11 December, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... Part two... of Part one

Okay, I'm going to sum up the rest, as I waxed on a little long in the first part, and I have other things I want to blog about (Fangbanger/VILF conference, Dawn Treader, Love at First Sight... yikes, lots to do, and oh yeah... my thesis... right).

So I'm going to jump into the ministry scenes. 

Things I liked: getting flushed into the ministry ('Ron's' face and comment of “that's disgusting” was rather funny, and broke the tension of that scene with a truly 'Ron' comment), I also liked the muggles being crushed in the fountain (well, I didn't like it, but it was effective), and I loved the distraction outside of Umbridge's office; those bumbling devices were flippin' hysterical.

I also liked the small prop touches of the horror books in Umbridge's desk: When Muggles Attack and the like; clever. I thought the chase at the end was very well shot, especially the shots on Ron. It was super intense, and beautifully done with the slow motion movement. Also, it is here in the courtrooms that we first see and hear the true horcrux. I rather liked the noise that it made; an ear-splitting, high pitched squeal, like the noise a TV can make when it's on the fritz. It was enough to be annoying and thus show you that its menacing, bothersome, and not at all just a pretty trinket. I also like the way that it moved when the trio were trying to destroy it, or when Harry, Nagini/Bathilda, and the locket were all in the same room (3 horcruxes in one room! Oh my!) and it jumped a bit on his chest. Very cool.

Right... getting distracted. 

Things I missed: I was once again bothered by the lack of Moody-- it should be a big deal that Harry steals the eye out of the door, because it shows that Umbridge was somehow involved in his murder, and again, gives us that lovely scene where Harry buries the eye, which would be the only thing we have that resembles a funeral for Mad-eye.

On to the forest
Ron's splinching. Great acting on his part, and even more on Hermione's part. This scene also showed quite well how the trio works. Hermione immediately did what was best for them and for Harry to succeed- I think she's kind of like Harry's producer; he's not gonna get done what he needs to get done unless she's right next to him organizing it. So she takes them to the forest of Dean instead of sticking around London, which immediately puts Hermione in charge of the situation when Ron was splinched, but it also showed how much Ron meant to her based upon her reaction, and her immediate move to protect them once Ron was out of harm's way, and I loved how Harry immediately took her place by Ron's side to comfort him whilst she was putting up the protective spells. The whole scene was maybe 20 seconds long, but it flowed seamlessly with tension, love, and showed the workings of their relationships. For further discussion on Hermione, check out my friend Ashley's blog. We saw it together the first two times and discussed it at length; we agreed on most parts, so it's fun to see her expand on aspects, particularly Hermione here, because I really think she kicked arse in this film.

Phew...we're safe... and bored.
The forest. This part of the film is contentious between fans and the lay-viewer, I think. Yes, it runs a bit long. Yes, it could have been edited here and there-- but I think that is its beauty. We're supposed to get bored, and frustrated... just like Ron. I liked the device of the radio in the film. It was a constant buzz that annoyed Harry, and frankly annoyed me after awhile too! I was like 'SHUT UP' and I think that's the reaction we're supposed to have. Get bored. Get frustrated. Now you're on par with the characters. I think that was neat for fans, and they understand the emotion at that point, but I can also see how that would be tedious and wicked boring to a lay-viewer.

Hermione and... Harry? Wait... what?!
The haircut. Lovely little moment where you can see how the relationship of Harry and Hermione (always supportive, but not inappropriate) really gets to Ron who views it as a threat. She is doing something intimate, touching his head, holding his trust as he trusts her to not mess up his 'do,' but in actuality, every snip of the scissors seems like a cut to Ron and his positive feelings which are quickly receding.

After Ron leaves, and the Awkward Dance
This is where Ashley and I differed. Well, at the start, anyway. The first 10 seconds of Hermione and Harry dancing was horrific. I was mad. Why would they insert this? Why would they show an element of Harry's character that I firmly believe would never exist? Harry would never do that to Ron, and it makes him look desperate and pathtic. I say on the first ten seconds, because that's where its inappropriate. He looks at her all sexy-like, and it makes the viewer go, 'wait, wait...what is he doing?!' but then the tension breaks by his horrible dancing and you realize he's just trying to lighten the situation and be normal with his friend. That part is great! The tension was too much! We needed a break! But goofy dancing would have sufficed. Not 'I'm gonna mack on my best friend's girl' first. Gross. And wrong, Harry, wrong. I watched the 'Making of' special on ITV (sorry, only in Britain), and Radcliffe actually talked about this scene. He said “it's the only time in the whole series that you think, 'wait, what's he doing, are they gonna? Are they...? Oh no, no, phew...” so he obviously saw it as weird and out of character too... so why is it there?! I have no answer. I guess just to throw a twist in it, but I'm not cool with that twist. It makes Harry seem a bit seedy, especially with the line from Hermione, “Don't ever let me give you a haircut again.” I feel like that line was actually, “Don't try to put the moves on me again, Harry. It blows.” I agree, Hermione; I agree.

Godric's Hollow... something different.
I'm glad they didn't come via polyjuice; that's a change I support. We'd lost our friends for too long in the ministry, and I'm glad we got to see Harry go through the emotions of going back there, and not someone else acting as Harry. I still really miss the plaque outside of the Potter's house, but the rest of this whole scene was lovely. The emotion of finding the Potter's grave, the creepiness of Nagini/Bathilda, getting the Rita Skeeter book, finding the Hallows on Peverell's grave, breaking the wand... a lot fit into this scene, but it didn't feel rushed. 

