Musings on the final Harry Potter movie

Well, the 8+ months wait was finally over. Yep, that’s how far apart the two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are and it was a bit frustrating after I saw Part I that I had to wait that long to see the conclusion.

I did my write-up about Part I in lieu of a straight-on review, so I’m going to do the same here. At the end of that post, I said that the best thing HP 7.1 did was make fans like me anticipate the FINAL movie all the more. On top of that, my friend Ted who’ve read all the books told me, “…nothing really happened much in the first half from the book and then on the second half, all hell broke loose.” So suffice to say, my expectation for HP 7.2 is quite up there… as in ‘It’s gonna be epic!!!’

Well, did it live up to my expectation?

Initially, I’d have said, ‘Not really.’ But I guess that’s because with an expectation THAT high, I’m bound to be disappointed. Now that it’s been a few days since I’ve seen it, here’s what I thought of the movie:

**SPOILER ALERT (some plot points might be discussed in this post)**

  • As in Part I, this movie opened with Severus Snape who is a crucial figure in the finale. Going in, I expected to see more of his compelling back story and in a way, the filmmaker delivered. As someone who didn’t read the books, I think it answered a lot of the questions about his complicated relationship with Harry.

    Alan Rickman is phenomenal as always, no wonder he is my favorite character in the whole HP supporting cast up until the very end. His inimitable voice and delivery is what I find fascinating about Rickman, though there was a part in this movie where it actually sounded a bit too over-the-top that I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched it. My gripe is with his short screen time, I suppose if I had read the books I’d know about it, but I really was bummed to see the character’s demise in the first half hour. Yes he still appeared in flashback but it just wasn’t the same.
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  • The hunt for Voldemort‘s horcruxes continues for Harry, Hermione and Ron (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint). The first part was quite action-packed as the three broke into Gringott’s vault in disguise. Helena Bonham Carter did an excellent job showing a more nervous side of Bellatrix Lestrange (as it’s actually Hermione disguised as her), her character is obviously more fun to watch when she’s deranged but it’s still a funny scene nonetheless. I forgot that Ciaran Hinds is in this as Dumbledore’s brother, but his character is pretty forgettable. Not exactly his fault but that’s just the way it was written.
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  • Back in Hogwarts, I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad thinking what’s about to take place here. This poster and pretty much all the promo of the final movie promises that Hogwarts will burn! The events leading up to it are comprised of a few key scenes. The confrontation between Harry and Snape was an emotional one… “How dare you stand where he stood. Tell them how it happened that night. How you looked him in the eye, a man who trusted you, and killed him.” Harry told Snape, which led to a fight between him and Minerva (Maggie Smith). We all remembered that scene of Dumbledore falling to his death and that got me teared up a bit.
  • One of the highlights of the movie was when Minerva commanded the Stone Army to come to life to guard Hogwarts. “I’ve always wanted to use that spell,” She said giddily to Molly Weasly (Ron’s mom), and it was pretty darn cool to see her use it, too.

    Props for David Yates and the SFX folks for the cool effects in creating the shield around Hogwarts, overall the special effects is first rate (I saw it in 2D as I just don’t think most 3D movies are worthwhile).
    lll
  • The enemy gets stronger and inches closer and closer… Voldemort’s army moved in on Hogwarts from all sides, which is supposed to be all intense and scary but I was largely unmoved by it for some reason.

    I think the biggest beef I have with this final act is that the arch nemesis, the biggest, most bad-ass beast of all… the bald, nose-less, squinty-eyed Voldemort, in the end he didn’t seem all that intimidating to me. I mean, he seemed lot scarier throughout all the HP movies, even in the beginning when he was merely a tiny, deformed thing. I can’t explain it really and I’m not really criticizing Ralph Fiennes‘ performance or anything, but I just never felt the ‘shudder effect’ whenever he appeared like it used to… ok, perhaps one time when he said ‘Harry Potter… the boy who lived, come to die,’  as he summoned Harry to come closer. I kind of shuddered a little.
  • Btw, perhaps someone who’ve read the book can explain it to me. In the parts where Harry was supposedly dead in the forest, now why on earth would Voldemort ask someone else to check out if he was dead or not. I mean, if you’ve been trying to kill someone for a long time, searched long and hard for that person with all your might, wouldn’t you rather go over there yourself and make absolutely certain that the subject is actually dead?? Maybe there is a logical explanation to that (other than for plot device for Malfoy’s mom to find out if Draco is dead or not), but as of right now I’m scratching my head.

