Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part I

So, after the embarrassment and incomprehensible folly that was "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince", a movie that on its own was a very fine film, but in comparison to the book, was a travesty of magical justice the likes of which should land you in an Azkiban type institution for screenwriting failures, I was apprehensive when the first part of the final movie of the Harry Potter saga was being released to the theaters.

Melanie Z and I had planned for months to join our families and see this movie all together, so when the weekend approached , I conferred with my own boss (aka The Lovely Steph Leann) and she conferred with her subordinate (aka her husband) and her servant team (aka the Z Children) and we agreed to skip the opening night and go to the Rave Motion Picture Theater on Saturday night, November 20th, for the 5pm show.  And at 415, I joined the Z Family in their seats, with The Lovely Steph Leann joining us a bit later.

And the movie began.  I could wax poetic about what they missed and what they screwed up, and believe me, the last movie deserved every criticism.  But "Deathly Hallows" was different.

First and foremost, it holds a huge, huge advantage over any of the previous six films, and that is simply that this movie covers only half the book.  The reason "Goblet of Fire" and "Order of the Phoenix" cut out almost half of their respective books is simply a time factor... you would have a six hour movie to cover everything ("Goblet of Fire" skipped the S.P.E.W. subplot, and was one of the few things I enjoyed about the movie versions over the books).

Essentially, the film version, at least Part I, of "The Deathly Hallows", is a little like a table of contents.  You see a live action snippet of each scene that is fully fleshed out in the book itself,  something is allowable because the 140 minutes of the movie covers only about 300 pages, not 500 pages.  

The Following Review is Spoiler Free, Assuming You Haven't Read the Book:
So, the movie starts out by showing each of the main three, Ron, Hermione and Harry, in their separate summer dwellings.  Each know what is coming, and each know the mission they are on, that being to find the "horcruxes" spelled out by Dumbledore in "Half-Blood Prince". 

Harry, of course, is staying at his aunt and uncle's house until his 17th birthday, when a wizard "comes of age", which leads to one heck of a daring escape involving Hermione, Ron, the Weasley Twins, Mr. Weasley and a host of others, including new characters unseen in the films, Bill Weasley and Mundungus Fletcher, and 7, count 'em, 7 Harry Potters. 

You know he escapes, otherwise the movie would be a little shorter than the 2 and a half hour running time, and from the escape starts the journey made by Ron, Hermione and Harry, to fulfill Dumbledore's mission.  There are great fight scenes, a few tense moments, a few emotional moments and one whacked out shot of Ron's imagination coming to life, featuring Harry and Hermione in a crazy make out session, sort of covered in grayish silvery body paint and... well, I'm not positive they have shirts on.

There are a few slower moments as well, integral to the plot, but a good chance to go to the restroom.  More familiar characters pop in and out, including Neville Longbottom, Draco Malfoy and my favorite character in the movies, Luna Lovegood. 

Prepare for a brutal ending to this first chapter, as its no secret that the penultimate film of the Harry Potter series sees much tragedy.  And when it stops, it stops--you can almost feel it coming as the scene builds.  And the screen goes black and that's it. 

Very light language, some violence, though its all due to wizards fighting with wands, and there are some tense moments. 

Bottom line?  The best of the seven movies by far.


I'm now going to dive into the Harry Potter seventh film, and I'm going to discuss things that you may not know if you haven't read the books. 


I'm going to discuss deaths, some of the differences in the movie and the book, and further discuss my thoughts on the movie.


If you don't want to know this stuff, just stop reading now.  Scroll up, or click on something else.  How about a good Christmas story? 

You ready for the spoiler stuff?  Here goes.

Overall, this movie was extremely well done, and done probably as best as could be done.   The book opens up with Snape meeting up with all the bad guys, including Voldemort, and continues onto the escape from the Dursleys home.

Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia are just tossing their stuff in the vehicle, and Vernon says, "We have to leave because its not safe for people like us!"  It skims over one of my favorite parts in the entire series--the Order of the Phoenix sends over a few people to help escort the Dursleys out of the house, and Dudley looks around confused, trying to understand why Harry isn't coming with them.  Its funny, yet at the same time, sentimental.

The Order of the Phoenix arrives, and it was really nice to put an acting face to Bill Weasley.  The Seven Potter scene is particularly funny as Fleur, now having turned into Harry via Polyjuice Potion, is still wearing her bra and skirt.

And in all the movies, we have yet to see a full scale wizarding battle... the ministry scene in "Order of the Phoenix" comes close, but only for a brief minute or two.  The battle amongst the Order and the Death Eaters in the skies of London, however, whets the appetite for what's to come.

