Saturday, July 23, 2011

Harry Potter had to die

Full disclosure for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2, so spoilers will rain down like meteorites. I enjoyed Part 2 a lot, more than I thought I would. Part 1 was the closest I’ve been to falling asleep during a movie. And while Part 2 isn’t completely jammed to the walls with action, there’s certainly enough for a summer movie release.

There are many small issues I have, and I’ve spoken to many who feel a little cheated by the film’s end. The anticlimactic showdown with Harry and Voldemort wasn’t a huge surprise, it’s just as weakly filmed as it was written in the book; it pales in comparison to the clash between Dumbledore and Voldemort at the end of Order of the Phoenix – didn’t David Yates direct both films? Why have the wizarding duels become less and less spectacular since?

It was still very faithful to J.K Rowling’s written word, and the slight tweaks weren’t so bad. Daniel Radcliffe delivered some pretty wooden line reads, but the rest of the cast, especially Alan Rickman, really brought heart to their respective roles.

Yet as I was watching I was fully aware of the final outcome, still a good story should hold the audience in suspense even when they know something is amiss. Harry’s mock death in the novel had a lot of weight when I first read it…now that I watch the film; I’m not so sure it works at all!

First when Harry dies in the novel, oh he is dead! If only for a shot while, but he is most certainly deceased. The film just has a flash of light, and you immediately see Harry in a dream state. You know right from the get go that Harry isn’t dead, and the impact from his sacrifice is nullified.

If Harry had died the emotional impact would have carried the film onto something the series just hasn’t seen before. When Harry is looking at a flash back and hears Dumbledore proclaim he needs to die, your heart twists at how cold Dumbledore says the words. And even Neville’s glorified wizard rallying speech doesn’t have any emotional resonance because we know Harry hasn’t kicked the bucket.

From bumbling fool to badass...not really.

Now I don’t think the movie should have changed this fundamental fact. It would completely fly in the face of the book, Harry doesn’t die, how could you drastically change something like that? The movie just sours me to the book – and I thought Deathly Hallows was one of the better Potter novels. Seeing everything on screen and feeling literally nothing during the movies' biggest moments makes me really dislike the tale. And my view of the series as a whole may have changed.

Nothing carries the same feeling of utter sadness like death. It could have been a triumphant win if Hogwarts and the rest of Harry’s friends would have defeated Voldemort by themselves; it was entirely plausible. The only thing that made Harry special was his connection to Voldemort, when that was destroyed he was just a normal wizard. And after Voldemort was made vulnerable really anybody with a wand could have killed him, Harry didn’t need to deliver the final blow! The ending could have been similar -- just have Hermione kill Voldemort at the end, or anybody it really doesn’t matter. It’s not like Harry and Voldemort’s fight was this epic duel, it was no more grandiose than anything else happening.

I think there is more good than bad in this film– but it could have been better than good, it could have been great. None of the Potter films really transcend into anything other than just good adaptations of their source material, and the source is essentially a children’s book. If Harry would have stayed dead it would have changed the entire tone of the film, instead the ending just feels like a missed opportunity to become a great final chapter. 

After all there’s so many logical holes in the Harry Potter series that you really begin to loath it. Didn’t Hermione have a device that let her turn back time? That couldn’t be useful for anything, aside from taking extra classes…

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