Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

So I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I, and I am pleased to say that I was, in fact, not the most annoying person in the theatre! There was a girl three or four seats to our right that chattered through most of it. Meanwhile, I managed to get through the movie with very little hushed whispering and only a few instances of flailing silently while mouthing angry, unintelligible things at the screen. :D In lieu of a real review, this is just going to be a follow-up to the previous purist expectation post wherein I’ll ramble about …a lot of things.

(This post contains spoilers for pretty much everything.)

The Good

Really, the short version of this whole thing is that the movie was pretty all right. Things I expected to be left out were left out, things that I hoped would be left out were left out, and enough Important Things were included that I think most viewers should have a fair idea of what’s left for the last movie… which more or less means that my absolute bare minimum was met. For all the reservations I still have about Deathly Hallows being split in two, the split enabled this movie to actually feel like it was part of something bigger than itself — the feeling of the vast, complex, and connected magical world in the story of Harry Potter is something I’ve always felt was sorely lacking in the adaptations. And there were even parts that I thought were particularly well done! I know, right?

Hedwig’s death was nice. I really appreciated that Harry didn’t drag his owl along in her cage in the movie because that was kind of a stupid thing to do. Let her find her own way to the Burrow! Canonically, the Harry doubles carried stuffed owls to make things slightly less obvious, but it makes so much more sense for no one to be carrying an owl, and it’s much more dramatic for Hedwig to die trying to save Harry than just getting hit by a stray shot. Hedwig pointing out the real Harry as a result of her sacrifice was also a nice ironic touch, though that Harry’s trademark Expelliarmus is being lost as a result doesn’t necessarily bode well for me.

I had kind of forgotten about Harry’s meeting with Elphias Doge (and Aunt Muriel) at the wedding, so I was both surprised and glad to see it included. That Harry has reason to and begins to doubt Dumbledore’s guidance is something I deem Very Important, and it was good to get a mention of Rita Skeeter’s book early on since the book’s Daily Prophet clippings obviously don’t translate well to film. Placing more important figures in Godric’s Hollow also gives more reason for Harry to visit later, even though they missed the opportunity to re-emphasize that when the time came. Also, another huge missed opportunity: someone, anyone (really didn’t need to be Viktor Krum) pointing out that Lovegood’s necklace was “Grindlewald’s sign.”

The depiction of government blood purism was great, especially while the trio was at the Ministry screwing up Umbridge’s trial proceedings, which, while abbreviated, played out well. I’m also very glad the new statue at the Ministry was included and that Hermione got to comment on it. I wish someone had referenced back to what it used to be, or that the previous statue was shown in a previous scene, but hey, can’t have everything. It would have also been nice if the transition between “this might be a little unreasonable” and “you guys are obviously insane” were a little more gradual (which would also offer pretty relevant commentary on current events in the US), but the time constraints of a movie where fifty other things need to happen are understandable, and there’s only so many you can do when prior movies failed to build up to anything properly.

I was immensely relieved that R.A.B. was explained both clearly and concisely, though considering they didn’t really bring up the acronym prior to deciphering it, I still feel a lot of movie-only, casual fans would have been confused. I don’t remember if the fact that Harry now owns Kreacher was brought up in Half-Blood Prince, but while he was obviously following Harry’s orders, it would have been nice to see him lighten up a little (and for him to be given the fake locket). It’s a minor detail, I know, and I did say I didn’t want them to delve too much into Kreacher’s long story about Regulus’s orders, but consider that it wouldn’t have taken more than a minute for Harry to say, “Here, Kreacher. You can have this fake locket. Thanks for helping out.”

