grrgoyl: (Simply Severus)
[personal profile] grrgoyl
I fully intended to wait two or three weeks to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 as per my usual. Then [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana talked me into opening weekend (she tried to talk me into a midnight sneak preview, and I informed her that the ability to do things like that and go to work a few hours later is the first thing to go when you get older). I bought a 9:45 am Sunday ticket online, and immediately a wave of excitement and anticipation crashed over me so powerfully I instantly wanted it to be Sunday and wondered why I ever thought I could wait two or three weeks.

I wasn't looking for 3D, in fact was rather opposed to the idea since seeing Kung Fu Panda 2, which was an enormous waste of time. It seems like now the format has caught on, moviemakers think they can make the first few scenes really eye-popping and their work is done. I did want IMAX though, and unfortunately my IMAX theater only offered a 3D option. So with online fees, my ticket came to $19 -- yes, that's admit one. Only for Harry, and I think that will do it for my moviegoing activity this summer.

I considered it anti-asshole insurance, especially after I shared the Kung Fu Panda showing with only six other people, one of whom was a mother with her two little girls who played with her phone through maybe a quarter of the movie, until I waited for a quiet moment and told her to put it away, which thankfully she did, but I still shouldn't have had to say anything.

If I owned a theater, since I probably couldn't confiscate phones at the door, I would install call buttons at every seat so you could summon an usher to deal with this shit, because I don't think it's fair that I have to miss the movie I paid for to troop all the way out to the lobby to get someone. And, if I owned a theater, I would then put a life ban on the offender. Something punitive really needs to be done to these people.

Anyhoo. I waited with barely restrained anticipation all weekend. Every time I thought about it, I swear I felt my heart beat faster. From poking around online, there seemed to be a LOT of murmurings about Snape, but I couldn't be sure if that wasn't just because I was looking for them. Then it opened in wide release and people in the Snarry communities immediately started putting out short stories describing what seemed to be every Snape scene in the movie, so I had to avoid those.

Despite working the night before, I was up at 8 am and raring to go (please note the difference between doing the fun thing the night before followed by work, and working followed by the fun thing). The theater opened at 9:15, so I got there about 5 after. And this was the line that had already formed:



These were ticketholders too. I could count on one hand the people who actually went to the box office. But fortunately the theater was very efficient, with two ticket takers, so we all got inside reasonably quickly.

I made a beeline for the top of the theater, to my favorite back row, which was already mostly filled up. I sat next to two guys, who seemed straight despite not leaving the requisite empty seat between them. Perhaps they were that considerate, realizing the theater would most likely be full. They went for snacks and returned with soft pretzels. But for the occasional drag of a straw through a lid hole, they didn't make a peep as they ate. Then as soon as the previews began, they instantly put their phones in their pockets and left them there. I could have kissed them both...except for the suspect lack of the straight-guy seat divider.

I'm happy to say that I didn't see a single phone during the whole movie (although the IMAX theater has such steep seats that I don't know if it would be as noticeable anyway). The audience was interactive and really into it, cheering at the right parts and applauding at the end -- funniest of all, as the lights went down to signal the end of the previews and the start of the film, a guy down to the right let out an appreciative "Ohhhhhh yeah....", making everyone laugh.

It was a lot like how [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana described the midnight showings -- full, but full of people who damn well were there to see the movie. It was easily one of my most enjoyable theater experiences, considering the size of the crowd. Why can't every audience be like this?

Well, enjoyable except for the damn 3D glasses, which sucked up to cling to my sweaty face despite my best efforts to make them perch at the end of my nose. The 3D at least was worth it. It was more the "through the window" depth of field Avatar 3D rather than the "jumping out at you" kind. Plus the 3D puts cool glints in everyone's pupils that really make them look more alive (whether it was actually shot in IMAX, however, is debatable. I didn't get that "wow, that picture is HUGE!" feeling I normally do).

As for the movie itself, well, that's going to take some interaction from you, gentle reader.

Where to begin? Why, with Snape of course, who has the very first scene looking out moodily over Hogwarts in his new position as Headmaster under Voldemort. I didn't let this get me too excited, considering he had the opening scene in Part 1 and then vanished for the rest, but still -- I think every movie should open with Snape, even ones not remotely related to HP.

