We’ve seen four monster-related movies in the space of a week. Of these, three were sequels. This is one time that the follow-ups are better than the first endeavors. First, we saw Shrek 2. The jokes were just as sharp, and the timing was impeccable. I probably laughed more at this one than the first, though on reflection I can’t for the life of me remember why.
The second movie was “The Return of the King”, the third in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. When we saw this in the theater, we thought it was by far the best of the three movies. While violent, the overall tone was one of hope and perserverence overcoming despair. For some reason, during this second viewing I saw mostly violence — huge battle scenes with lots of people being mangled or slaughtered.
So we went from light-hearted, to dark, and now back to light-hearted with a viewing of Monsters, Inc. We had not seen this, and a friend had a new large HDTV he had to show off. It was a very cute movie, and I loved the concept. The animation was outstanding, but I think Shrek 2 was better from that standpoint. Then again, Monsters has been out for a couple of years now, and improvements have been made.
Our last movie was the third “Harry Potter” movie. One word – outstanding! The three kids have aged, and their acting has improved accordingly. Despite what the promos and advanced information says about this movie, I found it to be lighter than the first two. The visuals seemed more realistic, especially the detailing of the Hogwarts castle. There were changes from the book, but even more dramatic and disconcerting were the changes from the previous movies. The Griffindor commons room didn’t look the same, Hagrid’s cottage and the Walloping Willow were in totally different places, and the grounds looked less lush and much rockier than the previous movies. All in all, I like the new versions better, but it was hard making that leap.
The music in this third Harry Potter was much better – probably because there was less of it. The choral theme of “Something Wicked This Way Comes” was repeated as a catchy motif throughout in combination with the HP theme. I also like the touches of jazz and swing thrown in during Professor Lupin’s classes. Interesting note – having just transcribed the HP Theme, I notice that they changed one or two notes – not enough to be significant, but enough to alter the feel of the theme very subtly. The beauty of a movie, and it’s music, is often in these details.