Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2… kinda.

Well, the day has finally come. The last of the Harry Potter movies has been made, and with its release in theaters all the hardcore fans can enjoy the epicness of witnessing the conclusion of such a beloved story while simultaneously crying that it’s over. Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life for years now. I was about twelve when I read the first three books, and now ten years later, sitting in the theater for the final movie, I feel as though my childhood has come to an end with the franchise. Harry Potter is someone I grew up with, and he’s been such a huge part of my life, so this was also a depressing day for me. I know it sounds sad, but I have to wonder what I’m going to do with my life now that this is over… well, there’s always PotterMore and fanfiction.

So I went to see the movie with my good friend Tsunderin two days after the release. Normally, I go to the midnight showings, but something about me has always procrastinated anything involving Deathly Hallows. I’m the kind of person who can read all the books in the course of two or three days, but it took me a week and a half to read the last one my first time through. The obnoxious spoilers I had shoved on me beforehand didn’t help. Mostly, even though I suspected it was going to happen since Goblet of Fire, I didn’t want to see Snape die. That was the first chapter I read in the last book, because I refused to believe it to be true, and when I went back and read normally, I had to keep telling myself that the words on the page would change and Snape would live in order to make it to the very end.

But alas, this review is about the movie and not my broken heart for my all-time favorite character. But as Snape is so plot essential, I guess I’ll get to talk about him for a bit too in this review.

So this movie picks up right where Part 1 left off. Voldemort has the Elder Wand and Harry has just buried Dobby. Thus, he and his two mates continue on to find the last remaining Horcruxes and destroy them.

All in all, this movie was pretty epic. I do not, however, think it can stand by itself as a movie. It’s called Part 2 for a reason, and I would have enjoyed it much better had I watched the first half again before going to the theater. Pretty much, Deathly Hallows ended up being five hours long, so they just decided to slice it right down the middle. Part 1 doesn’t really end, and Part 2 doesn’t really start, if that makes sense.

I’m not calling them bad movies, not by any stretch. Deathly Hallows would have suffered immensely had it been any shorter, and sitting in a theater for both halves at once would have been too much. All I’m saying is that each half absolutely needs the other.

Part 2 is fairly fast paced once our favorite trio makes it back to Hogwarts, though I wouldn’t call what happened beforehand slow. They return, and then they battle… and that’s pretty much it. It’s like watching a two hour long climax. I was reminded of the battle in the last Lord of the Rings movie. You know, the one that never ended, kind of like the Dark of the Moon fight now that I think about it. The difference being that the Deathly Hallow’s battle seemed more broken up and didn’t run like one great big scene. Many things divided it, as it needed to be divided to allow the audience a moment’s rest, such as Snape’s memories and the Ghost of Ravenclaw.

You know, I’m not really sure where I should go with this post. You see, I feel as though I do better talking about things I hate. That said, I can find something to hate in anything. I loved Thor, but all I did was rant at that movie. This isn’t really the case with Deathly Hallows. I’m pretty content with how everything turned out. If there’s one thing that bothered me—other than Snape dying, but I’d have been pissed if he lived, so that’s a moot point—I would say Bellatrix’s duel with Mrs. Weasley. Julie Walters and Helen Bonham Carter are superb, but I expected more from their fight. In the book, it was so epic that even Voldemort stopped killing people to watch. Everyone stared as Mrs. Weasley ripped into Bellatrix and screamed in all the rage caps lock can muster, “YOU BITCH!” In the movie, it’s kind of like, “oh, time to kill Bella.” It still earned a round of applause from the audience, but still…

Oh, side note, I liked how Lupin was not the unlikable douchebag he becomes in the book. It made his death much more saddening. I’ve never really supported Lupin and Tonks, but I really liked the whole hand thing the director did with them. Unfortunately, Lupin’s, Tonk’s, and so many other deaths happened right after Snape’s. So much time was spent with Snape, and he’s the one that matters the most out of all the dead people, that when the movie cuts away to show everyone else, the audience doesn’t really get an appropriate amount of time to mourn him. I suppose when we see his memories that would be a great time to burst into tears, but his death overrode everyone else’s. So I was sitting there like, “Don’t care about Fred even though I did in the book. I only care about Snape at this point.”

