Harry Potter 8… er, 7.2

M: The Quibbling Siblings did not congregate to see either Deathly Hallows Part 1 or Part 2 together the way we did for that snogfest of a film, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince.

E: And we haven’t really written enough to let you know what Potterheads we are, either.

C: Though our avid readers have no doubt caught the frequent references!

M: No doubt.  However, we decided that for the final installment (unless J.K. Rowling has a little George Lucas “grab for more cash” in her) of the Harry Potter series, we will tackle it for you, our readers.  Because we love you.  Or at least because we’ve been feeding you nothing but scraps of “So You Think You Can Dance,” and think you deserve an actual meal.  Either way.

E: And – get out of town! M will actually deign to join us for a little while.

M: As work allows (as you know) and right now I have the requisite few moments.

E: So M, I can be as snotty to you as I like for calling my recaps “scraps;” the only sense one could call them scraps is if they’ve come for the quibbling.  Because I rarely fight with myself when I write them.

M: Shockingly, you have misinterpreted my intent.  I was referring to them as scraps not in quality, but in that we had previously been providing our reading audience with a far greater quantity, and a greater diversity.  Besides, I think any one of your Good Wife posts is longer than all the SYTYCD posts put together.

E: That’s true enough.

C: To be fair to our prolific sister, one of her SYT reviews could fill a thick pamphlet. It’s just that those Good Wife reviews could fill a book!

M: If I remember your calculations, C, five of them combined are the length of a novel.  However, this is not what we’re here to quibble about.  Moving along…  sisters of mine, what did you think of the movie?

E: I’m really sad that it’s over; that’s the biggest thing I feel.  Isn’t that weird?  I was happy with the movie, but I’m just really sad it’s over.

C: I have to say, what I’ll miss the most is the collective part of the experience. I was in Starbucks yesterday and the baristas were having a conversation about when Neville turned into such a badass. It’s just fun to have a cultural reference practically everyone shares, and to hear references to it all around you, coming from people of all ages. The books remain, the movies remain, but now we’ll be approaching them as individuals, not as a giddy mass of humanity.

E: Well, Matthew Lewis seems to get better looking and cooler by the day, so we can all continue to collectively appreciate that.  But yes.  I agree.  I will miss going to the theater and eating the pumpkin pasties our friend Q makes, and wearing witches’ hats and every other silly thing we did in the frenzy of anticipation.  Speaking of anticipation, though, I can’t wait to see it again.

M: While I’ve never worn robes or hats or eaten pumpkin pasties or puking pastilles or anything like that, I really enjoyed it.  Oddly, however, I feel neither sad that it’s over, or any huge desire to rush out and see it again.  Admittedly, I have had less of a communal aspect of my enjoyment of them that you two have, so that could be why.

C: I don’t know that I feel an immediate rush, but that’s because it felt so conclusive, not because it didn’t meet my expectations. I found it gripping.

E: Well, part of it is that I just think it’s so hard to watch adaptations sometimes, especially when you know the books well.

M: Oh, I agree completely.

E: There you are, spending the whole movie with a part of your brain comparing and contrasting everything.  Oh, they skipped this line.  Oh, they added that one.  Hmm, that doesn’t look like what I thought it would.  Often I feel like I need to see it a second time to even begin to know what I thought of it as a movie as opposed to just as an adaptation of the book; I’ve got to get all that analysis out of the way first.  So that’s why I want to see it again now.

M: I hadn’t thought of the second viewing that way, but that does make a certain amount of sense. I think that for me there needs to be enough time elapsed to forget the finer details of the book, though.

C: I’m unlikely to forget the details of these books, now I’ve read them all so many times, but I know what you mean, E – it takes at least one viewing before you can really view an adaptation as a movie.

E: I WILL say, I’m offended on J.K.’s behalf that you think this is a money grab, M.  There is no way, absolutely no way, this story could have been told in one decent movie.  The worst film (in my opinion) was Goblet of Fire, and that because there’s just too much story to do justice to for it to hang together.  You couldn’t do without the three tasks; here, you can’t do without the specific horcruxes.  There was more than enough material for two good movies here.  And that’s what they made.

M: Okay, two points that I have to address there.  First, I do NOT think that this one being broken into two films was a money grab.

C: I think he meant he thought anything more would be one – like if J.K. suddenly came out with parts 8, 9, and 10…

E: Ah.  Somewhat mollified.

M: Like you, I felt Goblet was the weakest movie; as I told Dad just the other night, it felt like a montage as opposed to a movie.

E:  Yes, precisely.

M: Any of the books from Goblet on could have been made into multiple movies with plenty of material to fill the time.

