Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1:

Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1:

Colin:

Big fan of this one. I think it’s primarily because this is the first time the formula goes completely out the window. We’re not at Hogwarts, so there’s no steady build of dread punctuated by happiness and joyful occasions. Remember how they did it with the first few films? Sure, there’d be a troll in the dungeon (remember how that was gonna be the new euphemism for ‘pregnant’?) (Mike Note: What do you mean ‘was’?) one day, but the next day everyone’s eating treacle tart before the quidditch match. The effect was a lot like a live lobster in lukewarm water that slowly comes to boil by the end of the film. And then you have to fight Voldemort with rubber bands on your claws and it’s a whole big thing.

This is what I’ve been waiting for, pretty much since Azkaban. Finally, the characters have acknowledged that this ain’t Trading Places, it’s real fucking life. We start out with death, then there’s some more death, and we end with death. There are real issues between our main characters, and we finally get to see some of them aired! IS Harry better than Ron? (Yes.) SHOULD Hermione be with Harry instead of Ron? (Yes.) This is stuff that needed to be addressed, and they finally stopped beating around the bush with it. It’s all story stuff, of course, but I thought they did a great job with the dialogue and the execution of it.

The dancing scene works as an idea. As an actual scene with Daniel Radcliffe dancing…oh dear.

We should talk about how awesome that animated sequence was. I love the style of the animation, and the sepia especially. But the little things like the second brother hanging himself and the noose being a little string going up to Death’s hand — that was absolutely perfect.

There are still things that I don’t quite understand. What exactly does it mean to be the master of death? Does that make you immortal? Why would that be the case? Has this quest been on Voldemort’s radar the whole time?  Or is he all of a sudden excited about collecting powerful artifacts, like Hitler in the Indiana Jones movies? What the hell is up with this shard of mirror that keeps cropping up all the time? If I have one gripe, it’s that they assume that anyone watching already knows everything about the story. It’s fine to not explain some things, just don’t make them big plot devices, or at least clue us in on what the main characters think about what they are.

But all in all, well done. I’m going to have to watch Part II again now to see where that goes, but this is either tied with or even edging out Azkaban. And everything else sort of falls behind that, so this is ranked up top. Ah. And I see Mike has similar thoughts on the matter.

My Final Thoughts:

I must say — after I saw this movie in the theater, I thought it was bottom three or four for the franchise. I was aghast at what I saw. And then I realize at least 40% of that had to do with that naked horcrux scene and another 40% had to do with the fact that I was stupendously drunk less than an hour before it started.

Watching this again — I really love this movie. To the point where I think now, my three favorite movies in this franchise are Azkaban and these two. With Order of the Phoenix right there as well. I just love how it pays off a lot of character development with some really emotional moments, and how it really gives Hermione a chance to shine, in terms of both comedy and dramatic stuff. The screenshots for this did me good, because I was really able to slow it down and just watch the specific moments rather than watching this as a film. Because those quiet moments really are quite beautiful. Hermione wiping her parents memories is hands down the saddest moment in the franchise, and then her asking for her wand so she can use it on Ron might be my favorite moment of hers in the franchise. And then the moment Ron gets splinched, and she’s doing like five different things at once — acting as group mother (“It’s going to be okay”), thinking quickly about how to fix it, scared shitless because one of her best friends (whom she’s in love with) is seriously wounded, thinking how she needs to quickly put up protection spells so they don’t get caught, and ravaged with guilt over everything that’s just gone on and probably some other shit too (like wiping her parents’ memories). And that shot of her with the blood on her hands is more powerful than almost anything else the franchise has ever provided.

Plus you get these nice moments with just the three of them (until Ron starts being a bitch and they cut him out of it. Which is good, since Harry and Hermione were really always the two that mattered anyway), and then the two of them. For me, the action scenes in the movie actually lessened the overall impact of it. I mean, I get the Ministry break-in had to happen, and I think they did an okay job of it (though it took a bit more of a comic tone than I’d have liked). The naked horcrux thing — we’ll leave that one alone. It’s in the book, after all, and it works, character-wise. I just will never get over the initial shock of “What the fuck was that?” I think the scene with the snake was too long, and should have been shorter. It certainly felt like it was shorter in the book. Like, “Boom, snake, Harry’s bitten, Harry’s almost dead, here’s Hermione, let’s get the fuck out of here.” It was much too prolonged in the film.

I really prefer the quiet character moments in this film to the action sequences. The action sequences take away from the real power of the film and are actually kind of shoddily handled. The one action sequence I was excited for — the escape with the seven Harrys at the beginning — they didn’t show us much of anything and spent way too much time on the freeway with Harry and Hagrid. But that’s all nitpicking. I still love the movie.

The Deathly Hallows animation was brilliant, and that’s all that needs to be said.

And then the whole sequence at Malfoy Manor — I’m mixed on that. I love the torturing of Hermione, because you really get the sense of how fucked up it actually is. The whole Pettigrew thing is questionable, since it makes no sense and they never explain it. I’d have liked if they set up the mirror more and didn’t just relegate it to a Luna punchline (which was great, but still. Don’t use that to escape responsibility).

Normally I don’t have all that much to say (or rather, add) about a movie because I did it over the course of the articles. But this one — we really didn’t say too much in the articles. Because unlike the other films, this one felt like everything was set up for us, so it was only payoffs of shit that’s been in the works for six movies now. And then whatever logic issues that came up with what Rowling introduced. I couldn’t really make fun of too much stuff the way I normally would, because most of it was either some serious shit or it was stuff I really liked.

So, I’m a huge fan of this movie and would rank it among the best in the franchise. I think it’s a beautiful film that’s almost bogged down by the fact that it has to adhere to shit that happens in the book. (But even then, they add nice flourishes, like the silent “snatching” scene right before the end.)

Plus, I actually got a little misty when Dobby died, which, I guess means third time’s the charm for them and major death scenes in the movies.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is the beginning of the end… Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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