Now that our era is coming to a close, we Harry Potter fans are reflecting on the last seven films as we prepare to say goodbye. For me, there's one little pretty significant bit that stands out in my mind: the day we were introduced to Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory. Twilight fans are going to hate me a little bit for the next 800 or so words, and for that I’m only marginally sorry. It’s true, Pattison was just better as Cedric Diggory than he is as Edward Cullen. That’s just a fact you’re going to have to make peace with – at least for this week because for Potter fans, it’s our last hurrah and you'll just have to let us have this one for now. We could have remembered Pattinson forever as Cedric – our beloved Cedric, may he rest in peace – but now, those memories are clouded with images of a pale-faced moper in a leather jacket.
Since I know those on the other side of the fence will want to know where the evidence for my “preposterous” claim stems from, let’s start with the easiest part: the superficial evaluation. Since they’re both portrayed by Pattinson, they’ve obviously got that signature modelesque smolder going for them, except that one of them looks like he’s actually a member of the living. Yeah, sure, vampires are “sexy” in a forbidden fruit, taboo sort of way, but let’s be real. Given the real-life choice between an adorable young man with flushed cheeks and a courageous heart or a pale, sparkling, sickly-looking undead guy who seems to have a greater affinity for Lancome lipstains than you do (oh, and when he gets frisky he may just try to suck your blood, NBD) how many of you would actually choose Cullen? In real life? Be honest. (Even if you’re emphatically saying “Me, me, ME!” in your head right now, I don’t believe you.)
Okay, so maybe you’re into the sparkle-goth-sickly look. Fine. But let’s talk about the sheer difficulty of spending time with a vampire versus spending time with a talented wizard. Vampires’ special powers: they can turn you into a vampire, they’re allergic to sunlight, they live forever, some possess the ability to read minds, they don’t breath, they can’t eat human food and it’s harder for them to go “vegetarian” than it is for a heroin addict to give up junk. Now before we get to Cedric, let’s just unpack this little suitcase. This all means no beach days spent sunning yourself on the sand FOREVER. No keeping secrets (even tiny little ones) to yourself FOREVER. No romantic dinner parties FOREVER.
On the other hand, wizards aren’t so complicated. What’s their special talent? They can do MAGIC. That’s it – no other complications. They can create light out of nothing. They can send letters that talk. They can fly through the air on broomsticks. They can fight DRAGONS. They drive flying cars. They can defend themselves with nothing more than a little wooden stick. And they don’t have to run from the sun or fight their own instincts or endure living forever to do it.
Finally, Cedric is just infinitely more irresistible. He’s uncommonly good. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, while the rest of Hogwarts is vilifying Harry for being chosen as a champion for the TriWizard Tournament, Cedric stands up for his rival, asking his friends not to terrorize the younger student. He helps Harry to decode a clue for the tournament; hec defends Harry when his father accosts Harry for some bad press coverage; and finally, when he and Harry both reach the TriWizard cup, he insists that Harry be the winner as a thank-you for Harry saving him twice in the maze. Of course on top of all that, he’s an excellent student, top of his class and beloved by lots of ladies. Basically, he’s a certifiable babe.
Edward on the other hand, does good deeds and protects his ladylove, for sure. But he’s such a mopey brooder. He stays up all night listening to indie music because he literally can’t sleep. He drives his collection of cars like a speed demon, which is only cool in Fast and Furious movies. He speaks like he’s still stuck in a former century and retains those difficult qualities of other literary characters like Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre, who’s romantic in theory, but not practice. Edward is self-loathing, sees himself as a monster, and is incredibly stubborn. Sure, he’s a romantic at heart, but you have to get past this thick, dark, emo exterior to get there. No thank you.
I can acknowledge that this is a matter of opinion (but mine is right) and it comes down to a certain distinction. Whether you’re the type of girl who prefers old James Dean movies to old Paul Newman movies (well, actually that’s kind of a difficult choice). Or whether you’re the girl who always dated dude with motorcycles and tattoos (hello, heartbreak) or the girl who dated nice guys with ambitions and tons of friends (okay, most of us have done both). Or whether you’re the girl who reads Vampire books or the girl who reads the best, most wonderful, magical series of books written in the last 20 years. Well, sorry Twi-hards, that last one’s the clincher. I’m going to have to call this one for the Potter kids.
Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) has one day and one day only to prove himself to his new partner Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) a 13-year vet of the LAPD narcotics division. Harris' years of hardcore experience on Los Angeles' meanest streets though have turned him into the same sort of criminal he's supposed to be putting away. At first it seems Harris intends to teach Hoyt his own brand of justice: that in order to catch the big fish sometimes officers must throw the smaller ones back. But as the hours slip away Hoyt learns just how bad his badass partner really is--Harris starts out as a taunting joker who just wants to give Hoyt a hard time but by nightfall he's turned into a full-blown monster bent on saving his own skin no matter what.
This two-man show is really a one-man show. It's Washington's game all the way as he bursts the almost priestly bubble of do-goodness that has surrounded him like a halo for most of his career with a sudden murderous burst of gunfire. In Day he is larger than life; clad in black leather and huge jewelry he towers both physically and psychologically over a scrawny goateed Hawke (looking like he just walked off the Reality Bites set) who tries valiantly to keep up with his Oscar-winning co-star. It's not that a perfectly wet-behind-the-ears Hawke doesn't adequately carry off the acting required for the situation he's in but really we're supposed to believe he hold his own in a fistfight-turned-deathmatch against guys more than twice his size? For his part Washington chews the scenery like it was his last meal as Alonzo goes from bad to worse but he sure makes it look fun.
Director Antoine Fuqua (Bait) used to direct music videos for artists like Coolio and it shows. Love the cool camera angles the warped POV shots the primary colors and raw soundtrack. And Fuqua's not afraid to show the L.A. streets at their worst. The first two-thirds are masterful work in character study as the line between good and evil becomes increasingly blurred. But by the final third the plot disintegrates getting hacky and waaayy contrived especially the "Hey! It just so happens..." coinky-dinks and a laughable ending that falls flat as a pancake and panders to an urban audience almost to the point of patronization. Most of this movie is so over-the-top it would be unwatchable were it not for its charismatic lead.