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Hormones, yes. Emotion, not so much.
I thought this movie was very entertaining, but the problem I had with it is there really wasn't any build up and there was no opportunity for me to be involved with the story.
Things that were good: The Lavender/Ron/Hermione triangle. It was of course comical. But it was also more than that. There's a lot of emotion going on between these characters. Hermione is obviously upset by the relationship. Ron becomes obviously more and more annoyed with Lavender's antics. And Lavender is obviously jealous of Ron and Hermione's friendship. And it all ends beautifully with Ron whispering Hermione's name in the hospital wing and Lavender running off in tears.
My point is that there's a lot going on here. It isn't just in the film for the sake of comic relief. It isn't just in the film because it's in the book. It's in the film to help you connect with these characters and to grow with them. It has depth to it. And most of the rest of the movie was lacking that.
Also done well was Slughorn and the whole storyline with trying to get the memory from him. It was funny (Harry drinking Felix Felisis), it was touching (Slughorn's story about Lily), and it was cringe worthy (Harry as appropriate has no tact whatsoever). There's depth here, as well. It isn't there just for the sake of plot. It shows you the depth of the characters. It brings you into their stories and helps you to connect and understand them. As far as the rest of the film goes, it tries, but there are so many forgotten and half-way done subplots that it only almost works.
Harry and Ginny. This is done really well for a good part of the movie and then it just falls flat. First off, Ginny is dating Dean. There's some cute scenes where Harry obviously has affections for Ginny and then she starts showing them back and then she kisses him and OMG! Wait! Isn't Ginny dating Dean?! We're not told or shown that they break up at all. It's in the book that they break up but as far as the movie's concerned, Ginny's cheating on her boyfriend. Anyway, they kiss, Harry opens his eyes and Ginny is gone. There's no explanation for this, and Ginny isn't seen again for the rest of the film. The movie just drops their relationship and forgets about it.
The burrow. Half this scene worked really well. Harry tells the Order that Draco's working for Voldemort and Snape's a traitor, the Order doesn't believe him, there's a few cute/awkward moments between him and Ginny, and then Bellatrix and Greyback attack. As a scene by itself. It's was really kind of cool. You get to see the grown ups do some nice wand work against of the Fire Ring of Death, and Bellatrix and Greyback are scary, and OMG! The house is on fire! But then what? What does this accomplish? It's never talked about it later. And how does this show that no one is safe when the Death Eaters clearly lead everyone out of the house before setting it on fire? This is Greyback and Bellatrix that we're talking about! If any two Death Eaters were about murder and death, its them.
The Death Eaters breaking into the castle. They don't do anything. They're at Hogwarts! This is something they have been trying to do since Voldemort's first rein! And now they're here and all they do is stand and watch Dumbledore die. There's no attack on anyone. Bellatrix does wreck some havoc by breaking a few shiny things. The rest of the Death Eaters just walk somberly out of the castle like they're embarrassed by her or something. You're Death Eaters! Go attack someone already! The Vanishing Cabinet Draco's supposed to be really distressed over this thing. He's trying to fix it and he knows that if he fails, Voldemort will kill him. He's been trying to fix this thing for a year and no matter how hard he tries, it just won't work. We don't see any distress from Draco over that. We see him put things in the cabinet and pull things out, but we don't see him fret over it. It's like mild curiosity. Hmm, why is the bird dead? Hmm, why is half my apple missing? What we do see distress over is him cursing Katie and having to kill Dumbledore, which is brilliant and well done and good. In fact, Draco's story was done really well and should be could be counted as one of the good things in this film, but the Vanishing Cabinet seems like it was just put in there because it's in the book and no thought was put into it all.
Dumbledore's death and Harry's reaction didn't quite do it for me. The two are supposed to have a kind of father-son relationship but it wasn't built up enough. The movie tried. There were some nice moments: Dumbledore's hand on Harry's shoulder at the very beginning, Dumbledore apologizing for pulling Harry away from the girl. They were subtle and they did work. But then the film tries a little too hard. Dumbledore asking Harry awkward personal questions about his love life and Harry going, "oh, no, no, that's all right" doesn't equal father-son relationship. It just equals awkward.
The ending. Not good. Hermione does all the talking and is the serious one and discusses all the changes to come while Ron just sits there and say nothing. They try to patch up the Harry/Ginny thing, but it's too lazy to work.
