“When Have Any Of Our Plans Ever Actually Worked? We Plan, We Get There, All Hell Breaks Loose.”

Harry Potter is over . . .

It’s not as weird as I thought it would be.

SUMMARY:

. . . er, if you’ve watched the last seven movies, you probably don’t need a summary. If you haven’t watched the last seven movies, you’re probably not reading this review.

Oh, fine. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are racing to destroy the last of the Horcruxes, one of which is hidden at Hogwarts. Meanwhile, Voldemort is attacking the shit out of Hogwarts. He and Harry face off for the final time . . .

NOTES:

1. I’m going to get this out of the way before I really start my review. I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, but I also felt a bit dissatisfied when I left the theater. There are two main potential causes for my dissatisfaction: one, a few key scenes that were badly translated from book to film, and two, a few people in the audience who were consistently driving me crazy throughout the entire movie.

Hell, there’s really no way to say this without sounding like an awful person, so . . . there were a couple of mentally challenged children at the showing I went to, and they made very loud wooing or hooting sounds every time there was a piece of magic or after something serious happened, like an important character dying. It takes something out of the viewing when a person you’ve spent the last ten years watching is tragically killed off, and then . . . WOO!

You try to judge a movie solely based on the film that is presented, but I think everyone knows that’s not really what happens. Who you’re with, what mood you’re in, if you’ve read the book or not . . . these things affect your experience, especially on a first viewing. It seems worth noting that had I not been sitting a few seats away from these kids, I might have been able to stay in the story longer and thus liked the film better. Maybe.

2. Now, to some things I did like: as usual, I enjoyed all of the acting. It’s been kind of neat, seeing these kids grow up, particularly Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. (Oh, and Matthew Lewis. Watching little, round, eleven-year old Neville grow up into six-foot tall, adult Neville running around with a big sword is just crazy.) Usually, you watch child stars in a few things and then they disappear for years or go into a tabloid tailspin and die. With the Harry Potter films, however, we’ve really watched these kids grow into adults . . . which sounds kind of creepy, now that I think about it, but seeing them develop as actual actors instead of just kids just jumping around, reading lines like they’re in a school play . . . I don’t know, there’s something kind of nifty about that.

In this particular film, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint don’t have very much to do next to Daniel Radcliffe (something I’ll sort of revisit in a later note) but I do like their scenes together, particularly the one that everyone’s been waiting a decade for. I also think Daniel Radcliffe does well, and I’m really interested to see his next film, The Woman in Black, and how he does in something outside of Harry Potter.

3. My biggest acting shout outs, however, have to go to two people: Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. First, Ms. Smith.

I adore Maggie Smith, and one of my—well, not exactly problems—but disappointments with the film series is how much they underuse her because I think she’s pitch perfect as McGonagall. She gets a little more screen time in 7.2 than in previous films, and man, she sells every single moment she gets. Her girlish, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell!”? Love.

As for Alan Rickman . . .

. . . well, of course he’s phenomenal because he’s Alan Rickman, but this film was definitely his movie to shine. I’d estimate that his actual screen time was no longer than twenty minutes, but he bring such emotion to his performance . . . it’s brilliant to watch, really.

4. I also liked almost all of the action sequences. The whole movie pretty much is one long, giant action sequence, and sometimes that kind of thing can be exhausting if it’s not paced well, but overall, I thought David Yates kept it together . . .

5. . . . except for a few scenes that felt a little rushed to me. I mean, this is it. This is the fight we’ve been waiting for, a battle so huge that a whole movie is almost entirely devoted to it, and yet . . . in some ways, it doesn’t feel epic enough to me. Like I said, the action scenes are good, as far as they go, but there’s something lacking in scope, I think. Admittedly, this is Harry Potter’s story. The film should probably center around the title character—you know, it’s traditional—but I almost think the movie focuses too much on Harry Potter. Every wizard known to man is pretty much at this fight. Every wizard you’ve ever met over the seven previous movies is duking it out . . . and we only get a few seconds on a lot of important side characters. I get time constraints and all, but I think you lose out on some of the breadth of what’s happening when you gloss over 95% of the cast, especially . . .

6. . . . when it comes to two very important scenes from the book that are heavily altered or otherwise just not good enough.

Now, I’ve read all seven of the Harry Potter books, but I’m far less familiar with the later ones, particularly The Deathly Hallows, which I haven’t read in its entirety in over five years. Going into the film, I knew I’d forgotten half of what was supposed to happen (like, pretty much the whole Gringotts scene), so I wasn’t expecting accuracy to be one of my larger problems with the film. But, boy, was I wrong.

