Published on September 14th, 2011 | by Albert6
My Popcorn Is Stale #4: Harry Potter and the Chamber of DOOM! (Part II)
Well… we seem to have gotten through the bumpy ride through the first four movies. Now we journey into much smoother and more consistent territory. While Years 1-4 had three different directors attached to them, the last four films were all directed by the same man: a Mr. David Yates. While the third film may be my favorite for stylistic and nostalgic reasons, this entire era of Potter films is my favorite. Let’s get right into it!
WARNING: AFTER THIS POINT THERE BE SPOILERS. IF YOU DIDN’T HEED IT LAST TIME, YOU PROBABLY WON’T THIS TIME, WHICH IS WHY I WILL CONTINUE TO HIGHLIGHT ANY SPOILERS IN BOLD, PREVENTING YOU FROM SKIPPING OVER THEM. SO DON’T COME CRYING TO ME THAT I SPOILED THE VARIOUS DEATHS IN DEATHLY HALLOWS FOR YOU, LIKE DOBBY, HEDWIG, OR ONE HALF OF THE WEASLEY TWINS. OH, AND HARRY DIES TOO. THERE. I SAID IT.
5. Order of the Phoenix
I have to admit that after Goblet of Fire, I was disappointed and was starting to lose hope that the rest of the movies would be any good. The movie was released 10 days before the final book was released, ensuring that any foreshadowing details they wanted to include in the movies after this point, they can include knowingly.
Having accepted my dwindling hopes for the last Potter movies, I saw Order of the Phoenix the day it opened anyway. As I watched the film, I noticed a definite change in this one from the last: it felt like a complete movie, not just a laundry list of plot points the filmmaker had to get through. Everything, from Luna to the Thestrals, to Dumbledore’s Army and beyond had a well-balanced place in the movie as well as the rest of the series. And the best part is the focus of Delores Umbridge as the villain.
Voldemort is almost second fiddle to Umbridge’s villainy in this movie. Almost. Like I said, Yates balances it very nicely. That pic to the left is her first introduction to the film as a minor character; a juror in Harry’s trial. Through the movie, she acts as the physical embodiment of the Ministry of Magic’s attempts to quell fears of Voldemort’s return, which they do in an overzealous fashion. Over the course of the film, she twists it into to a dictatorship over Hogwarts. She is not merely annoying, she is an evil roadblock in the way of Harry’s triumph over Voldemort. Now, the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher plays a major part in every film (or at least the end of every film), but nothing to this level. Yates makes you HATE her. She does a little of that herself in daring to have her office look like this:
It would be one thing if she were merely evil, but her smugness and unbearable outward facade of pseudo-kindly ladyness and the fact that everyone can see through her lies makes her that much worse.
But the image that makes the film for me is the slow buildup of the framed rules the she has Filtch nail up.
Each rule gets more and more authoritarian until it reaches the point where she busts up Dumbledore’s Army using Malfoy and his hired cronies. THIS is when the Weasley twins decide they’ve had enough and create one of the most awesome and satisfying moments in the entire series.
Even though they don’t vanquish Umbridge, they do give her some retribution by generally fucking her business up before fleeing the castle. They disrupt the O.W.L exams that she’s overseeing, flinging everyone’s tests in the air and doing this:
Afterwards, they literally and figuratively break the wall of rules in what is the singlemost satisfying moment of any of the films up to this point.
Filmically speaking, while this moment has no bearing on the immediate larger scale of events, the Weasley Twins effectively take her down a notch or two, kicking off her downfall from power. It was this moment that sealed Phoenix for me as one of the best of the series, giving hope once more to the future of the Potter movies.
The filmic depiction of the Room of Requirement took some time to grow on me, but it works. It’s more of a training room than a lounge. The film’s Room of Requirement means serious business.
The handling of Dumbledore’s Army is well done, too. It’s a montage that mixes with a time lapse of the passing school year. Neville’s transformation into a badass becomes more evident in this film with his progress in DA, and in his determination to avenge his parents.
And I can’t leave this movie without talking about the genius casting of Luna Lovegood. She has the perfect one-minute introduction where Hermione introduces her by saying “Everone, this is Looney—– … Luna Lovegood” She’s also quite at ease reading her copy of The Quibbler upside down.
The movie trades in the slow realization that she may not be as crazy as she seems for a quicker one, but it’s understandable for all the film has to juggle.