Another point of huge relief: complete lack of Lupin/Harry/Teddy drama. YES! Pointless stupid subplot axed, YES! I love that Yates even cut Tonks’s (terribly timed and awkward) pregnancy announcement off mid-sentence. I’m thinking that RLNT isn’t his ship like HHr is? :P It does make me wonder whether Teddy will be mentioned at all though, and whether it will be significant at all that Lupin and Tonks die, or that Harry’s Teddy’s godfather. I have absolutely no problem with all of it being cut completely… Because I’m not a RLNT fan either. ;3

Harry and Ron fighting over the radio was a nice, non-canonical touch since it definitely contributed to building tension and if David Yates decides to bring in Potterwatch (briefly, please) in the next movie, it’s already established that we have a radio (which would be a step up from the book). In general, I thought the Harry/Ron drama was well done, especially since things Ron says contribute to the whole doubting Dumbledore thing. Similarly, the engorgio/reducio moment after Ron’s return was hilarious because it felt so natural, and because it was a beautiful example of something that couldn’t be done in the book. A spontaneous thing like that would have never worked written down. I mean, just imagine explaining that scene to someone and trying to convey just how funny it was. It doesn’t work that well.

The scene with Nagini as Bathilda Bagshot was awesome and the only part of the Godric’s Hollow visit that I approve of (see next section). The actress was really appropriately creepy and unnerving, and the whole build-up to the “Suddenly! Giant snake!” was fantastic, especially the part where Hermione sees blood on the ceiling. It could have been much more obvious that Bagshot!Nagini was speaking Parseltongue, but when was the last time Parseltongue and the fact that Harry is a Parselmouth was even mentioned? Too many details and points of continuity for these movies; continuity is hard, durr!

The fact that the trio managed to logic their way to the conclusion that Gryffindor’s sword should be able to destroy Horcruxes was great. Canonically, since Hermione had  Phineas Nigellus’s portrait in her beaded bag, he tipped them off. Considering how ridiculous of a cop out Harry’s continued Voldy-visions already are, it was nice to see that the trio is, in fact, somewhat capable of figuring things out on their own while cut off from the rest of the world. See? Example of movie > book.

Xenophilius Lovegood’s retelling of the story of the Deathly Hallows was lovely, visually and otherwise. I was impressed with the smooth transition into the animation sequence, and the style definitely suited the subject matter. The whole “wizarding fairy tale” thing came across very well.

The Bad

Okay, now the fun part? Really, there weren’t a lot of things that made me rage, but what did make me rage, made me rage hard.

The complete and total absence of Harry’s Invisibility Cloak infuriated me. It is KIND OF IMPORTANT. Even though I’ve always thought it was contrived that Harry’s cloak just happened to be the cloak, it is fact nonetheless. In a movie entitled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I would certainly not expect them to take out a Deathly Hallow! Especially since it’s rather inconspicuous. Harry has had that cloak since year one. Him taking it along, especially when he is kind of hiding from the entire wizarding world, would be an Obvious Thing to Do. You absolutely cannot convince me that Hermione, in all her preparedness and ingenuity, failed to realize this and stuff it in her bag. In fact, she has to have it because the cloak is an inevitability! It will need to come up eventually; there is no avoiding it. So then when it does, it just won’t follow that they didn’t bother to use it before then!

Gee, Apparating under the Invisibility Cloak? Gosh! That would make so much sense if we are trying to avoid detection! In fact, the trio’s apparent disregard for keeping themselves hidden annoyed me greatly, especially the fact that Harry and Hermione appeared in Godric’s Hollow without any cautionary measures. It just… goes against what they’ve set up with Hermione automatically casting protective barriers and Disillusionment charms the second they land anywhere, made obvious in the scene where they’re almost discovered. The movie didn’t need to put them in disguise via Polyjuice, but at least put on the goddamn cloak! Yes, Harry does take it off later (and they wouldn’t both be able to stay under the cloak since they separate in the graveyard), but if you are going to nix the Polyjuice aspect, then at least keeping the cloak would make the fact that Bagshot!Nagini noticed and recognized them even more eerie. And I mean, really, Hermione. Let’s tie a scarf around the tree. :\

While certain scenes did contribute to it, I’m really disappointed at how little a role the Dumbledore subplot is playing. Eroding trust in Dumbledore is one of the reasons Harry and Ron were at odds with one another. The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore plays a big part in revelations in regards to the Hallows, and especially Grindlewald. Yes, seeing the sign of the Hallows in one of Dumbledore’s letters is what prompts the visit to Lovegood’s, and they do make the connection between the thief in Harry’s Voldy-visions, the photo in Bagshot’s home, and the picture in the book, but we are completely missing the fact that both Dumbledore and Grindlewald were seeking the Hallows for themselves. These things contribute significantly to Harry’s conflict in deciding whether to seek out the Horcruxes or the Hallows.

