Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Harry Potter and the Search for One More Sequel

Okay, let's be serious for a moment.  2011 has not been a good year for movies.  Some of the movies I was looking forward to the most, "Sucker Punch" and "Captain America", totally sank.  "Sucker Punch" would have been the worst movie I'd seen all year... if not for "Green Lantern".  Let's not get started again on "Green Lantern", we've been down that road before.  "Rango" disappointed, "Cars 2" was as bad as we all thought, its been a nightmare.  The lone pleasant surprise was "Pirates of the Caribbean 4", the rest was either as bad as I thought, or way way worse.  You know how bad this year has been?  "Battle: Los Angeles" is the fifth best movie release so far.  In a good year, "Battle: Lost Angeles" would merely be a middle of the road film, not in the Top 5.

Let's see if "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" can save the year.  Its the best grossing movie of the year; money means something on some level, right?  Also, I still don't actually know how the Harry Potter saga ends, so I simply had to see this movie to get closure on that part of my life.  I know the rest of my generation has probably already read the book nine times, and beyond that went to see the movie on opening night.  At some point or another I lost interest in Harry Potter and started watching anime.  Now however, this door must be closed.  I must see how Harry Potter kills Voldemort and has sex with Ron's little sister.

Compared to "Harry Potter 7", "Harry Potter 7.5" has a lot less camping.  So there's a plus.  The minus is, it doesn't have Harry dancing with Hermione either.  So there's a minus.  There really isn't room for a dancing scene of slow emotional build, because this entire movie is a war film.  Yup, Harry Potter is now fighting the ultimate battle against good and evil, and Hogwartz is the battlefield.  The bodies of students litter the wrecked classrooms as Harry fights Voldemort for the entire world.  These movies got dark, man.

Since Harry Potter is the biggest book series in all of history or something, I'll just assume everybody knows what I'm talking about already.  If you don't know who Luna Lovegood is, then you're even less involved in this franchise than I am, and I don't think that's possible in today's world.  I'm reviewing this movie like two months late took, so I think I'm behind anyway.  There will be spoilers, I don't care.

So allow me to speculate for a moment about how "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" got written.  The year is 2002, and J.K. Rowling walks into a movie theatre playing "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers".  Obviously she's read the books, she based her public name on "J.R.R. Tolkien".  Anybody whose anybody in the world of fantasy has to have read "Lord of the Rings", or at least claim that they have*.  I don't know if J.K. ever took much of Tolkien to heart in her books, but she certainly found something to love in Peter Jackson.  "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" might be better named as "Harry Potter and the Battle of Helm's Deep".

Last movie we already had more than enough "Lord of the Rings" mixed in when Ron turned into a pestering weasel-like idiot because he was holding the Horcrux.  Oh wait, Ron is always like that.  Apparently Horcruxes work the same way as the One Ring.  This leads to such lovely moments as Ron imagining Hermione and Harry having a topless make-out, and him simply leaving the movie altogether for about a half hour.  That was a great half hour...  Now the central plot of Part 2 involves Voldemort launching an all-out offensive with all of his soldiers against Hogwartz in a giant magical siege.  Then briefly Harry runs into Dumbledore the White in Wizard Heaven, and there are big trolls fighting on bridges, etc. etc. etc.

This franchise so turned into "Lord of the Rings" that the film makers actually tampered with Daniel Radcliffe to turn him into an Elijah Wood clone.  All these movies needed was a plump male love interest for Harry and we'd be in business here.  Forget Ginny, we need Samwise.

Now obviously these are two movies, though I honestly don't know why.  I think the logic was that they would get all the emotional stuff done in Part 1, and get all the action stuff done in Part 2.  So the girls will like the first movie and the boys will like the second.  Yeah, I know that's an incredibly stupid plan and only makes sense according to the warped logic of a Hollywood studio exec, but we'll have to run with it.  Of course, they needed a division point for the two films, so they picked Dobby's death.  The death of Dobby is a properly emotional point that I assume was near the halfway point in the book, so Movie 1 just ends right there, and Movie 2 begins minutes later.  Of course, if you're me and always hated Dobby for being Jar Jar Bink's little brother, it doesn't have the intended effect.  Plotwise, Part 1 should be the hunt for the Horcrux's and Ron's brief turn to super bitchiness, and Part 2 should be the Battle of Hogwartz.  But unfortunately there's an entire adventure in the Wizard Bank that comes after Dobby's death, but doesn't belong at all in Part 2.  So the producers just kept it in, even though this bank adventure really isn't needed in this movie at all, its just another action scene to find one of the six million McGuffins.  I liked the bank scene, it gave Helena Bonham Carter her best scene, there's a cool moment with a dragon, but then the characters move on to Hogwartz and the whole episode feels like its in another movie.

