Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter 7B Review (Spoilers!)

Okay, since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 sold over $476 million worldwide on opening weekend, the ban on HP7B spoilers is officially being lifted.  Let's talk about the film!  

Overall, I loved it. It's my favorite of the series.  But of course, because the book is always better, some of the choices really left me wondering, "WTF?" or "You chose this for the final cut?"

The Split Where HP7A meandered aimlessly around the British countryside, HP7B took a far more action-packed route. HP7B picks up at Shell Cottage in the wake of Dobby's death and then steamrolls through the densest 11 chapters of the book. David Yates had a little over two hours to pack in essential plot points (Gringotts, Diadem, BATTLE OF HOGWARTS, Snape's Tale, Harry's death, King's Cross, The Showdown) so the viewer basically dives in headfirst and comes out gasping for breath 120 minutes later.  Which is what makes this movie great but also harder to watch, especially if you've never read the books (gaaaaah!), because you're constantly trying to keep up and Yates & Co. didn't try as hard this time to explain what's going on.

LOVED McGonagall.  She dueled Snape like a BAMF then switched on the cute at Piertotum Locomotor ("I've always wanted to use that spell!")  It really is a testament to how well Maggie Smith portrayed her character when one minute you're fist-pumping as Snape "does a bunk" under her attacking spells, and the next minute she looks so genuinely frightened, you know stuff's about to go down. 

BUT! They got McGonagall's response to Pansy Parkinson ALL WRONG. After Voldemort's "give me Harry" ultimatum right before the battle, Pansy Parkinson blurts out, "He's right there! Someone grab him!" Movie McGonagall instructs Filch to toss the whole Slytherin lot into the dungeons and everyone cheers.

Which completely undermines the entire point of the HP series, which is tolerance. Book McGonagall evacuates all first years and those who don't want to fight, regardless of House. Implying that Slytherin House is chock full of spineless, self-serving, evil wizards not only contradicts McGonagall's true nature but undermines the spirit of Hogwarts. EPIC FAIL, Steve Kloves.

Snape slayed me. Hands down, "The Prince's Tale" is the best part of the movie. In clipped diction that can turn a simple retort ("No idea") into a mini-symphony of contempt, Alan Rickman shows once again how he masterfully owns every.single.minute. of screen time. REPEAT: Alan Rickman is an effing genius. He is so devastating even when he has no lines. 

Like shallow-breath, chest-shuddering, trying-to-hold-my-mind-together sobbing. His pain was so palpable! My heart crumbled into a million little pieces like a Dementor's buffet.

Also cried at Lupin and Tonks.  Reeaaaaching for each other yet never quite touching...

 Laying on the floor of the Great Hall, hands thisclose in death but still apart...WAH!

LUNA! My dear loony Luna. "Harry Potter you stop right now and listen to me!" is my favorite Luna line of all time. And even though it goes against HP canon (Neville marries Hannah Abbott), Movie Neville and Luna make me happy.  To be honest, they should have gotten together in the book.

Neville! "Yeah? You and whose army?!" LOL.

The Kiss. So cute! Love that we got to see Ron & Hermione kill Hufflepuff's cup since we never see it in the book. Great timing, too - who wouldn't make out after narrowly escaping Voldemort's water-logged effigy?

 And then there's this, which is only slightly less awkward than Voldemort hugging Draco.

BATTLE OF HOGWARTS. In a word, INTENSE. The movie adaptation did a good job of portraying the exhaustive attack on Hogwarts since the book basically laid out a blow-by-blow account of wizarding duels, which wouldn't translate well to screen.

From the sweeping shot of Death Eaters blasting spells at the protective enchantments around Hogwarts to the attacking army of werewolves/Inferi/undead monsters on the bridge, Voldemort's victory seemed imminent.  Grave danger (is there any other kind?) pervaded every corner of the crumbling castle.

Sadly, the Molly/Bellatrix duel was short and rather disappointing. It felt like the filmmakers knew they couldn't cut it and ran out of time, so they just made it as short as possible and stuffed it in somewhere. Voldemort should have seen "the fall of his last and best lieutenant."  Instead, he and Harry were flying through the air, tearing each other's faces off. 

King's Cross. Overall great scene. Understandable that they cut Dumbledore's backstory since they omitted it in HP7A, but Dumbledore was left without redemption for the Ariana kerfuffle. Good thing Movie Aberforth glossed over it all.  

But one thing that should have been a big deal for non-book-readers is that they failed to discuss why Harry can go back (that his mother's blood ties him to life, so while Voldemort lives, Harry lives.)  Did no one wonder why Harry didn't die?!

The Showdown. Not quite what I expected but okay. EXCEPT! The lack of verbal spells bothered me. Yes, shouting spells in the heat of battle may be distracting in a movie, but during The Climax of Epic Proportions? It's crucial for us to see the most Unforgiveable of Curses pitted against the simplest of spells; to see Harry defeat Voldemort not with the Killing Curse but with his signature spell! Was it really too hard to insert two (simultaneous!) lines that reveal the deepest natures of the characters?

Also, it's just a small detail, but why didn't Voldemort thud to the ground instead of disintegrating into ash? That would have underscored the point that Voldemort was just a human after all.

The Epilogue. Hilariously cringeworthy. That's all I have to say about that.


Generally, I loved the movie.  No, it's not perfect. The editing is choppy.  I wanted them to do parts differently.

But overall? They did justice to The End.  

