Who is the Best Dumbledore? Paul & Mike Debate!

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We’re about to get the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, and with it, we’re getting Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, and frankly, he looks amazing.  There is a chance he could be the best Dumbledore, but for the time being, let’s discuss the two Dumbledores that we’ve had real experience with; the old Dumbledores.

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First there was Richard Harris, who started off the Harry Potter films as Dumbledore in the first two installments.  At the time, Richard Harris was seen as perfect.  Then, he passed away, and they cast Michael Gambon who played the character until the final film in that series.  Since the final film, I hear people often refer to him as the superior Dumbledore, in fact Paul and I had a discussion about this a few months ago when the first trailers came out for FB2, and we both landed on opposite sides of the Harris/Gambon coin, so my hope is that Paul will write an argument defending his side, and you can decide for yourselves (although I’m right).

14A9E09B-B8CD-4FF2-8C75-FC5BA786D3C3Richard Harris is the better Dumbledore.  The complaints that I hear most often about Harris’ Dumbledore is that he’s too stuffy, and too serious.  I disagree.

You see, Albus Dumbledore, is supposed to be the wisest, most proficient wizard the world has ever seen. He’s the Stephen Hawking of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When you reach that level, there are responsibilities that come with the job, and part of those responsibilities, is playing the part in order to be taken seriously.  Dumbledore has a public face, and a private face.  We get the Dumbledore who sounds like a drone addressing the entirety of Hogwarts, and we get the private moments, with someone like Harry, someone who also is thrust into the ‘fame’ of the wizarding world, in which he’s playful.

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People think of Richard Harris’ Dumbledore as the guy who woodenly says “well done Slytherin, well done Slytherin” in the great hall when announcing the final house points at the end of the first film, but another moment just before that is the reality of Richard Harris’ Dumbledore.  When he’s addressing Harry alone, in the medical ward, and he has the conversation about “it’s a complete secret, so naturally the entire school knows,” and picks a ‘toffee’ Bernie Botts Every Flavor Bean, only to discover “alas earwax” with a playful sigh.

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He has the twinkle in his eye, of a man who understands this is all a bit goofy, but I have to keep up appearances in order to accomplish my goals, but with someone like Harry, I get to let that guard down, because he too is going to be a pivotal piece in the oncoming war.

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The reason I don’t think Gambon is as good, is because Gambon’s Dumbledore is always what the ‘private’ version of Dumbledore should be.  He doesn’t have a wise public face.  Is that something I admire in a person in real life? Yes.  Is it Dumbledore? I don’t think so.  Gambon’s obviously not a bad Dumbledore, in fact, if he were the only Dumbledore, he’d probably score higher with me personally, but to me, Harris is the Dumbledore of the books manifested into reality, and Gambon is a ‘take’ on Dumbledore.

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Now, in the trailers for FB2, we’ve yet to see Dumbledore interacting with anyone but Newt (that I can think of) and so it’s unclear to me if he’ll be what I want, or slightly different, but I’m very enthusiastic to find out.

Which do you think is the better Dumbledore, tell me in the comments below!

Paul’s Response: WHY MICHAEL GAMBON IS THE BETTER DUMBLEDORE…

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

I was very excited when Mike suggested that I propose a counter argument to his conclusion about which actor is the best on screen Dumbledore: Harris or Gambon? (We’re leaving Jude Law out for the time being). To be clear, I’m going to be talking about both the novels and the films in this article. So let’s get to it!

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Well, Mike is correct, I do think that Gambon is the superior Dumbledore. However, before I make my case for why I think Gambon is the better Dumbledore, I think it’s important to express how I view Dumbledore as a character. After all, I think we need to define who Dumbledore is before we can decide who better played the character.