  • Ok, allow me to digress a bit. The ‘nyeaaaaaaaaaa’ squeals that were ubiquitous in every clip/trailer of HP 7.2 wasn’t that prevalent in the actual movie, thank goodness. Ironically, I actually was mildly disappointed that the V-man didn’t yell that when Harry yanked him to the bottom of the castle in their final battle 🙂
  • Speaking of the final face off between Voldemort and Harry, which is what every HP fan has been waiting for. One can’t help but feel the enormity of the circumstances, I mean, THIS IS IT, Harry finally has to fend for himself against the big evil dude. But at the same time, I wasn’t exactly transfixed by it if you will.

    Perhaps I’m all ‘spelled-out’ as in tired of seeing all those spell effects, I don’t know. There is quite a lot going on at the same time this scene is happening. Ron and Hermione are busy trying to kill, unsuccessfully I might add, the elusive Nagini, Voldemort’s pet snake which is also his horcrux. But Neville gets to show his heroic side, yay! Man look at how he (Matthew Lewis) has grown, no longer is he the dorky kid on the block 🙂

  • Glad to see Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) back, even in the form of a dream sequence in a Heaven-like setting. The scene seems rather long and overly sentimental for my taste however, and so was the scenes of Harry with all his dead family/relatives (though again, it’s nice to see Gary Oldman in it). I’m gonna give that a pass however, as this being the last movie, I guess they’re allowed to get a bit melodramatic.
  • Ok, lastly I just want to comment on Hermione’s character. I feel like she’s not as strong in this as she has been in previous movies. What I mean by that is that, the prettier and less bookish she gets, she seems to lose her assertiveness as well. She hesitated killing a horcrux until Ron encourages her, which I find a bit uncharacteristic of her usually brave self. I realize that she’s obviously anxious about what they are going through, but she appears a whole lot more melancholy with Harry, embracing him every five minutes it seems. That part doesn’t bother me, but I do feel it’s a bit jarring to see the ‘evolution’ of Hermione in this movie, which this Guardian article covered in details.

    “There’s almost a direct correlation with actress Emma Watson‘s growing prettiness through the course of the films and Hermione’s decreased bookishness and pragmatism.”
    The article said, and even went so far as saying that “When it comes to film, something about a smart, fearless woman who doesn’t care about her looks makes Hollywood leery; even if, in this instance, she commands a loyal and loving built-in audience before the film begins.”

    Now, whether that assessment is entirely accurate or not, I do see her point of view and I did miss the spunkier Hermione.

It’s definitely a challenging task of visualizing J.K. Rowling’s vision in the books (as in with most other literary adaptation). Dan from Top 10 Films assessment that splitting the movies into two serves a purely commercial reason than anything else, and perhaps it might’ve been better to keep it as one long film. It’s hard to say if that would’ve made it a better finale, but one thing for sure, it’d perhaps be more engaging and coherent as some people won’t feel ‘disconnected’ if they didn’t have time to see Part I right before seeing the second one. Making one long film would also force the filmmaker to be more efficient/prudent in choosing what scenes to include, which is quite a formidable task.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dan also in regards to the veteran supporting cast easily outshining the main ones. Don’t get me wrong, I think those three did a tremendous job (as do the other young cast like Tom Felton as Draco), but obviously they’re not as experienced as the more mature actors. I’ve dedicated a post a while ago to highlight my Top Ten Favorites HP cast, and having seen ALL of them now, I still stand by that list 😀

In conclusion, despite some quibbles and falling a bit short of the ‘epic’ quality I was hoping for, I still think it’s a worthy effort to close such a beloved franchise. Unlike most fans though, I’m not at all emotional that it’s the end of HP franchise (at least in cinematic form). I’m glad I’ve watched them all and they have been entertaining, but there are other films that I’m anticipating so yeah, I’m ready to move on 😀


Well, those of you who have seen this final Harry Potter movie. What did you think? Was it as epic as you had hoped?

Musings on Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part I

After months anticipating this, I wasn’t going to wait another week to check this out. Early Saturday afternoon, hubby and I made our way to the cinema to see an HP movie for the first time on the big screen.

The gist of the story of the last installment of the series center on how Harry and his two BFFs, Ron and Hermione on their quest to find the evil Voldemort’s horcruxes, which are objects in which the dark lord has hidden a fragment of his soul into for the purpose of attaining immortality. Obviously, if you have not seen any of the HP movies, the plot wouldn’t make any sense to you, but basically, finding these objects is the key for Harry to destroy his nemesis. The movie picks up where the 6th movie (HP & The Half-Blood Prince) left off, which ended with a terrible sadness of Dumbledore’s death, which led the three main characters to quit school and hunt for horcruxes instead.

