Hogwarts and All Part Four: “All of This Seems Remarkably Unsafe”

Everyone has that one big cultural touchstone they missed out on. I have friends who shrugged off Pokemon, or Star Wars, or the Marvel Movies. They just never got on the train with everybody else and now they feel weird and out of the loop whenever those things come up in conversation. My pop cultural blindspot is Harry Potter. But not for any longer. To celebrate the release of the next chapter in the Harry Potter canon, I have decided to go back and watch all the Harry Potter films, none of which I have seen before. I’m hoping that by the end of this series, I’ll be magically changed into a fan of this series. And right now, that’s looking pretty likely.

This week, we hit the halfway point and shit gets real.

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Ok, we’re up to two hours and thirty seven minutes this time, which is a disappointment. The series fell off the friggin’ wagon, lengthwise.

But we start the actual movie in a creepy room in a creepy house. In the creepy room, It appears that Pettigrew and David Tennant are meeting with some sort of embodiment of Voldemort himself. Yes, I know David Tennant’s character has a name, but fuck you, that’s David Tennant and I’m gonna call him David Tennant. There’s also a big snake in the room. Because of course there is. Voldemort assigns Tennant to some sort of important mission, but before we can get any more information on that matter…

Harry wakes up from the nightmare/vision he was having in a bed at Ron’s house. Ron is also there (yay, Ron) as is Hermione (yay, Hermione). The dialogue implies Harry’s been staying there for a while, so does he live there now? Because I’d be shocked if Papa Dursley allowed him to live with him anymore after Harry murdered his sister last movie.

Suddenly, Ron’s dad comes in and tells the three to come with him and the rest of the family, because they’re leaving for a thing. On the way, we meet a new face, Cedric Diggory.

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He seems like a nice, likable, amiable young man, which means he’s 100% gonna die by the end of this movie. Come on, movie series don’t just introduce randos to be buddies with the main character halfway through unless they’re being set up as sympathy martyrs. And perfect, flawless Cedric Diggory is screaming his eventual fate so loud, I’m shocked the movie didn’t also explain that he’s one week away from retirement.

But enough about Captain Dead Meat, let’s get on with the plot. The group all arrive at a boot on a hill, which someone instructs them to grab. They do, and we learn that the boot is what’s called a portkey. A portkey is an object that, when grabbed, acts as a crude teleporter. This is like the twelfth method of wizard transport we’ve been introduced to so far. Was Floo Travel not feasible in this situation? Or the family flying car? Or the Knight Bus? Or the wizard train? Or…

Whatever, so our gang has arrived at the International World Cup of Quiddi– aw fuck. Fucking Quidditch? Again? Ok, whatever, fine. At least this scene taught me that there’s a dude named Cornelius Fudge, which is fucking sublime.

Also we get this holographic magic Leprechaun Mascot, which feels vaguely anti-irish?

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Ordinarily, I’d let shit like this pass, but this IS the series where the banks are literally run by hook-nosed money goblins, so I dunno.

We get a marginal amount of Quidditch, but before the cup can really get underway, A bunch of Voldemort supporters attack the event and begin blowing shit up and killing people. So, like, this scene is just portraying a terrorist attack on a major sporting event, right? I’m not saying that’s an especially good or bad thing, it’s just really interesting to me. But it does raise a question:

Everyone else at this event is ALSO magic, right? Because they sure aren’t doing a whole lot of fighting back. Mostly just running and screaming. But they are all wizards. With wands. Theoretically, attacking any group of wizards with magic should be like trying to hold an NRA meeting at gunpoint, right? Also, who the fuck is running away in fear from these motherfuckers?

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I’m sorry, that shit is ridiculous. Even if the pointy hats weren’t enough to make me giggle (which they definitely are) the dime-store skull masks would be. They look like if Skeletor joined the KKK. They look like traffic cones celebrating the Day of the Dead. They look like the Halloween costume a child throws together from the bits of old costumes left over from last year. Ok, ok, I think I’m done.

So in the chaos, Harry is–

They look like if you tried to build a haunted house in a teepee.

Sorry, I had one more.

In the chaos, Harry is knocked unconscious. He awakens to watch one of the magic-terrorists blast some sort of evil mark into the sky. It’s kinda creepy.

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Y’know, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I think I might be ready to convert to the dark side. I mean, yeah I gotta wear an outfit that looks like a decaying Jack-In-The-Box mascot, but come on, that logo is metal as fuck. Like, that’s a snake coming out of a skull’s mouth. Fuckin’ rad, man.

After Wizard-ISIS are gone, Harry regroups with the others, where Ron’s dad explains that they are Minions of Voldemort, called “Death Eaters.” That’s… uh… that’s fucking dumb. How do you eat death? Who would want to if you could?

How does the application process go on one of these?

“Lord Voldemort, I would like to serve you as a Loyal Minion.”

“Fuckin’ sweet. Look, step one is you gotta wear this.”

“Um, do I have to? Because, I totally want to serve you, my dark lord, but I’d rather NOT look like the grim reaper of gnomes if that’s possible?”

“Nope, outfit’s part of the whole thing. No outfit, no deal.”

“Ok, fine, I guess I can live with the outfit.”

“Excellent. Now welcome to my Death Eater army!”

“I’m sorry, what? We’re called what now?”

“Death Eaters.”

“…”

“…Like, one who eats dea–”

“No, no, I got it.”

“Oh good, I wasn’t sure for a minute there. Also, you have to get a tattoo of a snake mouth-fucking a skull.”

“… I feel like you’re just fucking with me at this point.”

“Look, I’ve spent the last 14 years as either a ghost or a skeleton baby, I gotta keep myself amused somehow.”

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                                                                  “At least we get dental.”

Aaaaaand scene.

So back to the actual movie, Harry and pals head off to Hogwarts again, where they discover that something special is happening. This year is the Tri-Wizard Tournament, in which Hogwarts and two other wizard schools compete in a friendly little rivalry.

Cool to know there are other wizard schools, I bet after this movie we’ll never hear from them again. We also meet the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. His name is Mad-Eye Moody and his turn ons include being all creepy and shit. Oh, and we get to see the titular Goblet of Fire, which is a method of choosing participants for the tournament.

Any student over the age of 18 may put their name in the goblet and it will eventually spit out one name from each school to be entered into the competition. Harry’s too young to participate, so I guess tough shit on that front.

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Next, we are off to Defense Against the Dark Arts where Moody decides to demonstrate the so called forbidden curses in class, on a living thing (a spider) just so the students can “see what they do.” This seems insane. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the police academy doesn’t have a class entitled “shooting kittens with high powered rifles just so you can see what happens”.

After that, it’s finally time for the goblet to pick the tri-wizard champions. So we get our two champions from the other schools, namely Russian dude and french chick. Then Cedric Diggory becomes Hogwarts’ champ so he might as well be etching his epitaph into his tombstone right about now. But the Goblet picks a fourth champion: Harry Potter. Harry definitely didn’t put his name in the Goblet and no one’s sure why it picked a fourth champion. I’m just assuming the other schools are pissed that Hogwarts has just doubled its chances of winning, but that’s not the real issue here.

