Saturday, November 20, 2010

First Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

No spoilers! :)

I took Number One to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter Thursday night. Yes, it was a school night for her and a work night for me. She was dying to go, so a couple of weeks before, I told her that if she could get all her teachers to certify that she had no tests or quizzes and would not suffer academic deficits, I'd take her.

To my amazement, they all signed. Most with laughter. One said he was proud of me. (I think the same one who ended up giving her a quiz anyway, but at least they could use their notes.)

So we left the house at 10:30 and headed over.

I wasn't sure what to expect this time. I've been to midnight releases, but they were always during the summer or on a holiday weekend. The huge crowd (I think all 12 theaters were full, but I'm not sure) was probably 98% college students and 20-somethings. I saw one kid who was probably middle school age, and about 3 other people my age or slightly older. There was a HUGE advantage to this.

For most of the movie, the sold-out theater was dead silent. Literally pin-drop silent. Number One had to keep setting her popcorn down because her chewing was too loud. The crowd laughed, oohed, and ahhed at appropriate places, but there was a complete absence of talking and silly giggling and screaming when certain people appeared on screen. No one kicked my seat. It was awesome.

All of that only served to enhance the incredibleness of the movie itself. I'm pretty hard on the HP movies. It's a thankless task, reducing complex, rich books full of favorite details to a couple of hours on screen. I'm often critical of changes they make that have no apparent reason, and many of the early films have left out huge, vital plot points, or stuck in things that would make no sense to someone who hadn't read the books.

But this one? Take all six of the first HP movies, combine them, and multiply by 5. That's how brilliant it was.

There were frequently single lines or half-minute bits that explained something that had been lacking in the past. Tons of action and cause-and-effect and major scenes and characters were cut or combined, but we didn't miss them. It felt seamless. It's possible that after a second viewing, or after talking to people even more critical than I am, I may feel differently. But not right now.

Gone was the choppiness and jerkiness and awkward flow of previous movies. The chemistry between the actors, which has been building for 10 years, was amazing. They all did a great job with the acting. There was an excellent balance between heart-pounding action and heart-warming interaction. My favorite scene of the book was my favorite scene of the film. I admit to missing a few small things, but they were unimportant in the overall scheme of things.

Now I can't wait for July. :)


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Now I really want to see it. My children went without me this afternoon since I had to visit my mother.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I can't believe they didn't wait for you! That's so rude!

Victoria said...

I can't wait!!!!!!

Ava Quinn said...

I'm really hoping I get to see this one in the theater. The Man and I may have to take turns. He'll babysit one night, then I'll keep them so he can go. This would be worth it!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I hope you get to work it out!

Boquinha said...

Okay, reading old posts now . . .

"My favorite scene of the book was my favorite scene of the film."

I'm so curious what that is now!

My daughter and I went to the midnight premiere as well. It was AWESOME. Loved it! The excitement of the event itself makes it totally worth it.

We've also attended the midnight release of the 7th book. It's history in the making!! And WE GET TO BE A PART OF IT!! It's not to be missed! We recently read the entire series (again for most of us, first time for our son) and did Harry Potter Interviews on our blog. So much fun. We looooooooove Harry Potter. Like, LOVE.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

We're the same way, Boquinha! We went to the midnight release for book 7 and the last three movies. Number One and Number Two have both been rereading some of the books lately, and every year, after football is over, I start listening to them again from the beginning.

My favorite scene was The Seven Potters. I laughed and laughed both in the reading and in the watching. :)

Boquinha said...

We're doing a movie marathon before Part 2 comes out, because, well, why not? :)

That IS a great scene. I love how they adapted it in the movie.

I have to think of the books and movies as totally separate things for my sanity -- that why I like them both without too much angst over what the movies leave out or change.

That being said, it's difficult to not compare a little bit. I agree about this movie -- in particular, there were even, dare I say it, scenes that the movie depicted in a way I liked even more than the way the book did (gasp!). I haven't EVER said that before!

But like my post says, I think J.K. Rowling is a GENIUS.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Yes, even before the first movie came out, I knew we'd have to judge them separately. I always have to watch twice--once to get out the "but they--and they--" protests, the second to enjoy the movie for what it is.

Until this one! I was amazed at how much better it was than the others. And I agree--there were some things they added that were just perfect.