In the end, this film will never be my favorite. The emotion is missing. I wasn't moved to care. In some areas it succeeds, but in most others it just falls flat.
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Tries to explain itself and then quits
The main problem with this movie is it tries to retell the Snow White story and then gives up. For instance, we get the interesting tidbit that the seven dwarfs were actually royal gold miners for the king. They went into one of the deepest caves before the evil queen (Ravenna) took power and when they emerged, everything they knew and loved was gone. They are the only seven left.
Also, the reason Snow White is the only one who can kill the Ravenna is because the spell keeping Ravenna young and powerful was done with "fairest blood" when Ravenna was a child. Now that Snow White is fairest, she has the fairest blood, thus making her stronger than Ravenna and able to kill her.
The movie sets itself up to explain things and give us insights and background into the Snow White story we never had before, and then it just decides not to after a while. I enjoyed the imagery of the film, but more depth could have been provided for all characters and a majority of the movie could use more explanation.
One instance is when the magic mirror tells Ravenna she has to eat Snow White's heart in order to come into full power and be beautiful forever. Why Snow White's heart? Snow White's mother told her that she had "great beauty of heart" so does that means her heart is pure? We also see Ravenna eating hearts earlier. Why? Does it benefit her in some way? Is the heart powerful to consume? We don't know.
Also, where did the mirror come from? We get no explanation, and it seems like the only person who knows what the mirror can do is Ravenna. She makes sure she has complete privacy when she speaks to the mirror. And we even have one scene where her brother peaks in on her and he can't figure out who she is talking to (apparently Ravenna is the only one who can hear the mirror's voice). It's clear he's worried for his sister's sanity. But another question is why include this scene at all? It's never expanded upon or referenced.
Ravenna and her brother also seem to have a symbiotic relationship. Although the spell enacted by Ravenna's mother only used Ravenna's blood, Ravenna and her brother both remain young. Later, when the brother dies, Ravenna feels his pain and also seems to be weakened in power because of his death. Again there's no explanation.
The queen offers to bring back the huntsman's wife if he returns to her with Snow White's heart. Why can't the queen get Snow White herself? She has no power in the forest. Why? We aren't told. Later, Ravenna's brother calls the huntsman a fool and says the queen cannot bring back his wife.
This part is confusing because the mirror said Ravenna would be "all powerful" after eating Snow White's heart. I'm inclined to believe that she could bring back the wife. It's also possible that she lied, but again, we're given no information on how this magic works so we don't know.
During the film, Snow White has some kind of connection with animals. And also healing abilities that people experience simply by being near her. Why? One of the dwarfs calls her "life itself" but that doesn't explain things. Exactly what makes her life itself, her pure heart? It would have been great if we'd gotten some example of Snow White being pure or being life itself. Maybe she makes a plant grow from a seedling in three seconds. Maybe she shows an incredible act of kindness when no one else would. But from what we can tell, she's just a normal girl who animals seem to like and who spends most of the story doing nothing but running from place to place.
Another part that doesn't make sense is the poison apple. Prince William kisses Snow White but she doesn't wake. Later, the huntsman kisses her, and his kiss works, but the question is why? The traditional legend is that true love's kiss wakes her (which is never mentioned in the film). Both men seem to care for her, but it's not clear Snow White loves either of them. The only one she kisses is William, and it's not clear that it's a kiss of love. Rather it seems that she is just testing the waters to see if there is something there. On the flip side she never shows any kind of feelings toward the huntsman. There's no real explanation as to why the huntsman's kiss works, and the movie ends without resolving the romantic interests.
Ultimately, the movie is entertaining, but it's not a successful adaptation. It's a darker retelling of the same story we already know that somehow makes less sense than the original. There's plenty of moments where visuals are put in higher regard than explanation. Like, why show the paint-like white stuff the queen took a bath in? There's no explanation as to what it is or why she bathes in it. It just looks cool.
The story could have been told better with the characters and the rules of the world developed more. Instead Snow White and the Huntsman is only eye candy with its stunning visuals and just enough garbled focus on retelling to confuse you.
