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.

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D Is for Disappointing

Please note that the following are the views and opinions of one girl.  
Your mileage may vary.

Take your 3D back to the ’80s now, please.

I’m serious.  Over the past year or so, ever since the release of the “acclaimed” Avatar film, 3D seems to be the new big thing in American cinematography.  And by “new big thing” I mean “was big in the ’80s and is seeing a ridiculous resurgence.”  No one seems to talk about the ’80s jump in three-dimensional productions, other than to occasionally say that today’s 3D is so much more than stuff “popping out of the screen at you.”

This less campy sort of three-dimensional effect is being hailed as a new tool for directors to use to enhance a viewer’s experience.  However, I don’t see it that way.  For me, this new 3D fad is just a disappointing annoyance.

Leave your shock and awe at the door, please.

Honestly, though.  3D isn’t worth the extra time and money being put into it, in my opinion.  And it’s starting to seem like more and more films are just throwing the effects on top of an already completed film to “fit in”.  It’s like all of America’s popular summer blockbusters are in high school together and one of them looked super cool smoking, so the rest are going to plod along for the cancerous ride just for the sake of being the same.

“3D has come a long way.”  Uh, no.  Not really.  Back in the 80’s, you’d get an awesome experience by hitting up your local theater and being handed a pair of these:

Not super comfortable, and pretty flimsy.  These were often made of paper and a weird little film in red and blue that you looked through to see stuff popping out of the screen at your face.  Today?  You’re treated to these:

Now made of plastic and with lenses of the same color, viewers are assured that these glasses will fit comfortably over any prescription lenses and provide an amazing experience.

Let me just say, no.

You’re being lied to.

First off, these glasses are NOT comfortable overtop prescription lenses.  I wear glasses.  My fiance wears glasses.  We are both in consensus about the fact that these “Real D” glasses are not at all comfortable over our needed eyesight enhancers.  The bits that fit over your ears smoosh prescription glasses against your skull, which in turn causes odd pressure against your nose.  And then there’s this weird sense of vertigo that I got from looking through two separate pairs of glasses.

To be honest, I don’t know anyone who wears glasses that has told me the “Real D” glasses are comfortable to sit through a feature-length film in.

Secondly, you are not being provided with a viewing experience that much more amazing that you should need to pay $2-5 more per viewing, especially with the insane prices movie theaters are charging these days anyway.  I saw Clash of the Titans in 3D for me (soon to be) brother-in-laws birthday this past April, and it was not worth what we paid.  Now, granted, Clash wasn’t filmed for 3D and was merely a part of the “groupie smokers” pack that slapped the 3D effects on post-production.  Even so, this supposed “enhanced experience” was nothing more than like looking into a window — a window that was the movie screen.  Sure, things seemed to have a little more depth, but the high amounts of blurriness and weird sweeping camera motions only made me feel sick, not “enhanced.”

Now, I can usually just ignore this craze and bide my time until those stupid little plastic glasses fall back into the history books where they belong.  But something has happened that has forced me to face this ridiculous fad head-on.

The last two Harry Potter films are being shown in 3D.

WHY?!

I mean, the first part of the Deathly Hallows films wasn’t even filmed for 3D.  And the trailer we have available is telling me to “complete the journey in 3D.”  Uh, no thanks.  I’ve loved Harry Potter up until now without needing your “enhanced experience” and crappy little glasses.

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I can’t just see the Deathly Hallows movies in a 2D theater like a normal person.  Well, here’s the deal.  When I drag my butt to a movie theater to wait in line for six or more hours (which I did for the Half-Blood Prince movie), I want to see the movie I’m waiting for on the UltraScreen — basically what the theater company in Fargo calls their really big super-sized screen with the amazing sound system and super-comfy chairs.  But in Fargo, there’s only ONE Ultra-Screen, and it’s the one used to show 3D movies.

My nerd-rage is bubbling. >.<

So please, Hollywood, take your 3D and put it back in the vault with Jaws 3 and whatever else you’ve got gathering dust back there.  I, for one, will thank you.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (Review)

I just got home from seeing G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.  The movie has seen a lot of very lukewarm reviews.  I must admit I was fairly pleased.

Overall Grade: 70 Points; B-

  • Basic Information (No Points Applicable):  Described as an Action/Sci-Fi/Adventure/Thriller, G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra was written by Stuart Beattie and David Elliot.  Stephen Sommers, known for directing such films as The Mummy and Van Helsing.  Released in the United States on August 7th, 2009, the film had already made $56.2 million three days later, skyrocketing to the top of the Box Office ratings, the second movie on the list not even coming close at $20.1 million.  The premise is simple, as far as Action Films are concerned, however, it was fairly compelling.  The regular guys fail their mission and are saved by the Black Ops team, who are then betrayed by the man who had hired them in the first place.   Christopher Eccleston stars as McCullen, the “bad guy.”  Rachel Nichols takes the role of “Scarlett” O’hara.  Ray Park took the character Snake Eyes, while Channing Tatum took on Duke Hazard.
  • Directing (15/20 Points):  This was, at heart, an action film.  Because of that, it’s not surprising that very few liberties were taken with the directing.  I think that Sommers did a bang-up job working with his crew.  There were a few cinematic choices I didn’t necessarily agree with, some camera angles that felt a little strained or forced, one too many LOUD explosions…  But all in all, it was a fairly solid ream of directing.
  • Characters (12/20 Points):  I was unfortunately a bit disappointed with the characters in G.I. Joe.  It wasn’t that they left some of the best Joes out or anything, simply that their characters seemed to be forced into depth.  The stories were compelling, but rushed!  Every few minutes, we were thrust into another flashback from one character or another, pushing through Snake Eyes’ backstory with Storm Shadow.  Scarlett threw in tiny tidbits of herself between Ripchord’s heavy-handed attempts at her hotness.  Ana was a tragic unfortunate soul saved by the wonderful Duke Hazard.
  • Dialogue/Writing (17/20 Points): For an Action film, I thought the writing was FANTASTIC.  There were some great throwbacks to the old cartoon version.  Some moments that needed to be were tender and compelling, while others were genuinely spine-tingling.
  • Soundtrack (5/10 Points): The Soundtrack was honestly just average.  There’s nothing else to say there.
  • Overall Story (25/30 Points): While the story itself wasn’t original, it was an engaging story.  There were parts that kept me on the edge of my seat and other parts that gave me goosebumps.  I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but as far as action films usually go, it wasn’t all guns and explosions (while there were a good number of those).  Everything tied together very nicely, even if it did come together in sort of a rushing waterfall fashion.  It was a well-thought-out method, if nothing else.
  • Personal Opinion (+6 Points):  Before this addition, the points ranked the movie as a “C”.  That’s a fairly average movie, as the “C” grade does invoke the average mien.  However, for the first time in a long time, I truly enjoyed myself at this movie, which makes it more than simply average, in my opinion.

Scarlett and Snake Eyes

Remember, everyone, the Grading System is as follows:
A: 90 — 100 Points
B: 70 – 89 Points
C: 60 – 79 Points
D: 40 – 59 Points
F: 39 Points or less