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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2! - Grotto of The Lilac Mermaid

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July 17th, 2011

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04:09 pm - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2!
The Harry Potter movie franchise has come to a very successful end. As I'm writing this, it currently has 97% at Rotten Tomatoes, it has taken in a record-breaking $168 million at the box office, and there is (very early) talk of it being considered for a couple nominations come awards season.

What did I think?

I find myself kind of in a weird place with this movie. After each of the others, I came out of the theatre squeeing about all my favourite parts, and it wasn't until months afterward that I began to think more critically and objectively. With DH2, I'm already there.

In a lot of ways, I feel exactly the way that I did when the Deathly Hallows book was first released. In the days and weeks leading up to it, I fully expected to come back on here a couple days later with my review. When I really did finish the book, though, I just couldn't. I felt like I had so much to process, and until I did that, I couldn't write about it at all ... and in the end I never got around to it.

With the book, I think my problem was that, despite what she had said, I hadn't truly believed that JKR wasn't going to send them back to Hogwarts for their final year. Hermione was supposed to be Head Girl! It became clear pretty early on that I was wrong, and that was a lot to take in. And then Dumbledore turns out not to be the perfect guy we all thought he was. And then everything with Snape. And Ron leaving. And a lot of other things I hadn't seen coming. Add to that the fact that I had accidentally come across a list of all the DH deaths the night before the release? Kind of a mess.

The point is, I didn't love Deathly Hallows the way everyone else did the first time that I read it. Liked it, but didn't love. I have since gone back and read it a couple times, and have liked it more each time I did. It's still not my absolute favourite of the series, I don't think, but I've come to terms with the stuff that bothered me the first time.

ANYWAY, all that to say that this is kind of where I am with DH2 at the moment. Only this time, I don't have the faith in JKR's genius to fall back on. I can see now why she made the decisions that she did in the books. Some of the changes made in this movie? I just don't understand. I'm hoping that when I see it again, though, I can look past those things and not get so distracted by the fact that they're doing it wrong.

I tried to keep my recap somewhat organized, but I know I jumped around all over the place here. Sorry in advance! (But really, why would you read this if you haven't already seen the film?)

Plot: I knew that (just like with all the HP movies), it wasn't going to remain 100% faithful to the book. Most of it was pretty close, though. I liked that it started back with Dobby's grave, and took the time to go over things with Griphook and Mr. Ollivander. I honestly don't care about the opinions of those who haven't read the books when they complain about not understanding what's going on, but the way this was done, I don't think there even was anything to not understand. My one issue in those opening scenes is that they start questioning Snape's loyalty (disloyalty) far too soon, and then they never even really addressed it.

All of the stuff at Gringotts was pretty good , and I didn't care that they didn't spend a lot of time focusing on the dragon once they escaped. It did seem like it got them to Hogsmeade pretty fast, though! The scenes with Aberforth were good as well, but his conversation with Harry is one of the ones I need to see again. It would have been hard to do that scene the way it is in the book, because we've skipped over almost everything leading up to it, particularly Harry's own doubts and anxieties about Dumbledore. The scene also lacks some of the urgency that you find in the book at this moment, but that's okay, because from then on it's almost non-stop action until the end.

I liked the bit with Dumbledore's Army, although I would have liked more of an overt explanation that they had reformed the DA. I did appreciate the fact, though, that Harry didn't try to keep them all in the dark there regarding what he was doing. And I really liked the Potterwatch broadcast informing the others that he was there.

The scene with the whole school in the Great Hall is one of the best in the film, and I liked it, but I'm just not sure why it was changed. For one thing, all of those students were hiding in the Room of Requirement permanently by that point, so they would never have left it when Snape called them all to the Great Hall. For another, I just don't think that Harry and the others would have gotten into and out of there nearly so easily. The reason it works so well in the book is because he only has to take on a couple of Death Eaters at a time at this point, and he has the element of surprise, AND his invisibility cloak, which he forgets about entirely in this film.

I didn't mind that things were changed so that Voldemort showed up at that moment and gave them the ultimatum, EXCEPT that, for every non-battle/preparation scene after that, I kept going "Come on, come on, we don't have time for this right now!" What they were doing was important, but it was just taking too long! That being said, I was surprised how much I liked the scene between Harry and Helena Ravenclaw. I felt like it might have gone on a little too long, especially considering the fact that they didn't even go into the whole story about her and her mother and the Bloody Baron. But Kelly Macdonald does a great job with that character, and I really like how they make the ghosts look in this film.

Another problem with adjusting the timeline was that battle itself focused so much on Harry, Ron and Hermione, because they were still running around, trying to find and destroy Horcruxes. I was expecting it to be more like the battle at the Department of Mysteries, where it's messy and confusing because there's so much stuff going on, and then it catches you by surprise when someone important is injured or killed.