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If there’s one thing we know about the magical community depicted in Harry Potter, it’s that they LOVE their heroes and villains. Whether it’s Dumbledore, Harry, Snape, Voldemort, Grindelwald, Sirius Black, or countless others, people in this world love to cast individuals as the champion of all that’s good or the ultimate evil. Yet in all the examples, I’ve listed above, it’s never been that simple. Dumbledore embodies the idea that people we love, respect, and look up to, people who we think have all the answers, are all too human. Understanding that our mentor figures aren’t perfect is part of growing up.

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Mike argues that we get a stiff and wooden Dumbledore from Richard Harris because the character is playing the part of the stoic, responsible, all knowing leader of the wizarding community. But that’s just not who Dumbledore is, I think that’s just Harris’ performance. In the novels, from the start, in public and in private he was a playful character. He was always way more Gandalf The Grey than Gandalf The White. It’s ironic that I think my perfect casting for the Dumbledore of the books would be Ian McKellan. Because Gandalf really is the archetypal wizard. However, I do agree that Dumbledore the character uses his persona and reputation, but not out of a sense of responsibility. He uses that persona to get what he wants and manipulate people.

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Mike makes the point that Dumbledore is supposed to be “the wisest and most proficient wizard the world has ever seen”. Well, is Dumbledore one of, if not, THE greatest wizard of all time? Probably. But, wisest? I’m not so sure… and I don’t think Dumbledore is either. Mike’s right, there’s definitely a duality to Dumbledore, but I don’t see it the same way he does.

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Another beloved pop culture character that’s a great parallel to Dumbledore is Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men. On the surface, they both appear to be saintly, wise, saviors, father figures who always know what to do. However, for both men, the truth is much darker. They’re manipulative, they have dark secrets, and most importantly they exploit their reputation to get people to follow and trust them even when they have no fucking idea what they’re doing. They’re even willing to sacrifice the lives of people who put their faith in them in the name of a greater good. In Dumbledore’s case, you could argue that his entire relationship with Harry is about fattening a pig for slaughter. I’ll admit, I was playing a little bit of devil’s advocate there, but I do think there’s some truth to the idea that Harry was a pawn in Dumbledore’s war with Voldemort.

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Both in the films and the books, Dumbledore isn’t afraid to be playful and mischievous even under serious circumstances. Like his many confrontations wth The Ministry of Magic, for example. He often feels like a comedian playing to an audience of one (himself). Like his iconic escape from being arrested by The Ministry, vanishing in a burst of flame with Fawkes, his Phoenix,. in Order of The Phoenix. It’s spoken by Kingsley  Shaklebolt in the film, but in the book, one of the portraits in Dumbledore’s office delivers the immortal line to The Minister of Magic: “You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts… but you cannot deny he’s got style…”.

Richard Harris was 72 when he passed away, but as Dumbledore he looked, sounded, and moved like he was 100. There are a lot of older actors who can pull off action, but I just don’t see Richard Harris’ Dumbledore pulling off that insane duel with Voldemort in The Ministry of Magic.

Dumbledore should never feel feeble, despite his age and I think with Gambon he never did.  Dumbledore needed to be a somewhat physical character. Harris looks like he’s in a wheel chair. A lot of this is moot because Harris only had 2 movies to develop this character and the vast majority of important Dumbledore moments are later in the series, when Gambon has taken the reins.

We see very little of the nuances I’ve described here from Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore. To be fair, I think that had the full series been published, when the cast started crafting these characters on screen, they may have made different performance choices. For example, though I love Snape and the late great Alan Rickman, perhaps he would have chewed a little bit less scenery had he known where the character’s story was going. Maybe Richard Harris would have put some more nuance into his performance as Dumbledore. Gambon got the juiciest Dumbledore material. The series doesn’t really hit it’s stride and become the classic that it is until the 3rd book. Unfortunately,  because of his death we never got to see how he would have handled some of the biggest Dumbledore moments in the series. With all due respect to Mike, Harris is probably the most miscast character in the series. One of the reasons I’m so excited for “Fantastic Beasts Have You Seen Them, Oh Johnny Depp’s Committing Some Crimes Now, He’s In The Case Too, They’re All In There 2” (Thank you, Mr. Sunday Movies) is because we may finally get a Dumbledore as rich and interesting as he is in the novels. Because let’s be honest in the context of all 7 book, Richard Harris simply does not work as the legendary Albus Dumbledore.

Anyway, thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed the debate!

-Paul & Mike

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TRAILER: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Fantastic Beasts 2)!

Hi everyone,

The final trailer for the second installment of Fantastic Beasts dropped about an hour ago, give it a watch and then scroll down to see what I thought about it:

The first thing that I want to talk about is Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne.  Newt was amazing in the first one, and I absolutely loved what he brought to the table, but there had been some rumors that he was going to be downplayed in this film due to audience response.  I’m glad to see that this trailer looks like that isn’t true.

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Newt is a great protagonist because he’s so different from the archetypal male protagonists we’re used to in action films, unlike the universe’s namesake Harry Potter.  I mean, I love the original movies, but did you ever notice that Harry’s magical method is shouting his incantations and spells as loud as possible to make them as powerful as possible?  He’s a bit of a yeller.  Newt on the other hand is soft spoken, and it took people off guard, because they weren’t used to it, but it lent the series some real rounding out.  There’s a great video all about Newt and his ‘Fantastic Masculinity’ that I think is really eye opening, and interesting.

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So that’s my first big take away, based on rumors and my own expectations.  The second is Grindelwald himself.  Now, I loved Colin Farrell in the first film, and I have to be completely honest, I was not happy to find out we were getting a Johnny Depp filled film in the sequel (and possible the three films after this).  I’m one of the many “Johnny Depp hasn’t been reined in enough” viewers, and was worried we’d get another ‘cartoon-y’ performance.  The trailer has a lot of Depp, and it appears as if he’s riding that same sweet spot of eccentric, but not too weird, that launched him into performances like Jack Sparrow.  So I remain cautiously optimistic.  The bleached white hair, and the accent aren’t a great sign, but he never fully crosses the goofy line.

The third part is Jude Law.  I think most Potter fans were excited to see him as Dumbledore when the first pictures were released. However, seeing him in action in this confirms for me that he’s going to be awesome.  I think Jude Law is great casting, but also they seem to have Dumbledore in a more youthful, but still Dumbledorian role, relegated to being the chess master in the background again.  I think too much Dumbledore could ruin the mystique, and so this is a great decision.

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With Dumbledore, many of the fans were nervous that he wasn’t going to be directly expressing his homosexuality in this film, and I don’t know how overt it will be in the film (I’m personally game for any level), but he does tell Newt, that he cannot be the main one to oppose Grindelwald, and there is a shot that seems to show Dumbledore sadly pining for his lost love.  I imagine this is included in the trailer to appease the nervous fans, and basically say “you may not see them making out, but Dumbledore loves Grindelwald.”  Which I personally think makes sense, because it seemed as if their love happened as children and it’s over at this point.

The last thing I want to touch upon, is that they’re bringing back the main cast from the first movie and I’m thrilled about it.  I loved the three supporting characters, and I really think they helped to flesh out the differences between the muggle and wizard worlds. While also differentiating Newt from Harry.

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I’ve been very excited about this film since I saw the first one, but today after watching this trailer I’m more excited than ever. This looks awesome to me.  Comment below and let us know what you think about the trailer, whether or not you’re psyched for the movie, and whatever else this trailer stirs up in you!

Solo: Learning the Wrong Lessons!

 

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There’s a quote from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Once again you’ve put your keen and penetrating mind to the task and as usual come to the wrong conclusion!” said by Sirius Black to Severus Snape.  The quote is one of my favorites, and I cannot think of a place where it seems to apply more than Hollywood.

