I finally saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2, for the second time yesterday. I have decided it is probably nearly as good as it could have been. I think I may have enjoyed it more at the second viewing, being prepared for what was to come and less distracted by my disappointments, but I missed the enthusiasm of the crowd at the midnight viewing. This dumb audience yesterday hardly laughed or cheered at any part, and they smelled of nachos and loudly crunching popcorn and a large group wandered in forty minutes after it had started. Muggles!
Anyway, even though I would say that overall this movie is “very good,” there are still several things that I didn’t like or that just bothered me as a fan of the books. Some are more trivial than others, and this post will probably not include every criticism I have for the movie adaptations. Nor am I including praise for the hundreds of things I do love about the films.
Okay, one of the things that really irked me about HP7.2 was McGonagall’s lines to Filch after Pansy Parkison cries out, “What are you waiting for?! Someone grab him!” (Harry, whom Voldemort has just demanded). Filch comes running in yelling “Students out of bed!”, which, yes, is funny, and an exasperated McGonagall informs him “they’re supposed to be out of bed,” but then she continues, “As it happens, your arrival is most opportune. If you would, please lead Ms. Parkinson and the rest of Slytherin house out of the hall.” Filch asks where he is supposed to take them, and McGonagall replies, “The dungeons would do.” Her remark is followed by cheesy cheering from the rest of the students.
I really dislike this exchange, mostly because it undermines one of the great messages of the Harry Potter series, one which is even included in the epilogue concluding the entire saga. When little Albus Severus Potter is worried he might be sorted into Slytherin house, his father reminds him “You are named after two headmasters at Hogwarts, one of them was a Slytherin and he was the bravest man I’ve ever known.” When Albus is still unsure, Harry says if it happens, “Then Slytherin house will have gained a fine new wizard.” It echos back to what Dumbledore tells Harry at the end of Chamber of Secrets, that “It is our choices, Harry, not our abilities, that define who we truly are.” I’ve always really loved that message, and McGonagall’s line and everybody’s stupid cheering sweeps it aside, glossing all the Slytherin’s together just because Pansy Parkinson is a dumbass. Yes, probably (definitely) there are other Slytherins who would rather join the Death Eaters than fight against them. But they should be given the dignity to choose their own side, just as they and all the students are in the books. And let’s not forget that this is the installment that finally reveals what a hero Snape of Slytherin house is! The movie gains nothing from a line like this except comic relief. Well, shame on you, Steve Kloves, you should have been able to come up with something funny that wasn’t so Troll-ish.
Second major criticism: child Lily’s eyes! ALL of my Harry Potter friends that saw the movie had this same complaint. When the dying Snape asks Harry to “Look at me,” and the movie even added the line “You have your mother’s eyes,” just to make it super-ultra clear why he wanted Harry’s eyes to be the last thing he saw, (which is one of my favorite parts of the book), you would think the producers would realize that it is very important that Lily’s eyes actually match Harry’s! But in the very beginning of Snape’s memories, there’s a close-up of her eyes, and they are BROWN!?!! It is already a great annoyance to me that Harry’s eyes are blue in the movies instead of the green from the books, but very well, you’ve decided to go with blue, so, then, you damn well better make Lily’s eyes blue as well. Did you not have the budget for contact lenses or CGI? You know this movie is just about to make a billion dollars worldwide, a billion, and no money could be spared on this very important detail?! I wouldn’t be quite so annoyed if you hadn’t specifically called attention to it mere moments before! In the dialogue, not subtly! I cannot fathom how such an obvious error was made.
Another obvious (to me) error was when Ron spoke Parseltongue to open the Chamber of Secrets, (so he and Hermione can get some Basilisk fangs and destroy a horcrux.) He’s supposed to say “Open.” In the book he has to try it several times before getting it right. In the movie, it works for him the first time, and he turns to Hermione and explains, “Harry talks in his sleep, have you noticed?” The problem with this scene is that Ron most certainly does NOT say “open”. I’ve seen Chamber of Secrets and Deathly Hallows part 1 (when Harry opens the locket) enough times to know that “open” sounds like this: sh::::ai::::::ah-hae:::suruh. (Colons mean you hold out the sound.) Anyway, that’s not what Ron says. Go watch it. It’s not even close. And again, I just don’t understand how the hell a movie with a budget this big, and with so many people involved, doesn’t get something like that right. How did they manage to have Harry say it the same way in movies 2 and 7, and not get this?!