C: See now, I have to disagree with you both there. Goblet (the book) is shorter than Order of the Phoenix, and Order is one of the best of the films, first and foremost because of a kickass screenplay. Goblet (the movie) feels like a montage because it wasn’t compressed well, not because it shouldn’t have been compressed. In my opinion, books 4 and 5 have too clear a story arc to make more than one good movie. 7’s a bit different, because it doesn’t have the same set-up, rising action, and pay-off; instead it kind of picks up in midstream, and moves in episodes until the big finish.

M: Not sure I agree with you there, but in any case, you are right about one thing – what I was referring to were the rumors swirling now that Rowling may in fact not be done with Harry or his universe.  Lucas has dipped into the pockets of the Star Wars faithful repeatedly, many times by releasing something that he had previously sworn would never be released.  Rowling SAID she was done with Harry, and now there are rumors to the contrary.  That is what I was referring to.

E: Oh, all right.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  I mean, I don’t want it to be a crutch, but I do think there’s lots more awesomeness that could be written in that world, so, I don’t know. I’d love to see what else she has up her sleeve, though.  And hey, you don’t say that about Tolkien writing The Silmarillion, do you?

M: The Silmarillion is an entirely different case.  Tolkien was writing it, over the span of most of his adult life no less, pretty much for himself.  It was only published after his death.  It’s hard to make a money grab when you’re dead.

C: The rumors were probably inspired by Pottermore. I would be very surprised if she ever wrote another Harry novel (though unsurprised if she published more related material, like the textbooks).

M: Now, to the other point.  I agree with you, the story of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows cannot do without a detailed, in-depth discovery and subsequent destruction of each and every horcrux.  I just think it’s too bad that Rowling herself didn’t agree about that.

E: Er?

M: What I mean is, the cup of Helga Hufflepuff?  What the heck even was that and why was it a horcrux.  It bore no personal importance to Tom Riddle, and there was definitely no “in-depth” discovery or destruction of it.  Heck, in the book it happens off-page.  And why did he charm Kelly MacDonald–uh, Helena Ravenclaw, that is–into disclosing the location of the lost diadem, information she had kept secret for a thousand years?  Again, what relevance was that to him?  We learned none of that depth and detail in the book, so the movie didn’t have the source material to draw it from.  However, they did wander the woods with no clue for 9 months…

E: What?  Of course they got into that in the book.  HBP is all about the bloody horcruxes. Although I genuinely think they could have gotten more into it in the film, too – that he wanted an item from each of Hogwart’s founders, perhaps spurred by the fact that he already had one (Slytherin’s locket).

C: M, you’re off base here. The book definitely explains that Hogwarts was very important to Voldemort (the one place he called home, like Harry, yadda yadda) and that after acquiring a Slytherin item, he got the “Founder’s Mementos: Collect All Four!” craze.

M: That’s totally weak and poorly explored, though, and could have used a more in-depth discovery.  And I thought the ring was Slytherin’s, not the locket.

C: No, the locket was Slytherin’s, and the ring belongs to the pure blood family Voldemort–

M: ..Tom Riddle…

C: –was descended from, the Gaunts, who are descendents of Slytherin.

M: Ok, that’s right.  Still, there was no mention that he wanted the Founder Box Set, that just appeared as an idea around the time of the Gringotts heist. Plus, he didn’t use anything from Gryffindor, unless Nagini originally belonged to good ol’ Godric.

E: IN THE BOOK IT WAS MENTIONED!

M: Not in Deathly Hallows it isn’t. Okay, now I really need to reread HBP.

E: Yes, you do. And it’s also clear that he wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job so he could hunt for something of Gryffindor’s – but the only known relic of his is of course the sword, which is quite good at not being caught and seems to have a mind of its own.

M: Or at least the Sorting Hat does.

C: Ha. Indeed. But either way, the sword was out of his reach. Dumbledore talks about that in the book. I’ll give you this, though, M: the movie relies a lot on viewers being readers. I can’t imagine the whole Horcrux thing making a lick of sense if I came to the movies without any background.

E: Unchallenged.

M: Totally.  But that’s been a huge strength of this series; both the books initially, and then the movies after, have inspired adults and children alike to read, which is great.

C: As for the whole “who is the master of the elder wand” business, I couldn’t even follow that in the book! If you want my opinion of where J.K. let the details slide, that would be it.

M: Oh, I followed that without problem in the book, but totally relied on the book knowledge in the movies.  That’s another fault of the way they handled Malfoy Manor in Part 1, because Harry just grabbed Draco’s wand from him, rather than defeating him in a duel, which to me would be more likely to sway a wand’s allegiance.

