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SPOILERS: My Thoughts on the Last Harry Potter Movie

Sunday, July 17, 2011

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SPOILERS: My Thoughts on the Last Harry Potter Movie | Faith Permeating Life

I had other ideas for today's post... but then I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 last night, and now I just want to talk about it.

So I'm giving you fair warning that if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to know about it, you should click off this page right now. And if you hate Harry Potter, rest assured that this blog will be back to its regularly scheduled programming again by Tuesday.

I'm a pretty big Harry Potter fan. Not quite get-dressed-up-and-go-to-the-midnight-showing obsessed (Mike would have had to go straight from the movie to work if we did that!), but like when the last book came out I got it at 9 a.m. and sat down and read for 16 hours straight until I was done at 1 a.m. the next morning.

SPOILERS: My Thoughts on the Last Harry Potter Movie | Faith Permeating LifeI wasn't nearly as excited for the last movie as I was for the last book -- with the last book, I didn't know what was going to happen; with the last movie, I knew what was supposed to happen, so the only thing to see was whether they got it right or not!

I'm usually pretty understanding when it comes to movies and books being different, but I was severely pissed off at how badly they screwed up the sixth movie. Even ignoring what happens in the book, it made no sense that Draco would spend the whole movie fixing the Vanishing Cabinet so that the Death Eaters could come in and stand around for five minutes and then leave without fighting anyone.

However, I thought the seventh movie was fantastic. It was amazingly close to how I pictured things happening, even if they did add in a few things and obviously had to leave out a lot. So I had high hopes for the last movie. I was glad that I opted not to re-read the seventh book before seeing the movie, because I could just focus on the internal logic of the movie and not on the differences between the book and the movie, other than what I remembered from reading it four years ago.

What I Loved:
  • Details I remembered from the book -- like everything multiplying in Bellatrix's vault, the Snitch, and who appeared to Harry in the forest -- were included. It felt like, in general, they really wanted to stay true to the book and not switch things up for no reason.
  • I thought they did a fabulous job with showing Snape's memories. In the book, it goes on for pages and pages and there's the whole thing about Petunia being jealous that would have been unnecessary to include. They managed to make the whole series of flashbacks last only a minute or two and yet included just enough that it was easy to follow the story. And yes, I cried.
  • The really memorable lines from the book were included: Snape saying, "Look at me." Dumbledore saying, "Of course it's in your head, but that doesn't mean it's not real." And most importantly of all: "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"
  • In the book, the whole "Ron faked Parseltongue" things never made any sense, and I thought it was a cop-out on Rowling's part. I loved the "Harry talks in his sleep" line because it was a much better explanation.
  • The heavenly King's Cross station looked exactly like I'd pictured it, even what the "flayed baby thing under the bench" looked like. They could have gone all stereotypical with clouds and mist and stuff, but instead it was just as it should have been.
  • In general, the whole movie. They did a really, really good job of including the important parts of the book and making sure everything flowed together.

What I Didn't Like:
  • When Harry goes to tell Hermione and Ron he's going to the forest, Hermione understands why and they have this whole emotional goodbye with hugging. Ron just stands there. Nobody ever clues him in, and he never asks, and Harry doesn't even say goodbye to him. It was totally weird. Mike and I agreed that they probably originally had Ron say something funny and it got cut out as not being appropriate for the moment. In the book, Harry doesn't say goodbye to either of them (I checked when I got home), which I guess would have looked strange on-screen when you can't tell what's going through his head, but that didn't make the scene they created any less awkward.
  • There was a completely unnecessary exchange of dialogue added in between Harry and Dumbledore about Lily's and Snape's patronuses being the same. You already get it from the flashback scene where Dumbledore sees Snape's patronus and says, "Lily." And then when Harry's talking to Dumbledore, he says something like, "Their patronuses were the same. That's a strange coincidence" and Dumbledore says, "Oh, I don't think it was a coincidence." Huh? What? Are you just emphasizing yet again that Snape was in love with her, or are you trying to make some other insinuation? It was just weird and unnecessary, and clearly not from the book.
  • In the book, you get a clear explanation that because the Elder Wand was really Harry's, Voldemort's killing curse rebounded on him. They didn't bother trying to explain it in the movie, so instead it looks like Voldemort loses his wand and then just explodes for no real reason. I think they tried to tie it to Nagini's death by having that happen at the same time, like once she died Voldemort couldn't live anymore, but that isn't right.
  • I'm glad that they included the epilogue, but the characters didn't look old enough and so it was very strange to try to pretend they were in their late 30s. I read in Entertainment Weekly that initially they made them look too old and it didn't look right at all, so I guess they did their best, but I thought they could have done a bit more to make them not look like college kids.