Another thing with Snape, Harry doesn’t use his true loyalty to mock Voldemort as he does in the book. That’s not really important; I just liked that scene. And speaking of things that were cut out, Kreacher didn’t lead a house-elf rebellion in the name of Regulus Black. Oh, well. The movies are long enough as it is, and we can’t have everything. Though at the very least, they could’ve let Harry repair his original wand.

By the way, Harry, yes, you coming back to life was just as retarded on screen as it was in prose. But unlike many authors who pull this tripe, J. K. Rowling at least took the time to allow it to make sense with the rest of the story. Basically, there’s a reason for it other than Harry is just special.

The ending is a really big letdown, but it was in the book, too. I thought Albus Severus Potter was cute, but the whole future scene just doesn’t seem to work. And it came across even poorer on screen than it did in the book. I thought that it was more like a pretty bow wrapping up the story in a Happily-Ever-After than it was an epilogue (well, they do deserve a happy ending, considering everything else they went through). At the very least, they could have tried to make the characters look older, and they did to a small extent, but not nineteen years older. Not old enough to have children already at Hogwarts.

Oh, I know something that pissed me off to no end in this movie that I can rage at. This is something that pissed me off in the books, too, and while the movies on occasion lessoned my rage, they enhanced it in other parts.

The treatment of the Slytherin House.

Before anyone rolls their eyes, thinking that I identify as Slytherin or that I just love it because I secretly want to bone Snape and Draco and kick puppies on my spare time, let me just say that I’m a Hufflepuff. And I could rant on Hufflepuff’s portrayal as well, but I’ll do that later.

Throughout the books and movies, the Slytherin House has been constantly demonized. People who go into it are automatically dismissed as evil little Death Eaters for no other reason than what a talking hat said. Granted, there are founded reasons to the preconception, but even the good Slytherin’s are also ostracized and do something bad at some point in their lives. Slytherin is a House where people “make their true friends,” but such a thing is never shown. I actually loved the scene in the sixth movie between Pansy Parkinson and Draco on the train. Because her asking him with genuine concern whether or not he was all right finally made a Slytherin relatable on a small level and showed that they are also capable of being people.

But no one else sees them as people. They see them as evil blemishes on the world. When McGonagall orders the Slytherins to be locked in the dungeon and the other houses cheer? Bitch please. Yeah, let’s lock all the Slytherins up because Pansy Parkinson said something stupid and predictable. Sorry, first and second years, you dared to not only get an education, but to exist as well! Shame on you!

Is it any wonder why they all grow up to be Death Eaters, besides parental ties? I mean, there’s certainly nothing for them on the side of light but scorn. One could even argue that this is one of the reasons that prompted Snape originally to join Voldemort. He was a Slytherin who liked the Dark Arts. Does either of those things make a person evil? Well, apparently it does to the rest of the population. Not only was Snape picked on for being Lily’s friend, he’s was scorned for having interests of his own that did not fit into cultural norms. The world of Harry Potter seems divided into two sides, good people who study defense of dark magic, and evil people who cast dark magic. There’s no social middle ground for people who simply like learning about dark magic. They’re evil. Plain and simple.

And if one can argue that the Slytherins are written off as disgraceful, they can certainly claim that Gryffindor is shoved up on a pedestal and praised more than it deserves to be. Now, Gryffindor does provide our protagonists, and Slytherin the antagonists, so to an extent, yes, we should side with more with the Gryffindors—you know, this is turning more into a review of the series as a whole, which I feel is appropriate now that it’s at its end, but I doubt I’ll be able to talk about everything I want to regardless, because there’s just so much—but it’s just so poorly executed that I can’t help getting upset. Why are the Gryffindors good? Well, they’re brave and they wear red. Why are the Slytherins so bad? Because they just are.

