Harry Potter: the books, the films (part 3)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This was the installment that really made the film franchise and the book series winners — because of the great chance it took with its ending. Some didn’t really care for this book, but it was the necessary bridge to the conclusion where there was not any room for the back stories told here. J.K. Rowling was not afraid to take chances and make big things happen, which not only shook the fictional wizarding world, but shook the reader’s world as well. How in the hell are they going to succeed in their mission without Dumbledore? And what of all the unanswered questions? Epic.

In this “book-to-movie” comparison, there’s no doubt about this one – the book was better. That aside, I loved the tone and the style of this one. You could feel the end coming. This was my second favorite book which many people raise an eyebrow to when I tell them. I just loved learning about Snape’s role, going into the history of Tom Riddle, albeit, somewhat “boring” and expository, and discovering not so flattering things about Dumbledore’s ambitious and controlling nature that we never knew. As Harry realizes the imperfect painting of Dumbledore, we too have a hard time believing it. Why did Dumbledore do this? Why did he not do that? It was great discovering, page by page, that nobody, not even the most powerful wizard at Hogwarts, it without his demons and mistakes. He pays for it, and honestly, things could have really been different had Dumbledore done things differently. Think about it.

Killing off main characters is always a guarantee that fans will chatter about what they think is likely to come, and stirring the world up for the eager conclusion guaranteed both huge book sales for Deathly Hallows and record-breaking ticket sales in the theaters. We would continue learning about Dumbledore, and finally find out to which side Snape is truly loyal. (B+)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt. 1 and pt. 2)

The biggest bones to be picked seem to always come in the closing chapters of film adaptations. People want to go out on a high note and there are very high expectations for producers and director’s to deliver to the fans that have put so much money into their pockets. The pressure must be unreal. But, they did a good thing by breaking up the final book into two films – a choice that was met with trepidation years ago. Mainly, people wanted to know, well, where is the breaking point going to be? Regardless of how you feel about the selected point, it turns out that this was probably the only way they could have kept what was in the books in the film. If this was one movie – no way.

Deathly Hallows part one, as a film, seemed more balanced to me than part two. In part two they really went all out on the special affects and the battle sequences, and though there were some good moments, maybe you will agree, upon a second watch, things are a little bloated-feeling, and given that this final part encompassed only the last third of the book, there should have been real adherence to a page-by-page adaptation if possible.

A lot of dialogue in the books was changed, and though I would like to argue that the changes fit the film better because it is a different medium and some stuff in the books would feel awkward on screen, I cannot. Especially the final scene with Voldemort. I was disappointed with the radical cutbacks in their final discussion before Harry wins, and the visually striking final blow felt emotionless to me. Harry should have said more. Anyone would in that circumstance. Not a lot, but something. But in the absence of any additional dialogue, I don’t believe the scene carries the weight it did in the book, and that was a mistake easily rendered. Just think for two minutes, writer and director, is this what feels right? Is it like the book. In that regard, the final moments were not band, but were also not what they could have been. I also believe that Neville Longbottom’s character, while having a sweet decapitation, didn’t get his full appreciation.

Lastly, the duplicating cup scene fell short for me. Where is the burning skin, where was that dire drama and fear I felt in the book? Gone.

Part One had more balance between character growth, back story, pacing, drama, dialogue, heart break and action. Also, in Part Two,  what the hell happened to the great flashback between Lily and Snape as kid’s? Why was it so short and unclear and hazy and dreamy in the movie. More time should have been spent on that part for the good of the film and for the understanding of people who had not read the books. That was a scene I was heavily anticipating and what I got was a blurred, fast mess of montage and difficult to decipher, effected voice over. I really had to concentrate and that whole segment seems over-produced in an under-produced way. Man, oh, man. What it could have been. (B-)

MH

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