No the real issue is that this is definitely part of an evil plan. Harry knows it, the teachers know it, everyone seems to know it. So, this is an easy one to solve. Just disqualify Harry. He’s too young to participate, the rules clearly forbid it, and someone is obviously manipulating the events so Harry will be involved for some dark purpose. So they’re just gonna disqualify him, right? No? They’re gonna pretend like they can’t because reasons? Okey-dokey.

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After, Harry gets a message from– Sirius? Aw sweet! Fuckin’ love Sirius.

Sirius talks to him via fireplace and warns him that competing under these circumstances will be incredibly dangerous and to be extremely careful. But when Ron enters, Sirius is forced to disconnect the call. Aw, I wanted to get more Sirius. I hope he and Lupin are still together, I like those crazy kids.

Ron asks who Harry was talking to, but Harry denies talking to anyone. Ron says that he “must’ve been hearing voices” to which Harry responds “wouldn’t be the first time.” No Harry, last time YOU were the one hearing voices. And that voice turned out to belong to a giant fucking murder-snake that was sneaking around paralyzing people so maybe stop giving Ron shit, huh?

But Harry starts prepping for the first contest of the tournament. Which he’s going to lose on purpose, right? You know, because someone is clearly manipulating the tournament so that Harry will continue to participate? And if he can’t be officially disqualified for some stupid reason then taking a dive would be the smartest possible move?

Whatever. Time for the first challenge, which is to retrieve an egg from a dragon. Quick question: they originally prepped this for THREE contestants, right? So where’d they get a fourth dragon? Wouldn’t they have to scramble to re-set up all the events now to account for an extra person?

But yeah, Harry has to deal with a huge monster dragon.

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He does, and somehow avoids death. Plus, fun action sequence, so that’s cool. As a reward for beating the challenge, he gets a golden egg that will supposedly help him figure out what the next challenge will be. Unfortunately, the egg just seems to make a loud shrieking sound.

Eventually, while he’s not measuring himself for his own coffin, Cedric finds the time to give Harry a hint that he needs to submerge the egg in water to hear its message. Harry does so and discovers that the next challenge will involve spending an extended amount of time underwater.

But before we get to the next challenge, please enjoy this picture of Draco Malfoy just hanging out in a tree.

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So for the second challenge, the wizards dive into the water, Harry using some gilliweed to breathe. Don’t know why people are watching this event, when the whole thing takes place deep underwater where no one can see what’s going on, but whatever.

It also turns out that the organizers kidnapped one loved one or friend of each contestant and stuck them at the bottom of the bay which seems DRAMATICALLY OVER THE LINE. Like, risking the lives of the contestants, I get that, this is Hogwarts, but the lives of just random people? That shit’s cold. Harry comes in second due to a technicality.

Oh hey, David Tennant’s dad, AKA the dude who wouldn’t let the teachers disqualify Harry because “rules” is dead. Sweet, time to DQ Harry now right? To avoid playing into the hands of a buncha evil people? Nope? *Sigh* Ok.

ON TO THE FINAL CHALLENGE!

Which is a hedge maze. Seems… seems like a downgrade from the last two. I guess hedges are pretty spooky though.

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So Harry darts blindly into the hedge maze like a dumb fuckin’ dipshit, and gets buffered about by the hedges which… attack him? I guess? I’ll be honest, I was confused by this bit.

(By the way, if you’re ever actually in a hedge maze or a corn maze or a labyrinth, a good strategy is to pick a wall and continuously follow it. It might take a while, but it will prevent you from randomly backtracking and you’ll eventually reach the exit.)

Harry finds the other contestants, and winds up saving Cedric (only delaying the inevitable there, pal). They both reach the Tri-Wizard Cup at the same time, and Harry insists they grab it together, so they can both win. They do this, but… The cup is a portkey.

DUM DUM DUUUUUUUUUUUM!

So they both wind up in a super evil looking graveyard.

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Peter Pettigrew shows up and straight up murders Cedric (shocker) before trapping Harry. Turns out the whole tournament was rigged for evil purposes. Who could have seen that coming except for LITERALLY EVERYONE, INCLUDING ALL THE CHARACTERS IN THIS MOVIE.

Also, can we take just a second to break down Voldemort’s insane plan? Because it is shockingly convoluted.

First, he needs to send someone to infiltrate Hogwarts, which, yeah, doesn’t seem too hard. Next, instead of just kidnapping Harry from there, he needs to magically rig the Goblet of Fire to chose Harry’s name and then hope against hope that he isn’t instantly disqualified. Then he is counting on Harry winning or at least completing all the challenges ALIVE. This includes, by the way, surviving an incredibly dangerous fire-breathing dragon. Harry then needs to come in first in the hedge maze. Not just finish, but finish first. What was Voldemort gonna do if he’d gone through all this, only for the motherfucking Russian Guy to just show up in the middle of the graveyard clutching the cup?

But never mind that because the plan worked. Pettigrew slices Potter’s arm, and drips the blood into a cauldron. He also cuts off his own hand into the cauldron in one clean slice which I’m gonna call bullshit on. Finally he dumps weird skeleton baby Voldemort in. And then the reaction starts. And…

And…

Holy Shit.

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I’m not making fun of this, this scene is legitimately great. It’s all the payoff you’d want from four movies of buildup. Plus, I am super down for the weird Nosferatu influences in Voldemort’s design. Dude’s creepy as shit.

Also, best big bad we’ve had so far in this series. I mean, to be fair the last movies’ villains were, in order, a stuttery professor, a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ panel, and misunderstandings, so not the highest of bars, but still.

Ralph Finnes is hamming it up as a villain, but he’s doing so exactly as much as he needs to be. Voldemort mocks Harry a bunch before summoning his Death Eaters who… still look ridiculous. But importantly, among the Death Eaters is Lucius Malfoy. Voldey gives him shit for not helping Voldemort resurrect himself, to which Lucius replies that he looked for “any sign” of Voldemort’s return and “didn’t see any.”

Lucius, there were a lot of signs. Like, A LOT a lot. Every school year of your son’s education ends with a minion of the Dark Lord trying to murder that Potter kid, maybe pay a little more attention to your surroundings.

Anyway, Voldey gives Harry his wand and initiates a magic duel, intending to kill him one on one.

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The fight goes about how you’d expect, with Harry struggling to keep alive. Fortunately, we have some ADR’d dialogue to explain why all the Death Eaters are standing around with their thumbs up their asses not helping murder the fourteen year old their boss is fighting. In the middle of the duel, a bunch of ghosts burst out of Voldemort’s wand to help buy Harry some time to escape. He does, and manages to get back to Cedric’s body and the Portkey.