Last thing to address is the departure of Gary Oldman from the series. He features more heavily in this film in preparation for his untimely death. Oldman, we shall miss you. I’m sure you’ll appear somewhere in Deathly Hallows as a flashback or ghost. At least I hope you will.
One last thing.
Let’s take a look at Young Snape, shall we?
(Alt captions: “I did not hex her, that’s bullshit!” and “You’re tearing me apart, Lily!!”)
6. Half-Blood Prince
Half-Blood Prince is like the last one in that it’s very smooth considering the amount of material that needs covering. Despite the fact that Voldemort makes his first appearance and claims his first life in Goblet of Fire, I still consider Half Blood Prince the point at which shit gets really real. Here’s a series of images to back this up:
This installment is the literal dismantling of the Harry Potter universe as we know. One thing this movie has that I like, because we haven’t had it in two movies.. Quidditch!
Of course, this is a last hurrah if you know what’s in store for the last movie(s). But it shows Harry as the captain of the Quidditch team, with Ron trying out for Keeper, which almost more than makes up for the torturous lack of Quidditch for the previous couple films.
Sadly, this happens in the final film:
Another thing I will mention is that Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore has finally settled down to where it needs to be. His performance was closer in the previous film, but here it’s spot on. He’s a bit less constipated and more kindly. This single frame sums it up:
He’s kindlier, also more mischievous it seems. Earlier in the movie Harry is trying to pick up a waitress, only to be called away by Dumbledore for some tasks. A little later, Dumbledore says this:
As has been built up by previous movies, the Weasley twins finally open their joke shop; the inevitable conclusion to their goofiness.
Also going strong is Luna, who rescues Harry from having to fly back to Hogwarts after Malfoy’s shenanigans.
The big acting challenge in this movie, however, is for Tom Felton as Malfoy. Up until now, he’s been a fairly two-dimensional character. But then the pressure builds on him when Voldemort himself counts on Malfoy to do something unspeakable; murder his headmaster. I think Tom rose to the challenge in a surprising way.
Here’s him at the beginning:
And End, when he’s faced with having to do the deed:
Good work, Tom.
Worth mentioning is how in the HELL did David Yates manage to mix all this mounting dark tension with kooky (but heartfelt) love stories? One scene has Ron hilariously being led to Professor Slughorn’s office high on love potion, which seamlessly changes tone to him almost dying. By the way, that scene leads to this one:
This movie also marks the first time Harry (and by proxy the audience) gets to experience apparation. This is portrayed in a cinematically interesting way, having the characters twist and morph around wildly in mashed-up time-space.
Last thing.. this:
(And I know I left Snape out of this one, even though he was marvelous. He will be discussed at length for the finale, trust me.)
THE REST OF WHAT FOLLOWS IS BASICALLY 100% SPOILERS. THE EXTRA SPOILERY BITS WILL BE BOLDED AND UNDERLINED.
7. Deathly Hallows Part I
First off, I have to say that by this point in the film series, absolutely EVERYBODY’s acting performance is at peak. It’s like the actors were all waiting patiently to make this film, and the enthusiasm shows.
Slight nitpick, one of few in this movie. The wrap-up for the Dursleys was very brief and anticlimactic. They didn’t get the satisfying closure that the book had. The moment leading to that closure is in Order of the Phoenix, when Harry saves Dudley’s ass from the Dementors.
For those who aren’t familiar with the books, the full scene with the Dursleys involves Dudley showing some appreciation and even a little fondness for Harry for saving his life two years ago. A revelation that Harry finds surprising and endearing. I understand the director wanted to get into the action pretty quickly, but I felt robbed of this moment between Harry and his cousin.
Thankfully however, the scene was shot, it is brilliantly done, and it is included on the DVD/Blu Ray (and a few places on YouTube).
In the short run it’s an understandable cut, because it made way for an even more emotional scene; the one where Hermione is forced to erase her parents’ memories of any trace of her existence for their protection.
Immediately after, we’re treated to a barrage of Harries via Polyjuice Potion.
And the following chase scene is significant in that it contains the on- and off-screen deaths of two major characters. Hedwig and Mad Eye.
The Wedding of Bill and Fleur is nicely played; the ceremony serves to calmly introduce some plot points before the real chaos happens, including the introduction of Luna’s father and the first reference of the Deathly Hallows.
Then this happens and all hell breaks loose:
There are a few epic scenes and great individual moments that happen after this point. First is the ministry break-in, nicely played by three adult actors in the roles of the teenagers. Of course their voices stay the same as Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s, a nice touch to remind you which is which. Even better, Harry gets to stick it to Delores Umbridge one last time. When they aparate out of the Ministry, it leads to the weirdest chase scene in movie history.
