Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II: A Conversation

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)This past weekend, several of us here at Fantasy Matters got together and went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.  We sat in the second row from the front (not recommended) next to this hilarious little kid who chuckled when Voldemort died.  Afterwards, we sat down and talked about the movie, the book, and the Harry Potter series in general.  Here are some of our thoughts...

We started off our conversation with Neville Longbottom:

[note: this conversation contains spoilers] 

Phil: I had initially said that my very favorite thing in the Harry Potter series was the opening of Book 1, but seeing Neville in this movie reminded me about the scene--I don't remember which book it's in--where Neville takes the gum wrappers from his mom. That might be my actual favorite.

Jen: I was really worried that they were going to change the ending and have someone other than Neville kill the snake.

Phil: I was worried about that too.

Jen: I was concerned, first, that Harry was going to do it, because of the way that Dumbledore said in the King's Cross scene, "Help comes to those who deserve it," which made me wonder: is he talking about Harry getting the sword and killing Nagini? And then once we get back to reality, we see Hermione chasing the snake...

Phil: ...and Ron, too...

Jen: Yeah, and I was very concerned. I was ready to be mad.

Some of our favorite moments from the movie:  

Adam: McGonagall lucked out. She got some great lines, didn't she?

Phil: Yeah, she did. She had some awesome lines.

Adam: The best, I think, was when she got to summon those stone guys--"I've always wanted to cast that spell."

Jen: My favorite scene was right around then, too--when all the professors were setting up the defenses around Hogwarts.

Phil: You could see the strands coming out of their wands.

Jen: And they all were doing their thing. That was the best part.

Phil: What I thought was even awesomer is how you have 200 death eaters pummeling this shield with all they've got, and you have these four or five strands of light going up to the shields, and then the shields stay up.

Adam: I was just disappointed to see them all charging in. They're all doing magic, and this is the best they can do? Everyone run! Couldn't you just keep doing your thing, and overwhelm them eventually?

Eadaoin: I liked the big Patronus from Dumbledore's brother, too.

Phil: It was really cool...

Adam: Yeah, it was this giant cylinder, this shockwave moving across the bridge, chasing away all the dementors.

Phil: But I felt it was cut too soon; you didn't get to appreciate the epicness of the spell.

Jen: I don't know. I thought, "This guy is Dumbledore's brother, and this is the moment you can tell."

Adam: It looked like squiddies and the EMP from the Matrix.

Phil: I also felt that the King's Cross scene was very Matrix-y.

Adam: I kept waiting for Harry to say, "Guns. We need lots of guns."

Eadaoin: "Dumbledore, what are we going to fight Voldemort with?" [makes machine gun noise]

Jen: I also got a wizard of Oz vibe from the way that all the students were marching around Hogwarts at the beginning. It was like the flying monkeys marching around the witch's castle; some of the doors even looking similar.

Some of the concerns we had: 

Adam: Why didn't they talk about the invisibility cloak being the real invisibility cloak?

Eadaoin: I don't know. That seems like a big oversight.

Adam: Because the other two are discussed at length, and Harry's got them both.

Phil: This was an important revelation in the book, because they talked about how normal invisibility cloaks wear off after a year or so, and Harry's thinking, "My cloak's been working for years and years and years..."

Adam: And then why'd he break the Elder Wand?

Jen: See, that's the big change from the book. Because in the books, Harry puts it back with Dumbledore.

Phil: He does.

Jen: He uses it to fix his wand, and then he puts the Elder Wand back with Dumbledore.

Eadaoin: So now in the movie, he has no wand? Or he has Draco's wand?

Phil: I understood the sentiment of breaking the wand, but I didn't like it. I mean, he'll look back on it 20 years later and think, "Why the heck did I break that wand?"

Adam: Yeah, you really blew it. Too late now!

Jen: I think the breaking of the wand very quickly conveys what the discussions of the inivisibility cloak lead you to in the book. Harry is choosing not to possess all the Deathly Hallows. There's a lot of talk in the book about how Harry had the potential to combine the Resurrection Stone and the Invisibility Cloak and the Elder Wand...

Eadaoin: ...but in the movie, that's all summarized in the Elder Wand, in Ron's comment, "We could be invincible!"

Jen: Right, and it's a shorthand way of saying that.

Adam: Yeah, but it still seems like a huge plot gap. I mean, there's these three things, and if you unite them, you're invincible--and to leave one out, to not even mention it again...

Phil: And that's one thing I thought about the movie in general--that if you hadn't read the book, you wouldn't know what the heck is going on.

Jen: I know people who feel this way--they haven't read the books, and they were able to keep up with the plot until the first Deathly Hallows movie.

Phil: If you got to that Pensieve scene, with the rapid cuts between scenes...I mean, it was good, but if you had no idea what was going on, I think you'd be totally lost as to who those people were and what the heck they were talking about.

