Monday, July 25, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Initial Attraction:

I am a Harry Potter fanatic and am totally bias toward the books and cannon. It bothers me when there are big changes or omissions of book to movie adaptations. However, I do have knowledge of the filmmaking process and understand and appreciate creative visual re-interpretations from the written page. I was excited and sad to see this beloved series wrapped up. My heart was pounding through the entire film and I was very engaged throughout my first viewing. Harry Potter is an admirable and lovable character that anyone can relate to and Daniel Radcliffe is not half bad to look at either ;)


I thought it was nice that they gave us a bit of a refresher showing Voldemort possess the Elder Wand.

The scenes at Hogwarts are very reminiscent of Hitler and Nazi’s the way the students are marching as Snape stands regally watching over them. The haunting melody of “Lily’s Theme” played at the opening and closing of the film gave me chills.

I didn’t feel very strongly about the scenes at Shell Cottage or in Gringotts. Ollivander helped to explain and reemphasize wandlore details that carried over from part one. I thought that Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of Emma Watson’s Hermione was hilarious, and I found the escape scene on the dragon very exciting.

I also found it sweet that you can see the sympathy Hermione has for the Dragon guarding the Lestrange vault. I think having Harry be able to “hear” the Horcruxes when he got near them smart and a good change to make in film for time constraints and lack of previous explanation.

The cinematography in the scene where the trio is pulling off their wet clothes and Harry is retelling his vision of Voldemort made me nauseous. I found the circular camera motions to be distracting.

I wasn’t happy with who they cast to play Aberforth and it really bothered me that they didn’t learn the whole story about his and Albus’ sister Arianna and the rest of their family and Albus’ relationship with Grindelwald who was introduced in Part 1 but never came up again in Part 2. I thought Aberfoth’s performance felt forced and was too brief to connect with him at all.

Matt Lewis was awesome as Neville he was cool and heroic and sweet. I loved the scene welcoming back Harry, Ron and Hermione and the “lightning has struck” code for his return. The awkward moment with Harry and Ginny was cute and sweet in a weird way, but I don’t understand why they make their love for each other feel so embarrassing.

The scene with all of the students in the Great Hall was an awesome chance for Alan Rickman to have his last suave drawn out Snape speech. I LOVED when Harry stepped forward and confronted him verbally; it was very exciting to watch since it wasn’t in the book that way.

However, I didn’t feel like his reinforcements were big enough, the people on Harry’s side didn’t seem like their numbers were big enough, especially considering that Voldemort has hundreds of followers with him when he attacks the castle.

The scene where the girls start screaming in the Great Hall and Voldemort gives a speech as he possesses everyone’s mind was riveting and eloquent. I also loved the brief exchange between McGonagal and Harry in which she shows the warmth she has for him. McGonagal also shows how badass she can be in this film which was awesome since her shining moment(s) from Half Blood Prince were not filmed. Her quip to Seamus about his “pyrotechniques” was hilarious.

I thought that the glistening shield that created a dome to protect Hogwarts was beautiful and effective. Luna was so sweet in this film; Evanna Lynch has great chemistry with Daniel Radcliffe. “Harry Potter you listen to me!” was hilarious; she is truly one of Rowling’s greatest creations and was perfectly cast.

The scene with Helena Ravenclaw was slightly disappointing, because she didn’t tell Harry the whole story of how Tom Riddle tricked her and her relationship with the Bloody Barron. Kelly MacDonald was a great addition to the British cast though.

Since I am a HUGE Harry/Ginny fangirl and have griped about their wimpy kisses in the past I will retract my anger here (slightly). The kiss that they shared on the stairway amongst the chaos was both sweet and passionate, I squealed inside when Ginny looked at Harry and whispered “I know” before they parted. EEK!!! Little things like that go so far, because that says so much with so little, and they never quite established in the films how much they do love each other.

Showing Ron and Hermione in the Chamber of Secrets was a smart move for the movie and interesting to see, I think it was smart to have their kiss occur then in private and in the heat of the moment instead of in front of Harry. The bit about Harry talking in his sleep was very funny also!

The scene in the room of requirement had amazing special effects and was very frightening. I loved when Ron freaked out when Malfoy and his cronies were trying to curse Hermione and he yells “that’s my girlfriend!” It was a nice detail to see Goyle (if anyone was wondering Crabbe’s absence was due to a Pot scandal) attempting to put out the Fiendfyre but not being able to. It was also great to see Hermione on a broom flying through the fire!

The battle of Hogwarts felt much smaller and more intimate than in the book, there just didn’t seem to be enough bodies in the castle. I was mad that they killed off Lavender and I was also mad that it was Hermione and not Ron that “saved” her. And I would really like to know where the heck GRAWP was? They showed other giants so it couldn’t have been a money constraint. That was Rowling’s whole point in including him in the Order of the Phoenix movie and establishing his character, because he returns for the final battle and wreaks havoc. The trio was amazing in this one though and their wand fighting skills were superb, I am happy that they portrayed them as able adult wizards.

Snape’s death scene was sad and actually frightening. This was the point where the waterworks really started for me. I am going to jump aboard the Alan Rickman deserves an Oscar train and ride it until the nominees are announced. His acting in this film (and throughout the series in fact) was ASTOUNDING!!!