Additionally, I think they really should have explained the Deathly Hallows more, or at least mentioned them again at the end, because it’s quite an important detail that when Harry goes to face Voldemort in the forest, intending to let himself be killed, he is in fact master of all three. He’s wearing the invisibility cloak, (of course he’s not wearing it in the movie, because he hardly every does, and it’s such a shame, especially when they’ve demonstrated in the Gringotts escapade how marvelously it can be done on film), he’s got the resurrection stone and he is the proper master of the Elder Wand. I guess people can figure it out, if they think about it, but I bet people who haven’t read the books don’t pick up on that.
Speaking of people who haven’t read the book, I don’t think Snape’s memories were very clear, either. I’m glad they are at least included, I’m glad we saw him conjure his patronus and say “Always,” I’m willing to accept that they filled up time we could have been seeing his actual memories with clips from previous films to help revise his history in the audience’s mind, but there is still something lacking. I dislike the line at King’s Cross station when Harry says that Snape and his mother both have a doe patronus, “Curious, isn’t it?” and Dumbledore just says, “Actually now that I think about it, it doesn’t seem curious at all.” This feels out of place, and I mean, it shouldn’t even be necessary because if Harry has seen all of Snape’s memories it should be obvious that Snape loved his mother. And furthermore, the movies never did mention that your patronus could change if you were in love, because they never talked about Tonks and Lupin in great detail. One of my friends who has not read the books asked after this movie ended, “So was Snape Harry’s real dad?” See what I mean? Not clear enough.
I’m so over the wand cores connecting every time Voldemort and Harry face off. It is supposed to be this very rare thing, that only happens because their wands share a core, and only happens once, at the end of Goblet of Fire. I’m sort of resigned to the fact that they love doing it in the movies because it is a visual medium and it has become an iconic image. But this time I saw a glimpse of Arthur Weasley with his wand connected to whomever he was fighting, and I just sighed, like, really? I enjoy movies, I love books, it’s fun to see a movie based on a book I’ve read, but it’s always a cheaper, blander universe. It’s like talking to someone who has read the book, and liked it, but can’t really remember everything that happened, and gets quotes and names wrong, and would probably say “Wingard Levosa!” instead of “Wingardium Leviosa.” It’s just annoying.
I don’t like that Voldemort disintegrated when he died. I’m sure that was probably to help keep it PG-13, somehow, but then again there were dead bodies strewn about the entire castle. Is it to show that he (and Bellatrix, who also disintegrates), are really “gone”? Because I thought it had the opposite effect; the way that it lingered on the tiny floating pieces in the wind made it look like he was temporarily beaten but his soul might still be hanging around in the ether somewhere, waiting to posses another bald person and live on the back of their head. I mean of course he’s not, they destroyed all the horcruxes, he is clearly dead for real, but I could see the visual representation of his demise leaving doubts. Because at the end of the first movie he becomes a dust cloud, and obviously that isn’t the end of him.
Okay, last thought, and this one is really more of a question for the book that I only just realized when I saw the movie again–why isn’t Dumbledore one of the dead that Harry brings back to walk through the forest with him? Is it because he is still uncertain and unsettled about their relationship, still feeling betrayed about all the things he didn’t know? (I said before I that didn’t think the films made Harry have to face any of that, by the way.) Of course it would take the punch out of the King’s Cross scene if Harry had just seen ghost Dumbledore in the forest, but still…it’s curious. He certainly knew Dumbledore better than his parents.
Alright, enough whining. Some other time maybe I’ll post about all the things I liked. (Neville! Snape! Molly! Piertotum Locomotor! The music! The Gray Lady! Bellatrix-Hermione! The dragon! Neville again!) Oh, and I’ve changed my header to include a fantastic line from Dumbledore at King’s Cross: “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”