Saturday, 21 April 2012

Easter Weekend Harry Potter Movie Marathon (Part 2)

Well, we did it. After watching the first five films on Friday and Saturday we used the rest of the weekend to watch the remaining three films.

Day 3 (Sunday): Half-Blood Prince
There was some doubt as to whether we’d actually get to watch a film on Sunday as we’d been out of the house all day and didn’t get back until well after 8pm. But because our only plan for Monday was to watch more films, we figured we’d sit up and watch it because it didn’t really matter what time we rolled out of bed the next day.

I’ve seen these last films far fewer times than the earlier ones, this was probably only my third or fourth viewing of Half-Blood Prince. I really like Half-Blood Prince, it makes me feel a little bit sad while I’m watching it because I know that it’s the last time we’re going to get to visit Hogwarts. Throughout the film series, we seem to spend less and less time in the classrooms so it’s good to catch a glimpse of Slughorn’s Potions classes. I would have liked to see Snape’s Defence Against The Dark Arts classes though.

half blood prince

It’s got a good bit of humour in it as well, especially considering how much darker the series has become and the fact that this is basically where the war of the next two films begins. I especially like Ron under the influence of the love potion and Harry once he’s taken the Felix Felicis.

I wish that we’d actually got to learn a bit more about the Half-Blood Prince and Snape’s childhood. Aside from being the name written in Harry’s Potions book, the Half-Blood Prince doesn’t actually seem to lend more than his name to the title of the film. Snape tells Harry that he was the Half-Blood Prince, but anyone who has never read the book won’t know exactly why he adopted this name.

I think it does suffer a little from having been adapted from such a complex series of books; as with the others, I don’t have any problem with following what’s going on but I wonder if perhaps Draco’s task might seem a bit confusing on a first viewing for someone who’s never read the books.

I like seeing young Tom Riddle. It’s very clever the way that we’re shown the picture of the hiding places of one of the horcruxes and the seven stones lined up on the windowsill. They also did a very good job with casting there. It must have been difficult finding someone to play a young character when we’ve already seen him in his late teens, if they’d got the wrong person I think it could have been quite jarring, but even watching the films in such quick succession he fits in perfectly.

And of course there’s the end of the film. Dumbledore’s death. I remember sitting at work reading that scene in the book when it first came out. Quite fittingly, someone was playing the bagpipes outside while I read it. I love that Snape’s curse is so offhand and almost thoughtless; he does what has to be done and he can’t linger or be sentimental about it. Everyone raising their wands at the end as well is lovely.

Day 4 (Monday): Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 & 2
With Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows this was only about my third viewing, I was determined to see it in a ‘proper’ big cinema so I didn’t get to see it until it had already been out for about a month and we ended up seated right at the very front. I always wondered how it would work, splitting the film in half, it never seemed like the most logical choice for two films. As I said before, I always thought the Goblet of Fire would have really benefitted from being split.

In the book, Deathly Hallows seems to largely follow Harry, Hermione and, with the exception of a short period of time, Ron, roaming around the countryside, staying in a tent and trying to work out how to find and destroy the horcruxes. I was honestly a little sceptical at the thought of it being divided in two, wondering if it might have been a bit stretched.

Instead, I kind of wish that every one of the thick books had been divided in two, they would have been able to pack in so much more that way… though I realise that wouldn’t have been practical and it probably would have led to a bit more fudging of details to draw out a story into two stories.

deathly hallows part 1

It probably sounds a bit silly, but one of my favourite things in Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the bit where Hermione is standing at the edge of the protective charms and the Snatchers come by. The camera moves round her and the snatcher, first seeing Hermione’s point of view and then his, unable to see anything. There’s just a slight wobbly as the camera moves through the charms. It’s just really neat and clever.

My other favourite thing is the animation telling the story of the Three Brothers. It reminds me of something from Disney or Tim Burton, just three or four different colours and still 3D-ish. It’s very clever. I wish they could make the rest of The Tales of Beedle The Bard in the same style, just as some sort of bonus feature disc.

