I knew when I panned Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 that I would get hammered. However, the number of comments even surprised me.
Question — how many of you saw the movie before you write your criticism of my criticism? Just asking.
Here’s what I did like. Most of the criticism of my review was civil. No one wanted me to cut my eyes out so I could never review movies again or wished me physical harm. That has happened in the past. This time, just a dig or two about my age, looks and intelligence but not to the extent I’ve seen in the past when my take on a movie was polar opposite of readers and even other critics.
For that, I am grateful. Civil dialogue is always best. We can disagree and not be hateful.
As for the review, I stand by what I wrote.
That most of you disagree with that is not surprising. Some of you said you took people to the film that hadn’t read the books and they had no trouble following the plot. I had no trouble following the basics either. But the deeper details are a different story.
I sat at the screening with four people who’ve read all of the books and they — like me — had trouble keeping up with the so-called plot. That is what led to my comments that even fans would have trouble following the film.
Also, the theater we were in had awful sound. That is where the comments about the dialogue being unintelligible came from. I think even in a theater with perfect sound, Rupert Grint cannot be understood and, of the three kids, proves to be the worst actor.
Here’s what may surprise you. I am a fan of the movies. Usually I take someone with me who can explain a character or an incident or remind me of what happened in a previous movie, but I have really like all of the films and loved the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince best of all.
The entire series — until this movie — has been a blast.
Some of you criticized my wanting a short summary before the start of the movie to let those of us who don’t live, breath and eat Harry Potter a hint of what happened before. This doesn’t have to be a 20-minute explanation. George Lucas did that with all of the Star Wars films and it was helpful. He did it in under a minute.
But Star Wars isn’t as character heavy or as complicated as the boy wizards seven-book tale.
Over the last couple of days I have gone through the responses on my Atomictown page. Here are my favorites and my responses. These two first.
voldermort: “You, sir, are clearly a moron of epic proportions. i don't live/eat/breathe harry potter, but i can at least remember the general plots of each movie and remember where the last one finished. i don't know why anyone would listen to the opinion of a movie critic (i wonder what qualifications are necessary for such a noble profession) - especially one who looks like he just walked in from a 1970's gay pride parade !!”
My response: Criticism like this from someone who calls himself Voldermort?
And my favorite of all:
Russ Wiggins: “Its funny how people will criticize the critic who judges a movie on the art and methods of filmmaking, instead of what fanboys love. I completely agree with your break down of it. Deathly Hallows suffers from poor writing, directing and a forgettable score, just like the previous two installments. Obviously Mr. Wolcott knows how to review a film or he wouldn't have a job.”
My response: Thanks, Russ, even my mom couldn’t have said it better.
With the good stuff out of the way, here we go:
L_Cero_Knight: “If you really couldn't get what's going on (and you should, have because you most likely saw the last six movies because of your job) then I don't believe you should be a movie critic because you can even understand this simple plot and you feel the need to trash something that the majority of people love.”
My response: I did see the last six movies and liked them. I just couldn’t follow this one. And L_Cero, the whole Harry Potter thing is not simple. There are a lot of characters, a lot of history and several years passes between the day Potter shows up at Hogwarts and this movie.
As for not understanding it? I have come to the conclusion there isn’t much to understand because the plot just didn’t go anywhere.
Matthew Ryan Dennis: “This is a book with around 700 pages and you want more explanation, and you want it all made into one movie? That just doesn't make sense.”
My response: Dozens of very, very long books have been turned into brilliant movies. No need for a part one or a part two. Just great, get-to-the-point writing, directing, editing and acting. This movie is made into two parts because the people that made it are greedy.
asilentsigh: “While I understand that not everyone who watches the Harry Potter movies has read the books, I feel like this movie was finally made for those who have.”
My response: You have a good point. No doubt these movies have all been made for fans and those that read the books. So far I’d say six out of seven movies being pretty good isn’t a bad batting average.
I will also say that the conclusion will no doubt be incredible since the writer and director have saved all of the action for the second half.
tcrispy67: “I would suggest that you do some research before you critique a film. This is Harry Potter 7, not part one, that usually means in order to understand the film, it would be a good Idea to watch the previous six films (or books). We, harry potter geeks, know exactly what is going on, and it doesn’t really matter what a non fan thinks.”
My response: I have seen all the movies. And, as mentioned earlier, I liked them all — except for this one. I never “research” a movie before I see it or read comments or interviews or see anything that might influence my review.
My opinion — tcrispy67 — is just that, my opinion. It’s what I’m paid to give. I don’t claim to be God. The TCH hired me to write an opinion. And mine is that this movie sucked. Yours is that it is very good. We must agree to disagree.
Boote: “To be honest none of the Harry Potter movies are as good as the books. Some of them have been so bad that I could hardly sit through them.”
My response: Boote, only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 has been so bad that I could hardly sit through it. The rest have been pretty good.
erning3: “So next time you review a movie designed for fans of the book and movie series, please remember to watch the first films or read the books prior to reviewing the movie. Keep in mind that the majority of Potter fans either read or watched the Potter series prior to watching this movie.”
My response: I spend 10 to 20 hours a week traveling to and from movies, sitting in theaters waiting for movies to start and then watching them. Due to the way the studios treat critics, I have to show up to most movies 45 minutes before they start. It takes me 30 to 45 minutes to get to the theater and that amount of time to get home.