Cast interviews had described this as a thrilling rollercoaster ride from start to finish, so I was a little confused when the thrill ride started with lots of boring talk with Griphook and Ollivander, with lots of equally boring moving from room to room in Shell Cottage. Although I did welcome the return of Bill Weasley, who as I said in my last review is pretty freaking HOT.

The rollercoaster actually begins in the next scene, stealing the Horcrux from Gringotts Bank. This has all the dragon footage you see in the trailer, and was very well done. The dragon didn't even look CGI. The movies have come such a long way from the first, budget-wise, and I couldn't be more pleased.

The outstanding moments from this sequence are first Helena Bonham-Carter (-Burton?) playing Hermione playing Bellatrix (brilliantly), and second Ron with fake facial hair that actually makes him even hotter than Bill Weasley. Srsly. He should consider growing it for reals, it looked that good on him.

Upon speaking with my HP peeps, the consensus seems to be that it was weird how they made such a point of showing that they had Bellatrix's wand at the Cottage, then seemed unwilling or unable to produce it as ID in the bank when demanded. Don't suppose we'll ever know, unless the DVDs start including commentaries.

The scene when they meet Dumbledore's brother Aberforth was criminally lacking in all the back story from the book, namely Albus's abominable mistreatment of their special needs sister (who actually was not born with Down syndrome as her portrait suggests but beaten by Muggle boys as a child so severely that she was never quite right after), not to mention his homosexual relationship with Gellert Grindelwald, but I suppose they have to leave some things unrevealed if the ADD illiterates who only watch the movies decide to delve deeper, as well as sugarcoat things for the little ones.

That doesn't matter, because Harry returns to Hogwarts and there's a perfectly smashing duel between McGonagall and Snape. If you've read the book and know the full truth about Snape, you can see his dismay at having to attack his secret ally but not actually harm her, unbeknownst to her, who is doing her damndest to harm him. If you didn't read the book, then his performance seems inexplicably wooden and impassive. But hey! We get our "Snape-shaped hole" in the window, which I was convinced they would leave out after seeing a sneak peek of him simply disappearing in a swirl of robes (he "flies" too like in the book, if you consider a vague black CGI cloud just as good).

Harry has to find a Ravenclaw-related Horcrux, and turns to the angry and slightly terrifying Gray Lady ghost, Helena Ravenclaw. She's played by the female version of Rhys Ifans. I call her this because, like him, she looks different yet maddeningly familiar in every role. I'll spare you my agony and reveal that she's Kelly MacDonald, who I'll forever know as the very mature-looking underage girl who seduces Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting. She pops up in a fair few movies, and EVERY time I say, "Agh, who IS she?"

The Room of Requirement scene is exactly as I remember it from the book (or close enough). Draco was accompanied by Crabbe and Goyle, except Crabbe was now tall, thin and African-American. If they were pulling a Darren Stevens on us, I thought surely they could have found a better actor than that. But a quick check on IMDb turned up that this was actually Blaise Zabini. Whew. I thought they were really underestimating the audience.

I thought this even moreso when Ron and Hermione return to the Chamber of Secrets and Ron speaks Parseltongue to open it -- the mysterious snake language that they've spent seven movies establishing that only Harry and Voldemort can speak. "Oh, COME ON!" I thought in the theater. But I just did a quick fact-check and the book does indeed mention this happening. Plus it was really cool to see the Chamber again.

In fact, just quickly reading over a chapter or two, it's actually kind of amazing the ultra-efficient way they bend and twist things to stay true to the story while not including every single page, a task I'm sure isn't easy. Select quotes are lifted verbatim, while other whole pages are loosely summarized. With my longwinded style (this review can be Exhibit A), I suppose I have no future as a screenwriter.

But as far as I was concerned, there was only one part of this movie I needed them to get right. I mean two: Snape's death and The Prince's Tale, when Harry sees Snape's memories and we're told his complete back story.

The death wasn't at all as I'd pictured, for starters because the decision was made to create a whole new boathouse set instead of using the Shrieking Shack that was already built. The rationale seemed to be that the Shack was too small, yet it was large enough to film four adults and three children in the third movie. This scene only required two adults and a CGI snake.