Now the Hogwartz battle is very good.  The director gives a feeling of the strategy, shows us exactly what kind of odds the heroes are fighting against, and makes sure we know how all the major villains get defeated.  It even includes a moment where automated stone soldiers fight trolls, you have to admit that's cool.  But then things get weird, because for some reason I get the feeling that a lot of scenes from the book were cut in the movie.  You have two films, practically limitless running time, but yet there are things that should have been on camera that weren't.  Most deaths happen off camera, meaning that you'll see Professor Lupin's ghost at one moment and be like "whoa, when did you die?  Last time I saw you I was sure you were alive."  They might have shown his corpse, I don't know.  Even the most tragic death of the film, one of the Fred&George twins (I don't know which), happens in only a vague flash sideways.  But at least we get to see how that Hipster Wizard died.  That guy had it coming ever since he nearly molested Hermione in Part 1.  According to TV Tropes, Colin Creevey, Harry's fanboy in Book 2, dies in the Battle of Hogwartz, but he's not in this movie at all.  Why are we cutting so much out of a two part movie?  Why not have everything?

"Harry Potter 7.5" ultimately feels really short.  Its a two hour movie, well above average, but it doesn't seem long enough to be the ending to the largest pop culture phenomena since "Star Wars".  The ending isn't a grand celebration of Harry Potter-ish-ness, but actually quiet.  Its subdued.  Sheepish.  Like once Voldemort is dead, the movie seems almost embarrassed to still be running, it just wants to end as quickly as possible.  It wants to go home quicker than I do.  This isn't "Lord of the Rings 3" which had fifteen endings, this movie just has Harry, Ron, and Hermione stand around quietly, then a two minute epilogue nineteen years later.  No return of the king, no sailing to the distant shores, no big romantic kisses, only another train ride to Hogwartz.

On that note, let's talk about that epilogue.  If that does not feature the single worst aging makeup ever done by a serious movie studio, I will eat the very laptop I'm typing this review out on.  All the characters are supposed to be roughly mid-thirties, but they don't look it at all.  The make-up guys did not care at all.  Ron and Draco at least saw some work, Draco has a beard and fading hair, and Ron looks saggy and pale.  Actually, Rupert Grint always looks like that, come to think of it.  For Harry they only combed his hair, nothing else.  And with Hermione, they didn't even make an attempt!  They did nothing at all!  She looks exactly the same.  Then the director stupidly put real adults next to the actors, showing exactly how young the actors are.  Maybe Harry Potter hired the same guy who did Agent Smith's make-up in "Captain America".  Voldemort certainly looks ridiculous enough.

By the way, Ralph Fiennes, what the Hell are you doing with your life?  Were you once Amon Goth?  Were you once the Red Dragon?  What happened to you?  Once upon a time, when you still had a nose, you were a living monster, pure evil.  Now you're doing some kind of high-pitched whisper thing, turning out as scary as a little dachshund in a pocketbook.  I've seen better villains in Mary Kate & Ashley movies.

The plot here is a bit silly as well, and can be very hard to follow if you didn't wisely rent "Harry Potter 6" and "Harry Potter 7" beforehand.  I didn't, so I needed to remember what a Horcrux is, how many Harry and co had killed, and exactly what the heck the Deathly Hallows were.  The Elder Wand is supposedly the most powerful wizardly weapon ever, but nobody ever actually gets to use its full power thanks to a Gordian Knot of plot twists.  Harry is a Horcrux, so he has to die, but he comes back... somehow.  Seemingly J.K. Rowling was writing off her  Hero's Journey list, and realized that she needed a Death and Resurrection to make sure the ghost of Joseph Campbell was appeased.  Somehow or another, Harry winds up in command of the Elder Wand, meaning he's now the most powerful wizard in the world.  Oh, but then he snaps it in half like its a pencil and throws it away, meaning that Harry Potter is officially THE DUMBEST MOTHERFUCKER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE.  You threw away ultimate power??  WHY??  What are you, stupid?  Harry Potter, you've remade the ending of "Dumb and Dumber" when the two idiots refuse to be the oil boys for a traveling supermodel bus.  God, you could have at least used the Wand to fix Hogwartz before tossing it aside.  Also, curiously, there's a Resurrection Stone in this movie that can bring somebody back to life... but nobody ever uses it.  Harry leaves it in the forest.

I did like how ultimately Voldemort, the greatest wizard of all time is killed by Neville.  This movie gets points for that.