I realize there wasn’t a lot of time left in the movie after Harry learns about the Hallows, but this is disappointing because canonically, over eight weeks pass between the incident at Lovegood’s house and the trio being picked up by Snatchers. Harry and Hermione are at Godric’s Hollow on Christmas Eve — the movie states this as well. Finding Ron and destroying the locket come shortly after, and then they’re off to Lovegood’s — probably around New Years. Canonically, the Snatchers pick them up in early March. Seriously. Since those eight plus weeks are abbreviated into several seconds, we miss out on 1) Harry’s apparent obsession with the Hallows, and 2) Harry’s realization that the Resurrection Stone is inside the snitch Dumbledore left him.

Both of these things are Important. The Horcrux VS Hallows conflict is one of the Most Significant in the last book because it is the difference between Harry trusting and not trusting Dumbledore. It is the difference between Harry pursuing a means to “destroy evil” and “becoming powerful” — which is, in some ways, synonymous with “becoming evil.” The good VS evil theme, and the fact that it isn’t so clear cut, is so central to the entire goddamn series that neglecting this aspect of Deathly Hallows is abominable. And the fact that all that time passes without another lead on a Horcrux is also significant to contributing to Harry’s frustration.

A general explanation of Horcruxes was also missing. We were just supposed to remember what they were, I guess? There are some references to what they are, such as Ron wondering whether Voldemort feels it when one is destroyed, but I think those references would only serve to confuse if you didn’t already know what they were. Once again, continuity is hard. Tying together a seven-part epic is hard. But it would have taken two sentences to give the audience a refresher. I really don’t know how movie-only fans are following any of this, honestly.

Further on the subject of continuity, it annoyed me greatly that so many characters got terrible, belated introductions, including Bill Weasley, Mundungus Fletcher, and Rufus Schrimgoer. It was like Yates finally, and rather suddenly, realized that they are important at some point, for a scene or two. Lack of foresight can be forgiven up to a certain point because Yates came on board with Order of the Phoenix a year prior to the final book’s release. The fifth movie came out a week before the final book, but Half-Blood Prince’s production had plenty of time to take Deathly Hallows into consideration. HBP would have been an installment late for introducing Bill and Mundungus, but Schrimgoer could have been introduced properly at the very least.

But no. Dung’s introduction early in the movie was incredibly awkward, and he promptly disappears as soon as the scene changes. Then, since his history of thievery is never established (nor is his inclusion in the Order), the leap to conclude that he is the one who stole the locket seems very haphazard, even if Kreacher is there to testify. It just doesn’t flow. It is far too obvious that the character was introduced for the sole purpose of completing that one scene. After all, you never see him again after that. Similarly, as a Weasley especially, Bill should have been introduced ages ago. I’m still bitter that we lost the big Order VS Death Eaters fight in the last movie. Bill showed up for the wedding that was never previously mentioned and that was it! We’ll never see him again, except maybe as a cameo for the final showdown.

And Schrimgoer! Honestly, at the time, I did not have a problem with the fact that Schrimgoer was axed from Half-Blood Prince. Fudge’s resignation and Schrimgoer’s insistence that Harry be on “his side” were minor details in the grand scheme of things. However, in that case, I would have much preferred that Fudge remained, however non-canonically, as Minister of Magic. It makes no difference who reads Dumbledore’s will or delivers that ominous one-liner. It doesn’t matter who dies when Voldemort takes the Ministry. It irritates me that Schrimgoer was introduced for the sole purpose of reading the will. That was not his sole purpose, and if you were going to ignore his other purposes, then why not just ignore him completely? Fudge could have read the will, given the warning, and died for his country just as well. Yes, I am advocating non-canon for the sake of clarity, continuity, and simplicity! Bah!

