Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II (No Spoilers)

I got cheated out of seeing the final Harry Potter movie on premiere night because Husband and I totally misestimated when tickets would go on sale. We thought two weeks prior was ample time, but they apparently were on sale earlier than that because by two weeks ago, both the 7pm and 9pm shows on Friday night were sold out.

I briefly flirted with the idea of going to the midnight show but ultimately decided that I wouldn't truly enjoy the film if I was on the verge of turning into a sleep-deprived zombie!

In the end we decided to see the 4pm IMAX show on Sunday afternoon. It was crowded but the nice thing about our IMAX theater is that seats are assigned so we just rolled in at 3:50 and got our awesome aisle seats that we selected weeks ago.

(Of course, this system doesn't work when you have annoying people who show up at 4:15 and OF COURSE have seats in our aisle so they are crawling across us while I'm sitting there sniveling over the shot of Dobby's grave. Jerks!)

First off, there were a TON of previews. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did. In my mind, the lights would dim, they'd show a premiere for The Dark Knight Rises (wahoo!) which is being released next summer and then it'd be Harry-time.


We sat through premieres for Real Steel (which seriously looks like the dumbest movie ever made); Puss in Boots (which made me laugh, but not sure if that character can carry a whole movie); The Adventures of Tintin (which, according to Husband, has nothing to do with Rin Tin Tin); The Dark Knight Rises (okay, that one I was excited for but the preview was a little skimpy on the Christian Bale front. What's up with that?); Happy Feet Two (are you freakin' kidding me? They couldn't even put together one movie that made sense and now they're doing a second one?); and probably more that were so memorable that I can't even remember them a day later.

I took the opportunity during the previews to go to the ladies room...twice.

On my second visit, I overheard an amusing conversation: a girl, about 12 or 13 was standing with her mom and said, "We should have gone to see Harry Potter," to which the mother snapped back, "No we shouldn't have." "Why not?" the girl asked? "Because it would be filled with all kinds of naked people and insinuations about that."

Um, okay...

Back to the movie, which finally started: they did a nice little two minute recap of where the last film picked off, which was nice. Husband and I had actually watched Part I that morning because he knew he'd be totally confused otherwise, but I appreciated director David Yates acknowledging that the last films was released far enough back that we all might not remember that Dobby had just died and Voldemort had gotten the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb.

The criticism of Part I was a lack of action. This movie picks up at the portion in the book where the non-stop action starts so the movie itself goes by really quickly (especially since at only 130 minutes, it's the shortest of all the Harry Potter movies).

As a Snape fan I was really only interested in two scenes of this film. Generally I've been disappointed with how the films have reduced the character of Snape to nothing more than a menacing set furnishing. There is so much detail that's been lost in the translation of book to films and on more than one occasion I've remarked that I can't believe that J.K. Rowling signed off on some of this stuff!

Snape is the reason why I got into the Harry Potter series. I saw the first movie with my grandma way back in 2001 and loved it. Actually, I loved the character of Snape and was excited to find out that the great Alan Rickman was behind that dark hair and billowing cloak. That's the reason why I picked up the books in the first place because I knew from the start that this was a brilliant character.

I can't even really describe how disappointed I was at the end of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, not that Snape had killed Dumbledore, but that so many readers were incapable of seeing that there had to be more to the story than initially met the eye. I knew it and I hoped that when the final book was released, both Snape and I would be vindicated (I won't say whether we were or not!)

Regarding Snape's two scenes in the final film (and if you've read the book, you know what they are), I'll say two things:

First, I appreciate the fact that whoever wrote the screenplay for this movie appears to have at some point (possibly even recently) read the seven books and realized the importance of much of the information that may have initially seemed trivial (say to the screenwriter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire who seemed uninterested in anything that didn't involve fourteen year old love or the TriWizard Tournament).

And second, that someone else finally realized that they had the amazing Alan Rickman who was capable of pulling off more meaty acting than the occasional scowl or sneer.

I thought the two scenes were very well done. And I wasn't the only one in the theater waiting for them. As soon as Harry left Dumbledore's office, about thirty people exited the theater to rush to the bathrooms!

The rest of the battle was well done. They moved around the order and location of some of the events and I'm not entirely sure why, but it didn't really change much. Neville got his big scene, which I'd heard had led to applause in other theaters. I think if it had occurred at its proper place, it might have generated more excitement.

