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Today Shannon and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary by biking to Emeryville to see the last Harry Potter movie and then having dinner at Chevy's. We had a great time, though there was a bit of a bike crash (no one was hurt) on the way home.

Okay ... so ... the Harry Potter movie. I thought a lot of stuff about it was fabulous. The CGI, for example, was amazing. All the visuals were dramatic and gorgeous and atmospheric and wonderful. The acting, as always, was also amazing. I've been an Alan Rickman (Snape) fan since I fell in love with him in Die Hard in 1988, and his Snape has always been incredible. (Better looking than Snape was in the books, but still incredible.) Maggie Smith (McGonagall) grabbed me when I saw A Room with A View when I was still in high school (in 1985), and I've been excited by pretty much everything I've seen her in since. And I've never seen Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) in anything else but this series of films, but I think I love her. Even when she only appears in relatively short scenes, she blows me away.

I thought they did a great job with pretty much the entire Snape portion of this film's story. I loved the childhood flashbacks, I loved his quietly obvious tension throughout the early scenes, and I loved the drama and pathos of his death scene, and his telling Harry that he has his mother's eyes.

Now ... what I didn't like. One of my favorite scenes in the entire book series is when Neville kills Nagini ... and I thought this film TOTALLY fucked that up. Instead of him stepping forward when he thought Harry was dead, when everyone was ready to give up hope, and pulling the sword out of the hat and killing Nagini while Voldemort looked on in stunned horror and everyone else looked on in stunned admiration ...

Well, instead of that, Neville stepped forward after Harry's "death," gave a moving, inspiring speech, pulled out the sword, waved it around aimlessly for a couple seconds ... and got immediately blasted into oblivion, straight out of the scene, without accomplishing diddly-squat. So, instead of triumph, the result of his courageous stepping forward ended with embarrassment and defeat. In the book this was the moment when we truly understood the original prophecy, saw that Neville really could have been the boy to destroy Voldemort, could have been Voldemort's great nemesis, instead of Harry. Somewhere inside him, Neville too has always been a potential hero, and when he thinks Harry is dead, he finally finds that strong, fearless, noble part of himself and becomes the hero in Harry's absence. What a wonderful, moving moment! And the filmmakers stole it from us!

Immediately after Neville's standing up to Voldemort, after Neville gets unceremoniously tossed aside, everybody in the world tries to kill Nagini. In the book, this was Neville's task, assigned to him by Harry himself. But in the film, we have various people trying to kill Nagini with various weapons, until it actually becomes almost comical (Oh! Now Crabbe and Goyle are trying to kill Nagini with uncooked spaghetti noodles! Now Mrs. Norris is trying to kill Nagini with a dead mouse!), and then finally Neville shows up and kills the damn snake. By this time, it's kind of an anticlimax. Voldemort isn't present. There aren't two entire armies arrayed facing each other in a tense stand-off, everyone watching while Neville basically kicks Voldemort in the balls. Neville didn't get his moment in the sun. Why??? My poor Neville!!!

Also, the Room of Requirement scene. WTF? Harry "killed" the diadem with a tooth? While the room was burning with ... uh ... something that apparently wasn't Fiendfyre? I mean, no one ever said anything about Fiendfyre in the movie, and it apparently wasn't enough to kill the diadem all by itself (or Harry would not have needed the tooth), so the diadem was basically rescued from a fire that couldn't kill it (though it did in the book), then the diadem was killed with the randomly handy tooth, then the diadem was tossed back into the non-lethal fire, where it sorta blew up. So much simpler (and more ironic) to have Goyle -- in trying to defeat Harry -- cast the spell for the fire which then actually helps destroy Voldemort! I thought the changes to this particular scene were particularly tragic.

Also, I rather liked that, in the book, each horcrux was killed by a different person, using a different weapon. (I think there might have been one exception, but I'm not sure.) I liked that many different characters got to be heroic, that though Harry was the focus of the rebellion, he was not the sum total of what created Voldemort's downfall. But the movie pretty much focused on Harry Harry Harry. Ho hum.

I mean, I still enjoyed the movie, and I thought they did a great job with the goblins and the dragon and all that, but I'm just sad that two of my favorite scenes were messed up. Sigh.

One other problem with the movie: It's difficult to find a time to run to the bathroom during a movie that is almost entirely composed of climactic scenes. Sheesh! I was like, "Well, I don't want to miss when Fred/George dies ... or when Harry dies ... or when Neville kills Nagini ... or when Harry returns ... or when ... or when ... or when ..." It was ridiculous! Sadly, there was no "Pause" button available to me like there is at home! Luckily, I saw my chance and snuck out while Dream!Dumbledore was rambling about something or other (I remember that scene being boring in the book, too.), and I don't think I missed much of anything.

Anyway, it's been a lovely anniversary. Now Shannon would like some more of my attention, so adieu!

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