Ron’s explanation of the Snatchers kind of sucked. It would have contributed so much to the depiction of rampant blood purism and government corruption if he had mentioned the fact that the Ministry had put out rewards for the capture of Muggleborns and blood traitors. A sentence or two, c’mon! It would have also better explained there were random people hunting around in the forest when it wasn’t really clear who they were and whether they were looking specifically for Harry. In fact, despite being labeled Undesirable Number One, it wasn’t very obvious the Ministry was trying to look for Harry at all. Part of this goes back to the trio’s half-assed vigilance in regards to keeping hidden.

Harry’s lack of disguise at the wedding comes off as unimportant initially — it would have been a cumbersome explanation. But at the same time, remember that Death Eaters attacked the Burrow previously (in that terrible, wasteful, pointless scene in HBP), and everyone knows that the Weasleys have all but adopted Harry and are considered a family of blood traitors. Knowing that, Moody and Hedwing dying and George losing his ear just so Harry can go to the most obvious place possible, undisguised, is kind of retarded. Would it have been too much effort to… I dunno, have Harry Polyjuiced as one of the twins? There’s already two of them wandering around, as long as they don’t all sit together, no one would know!

The Purist

And then there are the things that probably aren’t that important, but that bug me because I’m neurotic.

Though I had expected it, I am still very disappointed with the lack of closure granted to the Dursleys and Wormtail. Like it or not, the Dursleys were a big part of Harry’s life. They are still his family. They raised him for eleven years and provided him shelter… which by the way, was never explained as magical or blood-tied, but they should have explained that movies ago and I don’t think they did, so I’m too tired to bother with caring at this point. For six previous installments, Harry’s departure from Privet Drive and his return to it bookended his adventures. It was a sanctuary, however unpleasant. I was already disappointed with how their departure was handled canonically. It was rushed and sloppy, but at least they said goodbye. At least Dudley got to say, “I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” and awkwardly shake his cousin’s hand. We never see them again. I want closure!

The lack of focus on the Dursleys and the fact that Harry was leaving their care also means that Harry’s graduation into adulthood is severely underscored. Harry Potter is as much a coming of age story as it is a story about good and evil. It is significant that Harry turns seventeen here. It is significant that he is leaving his home. Harry is losing all of the protection he has ever had. Dumbledore is dead, and he no longer has a place to go back to. I mean really, what explanation did the movie give for Harry needing to leave anyway? They were just scenes that happened without explanation.

Wormtail is less important to me than the Dursleys, partially because his redemption is needed more in the context of the Marauders than Harry. His closure is less with Harry himself and more with James, Sirius, and Remus, through him. Wormtail has also been featured much less prominently, and I doubt most casual, movie-only fans even remember him sacrificing his hand for Voldemort three movies ago and the subsequent addition of his silver glove. Still, even if Wormtail didn’t redeem himself here (or ever), I kind of hope he’ll at least die at some point in the next movie — that all the Marauders die, more or less because of Voldemort, and more or less for Harry’s sake, is another point of closure. It’s one generation fighting for the next and facing death in the process. I’m not gonna hold my breath though.

Meanwhile, where the hell are Charlie and Percy? Yes, yes, there are way too many damn Weasleys, and there just isn’t room for them, but hell, I would have been happy with a cameo wandering randomly in the background. We could have had Charlie walk in on Harry and Ginny kissing awkwardly instead of George. My memory of previous movies remains fuzzy, but since Bill has apparently never been introduced prior to this movie, I would assume the same is true of Charlie. He’s just never existed. But wait! Then who the hell took off with Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback waaaay back in movie one? Ahhh! Continuity is too hard for movies! I would have even been satisfied with an offhand mention that “Charlie’s still off taming dragons and recruiting foreign members for the Order and can’t make it for the wedding” or something. One sentence!

As for Percy, well. His entire drama-ridden subplot has been axed, and I don’t particularly miss it, but it does make me wonder if he’s going to awkwardly show up at the Battle of Hogwarts and awkwardly be upset when Fred dies. I mean, when was the last we even saw him? When he was still at school? Again, I would have been happy with a passing mention. It could have even been in the background somewhere while something else was happening. Maybe Molly and Arthur could have been in a corner arguing about it. Whatever! Given the importance Ron gives to knowing how his family is doing, you’d think they’d give some indication that these two brothers still exist.

