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!)