Friday, November 19, 2010

For the Weekend: Harry, of course!

Well, if you followed me on Twitter yesterday, you know I was one of the many people in America camped out in line to watch the first installment of the Harry Potter finale, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" at midnight.  (Yes, I'm that kind of a dork.  A cute and adorable one though!  Heehee.)  And boy, was it worth the wait!  So I figured what better time to talk about my favorite film franchise than today!  And if you're heading out to the theaters this weekend to see the next chapter in the saga, here's a little refresher course and my review to excite that adrenaline again.

Ok, here's what you need to remember before you go.  (SPOILER ALERT if you haven't read or seen the first six books/movies...just for the next paragraph.)  Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.  It's now been sixteen years since the day the evil wizard Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) killed little Harry's parents and tried to kill Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) too, only to have his spell backfire and almost destroy Voldemort instead.  "Almost" is the key word though.  Since then, he has regained his strength and power and is out to own the world again.  Harry grew up not knowing any of his past, not even knowing he was a wizard, until Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) the gamekeeper of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry came to take him there.  Since that day, he has learned more and more about his mysterious past and honed his craft, all the while narrowly avoiding death over and over again by Voldemort and his supports.  The last year gave Harry his final blow with the death of his last living parental figure Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) at the hands of his second most-hated rival Severus Snape (Alan Rickman).  But always by his side are his two best friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson).  And now in "Deathly Hallows," the three find themselves all on their own as they search for the horcruxes to destroy, the only way Voldemort will be defeated.  (END of SPOILER ALERT)

I didn't get into Harry Potter until I saw the second film "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in the theater with my family.  I had actually been banning it (stupidly) just because I grew up with a little, very cheesy film called "The Worst Witch."  (You may remember me writing about it for Halloween.)  "Worst Witch" is also based on a series of children's books, but centered on a girl instead of a boy.  Being young and feminist, I protested the world's placement of male over female in my own little battle.  But then I saw "Chamber of Secrets" and all my protesting went flying out the window.  I was hooked.  I borrowed friends' books, checked them out of the library, and finally bought my own copies to catch me up to date.  Since then, I have seen each remaining film at midnight, and purchased each remaining book at the midnight release parties.

All J.K. Rowling's books are great, but the conversion to film has always been iffy.  A lot gets lost in translation, as most adaptations do.  Of all the films, though, the fifth, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" was my favorite, because it managed to portray the growing anger and tension of the books in the film.  However, the sixth film "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" I liked the least.  One of my favorite books, "Half-Blood Prince" the film left out much of the elements needed for the final chapter.  Instead of focusing on the feelings and secrets that would soon be driving and helping the main trio, it focused on the lighthearted bits of adolescence only.  Since both these two installments were directed by David Yates, I was a little apprehensive about "Deathly Hallows," his next directing venture.  But I was thankfully pleased...and I now have a new favorite!

Luckily, because Warner Bros. decided to divide the final book into two parts, the film production had five hours to tell the story instead of two.  This allowed them to include every part in the conclusion.  You get each intense battle, each moment of fear, and each emotional outburst.  This also allowed the three leads (Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson) to stretch their acting wings and really dig deep into the characters they have been portraying for a decade now.  Every Potter fan will be itching for "Part 2" when the credits roll (which doesn't come out until July 2011...grrr!).

So, in my fan state but also my film fanatic state, I highly recommend "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" this weekend.  I already have my tickets to see it again!  I may have over-hyped it to some, but I think most Harry Potter fans will agree - it's the beginning of a magnificent end!  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

(Post-tidbit:  The main filming for "Part 2" finished about five months ago, and like graduating school, all were very emotional about leaving their magical world behind.  So Daniel Radcliffe decided to take some souvenirs home, two pairs of his famous glasses - one tiny pair from the first film and one from the final.)

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