So, what about you? Do you agree with me or am I talking nonsense? What did I get completely wrong? Share your thoughts!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spoiler-free Harry Potter 7B Talk

It All Ended last night. The final end of Harry Potter (unless JK Rowling writes another book. Please write another book.) No more movies; no more midnight releases; no more publicly proclaiming your love for Snape and Lily:
Seen on the metro.
I know, not everyone braved the crushing midnight crowds or has friends in high places (thank you, Greta!) but I can't help but blog about it. So how about some spoiler-free thoughts and recommendations for peeps going to see it later today or this weekend?

A. If you don't remember what happened in DH Part 1, I'd recommend watching it again before you go to Part 2. (Or get an obsessive Potter friend to fill you in.) Part 2 jumps straight into where Part 1 left off.

B. Bring tissues. Unless you have a heart of stone (or a Y chromosome), you will probably cry. Or sob. Because I wept like a baby, tears and snot running down my face and clouding my 3D glasses.
'Nuff said.
C. If you can stomach the price (or bought the recent Fandango Living Social deal), go see this in 3D. I can think of few things in the world more exciting than the Gringotts breakout or the Battle of Hogwarts in IMAX 3D.
Has a dragon been more exciting since Falcor? I THINK NOT.
Plus, your 3D glasses are shaped like Harry's!
Not my photo.
D. Neville Freaking Longbottom.

Yeah, that's right. Gryffindor badassery.

E.  Stay until the end of credits then yell, "MISCHIEF MANAGED!"

Happy watching, my friends! How long must we wait before we can discuss SPOILERS?!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hogwarts Will Always Be There To Welcome You Home

That is all.

Also this quote from Twitter (supposedly by Alan Rickman). I've been in love ever since:
 "When I'm 80 years old, I'll be reading Harry Potter. My family will say, 'After all this time?' and I will say, 'Always.'"

My friend got me advance screening tix for Thursday. No midnight wait for meee!

Friday, July 1, 2011

"The Sea Was Angry That Day My Friends..."

"... like an old man trying to return soup at a deli." (It's clicky; I just can't embed.)


Speaking of angry seas, tomorrow I am embarking on a 7-day sailing trip from the Chesapeake Bay to Newport, RI.  With the in-laws. The in-law part actually doesn't bother me that much; we get along swimmingly. 

It's the 7-days-in-cramped-quarters-with-no-land-in-sight that worries me.  I've never been offshore sailing before.  I really don't want Angry Panda to erupt:

 From me or the sea.  (Note to self: download lots of Kindle books.)

 Less this:
More this:

If I can blog from the boat, I will.  If I'm not back in a week, I've probably been eaten by a shark. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Pictures

Damn right.

Chocolate, peanut butter, bananas, coconut flakes. 'Nuff said.
Thank goodness.
The wisdom of children.
That is all.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Five: 5 Things You'd Save In A Fire

"We didn't start the fire
It was always burning since the world's been turning"

Let's assume your house actually IS on fire and you can only grab 5 things.  What would they be? 

1. My iPhone
You feel totally naked and cut off from the world when you forget your phone at home, don't you? Mmmm-hmmmm. Now imagine if THE BALROG ATE YOUR PHONE and all your data is LOST TO THE ETHER FOREVER.   

The horror! The horror!

No, I don't have an addiction to technology, why do you ask? 

2. My Mac
I said, I don't have an addiction to technology. Nor do I have a fixation for Apple products.

Besides, I'd never be able to re-amass my iTunes library on the cheap. (What? Napster was legal in college.)

3. My DSLR
I have a slight obsession with photography. (On a recent trip to Italy, I took over 1,000 pictures in 7 days. That's almost 150 pics/day. Yeah.) To be fair, I keep my DSLR in a backpack with all of my lenses (also not cheap) so I'd save them too. I count them as one item since they're all in the same backpack.

4. My mom's Chinese wedding dress
She wore it at her wedding, and I wore it at mine.  I hope my hypothetical future daughter will wear it at hers. 

5. My set of Harry Potter Books
Don't judge. I have a nearly complete set of true first edition, first printings!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Aliiiiiiiiiive: POTTERMORE! (Part 2)

Yes, I'm still like:


Come on, can you blame me?  I'm not even an online gamer but DARN if Pottermore doesn't get me hooked somehow.

More photos have been released for Pottermore. (These are from Mugglenet.com)  Click on any of the photos for larger versions.

Screenshot of the Gryffindor main page:
What's with the steampunk rollercoaster?
The Hogwarts Express:
I need to know what the icons are on the left.
Christmas at Hogwarts:
Happy Christmas, Harry! Here's yet another hand-knit jumper.
Wizard's Chess Board:
Potterwatch is now concluded. Well...until July 15th when the last movie comes out. Or July 31st. Or something else exciting comes out, whichever comes first. 

In parting, I leave you with an excerpt of the POTTERMORE press conference (full text from the press conference HERE. Definitely worth a read):

Because I can't resist, here is a great quote from the press conference:
"I don’t think I’ve given all the stuff on Quidditch yet. Men always ask me about Quidditch because the number of, and I love geeky people so I do not say this in a pejorative way, but the number of geeky men who have come up to me to argue with me about Quidditch - I’d be a lot richer if I had a quid for every one. They just think it’s illogical. But it’s not illogical and I had a speech by Dumbledore in the first book that never made it in explaining why Quidditch is not illogical, so at some point I will put that on the site. Thank you for reminding me."