Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One

Midnight, November 19th.  After months of anticipation and two-and-a-half hours of standing outside in below-freezing temperatures huddled in many layers of Potter apparel, I was ushered into my local theater with hundreds of other Harry Potter fans.  A local radio station was passing out trivia sheets and the local news networks had already been out asking questions about what would possibly possess us to endure such temperatures for a movie.

And with trembling anticipation, the lights dimmed in the theater.  The cold was finally starting to seep out of my bones and I could feel painful tingles in my toes, but my discomfort was forgotten as the logo I have come to love filtered onto the screen.  Hedwig’s Theme played in an eerie tinkling and the audience around me burst into excited squeals and a smattering of applause.

The moment had arrived.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One

I started typing this review as soon as I got home at 3:30 AM, but between the post-movie glory and the realization that I had been up for about twenty hours, I decided that it was best to give myself some time to digest everything.  And I come to you now with a review.  The first portion of the review will NOT contain spoilers.  I’ll then insert an image and a reminder that I’m going to spoil some things, and then it’ll be the total nerdy-freakout I can put out there.

Deathly Hallows was overall a very good, solid film.  It’s quite the change from the last six movies — considering that none of the movie takes place inside Hogwarts.  It creates a film that is refreshingly different from the previous six without being completely disjointed from the overall storyline.

The start of the film was a little bit rough.  There were a number of things that WB had neglected to include in previous films that were now important in this seventh film.  One of the biggest was the eldest Weasley boy — Bill.  Having never been mentioned at all before, he needed to be introduced before the Wedding scenes.  The sudden insertion of him as a character, explaining to Harry in about a second-and-a-half that the scars on his face were from a werewolf called Greyback (a character who also had not previously been mentioned in the films) was a bit jarring.

I am of the firm opinion that splitting the movie into two segments was a wonderful idea.  At first, I admit I wasn’t sure about the whole thing.  It seemed like a ploy for Warner Brothers to stretch the series out just a little bit further before losing the massive flow of money Harry Potter has created for them.  But after seeing the film, I am more than a little thankful that WB made that choice.  Separating the book into two movies has allowed WB to better pace the film, keeping the humorous bits movie-goers have grown accustomed to in the WB Potter films, and maintain an amazingly accurate portrayal of the last book in a decade-long saga.  In fact, after seeing Deathly Hallows, I find myself wishing that WB had split all the books from Goblet of Fire onward into two films!

Though speaking of pacing, while it was usually quite good, there were a few places where the progression of the story seemed a little wonky.  It’s not that I was ever disengaged from the film or confused about what was going on, but there were times when I felt things weren’t moving quite fast enough or were progressing at a pace just slightly too fast.

The music was wonderful.  It wasn’t a phenomenal John Williams score, but Alexandre Desplat did a very good job.  The music was always very fitting to the situations at hand and was never distracting from the action going on.

The ending for the film was wonderful.  I know there are people out there who think it shouldn’t have ended where it did, but from a film-maker’s standpoint, I can see exactly why they put the split where they did.  Watching that scene (no spoilers~!) was a very chilling moment and a great cliffhanger to get the casual movie-goers to come back for Part 2.

Coming up after the pretty image, SPOILERS.  I’ll be providing a list of Fangasming things I loved, and things I hated.

Deathly Hallows Poster

Things I Hated

I wanted to start with this list because it’s shorter and probably a bit more insignificant in the long run.  Remember, what I type here may spoil parts of the film for you.  This is your last warning.