Of course, I’ll go into more details during the Spoiler Section, but to just hint at what scenes I’m referring to:

Scene A: Involves Fred Weasley.
Scene B. Involves Mrs. Weasley.

This movie did not do these two characters justice.

7. While I’m talking about source material, though . . . Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is not my favorite HP book. I mean, I do like some of it a lot, but I think it’s a bit convoluted, not to mention has probably my least favorite epilogue to a series, you know, ever. One of the things I think the film did well with, though, is streamlining a lot of the extraneous detail that I think clutters the novel. The plot of the book is often bogged down and kind of hard to follow at certain points. The movie does a commendable job in clearing that up. (Although, sometimes, they’re a little too zealous about streamlining for my tastes.)

8. Unfortunately, some problems with the source material cannot be fixed, not unless you want to enrage billions of fans by changing a pivotal plot point in the series. So, there’s this thing that happens in the book (Spoiler Section) and I didn’t know how I felt about it when I initially read it . . . although I leaned a little towards cop-out. And when I saw that part in the movie . . . yeah, it definitely screamed cop-out. It felt cheap, weak. And while I really don’t know that the filmmakers could have done much to prevent it (the story’s resolution really does depend upon this one thing happening) it still strikes me as a poorly written solution to provide a happy ending.

9. I didn’t see Deathly Hallows, Part Two in 3-D. If you read this blog with any regularity, you probably know how I feel about 3-D, even the good stuff. The only movie I have any interest in maybe seeing in 3-D is the latest installment of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series that comes out next year . . . because it has CHAINSAWS, 3-D CHAINSAWS. Otherwise, nope, no way, not doing it. You can take away my midnight showing, but you can never take away my freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom . . .  or my extra three dollars, which I will probably spend on oversized Milk Duds instead.

10. Finally, that epilogue that I absolutely hated? Yes, of course, they included it in the film as well, but it didn’t bother me here as much as it did in the book. Probably because it was mercifully brief . . . and, occasionally, unintentionally hilarious.

Enough with the vague notes? Want some actual details on what I did or didn’t like?

Spoilers below.

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

Okay. My very favorite character in the whole book series is Fred. Not Fred and George, mind you, but Fred. And when I read the seventh book and George got his ear shot off, I distinctly remember thinking, Fuck, George can’t die now. It’s going to be Fred. Rowling is totally going to kill off Fred. (It’s about balance, see. Also, law of the cinematic jungle: Carlie’s favorite character almost always inevitably dies.)

So, sure enough, Fred bites the big one, and I was totally bawling. And while I wasn’t looking forward to sobbing my heart out in the middle of a crowded theater (been there, done that, thanks a bunch, Serenity), I really wanted to see this scene in the movie. It’s the saddest scene in the whole book (okay, Hedwig was surprisingly depressing too) and I wanted to see if they’d lengthen it or make it more explosive or whatnot.

What I didn’t expect them to do was cut the fucking thing and have Fred die offscreen with Tonks and Lupin.

Now, offscreen deaths—when done right—can be appropriately tragic. It’s one kind of pain to fail to save your friend (or mentor or whoever) from dying in front of you. It’s another kind of pain when you find out that your friend (or mentor or whoever) has died before you even knew that they needed to be saved. Tonks and Lupin are killed off like this in the book, and it works okay for them—particularly so in the film series, where they frankly just aren’t as important as they are in the novels.

But Fred—Fred is a very important side character. Fred and George are in every single HP movie. They’re a huge comic relief to the series, and they often have some of the very best dialogue. More than that, Fred is a Weasley, and not even a Weasley that no one cares about, like Percy. His death is supposed to be heartbreaking. It’s supposed to be this huge deal.

And the film gives his death as much as time and consideration as it does to Lavender Brown.

No. No, this is wrong. I take serious issue with this.

It’s especially problematic for me in regards to Mrs. Weasley. I mean, you see the Weasley family grieve for approximately ten seconds, but then the film moves on to other things, and Fred is pretty much forgotten. The thing is, though, when Mrs. Weasley is being a badass dueling with Bellatrix Lestrange? Her grief for Fred should be fueling this scene. She’s lost one kid. She isn’t going to lose another. “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!” is the most awesome moment in the whole HP series . . . it’s tantamount to Sam Gamgee’s “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” line in LOTR . . . but here, it’s just stripped of all its emotional wealth and total badassery. Sure, the scene’s in there, but it’s no longer than forty-five seconds, and Mrs. Weasley deserved a lot more than that. Hell, Bellatrix Lestrange deserved a lot more than that.