He teleports back into the tri-wizard arena to thunderous applause. Until, that is, people notice he’s crying over a dead dude’s body. At that point, everyone is shocked and horrified.

I’m sorry, what? Are they actually SURPRISED someone died? Fucking really? What was the first challenge again?

Oh right:

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But who would’ve thought someone could die during this, what a tragedy.

As people are aghast over Diggory’s demise, Mad-Eye Moody drags Harry off to his classroom to ask him about what he saw. Harry tells him and Moody starts flipping his shit. Dumbledore and Snape burst in and pin Moody down. He tries to escape but, having run out of polyjuice potion, he reverts back to his true self. That being… David Tennant! You know Tennant, I know that you didn’t expect Potter to return, but you coulda brought enough disguise potion to last longer than the minimum amount of time necessary. Like, if the tri-wizard tournament had a rain delay, you’d a been fucked.

It turns out that the real Moody had been trapped in trunk this whole time. Which is… how long exactly? Weeks? Months?  Has Tennant been feeding him?

After that, we get the funeral for Cedric Diggory. Man, it’s so terrible that a kid died and Voldemort came back to power. It’s too bad they don’t have some sort of time travel device to go back and prevent all this. You know, some sort of device for TURNING back TIME. Cough, Hermione, cough.

But we’re at the end of the school year and the other two wizard school students pack up and lea– Wait, how long was this?

Like, not how long was the movie, how long was this entire series of events? Did the tri-wizard tournament take a whole year? Did these other students study at Hogwarts for that year, or did they miss a year of school to spectate the twelfth annual magic-murder-olympics?

Well, goodbye other magic schools, I’m assuming we’ll never hear from you again.

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FINAL THOUGHTS:

Really strong entry to the series. Plus it feels like the main plot has finally picked up after two movies of keeping the plates spinning. This one had a series of great setpieces and the best climax so far, even if it did follow the unfortunate trend of tossing Ron and Hermione to the curb. We also get some good character stuff, hinting at Ron and Hermione’s eventual relationship. Buuuuuuuuut, if I’m weighing in, I think I liked part 3 more.

Just a bit, but still. And a lot of that comes from character stuff. First of all, this film totally abandons the background plot of Harry’s potential turn to evil. Yes, I knew he was never going to, but they’d been seeding it for a while and to drop it with no resolution is disappointing. Also, the conflict between Harry and Ron felt incredibly forced and unnecessary.

Still a strong movie and for sure my second favorite so far, but not enough to unseat the recent champion.

Next week– well, next week I’m moving so I’ll be taking the week off, but in two weeks, we’ll come back with the start of the second half of the series. Let’s see how it goes!

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Hogwarts and All Part 3: Who Made the Murder-Wraiths Security Guards?

Everyone has that one big cultural touchstone they missed out on. I have friends who shrugged off Pokemon, or Star Wars, or the Marvel Movies. They just never got on the train with everybody else and now they feel weird and out of the loop whenever those things come up in conversation. My pop cultural blindspot is Harry Potter. But not for any longer. To celebrate the release of the next chapter in the Harry Potter canon, I have decided to go back and watch all the Harry Potter films, none of which I have seen before. Hopefully, by the end of this eight part series, I will go from someone who couldn’t give less of a shit about the students of Hogwarts to someone who loves them as much as everyone else seems to.

Welcome to week three, where I’m starting to get on board. But like, just a little bit.

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Ok, so this one is supposedly great, and I’m likely to believe that because Alfonso Cuarón directed it. I never got around to Gravity but Children of Men is friggin’ awesome.

Two hours and twenty minutes is BETTER, movie, but lets get it down to an even two ten for next time.

The movie starts with Harry at the Dursley’s house, as is tradition. Harry’s been practicing magic at home, which is discouraged, but he’s keeping it a secret. As it turns out however, Papa Dursley’s sister is in town and has come to visit. Also turns out she’s a complete asshole like her brother. Who’da guessed?

So Auntie Dursley starts going off on how much Harry’s parents were just the worstest, which understandably pisses Harry off. All the lights start flickering as Harry starts to go full on The Omen which I would be totally down for. Seriously, these movies have so far been subtly building the idea of Harry being a potential big bad dark lord and while I know he doesn’t go that way, if that concept just gets dropped like a hot potato in future movies, I’m gonna be super pissed.

But instead of executing Auntie Dursely like he’s a blood covered girl on prom night, Harry goes a… different route with it.

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So first of all, that has to be EXTREMELY painful, right? Like, pass-out-from-the-experience painful? Feeling your skin stretch because of a pimple hurts, this must be unimaginable.

So she bobbles around the house before floating out the back door at up into the sky.

Where she dies.

I mean, eventually, right? Either she hits the upper atmosphere and freezes to death or she deflates and punches pavement. Not lookin’ too good for her either way.

In other words, we are now following the adventures of Harry Potter, murderer.

Papa Dursley asks Harry to bring her back, to which he responds “No, she deserved what she got.”

That being, you know, death. Ooooookay.

MOVING ON. Harry just sorta leaves the house with all his stuff and starts wandering the streets. Fortunately for him, a large triple decker bus pulls up. This is the Knight Bus.

The Knight Bus, dashing through London

It is one of like thirty different methods of Wizard transport we’ve seen so far. Also, the extremely bored conductor is this movie’s MVP. Not as good as Ron’s dipshit owl from Chamber but really close. The Knight Bus tears off through the city, taking Harry to his eventual destination. Also, it is driven by an elderly man and uses a shrunken head as a GPS. I LOVE THIS.

But I have a question. What is the Knight Bus’s business model? It doesn’t seem to take bus fare. And it doesn’t appear to be city funded public transportation. Do wizards pay special wizard taxes to fund shit like this? In addition to regular taxes? Because that would suck.

Harry eventually arrives at the Leaky Cauldron Inn and Pub, where Ron and Hermione are for reasons (yay Ron, yay Hermione). Harry gets all his school supplies, including a special book.

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This is the monster book of monsters. Now, I try really hard not to make jokes that I assume other people have made a bunch about these movies. And I assume that the statement I’m about to make has been made by hundreds of other people but please indulge me as I ask the following question:

WHAT FUCKING BENEFIT IS THERE TO A BOOK THAT TRIES TO MURDER YOU? HOW IS THAT IN ANY WAY BETTER THAN A NORMAL NON MURDERY BOOK?

And even more in depth, how did this book come to be? Is it a book-shaped creature that had a book forcibly printed on to it? Was it a normal book brought to life by magic? Is it a creature that naturally has a book inside of it? None of these are any more logical than the others.

Fuck it, next scene.

Ron’s parents show up and Mr. Weasley pulls Harry aside and informs him that his life is in danger and apologizes if this information is shocking to him. It isn’t. Nor should it be. At this point, Harry NOT being in mortal danger would be shocking. This time, the danger comes from a man named Sirius Black.

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                                                                              He seems sane.