Thoughts on the relationship between the book and the movie:

Jen: For me, the weakest part of book 7 was finding out Snape's memories indirectly--we had to hear it through the Pensieve. But seeing it on the screen made it much better.

Eadaoin: You mean, while reading the book, you wonder, "Why doesn't Snape just tell him?"

Jen: I feel like it's this huge climax in the movie, maybe even more than Harry killing Voldemort, it's this revelation of how everything comes together. We hear about it essentially third-hand; Snape's memories filtered through the Pensieve. But in the movie, we pretty much get to see it first-hand, especially that extended scene with Dumbledore and Snape in the office. So I thought that worked better in the movie.

Phil: There were a lot of people crying in that bit. The book made me cry a lot more than the movie, though.

Jen: It was a really intense movie. But they had these moments of humor.

Eadaoin: Yeah, sprinkled throughout.

Jen: Yeah, and they did a pretty decent job of lightening things up, even for a moment.

Adam: Like when Harry says, "It's like King's Cross station, only cleaner." (chuckles)

Phil: I did notice this, but the thing is, in the books, the humor is very different than in the movies. Rowling's humor in the books is off the cuff.

Eadaoin: It doesn't translate well to the movies.

Phil: I did like the humor in the movie, but I sometimes felt like they thought, "Oh, we need a humorous moment now," and then there's a line and we move on.

Jen: I think the fact that I noticed these deliberate points, and that they were fairly evenly spaced speaks to that.

Adam: The script says, "[insert levity here]." Get those sad folks laughing.

Phil: I think most of the humor in the books was the interplay of the characters and the things the characters would say to each other. This was more like the characters reacting to events, rather than each other.

Phil: I saw Ron in the books much differently than I see him in the movies.

Jen: I think he's much more believable as Hermione's boyfriend in the books. I was reading this online review of the movies that talked about how they never bought Harry and Ginny as a couple.

Eadaoin: No, I didn't get that at all either.

Jen: Mostly because Harry and Hermione had such good chemistry in the movies. They light up around each other. You can tell that they get along, you can tell that they're really good friends, they're close, they care about each other. You never get that from Ron. And then with Ginny--and this is something that frustrated me about the books, too, Ginny is always left out.

Eadaoin: Yeah, if she's the big love of Harry's life, why is she never there?

Jen: Why is she not there during the whole adventure during book 7? And the way that the end scene in the movie zooms in...

Eadaoin: ...and she's cut off on the one side.

Phil: Yeah, but I never felt like Ginny belonged in the books, either.

Jen: But maybe she doesn't, but that's a fault of the books, too.

Adam: Fault of the books? Bite your tongue!

Eadaoin: I feel like when Harry first came back to Hogwarts in this movie, he was happier to see the other characters than Ginny. He smiles at all the other girls, and then sees her and is like, "Oh, hey."

Jen: I would have kind of liked it if they hadn't done the 19 years later thing.

Phil: I heard someone say, "Yes!" when that ending appeared. I think a lot of people expected that to get left out.

Eadaoin: I think a lot of people were unhappy that it was in the book to begin with.

Jen: I wasn't unhappy in theory, but I thought it was done in a very, very lame way. It was SO heavy-handed.

Eadaoin: It spoonfeeds you the information you need.

Jen: I like seeing what comes in the characters' futures...

Adam: ...but in a way that lets you piece it together.

Jen: I like movies that have the photos during the credits, or there could have been a montage at the end with the Harry Potter theme playing over it, so you could see Ron and Hermione's wedding, you could see Harry and Ginny's wedding, you could see Harry kicking ass as an Auror...

Phil: Instead of having it bludgeoned over your head.

So, overall, what did we think? 

Jen: So, did we like it?

Adam: Yeah, I liked it.

Eadaoin: I think that time-line wise, it stuck pretty closely to what happened in the book.

Phil: I liked it, but I think my issue was--with the Lord the Rings movies, I liked them separately from the books. These are very dependent upon the books, and they don't have their own life at all.

Adam: They don't extend the plot or the world of the books in the same way that the Lord of the Rings movies do.  I thought it flowed better than Part I of Deathly Hallows, though.

Jen: Although Book 7 as a whole--and these two movies--are really jumpy. You have the incident at the ministry, and the escape from Gringotts, and this big battle...

Adam: And what exactly transitions from one to the other?

Jen: I always forget the parts that have happened, because they don't seem connected. I forget about the dragon in the bank, for example.

Phil: I felt really bad for that dragon.

Adam: At least Harry let him go, though. Too bad they didn't apparate off the dragon instead of almost drowning in that lake. That's the problem with these skills that are too powerful. You can't make a plot that makes any sense. You go to any scene, and you wonder, "Why doesn't he just apparate? Why doesn't someone make a curse that does that?" It's just like lightsabers.

And with that, having traveled from Hogwarts to Middle-earth to a galaxy far, far away, we wrapped things up.  We'd love to know what you thought of the movie, too--let us know in the comments!