Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Blame the Lemon Drops! A Harry & THBP Review

I know, I've been away, forgive me. My struggle to maintain a nerdy lifestyle in a bad economy means that work takes up a lot of my free time lately. But, I haven't forgotten you, reader!

I, Darcy, state here and now that there will most definitely be huge spoilers about the new Harry Potter movie, as well as the associated book series. If you are one of those people (read: weirdos) who are only watching the movies or "plan on reading the books later", and have somehow, miraculously, avoided spoilers for this long; DO NOT read this review or you shall have at last met your Waterloo.

I must admit I will be really, really sad when the last of these movies are out and the franchise is over. Few things excite me as much as new Harry Potter-related things anymore. (I'm bitter and old.) Also, I really liked this movie. Keep that at the back of your mind as I spiral downward into nerd-rage.

Three major things that bugged me right away, first viewing.

#1 Snape:
Well, OK, to clarify, Harry and Snape's big "confrontation" after Snape kills Dumbledore. Firstly, the filmmakers chose to skip the semi big battle between the Order of the Phoenix/Dumbledore's Army and the invading Death Eaters that comes before this. If I take into account the fact that the filmmakers didn't want this movie and the last one to have similar endings, I am ok with this, (now, after a few weeks away from it to regain rationality.) I don't really think that a lopsided battle between a bunch of adults and a handful of very magically talented, luck enhanced children is exactly the same as an all out brawl between ALL of the good guys and ALL of the bad guys. In fact I think the only similarity between them is the setting of Hogwarts. I'd like to think that my fellow movie-goers aren't that stupid but, alas, I know this hope is a false one. I missed the scene mostly because I really like seeing magic fights. The one in Order of the Pheonix was pretty cool. Also, I was looking forward to how they would portray the Felix Felicis working in a battle setting. I think it would have greatly improved a movie that was lacking in action where the other movies were not. Poo.

Harry chases Snape and the other Deatheaters as they flee from Hogwarts, and he's yelling and having all of his noobness pinged back into his face by Bellatrix and Snape. Fine, but, as Harry uses Snape's Sectum Sempra against him and Snape blocks and counters it, I was all ramped up for Snape to freak...and he just...didn't. It was so disappointing, so lackluster it caused a flare up of misplaced rage. I should be angry at Snape, even if I've read all of the books and have Snape's true motivation floating around in the back of my mind. I should be right there with Harry, full of helpless rage and hatred for this man who's, as far as you know, just murdered (one of) your surrogate fathers right in front of you. This man who's treated you like little more than refuse since you were eleven for no reason that you can understand. Daniel Radcliff does this very well, he has noticeably improved in every subsequent movie since Sorcerer's Stone. My problem with this scene was mostly, and it burns to say this, Alan Rickman.

Ok, so a lot of people I know have yet to read the books. That's fine. They don't know what they're missing but whatever. Because of this, when I'm discussing the movies with them I have this tendency to say the phrase "Well, in the book..." and tack on a long rant about characters and plot and lit-nerd jargon which basically can make me look and sound like a dweeby fangirl but I don't care.


In the book the confrontation between Harry and Snape is so frustrating and intense! Just as Harry is hurling all of his pain and rage and fear at Snape, so should Snape be showing every single ounce of hatred he has for this kid. Pretty much none of that came through in the movie and it bummed me right the hell out. Rickman's hateful sneer is cool as ever,(and the littlest bit sexy) he does that very, very well. I just don't think that that was the time or the place for Snape to keep his cool.

#2 Hagrid
Or really, the lack thereof. Robbie Coltrane's Hagrid, as well as Dame Maggie Smith's Minerva McGonagall, Luna Lovegood and Remis Lupin are all standards of perfect casting that I will hold high forever. (Especially Luna, it's almost eerie how perfectly she fits the character that I imagined in my head as I read, down to the sound of her voice!)

Hagrid is one of the best characters in the series. He's literally a giant walking contradiction. He's huge and looks like a frightful beardy wild-man only not in the nightmarish Alan Moore kinda way. Your first sane impression of him should leave you needing to change out your underpants. He hangs around with some of the most vicious and horrible creatures in fantastic history and loves them the same as if they were cuddly little puppy-kitten hybrids made of happiness, bubbles and the laughter of children. He cries like a two ton baby at the drop of a hat! Now, admittedly the movie version of Hagrid isn't quite as blubbery as his literary counterpart but there is still absolutely no excuse for Hagrid standing with the rest of the school over the corpse of Dumbledore, most beloved of wizards, as if he were made of stone. If I hadn't been too occupied with blubbering like a two ton baby myself I would have been chucking my big-gulp at the screen.