  • Alan 'Snape' Rickman

    Though the movie starts out pretty comical—which explains what in the world is going on with these multiple harrys in various outfits—this movie is dark and brooding through and through. I mean, I can’t imagine little kiddies not being terrified of this even if they had been a fan of the books. The scenes of Voldemort and his cohorts and that humongous cobra is pretty hair-raising stuff, though it’s great to see many of the series’ top notch supporting cast in one room. And man, that Professor Snape certainly knows how to make an entrance 😀

  • It starts out pretty strong and action-packed, what with that intense aerial battle with the Death Eaters as Harry & crew fled his home. And then there’s the sudden attack at one of Ron’s brothers’ wedding, which leads to an exhilarating chase in downtown London. But then the movie sort fell into a lull as Harry, Hermione & Ron (I’ll just call them HHR for short) hides out in the forest for a long period of time.

    Harry & his BFFs

    Part of me wish there had been a bit more ‘action’ in the second act, but at the same time, the quieter scenes kind of allow me as the audience to get into the characters’ head so to speak, which help me relate a bit with what they’re going through. The bickering, jealousy and tension between these friends practically ricochet through the small tent they share, but isn’t that what real friendship is all about? Given the circumstances, things wouldn’t have always been so rosy even to the best of friends. The long, slow scenes really put the young cast’s acting chops to the test. I must say that in all of HP movies, the most intriguing sequences usually involve the more mature supporting cast members. Yet because I’ve grown to truly care for these three main characters, I still enjoy those slower scenes. If anything, you can take your time enjoying the beautiful cinematography of the lush British landscape.

  • Watching a group of kid actors grow up on-screen is definitely something I’ve never experienced before, which is fascinating. Most of HP fans have seen Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up in the span of 10 years, but as I just saw them as kiddies less than a half a year ago, it’s funny to see them now sporting scruff and dealing with grown-up issues such as sexuality. They’re definitely not kids anymore and that passionate kissing scene in one of the crucial scenes in the movie will definitely remind you of that 😉
  • The action sequences and special effects are top notch, which is what you’ve come to expect from a HP movie. Some of the tense scenes are also quite funny, which usually involve some form of disguise. I’ve mentioned the first one with the the multiple Harrys, and the second one was when HHR disguise themselves as adult civil servants of the Ministry of Magic. The three actors playing the real ministry bureaucrats did a smashing job capturing the nervous mannerism of the young cast, which makes for an amusing yet edgy scenes. For each of the comical scene though, there is a grim and melancholy one for good measure. The scene at Harry’s place of birth and parents’ graveyard really resonates with me and reminds me why the story of the orphaned Harry appeals to me in the first place.
  • Actor Rhys Ifans holding the Deathly Hallows symbol

    One of the most memorable sequence was the shadow-puppet animated sequence of “Tale of the Three Brothers” that explains the origins of the deathly hallows. It kind of reminds me a bit of Indonesian Wayang (which literally means shadow puppets). According to this site, apparently it’s created by a guy by the name of Ben Hibbon (there’s a video video featuring one of his work). The animation is stylish and beautiful, though it did take me away from the movie a little bit as I was transported into a world of its own.

  • If you ask me if I like this movie or not, I won’t hesitate to say yes. The fact that this is the first time we pay full price (and more for an IMAX viewing), I’d say the movie didn’t disappoint. Though it wasn’t thoroughly captivating, I did enjoy it for the most part. One thing though, as Andrew has pointed out in his review, the trailers might have been slightly misleading as they seem to promise a whole lot more, but most of them haven’t been shown in Part I. The despair and destruction of Hogwarts depicted in this poster is all to follow in Part II (to be released in July 2011), as there’s not one scene takes place in that Wizarding School here. But as my friend Ted who’ve read all the books told me, “…nothing really happened much in the first half from the book and then on the second half, all hell broke loose.” Well, in that case, the best really is yet to come. As of right now, what Part I does well is it makes me anticipate the FINAL movie all the more. The eight-month wait better be worth it!

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Those who’ve seen HP7, what do you think of the film?

Flix Posters of the Week: HP7 Character Posters

Is it just me or does anyone else think that seemingly every week we’ve got a new set of Harry Potter character posters. Even if you don’t read the books or watch their movies, it’s hard to deny HP is such a marketing juggernaut, a global business phenomenon with seemingly ‘magical’ powers when it comes to marketing their brand. There’s even a book dedicated to analyze and dissect the ginormous success of J.K. Rowling and her creation from a business perspective, which I’m sure is used as a curriculum in various marketing classes. The fact that AOL Time Warner own Warner Bros afford them such a wide, all-encompassing marketing opportunities to reach consumers through all kinds of medium: TV, magazines, social media, you name it.

