I’ll Keep On Smiling From The Times I Had With Them – Part 5 of 5

*This contains spoilers, and is also, really, really long*

Alright, it’s here.  It’s finally happened.  And it’s over.  *sigh*  And it was … interesting.

I wanted to write this review at 3 am this morning when I burst into my house after attending a sold out, nerd-filled showing at my local favorite theater.  But I needed time to marinate.  I feel as though I need to see it a second time to fully appreciate and understand, but I like to keep things timely, if I can.

The Harry Potter series (in case you haven’t figured out if you’ve glanced through this blog) is one of my favorite things, pretty much ever.  I got into the game late (2009), even though my lil’ sis (Prof. X) was a devout believer from the start.  And now that it’s over, I feel empty.  As if there will never be anything else like this, something that captures your mind, heart, and soul so entirely,  you truly cannot fathom how you existed before you knew about this world and these people.  So um, yeah … it means a lot to me.

Coming in, I had high expectations.  Part 1 was very faithful and websites like Rotten Tomatoes had nothing but awesome buzz and tons of snippets of early, excellent reviews.  At the age of 30, one would think I’d eventually learn not to get too amped up, but I guess I’m still a 3-year-old at heart.

The film picks up right where the first left off, and then jumps right on in.  The pace is brisk, and it’s all very action/emotion-packed, but that petulant 3-year old in me is bothered by the changes that were made and things that were glossed over.  Many, many things are omitted:

  • Any explanation of why the Hufflepuff cup or Ravenclaw diadem were chosen as horcruxes, and how they came to be such objects, let alone how the kids figured out how they were going to find them, is just eliminiated.  Harry literally says something to the effect of “I have a feeling the cup is in the Lestrange’s vault, let’s go.”  No, it would not have been prudent to try to explain 100% how those things came to be, but it just felt so rushed, that the horcruxes ended up seeming quite easy to destroy, which is certainly not the case on the page.
  •  There’s no Dumbledore back story here, which breaks my heart because I thought it was so sordid and tragic, and as always it makes you understand why the character is who he is, the choices he makes.  Why mention that Dumbledore has a shady past in Part 1 if you never bring it up again?
  • Certain deaths that take place, while not explained in great detail in the book either, are literally relegated to Harry glancing over at their dead body; if I was a casual movie-goer, I’d have no goddamn clue who any of the dead were, or why I was supposed to be sad.
  • Harry never uses the Elder Wand to repair his own, he simply snaps it in half and dumps it over a cliff.  (!)
  • When he finally kills Voldy, once and for all, it’s only the two of them, no one else witnesses, and it’s like, never mentioned again.
  • The Epilogue is clunky (although to be fair, ’tis the same in the book, so I shouldn’t be bothered).
  • Harry never asks Neville to kill Nagini, he keeps bugging Hermione and Ron to do it, and they keep failing.
  • Harry never explained Snape’s true allegiance to Voldy, they just fight and blast themselves all over the castle, and the awesome scene in the trailer, where he says “because I have something to live for” is nowhere to be seen.
  • They don’t let Ron call Draco a “bastard.”  Can’t you say “bastard” in a PG-13?
  • When certain characters died, they exploded into confetti….when, in the entire saga, has this ever happened?
  • I also had problems with Voldemort himself … he honestly at this point has become a bit silly.  Many in my screening laughed when he was on-screen.  He even awkwardly “hugged” Draco.  Yes, you read that right.

Despite the tone of this post, I don’t want to vilify the film too greatly; in defense of screenwriter Steve Kloves, there probably wasn’t much way to get exposition like the story of Helga Hufflepuff’s cup in without making three movies.  The film did get some things right, one in particular, spectacularly, and I’m ready to go full bipolar and change to the happiness gear:

  • Some of the characters are finally allowed to get the screen time they’ve always deserved.  McGonagall (the marvelous Maggie Smith), who is kind of badass throughout the series, finally gets her awesome scenes on-screen, and we get to watch her duel with Snape, and cast the spell for Hogwarts to start protecting itself.  These were some of my favorite parts of the book, and while they’re a bit truncated here, they were still included, and for that I’m thankful.
  • Neville (Clive Owen-minus-fifteen-years lookalike Matthew Lewis) gets to shine as the badass that he is, fulfilling his pivotal role of chopping the shit out of Nagini.
  • And finally, Snape.  I was TERRIFIED that they’d ruin his death scene and memories, two of the most heart-wrenching, touching, and pivotal moments in the entire saga. Shockingly, most of the Prince’s Tale is included here, and it’s done marvelously.  All the credit goes to the ridiculously talented and plain EXCELLENT Alan Rickman, who hits it out of the park, conveying the pain, tragedy, unrequited love, regret, bravery, and sacrifice that his character embodies.  The death scene was sudden, shocking and violent, even though I knew it was coming.  It’s fair to say a pin drop could be heard during this stretch of the movie; almost 24 hours later, I’m still slightly stunned that the filmmakers managed to get this part so RIGHT.