Furthermore, in deference to the little ones, we don't actually see Snape get attacked, only his body slamming against a window repeatedly. By the time Harry gets to him, rather than lying in a massive pool of his own blood, he's got what looks like a mildly serious shaving injury.

Harry rushes to his aid, which doesn't make sense considering how much he supposedly hated him until this moment (fanfic resolves this quandary handily by giving Harry a hormonal teen crush on his professor), but I suppose the books don't really make the transition well either. Still, the image of Harry cradling Snape's neck will probably turn up in Snarry fanvids for months to come.

The movie does give Snape quite a bit more to say in his last moments, things like "You have your mother's eyes," etc. I can't give more examples because I was too busy waiting to hear the most crucial line, "Look at me...." At the time of reading the book, I remember the rampant speculation online about the meaning of it. People generally agreed it was because he wanted Lily's eyes to be the last thing he saw. I suppose the movie decided to settle that ambiguity, because God forbid we leave anything to the imagination of the moviegoing public.

But they did include it, which isn't enough to make me forgive the omission of "DON'T CALL ME COWARD" from the sixth film.

I cried a bit at his death, certainly less than I expected to. I had heard the scene was long and "surprisingly graphic," so my thought was "Good. Hopefully he'll show an emotion or two." Little did I suspect what was yet to come, namely The Prince's Tale.

This is an entire chapter devoted to Snape growing up with Harry's mother Lily. Of being childhood friends, and eventually falling in love with her, only to lose her to James. It did bother me a bit that the young Lily had brown eyes. Really? In all of England you couldn't find a single young actress with blue eyes like Dan's? I'd even happily ignore that they're BOTH supposed to have green eyes, since I've had a few films to adjust to the idea. But REALLY....if you're going to make such a fuss about her eyes being like Harry's, can we try harder to get the color right?

Never mind that. Alan's performance was just...sublime. They took off a few years digitally (though not distractingly so), and the rest was accomplished by him very subtly letting more emotion creep into his body language, showing he had less control than his older self.

Snape passes on the prophecy of Harry's coming to Voldemort, not realizing it will make him hunt the entire family. Pettigrew betrays their hiding place. Then Snape returns to Godric's Hollow and finds the Potters--Lily--dead. Then this:


Oh god, this. A thousand times this.


And we learn that everything he has done from this moment forward was an attempt to atone for the one foolish mistake that led to his only friend's/love's murder. Which almost helps us believe his less than animated behavior in all the other films is due to him losing all passion in life, and not to being given not nearly enough to do in the script.

Honestly, if the whole movie consisted of just this sequence, I'd pay $19 again in a heartbeat. There's Oscar buzz among the fans, but I don't know. Alan has my full support, but I'm more realistic. I expect this movie to receive some recognition, like they waited for the last Lord of the Rings, but Best Supporting Actor? Snubbing Rupert (Ron), Emma (Hermione) and countless other talent, never mind that of other competing movies? I just don't see it. It would be nice though.

I'd have to say my second favorite performance in the movie is, surprisingly, Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort. Granted this is the first chance he's had to be in more than a handful of scenes, but it reminded me what a great actor he is as well. As each Horcrux is destroyed, we get a close-up of him, and his face changes so minutely to show the first twinges of fear (in the book he just gets more and more enraged, but we've seen him do that. Fear is more honest and human). By the final showdown, he looks so vulnerable and pathetic that I started feeling sorry for him, and I can't believe that's easy to convey when you look more like a snake than a man.

(Speaking of the final showdown, I was worried that it seemed to be going on entirely too long. Then I realized that it was ten years in the making, it had better be a little epic and not over in just a minute or two.)

My ultimate favorite non-Snape moment in the film comes when Voldemort welcomes Draco back to their side of the battlefield with a hug, and it's the most painfully awkward hug ever set to celluloid, which makes such beautiful sense: Voldemort is a man who has probably seen other people hug but not received (or given) a great many himself. I'd love to know if that was an improvised moment.

My second favorite non-Snape moment is at the end, when everyone is celebrating their victory (SPOILER) and Filch, the janitor, grumpily starts sweeping up a massive pile of rubble--an impossible task to be completed by one man with a broom, but it's got to be started some time. Again, have to know if it was improvised.