In any case, the creative folks working for Warner Bros must be having a field day churning these out, especially if they’ve got a gazillion marketing dollars to burn! These three sets of character posters are from Impawards.com site.

These are probably my favorites of the three. The angles are interesting and I always like posters where the people aren’t looking into the camera. But they do remind me of those Inception banners a bit, maybe because of those building shots in the background and the cool, bluish tones.

I call these ones the duos character posters, I don’t see these type of ‘pairing’ style very often, but I quite dig ’em. It offers a nice variety from the usual trio versions, but the first one of Harry and Hermione kind of make me think of a romantic thriller for some reason. I mean, if I had never heard of the series and had no idea what HP7 stands for, I might deduce that this story involves this couple and perhaps takes place on some kind of a train 🙂

Ooooh, gritty, brooding… not to mention creepy. So simple yet perhaps the most striking. I mean, if you see this on a bus or an underground transit somewhere, it’d be hard to ignore these. And this one of Voldemort might actually give you nightmares if you come across it in a dark alley! These are decidedly darker and edgier and a not so subtle way to tell the world that Harry, Ron and Hermione aren’t kids any more! I mean, look, Harry and Ron are sporting the scruff now. And Hermione’s got that sinister look going on, piercing through your soul (ok, not really but she tries).

It’s less than a month before the first part of the final film is released on Nov. 19 and thank goodness they abandon the 3D version. I’m not against 3D technology of course, but I am against horribly-made 3D movies (i.e. Clash of the Titans). Why ruin a potentially good movie with something that probably add little or nothing to the overall enjoyment of watching it. Considering the crazy anticipation for this, you’d think the studios would want the series to end on a high note.

Anyway, back to the posters, what do you think of these sets? Any particular favorite?

Random Thoughts: What popular movie franchise(s) did you just recently ‘discover?’

Film is such a vast art form that most people are likely only accustomed to a small fraction of all the genres out there. Even within the contemporary category, there are a bunch of movie franchises I either haven’t got around to seeing or simply have no interest in seeing. One of them was Harry Potter, well, until recently that is. I’ve never read the novels and I always thought these were geared for kids. Besides, even though I quite like the fantasy genre, I didn’t think HP would have the substance and depth like say, The Lord of the Rings. Well, be that as it may, now that I’ve seen three out of the seven movies that have been released so far, they’re actually quite good.

Not sure what started it exactly. I guess my hubby and I have been curious about it for a while, but perhaps my recent conversation with FC’s classic flix contributor Rockerdad might’ve triggered us to finally check it out. He’s a fan of the series and amongst the wonderful things he said about the franchise was that the movies got lots of great British thespians in it, always a very good thing in my book. It’s not the first time he got my husband and I hooked on a show, he also got us watching Battlestar Galactica just as the whole series was on its final season.

In any case, now that the trailer for the last installment of the series, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, has just been released, we’re playing catch-up to make sure we’re ready for it come November. Thanks to IMDb and Wikipedia, we’ve sort of ‘educated’ ourselves with the the wizardry world of Harry Potter and I think we can now properly converse with Potter fans. Speaking of which, what are they called exactly? If Twilight fans are Twi-hards, are HP fans called Pott-heads?? 🙂

Kidding aside, I must say I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen so far. Unlike Twilight, which I’ve seen only once (one time too many IMO), the Harry Potter franchise is in a whole different league. The then-unknown young actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were perfect in their roles and quite believable despite their lack of experience. But I think the best part of it is the script and the level of production that was nothing short of magical. Plus, the massively talented British supporting cast the likes of Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes definitely add gravitas that elevates the quality of the movies even more.

Fairly recently, my good friend Prairiegirl also just recently ‘discovered’ The Lord of the Rings franchise:

I decided to see LOTR trilogy after seeing so many positive reviews about the Commentary portion of it on FC and since rtm owned the Special Extended Edition set, she made it easy so I told her to bring it in. Well, fantasy/action thrillers are not my genre, but after watching all (haven’t gotten to the Special Features or Commentaries yet, but will), I’m glad I did, even if just to not be clueless when discussions of Mithril or Gondor inevitably arise ;). I can’t say I loved it, but the New Zealand scenery was arresting, it was very creatively executed and Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) did tickle my fancy all the way through. And lastly, I got a lot of chuckles out of the sneaky and bipolar Gollum/Smeagol.

Well, it got me curious now whether the same thing have happened to you. So what popular franchise(s) that you suddenly started watching long after seemingly everyone else have embraced them? It doesn’t even have to be a franchise, but perhaps a certain genre you don’t normally watch or a particular director’s body of work. Please do share in the comment section.