I’ll start by saying that this isn’t going to be the long winded review that the previous entry was, and will instead be much more like the bulleted list in the middle of the previous entry.
In the days that have followed the midnight release, I have been following a lot of the film’s reception online out of an innate curiosity. I’ve observed a number of comments that I thought I would share my thoughts on.
1. Harry and Ginny’s relationship was poorly portrayed.
Absolutely. However, this is not a trait specific to Deathly Hallows, but rather a trait specific to the entire series. Even their more romantic scenes – their kiss in first half of the Deathly Hallows novel – were mostly mechanical in the film series, there simply to provide Harry a love interest. The filmmakers were far more interested in the Ron-Hermione relationship, which is to a degree understandable. Given that they had the difficult task of writing and producing these films without the knowledge of the end of the series, the only real romantic relationship that the series had was Ron-Hermione. Harry and Cho was really only a two book deal that was amorphous fan service at best, halfhearted dangling plot string at worse. Harry and Ginny, though Rowling says otherwise, was an afterthought. A well-developed afterthought, sure, but an afterthought still.
I think the reasons for this are quite simple – Ginny had a hugely plot significant role in Chamber of Secrets, despite little mention in Sorcerer’s Stone. One would expect that she held a role similar to a weekly guest star in some adventure serial – here now, gone later. And indeed, her status was essentially demoted to extra in subsequent books and films. It wasn’t until Order of the Phoenix in the book series that she had any major role to speak of outside of “random Gryffindor student and bit part at the Burrow”. And it wasn’t until Half-Blood Prince that anyone really started to see her as a potential match for Harry. The filmmakers could never have predicted that, so they kept with the “demote Ginny to extra” plan for most of the films, and given the amount of time cuts that needed to be made, “demote to extra” really meant “virtually eliminate from the film”.
So, yes, the Harry-Ginny relationship was horribly portrayed in the films. This is, however, a fault mostly with the timeline of developing the films before the books were finished, and not necessarily the actors.
2. Neville’s line
There has been a LOT of controversy in Potter circles about Neville’s confession of love for Luna in the midst of the battle. In the novel canon, Neville marries Hannah Abbot and Luna marries a distant relative of fictional author Newt Scamander (do NOT ask how and why I know this). People are thusly outraged that the screenwriters added in this random romantic fling between two central characters.
I, however, appreciated it. Neville and Luna, in retrospect, seem like perfect fits for each other. Both had been shrugged off numerous times as not having much worth, Neville due to his unfortunate difficulties with magic, and Luna due to her oddities. Both were fairly important figures in the D.A., and both were significant figures in the resistance against Snape and the Carrows at Hogwarts in 1998. Neville, though not foolish, would certainly be willing to accept Luna’s odd fantasies and hunts for bizarre creatures, while Luna would likely be perfectly interested in Neville’s random Herbology rants (“Amazing… amazing!” … “Neville, you’re doing it again.” This remains one of my favorite exchanges between Neville and any other character – Harry in this case – and one of the only good things about Goblet of Fire).
Neville and Luna would definitely work, and I honestly wish that Rowling had noticed that.
3. The stuff in Bellatrix’s vault didn’t burn their skin!
Minor detail. If it bothers you that much, they ARE seen rubbing some sort of healing lotion/potion/thing on their hands after they swim to shore following their dragon escape.
4. Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he is going to the forest, and tells them to kill the snake.
I’ll be honest and say that this irked me, but I’m not that annoyed by it. Yes, it did deviate from the book’s version, in which Harry only told Neville his plan and told Neville to kill the snake. The book’s version has the advantage of showing Harry how loyal his friends are even outside of Ron and Hermione, and I thought it was a really touching scene that Neville unquestioningly said “Kill the snake. Got it.” The film’s version, however, was a more direct appeal to emotion.
I personally prefer the subtle version with Neville, especially given that in the book’s version of the ending, Neville and Neville alone kills the snake, but I can understand why the filmmakers changed it. Slightly irksome, but not devaluing. The actors certainly pulled it off well, so I won’t complain.
I’ve been rewatching the majority of the film series, since it has been a while. I’m noting a few things that I think are pretty impacting on the series as a whole, so once I’m done I’m going to gather my thoughts and make a post in which I evaluate the series as a whole, pointing out what I felt they did right, wrong, and what I simply would have done differently – not necessarily better or worse, but just different.
But that’s a post for another day.