Sirius was supposedly an ally of Lord Voldemort, and was responsible for betraying Harry’s parents, contributing to their death. He also annihilated Peter Petigrew another childhood friend which bull-shit, he’s not dead.

Let me tell you about a little rule we comic book fans have: If you don’t see the body, they ain’t dead. So Petigrew’s finger being the only thing left tells me he’s alive and kicking.

Harry and his chums get on the train, where they share a cabin with our new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher Professor Lupin. While in transit, they are accosted by a Dementor. Dementors are, as the film explains, somewhere between prison guard and law enforcement for the wizard world. So of course this one opens the compartment and tries to eat Harry’s soul.

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                                                   I hope wizard taxes don’t also pay for them.

Upon reaching Hogwarts, Dumbledore announces that the Dementors will be posted around the school for safety until Sirius Black is caught. Y’know, if you’re trying to keep Harry safe from Sirius, you could do better than hire creatures who keep trying to eat his soul as campus security. Just sayin’.

Harry is then told that the Dementors don’t distinguish between targets. They seem like a terrible police force. But never mind that because Hagrid’s a teacher now. No degree required. No wonder Hogwarts has such shitty faculty. Hagrid teaches the monsters class, the book for which we talked about earlier. He explains that you can safely open the book by gently stroking the spine. Ooooooooooh, that makes sense. Not as much sense as PRINTING YOUR BOOK ON FUCKING NON MURDEROUS PAPER, but sense, nonetheless.

Also, meet Buckbeak.

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Buckbeak is a Hippogriff. He is very proud and made of rage murder. So of course Hagrid asks Harry to go pet him. Harry does safely and then Hagrid slaps him on the creature’s back and lets him fly off into the sky.

So, forgetting how insanely dangerous this is, does every student get to do the same? Because there’s like twenty kids, and I doubt this class is long enough for them all to get a turn. Oh, and that night there is a full moon. I’m sure that won’t came back in some huge way later on.

The next morning, Snape substitutes in for Lupin in his defense against the dark arts class and starts a new lesson on recognizing werewol–

Oh, Lupin’s a werewolf.

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I mean, like duh. It’s gotta be somebody, and that motherfucker’s name is LUPIN so I’m guessing it’s him.

Next we get more godamn Quidditch because of course we do. The game this time is being played in a thunderstorm which seems– y’know what, I’m not even going to acknowledge when things seem incredibly dangerous anymore. Because it is constantly.

So Harry flies too high and the Dementors come after him. Jesus fuckchrist, they really are terrible security guards. Who posted them there? Why are they a thing? So many questions. Also, by this point we’ve learned that Sirius is most likely inside the castle so why are they still guarding the exterior. They’re obviously really bad at it. Maybe if they didn’t spend all their time trying to eat that Potter kid’s soul, they’d have noticed a wanted criminal sneaking in. The next day during class, Buckbeak fucks Malfoy up.

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Unfortunately, this means Buckbeak has to be put down because Malfoy’s dad is, as we established last movie, a massive prick. Oh no, the violent animal that regularly attacks people when you don’t bow to it is going to be put down. How surprising.

A bit later Ron and Hermione and the other students get to go to Hogsmeade, while Harry doesn’t because his parents are dead and therefore can’t sign a permission slip. Sad, Harry runs into Fred and George Weasley who give him a strange new item: The Marauder’s Map.

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The map allows him to see where everyone is all the time.

A couple’a things: First, this 100% confirms my theory about the Wizard NSA from last movie. The wizarding government is full-on tracking all wizards and I want to know why. And second: if there is tracking technology on all wizards, even if it’s JUST wizards inside the Hogwarts campus HOW CAN THEY STILL NOT FIND SIRIUS BLACK?

Fine, whatever, so Harry uses the map and his invisibility cloak to sneak out of Hogwarts and find his friends. He winds up sneaking into a meeting Professor McGoneGirl is having with some ministry of magic members about Sirius Black. It turns out Sirius was James and Lily Potter’s best friend and is Harry’s godfather. Harry gets super pissed and runs off, having concluded that Sirius is the real bad guy here. You know, like Snape was trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone and Hagrid opened the Chamber of Secrets.

But never mind that jumped-to conclusion, because Buckbeak is about to be executed.

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Harry, Ron, and Hermione come down to see Hagrid to make sure he’s going to be okay, but after being hit by rocks thrown from somewhere and noticing the executioner’s arrival, they run out the back door. Hermione thinks she notices something, but ignores it as they go to leave. As they look back… the axe comes down.

Oh, and then Scabbers the rat bites Ron so he definitely has rabies now. Ron chases Scabbers with the others in pursuit before he runs into a large black dog that is definitely Sirius Black.

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C’mon, his name was “Sirius Black” this isn’t surprising, let’s keep it moving. The dog drags Ron and Scabbers down a deep hole and Harry and Hermione follow, after dealing with the murder tree.

They arrive in the Shrieking Shack, where they find Ron and the dog, who turns out to be… Sirius Black, shock and awe. At this point Lupin shows up, clearly working with Sirius.  They begin pointing their wands at Harry and company and talking about finally needing to kill “him”. They also hug, and Sirius calls Lupin by his first name, Remus.

REMUS? FUCKING REMUS LUPIN? AS IN REMUS THE MYTHOLOGICAL ROMAN CHILD RAISED BY WOLVES AND LUPIN AS IN LUPINE AS IN WOLFLIKE?

Honest question, was Professor Imma Wulfmin just TOO obvious?

Hermione calls Lupin on the fact that he’s secretly a werewolf, to which he responds “How long have you known?” Presumably since the first time she heard your first name and your last name in conjunction, Remus Lupin.

Also, like, Remus and Sirius are 100% totally a couple, right? Like, I’m not a shipper or whatever, but this isn’t even subtext, it’s just text.

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               The fact that this image was shockingly easy to find tells me the internet agrees.

At this point Snape bursts in and starts pointing his wand at Sirius and threatening him. Sirius and Lupin keep referring to “needing to kill him” which at this point is just needlessly vague in service of the plot. Harry senses that Sirius seems to be telling the truth and blasts Snape. Black obliges by grabbing Ron’s rat Scabbers who is actually…

Peter Pettigrew and I fuckin’ told you he wasn’t dead! Also, sidenote, I love Sirius Black so much, he is the best.

But um, can I just say poor Pettigrew? Like, the dude spent twelve years as a rat being passed from teenager to teenager. That must have been literally hell. Like, being slapped into Dementor custody does not sound that bad whatsoever in comparison. They drag Pettigrew out into the night, heading for Hogwarts when Sirius realizes it’s a full moon.

I blame this entirely on Lupin. Keep track of that shit, man. If I turned into a vicious wolf monster once a month I would have that day marked down on all my calendars. Sirius runs to Lupin and holds him tight while trying to help him reassert control. They’re a cute couple, I’m rooting for them.

But it fails and Lupin turns into a werewolf.