The Snape-amazement kind of nulls and voids my disenchantment with the rest of the film, and I’m hoping that with another viewing, I might pick up a few more snippets that I missed the first time around, or I’ll just be in a less psyched up frame of mind, ready to see things a little differently.  Overall, I was simultaneously disappointed, and greatly entertained.  I was hoping that with two films and almost 5 hours, nothing would have been missed. However, The Deathly Hallows is an enormous, insanely complex tale, that wove together thousands of pages of plot details and character bits from ten years of story-telling; we as viewers should not expect it all to fit.  Given that it seemed to be a lackluster adaptation, but overall enjoyable film to just sit back and watch, I can’t put it at #1 in my personal ranking.  After some soul-searching, I decided it fits below Part 1.  As time goes on, this may change, but currently, this is the final ranking, and it’s with a heavy heart and choke in the back of my throat that I use the word “final.”  I know we’re all luckier for something of this magnitude to be in our lives.     

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban – the best :)
  2. Deathly Hallows, pt. 1
  3. Deathly Hallows, pt. 2
  4. Goblet of Fire
  5. Chamber of Secrets
  6. Half-Blood Prince
  7. Sorcerer’s Stone
  8. Order of the Phoenix – the worst :(

~Annie

The rest:  The Trailer Test, Part 4, Part 3, Part 2.5, Part 2, Part 1

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You Put A Spell On Me, I Don’t Know What To Do – Part 4 of 5

And so begins the last week before a Harry Potter movie is released, ever.  I feel comfortable commencing absolute excitement, obsession, and all-consuming sadness.  To honor the emotional roller-coaster and epic cultural event, all of my posts this week are going to revolve around the boy who lived (why yes, I get made fun of constantly).

Part 4: Ahh, Just Right                                                                                                           Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Deathly Hallows isn’t my favorite book, but it’s damn close.  Every storyline, every character, every moment, serves a purpose.  Loose ends are tied up in knots, there’s heart, deaths, tears, enough action to please even Michael Bay … I can’t imagine any series ever being wrapped up so perfectly.

Many people have expressed anger or annoyance that the book was split into two films; I for one cannot understand how anyone who has actually read the thing would feel that way.  If one film had been made, David Heyman (producer) has said himself they’d have to leave out things like Snape’s memories.  You know, the chapter that explained the crux of the ENTIRE STORY.  So leaving out explanation like that I find to be completely unacceptable.  Was Warner Bros. pumped up to make even more money?  Undoubtedly.  However, a creative and integral choice was made when they decided to go with two; it allowed them to be more faithful, explain more things, and do justice to the finale.  How is that bad, in any way?  Who possibly loses in that scenario??  Definitely not me, who gets to see an extra film.  The 5th and 6th installments left out so many plot points, to try to tie the end of the story up, and explain things, even in a “for dummies” way, REQUIRES two parts.  It could have been done, but would have been a travesty and greatly dishonored one of the most cherished, and magnificent, stories of all time.

The film looks crisp and beautiful; here, finally, David Yates’ vision finds a harmony between that level of darkness that’s only visible in a theater, and the light of being out in the real world, not solely in a gloomy castle.  I’m usually averse to wasting screen time adding bits that never would have happened on paper (the Burrow burning down in HBP, I’m talking to you) but the extras here were welcome, even pleasant.  The much-maligned “dance scene” between Harry and Hermione that totally never happened worked on-screen – it was a break from the all the heavy drama that was going down, and provided a nice showcase to see these lifelong friends actually act like it.

Honestly, one of my only complaints with this film is why they failed to explain the trace put on Voldemort’s name – in several scenes, it’s used and Death Eaters promptly arrive, with no explanation.  Although, it might get mentioned in the second part, which means I can’t file a formal complaint yet … so I guess I have no complaints.  The kids acting has never been better, there are dozens of emotional punches packed, everything looks FANTASTIC, and even clocking in at 2 hrs and 26 minutes, this puppy is BRISK.  It moves along, and you don’t want it to end.  They got everything of chief importance in there, which is truly saying something, given how little filler there is.

Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 is a terrific adaptation of about 2/3 of the book, and as a movie, is exciting, sad, and engrossing.  Does it serve to set the stage for part 2?  OBVIOUSLY ( ;)), but what so many fail to realize, is that part 2 means nothing without the groundwork of that stage.

Current rank (verrrry curious to see how I’m going to feel Friday morning!):

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban – the best :)
  2. Deathly Hallows, pt. 1
  3. Goblet of Fire
  4. Chamber of Secrets
  5. Half-Blood Prince
  6. Sorcerer’s Stone
  7. Order of the Phoenix – the worst :(

~Annie

The rest of the series:  The Trailer Test, Part 5, Part 3, Part 2.5, Part 2, Part 1

Wait Until I Come I’ll Take Your Soul – Part 3 of 5

Is the title of this post a tad dramatic?  Maybe, but in all honestly, the 5th and 6th films (two of the most important, foreboding, and enormous of the books) in the Harry Potter series were total failures on many levels, and I need to get it off my chest.  These films are like knives in my gut.