Again, I think this ties back to social stipulations. The Wizarding World is by far a more biased and bigoted place than our own. At the very least, more racist. I mean, think of the goblins. And even those who stand for Muggle rights still think that they’re better than the Muggles (let’s just mind-rape them all! Obliviate!) So the Slytherin House producing the vast majority of bad wizards the world has ever seen and being shunned as a House of evil makes sense within the context of the story. The problem here arises when we, the audience, are meant to scorn Slytherin for everything despite the circumstances and worship Gryffindor. Tell me, does Neville really earn those ten extra points in Philosopher’s Stone, or is it just a potshot so Gryffindor can win the House Cup? Is Dumbledore justified in not expelling Sirius Black when Snape almost gets eaten by a werewolf? Does Snape deserve to be threatened with expulsion for being the victim of such a horrible prank while Sirius doesn’t suffer any consequences to speak of? I mean, the only time Dumbledore gives a shit about Draco is when Dumbledore’s about to die.

This sort of opinionated mindset applies to all four Houses. Ravenclaw is nonexistent with the exception of Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang, and a quickly tacked on Horcrux. Hagrid calls Hufflepuff a House of dunderheads in Philosopher’s Stone and the idea sticks throughout the remainder of the series. Well, we have a good and an evil House, so I guess we need a smart and a dumb House to show diversity.

I have to wonder why the Hufflepuffs and the Slytherins aren’t the world’s biggest BBFs. They certainly have a lot in common, and it wouldn’t be hard for the students to connect with each other on an emotional level, considering the negativity they have to put up with from the rest of society. Like Slytherins, who are never shown as “true friends,” the Hufflepuffs are never shown as the hardworking, just, and loyal people the Sorting Hat says they are. So the basis of a friendship is there—but no! The Hufflepuffs are always eagerly lining up behind Gryffindor and Ravenclaw to applaud widely whenever something awful befalls the Slytherin House.

And “lining up behind” is exactly what they do, both Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. Even in the movies, both these Houses are shunted behind the other two. They exist so Hogwarts can have four Houses. No other reason. It’s a shame that they’re never properly explored. And this doesn’t just apply to the books and movies, but to any and all merchandise as well. Hell, even my Harry Potter Lego set—which is awesome, by the way—only has Gryffindor and Slytherin.

This seems like a bad marketing strategy, since a lot of people identify as Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. I myself have a lot of pride for my House, despite Hufflepuff not being real.

The obvious imbalance between the four Houses is what detracts from the series the most. Yes, Gryffindor needs more time with the audience, because that’s where Harry is, but to the exclusion of the other Houses? This is such an intricate world, and we want to explore it.

With the introduction of Luna, or even Cho Chang, we could’ve learned so much more about Ravenclaw than we did. With the introduction of Cedric Diggory in Goblet of Fire, and the consequences of his death in Order of the Phoenix, we could’ve learned so much more about Hufflepuff. And this one infuriates me quite a bit. Harry was not Cedric’s friend, or at the very least not a close friend. They were acquaintances. Cedric was the kind of character to get along with a lot of people, so it would make sense that he was close to someone other than Cho. Then, in Order of the Phoenix, Harry starts bitching that his fellow students only want to know what happened because they’re curious, and that’s how everyone else is described. Curious. I just wanted a Hufflepuff to punch Harry in the face. I’m sure witnessing a murder is tragic, but the people Cedric was close to deserve to know the truth.

Imagine that your friend is murdered, and someone else who wasn’t close to him or her knew how everything went down and refused to tell you anything. Was it painful? Was it quick? Did your friend suffer? You wouldn’t know. Neither do the Hufflepuffs, and we get nothing from them regarding Cedric’s death.

I could go on for hours on this topic alone, so let’s move on.

Harry Potter offers a wide variety of characters, but for the length of the books, it only really explores those in Gryffindor. I maintain that the biggest problems arise from a lack of development in Slytherin. An audience doesn’t need to agree with the antagonists, but it still needs to understand their drives.