Moving on, I am tired of wands being used as guns and everyone and their mom doing wordless casting. Characters are just flicking their wands forward, shooting sparks, and making gunshot noises. Sometimes they do actually shout spells, which is great, especially when they are shouting over the sounds of things breaking and exploding or whatever — it adds to the tension. And every Potterhead fangasms when a non-standard spell is used. Surely it doesn’t hurt to toss us a bone now and again? But most of the time, it seems that Yates feels saying spells somehow detracts from a fight or chase scene, nevermind that silent spellcasting is hard and pretty much no one can do it (except maybe Hermione). But I realize that this is a pretty purist complaint and no one else gives a damn.

Another thing that probably no one cares about, but that annoys me greatly, is the fact that Harry saw the silver doe form out of nothing. That’s not how Patronuses work! And it isn’t consistent either! Earlier, you see Kingsley’s Patronous fly through the sky, traveling to the wedding to give warning. It forms where Kingsley casts it and must then move to its destination. Since Snape is obviously not in the forest with the trio, his Patronus can’t very well form there!  Harry spots the doe approaching from the distance and pursues it. It does not form in front of him. This was one of the points in the movie I was silently flailing in the theatre while my friend tried to make sense of my purist rage.

Surprisingly, the whole Harry and Hermione dancing thing doesn’t really bother me much. I don’t see the scene as being particularly romantic, even though it probably is Yates still trying way to hard to put in more of his OTP. To cast it under a canonic lens, it really is just Harry trying to cheer Hermione up, trying to lighten the mood a little bit after many long weeks of frustration and little progress. They’re both separated from their real romantic interests and isolated in a world that wants to destroy them with tremendous pressure to succeed in their endeavors. It’s not unbelievable that they should comfort each other in this way. That said, wow, was the intense making out in the locket’s illusion rather unnecessary or what.

I was mildly annoyed that Lovegood’s house was not destroyed canonically, but I think I was more annoyed at the amorphous attacking Death Eaters than the lack of exploding Erumpent horn. I think I addressed it previously in my Half-Blood Prince review/rant, but I’m tired of wizards flying around as jets of black smoke or whatever… In the source, they arrived on broomstick,  but I really don’t think we need the ominous black smoke to highlight the fact that they’re Death Eaters. And would it have been too much trouble to have them actually cast attacking spells instead of dive bombing the place like would-be Dementors? Maybe we were supposed to think they were Dementors, but that doesn’t make much sense either, really.

And I’m disappointed that the Tabooing of the word “Voldemort” was left out because it was so damn clever. That Harry, Dumbledore, and those opposed to the Dark Lord have always shown defiance by saying his name has been a running theme for ages, and to have that defiance turned against them is brilliant. Much, much better than Hermione being an idiot and leaving a scarf tied around a tree, seriously. Or Apparating them to the same place twice. That was dumb too.

There were other things too… probably… but I digress. I’ve already written four thousand words.

Overall, I do think the movie was pretty okay. Better than the last four anyway. One of the nice things about going in with zero expectations is that it’s harder to be upset when things don’t turn out your way. Deathly Hallows, as the final installment(s), also has the benefit of me being very tired with certain things being repeated screwed/ignored/whatever. Some things have been wrong for so long now that it really is hard to gripe about them anymore. I was going to write some predictions about what will be included/shafted in part two, but I’m tired of writing, and you’re tired of reading, so maybe another time. Really, if I had any sense, I’d have posted this in three parts, but whatever!

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  1. ghostlightning on December 9, 2010 6:33 am

    LOL that was a fun read. I am a little bit intimidated by your fangirl power levels, but it’s a good kind of intimidated!

    It makes me want to marathon all seven books with a corresponding film-viewing immediately after each book.

  2. Kiriska on December 9, 2010 4:25 pm

    lol, sometimes I don’t realize how deep I am into this fandom until I write about it. XD But rereading the books prior to watching the corresponding movie is what I’ve done for every movie except this one! It is fun. I think I am going to rewatch all of the movies and reread Deathly Hallows before the last part comes out… I’ve never rewatched any of the movies, so that should be interesting. :3