After just having seen the new movie, this Potter fan feels the need to share her two knuts with the rest of the Muggle world.
Let me first stay that just as I am a stickler for canon in my Stargate novels, I am also a sticker for details between books and movies, and the movies of the Potter franchise are no exception. Yes I understand the complexities of turning books into movies. I understand that you can’t get every little thing in. However, when something is done and not done right or something crucial is not done at all, it bothers me and I’m sure I’m not the only one. As far as the movies have gone, I was fairly satisfied that the first three captured the books accurately enough, all things considered. Goblet of Fire made me want to rip my hair out. Order of the Pheonix was better, Half Blood Prince was a measure better still, but they left out crucial details that effect The Deathly Hallows plot. Right now those details are giving me a headache.
Before you read further, I must give you a spoiler warning. If you have not read Half Blood Prince, The Deathly Hallows, or seen the newest movie, you might not want to read on.
Let me begin with the acting itself. Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have grown into their roles so very well that I can’t help but think back and laugh that replacing them was ever an option. There was concern that because they couldn’t actually make a movie per year, the trio would eventually look too old for their roles. Thank goodness they abandoned that notion. I think it would have irreparably damaged the movies from that point on.
It was great to see some other familiar faces as well, if only for a few minutes. It wouldn’t be a Harry Potter movie without Hagrid, played by Robbie Coltrane. As a David Thewlis fan it was really great to see Remis Lupin again, and his acting was exactly what I expected.
I was impressed with one new face in particular. Bill Nighy plays the lion-haired Rufus Scrimgeour. Considering that his character should have been introduced in Half Blood Prince, Nighy does a wonderful job establishing his character, but then again he is no stranger to roles of authority after playing Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and Viktor in Underworld. Cold, calculating, manipulative politician that Scrimgeour is, I was highy amused by his subtle expressions during the scene with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, in which he gives them the items left for them by Dumbledore.
Many reviews have commented about the one major character that is missing from Deathly Hallows: Hogwarts. I have to say I agree. Hogwarts is an entity in itself and I did miss it, though I knew all too well that we wouldn’t see it. Even when we see Dumbledor’s tomb on the Hogwarts grounds, we don’t see the castle. We should see it in Part 2 however, and you can take my word for it now. If somehow we don’t see Hogwarts, I’ll be right here ranting about it.
The visual effects of the movie were what I expected from a Harry Potter film as well. Highly detailed, realistic from a magical point of view, and very nice. However, is it just me or did they cheat in regards to the Burrow? Either the Weasleys really simplified it after the Death Eater’s set it on fire in Half Blood Prince (and don’t even get me started on that in regards to the book) or this is where the visual effects department skimped in order to stay within the budget. I think we only see the Burrow in it’s multi-leveled architecturally unsound glory once, maybe twice, and one of those times was from a significant distance.
They also skimped on a patronus. Patronuses fascinate me. Everyone’s patronus has a distinctive shape. Everytime someone casts a patronus in the books, J.K. Rowling makes a point of mentioning what animal it takes the shape of, and you can bet there’s a reason for it even if we don’t recognize it. The movies tend to ignore the patronus’ shape, making it look like a giant ball of silver light rather than an animal. They did better in The Deathly Hallows, but here and there Harry’s patronus was still a ball rather than a stag, and Kingsley Shacklebolt’s patrons, sent to warn those at the wedding of the fall of the Ministry, was a ball wisping off faint images of screaming people, rather than a lynx. Would it really have been that hard to do it right?
Polyjuice potion is always fun. This time it was fun times 7. Or maybe I should say times 9 since the Weasly twins were involved! They played it out just like the book, and it was better than I imagined! Fred and George were a riot, but even funnier was poor Fleur! Hermione manages to stay out of sight while changing, or at least we can’t tell which Harry is really her! Fleur transformed while wearing a skirt, a rather tight top, and shoes with a bit of a heel! Then she had to change clothes! It wasn’t hard to tell that Daniel Radcliff had fun playing the 7 different Harry’s!
There is one visual effect – if you can really call it that – that really got to me. When I was reading about the movie in the days and weeks prior to the premiere I was shocked to read that there was a warning on it for “nudity and sensuality”! What?! Confused and dismayed, I hoped that someone had blown something very minor way out of proportion. Sadly I was wrong. In the scene where Ron destroys the locket of Slytherin and the Horcrux within it, the Horcrux first comes forth from the locket and taunts him, trying to make him feel too weak and miserable to strike back and destroy it. It uses Ron’s jealousy of Harry’s fame and his friendship with Hermione to goad Ron. The forms of Harry and Hermione appear and taunt him. Then they kiss. But that’s all it is. Just a kiss. In the movie, someone just had to take it one step further. They had to show Harry and Hermione topless, making out. Did we not see enough shirtless Harry before then? And a topless Hermione? Seriously? Why? Someone forgot that kids read these books and will want to see the movies, never mind the fact that all movies do not need to contain nudity to do big numbers.
In the past I have been pleased, impressed, and enchanted by the soundtrack of the Harry Potter movies. Not anymore. In fact I haven’t had any of the music stick in my ear since Order of the Phoenix. Their reuse of the Weasly’s Fireworks Theme in Half Blood Prince doesn’t count. I haven’t felt any cumpulsion to buy the soundtrack since Goblet of Fire. Maybe it’s because the movies have had so much action in them since Phoenix that there hasn’t been room for any of the flowing airy themes that we heard in Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s an element of the movies that I sorely miss.
Finally we get down to my plot-hole headaches. In the book Half Blood Prince, Dumbledore spent weeks with Harry, teaching him about the young Voldemort, a.k.a. Tom Riddle. Harry learns what Voldemort values, and what his motives are. This insight proves invaluable to Harry in his search for the Horcuxes because he learns that Voldemort sought out objects of power, legacy, and history. This significantly narrows the range of objects that could be Horcruxes. Tom Riddle’s diary was one, made intentionally to use as a tool to reopen the Chamber of Secrets. The ring that Dumbledore destroyed was another because it belonged to Voldemort’s wizard grandfather. Slytherin’s locket was a family heirloom, sold by Voldemort’s mother after she ran away from home. He recovered it, and also stole a cup that once belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, founder of the Hufflepuff house of Hogwarts. These items all became horcruxes, along with 3 more. The movie, Half Blood Prince, covered none of this. As far as the Harry of the movie knows, the remaining Horcruxes could be anything. So how the heck are they going to go from, “It could be anything and we have no leads,” to “We have to go after rare historic items”?
If all this wasn’t confusing enough, I caught a mistake in the movie regarding the Horcrux count. We know there are 7 because, from what little Harry did get to learn of Tom Riddle in the last movie, we know that Voldemort believes that 7 is a powerful magical number. Once the locket of Slytherin was destroyed, that means three were destroyed. Harry destroyed the diary in Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore destroyed the ring, and now the locket is gone. But in the movie, after the locket has been destroyed, someone – and I can’t remember who – comments that there are three left to find. Three? Ahem, 3 + 3 =6, not 7. They are missing one. Was this an oversight by the screen writers? Or was this intentional? Despite having said in the previous movie that there are 7 Horcruxes, do they plan on skipping one in the next movie? If they do I will be extremely disappointed.
All in all, despite the headaches, I enjoyed the movie immensely. As they say, it is darker as the books get darker, but the writers did a great job of keeping the humorous moments that you find in the book, creating a couple more that are worthwhile, and telling the story pretty accurately, despite holes left by the previous film. With only one more chapter to go, lets hope they have cleaned up their errors and they will provide the Harry Potter franchise with the finale it deserves.