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
Oz the Arrogant and Sleezy
The main problem with Oz the Great and Powerful is the main character, Oscar, is ultimately unlikable. We are introduced to him as a magician who takes more than his fair share of the proceeds, is flippant with his helpers, and is constantly winning over women through lies and deception.
Oscar gets some credit when his long-term sweetheart appears. She's been offered a proposal in marriage, and she came to get his thoughts. He tells her to accept the proposal as he believes she deserves better than him. But this otherwise applaudable moment is brought down with the girl's insistence that she believes he could be better if he wanted to be. The fact that she knows all of his dirty secrets and still wants to be with him because she believes he could be better is too reminiscent of women in abusive relationships.
Due to Oscar's nature with women, an unhappy boyfriend appears to rip him limb from limb. Oscar escapes by getting into a hot air balloon that is sucked into a tornado that takes him to Oz. Once there, he discovers a prophecy about a wizard coming to Oz from a far away land who will save the kingdom from the wicked witch. Naturally, everyone believes Oscar is this man.
This is supposed to be a redemption story, but the main flaw is Oscar hardly shows any changes. Oscar starts his journey in the land of Ozwith the same greedy, womanizing nature he's had the whole beginning of the movie, fully taking advantage of whom the people believe him to be.
About halfway through the movie Oscar finally meets up with Glinda who sees him for exactly who he is and isn't afraid to let him know it. Glinda knows he's a fraud, but she also knows the people believe in him, and she knows belief can go a long way. She convinces Oscar to help her rally the people so they can be led against the wicked witch to take back the throne.
Glinda and Oscar work together, and when he has the chance to chicken out he sticks it through, and he even manages to make some friends. Things turn around for him, and this is the place where his character-changing redemption should come through, but ultimately it falls flat because of a certain wicked witch.
When Oscar arrives in Oz, he meets a young witch named Theodora. She believes him to be the prophesized wizard and is excited to take him to Emerald City. On the way, Oscar wins her over and, according to some online speculation, may even sleep with her. After one night of meeting this man, Theodora is convinced the two of them are going to spend the rest of their lives together. This is very awkward for Oscar since of course he wasn't intending on anything but playing her. He does nothing to disillusion her however, and brushes the whole thing off with the notion that she'll forget all about him once he gets as far away from her as possible.
Later, Theodora's sister, Evanora (and current caretaker of the Emerald City), lies to Theodora and alludes that Oscar had spent that night with her. Theodora is crushed, and in a moment of anguish, Evanora convinces Theodora to curse herself so that all the pain she is feeling (along with all the goodness in her) will go away. Theodora agrees, and as her heart is "withered away," she becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.
It is hinted that Theodora had some wickedness in her to begin with, but all we see of it is one instance where she gets angry and lets a fire ball lose. This does not exemplify wickedness, just a girl who has trouble controlling her emotions. Ultimately, Theodora is characterized in near complete innocence. Her transformation can be seen as pure manipulation on the part of Oscar and Evanora. And that's why the redemption story doesn't work.
Theodora's transformation from an innocent young woman to the wickedest witch there ever lived is not endearing to Oscar. Regardless of other factors, he is at least in part responsible for what happened to her. He chose to play with the delicate feelings of a naïve girl and then cast her aside(as he has done with countless other women), and he never owns up to this fact. The movie may end with him making friends and becoming a generally more likable person, but the fact that he puts the moves on Glinda at the end of the movie just reinforces the sinking feeling that he ultimately changed very little from his time in Oz.
The movie neglects to do the frame story where Oscar would wake up and realize he had been dreaming and that all the key people in his life had been in the dream. If the movie had done this, a lot could have been accomplished in the way of his redemption. Perhaps he goes after his sweetheart (whose double is Glinda in Oz), or apologizes to his working partner (who doubles as the monkey he befriends) for treating him so horribly. He could even own up to the women he's been manipulating, which would show an understanding of how his womanizing actions were wrong.
Without the frame story, we don't ultimately see how Oscar learns from his experience in Oz. He changes, yes, and grows. But has he truly become a different man, one the audience can like? Does he truly embody "goodness" as Glinda claims? Does he become the "great man" the people of Oz were looking for and the audience was expecting by the end of the movie?
The ultimate answer is no. The movie does have some good elements, but the redemption story is too week for those elements to follow through. And that's why the movie falls on its face. Its namesake simply doesn't hold.