  • Harry and Ginny’s Kiss in the BurrowThis was the most awkward kiss I have ever seen.  Neither of them seemed to enjoy it, and it was completely out of the blue.  It seemed strangely placed, forced, and unpleasant.  also, it was George that walked in on them, and while the toothbrush sticking out of his ear-hole was hilarious, it was NOT accurate to the book.
  • No Flashback of Voldemort murdering the PottersThis was something I had really been looking forward to.  Seeing the murder of Harry’s parents through Voldemort’s eyes could have been such a powerful, amazing scene, but instead all we got was Harry bursting through a wall into what must have been his nursery and then more fighting with Nagini.
  • The Deluminator – I wanted to see the little ball of blue light go into Ron and lead him back. >.>
  • Hermione used Obliviate When Hermione sent her parents off to Australia in the books, she did NOT use Obliviate.  That spell has always carried a sense of permanency.  Like, her parents would never remember her again, at least the way the spell works in the books.  In the book, she had worked some memory rebuilding magic, erasing her from their memories and changing them into different people in their own memories until she could reverse the spell.
  • Missing Luna’s bedroom The scenes in the Lovegood house were very well done in general, though I was extremely disappointed that we didn’t get to see Luna’s bedroom.  I thought it was a very poignant moment for Harry to see how much his friendship meant to Luna, and that missing piece was disappointing to me personally.
  • Kreacher’s Tale Kreacher’s tale was another powerful moment in the book.  It gave great insight into Kreacher’s character as well as the nature of House Elves in general.  It made Kreacher likable, even.  Kreacher, however, didn’t get a chance to tell his story in the film adaptation.
  • Lack of Disguises Harry Potter is UNDESIRABLE NUMBER ONE.  Yet somehow, despite the fact that Voldemort is seeking him out with an absolute fervor, Harry Potter is wandering around the world WITHOUT his Invisibility Cloak and WITHOUT the protection of Polyjuice Potion disguises.  In the books, Harry and his crew are extremely careful about Harry being seen, even Disapparating underneath the Invisibility cloak.  Yet in the film, he’s even completely undisguised at the WEDDING.

Well, there you go.  That’s the list of stuff I hated.  Now for the much more pleasant list.  Prepare for super-gushing.

Things I Loved

There were about a million things to love in this movie.  This was easily one of my favorite movies of all time, not just one of my favorite of the Potter films.  Some of the best bits are detailed here:

  • Dobby Everything about him.  When he reappeared, he looked so wonderful, so real.  His voice was perfect, and his mannerisms were great.  But the most amazing thing was when he took Narcissa’s wand and she looked at him, perplexed and horrified that her former slave was defying her, and Bellatrix tried to belittle him, but Dobby wouldn’t have it.  He looked up at Bellatrix and asserted that “Dobby is a FREE elf.  Dobby has NO Master.”  My theater erupted in applause at this.  Then, a minute later, Dobby had rescued his friends and lay dying in Harry’s arms from Bellatrix’s dagger.  He looks up at Harry and as the young wizard is screaming for someone to help, Dobby reassures him — “This… is a beautiful place… to be with friends.”  I bawled.
  • Harry and Hermione Dancing – This scene was not in the books, but it was absolutely wonderful.  Just after Ron has left and Hermione is in a very depressed funk, she and Harry and listening to the radio and a rather upbeat song comes on.  Harry stands up and takes Hermione’s hand and dances awkwardly with her until she starts to smile at the absurdity of it all.  I thought it was a ridiculously adorable scene.
  • Fluer’s Wedding Dress – I knew it wouldn’t be typical.  A traditional wedding dress couldn’t possibly suit the world of Harry Potter OR a half-veela.  But what would it be like?  Maybe I was extra conscious of this because I just got married myself, but Fluer’s wedding dress was absolutely gorgeous.  Twin phoenixes in black embroidery wound down the beautiful A-line dress.  It was perfect.
  • The Seven Potters – This scene was HILARIOUS.  Watching Fred, George, Fluer, Hermione, Mundungus, and Ron transform into Harry was absolutely amazing.  Daniel Radcliffe acted this amazingly; adopting the personalities of other characters looking like Harry couldn’t have been easy!  And there’s honestly very little more hilarious than seeing Harry Potter in a bra and skirt asserting that he’s ” ‘ideous”.
  • “Bathilda Bagshot” – OH GOD SHE WAS SO CREEPY!  But it was perfect because it wasn’t REALLY Bathilda.  Her eyes were so wide, and her face gaunt.  She moved silently and a with a jerky, unnatural fashion.  Just wonderful!
  • The Locket Destruction – It was bigger and more terrifying than I had imagined.  Seeing phantom Harry and Hermione groping each other and trying to devalue Ron was so powerful.  It was tense and HUGE.  Watching Ron triumph over it was extremely touching.
  • Three Brothers Animation – Since the story of the Three Brothers is so vital to the story of the Deathly Hallows, the story needed to be told in the film.  So Hermione reads the whole thing out loud in Xenophilious’ home.  Instead of just focusing on the people in the room the whole time she reads, an animated sequence came one.  All done in black and a parchment-y yellow, this animation sequence was absolutely amazing.  It was beautiful and slightly creepy and had this oddly sweeping quality to it, like it just picked you up and swept you away.
  • Hermione’s Bag – It wasn’t quite how I imagined it, but it was the perfect size!
  • Beautiful Scenery – They really found some gems to film in.  The woods were beautiful, as was the beach and this weird rocky mountain plateau they filmed on.  Wonderful, wonderful~
  • Umbridge’s Office – The pamphlets and the files, the pink… It was all so Umbridge, and so conform-y creepy.
  • Decoy Detonators – These little gems are what Harry uses in both the book and the film to sneak into Umbridge’s office.  In the book, it wasn’t really explained how they worked or what they looked like.  In the film, you got to really see it.  These little jet black half-sphere things with feet scuttled across the room, splitting  up into more and more little buggers that suddenly sprouted jet-black bugles and exploded with clouds of foul olive-green smoke.
  • Ron – Even when he was being a jerk.  While Ron has always been the comic relief in the films, it didn’t seem forced or awkward in this film.  It was wonderful.  Ron was just BEING Ron, and it was HILARIOUS.  He’d do things or say things that were slightly bumbling, and it was just naturally funny.

Well!  There you have it!  This movie was really strong, and I don’t regret going to see it.  I’m already highly anticipating the release of Part Two, while also dreading it slightly.

I’m not sure if I’m ready for the end of this Saga.

Rozen Maiden

Welcome to the first (at least titled as such) Fresh-Twist Review here on Hot Pink Joysticks.  Today we’ll be doing a review of Rozen Maiden as well as Rozen Maiden: Träumend.

Plot Synopsis: Rozen Maiden is the tale of seven exquisite dolls forced into a game to become the ultimate girl and the humans who find themselves caught up in the game with the dolls.  It all begins when a boy named Jun Sakurada finds himself in possession of one of the Rozen Maidens, a beautiful blond doll who calls herself Shinku – the fifth of the Rozen Maidens.  Before poor Jun can wrap his head around what he’s gotten himself into, the pair are attacked by a knife-wielding clown-doll.  Shinkou promises that she can protect Jun from the murderous being, but only if he will swear himself to her.  Faced with a choice of life or death, Jun agrees to the pact and is soon swept away in this strange happening.

Genres and Themes: Fantasy, Drama, Magic, Dolls

Opening and Ending Themes: The opening theme for the first season of Rozen Maiden is “Kinjirareta Asobi (禁じられた遊び)” by ALI PROJECT, and the ending theme is called “Tomei Shelter (透明シェルター)” by Refio and Haruka Shimotsuki.  For the sequel, Träumend, the opening theme is “Seishoujo Ryouiki (聖少女領域) ” by ALI PROJECT and the ending theme is “Hikari no Rasenritsu (光の螺旋律)” by Kukui.  The first season’s opening/ending were very good in my opinion — the music was strong and interesting, and the cinematic bits chosen were very good.  The second season was slightly weaker on both accounts, both the music and the animations were not as good.  What the two seasons shared, however, was something very interesting and not often done in anime — the animation was not simply clips from the series taken and put to the opening and ending music.  They were both done in a very stylized way, almost like looking at a panoramic of a stained glass window at some points.  Rozen Maiden gets high marks for it’s opening and endings.

