Monday, November 22nd, 2010

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows': Two Nerds Geek Out

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: We need to talk about Harry Potter.


Natasha: Clearly, we as Americans agree that HP7 is a FINE FILM. But as wizard nerds, like as a lady who, um, would really like to have been cast as Tonks, I have to say I was a little bummed out.

Dan: Pull out your shimmering strands of memory, drop them into your Pensieve, and explain to me why.


Dan: Right, so this scene in the book is nothing but the purest malarkey.

Natasha: This is a BIG problem not just with the movie but with JK's last book. Voldies was like NOT THAT MENACING. THE DARK LORD GOT SHAFTED! Where is the danger?! Where is the spOooOoOky?

Dan: "'Yaxley, Snape,' said a high, clear voice from the head of the table. 'You are very nearly late.' The speaker was seated directly in front of the fireplace, so that it was difficult, at first, for the new arrivals to make out more than his silhouette."

Natasha: That means the dark lord showed up for the death eater meeting. He had to like, pull out a chair. Shouldn't he have been FLOATING!? Or like?! Sitting on a throne of muggle skulls!

Dan: So I have to say that I give props to the movie for streamlining it, and making the death of Charity Burbage (a professor of whom we've previously heard almost nothing) legitimately moving, and then getting the hell out.

Natasha: Yes, agreed. I will say that so far MOVIE > BOOK. Did not approve of the book. I think the movie made the deathly hallows WAAAY more relevant than the book. Needed more Nagini :(

Dan: Maybe it's because of the book's various weaknesses, or maybe it's just that the moviemakers are finally like getting it, but this was the first movie in which I thought that the film's flights of fancy actually improved the story. Like for example: Seeing Hermione bewitch her parents to forget her, something we are stupidly only told about in the book.

Natasha: YES! And that was movinggggg.

Dan: And: Hedwig dying a hero, instead of just getting shot in her cage.

Natasha: BUT, DAN KOIS ….

Dan: And! Everyone going straight to the burrow after the Seven Harrys misadventure, instead of going to Ted Tonks' house for no reason.

Natasha: BUT ALL OF THAT WAS IN VAIN because the filmmakers glossed over the most movie-friendly dramatic conflicts of the book and of the series: THE MINISTRY!

Natasha: While I enjoyed the site gag featuring Finch from "The Office," Yates was far too whimsical about the whole fascist/torture squad system of the Ministry. The true horror of the Dark Lord is that faceless bureaucrats will carry out his orders! It’s an important lesson to convey to youngs and olds alike! I was sad they played that so slap-stick-ey.

Dan: Come on, Natasha. Can we just not let the children of America get ten years older and watch Brazil to see this exact point made 1,000 times better than J.K. Rowling ever could? I'd rather that the DEATHLY HALLOWS movie concentrate on what ONLY the DEATHLY HALLOWS movie can accomplish, which is giving me as much Ron-Hermione-Harry time as possible. And on that front, DEATHLY HALLOWS delivers!

Natasha: No, Dan! Either the movie is a metaphor for the Chilean dictator Pinochet's coup in 1973 or it's a second rate Twilight. PICK A SIDE! Though you do have a point, the Ron/Hermoine/Harry drama was good.

Dan: YES.


Dan: I was really worried going into this movie, because the book draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaags in all the scenes where they're sitting in a tent with nothing to do except trade the Horcrux off daily.

Natasha: Yes, the 300 pages of cranky camping.

Dan: But luckily in this case the movie's desperate condensation really paid off! I LOVED the dance! Because:

A) Great Nick Cave song

B) Remarkably well played by two actors who could easily have really screwed it up

C) Advanced the love triangle plot, which was horribly UNDERSERVED in the book.

Dan: Because for real even though I knew that Hermione was destined for Ron, I held my breath because it would not have been out of the question, in that moment, with hormones raging, for Hermione to have thrown Harry down on the floor of the tent and ravaged him.

Dan: And so that was the only point in the movie where I was like: holy shit, What will happen next?

Natasha: Let's also take a moment to recognize Rupert Grint as most improved Potter cast member.

Dan: Yes, definitely! That creatine he's been mainlining somehow improved his acting muscles too!

Natasha: Ron Weasley: Juice Head?

Dan: Well, in the magical world there are spells for it, like the one Hermione used to fix her buckteeth.

