Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye Harry Potter

*Spoiler Alert* The "Harry Potter" series has come to an end so I am here to review "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" and talk about the series as a whole, but I'll be honest: I'm not holding back. There will be spoilers. I'm not concerned with who knows that.  With that, if you don't want spoilers on the eighth film in the series either close your browser at this time and return when you've seen the film or close your eyes and click the back button and then read another post. Anyway, onto the regularly scheduled post.

I've lost a brother. Not a brother who was born to my mother and lived with me in my house, but a brother with a scar, born to a woman by the name of J.K. Rowling. My brother, along with many others in the world, was "The Boy Who Lived" Harry Potter. Harry got his start back in the 1990's when J.K. Rowling published a novel entitled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". Eventually the book came to America where it was known as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". The book was a success and was followed by "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire". "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince", and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". Each of the books saw a film adaptation with "Deathly Hallows" being a two part film. What followed with those films was a cultural phenomenon similar to "Lord of the Rings" brought to the screen by Peter Jackson and "Star Wars" created by George Lucas. Harry got everything: action figures, costumes, props, film soundtracks, games, candy, and video games; not to mention there's an extensive line of Harry Potter lego's along  with games based on that. All that's missing is a Harry Potter MMO where you create a character that starts at 11 years old in Hogwarts going through the classes and 7 year scheduel to then go off and get a job in the wizarding world. Actually that sounds like a good Free to Play MMO game idea. If anyone from Warner Bros. Interactive is reading this I would ask you to consider that.

To bring Harry to the big screen the perfect cast had to be chosen and throughout the run of the series amazing actors helped achieve that. Daniel Radcliffe played the title role of Harry Potter with Rupert Grint and Emma Watson playing his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermionie Granger respectivly. Dame Maggie Smith signed on to play Professor Minerva McGonagall, the professor of Trasfiguration along with being a future Headmistress of the school, while Richard Harris, known for being the vocalist behind the song "MacArthur Park" played Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts at the start of the series. Sadly, Richard Harris passed away after completion of the film "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" so he was replaced with Sir Michael Gambon who did a phenomenal job as Albus, but in my eyes Richard Harris will always be the true Dumbledore. Alan Rickman, known for doing many films including more recently "Sweeney Todd" with Johnny Depp, brought life to one of the most contriversal characters in the series: Severus Snape, the potions master at Hogwarts. His loyalties are brought up as a key plot point throughout the series with book 7 finally showing where his heart really lied. Rounding out just a few of the amazing cast members was a personal favorite of mine: Gary Oldman (Gordon in Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" films, the lead terrorist in "Air Force One" and about a billion other roles) as Harry's godfather Sirius Black who gets killed by his own cousin, Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter, anoter great). Many other big stars brought life to characters but these were the ones that really touched me. To round out the notes on casting though, the series main villian Voldemort was played by the great Ralph Finnes.

Onto the 'review' of "Deathly Hallows Part 2". The film itself is very dark, both physically and in content/theme. Most of the films in the series opened on a somewhat bright note with the playing of "Hedwig's Theme" which really is the theme of the series. This one instead starts with a darker piece of music that's somber as brief flashes of the end of "Deathly Hallows Part 1" play before going to the cottage by the sea. Harry takes this time to talk to both Griphook, who turns out to be a lying little demon, and Mr. Olivander who is played by John Hurt, who originally played the role in "Sorceror's Stone". I was actually a tad surprised at how old he looks, although I doubt I should be seeing as he was in the original "Alien" movie that was made in the 1970's and he wasn't all that young then. From there Harry and friends go on their quest to locate the remaining Horcruxes that need to be destroyed in order for them to be able to ruin Lord Voldemort. The scene in the caverns under Gringott's, the Wizard Bank were well done and the dragon looked beautiful in 3D. The remainder of the film is, for the most part, the Battle of Hogwarts. Yes, they dedicate essentially an hour and a half or so to what happens in the battle at the schoool, but that's a good thing. It's a busy battle with Harry's adventure mixed in which worked as a plot style. There are moments that will definitely get to you but there are funny moments too. As in all the films Neville Longbottom is used more for laughs then anything, but he shows a brave side to him we all knew was coming. Both Mrs. Weasly and
Minerva McGonagall have lines that gained a huge laugh from the audience and a few of the deaths in the film gained applause. Overall the film was incredibly well done, the effects were stunning, the make up was great, and the sets were breath taking. Overall definitely worth seeing, and seeing in 3D if you can swing the few extra dollars.

It was the epilouge at the end that served as both the saddest point in the film, and in my opinion, the worst done point in the film. Unless I missed something, which I doubt I did, seeing as I went to the very first showing, it seems like the epilouge was trimmed down a bit, focusing on Harry and his son Albus Severus Potter, elimating many moments. References to Lilly and James, Harry and Ginny's two other children, merely showing them, but not naming them; no mention of the names of Ron & Hermionie's, Draco Malfoy and his Wife, or any other kids for that matter. The part where Lupin and Tonk's child is caught making out with Bill and Fleur's was cut and any mention of anyone's fates is cut as well. I rather enjoyed knowing Neville became a professor and that Hagrid was still on the grounds. I guess you can't have everything though. I know they reshot the epilogue so maybe on the Blu Ray release they will have the original take which, hopefully, contains those important lines. Really they aren't crucial so I can see why they were chopped but I liked them being there. If I am the only one I will shut up though.

When that epilouge rolled though, I was crying and not little tears, but crocodile tears. I was 11 when the first film came out. I feel like I made my journey with Harry and like he was a part of the family. Seeing his series come to an end makes me more than a little upset. I won't have to deal with it long as on July 31st, 2011 as soon as midnight hits I'm attempting to be one of the first million to join Pottermore. I believe that night it's open to the first  million on a first come first serve basis for a beta version and then in october the site goes live to all. Pottermore will be a new  way to re-experience the entire series of books, which will be nice. Harry can continue to grow with us a bit in new ways.

Instead of siging off with my usual line and name, I would like to close today with a line by J.K. Rowling, that I think is for all of us who grew with Harry.

"Whether by book or by film, hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." -JK Rowling

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