Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter: Recap and Review

So the night started off with our theater-- the only 3D showing-- being allowed to go in and take our seats a full two hours before the show started, while outside all of the lowly 2D moviegoers stood in line for who knows how long. I enjoyed this. They did not. With my purse full of Sour Patch Kids and peanut M&M's, I headed into the weirdest crowd of my life. Now, you have to understand that I am a DEVOTED Harry Potter fan, and have never missed a midnight showing or book-release. I've read each of the books at least 4-5 times, and have no shame about it. I can spew off even the very remotest bits of HP trivia with gusto, and take it as a personal offense when someone insults the books. But I have NEVER seen a more bizarre audience, and I thought Moody was going to wee himself.

There was, of course, the usual recycling of polyester graduation gowns for Hogwart's robes, the white button-downs and striped ties, and, to my delight, a full-fledged Hagrid beard, Luna lion hat, and a craftily home-made Sorting Hat. But there was also a Voldemort with a sock (not a stocking, just to clarify--a sock) stretched to the point of breaking over his (her???) entire head. We're talking no eye-holes, no breathing holes. Just sitting there, by his (her???) self. There was a high school aged boy who kept shouting challenges at newcomers, begging for a duel and getting downright pissed when nobody would oblige. There was a girl sitting in our row who would scream "I'M SO EXCITEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!" at the top of her lungs every five minutes, to the point where I was afraid Moody was going to snap and commit assault. He held it together though. Then the lights went down, and as the theater announcer reminded us to recycle our Potter-shaped 3D glasses, a belligerent shout from down front rang out: "HELLZ NO, I'M WEARING THESE TO WORK!"


The movie was great. I mean, really, really great. The slow-moving pace of the first Deathly Hallows film was completely eclipsed by the action of the second, leaving the viewer feeling like it was a much shorter film than it actually was. The scene following Harry, Ron, and Hermione's escape from Bellatrix's Gringotts vault where Voldemort pads across the ruins of the bank's floor, now littered with dead goblins and wet with a half inch of blood, gave me chills. I loved the trio's return to Hogwarts, and McGonagall's instruction to make the bridge go "BOOM!"  Neville's ascent to hero-status was perfection, as was Alan Rickman's final performance as Severus Snape. Even though I hadn't started tearing up yet by the time he was killed, his death was easily the most horrifying in the film for me, though that wasn't the case when I was reading the books. It was just masterfully filmed--much too quick (in a good, shocking kind of way), and with those deadening thud sounds that left everyone in the theater cringing. Other memorable moments? Well of course there was wild applause when Mrs. Weasley delivered her famous expletive, and giggles for the delightfully awkward Voldemort/Draco hug. Everyone needs a little cuddling during a battle, you know. And at the end of the battle, Voldemort's disintegration to ash and slow upward float was one of the loveliest CG effects I've seen in a long time.

My only disappointments with the film were the complete slashing of the Dumbledore/Aberforth/ Ariana backstory (which I think is crucial), and the conspicuous absence (as I've said from the release of the very first film) of Peeves. After all, who else could deliver a celebratory ditty like the beloved poltergeist?  "We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter's the one, and Voldy's gone moldy, so now let's have fun!" I also missed the big moment of Percy's return to fight alongside the Weasley family, though he did flash on screen briefly.

All in all, I was tremendously pleased. The films have never measured up to the books for me, as for so many others, but this one, I think, comes the closest. 

The night concluded when, as Moody and I loitered in the theater parking lot, waiting for our taxi, a girl of indeterminate age in a grim reaper robe and full-on clown makeup trudged by, sobbing as though the world was ending, her knuckles nearly dragging on the concrete with the weight of her despair. It was epic. We waited to bust out laughing until after she got in the passenger's side seat of a car and her sobs were muffled by walls of the vehicle. 


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