C: Well, all I’ll say is, given the number of times people take each other’s wands throughout this series, if the wands are switching allegiance every time it’s amazing anyone get theirs to work.

M: And correct me if I’m wrong (again), but is there any explanation as to the stone in the Gaunt’s ring being the Hallows resurrection stone?

E: That, not so much.  I guess the suggestion is that one of the Peverell brothers started that family, in the same way that Harry’s a descendant of another.  Anyway, let’s get back to what the movie DID show.  Iconic moments from the book: the escape from Gringott’s on the dragon?  Bloody fantastic.

M: Agreed.  I was hoping they’d do that well, and they knocked it out of the park. Though, I didn’t like the little switch of riding out on the dragon from Harry’s idea in the book to Hermione’s in the movie. That was so not necessary, why diminish Harry that way?

C: Oh, because Harry can’t have any clever ideas, didn’t you know? Or Ron for that matter. Hermione must maintain her status as the only brains in the operation. I have no idea why the screenwriter has that hangup but he clearly does.

E: Er, he got the job because Hermione is his favorite character. So clearly the powers that be don’t mind.  I think I’m with you, even if it didn’t really offend me as a switch.

M: They did let Ron do a bit more in the last two movies, but still, I’m with you there.

C: Here’s one thing that bugged me about the dragon scene, though, and I can’t remember if it was like this in the book too, but: was the goblin bloodbath really necessary? More to the point, was our lack of sympathy for the goblins really necessary? These books bang on and on about magical creature equality, and Dobby gets his moment of awesome to show that wizards shouldn’t underestimate elves, and then a goblin’s death is played for laughs. Because they’re trying to keep thieves out of their bank, they’re villains who get witty one-liners when they’re toasted by dragonfire?

M: I just finished re-reading the book about two weeks ago, but I don’t remember if the bloodbath was in it.

E: Harry has a quick flash of Voldy freaking out and killing goblins in his rage at loosing the cup, yeah.  But it’s just a tiny mention.

M: However, I will say that despite the magical creature equality stuff, starting with Griphook at Shell Cottage, Rowling paints a very negative picture of goblins, both individually and as a race.

C: Yeah, so maybe it’s not just the movie’s fault, but it’s creepy.

E: Snape’s death – good.

M: I was a little less moved by it than I hoped to be, but I agree, it was “good.”

C: I just can’t get over the Very Shiny Tears of Sad, Sad Memory. But the mood-spoiling ludicrous sentimentality of that image is not the movie’s fault.

E: Ron and Hermione’s kiss – why did we only see the top of his head?  But other than that, good.

C: Oh, I really liked that one! It wouldn’t have made sense to bring in the line that prompts the kiss in the book – they hadn’t set that up – so I thought the adrenaline rush was an excellent substitute. They are such cuties.

M: I thought it was really good, though I miss Harry being there and saying something to the extent of “Really, right now?”

C: Ha, yes.

E: Neville killing Nagini with the sword?  Outstanding.

M: I have a huge spot in my heart for Neville, and thought that was just brilliant.  Loved, loved, loved it.

E: Yeah, we are a Neville loving family for sure. So, woot!

C: I kept waiting and waiting for it to happen! They added all this stuff between what leads up to it in the book and the actual slicing, and the whole time I was going, “They’re gonna let him kill the snake, right? They HAVE to!” But when it came, it was every bit as epic as I’d hoped.

E: Harry’s old Quidditch team showing up to join the battle?  Neville’s grandmother arriving?  Percy joining his family?  Totally missing.  I guess those all make sense – who even remembers what Angelina looks like?  Would enough people recognize the vulture hat? And they did away with the whole Percy plotline.  But still.  I miss them!  I cried buckets reading the book, just knowing all those lovely characters showed up to risk their lives.  Speaking of which, no Colin Creevey.  That was another heartbreaking moment from the book.

C: Oh, you’re so right about all the people coming, and how totally emotional that is in the book. I also agree though, there just wasn’t preparation enough to do it in the movie. They could have tossed Mrs. Longbottom in as a little gift for fans, though… But when it comes to elderly ladies kicking butt and taking names, there was one who had that covered. I have one word for you both: MCGONAGALL.

M: I thought you were going to say Molly.

C: I wouldn’t call her “elderly”! Yeesh.

M: Oh, you’re right, I suppose my brain switched from elderly to older.  My bad.

E: And as to Molly, I’m not as big a fan of the “Not my daughter, you bitch!” moment as most people seem to be. Is it me, or doesn’t that kind of back up all Ron’s fears that his mom wanted a girl more than she wanted another boy when he came along?