Dan: Just point your wand at your delts and go "ENGORGIO!"

Natasha: He also stopped doing ugly frown face in lieu of acting anxious.

Natasha: Let's move on to a topic that is polarizing the wizarding community and movie fans alike: The House Elves.

Dan: YES.

Natasha: Kreacher and y. THOUGHTS?


Natasha: *sits down at death eater table*

Dan: (Rowle is taking dictation.)

Natasha: "Will there be snaxx?" —Yaxley. ACCIO POWER POINT.

Dan: "Punch and pie!" —Cartman, who would obviously be a Death Eater.

Natasha: AH! these are all my slash dreams come true!

Natasha: Also, sidenote: Alan Rickman as bloated member of The Cure. Brave artistic choice.

Dan: Robert Smith is suing WB for inappropriate use of his image.

Natasha: Robert Smith is a mudblood (mud= diabetes).

Dan: In any event! Harry's kind treatment of Kreacher—and Kreacher's transformation from yapping horror to doting grandmother—is an important point, and a part of the book that weighs heavily on later events.

Natasha: YES.

Dan: And so losing it was a real shame, I thought. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE it really has a major effect on how we feel about Harry's treatment of: ISSUE TWO: DOBBY.

Natasha: Oh man.

Dan: Fucking Dobby.

Natasha: Listen.

Dan: "Dobby is listening to Natasha! Dobby loves Natasha!"

Natasha: Some may regard Dobby as a latter day Jar-Jar but I LOVE ME SOME DOBBY. *WAVES S.P.E.W. CARD* So NATCH I was sobbing in the book and in the movie.

Dan: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck Dobby. At least Movie Dobby, who is a fucking rubbery Toby Jones-voiced simpering piece of shit.

Dan: Book Dobby is BORDERLINE AWFUL, but has his moments, and his death is treated beautifully.

Natasha: You were unmoved by the death of the talking raisin?

Dan: Movie Dobby is AWFUL. That speech he gives Bella and Narcissa as they leave? FUCK THAT SHIT. That's the storyteller's worst impulses there. And watching Harry cradle that floppy piece of rubber and try to act sad was a real shit way to end Part 1.

Dan: Kids will be weeping, I know! They will be heartbroken! But the fact that we get like a five-minute death scene for Dobby and the movie skips right over Wormtail's gruesome fate suggests that the fine folks at WB are no dummies about knowing which side their bread is buttered on.

Natasha: I DON'T DEFEND IT. Which brings us to the ultimate issue. I believe Azkaban is likely the strongest movie not just cause of the FABULOUS direction but because of the strength of the source material. HP7 was a mess. It should have been about horcruxes and hallows!

Dan: They know that kids care about the deaths that are uncomplicated and easy to mourn, and Rowling, to her credit, gave us both kinds. The movie, I fear, will skip over the really challenging ones. I am terrified of how they will handle the (SPOILER ALERT) End of Snape.

Natasha: Yates kind of screwed up on the Mad Eye Moody sitch.

Dan: Yes for real. Harry drinks his first firewhiskey! That's a great scene!

Natasha: Yes! The other problem was they almost get eaten by NAGGIIINNNIII then they apparate into the woods and are like, "Crazy, huh? K, night."

Dan: "Just another day at the office!" HEY WAIT. I HAVE AN IMPORTANT QUESTION.

Dan: There was only one thing in the movie that even after seeing it twice I DO NOT UNDERSTAND AT ALL.

Natasha: Why the actor playing Mundungus has not been featured more heavily?

Dan: No. Why does Bathilda Bagshot have a nursery with a big Muggle light fixture in it hidden behind a wall in her house?

Natasha: RIGHT?!

Dan: WTF was that? Is the Ye Old Potter House supposed to be next door to the Hoarder Bagshot?

Dan: We get a flashback from Voldy's perspective of killing the parents.

Dan: But Harry's nursery was destroyed, and anyways wouldn't have a swinging light fixture with a light bulb in it. PLEASE EXPLAIN IN THE COMMENTS, AMERICA

Natasha: Here’s another nerd problem: Lucius, the HOOOTTEST member of the Hogwarts PTA, was actin’ a mess but no with explanation. I mean, I KNOW WHY because I write slash about him (come visit,

Dan: Yeah, I understand stress and concern causing you not to shave, but not if you are a FUCKING WIZARD.

