24 November, 2010

Harry Potter review... part one... of part one

Harry Potter, book seven, part one. Eeeeeeeeep.

Initial thoughts- I really enjoyed it. A few decisions I'm not sure why they made them, and a few things I thought really necessary that weren't in there (hero worship of Harry), or one or two scenes that needed a few more lines/moments for import, depth, and believability, particularly for the actions that need to happen in part two (Ginny & Harry, Moody, Godric's Hollow, Dursley's, Kreacher...).

So I'm breaking my normal template, and instead of doing the pros and cons, I'm listing overall points, and then going through plot events, and commentary on them. It should be in order as we go through the film.

Music: The score is beautiful. Particularly the repeated notes in close succession that run throughout the score; it builds tension in every scene, even when that scene may be quiet. For example, 'Obliviate' has rapid notes that get you rather riled up, put you on edge, but it's a sad and quiet scene. It goes right into 'Snape at Malfoy Manor' where the quick notes continue. In 'Ministry of Magic' it's almost comparable to a ticking clock its so constant, driving, and measured. It's a frantic and frenetic feel due to fast notes, on similar tones, and contributes very well to the scenes. And who didn't shed a tear at the cello in 'Farewell to Dobby'? I might need to do a whole post on the music...

Costuming: There were some great moments. Mundungus looking skeezy and slimy, Fleur's over the top wedding dress, Xenophilius and Luna's outfits at the wedding (also love the hippy dippy dancing which Lynch choreographed herself, based off of Rowling's descriptions of the dancing from the book- win!), Fred and George's dapper outfits (I didn't notice if the coats were dragonskin, but they were snazzy nonetheless)... and then some raised eyebrows at costumes I wasn't 100% on board with, like Luna's when she's in the dungeon (it looks like a child's romper playsuit from the 80's)

Such. An awesome. Shot.
Cinematography: Some of those shots were simply beautiful. The one that stands out the most in my mind is when Harry and Hermione are on that rocky cliff just after Ron leaves, and Harry is silhouetted against a sun-setting sky... it's gorgeous. Well-framed, and it's from a distance to give the audience some perspective on his pensive mood from afar which lends ample emotion. Also, in Grimmauld place, there's a slow retreat of the camera from the trio as Hermione says 'We're all alone...' emphasizing their solitary position in the wizard world.

Now to plot discussion....

Scridgemour opening: Brilliant. It was so up close, in our faces, it was like he was addressing us, the audience as well as the magical population. He was focused, and intense, but blatantly shaken whether by fear or fury, so we could see that he was strong and capable, but also under threat in some way.

Saying goodbye to family: Hermione's section had me shed a tear just five minutes into the film! I'll point it out elsewhere, but I really thought she stepped up her game in this film, and Hermione really shined in this film. Hermione is strong, confident, capable, and kickin', and Emma Watson plays her well. There were still a few moments where the overacting reared its head, but Hermione also overreacts sometimes, so it wasn't too disturbing. It was really good to see the characters on their own, having to sever ties... you really got the idea that they were consciously making the decision to leave, that they knew the consequences, but this is what they were deciding to do.

7 Harrys: I loved seeing the range of acting from Radcliffe. You could clearly tell which one was Fleur (and not just by the bra), Mundungus, etc. And the CG effects on Hermione as she's turning into Harry is pretty fabulous (apparently that was a new way of filming involving glow paint and tons of cameras to capture every moment of transformation from one actor to Dan Radcliffe). I also loved Moody's lines in this section. They gave him a few more than he has in the book, and I think this worked well; we hadn't really seen Moody since the 5th book, and this brought him back into our minds, and in two lines gave us humor as well as seriousness of the situation and his obsession with the mission at hand.
-However, I missed the moment after Moody dies. There was little weight to that scenario. I like the group of them having a shot of fire whiskey in his honor, a bit of mourning, etc. I feel like all of that sadness went to Hedwig and none to Moody.

Limited Polyjuice: First at the wedding where Harry is Harry and not Barny Weasley, and then in Godric's Hollow, they don't use polyjuice like they do in the books. I'm VERY glad for that. I think we needed more face time with our trio, with our heros, and while the ministry bit was certainly necessary for them to use polyjuice, and it gave some nice humorous moments to an otherwise very serious scene, it was enough of us not being able to see our heros' faces. Plus I loved the line 'I'm not coming back here as someone else...' when Harry arrives in Godric's Hollow.

