Harry Potter 7(a) / The Warrior’s Way

A Friday night double-bill in Glasgow with Gillian. First up, the continuing adventures of some kid with a wand, followed by a rather weird kung-fu cowboy film.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

“The Ministry has fallen. The Minister of Magic is dead.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Bad guy rises, bad people take over, bad things happen, good guys run away and hide.

The wizard-y juggernaut crashes towards a near-conclusion with part 1 of the largest novel making its way to the screen. And J.K.Rowling‘s bank balance going stratospherical with her first credit as Producer.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t that keen on the final book. I thought it was far too slow, and blown out of all proportion which spoiled what had been a good series up until book 5. This film, then, is a good adaptation as it’s pretty much the same.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s still pretty good. But it’s got a lot more character development and far too much time is spent fleshing out bits of the plot that were touched on earlier in the series. At over two hours, that’s a lot of fleshing. There isn’t any wasted time, though, as far as I could tell. It’s a long book, therefore it’s a long film.

The effects are, as ever, of the highest standard. The cast are magnificent. The script isn’t bad at all and has some good laughs in it. But despite some cracking set pieces, it’s just too damn slow. Also, beware of the rating – this is too scary for some younger kids. We didn’t take Gill’s daughter (aged 9) for this very reason. Friends had taken their kid and warned us that it would be best to wait for the DVD release for E to see it.

The highlight of the film, for me, was the explanation of what the Deathly Hallows are. A wonderful five minute animation as Hermione reads a fairy tale from a book. Beautifully done and it doesn’t intrude on the film at all.

I’ll still go and see the next one, but mainly just because I’ve watched the first seven. The film review on Radio 5 had a message in calling this one “Harry On Camping”. That’s about right. Most of the movie is like Tolkien‘s The Two Towers – it’s all just people moving around. It’s the calm before the storm.

Right now I’m waiting for the lightning to hit.

The Warrior’s Way

“Ninjas. Damn.” (NOTE: Not from the film, even though it’s in the trailer)

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Bad guy turns good guy and runs away from other bad guy, meets more good guys who are hounded by another bad guy and then all the bad guys meet up. With kung-fu and cowboys.

This is a very weird film. Possibly the weirdest western you’ll encounter until Cowboys and Aliens hits the screens. Actually, probably weirder because of how it’s filmed.

First of all, it’s definitely not to everyone’s taste. I thought it was wonderful. Not perfect, but definitely worth seeing. Gillian was impressed with the visual style and so forth, but found it otherwise rather vapid, preferring the Asian films it takes its style from to this offshoot.

The story is explained well in the trailer – a swordsman spends his life being trained to be the best in the world. His commander orders that he destroy every living member of their opposing clan, which he does… until he encounters the last one: a baby. He can’t bring himself to kill the child, so grabs it and scarpers to the Wild West. Of course, doing so marks him as a dead man as far as his old clan are concerned so they follow behind to deal out justice (i.e. kill him).

Yang (Dong-gun Jang) finds himself in the are end of nowhere, in a small town where a friend of his used to run a laundry. So no stereotypes there, then. The population are predominantly discarded circus folk, lending a rather stilted edge to the atmosphere as bearded ladies, clowns and midgets walk the streets.

There he encounters Lynne (Kate Bosworth), a dead ringer for Toy Story‘s Jessie, who had started knife training with the previous “yellow man”. She has her own unsettling history relating to a local bad guy known only as “Colonel” (Danny Huston).

What I liked about the film was the slow build. It starts with some nice action, but keeps the blood and gore down to some spurts and CGI clouds. As the film progresses, the violence becomes grander and more graphic. This is the opposite of Ninja Assassin which had the single best gory moment (head sliced in half) right in the opening sequence.

The plot-related scenes are simply gorgeous. I just loved the feel of the whole film. For an idea of how it looks and how the story is rolled along, refer yourself to the TV series Pushing Daisies with it’s strong colours and rather off-kilter feel. You could probably delve deeper and start spotting metaphors (like the flower garden), but I simply didn’t feel the need and just wallowed in the sheer loveliness of it.

It won’t appeal to everyone. However, it did really appeal to me. Gillian said she was glad to have seen it, but wouldn’t recommend it. I guess that would be one thumb up and one thumb down.

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