Friday, November 26, 2010

What I Thought of # 7

Last Saturday I went and saw Harry Potter 7.

It was almost a day of self-indulgence. With some money from the bank, I went straight to the theatre and bought a ticket (over ten bucks) for a 4:30 show. Then I went straight to Indigo (where I heard that 'Into Something Good' song I'd write about on here). It was only half-past two when I bought the ticket so I had a couple of hours.

I ended up spending something like forty minutes in the book store, then went straight for a meal at Wendy's. Forgetting that it was at 4:30 and thinking it was actually at 4 o'clock, I was startled to figure that out after walking back to the theatre, and then all the way back home.

That was five minutes to four.

Before arriving at the theatre again, I decided to get a quick blizzard at Dairy Queen. Wasn't a good idea, even if it was a small. I ended up walking my bike and trying to finish the treat, throwing out the last quarter in a waste bin outside the doors to the theatre with just two minutes to spare. I expected not to get a seat by this time.

I did, but it was the topmost row, way at the back and over everyone else. That was okay. Soon I was joined by two teenage girls who weren't satisfied with the seats above the entrance to the room (seats I'd tried out first and found that they were awful myself).

As for the film, I was excited that, because they were devoting it to two parts, it had a lot more time to be more faithful to the novel. 

I was happy with the beginning. The Dursleys had one last little scene, which I liked because they should at least have some part in the last film.
But two things irked me: The very first introduction of the Bill Weasley character (played by Brendan Gleeson's son Domhnall) which was inconsistent as Harry had known him in person ever since the fourth novel, and the very first introduction of the Mundungus character, who had been present since at least the fifth novel. But they were very small things that didn't bother me that much, so it was still fine.
Actually, the introduction with the three main characters was interesting, and although it isn't in the book I like its addition. Although Hermione's obliviate spell sure is a sad affair as the young girl in the photographs is wiped away.

The film, though, really illustrated something for me: Moving around, living in a tent and just relocating places while being bored with no inspiration doesn't necessarily transfer to the screen super well.

I won't dampen everything down. Just say, for instance, in the book a chapter opens by saying, "the next three weeks passed by with..." Now imagine that on the screen. It doesn't illustrate every day, but you can see the mundaneness of the whole thing properly. The book has a lot of space in time in which the characters simply sit around and wonder about things and get restless while apparating to new locations. The difference here is that in the book you are constantly aware of what the characters are thinking and wondering and there's some revelation usually around the corner in the midst of all that boring thought. The movie itself doesn't exactly have nearly the amount of power to recreate all of that - you don't see what they're thinking, you can only assume it through what they say and feel - there's a difference to reading what Harry is thinking about, and visually watching him lie in a bunk, staring at the ceiling in thought.

I thought Ron would be a little more aggressive in his argument, instead of standing there speaking slightly above normal speech. But the makeup department really did a number on him - his eyes have big red lines around them, he looks extremely distraught and sorrowful, and quite ungrateful.

The movie does a good job, though, of turning quite a bit of long thinking and sitting into something that feels like it's shorter and on a smaller scale than described in the book. That's how I saw it, anyway. And the places, the settings they set up camp in, are quite beautiful and nice, especially the setting with the rocks.

They removed Lupin and Harry's argument, though, and seemed to downplay his marriage to Tonks to just one little bit there where they mention it at the beginning. The wedding was completely removed as well, just cutting to the reception, and I don't know why Harry wasn't disguised as someone else. Xenophilius was cool, though, and Luna was quite fun to watch again, and she looked quite amazing in the reception scene. But that's just my fondness for actress playing her speaking. Rhys Ifans was a good choice to portray Xenophilius. Though I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't pronounced 'Xenauphilis.' I thought it sounded funnier that way.
I liked the return of Dobby though, he wasn't any different from the second movie at all. I don't see why they got rid of the scene where they're on the coast and they overhear Seamus and the goblins speaking. They go to Xenophilius and figure out what the hallows are, and I'm sorry his house collapses after they escape. I thought it looked like a lighthouse in the book, though in the movie I got the idea that it partially looked like a boot (without the rest of the foot). Unfortunately though, the movie eliminated everything that happens after that and goes straight to them being captured by snatchers. I found it to be predictable after that, and the ending to be very soon (snatchers - Malfoy Manor - escape - Shell cottage - Voldemort gets wand - end). I knew before hand that the movie finishes just as Voldemort gets the want, which would be at Chapter 24.

Bellatrix was frightening like usual, though it was very chilling to watch her torture Hermione. It wasn't easy to watch her sobbing her responses to Bellatrix's demands, and then hearing her scream in agony. That was almost painful, and it really shows Watson's amazing skills in acting. You get a real feeling of horror and sympathy and dread in that scene.