What I Wish They'd Included:
  • One of my favorite moments in the Deathly Hallows book is when Harry gives Regulus Black's locket to Kreacher, and Kreacher transforms into a loyal, fight-to-the-death ally of Harry. In the movies you're just left thinking Kreacher is still off being miserable and grouchy somewhere.
  • I thought it was cool in the books when they figured out that the Horcruxes had to do with the different Hogwarts founders. In the movie, they never even mention that the cup is Helga Hufflepuff's, and they figure out the next Horcrux has to do with Rowena Ravenclaw because *ooh, Harry has a vision of her face.* It kept the story moving, but I liked the mystery-solving aspect of figuring out the Horcruxes in the books.
  • In the book, the Malfoys take refuge in Hogwarts at the end, and that's how you know that they're not going to be punished for their involvement with Voldemort. In the movie they just Disapparate, and when Harry sees Draco 19 years later there's no interaction between them at all. I guess maybe that was too complex to try to capture on-screen, but it would have been nice.
That was my take on the movie! What did you think?


  1. Hey Jessica! It's Jenny R from high school. I loved your critique of the last HP movie, and I agreed with most of it. I think that Ron kind of knew that Harry was a Horcrux, but just didn't know how to react (typical boy). However, a hug or a few tears would have been nicer.

    Also, my biggest disappointment (besides it not being longer!!!!) was that Wormtail didn't die pathetically and with that extra character layer of him feeling like he "owed" Harry something. True, it would have been slapped in there awkwardly in movie 8, but I wish the whole choking with the silver hand scene would have been amazing.

    Excellent read, thanks!

  2. @J
    Yeah, I was definitely more upset about Harry not saying goodbye to Ron than about whether Ron understood what was going on or not. It's possible he did. It was just weird that Harry could have such an emotional goodbye with Hermione and then not even really acknowledge his best friend.

    Clearly I need to go back and re-read the books, because I didn't even remember that Wormtail was still alive at this point in the series! This makes me even more glad I didn't read the book right beforehand, because there's probably a lot more I would have wanted them to include!

    Re: It being longer, I do wish they'd done extended versions of some of the movies, like they did with Lord of the Rings. But I'm sure having eight movies was already about as much as the actors could handle.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!! It's the kind of movie you want to discuss afterwards, but I don't know who all has seen it yet. It's great to get someone else's perspective!

  3. I'm late to this as I only saw it last night, but I wanted to come back & read your thoughts. I pretty much agree with what you said, and like you, I haven't read the book since it first came out (was it really 4 years ago!?). I kind of wish I had though, because I think the film on its own was pretty hard to follow. I was asking a lot of questions as it went along. I also couldn't remember much of what happened at the end of Part 1, so I wasn't quite sure where we were in the story - a bit of a recap would've been nice; I know it did the bit about Dobby (I'm still not over that! :( ) and Voldemort getting the Elder wand, but those were the only parts I did remember!

    Like you, I commented on Harry's not saying goodbye to Ron. I thought that was kind of weird. On the whole I think the film was good (although I think I preferred Part 1) and did a pretty good job of staying true to the books. I didn't like the way Harry could just 'sense' where the horcruxes were/could 'hear' them, but I understand that it helped to do that for the sake of keeping the film shorter.

    Overall, good though!

  4. @Just me
    You're the first person I've heard say that the movie was hard to follow! I think there's definitely parts that you appreciate a lot more if you've read the books, but I thought they presented a fairly coherent story for all that they were trying to jam into two hours. I'd be interested to hear the perspective of someone who's never read the books, whether they could follow the story. I was surprised at how much I remembered from the one time I'd read the seventh book.

    They definitely relied heavily on Harry's connection to Voldemort and his "sense" of where the horcruxes were to move the story along. I don't think it would have added that much time to have them deduce what the horcruxes were instead of Harry just "knowing"--but I can live with it, especially because they explained it with the line about how Harry feels a connection to the other horcruxes because he is one. Like with the Parseltongue line, it wasn't the same as the book, but it was a relatively logical explanation.