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Sirius turns into his dog form and tries to protect the others from Lupin but fails. Lupin is eventually distracted by a wolf howl in the distance and wanders off. Harry goes to find Sirius, who’s been seriously (heh) hurt. The Dementors arrive and are immediately drawn to Harry and Sirius like catnip. Before they can die, they’re saved by someone casting a patronus, the spell that can banish Dementors. It seems like maybe the magic police shouldn’t have a secret magic weakness that just anyone can learn, but whatever, that’s just me.

The next morning, Harry wakes up to discover that Sirius is awaiting execution via the Dementor’s kiss for escaping. He panics that there isn’t enough time to save them, but Dumbledore and Hermione suggest otherwise.

Hermione reveals the Time Turner, a device that allows the user to travel backwards in time. Hermione’s been using it to take extra classes which is a wonderful character moment. So let’s go back in time, folks. And also say bye to Ron, because he, like usual, has to sit out the climax.

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                                                                                Maybe next movie.

So over the next chunk of time, Harry and Hermione fill in all the weirdness from earlier in the film, throwing rocks at their past selves to get them out of Hagrid’s house, luring Lupin away, and Harry even casts the Patronus that saved him earlier. During that time though, they also save Buckbeak even though Buckbeak pretty clearly died in the pre-time travel universe and that is not how time travel works if we’re operating on Bill & Ted rules, wherein everything you do in the past was always destined to happen, which this movie seems to be.

Buckbeak winds up saving Harry and Hermione from Lupin, giving them a chance to save Sirius and past Harry. Late that night, Harry and Hermione free Sirius from prison and let him escape with Buckbeak. They free him by magic-ing the door open. Seems a prison for wizards should have magic proof locks, but these are the same people who commissioned the Dementors, so whatever.

Harry and Hermione head back to see Ron, just as their past selves disappear. Ron has absolutely no idea what’s going on, and his friends just laugh rather than tell him. You know, like assholes. The next day, Harry visits Lupin, who is leaving the school before he can be fired for being a werewolf. Because werewolf racism is apparently a thing. And also probably because his boyfriend just escaped prison again and they’ve gotta go make up for lost time. Harry is gifted a new broom from Sirius, he flies up into the clouds aaaaaaaand FREEZE FRAME!

Wait really? We end on a freeze frame? Well that’s weird.hp-poa19

                                                                   That, uh, that sure is something.

Also, if the time turner isn’t at least SUGGESTED as a solution to all future problems, I’m gonna be pissed.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The best one so far. Yes, Cuarón’s eye means that this is the most visually interesting film yet, but there’s far more to it than that. First off, while this is another movie without a ton of overall plot progression, it makes up for it with character development. Harry’s film-long arc of learning to overcome his deepest fears is typical, but feels like actual growth, and Hermione and Ron have their own mini-arc of learning to be better friends and stop sniping at each other all the time. Plus, this time Hermione gets to tag along for the big climax which is a great step up. Oh, and Harry blasting Snape so he can hear Sirius out is final payoff of his three movie streak of jumping to the wrong conclusions nonstop without considering alternatives.

But I also was surprised by how funny this one was. Yeah, the others had moments, but this film had a constant undercurrent of fun and humor that really strengthened it as a whole. It made all the characters feel more real and less like stock archetypes. Character development and charm really made this one feel necessary, and not like a wheel spinning movie, which it kind of is but I didn’t mind.

Well, that one was really fun, next week, we’ll talk about the OTHER one I’ve been told is totally the best Harry Potter movie.

Also LupinXSirius 4evr.

 

Hogwarts And All Part 2: The Chamber of–Don’t Call It THAT, Why Would You Call It That?!

Everyone has that one big cultural touchstone they missed out on. I have friends who shrugged off Pokemon, or Star Wars, or the Marvel Movies. They just never got on the train with everybody else and now they feel weird and out of the loop whenever those things come up in conversation. My pop cultural blindspot is Harry Potter. But not for any longer. To celebrate the release of the next chapter in the Harry Potter canon, I have decided to go back and watch all the Harry Potter films, none of which I have seen before. Hopefully, by the end of this eight part series, I will go from someone who couldn’t give less of a shit about the students of Hogwarts to someone who loves them as much as everyone else seems to.

This week, welcome to part 2, where things get more mysterious and way more ridiculous.

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So we begin with– Two Hours and FORTY Minutes?!!!!! Fucking shitting me?

Ok, ok, fine. It’s long, but we will give it another chance. But I better not see this kind of behavior next time.

We actually begin with Harry at home with the Dursleys, living in the attic, which is a pretty good step up from the room under the stairs. Also, THAT WAS AN OPTION THE WHOLE TIME? He could’ve just been living in the attic and not underground like a CHUD? Why was– but if– never mind. Moving on. Harry is told not to disturb the Dursley’s party, but when he retreats to his room, he encounters a –OH HOLY FUCK!

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WHAT THE SWEET SHIT IS THAT?!

JE-sus, Christ, give a guy a warning next time. That thing is Dobby. He is a house elf. I do not like him.

Dobby tells Harry that he must not attend Hogwarts this year. When Harry says he still plans on it, Dobby pulls an Edward Norton in Fight Club and starts beating the ever loving shit out of himself.

Interlude: On his desk, Harry has a book entitled “Which Owl?” I love this.

So when the Dursley patriarch tells Harry that he won’t let him go back to Hogwarts if he doesn’t stop making noise, Dobby gets an idea. A terrible idea. A terrible, horrible, AWFUL idea.

Dobby wrecks havoc in the Dursley house because Dobby is a dick. the Dursley’s lock Harry in his room and bar the windows, buuuuuuuut that night, Ron shows up in a flying car (yay, Ron) and jailbreaks him. They head off to the Weasley house, where we meet my new favorite character.

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Ron’s mom is fantastic. Her rapid quick switching between screaming at Ron and casually talking to Harry is the best. Character find of the century. But before we can get too in depth into that, Ron’s owl flies smack into the window carrying mail. One of the letters is for Harry, which raises a troubling question.

How do they know where he is? Like, are all wizards being tracked? Is there some sort of NSA Project Oversight shit going on in the wizarding world? I’m legitimately curious about this.

But anyhoozles, the Weasley family and Harry are all given school supply lists, so it’s off to Diagon Alley. This time through Floo Powder. Floo Powder works as follows. first you step into the fireplace. Then you state your destination, throw the powder down down, burst into flames, and show up somewhere else.

Not only is that insane, it doesn’t make any sen– Oh wait, I get it. “Floo.” Like “Flue.” As in the type of Flue a chimney has. It’s a pun.

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But when Harry goes to teleport, he mispronounces his destination and because Floo travel works the same way as Siri (I’m sorry, did you mean–) he winds up in a much more dangerous and seedy part of Diagon Alley. It’s all good though, Hagrid finds him.

