Sunday, November 21, 2010

The beginning of the end: A review

Amidst the plethora of tweets I've been sending your way about sponsoring my run against Child Sexual Abuse, let us not forget that there was another, equally important, event this weekend: the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I. And since my obsession for the series is fairly well-known by now to long-time readers of this blog, and since I have reviewed the last two movies on this blog, why not this one?

First things first, I had terrible expectations from this movie. No, really. I know I always say I go in for the HP movies with zero expectations, but this time I went in expecting it to be terrible. David Yates turned one of the best books in the series into the worst movie in the franchise, so I really didn't expect anything great with this one, even though I was marginally impressed with the one preceding that, also directed by him.

However, if I have to review the latest movie in one word, it is this: fabulous. No, really, after Prisoner of Azkaban, I really think this is one of the best in the entire franchise.


The movie starts off with the MoM addressing the media, and moves to the shots of the trio in their respective homes. Which brings up the first lump-in-the-throat moment of the movie - seeing Harry visit the cupboard-under-the-stairs, and Hermione leave her parents' home. The scene with the Death Eaters is suitably creepy, and the chase decent. The gathering at the Burrow could've been better, as could've some of the subsequent ones - no, I'm not going to do a scene-by-scene review, don't worry.

A few scenes do deserve a mention, however: Godric's Hollow was good. I had my face hidden in the father's shoulder in places, that's how scary they made it (and no, you don't get to call me a wimp). The father was chuckling and wishing we could've seen that scene in 3D; I swear, I would've walked out if that had been the case. The scene at Shell Cottage was heartbreaking; I was always very fond of Dobby, and the movie handled it so well. I also loved how they used animation for the Three Brother story - made it very cool.

I was disappointed in places of course. In terms of performance, both Rufus Scrimgeour and Xenolius Lovegood were utter disappointments - I don't think either of them brought to the screen what I imagined their characters to be. Their scenes were among the flattest parts of the movie.

I also didn't like how they left out fairly key stuff - but I think that is by now a common refrain by all HP fans for all the movies. For instance, however, in the Godric's Hollow scene, at no point does it get covered why Bertha Bagshot has been replaced, which made the entire scene fairly pointless, don't you think? One of my biggest problems with the HBP movie was that Voldemort's back-story and what and where the horcruxes could be was completely left out - so here, when these people are looking for the horcruxes, you really are as clueless as they are.

Also, I could shoot David Yates for the minor appeasement of Harry/Hermiones shippers that he tried to bring in. Pointless, silly, stupidly executed - WHY? Oh and given that they didn't show how Patronuses can be used as messages in HBP, Kingsley's voice coming out of a ball of light made no sense, and the doe, while well done, didn't link to anything, y'know? Which makes me wonder about Snapes' story.

I thought they ended the movie at the right moment - it made perfect sense. I've been having a discussion with Suprateek on twitter about the second part - he feels they've left too much to be covered in it. I disagree: if you go by the book, there are really three-four things to be covered, out of which I'm fairly sure they will discard Dumbledore's entire back-story. Snape gets practically no screen presence in this movie, so I don't know what they'll do with him in the second one. Which really isn't leaving much then, is it?

My BIGGEST bugbear with the movie however, is this: HOW could Harry walk all over the place as himself? Yates clearly missed the memo about Harry being listed as Undesirable No. 1 by the Ministry, even though there is a brief scene of such posters being printed. And given that this book is about the Hallows, where in the name of heaven was Harry's cloak?

I loved the movie, but like I was telling the brother last night, in retrospect, I think I loved it in a relative sense. In an absolute sense, I'm not so sure. It's by far the most faithful to the book of all the movies, and is really well made. As a Harry Potter fan, the movie was a delight. As a Harry Potter nut, it could have been better - but then we've always known that about the movies.

Fair warning though, if you haven't read the books, you won't understand a thing of what's happening. Yates makes no effort to give a context to anything, and assumes you know what's happening. Moreover, given the liberties taken with the script, there are places you will have no idea about what's happening if you haven't read the books. A friend wants to go without ever having read any of the books, and wants me to go along to explain what is happening - I don't know if I have the patience for that.

FINAL WORDS (promise): In terms of performances, I thought almost everyone was brilliant, particularly the trio, who have really grown into their roles with this movie. Of course my favourites, the Weasley twins, were brilliant and funny as always, in the brief role that they had. The Death Eaters were all terrifyingly awesome. The only performances I did have a problem with, honestly, were Rufus Scrimegeour and Xenolius Lovegood, and to an extent, Bill Weasley. He just wasn't... cool enough.

For more excellent reviews of the movie, go here, here, and here.

Also go and sponsor my run. Go on, shoo now.


That's me said...

What sets this film apart from the rest is the focus on human emotions, Dobby's funeral being the high point according to me. The previous movies were more about brilliant special effects and things that set wizards apart from Muggles.

I do agree that they included a lot of unnecessary scenes and that time could have been utilised to explain few important points which you mentioned in this post.

But the one thing I absolutely liked was the ending. It did not feel abrupt and out of the blue. Now I can't wait for Part2!

Gradwolf said...

What I really loved was the way they took chances with respect to the filmmaking aspects. It wasn't gimmicky, those silences meant something and like you said, being extremely faithful to the book.

I don't agree with Suprateek either. Other than the final Hogwarts war, what's left? Gringotts and Snape's tale. And Gringotts would be over soon in the first half. And that's why I think they'd include Dumbledore's story once Aberforth comes in. That'll again be interesting to see how they handle it(like tale of the three brothers)