Watching them so closely together as we have, I’m reminded of just how much the actors have grown as well. They’ve really mastered their craft during the films; it’s especially noticeable in the scene with the seven Harrys, where Radcliff has to take on the mannerisms of the other characters. It’s brilliantly funny to see him pretending to be Fleur or Hermione disguised as Harry, but at the same time, you can’t help but be impressed with how he’s changed from that cute little eleven-year-old.

And then there’s Deathly Hallows Part 2, which kind of makes me sad. This is only actually my second viewing of it. We saw it in the cinema last year when it came out, never actually made it over to the mainland to see it in a big cinema, but I did get to see it on the first night at our local one… it was a premier of sorts. I’m really glad that The Hobbit will be released this year because it means that even though Harry Potter is finished, I’m still going to have another series to look forward to; but it still makes me sad to think that now I’ve not only not got the book releases to look forward to, but there’ll be no more films now either.

The way it begins, with little snippets of the previous film, makes me think that it should have a voiceover or little bit of text at the bottom of the screen saying “Previously on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. The second part seems to go really quickly, perhaps because it’s pretty much just one action scene after another. It’s barely started before they’re off to Gringotts and then they’re at Hogwarts and it’s the battle. All the same, I feel like this is more than just my second viewing of it, probably because I’ve seen animated gifs, read quotes and become really familiar with the pictures of my favourite parts so many times since last year when it came out. When you’re watching it, it seems to go quickly but before I watched it, aside from those favourite bits, I couldn’t really pick out the main bits of the action.

There are some brilliant lines in this film, I think many of my favourite Harry Potter film quotes probably come from this film. Several of them from Maggie Smith. It makes me wish that we could have seen more of her in the previous films. I love her little smile when she says that she always wanted to do that when she brings the sculptures to life, and suggests that Neville blow up the bridge.

I wish that more had been done with Remus and Tonks between the two parts of Deathly Hallows. We learn that they’ve been married, but we never actually learn about Teddy and then they’re killed; Teddy just gets a passing mention following Remus’s appearance with the resurrection stone, though we never see Harry learn about him. I always wanted to hear more about them in the books and I kind of hoped that we might get to hear something a bit extra in the films, but instead we got even less. I know there were so many characters needing to have their loose ends wrapped up, it was tough trying to squeeze them all in, but I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed.

And of course, everybody hooks up in this film. There’s Harry and Ginny but I don’t suppose they really count since they’ve barely been able to keep their hands off one another for the last few films, in the midst of the battle Neville runs off to confess his love to Luna and then there’s that fantastic scene with Ron and Hermione in the Chamber of Secrets. On the one hand you kind of think, guys, there’s a time and place for that sort of behaviour and right there probably isn’t the best place for it; on the other hand you’re quietly celebrating because, for crying out loud, we’ve been waiting almost ten years for that!

deathly hallows part 2

I love that Neville gets to be a hero at the end. The films kind of downplay his role, but reading the books you realise that it could have been him in Harry’s place. It’s good that he gets his moment of glory in the battle as well.

Then there’s the epilogue… 19 years later. It’s weird seeing the Harry Potter kids made up to look almost twenty years older and there are mixed views on how well they managed it. I think some of them look slightly more believable than others. Funnily enough, watching it a second time, at home, I think Harry looks more like a grown up than he did when I saw it in the cinema. Plus, Ginny appears to have turned into her mother, something about the shape of her face looks a lot like Mrs Weasley. I do think Ron and Hermione aged up well, though depressingly, my hair is starting to go a similar shade to mine and I’m about eleven years younger than she’s supposed to be there.

So now we’re going to go back through and watch all of the special features on these discs now. And I’d said that I wasn’t going to read the Harry Potter books this year… I’ve got LOADS of books to read this year and I figured that since I read all the Harry Potter books both last year and the year before I could quite happily not revisit them again this year… but having watched the films I’m reminded of all the things that aren’t in the films and so I’m thinking that I might have to dig them out again.

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