After shopping, Harry and Ron head to Platform 9 3/4 which hasn’t gotten LESS suspicious. Ron’s family gets through alright, but when Harry and Ron try, they bump into the wall and can’t get through.

A Railstation employee notices them and tells them to leave which– wait, YOU NOTICED THAT?????!!!!!!!!! THE TWELVE PRECEDING PEOPLE WHO DISA-FUCKING-PEARED, NO, NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST, BUT YOU NOTICE THESE TWO????????

BULL

SHIT

A-hem, sorry. Harry and Ron steal the flying car and take that to Hogwarts. They get there and immediately crash into a murder-tree.

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                                                     Because OF COURSE Hogwarts has a murder-tree.

They get in marginal trouble, but immediately run into everyone else (yay, Hermione) and settling in to life at Hogwarts again. The next day, Ron’s owl shows up and just slams right into the table while carrying a letter.

Ok, I lied earlier, Ron’s dumbass owl is my new favorite character.

The letter just sorta screams at Ron a bunch, and then we move on. I’m not gonna lie, the only reason I mentioned this scene at all is so I could talk about Ron’s Owl.

 

Back to school we are, where we meet Professor Lockhart, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

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Ok, so I’m not gonna make a joke about how Hogwarts keeps picking terrible Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, because A: Even I know that’s hacky but also B: I want to ask the question what the hell even IS Defense Against the Dark Arts? What happens in that class? Because from what I’ve seen so far, it mainly seems to be unleashing a bunch of horrifying shit on your students and telling them not to die during it.

I wonder why they have trouble finding a good teacher for such a wonderful class.

While in detention, Harry starts hearing a spooky voice talking about murdering and eating and all sortsa fun stuff. He follows the voice for a while but loses track of it at a horrifying sight.

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Someone has paralyzed a cat and hung it from a torch next to a message written in blood about something called the “Chamber of Secrets” being open. So we’ll get to “Chamber of Secrets” in a minute because first I want to ask a different question:

Whose blood is that? It’s sure as shit not the cat’s and the movie never explains where all this blood came from and that distresses me. That is a lot of blood. Like, A LOT of blood. Why does no one seem to care whose blood that is?

Oh also, there’s a trail of spiders leading away from the crime scene. Fuck, I hate spiders. I really hope this is the last time we’ll see spiders in this movie.

The next day, Hermione asks Professor McGoneGirl about what the Chamber of Secrets is, and she reveals it’s a mysterious and dangerous place that people should avoid at all costs. I would like to make the following point:

IF YOU DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO GO LOOKING TO OPEN THE CHAMBER, DON’T CALL IT THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS!!!

What, was “the Chamber of Look At Me Look At Me There’s Totally Something Cool In Here” taken? Like, call it something different. Like “The Chamber of Tax Law” or “The Chamber of Professor Snape’s VHS Collection of ‘Friends’.” You know, something boring to prevent people from going looking for it.

Oh good, now we get more fucking Quidditch.

Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy on the Quidditch field in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

                                                                                       Joy.

During the game, the big scary murder ball (I think it’s called a Bludger or something?) comes straight after Harry and tries to murder him. It winds up breaking his arm, but don’t worry, he still catches the Golden Snitch and wins the game.

While he’s waiting in the hospital, healing up, Harry begins to hear the murderous voice again. But this time, it’s clearer he’s picking up the thoughts of some sort of murderous creature, a demonic, hideous beast that only lusts for death and destruction. When he looks around for the source of the thoughts, he runs right into…

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I FUCKIN’ KNEW IT!!!!

I knew that little fuck was up to somethi– Wait, those weren’t Dobby’s thoughts Harry was hearing?

Are you sure?

It would make perfect sense.

Fine, whatever, apparently, Dobby is just there to tell Harry to please go home and leave Hogwarts. Harry says no, Dobby fucks off.

Meanwhile, a student has been paralyzed by the beast haunting the school. Classes still proceed as normal though. Jesus, Hogwarts could use a Lockdown drill now and then. Hell, I don’t even think they have fire alarms.

Harry arrives at dueling class, where he and Draco Malfoy duel. Malfoy shoots out a snake, but Harry talks it down since he can speak snake. This scares the ever-loving fuck out of everyone else since only the truly evil are said to be able to do that.

Oh also, Hermione gets paralyzed by the creature.

In the flooded girls bathroom, Harry discovers Moaning Myrtle the ghost, who is pissed that someone threw a book at her. The book is a diary of an old Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle. Upon opening the diary, Harry is greeted with a magic flashback.

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In the flashback, we see Tom verbally accost a young Hagrid, blaming him for opening the Chamber of Secrets and sending some sort of creature he was keeping out into the woods.

Back in the present, Harry is immediately convinced that Hagrid is behind everything. Oh, you mean like how last movie it was totally Snape trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone? Jesus Harry, stop jumping to the first conclusion you stumble across.

So Harry decides to find Hagrid’s mysterious creature by… following the spiders.

I don’t like this.

Harry and Ron enter the darkest part of the forrest and stumble upon– OH FUCK!!Ara

SWEET JESUS FUCKING FUCK I HATE THIS SO MUCH.

Ok, ok, powering through this scene: The giant spider isn’t the Chamber of secrets monster and Harry and Ron run away pursued by SO MANY SPIDERS and this is legitimately my worst nightmare.

After visiting Hermione, they discover a clue she left them revealing that the monster in the Chamber of Secrets is in fact a Basilisk.

…a big fuckin’ snake.

Harry says this makes sense because spiders naturally flee from the Basilisk. Right, but why though? WHY are spiders afraid of this thing? No? We’re just gonna move on and pretend that makes sense? Ok.

But now that we know what was in the Chamber of Secrets, the name pisses me off EVEN MORE. Just call it “The Chamber of the Big Fucking Snake” no one’s gonna go around trying to sneak into that thing. “Hey, Brad, you wanna go sneak into the Chamber of the Big Fucking Snake?” “No thanks, Ted.” “Why not, Brad?” “Well, Ted, if we go sneak into that, dollars to donuts we’re gonna find a big fucking snake and that doesn’t seem like a fun plan for the rest of my evening.” “That’s a good point, Brad, why don’t we just go throw pebbles at ghosts instead.”

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                                               Pictured: the Chamber of the Big Fucking Snake

But uh-oh, because we discover that Ron’s sister has disappeared. My notes at this point just say “Oh No, not Whatshername!” so you can see I’m really broken up about this.

So it turns out that the door to the Chamber of Secrets is in the girls’ bathroom and holy shit, what the hell is up with Girls’ Bathrooms at Hogwarts. First there was a troll in one, then there was a ghost, now there’s a giant snake beast in one? Holy hell, if I was a lady at Hogwarts, I would have to seriously consider holding it for all nine months of school.

But Harry, Ron, and that charlatan Professor Lockhart head down into the Chamber to… I dunno kill the snake? That seems to be the plan. Lockhart tries to magically lobotomize Harry and Ron, but it misfires and causes a cave in. This separates Harry meaning he has to go this one alone. He enters the Chamber and discovers Tom Riddle, who is revealed to be behind everything.

