Monday, August 1, 2011

Spoiling Movies: Harry Potter

Ten years, eight films, billions upon billions of dollars and the Harry Potter movie franchise has finally reached its conclusion. The penultimate film left something to be desired, as part ones are prone to do, yet the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two was a solid and satisfying piece, perhaps the best film of the entire franchise.

It started with a bit of “previous on Harry Potter” vibe. Voldemort was shown towering over the casket and corpse of the deceased head master, with the Elder Wand in his grasp. The sky lit up with his jubilation and part two was ready to take off.

Unlike many of the previous films, 7.2 finally got the pace and tempo correct. Where all the previous films often felt rushed, especially compared to their novel version, this one actually felt like a smoothly flowing cinematic experience. The reasoning for this was a logical avoidance of plot rather than a helter-skelter rushed/forced plot development.

The main casualty of this was the battle at Hogwarts. Where, in the book, this takes up many action-packed pages, the movie instead uses it as a background event while the rest of the film is taking place. Frankly, if not comparing it directly to its book counterpart, it works very well. The movie had enough action and adventure to stand on its own without the Hogwarts fighting. It also was able to seamlessly make us aware of things that happened during the battle, i.e. people getting killed, without forcing the specific scenes upon us.

The ending was as campy and off-putting as it was in the book version. In my humble opinion, they probably could have done without it entirely, although that would have brought about the vitriol of novel enthusiasts all over the world.

However, the ending to the action, in the movie, left something to be desired as well. Voldemort perished into oblivion with a simple flick away of his wand, floating into the ether shredded like pieces of paper. Perhaps it was fitting but it left a bit of an empty feeling in my stomach. Didn’t the greatest dark wizard who ever lived deserve a more phantasmagorical big bang and classic movie death?

There were other minor complaints, like how Ginny Weasley was essentially nonexistent in this film, but these can be forgiven. Whereas all the previous Potter films seemed to be trying to force the novel into cinema, the Deathly Hallows Part Two instead seemed to be taking the storyline and turning it into a movie, a slight technical difference but one that proves major in the end.

The by-product of this was the ability to concentrate on specific plot elements and excel in scenes such as the viewing of Snape's memories and the searching for the lost diadem.

Nothing is perfect, especially adaptations, yet this seemed a fitting end to a powerful and influential movie franchise, the highest grossing franchise in the history of film.

(Image courtesy of J.K. Rowling's novel cover art)

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