Monday, July 18, 2011

What's Wrong with Hollywood?

What’s wrong with Hollywood? I’ve had times in my life where I’ve gone to the movies almost every week, and other times where I’ve barely gone a few times in a year. Like most people, I get frustrated with the incredible ineptitude Hollywood often displays. With so many incredible books and stories out in the world, how do so many terrible or poorly done movies still get made?

A little over a year ago I went to see Clash of the Titans. I’d seen the original, I knew the story. I was excited to see what they would do with a good budget and modern special effects to a story that’s managed to last thousands of years.

I don’t know who wrote the screenplay, I can’t even be bothered to check. It was that bad. What makes someone so delusional that they believe they can take an ancient story, which has obviously survived so long for a reason, and make it better? It doesn’t need to be made better! It’s incredible! And yet Hollywood writers decide they can make it more dramatic by changing the story to accommodate more fight scenes that have no emotional build-up. Oh, and they kind of forget that people like stories for characters. The only character that had character in this incarnation was a side-line character. So disappointing.

I’ve been thinking about Hollywood’s penchant for messing with a good thing since seeing the closing volume of the Harry Potter saga. A part of me loved the movie, it was intense and gripping, most of the time. But, to me, the end fell so extremely flat. I haven’t been able to decide if it was simply poorly done, or if it was because I knew how much better the ending had been handled in the book.

I still can’t decide what the reason is that the ending felt so anti-climactic, but my gut feeling is that Steve Kloves, like so many other writers in Hollywood, saw something incredible and decided they could make it better. Perhaps he thought the book ending wasn’t viable for film, but I don’t get that feeling. For one, many of the important elements of the book’s ending could have been repeated in the movie verbatim without any extra work. There were genuinely needless changes made to the end that seriously weakened the largest climax of the series.

Harry Potter didn’t kill Voldemort while standing alone in a courtyard. He didn’t do so in silence either. There was a dialogue and they were circling each other with many people around. The importance of every detail of wand lore and specifically with the Elder Wand were overlooked or cast aside as a side note, hinted at, but never given significance they deserved. While the movie gave the casual watcher enough to get the gist of what happened, it certainly sapped the victory from Harry, the moment where you realize that Harry isn’t winning by dumb luck or because of prophecy. No, he actually knows more than Voldemort, he figured it out, he understands, and that’s why when it comes down to it, Harry wins because he took the time to learn what Voldemort overlooked in his pride (another fact which was pointlessly left out of the movies and which added greatly to Harry’s character and the climax).

Aside from essentially robbing Harry of any true personal victory of Voldemort, Nevil’s victory was extremely diminished. I remember reading the last book and thinking, “Nevil is a bad ass!” Why? Because he stepped up, told Voldemort off, and killed Nagini all while in a position where he was extremely likely to die. In the movie he was relegated to hopping in on the side and killing Nagini from a position of no real danger, and about five minutes later than it was supposed to have happened, I can only assume to add to the drama.

The movie destroyed any chance of you really knowing of caring when Ron’s brother dies, or when Mrs. Wealsey steps up to kill Bellatrix. You can’t offer the climax of smaller scenes if you don’t provide the build-up that made those moments poignant in the first place. I’m not saying there was no emotional build-up or significance there, it was just so much less than it could have been.

The last Harry Potter, like all the movies before it, was an interesting story, but came nowhere near doing the books justice. I was left underwhelmed and wondering yet again, who lets some of these Hollywood idiots ruin a good thing?


  1. I agree with every HP statement that you made. I felt exactly the same way. Trenden was a bit mad, as well. There was so much more to the story, more that made the story more powerful and thought provoking. I was most upset by the Weasly death and the Bellatrix anti-climatic climax, but most of all the Voldemort/Harry finale. Though the movie said, "so you will all be with me, and Voldemort won't be able to see you", having Harry stand alone was not nearly as powerful as having him surrounded by those who gave up their lives to save him. Mixed feelings here, as well. Really good movie, but it could have been great. There should have been cheering at the end, instead of everyone just simply walking out...

  2. Great analysis, Brandon. You have an amazing way of capturing what is missing and how being true to the original book is the obvious answer. I enjoyed reading your "review". Thanks!