This certainly helps to lessen some of our concerns about the Doctor Who movie David Yates revealed he was working on last month. Moffat went on to say that Yates was “speaking off the cuff, on a red carpet.”
So in a few years there will probably be a Doctor Who film directed by David Yates, it will be made by the BBC and will star whoever is the singular official actor playing Doctor Who at the time.
On the plus side, he was the man at the helm of the good films of the UK’s other giant franchise. He’s no stranger to entering a world that’s already well-established and populated with rabid fans.
However, this is Doctor Who, a series that’s almost 50 years old and has built a massive mythology. So massive, it seems weak to describe it as just a series. Harry Potter‘s canon was made up of seven novels; Doctor Who‘s spans 783 episodes of television and several spin-off shows, let alone all the radio plays and books. With the continuing debate about whether TV these days is actually better than film, is it perhaps a backwards step to take The Doctor into an enclosed two hour format?
Yates has said, “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.” This is definitely true. Beyond an enduring affection for Tom Baker’s scarves, we at Mild Concern had little familiarity with Doctor Who before 2005 but even with only six years of watching under our belts, trying to explain the intricacies of the relationship between River Song and The Doctor to a total newcomer is at least two pints in the pub material.
This leads to the question of whether David Yates and Jane Tranter, (she with the impressive title of executive vice-president of programming and production of BBC Worldwide), are looking at a total reboot. Kick out the existing 11 incarnations of The Doctor and start all over again? An origins story, going back to The Doctor’s start in Gallifrey? Maybe that’s a good thing. It wasn’t until four years after the relaunch, when Steven Moffat took over from Russell T. Davies, that we felt that the programme really fulfilled its potential and part of the reason why Doctor Who has endured has been down to the opportunity to remake itself on a regular basis embedded into its format. A clean slate might help avoid the dreaded flop that is almost any TV series: The Movie.
It would be safe to say the jury’s out at Mild Concern on this one. But for The Face of Boe’s sake, can we please put a ban on Daleks and Cybermen? No matter how much kids in the seventies were forced to hide behind sofas whenever those clunking bits of plasticky metal appeared, neither is the faintest bit scary any more. We’re too busy trying to stare down stone statues.
You may remember that last month we spent two nights at the BFI IMAX watching all seven Harry Potter films over the course of two nights. (Thanks BFI IMAX!) We finished our journey through the franchise on Monday night as we watched and scored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. What follows is a run down of all eight films, written using the increasingly brief and incoherent notes we made at the time. Spoilers lie ahead.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
In which Harry Potter learns he is a wizard, goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and defeats a teacher harbouring the evil wizard Voldemort at the back of his head.
We start the franchise with an over-long film with terrible acting, odd prosthetics and scenes bordering on pantomime. From the initial scenes with the Dursleys playing out as a knockabout comedy to the final showdown in which a man completely disintegrates, Christopher Columbus produced a completely uneven film which relies mostly on reaction shots for laughs. Horrible acting from the kids is made up for by sheer cuteness and ultimately the film is a bit better than you remember. 6/10
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The series continues with Harry hearing voices and writing in a diary which writes back. Turns out that pesky diary was Voldemort again.
As the kids seem to have experienced a growth spurt since the previous film they are less cute and their acting has improved slightly to compensate. Early scenes at the Burrows with the Weasley parents are great but even Julie Walters can’t make exposition work properly. Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh are pretty awesome but Christopher Columbus again fails to make anything remarkable happen. With students being attacked (but surviving) the series begins its journey into becoming “dark”. 6.5/10 Continue reading →
For the past three hours I have actively avoided writing this review, struggling to stay objective and discuss the film as if it were any other. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 could have been just another children’s fantasy adventure, yet another sequel and an adaptation of a previous work, but subjective sentiment and a decade of fandom aside, this is one hell of a film. Continue reading →
We’ve already given Deathly Hallows Part 1 the dubious title of Top of the Potters in our review last year so we’ll skip the bit where we go on about how good the film is, though it really is, and focus on the extras.
The Blu-ray and DVD have the same extras with one exception, the so-called “Maximum Movie Mode” which I had to abandon early on. With Maximum Movie Mode turned out you have the movie repeatedly interrupted with the cast present various extra features, these include deleted scenes, clips from earlier films, behind the scenes footage, random trivia and at one point Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) reading out part of the book. I prefer not to have the film interrupted and was disappointed to not be able to watch all the extra bits separately, although some were elsewhere on the disc. I tried to skip through the film but gave up after some inane trivia and Felton’s first reading. This particular special feature forgot to make its features special.
The rest of the features are more interesting and aren’t limited to just the Blu-ray. Deleted scenes are mostly quiet emotional scenes which flesh out the Hermione/Ron romance and give more closure to the Dursleys. You can see why they were cut from the already slow film but as a Potter fan they were great to see.
The behind the scenes featurettes avoid traditional talking heads extras, instead going into details about certain scenes while still leaving film nerds wanting more. Still, you can’t expect too many in-depth documentaries on the DVD for a children’s film, can you? The only extra outside Maximum Movie Mode that I had to abandon was a 20+ minute long clip following some of the cast playing golf and talking about how good friends they are, great for fans of the Weasleys perhaps.
If you’re the sort of person that buys Harry Potter DVDs then there’s no reason not to buy this on DVD or Blu-ray, though only opt for the Blu-ray for the high-definition as Maximum Movie Mode isn’t worth the extra money. You can also get a box-set of the first seven films, but with one left to go that would be a pretty stupid thing to do.
The DVD/Blu-ray is out today and Part 2 hits the silver screen on July 7th 2011.
I’m not someone who holds Alfonso Cuarón’s Potter film as the best of the series, those early films were all pretty terrible. The plots were mangled and cut down and the three leads simply couldn’t act. Luckily each film is better than the last and the latest is easily the best.
By splitting the film into two they have the time to really tell the book’s story, including all the slow bits that make it so much more than just a fun adventure film for kids.
With Potter and friends away from Hogwarts the story rests on the three actors shoulders more than ever before and Radcliffe, Watson and Grint have all come on leaps and bounds. Emma Watson no longer overuses her eyebrows, Daniel Radcliffe can show all kinds of emotions and Rupert Grint doesn’t just do comedy reactions any more.
David Yates has done a great job and I only wish he had directed the first four films and they the benefit of knowing how the series was going to end when the first was written. It’s also a shame that the main actors learnt to act while filming a major movie franchise.
Probably not a film for non-Potter fans but I really enjoyed it, and it has the best animated sequence I’ve seen in a long time. Bring on July.