I had to do it again. I literally (as of ten seconds ago) just finished watching the second half. I must admit, I spent most of the second film standing in front of my television because I couldn’t settle into my chair. For me, that’s a sign of a good movie. The first half, I was the same– hardly spent half an hour in my recliner before I was up and standing in front of the screen.
Somebody must have had a nice heart-to-heart with the staff this time around, because everything that was wrong with Half Blood Prince was put right in Deathly Hallows Part One. The screenplay didn’t stray far from the book, chose the threads that had to be there, and kept the whole thing very taut. The director didn’t rush the emotional points or direct the viewer’s attention toward insignificant bits when there was something huge begging to be seen. It had the flow and the atmosphere that a fantasy film ought to have. Altogether satisfying, from my perspective.
As I said, I spent much of Deathly Hallows Part Two standing in the middle of my living room floor. I get that way when I’m too involved in a movie– I can’t stay still. Where my imagination goes, my body attempts to follow, in a manner of speaking. I was told once that half the fun of going to a movie with me lies in watching me watch the film. I don’t deny that I get too involved, imagination-wise. I can’t help it. Had you been in the living room with me this evening, however, you would have noticed a distinct change. I can even point out the exact spot where it happened: on the bridge outside the gates of Hogwarts, right in front of Neville Longbottom when Harry LEAPED OUT OF HAGRID’S ARMS AND STARTED PLAYING A VIOLENT GAME OF HIDE-AND-SEEK WITH VOLDEMORT. At that point, I sat down.
In fact, I was so peeved that I nearly shut the movie off right then. I took a phone call during the last twenty minutes and didn’t pause the disc. I’m not sure if I feel this way because I’m a writer. I don’t deny the possibility. I only know that I get deeply irritated when a screenwriter decides that he’s cleverer than the author. I honestly don’t understand why Steve Kloves thought it necessary to rewrite the ending when he had stayed so close to the essence of the book up to that point. I suppose he didn’t think there was enough tension in Rowling’s version. Maybe he thought the book wasn’t long enough, so he had to add a bit to it. I can’t imagine what he was thinking, to be frank. Whatever his reasoning, he demonstrated once again that, no matter how talented a screenwriter may be, he isn’t a patch on the original author. Every time I’ve seen a screenwriter try to “improve” upon the author’s original work, it ends badly. In this case, I mean that in every sense of the word. The last action sequence didn’t make sense. One comes away with the sense that nothing Harry went through meant anything to the story. Poor little Neville got his thunder thoroughly stolen (the maudlin speech doesn’t make up for it in the least) and there was no sense of crescendo at all. The big battle finale just sort of dribbles to a halt, plot and viewer alike mauled just to tack onto an already lengthy movie an extra spasm of freaky special effects.
Which is a shame, because up until then, the movie had me exactly where every writer, every director, every actor wants the audience to be: spellbound. To borrow (and twist) a line from Part Two: Pity the living… especially those who live without a grasp of solid narrative.
Next time: August’s Camp NaNoWriMo experience starts on Wednesday. My goal: the sequel to Faerie Tales For Travelers. Wish me luck.