I liked the brief moments shared between Fred & George, and between Lupin and Tonks before the battle got underway, and I was okay with Lupin and Tonks dying off-screen. I don't love it, but it's canon, so I can't fault it. But not showing Fred's death? Really? That part was so heart-wrenching in the book, and I couldn't believe they left it out. Because of the way it played out onscreen, it kind of made it look like Ron was more affected by Fred's death than George was, but in reality, George never really recovers from it, and that didn't come across at all.

I'll address the rest of the plot later...

Humour: I'll say this right off the bat - this movie had some very funny moments, but that may have actually been my biggest problem with the film. There are a lot of very funny moments throughout all the other books and movies too, but they were appropriate! Is this really the right time for any of that? When McGonagall is preparing the school for battle? When Neville is inexplicably on that stupid bridge, taunting the Snatchers? When Crabbe/Goyle is about to be killed by Fiendfyre? Even Filch returns, only to be a source of comic relief. Sorry, no thanks. It really annoys me how some characters got turned into caricatures in this series, because that's just not how she wrote them.

Settings: Shell Cottage was really, really beautiful. I pictured it a little ... I don't know, rounder, or something, from the outside, but the colours and decor and everything inside was just wonderful. Shell Cottage might just be my very favourite setting in the entire series, so I was really excited to see what they did with it, and I wasn't disappointed.

I was really impressed, as well, with how they updated Gringotts, which we haven't seen since the first film. I liked the look of the goblins a lot better! And apart from the cart itself, which I liked better in Philosopher's Stone, everything in and around the vaults looked really awesome, and on an even bigger scale than I had imagined it.

The Hog's Head looked good, and even though Ariana herself didn't look as I imagined her, I really loved the way they showed her walking back with Neville. The Room of Requirement looked great, and I loved the little details that showed how much things at Hogwarts had changed with Snape as Headmaster, like them marching around in lines. I was really looking forward to seeing the Ravenclaw common room, so I'm sad they cut that out.

I LOVED the look of the scenes where they were preparing for battle. If anything, I would have liked to see more of that - Professor Sprout using whatever she could find in the greenhouses as weapons, the people on broomsticks, the Hogwarts furniture coming to life, Kreacher leading the house-elves into battle. One of my favourite images in the whole film was the suits of armor coming to life and assembling in front of the school. I also liked how, when the Death Eaters attacked the shield around Hogwarts, it looked like arrows flying through the air.

I knew in advance that they were moving Snape's death from the Shrieking Shack to some random boathouse that doesn't exist in the books. It looked good, but I just didn't see the need. I can see moving it because it just doesn't make sense for this to be going on so far away from the rest of the battle. Fine. But then put his death in the greenhouses or near Hagrid's hut, or even somewhere in the castle. There was just no reason for him to be there. Not only that, but the layout and where Harry, Ron and Hermione were 'watching' this take place meant that they have to actually enter the building, and apart from that one random line at the beginning, there really is no convincing reason for them to want to do this.

Key Scenes:

Back to the Great Hall ... once I got used to the fact that it had been changed so much, I really liked almost everything about this scene. Loved Harry challenging Snape. Loved the DA and the Order coming to defend him. LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED that we FINALLY got to see Minerva McGonagall at her finest. Maggie Smith is just marvelous in this movie, and I only wish she had been better used in the earlier films. But if you want comedy in this movie, put it right there, before the real battle gets underway. Use the line from the book: "He has, to use the common phrase, done a bunk".

I know a lot of people have a real problem with McGonagall banishing all of Slytherin house to the dungeons, and I'll admit that it doesn't look great, but here's the way I see it. I don't think she's suggesting that all Slytherins are evil. Many/most of that house do, however, have family members in the Death Eater army that's on its way, and once Pansy reveals where her allegiances lie (whether based on her real beliefs or just on fear), there just isn't time to wait and see what the rest of them are going to do. Better to have them out of the way, along with anyone else who doesn't want to/can't fight, than to have someone turn on them once the battle has started.

Snape's death and the Prince's tale were by far the thing I was most looking forward to in this film. I said, going into it, that if this was done right I almost didn't care what the rest of the movie was like. It's funny, though ... these are the scenes that everyone is raving about, and I'm still not sure about them. Alan Rickman, as always, did a phenomenal job, but I guess I'm still at the point where it looks better in my head than it does on the screen. I wish they hadn't added in the line about "You have your mother's eyes" ... nobody who has read the books needed that clarification, and I've mentioned before how much I care about people who HAVEN'T read them.

And the memories themselves ... I would almost have preferred to see fewer memories, but to see them more completely. In particular, I was shocked that they didn't go into the part where he calls Lily a Mudblood. That's one of the most powerful moments of the series for me, because we've thought all along that Snape's worst memory is when he got humiliated by the Marauders, but in reality it's the moment that he ruined his friendship with the only friend he's ever had. It's heartbreaking, and by not including it, I felt like they missed the point. The "Always" memory, though? Almost perfect.

The scene in the forest where Harry uses the Resurrection Stone was beautifully done, pretty much exactly as I imagined it. I've never been a huge fan of the Marauders, but it was lovely to see them surrounding him and reassuring as he went to his death. And then I loved Narcissa when she asked him if Draco was still alive. I would have changed little things here and there, like having Hagrid actually be crying, and having McGonagall be the one to scream when they see Harry's body, rather than Ginny, but mostly this was well-done.