(In a side note, I have to give props to Helena Bonham Carter pretending to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix Lestrange earlier in the film. She conveys so much in just her facial expressions. It’s a really well acted scene.)

Okay, so they skimped out on Fred’s death scene and Mrs. Weasley’s awesomeness. Boo. Thankfully, they did not skimp out on all of Snape’s scenes. Yay! This is one point where I think the film actually improved on the novel. (Yes, yes, a film can never be better than the novel, blah, blah, moving on.) The greatness of these scenes is mostly due to the incredible power that is Alan Rickman, whose grief for the woman he loved makes you feel more sorry for Lily Potter (a chick who’s been dead for 17 years) than for anyone else in the film. Snape’s flashbacks are easily the most powerful and emotionally charged scenes in the whole movie. I feel a sympathy for Snape that I never really felt during the books, and that’s kind of cool.

Let’s see, what else . . . okay, so Harry goes off to face Voldemort alone, and on his stroll through the Forbidden Forest, he runs into a bunch of ghosts. Now, this is another scene that I loved in the book . . . it was so simple and so honest . . . but while I don’t think they quite captured it as well in the film, it’s at least a decent effort (unlike the Weasley scenes, oy). Harry allows Voldemort to kill him so that Voldemort will inadvertently destroy his own accidental Horcrux. And then . . .

. . . we go to the King’s Crossing Limbo Scene. This is the scene where I have a problem with the source material. I must be clear here: I did not want these books or movies to end up with Harry Potter dead. That would have been horrible. I would not have been pleased. That being said, the fact that Voldemort only kills the Horcrux . . .  but doesn’t exactly kill Harry . . . but Harry ends up chatting with what’s possibly/probably Dumbledore’s ghost . . . and then Harry wakes up fine . . . it’s a cheat. It’s not explained enough for me. I think it’s weak writing. I don’t know that the film could have made this scene better, but it stuck out badly to me, even more than when I initially read it. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s a Writer Joe/Writer Susan Moment.

Writer Joe: So, Voldemort kills Harry.

Writer Susan: But Voldemort can’t kill Harry! This is a children’s novel! Okay, maybe not anymore, but kids learned to love READING on this series. They’ve GROWN UP with Harry Potter. We can’t just kill him off and call it a day! Do YOU want to be responsible for scarring a whole generation of kids? Do YOU want to be the next Bambi’s mum’s killer?

Writer Joe: Gosh, Writer Susan, I don’t want that at all. But what do we do? Voldemort has to kill Harry. I mean, that’s the only way the story works. I guess he could come back to life . . . ooh, he could use the Resurrection Stone!

Writer Susan: No, no, he has to arbitrarily drop that on the ground because he’s Ready to Die . . . or something. I don’t know. I’m not exactly clear on why he can’t use the Resurrection Stone. But he definitely can’t do it.

Writer Joe: Well, unless the Killing Curse only magically kills the Horcrux inside of Harry, but doesn’t actually kill Harry himself for no apparent reason that I can think of, and then Harry somehow winds up in special Limbo world talking to someone’s ghost who “explains” all of this nonsense to the audience . . . I’ve got nothing.

Writer Susan: . . . hmmmmm. Hey, you know what I think we should do? Have the Killing Curse magically kill the Horcrux inside of Harry, but NOT Harry himself, and then have Harry somehow wind up in special Limbo world talking to DUMBLEDORE’s ghost who “explains” all of this nonsense to the audience.

Writer Joe: . . . I like the way you think, Writer Susan!

Well, anyway, cheap or not, Harry lives. He eventually kills Voldemort, and all is good in the land of Oz (well, except for Fred and Tonks and Lupin and Snape and Lavender and Dobby and Hedwig and Mad Eye and anyone else who died or might have loved these people) and we have a nice moment with Harry, Hermione, and Ron before we zoom on to the epilogue.

My problem with the novel’s epilogue is this: it’s cheesy as hell. It’s feel-good to the point that I want to vomit rainbows. It’s J.K. Rowling using five hundred or so words to write AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER in 72-inch bold font. Seriously, I wanted these books to end on an up note. I didn’t want to be thoroughly depressed and crying my eyes out . . . but the way this series ends, it’s so cheerful that it’s like the anti-Dementors invaded, like no character will ever have a sad or unhappy thought ever again. Honestly, it’s takes away from everything you just read. It would be like Frodo deciding to stay in the Shire at the end of LOTR, so he can live a joyous life giving motivational speeches about not letting amputated phalanges hold you back in life, speeches which he often puts on hold so that he can break out into spontaneous group renditions of, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” with all the other hobbits tuning in.

