Emily (foresthouse) wrote,

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Review: Terry Pratchett & Sky One's Hogfather

I've *finally* watched Hogfather now. The lovely and wonderful Anna mailed me one of the limited edition ones that were passed out in the gift bags at The Colour of Magic screening on my birthday last month. (Anna was also an extra in CoM, so when I see that one I'll have to look for her!) She also sent me one of the actual plastic teeth used as props in the miniseries (as "stolen" by Terry after filming wrapped).

It now resides in the little green box that Karen gave me for my birthday.

My thoughts on Hogfather, the miniseries:


As a whole, the 2-part miniseries is a beautifully accurate rendition of both story and scene. The atmosphere and settings turned out just perfect; buildings and rooms look exactly as I'd picture them, costumes are properly Victorian-ish, and details of clothing and set in the book all made it to the movie. I was especially fond of Lord Downey's study in the Guild of Assassins, Violet Bottler's tooth fairy outfit, and both of Susan's costumes. Also the interior of Unseen University was very well done (although I must admit at the moment when Ridcully pushes open the doors to the great hall for the Hogswatch feast, I had a momentary Harry Potter flashback).

Many of the characters are exactly as I'd have imagined, and for those that weren't quite as I'd imagined, most were at least as good as what I had imagined, if not better. One character I was never really able to imagine entirely from the books, to be honest, was Nobby Nobbs, as I could never quite decide what he looked like from his description. (Ugly. Scrawny. Also, ugly.) However, Nobby as done in the film, while not quite as ugly as I'd sort-of-imagined, was fantastically...Nobby. Kind of sidling and funny looking but also vaguely endearing. So well done, there.

I think even those not knowing the story ahead of time would find the miniseries to be quirky and fun, occasionally creepy, and also sometimes touching. Certainly it makes you think or presents some possible new outlooks. And there are several funny moments, of course. Interactions of Albert and Death are particularly amusing, and the wizards have several moments. Terry's cameo is, of course, awesome.

One critique is that the story is a bit slow here and there. It may be because Vadim Jean was trying to stay so close to the book, or it may be that, as per Terry's writing, sometimes very short scenes are interspersed with each other in a way that, in writing, is great, but in film, might lessen the impact of some scenes. Not sure. Regardless, there are some slow parts, but then, there are some scenes that whisk along and are just perfect, so it kind of evens out. Certainly for a first Pratchett film I think it was delightful overall.

Most wonderfully well-cast and accurate characters:

Michelle Dockery is absolutely, 100% Susan, and I don't think I could have imagined her any better. Not only are the costuming and hair perfect (and she's cute as a button), but her delivery and her alterations between being stern and no-nonsense and occasionally showing softness are exactly right. She is badass:

Mister Teatime:

Marc Warren as Teatime = so creepy. First of all, the look is perfect because he has an attractive face and they gave him the cherubic curls, and then...there are those eyes. So he's exactly as described in the book - appealing but not. On top of it, for the role Warren took Johnny Depp's performance as Willy Wonka as his inspiration, and adapted it so that the creepiness remained and the endearing parts of Depp's performance were all eradicated. So we're left with, essentially, all the parts of Wonka that were a little off, with nothing to balance them. And then Warren's own additional characterizations. The overall impression is a perfect mix of attraction and repulsion. Also I loved how they gave him the trait of being able to turn up anywhere unexpectedly.

I've heard from several folks that David Jason is too old to play Rincewind in CoM, and I'll agree that he's not the age I pictured Rincewind to be at the time of CoM, but if he pulls it off like he pulled off Albert, I really don't care. He was fantastic. Albert is crusty and gruff, but also has a wry and sometimes slightly malicious sense of humor, and David Jason delivers it perfectly.

Medium Dave:
He's just the book character to a T. The perfect bravado. Well done, Peter Guinness.

The toymaker:
Terry is so. freakin'. adorable. as the toymaker in his brief cameo. Although some comedic writers (*hem* Dave Barry) are rumored to be not-as-funny-in-real-life, Terry is blessed with being funny both on paper and in real life. He just has perfect timing and delivery. So his tiny stint as the toymaker is hilarious and endearing and very "real." Perfect.

The Eater of Socks:
I'm so glad I found a picture of this little guy, because he's ADORABLE.

Death is kind of on this list and the next. I really loved the way he moved and the delivery of his lines. Very much as I pictured Discworld Death. See below for my tiny nitpicks.

Characters I was not quite as fond of:

The Auditors:
Their appearance was perfect. For some reason, though, their voices were not as I'd imagined. Maybe there should have been...more echo? Something about them wasn't right. I think I'd want them to be either more flat or more imposing.

I'm sorry. This is no one's fault but mine, but when I read Death, I hear James Earl Jones. Even Terry's admitted he should sound like him! So I have to say that there was just a tiny part of me that wasn't satisfied with Death's vocalization, even though it was excellent. My other nitpick is that Death's mouth didn't move when he talked. That just made it slightly less real.

Favorite moments:

Both of the Susan-Teatime fights were brilliant. In the Tooth Fairy's castle, starting from the moment when she says, "I think I know you. You're the little boy no one wanted to play with" to the moment he falls, it's just one amazing scene. Michelle Dockery shines. And in the scene where Teatime is trying to kill Death...Marc Warren was just perfect. And I *loved* what happened to his eyes when he died.

The final scene with Susan and Death was SO CUTE. It's one of my favorite scenes in the book, too. Death trying to be a granddad and giving Susan his poor attempt at a Hogswatch card. The real snow, the robin that flew away - it really encapsulates Terry's version of Death, and they just nailed that scene.

The mall scene is a favorite in the book, and it was great here. My one beef is that I wanted MORE of Death talking to the little kids, because he's so funny there.

The scene with the little matchgirl is another favorite in both book and movie. Terry's statement (through Albert) on how things work, and Death's comment on how that's not fair is a whole lot of profoundness wrapped up in a moment, and I love it.

Scenes I wish they'd included because, hello, awesome! But which I know would probably not have worked well on screen:

- The scene where the king is trying to give the confused peasant his leftovers, and then Death comes in and PWNS the king. Also notable for poor Death's sadness at not generally being someone people are glad to see. Aw.

- The scenes in which Death gives the beggars a feast and the restaurant manager goes nuts, because...hee! I know those characters! I've worked with them in real restaurants.


Oh, really. There aren't that many, other than the pacing here and there. And occasional moments of special effects that aren't quite real enough. But overall, great.

Tags: hogfather, movies, reviews, terry pratchett, the internet iz serius biznes

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