Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hooray for Hogwarts: Taking a Peek at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Mark your calendars: on November 19 the first half of the final installment of the Harry Potter film series, The Deathly Hallows, will be released. Trailers are present now frequently across screens of all shapes and sizes. The website described it as “suitably epic.” Hopefully The Deathly Hallows lives up to the high expectations set by the trailer. 

2 Legit 2 Quit.
When asked what his general feelings were towards the upcoming film, Joseph Matheson replied quite enthusiastically “extreme excitement!” Others have responded similarly albeit in a more toned down fashion. “I'm always excited for the movies, not because I’m expecting them to be the best movie of the year, but instead because Harry Potter is awesome no matter what,” says Maria V. Jeff B stated how he “enjoy[s] the books far more than the movies” but is still “looking forward to seeing [The Deathly Hallows].” Some have gone the opposite direction and denounced the movie adaptations entirely. “I have absolutely no feeling towards the seventh Harry Potter movie because, as far as I am concerned, the series ended just before the epilogue in the seventh book,” pronounced Mitch V.

Interesting to investigate was which Harry Potter films prior to The Deathly Hallows garnered the most praise. A quick sweep of average review scores on both and Yahoo’s movie review section revealed that the first two films as directed by Chris Columbus, The Sorcerer's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets have received the least critical praise. Maria V disagreed with this assessment. “I love how classic the first two were. They perfectly captured the magic that is Harry Potter.” Expressing similar feelings was Mitch V who said “My favorite movies were the first two because one, I saw them before I had read the books so I had much less to critique and two, I was young and naive; heck, I liked Pokémon back then (okay, I still like Pokémon).” The following film, The Prisoner of Azkaban, received the highest average rating score on both of the aforementioned review sites. “I thought director Alfonso Cuarón did an amazing job on that movie and showed us how truly excellent a Harry Potter film could be, skillfully adding the darker elements introduced in that book, without losing the adolescent air,” proclaims Joseph Matheson. Director David Yates, whose latest two entries, The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, got decent if not overwhelmingly positive reactions, must have felt a bit of pressure to pull off a great conclusion to the by now iconic and financially successful series (speaking of finances, the Harry Potter series currently holds the record as the highest grossing film franchise of all time). The task looks, at a glance, to have been rather challenging.

Early on in development, the production team behind The Deathly Hallows announced that it would be released in two parts. Speculation over the split between the first and second part of the film continued for some time until recent confirmation on the exact details was announced. Officially, part one of The Deathly Hallows ends with the Dark Lord Voldemort attaining the powerful magic tool, called the Elder Wand (also known as a Deathly Hallow). Fans of the Boy Wizard may note that this ending place is well past the halfway mark in the source novel. The most discussed cutoff point before the official statement appeared to be a scene in the novel when Ron Weasley, one of Harry’s closest friends and companions in the series, returns to rescue Harry after a series of misadventures puts him in grave danger. Popular opinion on the split remains sharply divided. “Split: Overall good. The original book was not written as two separate books, so it could be tricky, but if they split it right it's a good idea to fit more in the movie,” suggests Hannah L. Joseph Matheson agreed, saying “I think it's an excellent stopping point, one of the few good stopping places in the book, and is far enough near the end of the book that the moviemakers will have enough time in the second half to do full justice to the climactic battle at the end of the book.” Jeff B responded alternatively, saying “It’s going to suck. I am going to hate it,” before adding “but I have no suggestions of a better place to split it.” 

Apart from the Deathly Hallows split, several other aspects of the film warranted discussion. Character wise, a few favorites quickly became apparent. “I enjoy Snape’s character. The seventh book makes him the most interesting character in the series. I am looking forward to seeing how his role is played,” says Jeff B. Mitch V claims “The only good acting in Harry Potter comes from Snape.” Actress Emma Watson, who plays the key character Hermione Granger, frequently came up in conversations about The Deathly Hallows. “I am excited to see how frequently Emma Watson raises and lowers her eyebrows while she expressively delivers her lines,” says Maria V, somewhat sarcastically. For rather obvious reasons, Emma Watson seems likely to stay more popular with her male viewers than her female ones. “I'm so looking forward to Bill Nighy's Rufus Scrimgeour as the new Minister of Magic!” exclaims Ben MacLeod. 

General cynicism towards the acting in the Harry Potter movie series persists amongst many viewers. “I've been thoroughly unimpressed with the acting all around until the 6th one,” complains Ben MacLeod. One of the more frequently mentioned heavily panned roles was that of the Michael Gambon’s character, Albus Dumbledore. “The replacement Dumbledore has been so bad that I considered applauding when he got killed in the sixth movie. I don't think the tweens crying next to me in the theater would have liked that, though,” remarks Mitch V.

Adaptation from the novel to film continues to be an issue worth addressing. Kalee R comments about The Deathly Hallows that “I don't think it's going to translate very well to a movie. I feel like so many key things have been left out in the movies leading up to this, I'm not sure how they're going make it work.” “That's the dark side of books turning to movies, stuff is left out. I'll be really upset about what they took out later, but right now I'm just excited to see what they leave in and how they portray it,” says Hannah L.

Whether or not the conclusion of Hogwarts-to-cinema adaptation is pulled off well remains important to many. “For people our age, Harry Potter came out when we were around his age in the first book (awkward middle schoolers) and ended when we, like Harry and co, were young adults. This forms a connection between us and the world of Harry Potter, we grew as Harry and his friends grew, the issues he dealt with as he matured were issues we also were beginning to face,” says Hannah L. But until its release, viewers everywhere will simply have to wait to see the magic (or perhaps lack thereof). “Like "Accio November 19!"

"You Sack of Wine!"
-Nate S 

Check out the trailer and see the epicness for yourself:

P.S. For those who noticed a style difference in the writing, this piece is an adaptation of an article I wrote for my school newspaper. As it was applicable to this blog I decided it deserved to be posted here. Last names, except for those of the B*Team, have been edited out.

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