M: I didn’t care if the line was there or not, but the scene itself I liked, and don’t think it showed that she really wanted a girl.  Of course, human nature and all, I can’t imagine that a parent of five boys, mother or father, nearing the end of their child-producing days, wouldn’t be hoping for a girl.  I don’t think that means that they would love the sixth son any less, though.

E: Oh, I agree.  That’s why highlighting the word daughter there – as if her gender is somehow important to Molly not wanting her dead – bugs me.  My hang up, probably.

M: As for the scene, I think it just show’s Molly’s maternal, protective instinct.  And it shows that she can kick @$$.  Now, speaking of the Weasleys, I found it odd that Percy WAS there!  I saw him a few times in shots from the battle or standoffs at Hogwarts, and mourning over Fred’s body.  He’d been basically missing for the last four movies, and then he’s there unannounced and unheralded.  I hope there’s an extended cut that explains him and the others you mention, especially Oliver Wood, who I always liked.  Well, except Colin Creevey. I like convincing myself that in this version of the story he’s not dead.

E: I think we can assume that.

C: They didn’t kill off his invented-for-the-film substitute Nigel, either, thank goodness, since that would have just confused everyone.

E: Speaking of little inventions/reinterpretations of the film?  The Harry/Ginny romance is a total non-starter.  The kiss in Half-Blood Prince (the book) was pretty epic.  There’s just nothing to equal it in either movie.

M: Come on, she saved his life by tying his shoelaces in HBP, remember!  Without that he trips in the scene outside the Burrow, gets killed, and there’s no Deathly Hallows.  🙂

E: And there’s nothing more epic than shoe-lace tying.

C: Oh man, the boringness of their “romance” in the movie is equaled only by the “doing some more camping” section of the 7th book.

E: Seamus being a demolition expert?  Love it.

C: That was fun. Gotta say, I didn’t expect that being turned into a ludicrous Irish stereotype would pay off for him! And McGonagall saying “Boom”: priceless.

E: Nagini hunting through Hogwarts?  Excellent.  Neville wanting to confess his love to Luna?  Flipping outstanding.

C: Yes, yes, SUPER YES. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, J.K. Rowling! Even the filmmakers don’t want to hear your Neville/Luna hating.

M: Okay, remember before that I mentioned I have a spot in my heart for Neville?  Well, Luna’s right there, too, so that was great.  You know what I didn’t like, though?  Riddle not putting Nagini into the floating protective ball thing.

E: Agreed.  That would have been super cool.  I was absolutely expecting that.  Random, but I could never tell from the book; do you think Lavender Brown died?  It certainly looked like Greyback had killed her in the film.  In the book, Hermione blasts him away from Lavender’s feebly fluttering body.

M: I couldn’t tell from the book either, but the movie was VERY clear that she was dead.

E: Fred dying off stage like Tonks and Lupin?  NOT COOL.

C: Oh… I dunno. That’s just so darn sad. It’s cowardly, maybe, but I was glad not to have to see it.

E: No, I’m not cool with them shying away from the most devastating moment.  Sorry.

M: What did you think of the strange apparating/disapparating grabbing-each-other’s-heads fight thing between Harry and Riddle?

E: I didn’t love it.  Probably made for better action than what was in the book, or at least you can see why they’d think so, but I really missed the whole “try for a little remorse” bit.

M: I didn’t like it at all. To me that was the weakest scene of the whole film, it was just weird clutchy-grabby visual distortion that felt amateurish. In addition, I didn’t like that Harry didn’t put on the cloak and interfere with the battle, and that he wasn’t fully possessed with the confidence that he had in the book, that he didn’t disarm/kill Riddle in front of everyone.  I know the director said they wanted a more climactic, drawn out battle between them, and to an extent after eight films I can see how you would think that, but I thought that Rowling’s resolution to it was so brilliant.  I also loved that all the good guys were fighting on DESPITE thinking Harry was dead.

C: See now, I can’t agree with the director, because I didn’t think his version was climactic. Ultimately Voldemort’s–

M: …Tom Riddle’s…

C: –death felt a little unearned… and Rowling’s brilliance is that she realized that, because the sequence of events that led up to it were so very epic, his final defeat kind of had to be that way. So she turned that anticlimax into a cool psychological/philosophic moment: Harry tries until the end to give Voldemort a chance, and Voldy defeats himself. The movie missed out on that.

E: Which is a shame, because that’s kinda the point of everything.

M: Exactly.  Harry had figured it out, and like a true hero tried to save the bad guy, rather than killing him.  The movie totally missed that.

C: Well, beyond a couple big misses, though – and a few thousand minor quibbles – I’d say this was an excellent end to an excellent series. Readers, would you agree?

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