Draco Malfoy, for instance, remains a two-dimensional bully until Half Blood Prince, when finally the Malfoys are given an identifiable motivation—that being an overwhelming love for their family. Narcissa was just as excellent in the movies as she was in the books, and surprisingly we see more of it in the movies. In the film adaptation of Deathly Hallows, she gets her son and she gets out—by the way, I love the Voldemort hug and the look or pure misery on Draco’s face during it—and it shows that the Malfoys are more loyal to family than they are to the Death Eaters. This makes them a wildcard, since they’ll help whichever side they need to, light or dark, in order to keep their son safe, which makes me wonder why the hell Lucius Malfoy looks back on the final battle longingly in the movie. That did not happen in the book. He was not torn between Voldemort and his son. The moment Draco fell into danger, he wanted out. The Malfoys are an interesting group. It just took so long to get to them. The payoff in this case, however, was well worth it.

If only the payoff with Voldemort could have been just as good…

He’s the main antagonist, but he’s a flat, clichéd villain. He’s not compelling in the slightest, up to the very end, and the movies showed no more insight into him than the books did. What’s his motivation? I guess it’s to be a Mudblood-hating, murderous douchebag who wants to live forever, just like every other villain in every other story. Nothing sets him apart as unique in his personality. Nothing. J. K. Rowling even stated that he was always evil.

And thus shattered the suspension of disbelief.

People aren’t born evil. They’re not, and the majority of the fanbase cannot connect to Voldemort on the mere grounds that he’s a psychopath (or a sociopath, not sure what the difference is). Having a psychopathic villain is not a crime when writing a novel, let me make that clear. The problem in this instant is that Voldemort had so much background and potential to be a well-rounded character, and he’s not. He grows up in a Muggle orphanage, and I think it’s safe to say that he’s abused or neglected there, and on top of that he has this magical power that he cannot control. Moreover, he doesn’t have the mentality to control it or use it wisely. He’s arguably such a powerful wizard because he withdrew into himself as a child and focused on harnessing this power and letting it grow. Then Dumbledore comes along and gives him this hope that he’s not alone, that there’s a wonderful world out there for people like him, and Voldemort opens up to Dumbledore. He doesn’t trust anyone before Dumbledore comes, and then in a moment of excitement he spills his soul out to a man he hardly knows, and Dumbledore betrays that trust. He treats Voldemort as an evil burden who needs to be watched, rather than as a child with severe problems who needs help.

In a way, Dumbledore is just as responsible for the rise of Voldemort as he is for Grindlewald. Unfortunately, we’re not supposed to sympathize with Voldemort on any level despite the above, because he’s presented as someone who’s simply evil.

Like I said, there’s so much more to talk about, but this review’s long enough as it is, and my hands hurt. In the end, I think I’m just disappointed. Lock the Slytherins in the dungeon, indeed.

Transformers III: Yet Another Excuse to Blow Things Up

I’m going to start this off by saying I love Transformers. Who doesn’t? Large, shape-changing robots locked in an epic battle of good and evil, shooting at each other, blowing people to smitherings. It’s awesome and my excitement when the first movie hit theaters could hardly be contained. Sure, it had its fair share of problems, like all movies do, but it was a good movie. Then, the second movie came out, and I squealed like a fangirl when I heard they were making it. Then, I saw the second movie. And by God if it didn’t just have a plot for the sake of having a plot.

Now, I’m not a particularly sensitive person, so it took me a couple times watching the second movie to finally be like, “Hey, isn’t this a little racist?” Yes, I am very thick when it comes to racism, unless it’s bashing me in the face with a sledge hammer, but I swear that movie has a stereotype for everything in it.

I was a little excited for the chickbots, though—who then died after one line. Just a random question, since we know there are different-gendered robots: how do they reproduce exactly? I know this has nothing to do with anything, but those chickbots were way too small to hook up with any of the other robots without being ripped in half. Not only that, but they’re robots. Why do they even need different genders?

Sorry. Let’s move away from the second movie for a bit.

Now, like Revenge of the Fallen, I did like Dark of the Moon… to an extent. They’re guilty pleasures. I’ll admit that, but neither one is really worth seeing in theaters more than once. Dark of the Moon is fun, action-packed, filled with cheesy lines that we all love hearing alien robots say, but nothing more, not really. There’s no harm in liking this movie, but there’s no harm in hating it, either. On the contrary, it’s just as easy to hate it as it is to love it, if not more.

