Sunday, November 28, 2010

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Spoiler Alert: Butter Beer is People

Directed by David Yates

Written by J.K Rowling

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert "The Fuck" Grint

Rated PG-13

The seventh and penultimate installment of the storied Harry Potter movie series is upon us. The decision was made to break the final book up into two different movies, a part one and part two, in an effort to flesh out the series finale as much as possible. Thus, the movie series will get an eighth installment, covering the rest of Deathly Hallows. This was apparently lost on a percentage of the people in the IMAX theater I watched this movie in, given how the end was greeted with a chorus of "wha? huh? where's the rest?" from a decent number of the fans in attendance. Most of these people likely then went back to watching Glenn Beck reruns and wondering if OJ ever found the real killers.

You and me. We've been at war...since before either of us existed.

First thing's first. This movie is exceptionally well-done. The visuals are particularly stunning; unfortunately the visuals take a sharp decline when Hermione is offscreen. The movie opens in the thick of things, quickly jumping right into the action. This is great for viewers familiar with the story... there is little wasted motion. The downside is that people who have not seen/read the other movies/books in a while (or ever) might be completely lost with the plot. Don't expect a refresher on events early on if you're new to the series.

The short version of the setup is this. The nefarious Voldemort is still alive and bitching, and has managed to extend his sphere of influence further than ever before. He has a veritable army of loyal followers, despite having no nose and a name that sounds like a fungus, or perhaps an STD. Not without his successes, he and his Death Eaters managed to eliminate the mighty, benevolent Dumbledore in the previous film. Now, Voldemort lurks behind the scenes manipulating events. The film does a great job conveying just how bad things have gotten, as Voldemort's minions launch a campaign to slander the "impure" mudbloods with overtly Nazi-style propaganda. The film doesn't even try to be subtle with this reference, from the color scheme to the messages conveyed to the methods with which they're delivered. The only way the movie could club you over the head any more is if the Ministry of Magic goose-stepped to and fro while they carried out their propaganda. Harry Potter is now being labelled "Undesirable No. 1" (read: public enemy), Dumbledore is gone, and things in general look bleak for our heroes.

This is the time when we dance.

Voldemort himself has the long, almost inescapable reach of Lord of the Rings' antagonist du jour, Sauron. The difference is that unlike the largely faceless Sauron, who never really engages the protagonists himself, Voldemort shows up on camera in an embodiment that could allow for a more satisfying resolution.

Luckily, the three main protagonists, with some help from allies both likely and unlikely, prove to be formidable foils to Voldemort's diabolical plans. Well, Hermione does at least. On a related tangent, I just recently finished watching Dragonball Z, and let me tell ya... the protagonists on that show are so insanely stupid towards the end that it's amazing the villain actually managed to lose. If Gokou and Friends were the heroes in just about any other story, the bad guys would think it was a gift from God. They'd look up at the sky saying "THANK YOU" like Adam Sandler and Chris Farley in the commercial for Schmitt's Gay Beer.

(A Fun Note For People Who Have Seen The Film: Notice the pattern of star names popping up for a minute there with Regulus/Sirius/Arcturus? I liked this.)

Amongst the impressive visuals are some impressive CGI's of the characters... perhaps the best CGI work I've seen since the twentyfive-years-younger version of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2009 Terminator Salvation. Really good stuff here, and it's pretty clear that this movie is right on the cutting edge in terms of modern technology.

The real star of the movie: Hermione's piercing gaze.

The best part of the movie is probably the interaction between the three main characters. The evolving love triangle between Ron, Hermione, and - for some reason - Harry is a large part of the movie. The various complexities of this trio make for a welcome and fun light-hearted scene here and there, but nowhere near the light-heartedness of the previous films in the series - which has gotten progressively darker as time goes on.

This movie isn't just dark, it embraces the fact that it's dark. It has one particularly shady scene which proves once and for all that Hermione is a passionate kisser. I knew it. Out of this plotline comes the major issue of Ron...well...being a dude. Ron's unfounded jealousy is a source of strife for the heroes, and leads to him going through a personal evolution that is a little bit inspiring. It is a definite issue for the trio to work through, however. In the book, Harry tries to clear things up by letting Ron know that he only sees Hermione as a sister. However, Ron's doubts are still understandable, since Harry is originally from Alabama. The part where the buses don't run.

I have one major issue with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it's an issue I have had with the series in general. That would be the prevalence of dei ex machina - reliance on convenient plot devices to save the day far too often. However, this issue is far from a deal-breaker in the movie, and doesn't keep it from achieving high notes throughout. Aside from that, there are a lot of dull scenes in the middle of the film, as our heroes creepily stalk about in the woods. What is this, Twilight? It seems like some of this could have been left out, but since they're going for broke and making two movies out of this, they may as well have included everything. Besides, no matter how dull the scene, it means more screen time for Hermione.

Ohhhh yes.

I've put it off long enough. The most important thing about this movie needs to be mentioned: Hermione has evolved into quite the woman, strutting about sassily for most of the movie like she's Helen of Troy. Difference being that she makes Helen of Troy look like a hag. Whoaaa, put your spears down, Greek readers!

  Who wins the heart of fair Hermione? Spoiler Alert: Dobby

You see, Hermione combines sex appeal with fierce independence and a level of competence that sets a fire in my soul. Many times in the past couple of years I found myself preoccupied by thoughts of a really hot threesome with my girlfriend at the time and Hermione.

This event would be filmed and directed by Leonard Nimoy, and written by Joss Whedon.

"This is ridiculous! I don't even LIKE vagina!"

A particularly great scene, one which borders on brilliant, has Hermione telling a story about Death's pursuit of three brothers. While Hermione narrarates with her silky, erotic, highly educated voice, the story is shown visually in CGI; gold and dark hues join Mesopotamian character designs to convey a mythological atmosphere. It reminds me of The Appointment in Samarra, an old tale about a man encountering Death in a Baghdad marketplace and fleeing to Samarra to escape. Death as a figure is found everywhere in past literature, from Paradise Lost to the aformentioned Appointment.

I better find your loving! I better find your heart!

In closing, this is the best Harry Potter movie besides Order of the Phoenix, and may even surpass it at times. It does, in a way, seem like they're saving the big explosions for Part Two, but that's okay. I can't wait for the final chapter, and give this the highest rating I can muster.


  1. This pretty well summarizes what I had to say about the film - just in a much more articulate fashion, obviously.

    Also Jericho, since you want me to say it so badly: I want to have your babies. There. <3