The final confrontation was really confusing to poor Husband who had not read the books so I had to explain what actually happened as we drove home. He also got some crazy idea about Snape and Harry being related which I had to address as well!

As expected, the epilogue was ridiculous. I don't know what it served to accomplish in the book and felt the same way about the film (a well placed appearance of Snape when Harry turns the Resurrection Stone would have conveyed the same message), but since this movie was actually following the book, they included it. In my theater, it got a few laughs, but that's about it.

I will say though, that the final image of the film was a powerful one and if we had to see the silly epilogue to get there, then I suppose it was worth it. I do wish Rowling had come up with a more suitable way to end such an epic tale.

I liked it. Husband liked it. Right now there are reviews floating around that it's the best film of the series and I'll reserve judgment on that one. I'll need to see it at least a few more times before I'm comfortable making that kind of declaration (although as I told Husband, it's not like any of the other movies are exactly It's a Wonderful Life as far as I'm concerned).

We paid the extra few dollars to watch it in 3D and I can't say that added much to the film. Other than the occasional snake or fireball shooting out, the 3D portions were rather subtle. If you're looking to save a few dollars, I'd say just watch the regular version (especially since wearing 3D glasses makes it very difficult to dab your eyes when you're sobbing away for the second half of the film!)

I don't know that it makes sense to recommend seeing it: I expect if you've seen the other seven films, at some point you'll see this one. If you haven't seen the others, don't go out and see this one expecting to have any earthly idea what's going on.  But if anybody cares, those are my thoughts on the film! What did everyone else think?

Happy Monday!

**DISCLAIMER** While my post does not contain any spoilers, I cannot guarantee the same of the comments. Read at your own risk. (And also if you are still getting Harry Potter spoilers at this point, you really should do yourself a favor and just read the books. Even without Alan Rickman, they are so much better than the movies!)


  1. I haven't seen this movie yet, but I'm very much looking forward to it! I wasn't surprised with the lack of action in the first of the book seven movies---the first half of book seven really plodded along (which seemed like an intentional literary device on Rowling's part to indicate how difficult and demoralizing the hunt for the horcruxes really was).

    I can't offer many more thoughts without having seen the movie. Thanks for the thoughtful critique!

  2. I haven't read the books, but am a huge fan of the movies and I really liked this one. I'd say it's probably my second favorite of all the movies (the 5th one is my favorite).

    Like you, Snape is my favorite character (Luna comes in a close second) and I was pretty disappointed at how little he was on screen. I want more Snape! I did love that flashback scene with him towards the end though. Like your husband, I also thought that at one point they were going to reveal that Harry and Snape were father and son.

    The final confrontation was a little confusing for me too since I haven't read the books, but when I asked my husband to explain it, he couldn't (and he has read the books). Some help he is!

    Can't wait to see it again in the coming weeks!

  3. I haven't seen the new movie yet (gasp!), but I plan on going sometime next week...but I think previews vary for city to city (maybe even theater to theater) because all my friends were complaining that the only preview was Twilight and let's be honest - Twilight scum shouldn't be allowed anywhere near HP! Also, everyone I know complained that there WASN'T a recap, so it's nice you saw one!

  4. I knew you'd have a post on the final movie today!! Yayyy!! I'm happy to see it! I thought the final movie was really well done and I, too, was sobbing through the last half of the movie. I absolutely can't wait to see it again very soon. I swear my favorite character changes daily and with scene, but I love Snape's moments in this film. He and Dumbledore deliver some of my all-time favorite lines :)

  5. I have not gone yet... I wanted to do the midnight showing but my hubby was out of town. I am totally planning on going this week if I can. I am so excited to see it I saw the part one last week to get ready!

  6. I actually thought it was one of the worst films of the series (Chamber of Secrets would be the runner-up for that title). I just felt the pacing was really off. Also, in the book it's described as this epic wizard war, but in the movie it seemed like the "war" only featured a couple of hundred wizards at best which seemed really odd to me. I just kept thinking, "really, the fate of the wizarding world is in the hands of the gryffindors currently enrolled at the school and a few adults? That's it? None of the other hundreds of thousands of wizards could be bothered to show up?") I also thought that the deaths of Lupin, Tonks, and the Weasley twin were glazed over fairly quickly (though I guess that's a fault of the book, as well).