#3 The title of the movie
So, maybe your looking at that thinking, "Huh!?"but look at it this way. Why should they call the movie Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince if they're just gonna ignore almost the entirety of the subplot that centers around the Half-Blood freaking Prince? Harry finds the potions book and gets some minor harassment about it, but mostly it's Hermione nagging about cheating and being sorta concerned that Harry is maybe learning spells he shouldn't be. The thought that Harry is taking advice from an eerily intelligent book of shifty origins and that this kinda sorta happened before never seems to cross anyone's minds in the film. Then we almost forget about the book except that Harry is carrying it around everywhere and allegedly sleeping with it. It doesn't come up again until Harry uses Sectum Sempra against Draco Malfoy and they hold an intervention to get Harry to get rid of the book for good. He does that it? Do we care who the Half-Blood Prince is? Apparently not 'cause it's isn't brought up again until Snape admits to being the Half Blood Prince himself. If I hadn't read the book I can imagine my reaction to that revelation would have been a resounding, "" Did the filmmakers forget that not everyone has read the books in depth, multiple times before seeing the movies? They didn't even bother to explain what that meant! Grr! Shoulda called it Harry Potter and the Death of Dumbledore 'cause that's clearly the only part of the story they cared about telling.

Despite the stuff that was glaringly wrong with this movie, there was so very much more that was done really well. In fact, aside from the fact that I spent the last twenty minutes of the movie sobbing into my popcorn even though I promised myself I wouldn't do that, I left that theater feeling like I'd just seen one of the best Harry Potter movies to date. Maybe not the best translation of the books, but the movie itself was damn good. It was funny and dark. I loved that they gave Ginny Weasly a personality. I can understand some fans, (mostly American) who complain that the Ginny and Harry thing kinda came out of no where. I personally hold with the idea that because the books are from Harry's perspective, it makes sense that Ginny would be a sort of background character until she comes into her own as a woman and becomes something more that Ron's kid sister to him. They literally go through war together before he really sees her. Plus Harry totally strikes me as the kind of guy who would fall for his best friend's sister. He associates her with the Burrow, the only place outside of Hogwarts he could really call home. The only other place, at least until the seventh book, he could feel safe. They also are the only two people in the world that know what it's like to be possessed by Voldemort, which I'm sure makes for lovely bonding moments.

I loved the funny moments, especially the performance of Jessie Cave as the delightfully terrifying Lavender Brown and Harry when he's high on luck. There were very scary moments, I jumped about five feet into the air when that Infiri's hand grabbed Harry out of the lake, (even though I KNEW that was gonna happen!) The scenes with young Voldemort are equally terrifying. In my opinion he is more terrifying as a sociopathic child than as a murderous, psychotic adult. The action, (what there was of it,) was superb, especially the Quidditch match, which showed for the first time that Quidditch is a sport. The series continues to be a showcase for the best of British actors and actresses, this time Jim Broadbent proving a point that nobody doubted; that he is an amazing actor. Lastly the special effects were amazing, namely the destruction of the Millenium Bridge and the memories within the Pensieve.

I'm excited for the next two films. I'm very happy that they are breaking the last book into two movies. It shows that maybe they'll try to be more faithful with more time to spread the story out. I don't know where they'll split them, though I have my theories. (At some point before or after the Trio gets captured and taken to the Malfoy's, that seems to be a popular one, though.)

The first half of the first part will have to be dedicated to filling in the plot chunks missing in the films that are integral to a lot of the end of the story. (i.e. Kreacher, his relationship with Harry after Sirius's death, Dobby, the Horcruxes and Dumbledore's wand.)

Like I said, I'll be sad when it's all over. The remaining slivers of my soul that the loan companies and my job don't own have been consumed by this emo little kid with a lightning bolt scar and the world that J.K. Rowling created for him since I was in high school. Now I'll re-read the series at least once every year and let that little part of me believe in magic, (or jealously covet, depending on my mood) at least for a little while.


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