The epilogue bothers me a little less in the film, if only because I don’t have to hear about every single child being named after every single dead person except for Fred. It’s also brief, which makes me happy. The “let’s make 20-year-olds into 40-year-olds’s” makeup also makes me happy because it’s totally ridiculous, especially on Ginny and Hermione. I don’t think they even bothered to change Hermione at all, and the only thing they do to Ginny is give her a Jackie O haircut, which doesn’t age her in the slightest. (If anything, it makes her look younger, like she’s playing dress up in her mom’s clothing.)

And . . . that’s about that. Finito. Finished. DONE.

CONCLUSIONS:

Not a bad movie . . . but not a great conclusion to the series. Good individual action scenes and some nice nods to the whole series . . . but also some rushed action sequences that took away from the emotion and the epicness of the final battle. It’s like 7.1 got all the emotion, and 7.2 got all of the action. 7.1 is the better film, period. Good acting all around, though. Some nice humor here and there.

MVP:

Alan Rickman

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B/B+

MORAL:

Death cannot stop you . . . unless you’re anyone but the hero in a children’s/young adult fantasy epic series. Then, it can totally stop you. But if you’re said hero, congrats! Welcome to Limbo!

Also, love is the most powerful force in the world. That’s pretty much the moral of all the HP films.

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12 Responses to “When Have Any Of Our Plans Ever Actually Worked? We Plan, We Get There, All Hell Breaks Loose.”

  1. Tom Palmer says:

    Her girlish, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell!”? Love.

    I hated that line. I agree that Maggie Smith is perfect as McGonagall, but that line should never have been spoken by that character.

    as usual, I enjoyed all of the acting.

    The acting was better than it had been in previous films. I remember being a bit disappointed with Rupert Grint a few times in the past.

    Oh, and Matthew Lewis. Watching little, round, eleven-year old Neville grow up into six-foot tall, adult Neville running around with a big sword is just crazy.

    I wonder if they would have cast him way back when if they’d known he’d turn out so looking so different from Neville in the books. I haven’t read them in a while, but I seem to remember he was still supposed to kind of plump and in stature more along the lines of Daniel Radcliffe’s.

    You can take away my midnight showing, but you can never take away my freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom . . . or my extra three dollars, which I will probably spend on oversized Milk Duds instead.

    I feel the same way. I’d probably go for Jujyfruits.

    You’re quite wrong about the King’s Cross Limbo Scene. That worked well in the book, and was a nice way of solving a problem. What would have been cheap, easy, and lazy writing would have been killing him off, just as some of the other characters that were killed off just to show that Rowling was ballsy enough to do it.

    My problem with the novel’s epilogue is this: it’s cheesy as hell.

    I agree with you on that. I’d like to get my copy of the book rebound taking out that epilogue.

    What I thought would have been funny is a fake epilogue leaked before the book came out where Harry wakes up in his cupboard under the stairs and none of it happened.

    In the end, this movie did what it was supposed to do – make money itself, and also make money by advertising the books.

  2. Macabre says:

    I always felt that Harry having to sacrifice himself in order to permanently kill Voldemort was the only logical ending to the series. Of course, if Rowling had written that ending, everyone in the world would’ve freaked out and demanded that she write another novel where Harry is resurrected. But I’d much rather have tears and depression instead of rainbows and happily-ever-afters.

    I enjoyed the movie a lot. I think it’s one of the better films of the series. I guess if you combine it with part one as one really long ass movie, it probably is the best movie of the series. Although Azkaban and <Half-Blood Prince are still my favorite Potter movies.

    I agree that it would’ve nice to see more of what was happening during the battle of Hogwarts. We should’ve seen some of the good guys dying to help add gravity to the situation. The epilogue was terrible and unnecessary in the novel, but kind of hilarious in the film, albeit unintentionally. Ginny had to be the least convincing woman/mother I’ve ever seen. It’s like you said, it came across more like they were playing dress-up.

    Sorry you had to watch the film with retards (literally). My experience wasn’t much better. I usually try to go to matinees because it’s several dollars cheaper, and I also like to avoid a crowded theater. Even the matinee of this movie was full, though. I’d forgotten how annoying it is to listen to dozens of people slurping on drinks and smacking their gums on candy and shuffling their popcorn. I also had some redneck sitting directly behind me that kept making loud guttural noises throughout the film like he was trying to hock a loogie. Plus he would grunt every now and then and I would start to smell something not so pleasant. I felt like Agent Smith in The Matrix when he’s talking to Morpheous: “I can taste your stink, and everytime I do, I feel as if I’ve somehow been infected by it.”

