyed very strongly. He parted with the book far too easily, but then again, HE WAS MAKING OUT WITH GINNY WEASLEY, which probably made it easier.
2) On that, I thought the kiss between Harry and Ginny was good, but it wasn’t what I’d hoped. The book did a great job building that tension, until it all cut loose in a makeout session after a massive quiddich triumph, which was AWESOME. I missed that, but I can see how it would’ve been a little difficult; also: everyone is sick of watching quiddich.
3) It suffers from what I guess we have to call “Dead-Man’s-Chest-Syndrome,” wherein the penultimate of a series only serves to do a lot of book-keeping and housework to ready the stage and the viewer for the grand, epic finale. To an extent, I understand the film’s functionality in such a capacity, but the book stood on its own far better than this film did. Particularly the omission of Dumbledore’s funeral was the biggest example (and in my opinion, mistake!) of this.
Three good reasons to go see it?
1) It’s a fantastic character piece. Slughorn is a hilarious addition, and I enjoyed the film version much more than the obese, awkward, intrusive man that I conjured from the text. The Ron-Hermione ordeal was well done, and makes you kind giggle to yourself at times, while at others you legitimately felt for the poor kids. I guess I just mean to say it decently captures the turmoil of such enterprises… Plus the paired-down Harry-Ginny subplot, while only a fragment of what it was in the novel, is comparably cute.
Additionally, the protagonists have matured to a point that we spend a lot less time listening to them whine and make stupid mistakes, which is a lot more pleasant for the mature viewer.
2) Ginny Weasley
3) It does do a great job setting up what’s to come. I’m pretty close to busting out my Potter books from the box in my basement and giving the whole thing another go, so re-invigorated in my Harry Potter fandom by seeing the film adaptation of my favorite book!
Go see it, it’s a well-crafted adaptation that does its source justice (within inherent limitations) and reminds you why Harry Potter is pretty much always bankable for a good movie.