Pottermania mach 5, plus The In-Complete Pluto

Hey kids! Believe it or not, but a few of us here are still playing catchup from when we launched Animated Views at the end of last year! There’s only so much time we can dedicate to running a full-time site on a part-time basis, right? Well, the catchup got a little narrower today with another new review, this time for another in the most recent of the Walt Disney Treasures series. I’ll be looking soon at Your Host, Walt Disney, but in the meantime, here are my thoughts on The Complete Pluto, Volume Two. While the set concludes the pup’s toons on DVD, I have to gripe about the “complete” tag, and go into several reasons why in the review itself. Pluto Two joins our Volume One coverage and the other reviews for the last wave of Treasures: don’t forget to catch Rodney’s discussion of More Silly Symphonies and Rand’s views on The Hardy Boys.

I also wanted to let you guys know that we still haven’t announced the winners of our Casper Contest for a good reason: we still don’t have the actual copies in yet from Classic Media to give away, even though the titles have been out on store shelves for a good couple of weeks now. We don’t want to disappoint by naming names and then not be able to pony up the prizes, so thanks for bearing with us while we await the shipment from Classic’s publicity people.

I caught the latest big screen Harry Potter the other night, in preparation for “the big day” this Saturday (for you Muggles, the weekend marks the publication of the final book in the series, where we’ll find out if You Know Who lives or dies). Though the movie is already making silly money (something like $200m over the weekend alone, at the last look) I have to say I found it to be only a so-so adaptation of the book. Thus far, for me at least, the Potter movies seem to be following that old Star Trek pattern of the even numbered outings being the better ones. The first film was great, almost old-fashioned entertainment, but the youngsters were still finding their roles and the Imageworks effects were sometimes painful to watch. The Chamber Of Secrets, the second, went darker and provided more meat in both the performances, plot and especially the effects, thanks to Industrial Light And Magic picking up those duties. The third, Prisoner Of Azkaban, critically acclaimed and by all accounts the fan favorite, contained practically no story, and didn’t seem to progress things profoundly. If anything, The Goblet Of Fire contained too much plot, allowing the filmmakers the luxury of dropping and combining scenes to make a better film as opposed to a book translation.

With this new one, I didn’t feel like there had been any progression, technically or emotionally. There isn’t anything in The Order Of The Pheonix that we haven’t seen or felt before, and it’s not until the very end when things really get magical. My liking the even numbered films may fall apart with the next one, though: I found the first half of the book to be a real chore to get through, with its many flashbacks but overall lack of story progression. Things should get exciting in the second half of the eventual film, but one has to wonder and hope that JK Rowling hasn’t saved too much to resolve for the final adventure. We’ll find out this weekend if fans are pleased…

– Ben.