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If you somehow break through and make a movie about a woman who makes falls in love with a water balloon, the lesson that Hollywood would take from that is “water balloons are sexy” and you’d see some crazy slate of movies in which water balloons have sex with hot women, and drive fast cars, and airplanes, and stuff.  (Sorry about all the water balloons but I’m sitting next to a bag full of balloons, so it was the weirdest thing in eye shot.)CC061DFE-2E9C-46D1-9B5F-B81599E0CFA5We’ve seen Hollywood learn the wrong lesson from successes too many times to count, (i.e. all of the Jaws sequels, and Piranha movies and so many others).  But we also see them learn the lesson from failures.  This can be really upsetting to me personally, because it often means something is abandoned early due to the wrong reasons, and who likes their movie franchises ended early?

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The latest victim of this problem, seems to be Star Wars.  I wrote about Solo a few weeks ago, but let me catch you up.  The film seemed like a bad idea, but it was a good movie.  So now, almost a month after it’s release Disney and Lucasfilm have announced that they’re reconsidering Star Wars spin-offs due to its failure.

So let’s talk about its failure, and yes it seems it is undeniably a financial failure (although the budget hasn’t been released so it’s difficult to tell exactly).  First of all, you released 3 Star Wars 3 Decembers in a row, and they were all very successful.  Is that because the films were excellent?  I’ve liked them all, but there is a fair amount of debate on the quality of each.  A huge reason for their success was the fact that December doesn’t have much for general audiences, it’s prestige film season, which leaves the “blockbuster” crowd open.  That cannot be underestimated as a factor in their success.  Solo however, came out just 6 months after TLJ in May.  May was the traditional time for Star Wars in the previous 2 trilogies, but May’s were not as packed with action films in those years, and movies had multiple weeks (in some cases months) to rule the box office.  This year we had Avengers: Infinity War (also a Disney film, which should be a double no-no for packing them in the same 30-day period) which was the biggest film of the year (and has the potential to be the top of the decade) was released a month before, then Deadpool was released a week before, and just three weeks after Solo, came the Incredibles (again Disney, wtf were you thinking?  Spread it out more).

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So that’s the first problem, Disney put Solo out with the biggest films of the year, and even by Star Wars standards it shouldn’t have.  It’s far from the largest story, or the biggest impact in that universe.  The second problem is confidence.

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Solo suffered from a few pieces of confidence undercutting.  After the fact that many of us didn’t think the idea was a good idea, there were the production ‘issues,’ with Lord and Miller getting fired mid-production, Ron Howard having to take over and needing to reshoot (which involved recasting at least one role), and then lastly there was the rumors of Alden Ehrenreich needing and acting coach.  None of these would add up to confidence boosting, then we didn’t see a trailer until February which seemed very late in the game for a film of this size.  And lastly, TLJ, it’s a pretty split popularity, but when 50% of the audience thinks the film was a crap-fest, and think Disney has ‘ruined Star Wars,’ six months may not be enough time to cleanse their palettes.

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Let me offer an example of a time when the correct lesson was learned, and how it may benefit you to follow in those footsteps.  On November 23rd 1963, the BBC aired the pilot of Doctor Who, and it did really poorly in the ratings that night.  The executive in charge was on the side of canceling the show after the first episode, because obviously the whole thing was going to be a flop, but the creator was opposed to that.  She argued that the show had suffered from the whole world being consumed by JFK’s assassination the day before, and that if they reaired the pilot a week later, that would be a more realistic example of how the show would do.  She was right, and the show continued for 26 years before being canceled (and then rebooted, and now having 50 years, 3 movies, and 36 seasons altogether).  They realized that timing had been off.  Releasing Solo in the midst of the superhero frenzy was bad timing, don’t blame Solo for that.

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So I ask you this question, given all of those things could Solo have succeeded? Even modestly?  I don’t think it really could have.  But Disney is looking the box office and acting as if that means the movie is a piece of shit, which it wasn’t.  Please Disney, learn the right lesson. I get that you don’t want this to happen again, but if you learn the wrong lesson it likely will.  Please, I love Star Wars too much for it to become the DCEU (with all the second guessing and undercutting and ultimately not learning the right thing)…  I’m begging you.

