Musings: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Nerdrage

The past few days have been a fun, exhausting blur. Sadly, I’ve been feeling guilty the whole time for not feeling up to writing any blog posts; however, all is not lost. My boss is out of town for the next 3 weeks, so I can take my time and write posts in my spare time at work. Hooray!

My ID badge picture will soon be replaced with this.

My “weekend” started last Thursday evening in preparation for the Deathly Hallows Part 2 opening. The three best friends (Me, J, and H) gathered in DC to make butterbeer, grill some hot dogs, and pound some Little Debby snacks; a proper sendoff to our childhoods, if I may say so myself. We then hopped on a metro to Chinatown around 9:30 so that we could grab seats for the 6 of us who were meeting at the theater.

As it would turn out, 10 is NOT early enough to arrive at a midnight showing of a Harry Potter movie. You would think that after 8 movies (3 of which were attended with a nearly identical group of people) that we would have figured it out by now. We did not. Of the 6 theaters showing the movie at midnight, 3 of which we had access to (only half were in 2D), only one had reasonable seats for 6 people. Although we were in the back row, I consider us to have been extremely lucky.

Knowing full well that I always get myself stoked to see various parts of the HP books in the movies and that I’m always disappointed, I set myself up for the bitter feeling of being unfulfilled anyway. The first viewing is always the worst too; subsequent viewing benefit from already knowing what was cut. The good news is that I liked this film the most upon first viewing out of the 8. The bad news is that I have major issues with two changes that the movie decided to make.

'I foresee grave irritation in your future'

First, the good. David Yates has always done a great job bringing a more mature, cinematic touch to the HP films. I think the first two films in the series did well with what they had, but completely lacked any style at all. The third film was quite good, but maybe a little too stylized. The fourth film sucked. DHp2 maintains Yates’ distinct style and is probably the film best suited for it thus far. Much like what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman reboot, Yates blends a completely over-the-top universe with an abundance of gritty, “someone is going to die” flavor that makes the whole thing feel more realistic than it would normally be.

See, this is what a REALISTIC kiss looks like. You've just been doing it wrong.

Furthermore, for the first time in any of the films, I could understand why elements of the plot were changed. Although it never makes me happy, I can understand how 30-minutes of sidetracking to explain an inevitably minor point does not make for good cinema. I’m just going to have to wait until I get fabulously rich so that I can self-fund a Harry Potter miniseries, where each chapter receives its own episode.

Expect to see this image a lot.

Besides all of this, the movie is just fun to watch overall. Although I’m far from an action junkie, I enjoyed how the film picks up very quickly and never slows down. The emotional bits of the tale are also done exceptionally well. The conclusion of Snape’s story is every bit as draining and moving as it was in the books, even if I would have liked to see even more of the flashbacks that were described in the books.

Now, for the bad. Two parts of the movie made me want to punch somebody in the face for defiling essential plot points for absolutely no reason. The first, and less severe, was the fact that Harry just straight blurts out that he’s hunting for Horcruxes to Aberforth. We all know you are trying to get a point across Harry, BUT DID YOU FORGOT THAT IT IS AN INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT SECRET? Perhaps it slipped your mind that you haven’t been allowed to ask for help from any of the infinitely more powerful witches and wizards on your side because it’s so important that no one else knows?

'This is really supposed to be a secret, but what the hell. WE'RE GOING AFTER BIN LADEN TONIGHT.'

The second point almost ruined the movie for me completely. It’s the type of thing that I might refilm myself and edit directly into my copy of the movie whenever it is released on Blu-ray, because I think it undermines one of the most important themes of the series. If you haven’t finished the books/films yet, get off my blog. Alternatively, stop reading, because spoilers are forthcoming.