If you're one to those intensely invested in the romantic frameworks of this series, prepare to be disappointed.  The final pairings are intensely predictable, to the point of being trite.  Harry gets Ginny, Hermione settles for Ron, Draco gets some nobody girl.  Exactly why the Hell Hermione chooses Ron, a clumsy, slow-witted, and mostly insufferable fool is a mystery for the ages.  Maybe she really really liked the lap time he did on "Top Gear", I don't know.  I still find it funny that the best and most romantic scene of these seven movies, Harry and Hermione's dance, was between two characters who don't actually get together.  Meanwhile Hermione and Ron kiss.  How much draino did Emma Watson have to ingest to get the taste of Rupert Grint out of her mouth?  The most interesting pairing is Neville and Luna, mostly because I had no idea these two characters had even met beforehand.

So I guess the real question is:  just what are these Harry Potter actors going to do now that their seven film meal ticket is over?  I suppose they could just hang up the acting gig, seven movies is way more than most of us will ever do, and retire with pride.  And by retire, I'm talking about you, Rupert Grint.  Tom Felton at least has a long career of being a douche as evidenced in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".  Emma Watson keeps getting hotter every movie, and definitely amassed quite a fanbase, so I think her career is okay.  She should be thankful that "Harry Potter 7.5" gave us a gratuitous cleavage shot in the bank adventure, that will do her careers wonders.  I'm thankful it at least.  As for Daniel Radcliffe, he's really a lesser Elijah Wood now.  Do we need two Elijah Woods?  I'm not going to claim super senses when it comes to acting careers, I could be totally wrong.  Who knows?  Maybe Rupert Grint will turn into an international superstar with six Oscars for work in front and behind the camera?  He can become the greatest actor/director/pastry chef the world has ever seen.

Yeah, that should happen around the time that George Lucas allows to me to remake the Star Wars Prequels.

Now did "Harry Potter 7.5" save 2011?  Not really.  The movie is okay, but incomplete.  Together "Harry Potter 7" and "Harry Potter 7.5" could have made the best movie of the series, but as it stands, one movie is full of padding and the other is missing key moments.  I'll have to say that "Harry Potter 6" is still the best of the franchise.  This last film was as good of an ending as you could make to Harry Potter, so I guess J.K. deserves some respect for that.  It was a long journey and now its over.  Goodbye, Harry Potter.  It was a nice ride.

(Artwork by Nakagawa, who is the true wizard, I must say.)

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* I fought tooth and nail to get through the entire trilogy.  I made it to "Return of the King" before the book was stolen by some anonymous Good Samaritan, who saved me from having to read another page.  No, I did not like "Lord of the Rings".  I know that's the literary equivalent of saying 'I didn't like the Godfather', but I don't care.  Its my blog, I can say whatever I want on it!  Take that!

11 comments:

  1. you got through more of LOTR than I did, i managed to reach the word eleventy first birthday and my head exploded from boredom. so i got through 6 pages of fellowship.

    Harry Potter film franchise failed miserably from the third one onwards, it all became ridiculously hollywood without hardly any redeeming qualities. the conversations were awkward and the action scenes were ham-fisted and forced. I gave up after the fifth film and although your review of the camping trip amused me I never bothered. Shame too because I loved the books when I was 15. I grew up though.

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  2. The Resurrection Stone was what allowed Harry to see the ghosts of his parents and all in the forest.

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  3. @Axel: Really? I thought they were only Jedi Ghosts, nothing more. If that's the case, the Resurrection Stone kinda sucks. I was joking that maybe one of Voldemort's cohorts could find the stone and bring back the Dark Lord, for lulz.

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  4. I read through LOTR during Bible Studies class. I still got an A+ ;p

    Mango

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  5. Blue: The ressurection stone doesn't pyhsically bring back people from the dead, it brings them back spirtually. Think ghosts, but only the person who held the stone can see them. The reason they didn't show all the death scenes was because as dark as this movie is the producers knew children would go to see it and so didn't want to throw random corpses into the picture. I really wanted to see that Fred/Percy death scene.

    Nice picture for the opening did you do that?

    The 1 & only Uzuki

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  6. Oh yes, I remember you saying something on chat about A Dance With Dragons being disappointing. Why is that?

    Mango

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  7. And to continue along with Rupert Grint's career..
    he has a sex change, as well as going to be a lesbian before realizing he likes men, then in his late 50's, lives in a trash can in Kansas filled with gay porno and bananas, only to have that robbed by 2 guys, one who deals with crack, and the other has 3 lazy eyes, thats right, 3, or so he says.

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  8. @Uzuki, no I definitely did not. The picture is by somebody named "Nakagawa". I should cite him, actually, its not cool to use his work without giving credit.

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  9. I totally caught your little borrowed line from Asuka's catchphrase. Haha, call me a fan...

    What are you, stupid!?

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  10. this is an effect of 1 movie into 2
    it felt was that it ?
    i like ron but i dont care for the romance
    i may have some invests but i dont care for the relationship of 2 fictinal characters
    id like a prequel a detective story about james
    spellfail

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  11. Blue doesn't like The Lord of the Rings! Tolkien can be a dry writer sometimes.

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