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Written by Michael Cole

FIRST LOOK: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

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The cast of  Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

I haven’t spoken much about it on any of our podcasts or written about it in any of my articles, but I’m a huge, huge fan of the Harry Potter books. I really believe they’ll go down in history, remembered as some of the best fantasy literature of our time. For the most part, I’m also a big fan of the films as well. There were some things that were fundamentally flawed to them, but to get such a beloved series done that well, over eight films is a huge accomplishment. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two were probably the best of the films.
But my favorite moments in the books were always quiet, character driven moments. Like an emotional and distraught Harry venting to Dumbledore in his office after the death of Sirius Black. Or seeing the real reason Snape hated Harry so much, when Harry gets a glimpse in a pensive that shows him Snape’s worst memory. Which included being humiliated by Harry’s father when they were both students at Hogwarts. Harry had to come to terms with the idea that his Dad wasn’t the perfect, ideal image in his head, but a real, flawed person. For the most part I felt some of the most powerful moments in the Books were passed too quickly, if they were even touched on it all.

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Now we have this new series of films that take place in the Harry Potter Universe set in the late 1920’s: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”or as Mr. Sunday Movies calls them “Fantastic Creatures, Have You Seen Them, Where Are They, Are They In The Case? I Bet They’re In The Case. They were In The Case”. EW.com had a bunch of great character photos from the upcoming movie, which I have posted throughout the article. I enjoyed the first film well enough, but what that really hurt the film for me was the reveal that Collin Farrell‘s character was actually Gellert Grindelwald, infamous dark wizard in disguise, played in ridiculous make up by Johnny Depp. Shortly after the first Fantastic Beasts film came out it was announced that the over arcing plot of the series would be the growing threat of Grindelwald and the magical war that takes place in this universe roughly around the time of our WW2 in the muggle world.

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Johnny Depp (UGH) as Gellert Grindelwald

I really like this concept from a storytelling standpoint because in the Harry Potter books and films Dumbledore is such a world renowned, respected wizard because he cut his teeth being the man who took down Grindelwald, who was at that time the darkest and most dangerous wizard the world had ever seen (at least until He Who Must Not Be Named came along).   Dumbledore has always been one of the more fascinating characters in the Harry Potter universe, so getting to see more of this character in a very different part of his life is really intriguing to me. Another interesting wrinkle in this backstory is the fact that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were romantically involved. They were kind of like Charles Xavier and Magneto, they were two men who were gifted magicians and had a lot of the same ideas, but Grindelwald felt that Muggles should bow down and be subservient to the wizards of the world. Grindenwald felt that magic users were inherently superior to non-magical humans. That’s where he and Dumbledore parted ways and their friendship became increasingly antagonistic until Grindelwald gathered followers and was basically in open war with the rest of the world. You’ll see in the photos that they cast Jude Law as young(ish) Dumbledore, which I think is excellent casting.

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Jude Law as Prof. Albus Dumbledore

Still, I can’t help think it was such a missed opportunity that they swapped out Colin Farrell for Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp hasn’t put in a compelling performance in years. He relies on absurd visual gimmicks, just like you see in these photos. Colin Farrell was genuinely menacing in Fantastic Beasts. He’s a great actor and would’ve made an excellent Grindelwald. I still hope they keep him around and use him in the series in someway (I forget his character’s name). Because the only way a wizard can turn into another person is by creating a potion called pollyjuice but that requires the person they are impersonating to still be alive. So the real Colin Farrell has to be out there somewhere. Anyway I thought these were some interesting photos that I thought you’d find interesting. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in theaters 11/16/2018.

Thanks for reading!
-Paul

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It would be nice if  a bus just  fucking took him out  seconds after this picture. I mean, he’s in  the middle of the fucking street!