Friday, July 15, 2011

The Potter Finale

The time is 1:32p.  I sit now in my recliner, Investigative Discovery showing Dateline NBC on the TV.  There's a bottle of water to my left on a Mickey Mouse coaster, and Leonard Matlin's Movie Guide 2011 on the arm of the chair.  Remote to my right.  Computer in front of me.  I sit, unable to relax, unable to focus on much of anything, except for the reflection that, a half hour ago, I was watching the credits to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" as they rolled on the screen.  A half hour and two minutes ago, I was watching the movie adaptation of the famous Epilogue in the final book of the Harry Potter series.

And now I sit and think about how absolutely, positively amazingly terrifically awesome this movie was.  Because it was all of those things.

Now, I'm not someone who just likes a movie because it has certain characters in it.  Hurricane Rhett raves about "Transformers: Rise of the Fallen", the second in the series, even though I thought it was terrible.  People tend to love "Terminator: Rise of the Machines", when I thought it was useless.  That is to say, just because its a an addition to a series I love and enjoy does not a great movie make...

...but this is a case where, as Yoda might put it, "...a great movie makes it does."

Because this movie has been out in wide release now for, oh, 12 hours or so, I'll keep any spoilers secret... if you haven't read the books, then I won't tell you anything you would find out in the movie.  If you have read the books, then I'll allude to some things that you might know if you think about it, but I won't spell it out.  Spell.  Spell?  Get it?  Harry Potter is a wizard and he... well, spells and... spells?  Never mind.

(now, if you haven't seen the last movie, I can't help you.)

Ron, Harry and Hermione outside of Shell Cottage
The movie jumps right in where the previous movie left off, with ol' Voldy jacking up Dumbledore's grave in order to get the Elder Wand.  We then see Harry on a beach, outside of Bill and Fleur Weasley's home, Shell Cottage.   Harry is leaning over a grave, one that he dug as a result of the death that happened at the end of Part 1, and he joins Hermione and Ron inside the cottage. 

For the next 20 minutes or so, you get a little exposition--Griphook the Goblin is there to discuss the plan that Harry, Ron and Hermione are working on... that is, breaking into Gringott's Bank to retrieve a hidden item from a heavily guarded vault, the vault of Bellatrix Lastrange.  The trio then move over to the room where an ailing Ollivander, the wandmaker, sits, and he talks about the secretive Elder Wand and the possibility of its existence.

Get through this little bit of conversation between the characters, and the movie takes off fast, like a dragon flying through the skies of London.   And the action comes fast and furious. 

Part 2 covers the last half of the final book, which, as we know culminates with The Battle of Hogwarts, and oh what a battle it is.  Prof. McGonagall turns into a bada** (there is no other way to put it), and Hogwarts comes alive with defenses, magic and literally an army of students, teachers and others to protect their school.

The bad guys come in full force, with Voldypoo and Bellatrix leading the charge, as Dementors and Death Eaters surround the castle.  Once the force field is broken (oh come on, that's in the previews...), it's game on.

The war covers probably the final 45 minutes to an hour of the book, but in my mind, it wasn't even long enough.  Having read "Deathly Hallows" 3 times, I remembered several little details that the movie skimmed over, and the movie has its own ideas of who should live and die.  I was actually surprised at the death of one character, thinking, "Really?  They didn't die in the book, and certainly not like that..."

And when the war is over, when its all said and done, we see that Epilogue, that five minute scene that tells you everything is good, everything is right... that tells you All is Well. 

As usual, I had a few small issues with the movie--kind of a "I didn't like that that character didn't do this, like in the book", and "We never saw them do that in the book!" and "Interesting that the movie chose to do this situation that way".  I missed seeing more of The Weasley Twins, Prof. Slughorn and others, but we get a good dose of Luna Lovegood, more Seamus Finnigan that we've gotten in a long time, and a huge dose of Neville Longbottom--as it should be.  Alan Rickman also gets to sink his claws into Severus Snape as a major player, something he had always been in the books, but not so much in most of the movies.

From the Epilogue, Ginny and her husband, with their son, Albus
Severus.  I feel bad for that kid.
But, for the first time I think in any of the Harry Potter movies, I can say with complete honesty, there are things that happen in this movie that I actually liked better than the book.  I love the series, but have always had an issue with the somewhat abrupt ending to the war, after Voldy dies (oh, come on now, you knew he would die, I'm not spoiling anything--that's like saying "Batman beats The Joker in 'The Dark Knight' ruins that movie for you...), and I feel like this movie ends a little better.  Maybe still abrupt, but not as much. 

With so much going on, your favorite characters do make appearances, but sometimes with little to no lines... The Weasley Twins speak twice.  Mr. and Mrs. Weasley have a combined three lines--and I think she says them all.  Even Hagrid only has a handful... but because this is the end, we get alot of characters that have remained AWOL during movies that didn't concern them... Percy is back.  Cho Chang is back.  Lavender Brown comes back.  Pansy Parkinson is back.  Even Goyle is back (Crabbe's absence is never explained, though in real life, the kid who played him, Jamie Waylett, was busted for drugs, so the movie's producers dropped him altogether).  According to the cast list, apparently Oliver Wood, Cormac McClaggen, one of the Patil twins and Romilda Vane appear, but I guess I missed them.  Either way, the love gets spread around to everyone.

All in all, this is the best of the Harry Potter series.  I think if you have only seen the movies, you will have a few questions and you'll find a few holes... and if you have read the book, you'll be like me, and have questions that start with, "I wonder why they did/didn't..."   However, because of the scope and size of the book, I think you will agree that they did the best that could have been done.  The screenwriter, Steve Kloves, got it right... absolutely right, and almost perfect.

And as the camera panned away from Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, and the familiar music came on and credit rolled, I had only one thought...

All is well.

The Summer of Blogging Day Thirty Eight

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