The scene at King's Cross looked *almost* exactly as I imagined it, except that I pictured steam or smoke or something billowing around them, not just the bright white light. But Dumbledore looked great, and pretty much for the first time in this series, I felt like Michael Gambon finally got it right. I picture him maybe a little more emotional, but otherwise he was good. And Dumbledore has finally stopped wearing that stupid twist-tie around his beard! That little baby thing that was a piece of Voldemort's soul was suitably creepy and gross, and pretty much everyone in our theatre gasped out loud when they saw it. I pictured him like that, except maybe without the blood.

More than anything, though, it is this final confrontation with the Death Eaters that kind of disappointed me in my first viewing of the film. It was well done, but again, I kind of feel like they missed the point. Neville was great, but there is just no way that Voldemort would have let him get out that whole speech. I didn't love that Neville basically just happened to get to Nagini first, rather than having it be the real heroic moment for him that it is in the book.

Molly's "Not my daughter moment", while it got probably the most applause out of anything we saw, didn't feel like the book to me either. I just don't know why people in these movies have to die with their skin disintegrating and falling off or whatever. I just want them to fall over, dead! Is that so hard? Plenty of the others can be cursed or hexed or whatever, but I just don't see some of those key deaths happening that way.

And then Harry takes on Voldemort, Apparating all over the castle, and again, I really feel like they missed the point. The best part about that moment in the book is that Harry lets EVERYONE know that Voldemort misjudged Snape, that he was "Dumbledore's man" all along. And in the film, the curse that finally kills Voldemort just looks like any of their other battles. (Visually very effective, but not how I I saw it happening).

And finally, the Epilogue! I'm one of those weird people who actually liked that part in the book, and I was looking forward to seeing it onscreen. The scene itself looked pretty much how I imagined it. I really liked how Older Ron looked, and Hugo especially was adorable. All the kids were. Older Ginny and Harry were pretty good, but Older Hermione really didn't look older at all! She looked just as pretty as ever, but it didn't look like she had aged. And Older Draco looked awful! (Hehehehe).

I don't like that this ~review makes it look like I hated the movie, because I really didn't. I just need to see it again, this time not going into it with all the expectations and assumptions that I had the first time, and enjoy it for the adaptation that it is, rather than comparing every detail to how it was supposed to be.

Please comment, because I I'd love to discuss it!

Now that the books and the movies are over, I will be turning my attention to Pottermore, which is sounding more and more amazing the more I hear about it. I hope to see you on there!

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
You know, Pottermore sounds like a giant version of hogwartsishome, which I've been bugging you to join forever... ;)

I liked the movie, but it didn't live up to the book for me. Granted, I wasn't expecting it to, really. The second half of the book is such a hurricane.

YES, why did we not see Fred's death? It would have been heartbreaking, but it's worse that we didn't see it! And I was seriously annoyed by the lack of the Ravenclaw common room. Boo for leaving that out. I felt a bit let down by both Voldemort and Bellatrix's deaths, but again, maybe it's not possible to match how amazing those moments are in my head.

What was really funny about the "You have your mother's eyes" line is that the girl you plays young Lily had brown eyes. And it was pretty darn obvious about five seconds after Snape said that line. How hard would that have been to fix?

That being said, YAY McGonagall! And I liked the Gringotts and Room of Requirements scenes (both with the DA and when they're looking for the diadem). And I agree that the preparing-for-battle scenes were fantastic. I loved them.

And Neville was suitably amazing, thankfully. Even though his grab-the-sword-and-kill-the-Horcrux moment wasn't quite as dramatic, since it didn't all happen at once.
[User Picture]
Date:July 18th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
It's silly that I never did join that community, because I've had my application thing more than have done for forever! I'm excited about the news about the sorting and the wand and everything on Pottermore, but mostly what I'm looking forward to is the backstories she's going to be posting. Even for the Hogwarts Express, I heard, or something about how they got to school before the train existed. I can't wait!

I didn't notice that about Lily's eyes hehe. I'll have to watch out for that next time. But in any case, the line felt a little ... I don't know, clunky or something. They didn't need it.

I'm hoping/expecting that there will be a lot of deleted scenes released later for this movie. I know that they had cast someone to play Augusta Longbottom, and I was sure Kreacher was going to be in this one as well. Maybe Fred's death will be shown there too? But even if it is, it won't be in front of the trio like it is in the book.

How'd you like the epilogue?
[User Picture]
Date:July 18th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
It is silly that you never joined that community. There's still time! ;)

I would LOVE to see Augusta Longbottom!

I thought the epilogue was okay, but I'll admit I was distracted by how weird it was to see the characters in their aging makeup. I was never a huge fan of the epilogue (I'm glad they get their happy-ever-after, but the whole thing just felt a bit too contrived for me), but the movie did a good job with it.
[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
Keep an eye out for my application! :)
[User Picture]
Date:July 20th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)

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