Music: The music for Rozen Maiden was usually quite good, though not so amazing as to stand out.  It was honestly fairly middle-of-the-road.  Often classical with a strong emphasis on the strings section.  The musical compositions for the anime are credited to Shinkichi Mitsumune.  Mitsumune worked a very strong background soundtrack into the anime.  I was honestly sort of glad it didn’t stand out too much against the rest of what was happening — if it would have, I probably would have been distracted.  The only bad thing about the music was the sounds of one of the dolls playing her violin (it was her method of attack).  Those bits grated on my ears.  Thankfully, you only hear her do them twice in the entire series.

Animation and Direction: Both the animation and the direction in Rozen Maiden were above average.  Character designs by Kumi Ishii were wonderful.  The small details in all the dolls were very appreciated, and the girls didn’t look overly sexualized or moe-ized.  In fact, the dolls were all very Victorian-esque in their costume choices, and the humans were usually in school uniforms or typical T-shirt/sweats leisurewear.  And I really appreciated the fact that the dolls were drawn like dolls.  When their joints could be seen, they were made like a doll’s joints would be made, and they lacked things like belly buttons or other “human” features.  The animation itself has very high production values in most episodes, showing smooth movements, detailed facial expressions, and strong backgrounds.  Directed by Kou Matsuo (who did not do much else by way of notable directing), the anime has a good pace and very little filler (I think two episodes in the entire 26 episode arch are complete filler).

Characters: The characters in Rozen Maiden appear at first to be very one-dimensional.  Jun is a whiny brat of a kid who refuses to go back to school, Shinku is a prissy, uptight girl who takes far too much pleasure in smacking Jun with one of her long pigtails, Hinaichigo is an immature crybaby, etc etc.  However, these preconceptions do change through the anime.  I don’t want to give away a ton of spoilers, as that would ruin any purpose you have for watching the anime, but the dolls and the two main human characters do end up developing quite a bit through the anime in what is a very natural way in the context of the story.  I was extremely pleased to see that, considering how little characters tend to develop in more recent series.  (Rozen Maiden was released in 2004.)  I found myself growing quite attached to the characters by the second season, and will admit that I ended up crying on three occasions at the climax of the plot.  The one downfall to these characters was their names!  The dolls all have very difficult names to spell and pronounce.  I’ll put them here in the order that they were made — Suigintou, Kanaria, Suiseiseki, Souseiseki, Shinku, Hinaichigo, and Kirakishou/Barasuishou.  Wrapping your tongue around a few of those is very difficult.

Story: The story for Rozen Maiden was pretty interesting.  As described by my fiance, it was very “Highlander meets Pinocchio.”  Now, I’m not sure if I agree with that statement entirely, but it was interesting to see a familiar concept (fighting to be number one) done with such a unique twist (the fighters were dolls).  While this anime is pretty character driven, there’s enough story to satisfy those who like a good tale over compelling characters.

My Thoughts: I truly enjoyed the Rozen Maiden series.  While the ending wasn’t completely satisfying to me, and there were some very sad moments and even a little filler, I found the characters to be very compelling and the story to be unique and intriguing.  I finished the entire 26 episode saga in two days, after all.  There were moments when devious Suiseiseki made me giggle, and tender moments involving Shinku and Hinaichigo that tugged on my heartstrings.  Seeing how the dolls developed through the episodes and developing my own feelings toward the ever-absent “Father,” has carved this anime a special place in my heart.  While it may not be a life-changing anime for you, it’s definitely worth a watch for anyone who likes solid characters and interesting premises.

Rank: A-

Support the Industry: Rozen Maiden is available to rent through Netflix here or purchased from Amazon here. Be sure to check your local anime sellers as well!