I will go on record saying that the “Snape’s memories” montage was the most beautifully tragic and emotionally moving segment of the entire Harry Potter series and perhaps in the history of cinema. Two scenes that really stood out for me were when Dumbledore told Snape that Harry was an accidental Horcrux and had to be killed and when Snape shows Dumbledore his Patronus is a Doe and Dumbledore asks “even after all this time?” and Snape replies “Always…” I honestly cannot find the words for higher praise, I feel as if that series of scenes will never fail to make me cry. The image of Snape holding Lily’s dead body and both he and baby Harry crying hysterically is forever etched in my mind. The image was a very moving change and addition from the book.

Harry deciding to meet Voldemort in the forest and face his death was not as drawn out and emotional as it was in the book, even with his direct interaction with Ron and Hermione. I really craved Harry to tell both of them how much he loved them even if it would have been a bit cheesy.

The scene with Harry’s “ghost family” that appears after Harry takes the resurrection stone out of the snitch was sweet and emotional (at this point my face is already stained with tears). I really wanted him to hold onto them a bit longer before dropping the stone and  for them to stay by his side when he faced Voldemort. Also, Harry’s line addressing Lupin’s son made no sense since it was never established that Tonks gave birth in parts 1 or 2.

The scene where Harry and Dumbledore talk in King’s Cross was well done, but I was disappointed that Harry wasn’t naked. LOL but the film editing nerd in me loved that they kept changing the direction of the path Harry and Dumbledore were walking. However, the part of Voldemort’s soul that was left unwanted under the bench was too repulsive for words; it looked like an aborted fetus. I did love that they included my favorite Dumbledore quote “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Another Harry/Ginny detail that I latched onto was the reaction of Ginny when she thought Harry was dead and her father’s attempt to restrain her. The Voldemort/Draco hug moment was weird and disturbing. I don’t think that Voldemort would really attempt to hug anyone, but at the same time I remember in the book how he was trying to portray himself in a likable way and show shades of “mercy” to those left alive.

Harry jumping from Hagrid’s arms and taking off like a bat out of hell was so epic it made me do a fist pump. It was much more badass than him hiding under the cloak like in the book.

The “not my daughter you bitch” could have been delivered with a little more gusto by Julie Walters and I found it strange that Bellatrix shriveled up and then burst, but it was still another fist pump worthy moment.

The Harry/Voldemort fight/chase/abuse was brutal. It got dirty when Voldemort was literally kicking and slapping Harry which was the sort of demeaning treatment I am sure he thought Harry deserved. However, I do not understand why Harry thought it was a good idea to pull Voldemort off of a ledge so they both plummeted to their deaths, and what was up with the face morphing? That part made no sense to me.

Having both Hermione and Ron trying to kill Nagini was very exciting and scary. It made the task seem that much harder and more epic when Neville finally slices the bitch in half!

I would much have preferred to have seen the Harry/Voldemort showdown take place in the crowded Great Hall and heard Harry tell off Voldemort and call him Tom and tell him to try for remorse. I also didn’t like that Voldemort wasn’t actually finished off by his own rebounded killing curse. The way the scene occurred in the film, Harry simply defeated him and 7/8ths of his soul were destroyed, but there was still 1/8th left inside of his body. It was also weird and haunting when he exploded and bits of him were floating in the air…

The penultimate scene with Harry, Ron, and Hermione standing looking at the destruction on the bridge was a nice ending, but it bothered me that Harry didn’t mend his own wand before destroying the Elder Wand.

The epilogue “19 years later” was adorable beyond words; I was squealing with glee and so happy that it dripped with sentiment. I know that some fans were not pleased with it when they read it in the book, but I think Harry really deserves some sappiness after all he has been through. I thought the makeup was convincing and realistic and I also though the actors did a great job playing older. Daniel Radcliffe was the sweetest father ever to his son Albus and I appreciated the verbatim dialogue from the book. The very last shot of Harry, Ron, and Hermione watching the Hogwarts’ train depart from Kings Cross was full of nostalgia and magic!

Disappointment: Here is my biggest gripe with Part 2: they did nothing to explain that Harry became the Master of Death because he was the true owner of all three Hallows. They did not establish that he had his Invisibility Cloak stashed under his jacket, nor that he dropped the stone near to where he fell when Voldemort “kills” him. The movie is called Harry Potter and the DEATHLY HALLOWS!!! Why would you, as a filmmaker, spend all that time setting up a plot point to not utilize it in its most crucial moment?

Surprises: At times I felt this film was borderline “R.” Firstly when Voldemort got pissed when he realized Harry had taken the cup from the Lestrange’s vault and started killing everyone in sight and then walked amongst the corpses as the blood stained his bare feet. Secondly was when Snape is killed by Nagini violently attacking him several times, the scene disturbed me even though you “see” it through a dirty window.  

Watch-ability: Every visual aspect of this film from the special effects to the camera work was beautiful. The acting was top notch from all of the principle actors (hint hint Academy) and the film was visceral, moving, emotional, and jam packed with nostalgia. I have never been so aware and moved by a film score before especially not during the first viewing. I tip my hat to Alexander Desplat (hey that rhymes) because I appreciated his beautiful themes he contributed and his incorporation of John Williams’ magical composition of “Hedwig’s Theme”. All in all this film was a beautiful piece of art that was a high note to end the cinematically epic and historical Harry Potter series.

Stay tuned for another epic Harry Potter post where you can read my thoughts on the adaptation of the series as a whole.

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