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As I write this, it's only 14 hours and change until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Some people have managed to get their hands on a copy already through various means.

So, since I'll be reviewing that next week, I wanted to go ahead and get my review out of the movie.  I saw it last Friday, but just haven't made the time to review it yet.

First, let me say that I was a little apprehensive about this movie for several reasons.

  1. It's based on my least favorite of the six books that I've read so far. Not that I disliked it, but it wasn't nearly as good as the other five.
  2. It's based on the longest book of the series.
  3. It's the shortest movie so far.

In spite of all of that, the movie does fairly well.  As in Goblet of Fire, most of Rowling's famous "side plots" are missing. No Quidditch, so no chants of "Weasley is our king".  That's not surprising, but disappointing.  As another review I read pointed out, Ron's part in the last couple of movies has diminished considerably in size compared to the book.  I expect that to continue in Half-Blood Prince.  Poor Rupert Grint.  Oh well, at least he gets paid well for it.

I was very disappointed that the visit to the hospital wasn't in the movie.  I really thought that scene added a lot to understanding Neville and his family.  The scene they put in place of it with just Neville and Harry was much weaker, I thought.

One of the reasons that I didn't like the book as much as others was Harry's anger.  I thought it was over-the-top.  As Stephen King said in his review, "I get it.  Harry Potter is VERY ANGRY. Can we move on now?"  You're reminded of his anger on nearly every single page.

The movie goes the opposite direction, and I found myself actually missing his anger. I'm not sure why it was toned down so much.  It could've been the choice of the director or just bad acting by Radcliffe.  I tend to think the former, except there is one scene where Harry talks about "being mad all the time" even though he's hardly shown that at all. (Note: He does snap at Dumbledore at one point, but that's the strongest bit).

I think this story really needs more of this anger, so that's why I'm disappointed to have it missing.  As I said earlier, the whole story is a coming of age story in three parts:

    • SS/PS & CoS have a young and insecure Harry, very unsure of himself and even whether he belongs in the wizarding world.
    • PoA, GoF, & OotP are Harry's rebellious teenager years.
    • HBP & (I assume) DH have a more mature Harry, one who is beginning to accept and understand his responsibilities.  And, while I would like to see him at Hogwarts, that's not where Harry's responsibilities lie.

Now, obviously there's overlap, but by reducing the anger, OotP joins the third part rather than the second.  And I don't feel that it fits there.

I've spent all this time on two criticisms I have of the movie, so it probably seems as if I disliked it.  On the contrary, I found it to be pretty good.  Much better than the movie versions of either Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire. The pacing was well done, with just the right amount of action.  I didn't hate Professor Umbridge as much in the movie as I did in the book, but I think that's a simple time question.  In the book, the reader's resentment of her is allowed to fester and grow, and there's just not enough time for that in a two hour movie.  Still, her character was handled superbly, and definitely got the point across.

I was struck by some interesting historical parallels in the movie.  First, the pictures of the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge are very Lenin-ish, or possibly even Hitler-ish.  I'm sure that's not accidental. He's supposed to be the strong, charismatic, leader who is actually sending his people hurtling towards disaster.

However, there are 21st century parallels as well.  The main wizarding newspaper, The Daily Prophet, seems to operate in a world of denial and seems to be little more than a mouthpiece for the government.  The government itself is in denial of the seriousness of the situation they're in, even to the point of denying that there's anything to worry about at all.  There's plenty of room for people to point out comparisons with both Democrats and Republicans in the American government, and media organizations like The New York Times or Fox News Channel.

Anyway, overall I found it entertaining, and something to enjoy while waiting for my copy of Deathly Hallows to arrive.

Posted on Friday, July 20, 2007 1:25 PM Harry Potter | Back to top

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