    And my last problem which was probably the largest problem for me was the fact that the wizard duel between Harry and Voldemort took place out of sight from the others. I thought in the book they were standing in front of everyone, so everyone could see Harry vanquish Voldemort (it's been awhile since I've read the last book, though, so maybe I'm wrong on that count). It just seemed odd that he went so quickly from defeating Voldemort to walking back into the castle and quickly surveying the damage, only to then see the epilogue a few minutes later. It seemed really sudden, like there wasn't enough time to really reflect on everything that had happened (in the past films, Dumbledore would usually discuss the significance of everything that had happened in the movie, but nothing like that occurred in this book and I think not having that moment in this film left the ending feeling rushed).

    Just my opinion, though :)))))

    Oh, and I love Alan Rickman (especially as Colonel Brandon)!!! :)

  7. JG - You're probably right about the first part being slow to mimic the futility of looking for the horcruxes without any idea where they might be. The only part of the first part of the book that I thought was a total waste of time was going to Godric's Hollow - that was just because fans wanted Harry to go there, I'm sure of it.

    Sara - How I explained the final battle to Husband is this: Harry cast a disarming spell and Voldemort cast a killing spell. They met in the middle because Voldemort was using the Elder Wand which would refuse to kill its real master (Harry) so the curse rebounded and Voldemort killed himself with his own curse. It was a pretty clever way to make sure that Harry didn't have to actively kill anyone. I hope that makes a little more sense. And I totally know why you and Husband were confused about Snape: it was that line at Kings Cross where Harry talks about Snape/Lily both having doe patronuses and Dumbledore says that it does make sense if he thinks about it. That is NOT in the book and totally suggests something that's not there! Why did they add that line!?!?!

    Ashley - UGH Twilight? No way I would have stood for that! Perhaps I saw it as more of a recap because I had just seen the first part like four hours prior. It was quick, but I thought it was enough to jog your memory and go, "Okay, here we go" (especially for those who have read the books).

    Erin - I was really worried about how they'd handle the Snape scenes in this movie because they are my favorites in the book (aside from a scene in the Goblet of Fire that the movie CUT OUT COMPLETELY!!!!). I thought they handled it well! It's funny that you say how you like all the different characters because I really don't like ANYONE except Snape! Husband was like, "Why exactly did you love these books so much?" LOL

    Tricia - It really helped to see Part I right beforehand! I can't wait to hear what you think!

  8. Kelly - Wow you wrote lots of great stuff and I want to make sure I address it all! Re: the "epic battle", honestly I felt like the books portrayed it the same way. All the adults came across as "dunderheads" (as Snape would say) and it was up to the 16-17 year olds to save the day. What the heck were they all doing while Harry, et al were camping around all year? Geesh! They also eliminated a lot of the other magical creatures coming to the aid of the Order (don't the house elves show up and then the centeurs (sp?) too?) And those deaths were totally glossed over. I think unfortunately the movies had made their beds in that regard: the character of Tonks was nonexistent so it would have been weird to make a big fuss over her death. And they had cut out Lupin's big scene when he shows up at the Shell Cottage and wants to help so even he was pretty useless in this last film.

    And I totally agree with your point about the final battle not being in the great hall. I'm not sure how I neglected to mention that point. Not only does Harry get some great dialogue in (about how the whole school was protected because he had died for them and then explaining about the Elder Wand and then outing Snape once and for all as a good guy), but it's so much more exciting to have everyone else standing around watching than them just being outside alone. I think that all comes down to them redoing that entire scene. I get that they wanted Hermione/Ron to have more to do but chasing the snake around was just silly. Neville should have killed it in front of everyone outside and then the fighting should have continued as written. I also couldn't figure out the point of having Snape/Voldemort's scene in the lake house instead of the Shrieking Shack. Was it just so they'd have the glass walls for Harry to see through and they wouldn't have to show the actual attack? Silly, I think. And why were the memories in tear form, not wisps? Ha I guess I have a few more complaints than I initially realized.

    I gauge all the films based on the amount of Alan Rickman content so this one gets high marks, as does Order of the Phoenix and Sorcerer's Stone. LOL I'm already hearing Oscar buzz which would be awesome so I'll have to keep my fingers triple crossed for the next six months!

  9. um, boo Kelly. Thanks for the spoiler without the spoiler alert....??

  10. Sorry, Tracy. I added a disclaimer that comments may contain spoilers. I hope you weren't too spoiled (and honestly it won't change much. I accidentally majorly spoiled something for Husband right as we were walking into the theater and he still really enjoyed the film!)