Saturday, 27 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

Ok, I'm over a week late with watching it, but you know, I had other things to do. 

I think it's best I start with a brief summery of the 6th film's main failings since I rewatched it last night with a friend who'd not yet seen it.
The biggest failing, which I noted in the cinema on first viewing was that instead of spending a little more time with Dumbledore and explaining to Harry about how and why Voldemort chose the objects he did to turn into horcruxes, they faffed about by burning the Burrow, an event that does not happen in the book.

As a result, the 7th film(s) will have Harry and his pals somehow haphazardly coming across horcruxes with plain luck. Yes, Hermione works out that they need Gryffindor's sword, and yes they work out the tale of the Deathly Hallows, but I can't help but feel this was rather careless of the directors, if they wish the films to be easily understood by non-book readers. 
I physically winced when Ron angrily pointed out that he couldn't believe Dumbledore spent all that time with Harry and didn't even tell him how to destroy horcruxes - because I knew that Dumbledore at least told Harry what they most likely were and therefore they'd be.

Right, as for the seventh film, I actually quite enjoyed it - hell, I was ready (not rearing, but ready) to sit another 2 hours to watch the second half. I have no idea why people these days are unable to watch Gone-with-the-Wind-length films. But maybe that's just me.

It begins with a scene only hinted at in the seventh book, which I thought was rather touching: Hermione ''sorting out'', as it were, her parents' memories of her. If they don't know who she is, then they can't be harmed.

Heartbreaking though, if you think about it. The audience seemed to feel quite sorry for her.

We have a quick scene with the Dursleys leaving, Petunia looking, dare I say it? Remorseful? No sign of Dudley though which is interesting. Must have shoved him in a wardrobe that was on the roof of the car or something. 

Finally the book parts get going - the collection of Harry by members of the Order (Bill very quickly introduced since we missed him in the 6th film) and Ron and Hermione was very well done, with the 7 Daniel Radcliffs wearing other people's clothing and using other people's voices and making jokes.
The subsequent fight and flight scene as the death eaters ambush the Harrys was actually quite thrilling. We see them scatter but all the focus is on Real Harry and Hagrid in Sirius's motorcycle. Whilst it wasn't quite canon, Hedwig's demise was actually more upsetting that way - in trying to protect Harry (rather than being in her cage and accidentally getting hit) she not only dies but gives him away as the Real One. 
The only thing that made me "oh no, they didn't...><" was when Voldemort's failure to kill him resulted in a big dramatic "NoOoOoOoOoOoOo!!!!! *lightening and thunder*" [I kid you not]

Madeye's death was briefly dealt with, and more or less wiped under the carpet, with only mutterings from me about that "bastard, Mundungus". I'm more angry with Film Mundungus than I am with the book Mundungus, cause I thought that Madeye was, along with Luna, one of the few characters done flawlessly in the films. Shame.

I can see why some critics would argue that there was a lot of drawn out scenes, as Harry, Ron and Hermione don't get up to much in the wilderness. I liked it, though - there's no point in missing things out and shoving too many fast-paced and action scenes into a smaller time frame. I think that those films tend to be slightly poorer than films that have lulls in between. I'm not saying that this film is a 5 star masterpiece, but it would have been spoiled if they just juiced up the half of the book which was about theory and what was going on in their heads rather than fighting and Total War.
Besides, the countryside they used was beautiful - I can't help but wonder if it was all filmed in England. It wouldn't surprise me if there were Wizarding World bits of the map that us Muggles don't know about.

Sophie Thompson (left) David O'Hara (right)
Harry's already changed back, you see.
I think I should pay a little tribute to three otherwise forgotten actors in this, who I thought did a good job: Sophie Thompson, Steffan Rhodri and David O'Hara as the Polyjuice Potioned Hermione, Ron and Harry in the Ministry of Magic. As you may remember, they must retrieve the true horcrux locket, since the one which had been obtained in vain by Dumbledore and Harry in the 6th film was fake. To infiltrate the ministry, they knock out three random employees there, and use polyjuice potion.
They all act awkward and confused admirably. Or so I thought. Particularly David O'Hara as hopeless Ron.

I suspect that 80+% of people that watched the film were moved by the return and exit of Dobby the House Elf. He tags along with Kreacher when he is looking for Mundungus, and after that is instrumental in the rescue of Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Malfoy mansion. He even has a little patriotic (sort of) speech - "Dobby has no owner. Dobby is a free elf. Dobby will save his friends". Unfortunately, those of you that have read the book know how that went down with Bellatrix and what befell him.

The scene was ruined perhaps by too short a dramatic pause after his last lines, but the tears were there. It did not count as crying though, cause they stayed behind the rims of my eyes, so there.

Death giving the youngest brother the
invisibility cloak.
The effects in the film are getting far better. Ok, I think they'll never perfect Nagini, but apparently slightly larger-than-normal pythons are too difficult. And then there's Ralph Fiennes, the noseless thing that he is.

The scene in which we learn the story of the Deathly Hallows - the three wizards that attempted to defy Death - was exquisite.  I thought it was beautiful, artistic and engaging. It was quite Tim Burtonesque, I suppose - I did think ''Corpse Bride'' with the Resurrection Stone. It was pretty shadow puppeting.

I'll keep it brief with "the sex scene" - not exactly a sex scene. More like two topless people with serious snogging. And lots of smoke. Briefly, about 2 seconds. The most saucy part of the film, arguably, is when Harry strips down to his boxers to dive into a minus-temperatures pond because an unexplained apparition of a Doe indicated that he should.

Unlike J.K.Rowling, the directors KNOW that Snape and Draco are lost souls. At the start, with the torture and killing of the Muggle Studies teacher of Hogwarts, there is quite clearly supposed to be hint of back story to Snape, as she begs him "Please, Severus... we were friends". A test by Voldemort, perhaps? But Alan Rickman plays him well, as does Snape, so perhaps that hint of sympathy is imagined.
Draco, on the other hand, is quite clearly being traumatised by the cruelty, despite what he thinks of Muggles and Muggle Studies.
The Malfoys are quite clearly on edge, what with Voldemort's temper being a bit testy. Seems Bellatrix is the only relative of the Malfoys who's got any - well, it's not respect, but you know. Favour, I guess - from Voldemort. Perhaps because of her amazing hair? Which gets more and more copious each film, I'm sure.

Overall, I give the film 8/10. It's certainly the best one of the series. I suppose the directors are actually skimming through the books now. What with all the loose ends that are tied up, they need to know how it's done.

The acting has really broadened out, too. Like Rupert Grint's shoulders.

By the way, since I saw this picture before I saw the film, I couldn't watch this scene without picturing the party hats. Slight shame there xD


Amy said...

I'm wondering if I was one of the < 5% that was trying hard not to laugh throughout the entire thing...that must mean I'm slightly demented...

Miss M said...

I think the only people in the audience NOT thinking "penis" at every mention of wand length were the under 15s.