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It turns out that Tom embedded his consciousness into his diary, hoping that if he was ever struck down, someone would find the diary and resurrect him. And someone DID strike him down because it turns out TOM MARVELO RIDDLE is an anagram for…

I AM LORD VOLDEMORT

#MindBlown

I mean, his full name is THOMAS MARVELO RIDDLE, but I guess “Lord Voldeshamort” isn’t as menacing of a name.

Riddle manipulated Ginny into opening the Chamber and leaving the blood message which STILL doesn’t answer the question of WHOSE BLOOD IS THAT?

So this is a weird contingency plan, right? What if someone found the diary before the real Voldemort had died? Would there just have been two Voldemorts running around, one of them sixteen years old? God can you imagine having to deal with yourself frozen at sixteen years old? That sounds like the literal WORST.

But anyway, Riddle calls out the Basilisk, and it looks like Harry is fucked.

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But all of a sudden, Dumbledore’s Phoenix breaks in and scratches the Basilisk’s eyes out. Well that was fortunate. Now the beast can only navigate by sound, even though smell is how real snakes find prey and no one ripped out the thing’s tongue.

Harry sneaks around a bunch trying to figure out what to do until he discovers that the Phoenix also brought him a sword. Ok, we are approaching Phoenix ex machina levels on this one.

Harry stabs the ever-loving fuck out of the basilisk, killing it. unfortunately, he also catches a fang in the arm. A fang that is apparently full of poison. If it has poison fangs, why even bother with the death stare? Whatever, fine.

Harry uses the fang to stab the shit out of Riddle’s diary and kill the embedded memory. Ginny recovers but it looks like Harry is about to die. But, I shit you not, the Phoenix cries in Harry’s wound and heals it fully. My notes at this point just say “Is there anything this fuckin’ bird CAN’T do?”

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So everything turns out ok! Except Dobby shows up again. Turns out he’s Lucius Malfoy’s house elf. Harry manipulates Lucius into accidentally releasing Dobby from service and Dobby leaves hopefully to be NEVER SEEN AGAIN.

He never comes back, right Harry Potter fans? Please tell me I’m right.

Everyone gathers in the dining hall and Dumbledore announces that all exams are cancelled. Wait, can he do that? Because I’m sure those exams were necessary to balance everyone’s grades. And what if a student was counting on the final exam to raise his/her grade in the class? Is this how every movie is going to end? With Dumbledore doing something that seems nice on the surface but is actually a massive dick move?

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I also enjoyed this movie and it was a fun second chapter, but I would say it was a dip in quality compared to the first. The first felt new and fresh, while this seemed like a placeholder chapter until more story stuff could be revealed later. Also, having the main villain turn out to be a trumped up version of a “break glass in case of emergency” panel didn’t help. The characters progressed and we got a little deeper into our villain’s main history but it felt overall unnecessary.

Again, fun movie, I would’ve liked some character arcs as opposed to just plot developments. It’s also possible that the things in this movie will be made majorly important in later movies, making my complaints irrelevant. We’ll see.

Next week, we get the one I’ve been told by some is “the best one” so I’m excited.

Hogwarts and All-Part One: Sorcerers and Philosophers Are Not The Same Thing

Everyone has that one big cultural touchstone they missed out on. I have friends who shrugged off Pokemon, or Star Wars, or the Marvel Movies. They just never got on the train with everybody else and now they feel weird and out of the loop whenever those things come up in conversation. My pop cultural blindspot is Harry Potter. But not for any longer. To celebrate the release of the next chapter in the Harry Potter canon, I have decided to go back and watch all the Harry Potter films, none of which I have seen before. Hopefully, by the end of this eight part series, I will go from someone who couldn’t give less of a shit about the students of Hogwarts to someone who loves them as much as everyone else seems to.

This week, I’m starting my journey with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (yeah, I watched the British edition, so sue me).

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So we start off the movie with me realizing that this thing is two and a half fucking hours long, Jesus Christ. No movie needs to be that long. But whatever, I’ll forgive it its first sin, let’s start up.

The actual film opens with Professors Dumbledore and McGoni-… Macgona… McGoneGirl arriving at a small suburban house in England. They meet Hagrid, who has brought a baby named Harry Potter who somehow survived his parents being murdered by the evil Lord Voldemort in an ultimate final battle that we as an audience arrived too late to see.

Dumbledore explains that they need to give the baby to his only surviving family, a group of literal child abusers named the Dursleys. Not sure why they couldn’t just leave the baby at an orphanage or a fire station and not, you know, with actual human monsters, but whatever. Maybe The Dursleys’s Morty-waves cancel out Harry’s special Rick-waves or something, there’s probably an explanation somewhere.

We flash forward somewhere around 11 years and Harry is a young boy living in a cupboard under the stairs that is definitely a safety hazard. The Dursley’s force him to cook them breakfast and constantly treat him as a slave.Dursley_family_(Promotional_photo).jpg

                       God, it’s like if Norman Rockwell decided to only paint douchebags.

But before this can turn into “Harry Potter and the Riddle of Child Protective Services” we get some plot developments. The family is going to the zoo to celebrate Dudley (the son)’s birthday. They bring Harry at least, so that’s nice. While there, Harry talks to a snake briefly, which was pretty good foreshadowing to the little I remember from the later books. He also frees the snake and traps Dudley in the snake enclosure, which pisses of his adopted father, who drags Harry home angrily. There, they find a letter for Harry from someplace called Hogwarts.

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Ok, so I know I know what Hogwarts is and I know YOU know what Hogwarts is but can we talk about that name for a second, devoid of all the pop culture knowledge we have attached to it?

Hogwarts. Hog…Warts.

Why would you name a school that? I know there’s probably an explanation somewhere, but you’d think you would pick a school name that wasn’t synonymous with a skin disease for pigs. Just seems a needlessly unpleasant association.

So Harry gets his letter from Pig Cysts University, but unfortunately before he can open it, The Dursleys snatch it from his hands and destroy it. More and more letters keep arriving until the amount of owls arriving to bring them reaches infestation levels. Like, national state of emergency amounts of owls.

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The Dursleys and Harry flee to a hidden cabin far from all other people, where they stay until Hagrid arrives to pick up Harry. He explains to the boy the nature of the wizarding school and talks about how wizards are usually young people who are feared or misunderstood who secretly have great power and– holy shit, I get the mass appeal of Harry Potter now. Guys, it’s the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, but with wizards instead of mutants.

Harry Potter is the X-Men for millennials. It’s a power/social fantasy for people who feel alone and misunderstood. As someone who fell hard for the X-Men, I totally get why people like this. I mean, it’s also well written and full of strong characters, but that central premise totally makes sense to me now.