Rupert Grint has quite the acting challenge in this movie; the Horcrux necklace they must carry turns him into a jealous Gollum.
After Ron splits from, rejoins the group, and helps Harry find the Sword of Gryphindor, he has to confront the Horcrux, which produces the creepiest nude makeout scene in any movie:
Lastly is the Deathly Hallows animated sequence. I think this is brilliantly done and it is the artistic centerpiece of the film. It is very stylized and fits well within both the movie and the Harry Potter lexicon.
One thing that has been mentioned to me is that the collective movie (Deathly Hallows) doesn’t go out of it’s way to point out that Harry is in possession of all three Deathly Hallows and is therefore Master of Death towards the end.I don’t think this is necessarily a fault because of the “Show Me, Don’t Tell Me” principle at the heart of filmmaking. This fact only reveals itself to those who are paying close attention, and that, I think, is the reward you get for doing so. For instance, even though Harry’s invisibility cloak isn’t anywhere in the movie, the animation drops hints that death’s invisibility cloak is indeed the same one Harry owns by highlighting the familiar texture.
The end before the end of Part I is the death of Dobby the Elf, which is given great reverence, and the scene carries the emotional impact needed for it. My only pet peeve about this is the movie packaging. Even though Dobby is in less than 5% of the film, he gets the only starring spot on the back cover, which is pretty much a giveaway for people who haven’t seen it (or read the books).
8. Deathly Hallows Part II
Want to start off this last part by saying that every moment in Part II was a blast. I had the exact feeling I got from reading the book beginning to end. Some of the multitude of deaths are minimized for time, but the ones who count are given their due screen time. The only one that I feel could’ve been given more screen time is Fred Weasley, who is only being mourned in the background of a shot.
Part II opens with a sort of “Previously On…” where we revisit Voldemort stealing the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave and gleefully using it to make evil lightning.
Afterwards, it’s not long before the movie gets into the scene I had been waiting for since the end of part I: breaking into Gringott’s. The scene lived up to every one of my expectations in that it was EPIC. It also involved Helena Bonham Carter as Hermione as Bellatrix, which was a bonus.
The majority of the film is dedicated to Harry’s subsequent heroic return to and the battle of Hogwarts. Just as Snape is informing the students of the punishment involved in harboring Harry Potter, Harry pops out and schools him, effectively staging a coup to Snape’s regime with the help of a pissed off McGonagle.
A battle ensues; the Death Eaters versus an army of stone statues and Neville Fucking Longbottom. Neville is awesome from the first frame he appears until his last. Here’s a screenshot of his awesomeness:
There’s also Mrs. Weasley calling Bellatrix a Bitch, and subsequently killing the shit out of her.
Then there’s Snape’s death. Rickman’s final curtain is brief, but well played and very sad, no matter what side you previously thought he was on.
The following sequence in the pensieve explaining Snape’s allegiances and actions throughout the story is heartwrenching. It almost makes you dislike Harry’s dad for taking Lily away from him. And it nicely explains Snape’s contempt for what Harry represented: something that could have been.
The scene after Harry’s death at the hands of Voldemort is a good one, but the image of the dying Horcrux within Harry is…. creepy to say the least.
BUT I have to say I was pleased that I was right in Gary Oldman’s reappearance as a ghost!
The final battle between Harry and Voldemort after Harry is resurrected (with the previously hidden Resurection Stone given to him by Dumbledore) is peppered with a little more badass by Neville, followed by an ass whooping from Harry, who defeats Voldemort with simple wand logic. An ending that is actually more satisfying than it sounds.
Afterwards, Harry boldly does this to the wand that once belonged to his headmaster.
The years-later epilogue was nicely done, using the same three actors for their adult versions. This takes a few seconds to get used to, but it works. Also, you find out Harry named one of his kids after Snape, which is a nice gesture for a guy who basically hated him throughout the series.
All in all, it was a bumpy ride, but I’m happy with how the movies turned out, despite some notable subtractions and alterations here and there. I thought the seventh movie split was a little contrived when I first heard about it, but the director made it work out nicely, and I frankly can’t see how they could’ve fit all of it into one film. Major props to David Yates for filling out the last half of the Harry Potter film universe in an awesome way.
Thanks for reading my long Potter fan letter. Viva la Potter!