Dan: See also: right here.

Dan: "Look, my wife and I have an arrangement. As long as she comes first, she doesn't mind a little straying on the side. In fact, Severus and I had a long term arrangement. Narcissa is always, and forever, first. My dearest, the love of my life. She knows this. She also knows she lacks a cock, and occasionally I like to play with one that isn't mine." Sorry, what? I was otherwise occupied.

Natasha: *DYING*


Natasha: So where do you think there would have been a better place to end if not with the Death of Lou Dobz?

Dan: There was no better place to end. I mean, clearly at some point someone at WB called Steve Kloves on the phone and was like "Steve, you need to at least get them to the Lovegood house." And Steve was like "Why?"


Dan: So knowing that, I guess Dobby's death is as good as anything. Although if clifhanger was what they were going form they should've just locked them up in the basement of Malfoy Manor, had Bella Cruciatus Hermoine (instead of just carving something in her arm, WTF), and then cut to "SEE YOU IN JULY!"

Natasha: ONCE AGAIN, KOIS I am really miffed about this! This all comes back to my beef:

1. Voldy using Microsoft Outlook to plan meetings

2. The ministry being an goofy adventuRRRe

3. Luna's dad who sells out Harry because they kidnapped his daughter

All of those things are scary! Why did they underplay? Why didn't they make it dark like the scary wolf in The Neverending Story?

Dan: You are the only person in America complaining that this movie was not dark enough.

Natasha: Why was there no ass to ass scene set to the Kronos Quartet?

Dan: Right now parents who never read the Harry Potter books are like "I DIDN'T KNOW THERE WOULD BE TORTURE AND NAZI ICONOGRAPHY"

Natasha: Can Lars Von Trier direct the last one?

Dan: Snape's Patronus is a talking fox who says "Chaos Reigns."

Natasha: But without the danger and sense of evil, the movie/story/saga—well, someone needs to shake these kids up out of their sext parties!!!! I WANT NAZI WIZARDS!!!!

Dan: Sure, but luckily we have characters we love to carry us through. Rowling/Kloves/Yates/WB/everyone knows we need to have big fucking battles and whatnot to end this, that is what the kids require in their fantasy epics.

Dan: But at least we have this movie, which downplays a lot of that in favor of giving us some time with three characters we really like.

Natasha: DO THEY THOUGH? You have spawns of your loins.

Dan: Well, at least it is what The Market requires.



Dan: Point of odor, Lisa stinks!

Natasha: Ok, continue.

Dan: What is the Harry Potter movie series, in the end?

Natasha: A parable about Nazis. DUH, NEXT QUESTION.


Given that! I count my blessings that AGAINST ALL ODDS the movies have been inventive, thoughtful, well cast, beautiful to look at, and fairly faithful to the books. And – MOST IMPORTANTLY – that they have gotten better each time! What kind of universe do we live in? Since when does Hollywood take a beloved series about which nerds feel strongly and NOT FUCK IT UP?


Dan: Thank god for fucking Peter Jackson is all I have to say. The guy may be wasting away like he's got the fucking Ring of Power, but thank God for him.

Dan: So yeah, that is what I have to say. My Howler has extinguished itself.

Natasha: I agree with you and it's a pretty big testament to the franchise that we would even expect more.

Dan: Not to mention that every good theater actor in Britain has a summer house now.

Dan Kois recently wrote about Whit Stillman; Natasha Vargas-Cooper recently wrote about silver foxes.

20 Comments / Post A Comment

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Ugggggggh, I do not like poorly photoshopped marginally NSFW bottle blonds!

(Also wtf is that a guitar?)

All the written parts were great, though.

deepomega (#1,720)


So what did you two think of this delightful caper then? (Ministry of Magic's myspace page is a particular gem, btw.)

joshc (#442)

How are they having this without Harry and the Potters? (

fortenbras (#8,698)

Bathilda Bagshot's house is a townhouse or rowhouse. It's attached. This is very common in the UK. Nagini and Harry smash through the wall into the neighboring home's nursery.