Part 3:  The Blasphemous                                                                                                                                                                  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix & Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Both of these books begin to unveil the labyrinthine truths behind everything that has ever happened in the series, and guess what?  Said truths focus on the adult characters, their pasts, their sins, and Harry begins to discover and learn facts that change him forever. This is one of my major problems with the films once David Yates took over as director – the adult characters were relegated to the background, and their storylines trimmed to, in some cases, nothingness.  For instance, Snape’s fairly prominent role in Order was somehow turned into about 4 minutes of screen time, McGonagall is almost entirely omitted, and everybody remembers what happened to her in the same book.  I’m WELL AWARE that everything on the page cannot be transferred to the screen, but since Order, it has felt like the filmmakers purposely tried to diminish these vital aspects of the story, because they just wanted to focus on the main trio, apealling to the masses of youngsters who love the franchise.

Some of my many problems with the fifth film are that it’s boring as shit, terribly paced, and overall, the story is just hacked to pieces with an ax.  SO many events of importance are omitted to the point where it’s just like, why the fuck did you even bother to make this movie?  There were ONLY two good things featured in this installment:  Umbridge (Imelda Staunton nailed the uptight, prissy terrorist), and the final, surprisingly awesome battle scene between Voldy and Dumbledore.  Someone named Michael Goldberg wrote this screenplay (this is the only film without Kloves penning the script) and this may be the most unfortunate thing to happen to the franchise.  He’s the first person who trimmed so much fat (that turned out to be lean meat), I honestly don’t know how Rowling didn’t go after this guy with weapons of mass destruction (I know, I know:  Her hands are tied when it comes to the films, and she continues to state that she loves each one).  I wondered what else Michael Goldberg had ever written and guess what I found?  He’s one of the co-writers of the current Green Lantern film, which I have not seen, but is getting decimated by critics, and the poor writing is one of the main complaints.  So, cheers to you Michael Goldberg.

In my opinion, Half Blood Prince was much gloomier than Order – shit gets BAD.   And there’s lots of meaty information divulged.  But here, inexplicably, Kloves/Yates and company have decided to make this a PG rom-com. The book’s side plot of Lavendar hearts Ron has been brought to the fore-front, and the kids hormones and teeny-bopper love issues (which were nothing of great importance in the book) are the main plot.  !   What.  In the.  FUCK.  Were they thinking?  Honesty, how can they live with themselves?  When Lavendar Brown has more screen time than Snape ( I apologize that my irrational Snape love colors all my posts, but he’s the most complex, interesting character in the books and if you can’t agree with that, go fly a kite – in a lightning storm) something’s definitely rotten in Denmark.  The filmmakers have said that this is the darkest film, blah blah blah, you know what’s dark?  The color scheme.  Everything is so grey/blue/cyan-ified, unless my house is pitch-fucking-black, I can hardly see what’s happening on the screen.  I give them credit for trying to make the thing look unique, but when I saw the 6th film in theaters (at this point still not having read a single page of any book), I remember being really angry that Dumbledore’s death was less poignant and intense than Cedric Diggory’s.  That hurts, on a cellular level.

I’m sad the prophecy was never properly explained.  I’m sad Dumbledore got the shaft; there was no funeral to honor this beloved character.  I’m pissed Snape’s memory of getting terrorized by the marauders was chopped up into little pieces like it was at the mercy of Jigsaw.  I’m sad they dropped a grenade on the Tom Riddle memories – which has done a massive disservice to the entire franchise by relegating Voldemort (who in the books is a much more Hitler-like, complex bad guy) to the one note “evil for no reason except he’s fucking evil” villain.   Hmmmppff.

All I can say is, Half-Blood Prince is paced better, and if you don’t worry about the book, it’s a decent film.  That’s why it’s a few spots higher in my personal ranking. Phoenix however, (minus Umbridge and that final action-packed ministry scene) sucks as a film, and is an abortion of an adaptation.  I wonder if Goldberg had never written that film and planted the seed into the heads of the suits that you can cut most of the book out and still make tons of money, would the following two films have contained more meat of the story?  Did the suits tell Kloves (who wrote faithful, decent adaptations before his one-film break) post-Goldberg – “cut this shit down?”???!  I found this awesome little nugget on the interwebz, and you can see that films 1, 2, and 5 have a GINORMOUS disconnect between length of film vs. length of book.  Oh wow, the ones who match up approximately are decent films (6 is not a bad movie, it’s a bad ADAPTATION), and 5 is both the longest book AND shortest movie.  That is fucking warped and ass-backwards.  I’ll never be able to get over this.  Ever.

Current rank:

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban – the best :)
  2. TBA – although you can figure it out by now 😉
  3. Goblet of Fire
  4. Chamber of Secrets
  5. Half-Blood Prince
  6. Sorcerer’s Stone
  7. Order of the Phoenix – the worst :(

~Annie

The rest of the series:  The Trailer Test, Part 5, Part 4, Part 2.5, Part 2, Part 1