Most movies are at least two hours. Do the math.
I see 200-250 movies a year. I do not have the time to sit down and watch all of the Harry Potter movies before each installment and since the subject isn’t that interesting to me, I also am not going to read the books. Since I am not a fan and not that into Harry Potter, a quick summary of what happened previously and who is who would help.
That’s my opinion.
Veronica Faye: “...you, Mr. Movie, should limit yourself to comment about: the actor's job, directing, soundtrack, etc. Basically, all the technical aspects of a movie. But I find that his comments about the plot of the movie are out of place, I don't think anyone who read the book had a problem understanding what was going on”
My response: Veronica, that is nonsense. The whole movie — story and all — is fair game.
Jesus Ramirez Jr.: “So if you will write a review on a movie BASED on a book, then you should do your homework and read the book, or you don't write anything at all. And again, since you like writing reviews so much, then don't be lazy, watch the previous films if you want to get background.”
My Response: Jesus, I’m not reviewing a book. I’m reviewing a movie.
Andy Nix: “If you're completely mental and have hated Potter films from the start, then you're bound to not like Deathly Hollows, but I'm pretty sure after 7 films people have decided whether Harry Potter is for them or whether it's for the frogs.”
My response: You are right. Deathly Hallows is for frogs.
How is it that someone that doesn’t like the boy wizard and his books is completely mental? Some people just think the whole concept sucks. Is everyone who disagrees with you about anything “mental?”
Rachel Wilson Keener: “I don't even know what to say to this. Besides that you've made your intelligence level fairly clear. I'm sorry it was hard for you to follow, stick to Chronicles of Narnia.”
My response: What the hell does my not liking this movie have to do with my intelligence? Is everyone that doesn’t walk lockstep with your point of view on something stupid?
Oh — and I didn’t like either of the first two Chronicles of Narnia movies. And I am screening the third one next week. Geez, what if I like that one, Rachel? Will that make me stupid? How does that affect my intelligence level?
Cesargarby:: Poor little guy! You live in a bidimensional boring sad world and i feel sorry for you. Get a girlfriend.
My response: At least I know that bi-dimensional needs a hyphen. And that “i” should be capitalized. I’ll put my “boring, sad” — note there should be a comma there — world up against yours any day.
I passed your suggestion that I get a girlfriend on to my wife. She says no but may consider letting me have a dog.
That leads us to this:
David James: “Step 1: Write a review ripping a movie that the majority of critiques praise and fans love.
Step 2: Get noticed on RottenTomato.
Step 3: Angry fans visit website to read negative review.
Step 4: Editor buys you dinner for increasing website hits.
Ad revenue may be up, but you’re a sellout!”
My response: Is that a spiff my critic friends are getting? Editors, have you been holding out on me? I’ve been doing this for you for 20 years and I have not even gotten a cup of coffee.
David, do you really think I really write negative reviews just to piss people off and draw traffic to the website? C’mon, you can do better than that.
While I enjoy the exchange of opinion, some of you made awfully nasty comments about my looks and my intelligence, things that aren’t relevant to the review.
Aren’t there bigger, more important things going on in life than what a critic thinks of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1?
ion677: “Sometimes movie reviewers are so desperate to get people to their site, they write garbage like this for movies that are actually good-just to generate traffic. How pathetic. This is a movie for fans of the book, not geriatric people who don't care anyways.”
Van Balanzat: “So many words and phrases that every other critic is using, not to mention terrible formatting overall.”
mrsmcd: “Your critique of this film is one very good example of why movie critics are losing their jobs left and right in this country. Your are completely out of step with the mainstream.”
My response: Geriatric? ion667, I can’t be, i got vaccinated.
I am not desperate to get people to my site. Nothing I write is garbage. I don’t read other critics reviews before I write mine. So if I use the same phrases others use, it is coincidence.
And I am not supposed to be in step with anybody. My job is to write what I think about a movie. I think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 sucks. My opinion. I’m not God. It’s just one opinion.
Critics are losing their jobs right and left around the country. That’s sad. But they’re not losing their jobs because they’re “not in step” with the mainstream. Newspapers are cutting staff and most now pull reviews from wire services if they use them at all. Television stations that used to have critics aren’t doing anything that isn’t cops and robbers and crime. Radio stations are owned by mega-sized corporations who don’t give a rip about movies, movie criticism or news.
I am thrilled to still have my job and — if one Tri-City Herald’s editor's opinion matters — I’ll have that job for a long time. And gratefully.
I do love my readers and I do love this job, even when we disagree like we have about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
And to put it all in perspective:
fstwrtr: “Great, we are wringing our hands and stomping our feet over some schmuck who makes his living watching movies...and the lifeless souls who feel this is something worth getting upset about. I give this meaningless thread 1 out of a possible 5 popcorn kernals... you are free to continue focusing on this important topic.”
Desertdao: “LOLyou Potter freaks are hysterical. OMG...a critic doesn't like your film! C'mon, admit it....if Rowling wrote an entire book about Harry Potter's gastrointestinal ailments you'd all line up around the block to see it. LOL.”
So true. So very, very true.