So Hagrid takes Harry away from the Dursleys and it’s off to Pork Tumors School for the Arts, or whatever it’s called. But first, he needs school supplies. School supplies which apparently can include “an owl, a toad, or a cat”. Jesus, Hogwarts must be a literal mess with all those filthy animals running around.

Harry and Hagrid go to Gringots bank and deal with some vaguely anti-semetic looking Goblins before finally picking up a wand and an owl. Hagrid finally drops Harry off at the train station and tells him to look for Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

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He finds it via a bunch of people running full force into a wall and disappearing, which isn’t, you know, INCREDIBLY CONSPICUOUS or anything. Not like any Muggles would notice a thing like that by any chance.

On the train, we meet Ron (yay, Ron!) and get introduced to all the weird types of candy, including the chocolate frog. Why anyone would want their food to literally try and escape them, I will never know, but whatever. Also Hermione (yay, Hermione). And finally, almost a thousand words into this review (oops) we arrive at Hogwarts.Harry_Potter_and_the_Sorcerer's_Stone_(2001)_-_Trailer_1

Immediately, Dumbledore instructs the new students on where they are not allowed to go, cementing this school as an actual deathtrap. No wonder there are so many ghosts hanging around. It comes time to sort the new students and so out comes the sorting hat. When it gets to Harry, it has some trouble deciding and even tries to talk him into Slytherin which seems like a dick move.

Like, I’ll accept that this wizard school has a designated dorm for evil people, but isn’t placing people in that dorm like cursing them to a life of evil forever? Or are one fourth of all wizards just naturally evil? Because that’s… ok, no I actually would have assumed a higher percentage.

But the hat puts Harry in Gryffindor (all of you knew that, don’t know why I needed to type it) and he is sent off with Ron and Hermione to their dorm. Now we learn that the staircases all move without warning, sometimes recklessly. Jesus, this school is a deathtrap wallpapered in lawsuits.

Oh, right, I guess I have to talk about Quidditch now.

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Quidditch is a dumb bullshit sport.

Like, I came away actually liking this movie quite a bit and excited to watch the next one, but Quidditch is dumb. And I’m not even talking about real life collegiate Quidditch (although that is much, much stupider) I mean in-universe Quidditch. And why? Because of one single rule. The Seeker and the Golden Snitch.The idea that if one team finds the Golden Snitch and catches it, the entire game is over and said team immediately wins? That is some grade A unbalanced bullshit. So nothing else in the game matters? It could be Gryffindor 1, Slytherin 204 but if Harry catches that Snitch, game over, Gryffindor wins?

That’s like saying we’re gonna play basketball, but if the Center at any point in the game spots a shiny new dime on the court and picks it up, no matter the score, his team wins.

Quidditch needs a rebalancing update, that’s all I’m saying.

But never mind that because BATHROOM TROLL.

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In defeating the Troll, Harry, Ron and Hermione become friends at last and start to explore the campus. This is helped by Harry receiving a green screen–I’m sorry, “invisibility” cloak, which he uses to investigate the whereabouts of the Philosopher’s Stone. The trio discovers a room with a lock on it, but Hermione unlocks it with magic and WHY EVEN LOCK THINGS IF PEOPLE CAN DO THAT?

Honest question.

In the locked room is a three headed monster dog, which sure is one way to go in terms of security. Harry believes that Professor Snape is A: evil and B: after the Philosopher’s Stone, which is hidden at the end of a bunch of trials and tests.

Around this point we also get our first glimpse of Voldemort, who is drinking the blood of a unicorn he murdered which is, as far as villain entrances go, a pretty metal one.

Fearing Snape is close to stealing the Philosopher’s Stone and bringing back Voldemort for good, Harry decides it’s time to break into the tower containing the Stone and stop him. After paralyzing Nevile Longbottom, he, Ron and Hermione seek into the forbidden zone and enter.

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                                                                 Who’s a good puppy?!

After musically sedating the cerberus and solar blasting some vines, they reach a room full of flying keys and Harry uses his bullshit Quidditch skills to catch the right one. By the way, this room has a lock that can’t be magic-ed open. Would have been nice to put in of those on the FIRST FRIGGIN’ DOOR but I guess hindsight is 20/20.

In the next room is a giant chess board missing three pieces. So does this mean that this room can only be solved with three people present? Even though Professor Quirrell (Don’t act surprised, you ALL knew who it was) apparently got through it by himself.

Whatever, Ron gets the shit kicked out of him so that Harry can win the game and progress into the next room. Hermione just sorta hangs out with Ron. I mean, Harry can handle the fully trained Wizard Teacher and the almighty embodiment of evil by himself.

Harry enters and discovers… Professor Quirrell?! Shock! Awe! Surpri–we all knew this was coming, we can skip this part, right? So Quarrel takes off his turban to reveal he has a spooky spooky Voldemort face on the back of his head.

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It’s not…uh… not the SCARIEST thing in the world. The final Voldemort design they settled on is great and truly iconic, but this one feels like a bit of a work in progress. Maybe it’s the nose. Harry finds the stone due to a deus ex machina but when Voldey tries to take it, he disintegrates and dies screaming in pain. Harry passes out as Voldemort’s ghost form shoots off to plan for another day.

Later, Harry wakes up in the infirmary, where Dumbledore greets him and explains that he’s decided to destroy the Philosopher’s Stone so that Voldey can’t use it to reconstitute himself. He also explains that the reason Quirrell couldn’t touch Harry was because of Harry’s mother’s love. Quirrell was killed by the power of love. I guess it’s true what they say, it’s strong and it’s sudden and it can be cruel sometimes, but it might just save your life. Or y’know, leave you screeching in pain as your limbs crumble to dust. Either or.

After that, Harry joins his friends for the announcing of which house won the house cup and it turns out Slytherin did. But oh wait, Dumbledore still has to hand out some last minute points and it turns out Harry and his friends get credit for their achievements which pushes them from last place to first and Gryffindor wins!

Ok, so I know Slytherin is evil and we’re supposed to hate them (for valid reasons) but that is still a major dick move, Dumbledore. Hand out the extra points before announcing a winner, don’t tell the Slytherins that they won only to take it back last second. Without even an apology.

Also, “saved entire world from greatest threat of all time” is only worth ten more points than “played chess pretty well” so that’s good to know.

But everyone celebrates, there’s excitement in the air, Chewbacca doesn’t get a medal, end of movie.

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FINAL THOUGHTS:

So this was actually a really fun movie and I can’t wait to keep going with this series. I went into this hoping to like Harry Potter and, while I’m still at “like” and not “love” I am on my way. Structuring the film as a classic english boarding school drama that just happens to have magic in it is a smart move, and one that gives it a familiar yet unique tone. I would still classify this as a kids film, but a good, recommendable, enjoyable for all ages kids film. It’s possible later installments will grow away from that assessment, but for now its one I feel comfortable making.

Next time, I will continue my journey with the next film in the series and hopefully I’ll be magically changed into a huge Harry Potter fan. We’ll see.