A lot more, actually.

Like I said, action-packed, humorous—well, humorous if your brain possibly died before entering the theater—it has everything one expects from a Transformers movie, but for the length it runs and the amount of time it spends showing LeBeouf staring at Whiteley, that relationship could have been better developed. Granted, no one goes to see Transformers for romance, but without it, the purpose of her character is completely defeated, considering Michael Bay didn’t hire her for furthering that pesky plot.

Some quick history regarding Whiteley’s casting and Megan Fox’s leaving.

Now, as we all know, there’s just a bit of controversy surrounding this whole issue with Megan Fox on the Transformer’s set. She compared Michael Bay to Hitler, which probably wasn’t in her career’s best interest, considering that Spielberg told Bay to fire her immediately. The crew didn’t like her, and some of them came out with an article bashing the young actress and calling her some pretty awful things. I don’t remember the details, and I don’t feel the need to look it up again, but I’m sure “bitch” came up a couple of Way-Too-Frigging-Many times. Now I get that she could have been more personable, but I never understood why if a girl doesn’t smile at you on her way to work, she’s a complete bitch. What was the problem? If a guy doesn’t smile at me when I pass him by, is he a dick? Or are women just not allowed to have bad days? It also seems as though the only people who had any sort of problems with her were Michael Bay and his crew, because from what I hear, everyone else she’s worked with on different movies liked her and got along great.

It’s no secret that Michael Bay is just a bit of a misogynist, and there’s only so much some people can take. My theory is that Megan Fox reached her limit. Sure, she could have handled the situation better; there’s no denying that, but making her out to be a complete bitch who’s the only one at fault is never going to be the full story.

According to one site, Shia LeBeouf quoted about the whole thing:

“Megan developed this Spice Girl strength, this woman-empowerment [stuff] that made her feel awkward about her involvement with Michael, who some people think is a very lascivious filmmaker, the way he films women. Mike films women in a way that appeals to a 16-year-old sexuality. It’s summer. It’s Michael’s style. And I think [Fox] never got comfortable with it. This is a girl who was taken from complete obscurity and placed in a sex-driven role in front of the whole world and told she was the sexiest woman in America. And she had a hard time accepting it. When Mike would ask her to do specific things, there was no time for fluffy talk. We’re on the run. And the one thing Mike lacks is tact. There’s no time for”—LaBeouf assumes a gentle voice—“‘I would like you to just arch your back 70 degrees.’”

Wow, not only is Sam an asshole in the movie, he’s played by an asshole, too. No wonder his character seemed believable. First of all, “woman-empowerment [Stuff].” Really though? Does anyone else think “stuff” was originally “shit” or something just as strong? Well, I guess we should thank him for separating the true feminists from the wannabes. Ask yourself a question. Do you like Spice Girls? If the answer is no, you’re not a woman empowered. Awesome. I’m glad that’s all cleared up. As for it being summer and Bay’s style, I guess that makes everything better. It’s just Bay’s style that he’s a misogynistic jerk, and summer completely excuses his making Fox audition by washing his car in a bikini while he filmed her. Because that’s not unsettling in the slightest.

Oh, and by the way, LeBeouf, we don’t think he’s a lascivious filmmaker because of how he films women, we know. Just take a look at the first shot of Megan Fox in Revenge of the Fallen.

Then there’s the matter of whether or not Fox left or was fired. She claims she left on her own, but Bay and everyone else feel the need to imply otherwise in their wording of the situation, and the bashing of this young actress just doesn’t seem to cease. But you’re going to have to come up with your own opinion on this. Personally, I think she left, but from what I know, it could be either.

Fox’s replacement, Whiteley, is not an actress. She’s a Victoria’s Secret model—and Bay even filmed a commercial she’s in, once more proving that Victoria’s Secret is marketed at heterosexual males. Surprising, considering the products it sells. I’m going to let everyone in on a spoiler right now. She plays the exact same person in the movie as she does in the commercial.

