Monday, November 29, 2010

Thoughts on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part the first"

Happy Cyber-Monday everyone! (Fffft-hahahahaha!!! [There is a pregnant pause.] Yeah, so Zazzle's has had some really good deals this weekend so if you want to buy a T-shirt...)

I just saw "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One" over the holiday weekend, and I rapidly developed a... I mean, I got to experience first hand "Babbletrish and the Head Cold from Hell" the morning after. I apologize if this review is a little incoherent.

Well, it's just like the book.

No, I really mean that. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One" is darn near EXACTLY the movie I saw in my imagination as I was reading
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on that lovely summer night, a few years ago.

I mean this for good and for ill. It says a lot that the kinds of changes I noticed were things like, "But Nagini's a Gaboon Viper, not an Anaconda!" and, "Wait, was Dobby in this scene?"

The mildest of spoilers: Basically, what you are going to see in this movie is Harry and Ron and Hemione's Bogus Camping Journey. You are going to see ALL of it. The fact that the Trio spend a lot of the book mucking around in the forest avoiding villains, fretting over where the horcruxes and Hallows are, and (to be honest, stupidly) taking turns wearing the Potterverse equivalent of the One Ring was a frequent criticism of the novel. Thing is, this is the kind of thing that works well in writing; you get to spend a lot of time in each character's head, and it builds the tension, raising the stakes so that the final conflict is that much more of an emotional payoff. But film, as it has been said so often, is a brutally literal medium. So what we see is three kids in the woods being emo at each-other.

But I know, from the book, that there's a bunch of exciting stuff to come. Other readers will as well. But what of the people who are only following the film series? From the reviews I have heard and read, they aren't very happy with "Part One"at all. Generally, I agree with them that I'd have been much, much happier with one really long movie. It should be pointed out that most of the most interesting scenes in the trailer are evidently from "Part 2".

On that note, I had been jokingly comparing "Deathly Hallows" parts one and two to "Matrix Reloaded" and "Revolutions", when it was announced that "Hallows" would be split into two films. But now I think my comparison is dead-on. Luckily, we were in a theater full of fans for both "Reloaded" and "Hallows", so I wasn't overhearing people asking, "what's going on?" "Who's that character?" "What did that important-looking guy say when I asked who that character was?"

I bring this up because, like the "Matrix" movies, "Hallows" does not waste one millisecond explaining the situation so far. This is not a movie to watch if you are merely curious about the Harry Potter phenomenon. New viewers will be completely and utterly locked out. If you never saw any of the other movies or read the books, too bad for you.

Now, honestly, I admire this kind of thing usually. But I know a lot of people are going to be very upset about it. Heck, there were times when I felt locked out myself! (I know I'm probably going to remember later, but couldn't they spare a quick line of dialogue to explain the piece of magic mirror Harry keeps around and the character whose face appears in it?)

The film ends so abruptly that I feel like I can't even rightly form an opinion of it until I can watch both halves together (absolutely the way to go if you have never watched the full "Matrix' trilogy, by the way). All in all, it is a very odd moviegoing experience indeed, especially since, for what it is, I enjoyed myself a lot. The Imax is gorgeous, the digital projection is phenomenal, and there's an animated sequence within the film that is absolutely brilliant and maybe the single best scene in any of the "Harry Potter" films.

An important word of warning for parents: If you take a very young child to see this instead of, say, "Tangled", you are a bad parent. The "Harry Potter" series effectively stopped being kid's films at the end of "Goblet of Fire". Readers: The Bathilda Bagshot scene is in the movie. I'm surprised too; I'd have bet that'd be the first thing to be cut. Everyone else: Errr... without spoiling things, there's a scene that will send herpetophobes into therapy for years. Also, there's a scene where two main characters make out in the nude (it's a hallucination brought on by an evil spirit but still...), a few naughty words, and a puppy dies in the end. OK, the last thing doesn't literally happen, but what does happen is close. No, this is not a movie you want to bring little kids to.


Sketch of the day! In honor of Leslie Nielsen, who was in some of the funniest movies ever made and who will be missed by multiple generations of fans, I give you kitties!

11.21.10 Sketchbook Page 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"not an Anaconda!"

Reticulated python (just in case no 1 else has already pointed this out).