We were fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of free VIP passes, courtesy of Smith Barney, to a preview showing of the new Harry Potter movie tonight at Breckenridge Village (it opens tomorrow). In attendance was, as my Granddad would have said, "The whole fam damily," consisting of Alex, myself, and our nearly-5-year-old daughter Bella, my mother, my sister and her husband, along with their 10-year-old nephew, who is a Harry Potter FANATIC, books and films. The boy's a genius, and has every detail of these stories committed to memory. As you can see, both kids were mighty excited to be there.
The event was ably catered by Jason's Deli, which provided ample offerings in the form of box suppers of sandwiches, pickles, chips, and cookies, along with all the iced tea and sodas we could have wanted.
Alex and I dined on superb chicken salad, while Bella did her level best to tame a giant sandwich of her own. (A tip for sammich beginners: You can only open your mouth proportionately to how high you can raise your eyebrows.)
The crowd was happy, polite, and eagerly anticipating the movie. It really was a nice bunch of people gathered there this evening.
So...how was the actual movie? Well, it started out promisingly, with some of the most beautiful photography I've seen in film recently. I was wildly encouraged by this, since I'd been disappointed in news of the director change from the last one. Unfortunately, this only lasted 5 minutes or so, and the rest of the movie, particularly the people in it, were just downright horrible-looking. EVERY character, even the kids, appeared sallow and drawn, with waxy complexions and dark circles under their eyes--so much so that I started searching the Hogwarts buffet tables for citrus fruits, because it was obvious that these children had scurvy!
The grownups' reaction: WE WERE SO GLAD WHEN THIS MOVIE WAS OVER. I'm not sure how long it was, though I know it was over two hours and that it felt like a week and a half, and that it was at least three times TOO long. Good effects? Yeah, you bet. That was about it, though. We saw so little of the great character actors from this series--Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson were onscreen for probably 10 minutes total, between the two of them. Robbie Coltrane appeared for a brief 5-minute cameo. You get the definite idea that this movie exists purely as a "bridge" between the one before it and the ones yet to come. It's been so long since I read book #5 that I can't recall if I felt the same way about that book, though my feeling is probably so, but not to this extent.
Now from the kids' point of view: It didn't hold Bella's attention, but that's hardly surprising, since it didn't hold MY attention, and Bella's not quite 5 years old, and has not read any of the books. But what of my nephew, the Harry Potter savant? Well, he's quite the serious movie critic, is my nephew, and whip-smart. He rates every film he sees, either with a percentage or a 1-10 rating. This night he went with the latter. His rating for HP #4, "The Goblet of Fire," which happens to be his (and our) favorite of the films, was an impressive 8.6. Tonight's viewing of HP #5, "The Order of the Phoenix," could only command a 5.2 rating, and that from a 10-year-old Harry Potter fanatic, the target demographic. Not good.
My take? Your kids are going to want to see this no matter what they hear about it. It's inevitable. If you can talk someone else into taking them, DO SO. If they're old enough to go by themselves while you shop nearby, even better! I took a bullet for you, Arkansas. SAVE YOURSELVES.