We know in the sixth film, they neglected to show the battle of Hogwarts, with producers saying that they wanted the full scale battle to be featured in the final installment of the films... which means we have to wait. 

Bill Nighy makes an excellent Rufus Scrimgeour, the new Minister of Magic, and the guy who takes Scrimgeour's place, Pius Thicknesse, is played by an actor who looks nothing like I thought the character would look like--but it still fits perfectly.  Of course, the wedding of Bill and Fleur takes place as it does in the book, only Harry goes as himself in the movie rather than a Weasley cousin, and our three heroes make their escape when the Death Eaters crash the party.  Viktor Krum is nowhere to be seen.

The movie then follows the book fairly closely... like I mentioned, each scene is but a fraction of length and depth that's shown in the book, but again, the book has the power of being written page by page, not acted out minute by minute. 

There are few subtle changes, but nothing worth getting in a fuss over, and Ron's exit from Harry and Hermione is just... well, I don't want to say "heartbreaking", but it does tear at you.  Harry and Hermione go on to Godric's Hollow, and meet up with what ends up being Nagini the snake, and end up back in the woods again, Harry with a broken wand.  And in the midst of their isolation, Harry turns on the radio and has a great swing dance with Hermione... and for a split second, they look at each other, as if there are sparks there, then Hermione walks away.  Its a little odd, definitely not in the book...as a matter of fact, in the sixth film, Dumbledore asks Harry if there is something up with that Granger girl, and Harry defiantly says "no way".  Seems as if this movie wants to reaffirm that point.

Ron reappears, saves the day, saves Harry from drowning and helps to destroy the locket Horcrux--which, in the book, literally fights back, talking to Ron Weasley and goading his paranoia about being second to Harry in everything, and how Hermione truly doesn't like him.  And in the movie, it does a brilliant job of bringing this to life--the locket opens, and this huge cloud erupts, talking loudly to Ron about how he will never equal Harry, and how Hermione could never love him--and then, out of the locket, pops this image of Harry and Hermione making out.  And they look... well, the image only shows from the waist up, but they look naked, covered in silver body paint.  Kinda weird.

The three take a visit to the Lovegood household, with Rhys Ifans playing Xenophelius, Luna's father, and The Tale of the Three Brothers is told in simple, yet effective and fantastic animation.  Then we get to the Malfoy Manor, where they meet up with Luna, Mr. Ollivander and Griphook the Goblin.  Now, remember, in the book, Luna (and Dean Thomas, who is absent from this movie altogether) greets Ron and Harry when they are tossed into the dungeon, but Ollivander and Griphook are on death's door. 

Wormtail appears, but doesn't die in the movie, or at least doesn't seem too--in the book, he's bound by a spell to kill himself after the events in "Prisoner of Azkiban"--and Dobby comes out of nowhere to save all the good guys... taking a knife in the chest in the process, thrown by Bellatrix Lestrange, played so brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter. 

So, two things bother me about this scene... nothing too big, but its worth mentioning.  First, in the book, Griphook and Ollivander can barely move.  They are so weak and beaten down, when Griphook is taken upstairs, he's literally dragged.  Harry has to convince Griphook to tell the bad guys that the sword in question is a fake... which he does.  In the movie, Griphook and Ollivander are wandering around the dungeon, healthy and spry.  When Griphook is retrieved, Harry says nary a word about the sword, but somehow, Griphook knows what to say.

Secondly, Dobby's burial.  In the book, Harry holds Dobby while Dobby succumbs to the knife injury.  And he wants to bury him, without use of magic, just with shovels.  He even has his response ready when someone asks him why he's not using magic, but no one asks.  Instead, Harry, blistered, hot and sweaty from digging the hard ground, is joined by Bill, Ron and Dean who, wielding shovels of their own, help Harry dig.  There's someone tender and meaningful in this passage, and its glazed over by the movie, with Harry and Ron being the only ones doing anything with Dobby.  Bill and Fleur don't even show up.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the film, and have intentions on seeing it again.  I said before my favorite movie character is Luna, but my favorite book character is Ginny Weasley... but I'm not sure I dig Bonnie Wright.  I also think Fenrir Greybeck is fantastic in the book, but in the movie he's so marginalized and relegated to a second tier character.

Go see the movie, irregardless of whether you've read the book. 

1 comment:

  1. I thought the movie was great too, but to be honest I was quite disappointed at the "Ron comes back" scene. In the book, it was so intense and you thought Harry was really done for. And then he is saved by this stranger and you are left wondering..until you hear the characteristic..."ARE YOU MENTAL!?!?!" At which point in the book, I screamed outloud "RON!!!!"...that didn't occur. I was so sad they just kind of glazed over that prodigal returns moment. The end. LoL


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