At the conclusion of Harry and Voldemort‘s final showdown (which would have been better left in the Great Hall, surrounded by other duelers), Voldemort loses his wand and sort of just disintegrates into dust. Not only is it anti-climactic, but it ruins the point that Voldemort was just as human as everyone else and could die just as suddenly/easily. Conversely, in the book, Voldemort uses a killing curse on Harry, while Harry tries to disarm him (which is supposed to so how pure of heart he is. The movie missed this point too). When Voldemort’s curse backfires, he just drops dead, spread eagle in the middle of the hall. When I first read it, I was shocked at how he was the world’s most dangerous wizard one moment and then suddenly a corpse like any other. Regardless of all of his attempts to avoid death, in the end he was no different than anyone else. By making his death so unique, unnatural, and completely abnormal, the movie seems to push the point that he was a creature all his own. They should have taken some cues from how they did Snape’s death. Now THAT was a shocking death scene.

Pictured: The only thing creepier than Snape's death.

After the movie on Thursday, we got back around 3:30. I begrudgingly went to work on Friday, which was an 8-hour blur. Friday night, the three best friends met some other lovely friends for dinner at Commissary in DC. The food and atmosphere at the place were amazing and made me a bit sad to be leaving DC in 2 weeks. Oh DC, how I barely knew thee.

On Saturday morning, Jenny and I went out to Lake Needwood (lol) to participate in a waterway cleanup at the park. We weren’t there that long, but the collective participants managed to drag out 380 pounds of trash over 3 hours. They gave out  some pretty nice swag too: A t-shirt, a Nalgene, a flag, free subs, organic plums. It was an awesome way to spend a Saturday morning.

Saturday night, the 3BFs made sloppy joe’s and had ice cream (mmmm, Neapolitan. The ice cream of racial harmony). Then, Jenny and I went to see HP again. Although my above breakdown partially reflects my opinion of the movie from both viewings, I assure you that I enjoyed the film a whole lot more the second time and would like to see it a third. Sunday morning, Jenny and I hit up Annandale for some free samples at the bakery and to stop at H-mart. Then we made the 10-mile trek to and from Georgetown to return some things. And now here I am, Monday morning! I hope you all have a good Monday and have a chance to see HP many, many times. Adios!


Musings: Life after Clarence

As most of you know, Clarence Clemons died on Saturday night. I personally heard about it from my roommate on Sunday. Although he claims to be a Bruce fan, he’s a casual listener at best, which leaves him with an emotional disconnect with the news. So it was with an incongruous nonchalance that he mentioned the loss casually in the middle of a conversation.

I obviously never knew Clarence Clemons personally. In many ways, he always struck  me as more of a symbol than as a person. He was the massive dude with the distinct tone on his sax. He was the one that was always standing next to Bruce, mutual respect binding their distinct personas. He’s the one who shares the cover of the greatest rock record of all time. He was an icon.

I was particularly stunned by the news because I had just finished watching a documentary on Bruce and the band on Saturday. In a dumb sort of way, I was feeling particularly close to them yesterday, having just witnessed a detailed representation of the painstaking process they went through to make Darkness on the Edge of Town over 30 years ago.

As soon as I heard the news, I couldn’t help but think of the footage in the documentary, snapping back and forth between present day interviews and old film from the studio. The whole bunch of them weren’t much older than I am now when they were making the album; in the past 3 years, two of them have died.

It’s also hard to come to grips with the fact that I’ll never see the big man live. As much as I love Bruce, I still haven’t had a chance to be to one of his shows. As anyone who has been to one of them can tell you, they’re where his music really comes alive. I’m still sure I’ll see them one day, but it will never be same. Clarence’s sax is the second most distinct sound in that band, second only to Bruce’s voice. It doesn’t matter if someone new comes on board to play the solos; they’ll never sound the same, let alone feel the same. I sort of wonder if Bruce will even bother trying to find someone to fill in.

He even pioneered my signature "cutoff and a bandana", years before I was born.

So farewell our giant friend. You played a major part in the production of some of music’s most inspired albums of all time. There’s not a single song that you played on that will ever sound the same without you. I hope you keep looking down with that penetrating gaze, zapping a little inspiration from the beyond.