Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Twilight. It's Better" Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows review

I have only just recently, and by just recently I mean last night, caught up with the Harry Potter films. I stopped reading them when number 5 came out. I can't really remember why, I just remember my parents getting the book for me opening day and I sat down, read it and then I just didn't care as much as I did when the fifth one came out. But when the 7th rolled around I spoiled the crap out of that at High School the Monday after the book came out. Who dies when, how they die, important plot points, I had them all and I was ready to let fire to the slightly pale bastards who had crawled out for the morning just to say "Oh, I've read it twice" or "Oh I totally can't believe she did that" or "I read it in 4 hours", it was as if reading the book had turned into a big dick measuring contest, and now the film is out, I'm sure this morning on Facebook, many people were flounded with status updates at 2:30 or 3 in the morning with, ZOMG HP7P1 DA BEST ONE EVER, well I'm here to not spoil the film for you in any way or to tell you it's DA BEST ONE EVER, I'm here to say, it was pretty good.
How the world has changed since the Harry Potter films and books were released unto the world. I remember seeing the first two at least 3 time, enjoying my chocolate frogs and jelly beans with every screening, I stopped watching them in the theatre after 2 and would start catching them on TV, enjoying them and regretting not sharing the film experience. However, this time all of my friends were busy and bailed, except one, so my snide comments and loud chewing were left to only one pair of available ears.
So where to actually begin with the film? Well, it kinda continues where we last left Harry Potter, quite content with his life, his best friends in love, his mentor and godfather dead and his life still in a bit of turmoil. We see Harry's close and only friends come to his aide as his guardians evacuate the house post-haste and the acting from Harry and his close friends is pretty impeccable. I thought with the removal of Albus and Sirius, the pool of talent would be slimmed down a tad, but I forgot we steal had the God that walks among men, Alan Rickman and of course, Ralph Fiennes, both being proverbial badasses every minute they're on screen.
That's Mr. Bad Ass, to you...
Emma, Daniel and Rupert all make great strides in their acting in this. Instead of being in their ususal romantic or mood swinging, their emotions are played with when toying with each other, whether they wish to provoke sorrow, compassion or caring. It comes through very clearly but at times it feels as if Emma Watson was given very little direction. At some points she's stumbling over lines or herself and unless she's directly interacting with her friends, she seems out of her depths. It must have something to do with that feminine spell that was cast on her some time around the 5th film that turned her fairly strong and intelligent character into a tiny bit of a clumsy oaf. Not to say she's terrible, just severely underused and often looking bored unless she has to be sad or worried or in the dark about a situation
A Chicken Parmigiana?
Speaking of in the dark, the entire film looks like someone has spilt ink over most of the print, however, the colours shine and shine brightly when necessary. Every scene in the film has a specified tone and imagery which helps tell the story rather than push it along. The opening sequence of the cold suburban colours of Privet Drive and the streets of London are shown in a deep comforting blue or a bright white. The contrast of the incredibly dark scenes featuring the Axis of Evil and the main cast/good guys, helps create this tension between who is good and bad and the transitions they go through, all converging on a beautifully dark but eventually bright sequence to close the film.
I want to hug the cinematographer and location scout for the film. It looks impeccable in so many sequences. The main trinity are often just walking around or camping in the hillside or being transported off to beautiful lush sequences of forest or on atop mountains or in a quaint snowy area, which I was informed all shot in Scotland and around Wales. The majestic nature of the swooping shots and vast landscapes really shows how alone the 3 (and during an entire act, 2) really are in this world of magic.
The actual Ministry of Magic in the film is expanded on since The Order of The Phoenix. The character of the Thatcher-esque Umbridge is back, whom I thought was taken off by Centuars in the fifth film and gang-stomped to death for her vile nature. Her introduction of the new education system and trials, similar to her actions within Hogwarts in film/book 5, has been stepped up to this film to a Nazi propaganda state which there would be no way the Ministry would truly recover, not to mention Voldemort's rise to power in a dictator fashion similar to that of Hitler or Mussolini. It's fantastic to see all the real world examples and portrayals of mudbloods, half bloods and 'the pure', to have a realistic and relatable context, however, it isn't exactly subtle.
Having not really read the 7th novel, I do hope Umbridge is killed severely, much like Luna Lovegood, the most wasted bit of ink and screen time in film history. Other than providing her father to be a McGuffin for some of the film, I have hated Luna the second she stepped on screen in the series and uttered, "Oh Fuck Off" at any point during which she uttered a word, was on screen, moved an inch or made a face.
Oh Fuck Off
Whilst the maturity is lacking in Ms. Lovegood's acting, face and matter, the maturity of the actors shows, not only in their faces and acting, but in their characters. A particularly gruesome sequence and another slightly graphic (for a different reason) part, provides some of the more interesting scenes in the movie and the director does not shy away from the inner turmoil and danger which comes from being on the run and hunted in the magic kingdom; by the ministry and by yourself.
It's interesting to see the story arc fold in on itself at times and using the mythology of Rowling's universe, including an animated sequence which blows the entire movie out of the water and crowns itself as one of the best things in the history of Harry Potter. The use of said animation sequence actually ties into the plot of the entire series and not just of the film. The way Rowling and the screenwriter is able to tie the entire film together to be both a continuation of the series, a cut off point for the 1/2 of the first film and the beginning of the end is almost perfect and much better than Quentin Tarantino's two parter revenge flick from 6 years ago.
The actual film standing by itself, will be hard to tell whether or not it will stand up on it's own, but then again it's not meant to and seeing the film function as a two parter with the second half to be released next year could spell triumph for the Harry Potter series in a year where we will be filled to the brim with, what looks like, average releases. It's good to see a fantasy film, let alone a magic fantasy film, stick to it's guns on content and fun with Deathly Hallows definitely winning a nomination in one of the best car chases of the year award.
Whilst at times the film may turn off new audiences and whispers of "Who's that guy?", "What'd that guy say?" or "Where's that guy's nose?", will come up often, it's still hardly a draw not to go see one of the most exciting films of the year and I cannot wait for the sequel...oh and it's far better than Twilight in every way shape and form.
Yeah she's hot, legal and I don't care!
Oh and by the way you do not see Hogwarts at any point during the film...just saying, poster is misleading.

1 comment:

  1. Is that last picture real? (I haven't watched Harry Potter in years)