So… the IMDB recently updated its page on Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince to show Terry Gilliam as the director. I'm not the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world – really, the competition for that position is so intense that I doubt I'm in the top million or so – but I'm very fond of Terry Gilliam, and I should be thankful that he's (possibly, if the decision is official and permanent, which seems unlikely this far out) getting the work.
But I can't help but wonder whether this would be a good thing, either for the Harry Potter franchise or for Gilliam.
According to various and sundry reports, Harry Potter author JK Rowling wanted him to direct the movies all along, and he's said in interviews that he was deeply pissed when he was passed over for the first couple, and that he went off driving around L.A. for hours to work off his anger. As the franchise just keeps growing, it wouldn't be too surprising if Rowling had gained the clout to make her wish come true, or if Gilliam just looks like a more feasible choice now that he's got a couple of completed films (The Brothers Grimm and Tideland) between himself and the debacle of his defunct Don Quixote picture. So it isn't really a question of the author's intent. And unlike most of his films, a Harry Potter feature is likely to make zillions of dollars, possibly boosting his always-questionable bankability, so that's a good thing.
But still. While Gilliam is a whiz with visuals, and could certainly pull off a memorable-looking Harry Potter film (though from my one reading, I don't recall Half-Blood Prince as a book particularly in need of Gilliam-esque effects; it seemed a lot talkier and more internal than the other books), he's a highly idiosyncratic director, prone to over-the-top goofery and comedic, bantery, mannered dialogue. Even Brazil – one of my all-time favorite films, and arguably Gilliam's most serious movie – is full of comic interludes and skit-like routines. Given that the Harry Potter films just keep getting better as they get darker and more adult, is the series likely to benefit from a director who cut his teeth on Monty Python material and has always relied on a strong whimsical streak to balance out his sometimes bitterly cynical material?
And by the same token, couldn't Gilliam be doing something more worthwhile with his time than cranking out another entry in a series of popular book adaptations? Couldn't he be out there making a film that no one else could possibly conceive of, let alone make?
I can't say I care enough to actually worry about this, and of course I'm curious what a Gilliam Harry Potter film would look like. But I'm just as curious whether people feel strongly about the issue one way or another. Am I completely off-base in thinking Gilliam is just the wrong person for this series, no matter how excellent a director he is in general?