Not that this has anything to do with what happens to Dobby, but the way it goes in slow-motion as the knife flies through the air and then disappears in the swirl of the elf disapparating kind of looked funny to me. Of course it actually gets him, unfortunately. I don't know why Wormtail didn't get strangled in the cellar like in the book, he just gets knocked aside by the elf's powers. Voldemort himself seemed a little less crazy in the movie than he does in the book to me.
I forgot - the way Bathilda disintegrated into the snake was one of the more frightening scenes.

They make it to the cottage, though Dobby dies, which is said. To my delight Luna appears in frame and closes his eyes (I remember smiling all of a sudden at that moment). The three bury the elf and stand over the grave, while, meanwhile, a couple of blocks roll off a tomb and Voldemort breaks it open to retrieve the Elder wand. The last thing you see is a big tower of light flash into the sky, causing lightening and chaos.
Then it's the end.

For me, it's slightly a bit mundane with the travelling, but it's still a great movie and there are some exciting aspects. I like how Ron saves Harry underwater - or, rather, like how you first see him, from under the ice. He looks big and like he's someone who can fix things for some reason to me. A big tall guy walking above who knows what to do. The way the Horcrux showcases Ron's inner fears is quite thrilling. I'd read how that was filmed - Radcliffe was overwhelmed with the lust that Watson's kiss was full of, and both had been topless (Watson had something to cover her chest). It really gives a sense of them being forcefully close, just for Ron to see. Grint wasn't there to see them act that out, his reaction and subsequent destruction of the Horcrux was filmed separately.
I expected him to be a little more overwhelmed than he looked in the film though; he seems to break down for a second in the novel, though Harry doesn't hear him or interrupt.

Anyway, any things I missed are always quite small, and when you leave those out it doesn't really matter much because the movie as a whole is pretty good. Not super great to me, above average, but still quite faithful to the novel and overall a good job. It's too bad you can't always portray proper thoughts on screen to make it as exciting as in the book, but the dancing was a good thing to liven it up, and again, the makeup department did a great job.

Oh, yeah, one more thing - the adult actors who portray the characters as transformed into Cattermole, Runcorn and Hopkirk did amazingly well assuming the reactions and expressions of the characters. That was something I was really awed at. They had to react and assume expressions and feelings teenage characters with different personalities wore on their faces, and they did it unbelievably well - you could tell right away that those characters weren't their actual adult selves, just from their expressions.
One thing that exemplifies this is the wedding scene in the book, where Luna knows the red-headed person Harry is impersonating is actually him, and when he asks how, she says, 'oh, just your expression.' Exactly.

I give this one an A-.

Now there's one more thing I need to say about this: It's about the split. Originally, fans accused Warner Bros. of being greedy because splitting the movie would generate a bigger profit. Warner Bros. took this and said, no, they just wanted to be faithful to the novel because it would be easier to do it this way.

My impression is that I believe in their interest in keeping it faithful, and I agree that they should split it up. But - they don't have to release it eight months later.

This is where I think they are in fact quite greedy: They will release the second part next summer. Why the heck then? Why so many months later? This is why: Summer is the time for hit movies. Summer is where you get blockbusters, summers is where the big movies are released. You have a bigger market for movies in the summer. And if you schedule a huge series finale of one of the biggest Hollywood money makers smack-dab in the middle of summer movie blockbuster time, you're going to make an unbelievable profit. You're going to make fifty times more money in the summer with a movie like that than you are in the Winter.

If the studio wasn't nearly as interested in marketing and money, they'd release part two in December, a few weeks later. Or they'd release it in January, or they'd release it around the time they'd be pulling part one out of theaters, which would probably be late January. Not all the way the heck into July.

It keeps people in suspense for a long time, eager to see it, and when it hits next summer, it will be a huge knockout - especially for the fact that it's during a time when all the usual popular movies come out. Because of this, I doubt we won't be getting the movie, both parts, on DVD until mid-2012.

I say that because do you think they'll release part one separately from part two, and then release part two on DVD? Or will they be smarter and put them into a DVD package of both parts? I haven't heard of a movie that was released in two parts separately, and then released on DVD in two separate parts. Maybe it will be. I don't know. I see it as more convenient to release part one on DVD next year and then part two when it comes, separately, but I also see is as more normal to release them together on DVD. I don't know.

There's also the fact that, when you compare how much the movie parts have of the book, part one covers the first 405 pages, leaving only 202 pages left for part two. That's over three-quarters of the book covered by the first movie!
I wonder how long the second part will be? Surely not two-and-a-half hours? There isn't enough pages for that - unless it is faithful to every single plot line and story structure and paragraph and word in those last 202 pages.

Anyway, the first part was cool and all. Can't wait for part two and for Warner Bros. to get their money's worth.

(Update: I apologize for the mix up between Rhys Darby and Rhys Ifans, I always get them mixed up).

Justin C.

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