    Thanks for your comment! I love hearing what different people thought of it.

  5. I agree with the whole goodbye with Ron thing. Awkward. The movie was good, but there were parts that they should have added/changed.
    For instance, no mention of WHY Harry can come back from the dead. He just said "I've got to go back, haven't I?" as if he knew he could. They should've mentioned something about how Voldemort took his blood which resulted in him coming back. MAJOR detail missed there.

    They also should've used different actors for the 19 years later. Just use their voices, like with Polyjuice Potion. Or at least make them look older. No doubt they can do that, they can make the goblins faces that realistic for goodness sake.

    The ending was kind of a let down, with the 3 of them randomly staring off into space on that bridge. I think they should've done a Titanic-ish sort of thing and show the destroyed castle and how it gets rebuilt over time. Kind of like how they did the house Slughorn was in at the start of the 6th movie. That would've been cool.

    There was no explanation of Dumbledore's childhood or what happened to his sister, anything like that.

    Overall, they should've explained more. I think by this point the makers of the movies are expecting that everyone has read the books and therefore know what is going on and why the characters are doing what they are doing. My dad has not read a single book yet (he plans to eventually) and was utterly confused after each movie, so we had to explain it all.

    But still, it was a good movie nonetheless.

  6. @Anonymous
    I tend to cut movies some slack when it comes to explaining things because, well, that's the difference between movies and books. Books are for the long explanations, movies are for the visual action and enough explanation to get what you're seeing. It depends on the person, also. My dad also has not read any of the books and I saw the sixth movie with him, which I thought they screwed up the most. Afterwards he said he enjoyed it. So I think some people may need more explanation than others, depending on how your mind works.

    I wouldn't have wanted them to use different actors for the epilogue. I understand using different actors when it's a child vs. an adult, but they were all around 20 playing 17-year-olds, so it's not like they would have looked significantly different 19 years later. I agree that they could have made them look a bit older, though.

    Re: Harry's death/return to life, yeah, they could have explained that a bit better. If I remember correctly, I think they tried to explain it as that Voldemort hadn't killed Harry, he just killed the part of his soul inside Harry. Or something like that. I went back and read the explanation about Harry's blood in the book and I don't know that it makes that much more sense--but I don't see why they couldn't have added a few lines from Dumbledore explaining it.

    Thanks for stopping by! I love hearing different thoughts on the movie.

  7. I thought they did a great job capturing the feel of the seventh book, especially the battle. I always felt like they skipped important battles, so I'm happy with how they portrayed it. I was disappointed, however, with Fred's death scene... That was really emotional, and I'm sad they didn't show it much.
    I also wish they would have shown lily and snape in school more, my mom who hasn't read the books didn't realize they were best friends for years and he loved her, and it also helps us to understand his hatred of James.
    The biggest thing for me, however, is that harry breaks the elder wand... without fixing his?! I mean, come on. He either wanders around wandless for the rest of time, uses someone elses, or perhaps ollivander will make him a new one, but i think his wand was such a symbolic part of the books that it was imperative he chose that over the elder wand.

    Overall, i cried a few times, had goosebumps often, and was pretty happy with the film.

    OH! Last thing that bothered me. We've come to terms with the fact that harry has blue eyes in the movie, but it's always stressed that he has his "mother's eyes." When they showed his mom as a child, right up close, her eyes are dark brown. My mom immediately was like "hey! Her eyes aren't blue, why does everyone say he has her eyes?!" I felt like that ruined the "look at me" on snape's deathbed.

    I loved how they showed Neville, too. Really good.

  8. @Anonymous
    They really glossed over the character deaths at the end, which was disappointing, although I understand, if they had to pick and choose, why that would be less important. Still, for those people whose favorite characters were among the ones killed, I can imagine how much that would suck not to really see the other characters grieve for them.

    Wow, I didn't even notice that about Lily's eyes. That seems like a major detail. Does the adult character have Harry's green eyes? I'll have to go look for some stills now!

    I wasn't as upset as some people about Harry not fixing his wand (mainly because I didn't remember it from the books until Mike reminded me), but I do think it's strange they didn't include it since it's not like it would have added that much time to the movie... maybe 30 seconds. And it gives a nice kind of closure to everything that I think the movie could have used.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)


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