Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh Oh It's Magic -- Part 1

Finally, after all the years, the story of Harry Potter is finally coming to an end. HA! GOTCHA! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is not, in fact, the final chapter in Harry's cinematic saga. That will come in the summer when Part 2 comes out or, maybe, next winter when part 3 comes out or 2015 when Part 10 is finally released. Anyway, was the movie any good?

I'm so glad you asked. Ah, what a difference a decade makes. Way back in 2001 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone* was released, Harry and his mates were such joyful children. Harry himself was rescued from a life of being debased by the aunt and uncle who had to take him in when his parents died and so often had a look of wonder and sheer joy at the thought that he could make things float or change their shapes just by saying the correct words. I thought about the poor, innocent boy who had no idea what sort of suffering awaited him during the next seven years of his life. We're reminded of that as Harry wanders around his childhood home and sees the closet under the stairs that used to be his room before Hagrid showed up to rescue him and bring Harry into the wonderful world of magic and wizardry.

Despair is really the name of the game here. Voldemort and his minions have pretty much taken over the wizard world and they're all after Harry. Pretty much all of Harry's old friends, the ones who've managed to live this long anyway, have gathered to try to transport him to a safe house but they get ambushed along the way and another of Harry's friends and comrades doesn't make it. It seems like we might get a bit of peace and happiness when Ron's older brother Bill prepares to marry Fleur Delacour (French witch from Goblet of Fire, please try to keep track, I can't do this every time) but the wedding in the supposedly impregnable safe house is crashed by Voldemort's Death Eaters and Hermione barely manages to transport herself, Harry and Ron to safety.

And now it's just them. The three best friends who have always been the core of the story are now on their own, separated from their friends and allies. They can't go home and Hogwart's is now being run by the traitorous (?) Professor Snape. Their only hope is to fulfill the mission Dumbledore started before he died and try to track down Voldemort's horcruxes, the pieces of his soul he separated and hid so that he can never die. While doing that, they go camping.

If you didn't see the movie but do frequent some form of social media, you already know about the camping from your friends on Twitter or Facebook as that and the fate of Dobby the House Elf were all they talked about. This is where what, up till now, was a gripping and perfectly decent movie. Hermione anticipated having to go on the run so she packed a magical handbag with camping supplies. When they first escaped, they went camping. When it came time to move they went to...another camping site. After an exciting raid of the Ministry of Magic to retrieve a horcrux they once again GO FRIGGING CAMPING AAAHHHHH. Seriously, this is where some judicious script editing of the book would have actually come in handy. It makes me wonder if they had to use all these camping scenes from the book because they had to fill out two movies. That makes this money-driven decision to make the book into two films an even worse idea.

I don't use a four star rating system but if I did, the latest Harry Potter film minus the endless camping scenes would have received three and a half stars. In its present state, I would give it two and a half. That basically makes it barely worth seeing. It contains some of the best material seen so far in the Harry Potter series but also has some of the worst, or at least the dullest. To sum up, it's either a substandard Harry Potter film or, if you're an optimist, it's the greatest camping documentary ever. If not for the Harry/Hermione nude makeout scene, the rating would drop even further. Am I making that part up? Sorry, spoilers.

*Please join me in giving a hearty FUCK YOU to the small minded American publishers who worried that Americans would be too stupid to deal with a title with which the rest of the planet has no problem. I'd like to kick you guys right in your sorcerer's stones.

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