Doubting Dumbledore? I don't doubt him much yet... during this half of the book, we should have known more about Dumbledore's past from the obituary and segment in the paper from Rita Skeeter's book, Elphias Doge's conversation at the wedding, and Hermione should have read out to him the section in Rita Skeeter's book about Grindlewald and Dumbledore being friends, about 'For the Greater Good,' about Dumbledore needing to go home to care for Ariana. None of this is set up, so I'm quite curious how they're going to wrap all of this up.

It's also good to remember though how quickly ground can be made up in film though. (i.e. that one line in the beginning of New Moon about Jasper messing with emotions; it made up for it not being touched upon in Twilight). In one flashback, they can bring everything up to speed regarding Dumbledore's past... we'll just have to wait and see on that front.

Really? Not convinced...
Grimmauld Place: Loved Ron and Hermione's interaction. Their relationship, unlike Harry and Ginny's, is growing, believable, and it functions. Messing about on the piano, Ron wiping the drop of blood from her cheek in the diner, holding hands as they fall asleep... it works. And works well. I also loved Dobby assisting Kreacher in getting Mundungus Fletcher. It brought Dobby back into our minds (we hadn't seen him in a few films either), and gave him great character as he shoved Kreacher out of the way to say 'and then Dobby noticed... and then Dobby said...' it showed us how keen he was to help Harry Potter and his friends, and how important that friendship was to Dobby. I was very sad, however, to lose the change of heart of Kreacher. I love that he loves the trio after they give him the locket and treat him well. I love the idea that he made them soup, tidied the house etc., but I also recognize it wasn't necessary, and we didn't have time for that in the film. A sad loss, but an acceptable one.

Things I missed: The change of heart in Dudley. I feel like Dudley's realization that Harry isn't 'a waste of space,' is the first step to the reader/audience realizing the seriousness of the situation. If Dudley can recognize that something is wrong, and Harry somehow plays a role in making it right, then we know that something is up even in the muggle world. Also, Harry can own the title of 'The Chosen One' all he wants, but when others acknowledge that title, or his role in the fight at this point, that's where his true hero points accumulate. Like when Spiderman's mask is removed, or Will Stanton states that Bran (from The Dark is Rising) is the Pendragon, it's the acknowledgement of your hero status from others that removes any conceit, makes it a clear and true fact, and thus raises Harry's hero capital.
-I also really missed the plaque from Harry's house commemorating Voldemort's first fall there with messages of 'Good luck Harry...' etc all over it, the statue in the middle of Godric's Hollow honoring the Potters, and POTTERCAST! Oh I missed Pottercast... All of these things let the audience see how important Harry is. They all recognize it, and it makes him even more heroic because he doesn't acknowledge it. He is just getting on with his business, while the world holds him on a pedestal; this makes him humble, honorable, and uber heroic. I miss that! I like a little more hero worship in my life!

The letter from Lily: I think this is a big deal in the book, as we later see to what lengths Snape would go to in order to get a memento of Lily... but I can also see why it wasn't necessary in the film. It wasn't a make-or-break moment, we still have the doe which symbolizes his love, I do wish we had more of their past; that we knew Snape and Lily were friends growing up, or there was some sort of history there. I know it will all come out in 'Snape's Last Memory,' but maybe one or two instances where this could be set up so it's not so out of the blue in the next installment may have been helpful.

Lordy... I'm only in Grimmauld Place and it's running this long. Going to stop here for this one; next one up in a day or three (it IS Thanksgiving, it might take me until Friday. Plus I'm up in Leicester, England right now at the Vampires, VILFS and Fangbangers conference. There will definitely be a post about this too, I'm sure, as there are some really interesting papers planned, and I'm curious to see what's to be said about Twilight and the supernatural world in emerging scholarship).

More soon...


Roxie said...

Love the review, but it's Potterwatch ;)

Roxie said...

Although I'm sure PotterCast would be flattered!

ScullingOnSquam said...

Haha... didn't catch that blunder! Thanks for the correction! I listen to one, and wish I could listen to the other... I suppose they mixed in my brain :) Cheers Roxie!