Speaking of the end, I didn't even mind the famous epilogue (famous in the Snarry fandom because Harry ends up marrying Ginny Weasley. Many a Snarry fic has been written to right this grievous wrong). Again, subtle digital effects, but mostly years were added with facial hair and more grown-up hair styles. Extremely well done.

My final two thoughts are these: Other parts could have done with some expanding (not just Alan's. Alan's expanding parts....YES I WENT THERE); I think the deaths of Remus, Tonks and Fred Weasley were glossed over entirely too quickly (though I suppose a necessary sacrifice for pacing). Lastly, when Harry finds the Resurrection Stone and meets his parents in the Forest, it seemed to me that he barely spared James a glance. [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana maintains they wanted to keep the focus on Lily. My sister thinks he was still dealing with seeing Snape's memories and realizing his father wasn't quite the saint he'd always believed. Either way I found it quite distracting. It was like he was giving him the silent treatment, rather petty considering he didn't get a bunch of opportunities to see him. Ah well.

Then, all too soon, a decade-long obsession was over. And I have to say, of all eight films, this one by far got the most right.

I knew the parking lot would be a horror show to escape if I didn't move quickly, so the second the first end title came up I bolted from the theater. I was among the first outside -- along with the jerkface who pinned my car in with his Jeep so tight that, had he not been leaving with me, I literally could have only gotten in through the passenger door. I couldn't resist a "nice parking" comment (he very wisely didn't say anything, although an apology wouldn't have gone amiss), but luckily for him I was so euphoric from the movie I wasn't nearly as irate as I normally would be.

Then all my anger dissipated when I sat at a light waiting to get onto the highway, and the car next to me had the window rolled down. Inside I could hear a little girl breathily explaining to her father (presumably), "But in the book, THIS happened and THAT happened..." It made me smile.

So, for everyone who couldn't care less about Harry, it's done! Well, until the DVD release at least....

Date: 2011-07-21 12:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mmmrorschach.livejournal.com
I went to a midnight showing, but it was at a bar and grill type movie theater, so it was mostly adults and very few people dressed in costumes. We also got terrible seats right near the front, so the screen was weirdly proportioned and it made all the characters look dumpy and have huge feet. I liked the movie well enough, and even though I've read all the books, I don't think I'm a big enough Harry Potter fan to have much of an opinion beyond that.

And aww at the little girl in the car next to yours. I love it when kids take an intense interest in stuff.

Date: 2011-07-21 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
Bleah, that sounds awful. I would rather see if I could get an exchange for another show than sit through the entire movie that close.

I didn't see anyone in costume either. Probably just as well, I get teased mercilessly enough by Tery as it is.

I love that these books will keep on gaining young fans, even though the "phenomenon" is drawing to a close. Tery's nephew and my sister's step-daughter have only just started reading them.

Date: 2011-07-22 06:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kavieshana.livejournal.com
A week after the premiere, and I'm now starting to really feel the absence of that HP anticipation. What are we living for now?

The only thing I can think of that we didn't already cover: I absolutely agree about Ron-with-facial-hair. His hotness totally overshadows DanRad.

RE your comment to Jaime: it's very exciting that elementary school kids will be picking up the HP books years from now and think they're new. My little sister has been moved by the movie to not only watch the previous films, but also to actually read the books. That's a seven book commitment, and she's already two in. Thank you, JKR, for proving my sister is not illiterate. This is so much better than when Twilight convinced my brother to read his first book ever.

Date: 2011-07-22 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
Ummmm, the DVDs?

I don't know about overshadows. He was hotter with facial hair, but without I think recedes back behind Dan again. Just MHO.

At first I was horrified to think that Twilight was your brother's first reading experience. Then I realized that if he decides to read other stuff, he's got nowhere to go but up.

Date: 2011-07-22 01:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] metatronis.livejournal.com
Bleh, my theater was full of teens singing stupid chants that had nothing to do with Harry Potter. They behaved during the movie, but me and my friends were about ready to choke a bitch during the long wait leading up to it.

But yeah, they did a pretty great job of including what they needed to from the book, for the most part. Even my pickiest friends were happy with it.

Date: 2011-07-22 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
At $19 a ticket I wasn't going to put up with ANY shit from anyone. So glad I didn't have to.

Could you imagine if they had tried to squeeze it down and do the whole book as one movie? There would be major sacrifices for sure. Good call, WB!

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