Saturday, November 27, 2010

Harry Potter and the Spoiler Full Delayed Review

For some thoughts on the Boy Who Keeps On Living (or Believin'):

Had some fun conversations with my nieces who are big, big fans about the movie.  The folks behind the movies did a great job of adding touches and did not subtract too many key scenes.

Favorite Additions:
  • The opening was terrific with Hermione doing what was described but not shown in the books: erasing her parents' memory of her so that they can be safe in a very, very dangerous world.
  • Dobby had more lines to make up for his cut scenes in the previous movies:
    • "Dobby never meant to kill, simply maim, or severely injure."  A wonderfully humorous line that shows his essential character--loving, fiercely loyal to Harry, causing heaps of damage despite trying not to hurt people too much.
    • Dobby's last words about being happy to be with his friend Harry Potter on the beautiful beach.  Incredibly moving.  
  • The new kiss.  Ginny asks Harry to zip her up as she walks half-dressed around a house chock full of brothers just so that she can kiss Harry.  This scene had to grapple with the omission from the end of the previous movie--where Harry pulls a Peter Parker and breaks up with Ginny for her safety.  That bit seemed very unrealistic (Ginny would be a target for many reasons regardless).  But the best part was George's reactions in the background.  Smashing!
  • Moody had some great lines in his first/last scene
  • Hedwig's death is far more noble and logical.  It never made sense that that Hedwig would be carried to and from Hogwarts at the start/end of each school year.  The bird can fly, the cage is unnecessary at Hogwarts.  So, she not only demonstrates her heroic nature by putting herself in the line of fire, but makes the movie flow easier since her defense of Harry reveals the true Harry (thus bring Voldemort towards him) rather than his use of expelliarmus against Stan Shunpike.  The trick in adapting a seven book series into eight movies is to balance keeping enough of the books in to satisfy the readers but make the movies flow and also make them sensible.  By putting Hedwig in between Harry and his adversaries, the movie-makers solve a bunch of problems at once.  
  • Less polyjuice potion--Harry is not disguised at the wedding or in Godric's Hollow.  He even explains to Hermione why not.  Authors can use the same stunt again and again, movies not so much.  Plus Daniel Radcliffe and his face are getting the big bucks.  
  • Ron, not Harry, figures out who R.A.B is.  Nice to bump up Ron's contribution, particularly since he does not come off so well later.
  • Dobby takes dtown Pettigrew.  But then it leaves a big question: is Wormtail alive or dead?
  • How Bellatrix tortures Hermione--by carving into her arm "Mudblood" rather than using the cruciatus curse.  Nice callback to Umbridge's torture of Harry.
Awkward Fixes:
  • Bill Weasley having to explain who he is and what happened to him in five seconds, since his stuff in the last movie (fighting in the corridor while Dumbledore was getting killed) was cut.

Missed Deletions:
  • I liked the Dursleys' departure better in the book.  Dudley learns, Vernon does not, Petunia almost does.  In the movie, none of that is signaled.  Reminds me of the scene I most miss from the books--in the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore lectures the Dursleys about proper child-rearing while goblets of mead bang into their heads.
  • No exploding Horn at Xenophilius Lovegood's.
  • The scene in the book where the tent folks listen to the radio show of the rebels with Fred, George, Lee Jordan, and Remus Lupin.  That scene was terrific in the book, but understandably didn't fit here.  The problem was that they did listen to the radio several times, reminding the fans of the books but not paying off. 
  • Surprised to not see the Invisibility Cloak at all in the first movie despite its centrality as a Hallow.
Best Realized Scenes:
  • The absolutely best realized scene--the telling of the Tale of Three Brothers.  The animation was terrific.  Just a fun way to tell it.
  • The three polyjuiced potioned teens as adults in the Ministry of Magic.  Those actors did a great job of being not quite themselves.
  • The scenes in Godric's Hollow: the snake, the blown up old house, the graveyard.
  • The locket's efforts to defend itself.  Wow.
Most Ambivalent Added Scene:
  • The Harry-Hermione dance in the tent scene.  He is trying to jolly her out of her Ron-has-left depression, and it reminds us that these folks are kids.  But it almost seems to give Ron something to fear.  I know that Harry and Hermione were very clear on where they stood with each other.  For folks who are casual fans, this might have been confusing.
    I may have more to add after I see it again.  But the movie did a great job of justifying a two-movie approach to the last book.

    No comments: