Monday, 24 January 2011

Harry Potter 7: More Stupid Wizard Duels

OK.  So I saw the first part of Harry Potter 7 the other day.

Not sure what I think about the increasing trend of filming multiple film/sequels in one shoot... but I'll save that for another day.

I'm also glad this one wasn't in 3D.  I'm not impressed by 3D... but I'll save THAT for another day, too.

Actually, it was a pretty good movie, all told.  I've never believed novels translate well into movies, because there's just too much in a novel.  Short fiction? Yeah. Graphic novel? Heck yeah.  Novel?  It's hard.  And with Harry Potter, especially as the books got longer, it got harder and harder to fit all that junk into a movie, and some of the movies barely tried.  The best Harry Potter movie was the third one, before the books got bloated.  The worst one was movie 5, where they tried to fit almost 900 freaking pages into a two hour movie.  They'd have had to make a miniseries to do all the plot points justice.  Book five was a good read, in my opinion (despite it being the first step into Harry becoming a somewhat unlikeable protagonist: too sulky and Holden Caulfieldy for a fantasy book), but the movie was awful: it was like a rushed series of sketches meant to evoke the story, and had no room to fit in the little bits of color and fun that made the first three movies cool.  The minor characters are part of the charm with HP - people like Neville Longbottom - but with so much plot, him, and Moaning Myrtle, and even Hagrid got short shrift.

That is why I think it was not just a cash grab, but good for the storytelling, to split book 7 into two movies.  The story finally has time to breathe again... and while in the book, I thought it was poor storytelling the way the first two thirds of the book are a bunch of wandering in the woods and re-visiting all JK Rowlings' favorite characters and locations, the movie evokes the frustrated stagnation of that part of the book very well.

However, there's just one thing... and this is something that, the more I see it, the more I think is just a lame, lazy cliche: 

The superpower battle.  Let me explain. (with apologies to Alice and the Mental Poo blog, where I got the inspiration to use illustrations I drew myself.)

It seems that wizards like nothing more than to give their enemies magic high-fives.  Especially if their magics are different colors.  I think that if your magic is the same color as another wizard's, you have to be friends.

And if you're the opposite (fire and water, for example, or oranges and toothpaste)?  Enemies for sure!

Also, it's not only hands that can magic up a wizard fight:

It's seen most often in fantasy and science fiction.  Especially anime.  It happens so often I can't even begin to list them.  

From Harry Potter alone (screenshots: these images don't belong to me, but to their respective copyright holders - JK Rowling and Warner Brothers film studio):

Movie 4: Goblet of Fire
Movie 7, part 1: Deathly Hallows
 Movie 5: Order of the Phoenix Harry's magic is the same color (red) as Dumbledore's.  That's why they're friends.  (for the record: AFTER the dumb wizard cliche fight, Dumbly and Moldy do some cool magic-ing.)

I wonder how many superpower/magic duels there will be in movie 7-1.

This is one area where George Lucas went really, really right: his Bright Side Jedi can't shoot magic hand beams, so even though the bad ones can, most Jedi battle is done with lightsaber duels -- the other absolute coolest feature of the Star Wars universe, because sword fighting is the awesomest kind of combat (with the possible exception of really good, Tony Jaa storming the castle/Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris level hand combat), and there are no hand-beam battles in the Star Wars movies.

This is as close as they get: (screenshot from a youtube version of the battle between Emporor Palpatine and Mace Windu.  Property of George Lucas: Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith)

Oh yeah.  Superhero and comic book stories also like having their cliche fights.

(X-Men 3: The Last Stand screenshot: property of Stan Lee, Marvel Comics and 20th century Fox.)

These silly cliche battles are everywhere.

So, readers, what's your favorite superpower/magic power-beam duel?  Let me know in the comments.

Also: what are some magic fights/superpower battles that have COOL effects, instead of just lame power-beam showdowns?  Tell me in the comments.


ZenKimchi said...

And you forgot these superheroes.

Roboseyo said...

That was way better than the x-men fight between the fire guy and the ice guy.

Yeongung said...

hahaha. That was cute.

Ok, so, knowing that I can't best the previous video, I'm still just gonna leave this here, sans power-beam battle...

Anonymous said...

Excellent video, ZK.

Roboseyo, I think you should read up a little on copyright and how to legally use content in your blog.

The "these images don't belong to me, but to their respective copyright holders" comment (and others I've seen like it in other places) doesn't really mean much. I believe attribution is required if it is asked for, which it usually is, and usually consists of giving the name of the copyright holder and date of the work. I also believe it is expected that both the original source of the material and the source where you found it be given. When you provide a labelled link, I think it's sufficient.

Copyright laws can be confusing, and you've probably heard/read (most likely at university) about legal percentages and the like, but it's not so black-and-white. However, if you are using material for a review or parody, and keep the use minimal and don't profit from it you should be fine.

A couple of fun facts about copyright:

1. The default position is: the party that pays, owns.

Generally, if you are paid to create something, then by default the copyright belongs to the person paying. If you are paid to make materials for your classes at the school you work at -- the school owns them. If you pay a photographer to take photos -- you own them.

2. The Berne Convention states that those who infringe copyright be taken to court in the country where they are, and by that country's laws.

If you live in Korea and illegally dowload and distribute Hollywood movies, you go to Korean court.

General copyright law (including attribution)
Fair use 1
Fair use 2
The Berne Convention

Roboseyo said...

I like the Gandalf vs. Balrog fight, and also the Gandalf vs. Saruman fight, because neither of them have magic power-beam fights.

Schplook: thanks for the information. I'll update the attribution; given that I'm not making money from this blog, I'm probably OK, but if JK Rowling writes me an e-mail, first I'll say "Cool!" and then I'll take it down.

The Waygook Effect said...

You're forgetting the greatest over-the-top duelists ever.

Dragonball Z, there was an entire 20 minute episode of just two characters holding a power blast at each other. Here is the last five minutes of it.

Roboseyo said...

Twe thanks for that clip. My adrenal glands are cramping themselves with excitement. Anime ain't my strong point (maybe because of too many superpower beam-downs like that) so I'm glad you added that.


Jonathan Auxier said...

"Magical high-five" is nothing short of inspired...