    • Tom Palmer says:

      I always felt that Harry having to sacrifice himself in order to permanently kill Voldemort was the only logical ending to the series.

      Too predictable. Too pat.

      • Macabre says:

        How would it have been predictable to kill off one of the most popular and beloved heroes in the history of fiction? If Harry would’ve died (and stayed dead) people would’ve been shocked, infuriated and upset. He’s the main character. Everyone expects him to survive and vanquish Voldemort.

        As for the whole King’s Cross limbo thing, how many times in movies and fiction have we seen these kind of scenes? Way too damn much, imo. A character briefly dies, visits a form of the afterlife, has another character explain a bunch of shit to him/her (and most notably the audience), then is told, “It’s not your time yet. There’s so much you still have to do,” and so the character magically comes back to life to do said things.

        If Rowling truly wanted to be unpredictable, Harry would’ve died, stayed dead, and someone random like the late-night watchmen guy would’ve been the one to kill Voldemort. Either that, or Harry would’ve been like, “I can’t handle all this fucking pressure anymore!” and committed suicide, allowing Voldemort to take over the world. The last line of the movie woud’ve been: “MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!”

      • Tom Palmer says:

        You’ve already said why.

  3. Susan says:

    i don’t want to say i was underwhelmed, but i wasn’t overwhelmed. i completely enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as big of a bang and i thought it would be? the last scene “19 years later” was just WEIRD. harry was the only one who looked older, but also strangely wide and possibly CGI’d…the rest of them were just super awkward especially Draco-yikes to whoever married his ass. I didn’t read the books, so I don’t know but you maybe you know. Anyway…I think it was smart to cut off part 1 where they did and leave the final action for this movie, but the movie was also noticeably short(by Harry Potter standards) which didn’t feel right. I almost think they should’ve left part 1 with a bigger cliffhanger maybe before rescuing Hermione or something. I’m not sure cause I have not thought that much about that, but something should’ve been shifted, although I thought part 1 was perfect when I saw it, now I see part 1 could’ve been a little shorter to help make part 2 better.
    i know there was some stuff cut out of 2, which wasn’t needed at all anyway, but they could’ve left it in to make the movie a little fuller, rounder and longer like all the Nevil was born in July stuff.

  4. Susan says:

    oh and i did see it in 3D IMAX and it was awesome and I wanted to catch particles and rubble.

  5. Susan says:

    sorry i keep reading bits and peices and commenting. they did add wrinkles to both hermione and ginny especially ginny, she had crow’s feat going on. again i saw this in IMAX so it was RIGHT THERE, which is maybe why i noticed it. after the movie and my friend and i did actually discuss hwo if you did not see the IMAX version you might not seen the subtle aging on those two and therefor it just looked cheap.
    i think book fans would’ve been eranged has they skipped the “19 years later and Draco looks like hell” part, as my friend told me who was an avid fan of the books, but i think a fade to black after throwing the wand and focusing on the three friends would’ve been better. kind of like how they ended Buffy…”what are you going to do now?” and she just smiles. i think it would’ve been nice, or even pull one of those silly after the credits moves w/the “19 years later”. i don’t know…or skipped that and showed just the offspring settling in on the train to Hogwards where they each strategically mention their names letting us know they are the children of Ron, Hermione, Harry ect….
    i can’t talk about this anymore!

  6. Fatpie42 says:

    Ah, so all this baby-killing stuff I’ve heard about isn’t actually in the book then?

  7. Macabre says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Voldemort’s uber awkward attempt at giving Neville a hug.

  8. Cat says:

    I have always felt that JK should have killed off one of the three principal characters but I can see how she would then have a Sherlock Holmes issue whereby the fans would be screaming bloody murder and then she would have to go back like you said and undue what has been done.

    I do wish that the battle between Voldermort and harry had happened int eh school and not outside in a forest. I had forgotten that it happened in front of everyone until it was pointed out in another review. The biggest big bad is dead and NO ONE MENTIONS ANYTHING- they just take Harry’s word for it?

    I hate hate HATE the epilogue- it’s JK meets fanfiction and fan fic won. I damn near threw my copy of Deathly Hallows across the room when I got to the end because I was so mad.

    My Alan Rickman love is starting to budge up against my Colin Firth love after this movie. If he isn’t nominated then something is very wrong with the world.

  9. In order for Harry to die, Rowling would have to completely get rid of the Deathly Hallows subplot altogether.

    Not one of the best of the HP films . . . at least for me.

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