I have to say that having devoured the second book in approximately 15 minutes, and as a result having committed almost none of it to long-term memory, this movie did a great job! Although I'm with NVC on the conference table thing – I was kind of waiting for him to have Bellatrix give a report on their financial forecasting model. But for the most part, I thought it was great! The animation sequence was gorgeous, and in spite of the bazillion pages of chilling in the woods stuff in the book, I found myself quite captivated throughout the film – even in all of the camping parts. I had forgotten about the whole Pettigrew mess until everyone started whining about it the next day, and am eager to see whether or not that's addressed in the next installment.

Really, my only complaint is the greased up shiny makeout scene, which was gross. Your projected fears can look less like they were filmed at Glamour Shots, Ron.

Oh, and Dumbledore's awesome puzzle grave is the bomb.

kneetoe (#1,881)

My nine year old daughter LOVES Tonks and tells me all the time how sad she is that Tonks dies. She doesn't want to see the movie because she doesn't want to experience that again. Is it covered in the movie? SPOILER REQUEST

Not in this half.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Many thanks.

cherrispryte (#444)


1) Skipping The Redemption of Kreacher is my biggest problem with the movie. That bit's so important for so many reasons!

2) There are so many things that got cut from the book that made the story more complex and heartbreaking – the Dursley's final treatment of Harry, Dudley's change of heart, Hedwig's death just being senseless, Ron giving Harry crap re: Ginny, Kreacher having dinner all ready for them and them not coming home, Lupin's marital struggles, stealing and burying Mad-Eye's eye Harry finding his mother's letter, Wormtail's compassion being the cause of his own death, Harry saying Voldemort's name and therefore being responsible for their getting captured – all of this, in my opinion, was really important to add depth to the story, and not having any of this in there made the movie FAR weaker than the book.

3)ALSO OMG how everyone was hungry/starving for most of the camping bits. One simple "we have no food and it's making us all bitchy" scene would have done it.

3) The effort the trio puts into being hidden – invisibility cloak, polyjuice potion – for the most part skipped in the movie. The fact that they put all of this time and energy into deception made the dangers of getting caught seem more pressing.

In conclusion (yes, I am a huge HP nerd. I own this. No, I did not wear a costume to the midnight screening I attended.)
Anyway, the movie took out a lot of depth and darkness that was present in the book, and I think that made the movie pretty weak.

OH ALSO – My corner of Tumblr discovered this over the weekend, and it is still blowing my mind. The Three Brothers in the Hallows story represent Voldemort, Snape and Harry – Voldemort was obsessed with power and being invincible over death, Snape's actions are motivated by his deceased love, and Harry gets to a point where he can meet Death as an old friend.

Re: your last point, Cherri – My Mind is blown!
How can people like that Twilight garbage better than this????

Also do not feel bad – I've been to either 3 or 4 midnight shows (I forget), and then one-upped myself and managed to get a ticket to a 9pm sneak preview on Thursday. NERDS UNITE!

cherrispryte (#444)

As has been said before, “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”

MaríaJosé (#4,706)

I agree with all your very valid points, but still really liked the movie. I've always tried to watch them all like movies,not movies based on books that I love. Harry Potter is exactly about confronting fears etc, but also about so many other important, powerful things, and all of the movies fail to represent those. To fans like us, this seems like a betrayal of a really complex series. But I guess that's the difference between books and movies. Movies (at least big budget ones) are about one mood or feeling, while books can give us many.
(hope I explained this well-English is my second lenguage)

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Bleh. Glad they rushed over the "wilderness" part. It was soooooooo oooooooo oooooOOOOOOO long in the book I wanted to blow my head off.

HiredGoons (#603)

I would ask you, Natasha, what precise element of a boardroom meeting you do NOT find bone-chilling & spooky?

Because I can't think of one to save my life.

riotnrrd (#840)

Sometimes, there's danish.

iplaudius (#1,066)

I find Ralph Fiennes's performance absolutely terrifying. To me, his interpretation is much worse than the crimson-eyed cartoon of the books. His Voldemort retains enough humanity — warped, pathological, mutilated humanity. This sense of humanity perverted brings feelings of revulsion and terror I wouldn’t feel with a more predictably Halloweenified "dark wizard."

Underwear (#8,486)

I'm Team Dan in that I was absolutely thrilled that the movie was as watchable as it was, and the trio moments were wonderful. But I'm also Team Natasha in that I'm absolutely thrilled that Natasha likes Harry Potter as much as I do.


iplaudius (#1,066)

As much as I love a good po-mo interpretation, it’s just a banquet table, no?

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