I really didn’t want to make most of this review about sexism, because there are so many other things to talk about, but if this movie succeeded in being less racist than the last one, then by God, it certainly failed at being less sexist. At least Fox actually did something on occasion. This new girl added nothing. She existed to get more penises into the theater. The very first shot is of her ass. Everyone eyes her, even the robots. And for the first half of the movie, I was surprised her head even appeared on screen at all since every other shot of her lingered on her body that was always clothed in some revealing, normally white dress (her nickname is Angel, so maybe that’s why they chose white). I wouldn’t even say she’s that good of a plot device. Yeah, Sam goes to Chicago to rescue her, but the Autobots would have ended up there anyway for the battle. Not to mention, that while Sam angsts throughout the whole movie, and even snaps at her on occasion, she doesn’t forgive him for it because his being a douchebag never upsets her enough in order to forgive him. Even after the supposed break-up, the next scene Whiteley and LeBeouf are together like nothing’s happened. This relationship exists for the sake of existing. Why do they even like each other? What’s something interesting about her? At least Fox’s character had that whole backstory with her dad and stealing cars. I know my roommate particularly loved how during the battle that never ended Whiteley’s shoes kept changing from flats to heels and back again.

You know what? Never mind. She does do something in the movie. She gives Megatron the worst pep talk in existence. Apparently, he needed to be called a bitch to realize just what a bitch he is. In fact, he’s been someone’s bitch since the second movie. This is really out of character for him. In the original shows—or at least in Transformers: Beast Wars, since that’s the one I watched—he is a narcissistic little bastard. He doesn’t take shit from anyone because he thinks he’s the man. And he thinks he’s the most powerful thing out there. And should someone more powerful come along and try to take over, he finds a way to kill that son of bitch. But in the new movies he’s like, “No, that’s okay. Hold on while I bend over.” So the incredibly short-lived speech Whiteley gives him is just as pointless as the rest of her character because Megatron wouldn’t need it. And I think they were trying to develop him more this movie, but it’s so bland no one cares. The most I felt interested in him was the first time he appears and he’s feeding little robots and telling them not to be greedy. Were they supposed to his babies or something? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look at anything with such affection, outside of himself, of course. And that particular part of the movie goes nowhere, so it’s useless, too. Though I did like his emo cloak, albeit confused to why he needed it.

Now, this movie was made in association with Hasbro. In association with a company known for making toys for children. Yeah, so how about showing people incinerated by robots who bleed when they’re ripped apart? Hell, the Decepticons don’t even wait to be killed in order to bleed. They just cough blood up while talking. Maybe they all just suffer from the mechanical equivalent of TB. This movie scared me. Did no one else get creeped out when the evil bird thing befriends that little girl, or when the building falls over and everyone is plummeting to their deaths? How about ripping apart robots limb by limb while they gush oily blood? And it’s the heroes doing that last one. Optimus pulls off Megatron’s head—successfully removing his spine, too, I might add—before shooting his old mentor point-blank in the face. One would think the leader of the good guys would have heard of mercy before. Holy shit, Optimus. Really? Anyone else you would like to brutally murder? You know, since you’re based off a toy designed for kids. I understand they’re at war, but was all that necessary? And of course, as he kills Sentinel, he has to have a trademark cheesy line, “No, you betrayed yourself.”

Besides all that, the movie is just long. The final battle has some pretty cool stuff in it, like that giant sandworm Decepticon, but I was sitting there the whole time thinking, “I would like to go use the bathroom sometime this month. Please end already.” Though, I think I was most shocked by seeing Alan Tudyk in this movie. And I really do have to ask why he would do this to himself. Though his character is possibly one of the few things I liked, that just might be the Firefly fangirl inside me speaking.

As a whole, this movie is pretty spectacular… visually. It’s also pretty spectacular in the sense of why anyone thought it was a good idea, though it’s definitely better than the last one. I’d definitely buy it when it hits stores, so that way if I ever hate myself enough in the near future, I can just watch it again to make me hate myself more.