Harry Potter and The Emperor’s New Clothes

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On Saturday, Lovely Mrs Boo and I went to Manchester to partake of an Imax screening of “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2” at the Printworks Cinema’s Imax screen.

We’ve been there before – Seeing “The Matrix Reloaded” in Imax is one of those movie experiences which I’ll always remember – and have a real love for the big-screen format, so going to see “HP7B” wasn’t exactly a hardship. Although, as a sidebar, it’s of note that we cancelled our trip by a week to avoid any residual effects of the recent riots which so effected Manchester city centre. Things definitely seem to be getting back to normal in that regard.

To “HP7B”, then – Mrs Boo has seen the film twice, and embarked on a re-reading campaign which saw her polishing off J.K. Rowling’s series in three weeks following the release of the final film in the series. She’s into the books, less into the films but really wanted to take in the last part of the story on the biggest screen possible.

The movie itself is fine. I’m more of a fan of what David Yates did with the last four films than my wife is, whom I suspect has a true Potterphile’s devotion to the original texts and misses some of the novels’ sub-plots and diversions. It has to be said – if you have two lengthy movies to do justice to a novel as epic in scope as the final Potter book was, and you can still be accused of omitting crucial information, there’s something slightly amiss in the adaptation process.

We had a great previous experience seeing Yate’s first Potter film, “Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix” at the Printworks Imax screen, replete with sections which were presented in large format 3D – the incursion by Dumbledore’s Army into the Ministry of Magic’s Hall of Mysteries was wholly 3D and quite remarkable with it. So you might expect us to be quite chuffed by the prospect of seeing “…Deathly Hallows Part 2” in 3D, right? Not so much.

Given the choice, we would have wanted to see this movie in 2D Imax, and the option to do so wasn’t there. It’s a real shame – the post-converted print that we took in on Saturday just wasn’t up to snuff. The image quality was such that in order to see images in focus, I hit upon the successful but wholly absurd strategy of closing an eye periodically. What’s the point of a stereoscopic 3D presentation which requires the viewer to negate the process entirely in order to watch the film?

I don’t know why “…Phoenix” worked and why “…Deathly Hallows Part 2” didn’t, but the image quality was miles apart between the two films. Perhaps the shortened length of the sequel in “…Phoenix” worked in its favour, but the difference was apparent. The only sequences in “HP7B” which saw any benefit from 3D post-conversion were the credits – the camera push through the Warner Brothers logo and the Harry Potter logo were advertisements for the format and far better than anything in the rest of the film.

The Imax presentation itself was lovely – a picture which fills your field of vision pretty convincingly and truly brings you into the experience, truly visceral sound which has a palpable, near-physical presence in the theatre environment and this time around, no commercials or trailers to detract from the film. It’s just a shame that the 3D really added nothing and, in fact, actually detracted from my enjoyment.

And as for the ticket price – over £25.00 for two adults to see a film is really taking the proverbial. If distributors and theatre owners want to know why people don’t want to go to the cinema as much as they used to, that statistic is surely contributory evidence. I couldn’t and wouldn’t pay those prices on a regular basis and I don’t know how cinema owners would expect a family of four to afford tickets to see a film like this given those prices. I’d rather wait for the Blu-Ray, frankly.

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Filed under Films, Geekery, Spoiled!

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