Frozen pond, I think I see something shiny in there!
Holy crap that whole scene made me cold. and I loved how the horcrux tried to kill him underwater. Extremely well shot scene. But Harry, really, why didn't you take the locket off before you jumped in the freezing water?

Ron's back, let's open the horcrux.
Very cool. At first it kind of weirded me out; I know it was just a dream, but just seeing Harry and Hermione making out and naked (all vital bits covered) was a bit of a shock, and not what I was expecting. But then I realized that was the point! It's supposed to weird you out! It's a personification of EVIL! The smoke effect, the evilness writhing, the terrible beauty of the scene that came from it... it was ethereal and awkward and wrong... everything I imagine a horcrux really is! I thought it was well done, and gave Ron a great moment of kicking the sh*t out of it; you could see at what point he would no longer stand for it, and Harry and Ron were proud but okay after it... “Imagine, only three more to go,” that breaks the tension... nice.

I also LOVED when Ron comes back and Hermione is just pissed. She grabs anything she can get her hands on (the leaves... love it when she throws a handful of leaves), and demands her wand back from Harry in order to (presumably) curse Ron. It was such a great girl moment; stupid boys, Harry covering for his dumb friend... love these little moments where you see their friendship and their comfort with each other. I also enjoyed the following scene where Harry mildly mocks the cheesiness of Ron's ball of light story, and when they were testing out the new wand on the flame, all of a sudden there's a huge burst of fire rising in the tent, and then the calm it and quickly assure Hermione that nothing is wrong. Fab.

The Lovegoods. Love that hippie fellow...
Great art direction, props, casting, and costuming. Xenophilius was great. This is the scene where we get the legend of the Hallows from Hermione. I wondered how they'd do this, and while is was rather a departure from the Potter canon (it looked more like Tim Burton), I loved it. It was beautifully animated (the lace, the sparkles...), and gave all of the information we needed well, and showed it; didn't just tell it (it annoys me in the past films that when something needs explaining, Hermione just conveniently has the answer, and the filmmakers have acknowledged this in past interviews and articles. She's the information giver, (i.e. “Of course! Nicolas Flamel...”), so it was nice to have it shown to us in another, beautiful way.  I wish in this scene we had the explanation of Ravenclaw's diadem, and I find it problematic that Hermione didn't keep them around Xenophilius's house until the Deatheaters saw Harry, thus protecting Lovegood, but overall it was an enjoyable visit to the Lovegood's tower house.

Skipping ahead a bit... the snatchers get them, Hermione curses Harry, and they're carted off to Malfoy manor.

At Malfoy Manor
Things I liked: I love John Hurt. Even moreso since working with him in Love at First Sight, but I thought his performance of Ollivander was lovely. I didn't like Luna's outfit here (a jumper/playsuit? Really?), but her performance was also pretty fab. The scene where Bellatrix is torturing Hermione is possibly one of the best. It's so forceful and uncomfortable to watch; it's violating and inhumane... it really gives the emotion to the act, particularly with Ron and Harry powerless to help down in the dungeon. I also loved Dobby's parting line, “Dobby didn't mean to kill, only maim or seriously injure.” Classic Dobby.

Things I missed: why on earth didn't Harry disarm Draco for the wands? There's such a big point put upon the wand lore of ownership at disarming, ownership through changing hands etc. that I do think that Harry has ownership of the wands as he literally ripped them out of Draco's hands, but it would have been much more clear, and a rather rockin' hero moment, if Harry dramatically disarmed Draco, thus clearly winning the wands.

Oh Dobby... RIP my friend
This scene was beautiful. It was shot in Wales (yay!) and provided a beautiful, but lonely and desolate setting to lose our friend. I thought Radcliffe's acting was a bit forced and awkward here, but I loved the separation of Harry from Ron and Hermione. Ron's priority was to be with, and take care of, Hermione in that moment, and they left Harry on his own. I thought this an important distinction; that in the end... it will be Harry. Perhaps that's just my reading of this moment... but the clear begging for help, and granted there wasn't much of anything that could be done, but there was no move from them to help... that's what I read from it. I thought the burial scene was lovely, and once again the music featured heavily here with that gorgeous cello solo as Dobby's requiem.

Dumbledore's tomb. Let's wrap it up, folks...
I'm glad they ended on this scene. We had the emotional turmoil of Dobby's death, the horrific escape from the manor, and for the moment we know that our heroes are in trouble, but safe for the time being, so we needed that tiny lead to make us go "Oooooo" for the next film, and we get that with Voldemort's theft from Dumbledore's tomb. I thought the tomb was a bit cheesy, blatantly CGI, but the shot of Voldemort's face onto Dumbledore's was lovely. It wasn't disturbing or horrific to see a dead Dumbledore; it was smoothly transitioned from Voldemort, who we were watching and expecting anyway, to our old friend, who appeared to be sleeping. Smooth scene, and we now know that Voldemort has the wand, and nothing is okay yet....

AND IT ENDS. Ugh... I know that's the point, and of course that's what you expect from a split film.... but lordy it left me hanging and I canNOT wait for the next installment. The clips and shots I've seen from the second installment look good and intriguing; I'm wondering about the final battle as from the one shot I've seen it looks like it takes place in the courtyard, with no one around, and that bugs me... again, I want more hero worship.  Where are my hero shots of Harry! Well, I shan't make any judgements yet; I'll just have to wait until July!