THE MOVIE - PART 1
A fair warning before we get into things here. These two movies are the last of the series. If you're worried about anything getting spoiled, I urge you to turn back now because to some extent, things need to be. Without further ado, here's Part 1.
At this point, if you've been keeping up, we know that Voldemort has divided his soul into several pieces. Each piece resides in something valuable to Voldemort in some way. These trinkets are known as horcruxes. Before the movie even starts, we know of three, as this was all mentioned throughout 'Half-Blood Prince'. Before Dumbledore died, he entrusted Harry with the task of finding and destroying what was remaining of the horcruxes. With their destruction, Voldemort will be able to be destroyed himself, once and for all.
As the movie starts, we see Harry, Ron, and Hermione preparing for the journey. I'm not ashamed to say things get fairly emotional here, and you can almost feel the amping up of the adventure at hand. That one, final, epic journey for the trio is definitely something I can sort of "feel in the air" when watching.
As the journey unfolds, however, the first movie sort of has the same problem the book does. It spends most of it's time on one single horcrux. At this point, two have been destroyed, and one ended up being a fake. So most of the movie is about finding and destroying that one item, even though going into it, you know there's four to go. Again, though, it was something that took me out of the book as well. But when we get to the point explaining what the Deathly Hallows are, the movie actually does a really cool read through and animation of the story explaining it all. To me, the best part of the movie.
Perhaps most controversial here is a particular scene that has Harry comforting Hermione after Ron runs off out of anger... which is kind of a long story, but in short, the locket (the big horcrux in this part) makes people pissy when they wear it. It's a lot like the One Ring in that way, but it's not a seductive item like the One Ring is. Anyway, Harry dances with her and tries to put a smile on her face. A lot of people take this as an attempt at providing the audience with a love triangle, of sorts. 'Twilight' was kind of big at the time, so that's where minds went. Truth be told, I never actually took that away from this. The main reason being, nothing actually develops out of it either way. The closest it comes is that Ron has some jealous feelings because he's more or less with Hermione now. But again, that locket magnified them. Was the scene in the book? No. But I treat it kinda like the burning of the Burrow in 'Half-Blood Prince'. Not in the book, perhaps unnecessary, but it illustrates something on an emotional level.
Aside from that, however, it's unfortunate that I have to admit that the movie does tend to drag a bit here and there. There are plenty of good action sequences throughout, but again, most of this story is about finding and destroying one thing. In the following movie, there are three more to go, including a big surprise.
I do tend to think 'Part 1' gets a bad rap, considering that it IS following the book pretty closely, overall. The effects still hold up, the dialogue is still quirky and funny at times, but there's just that unfortunate drag of them constantly relocating their camping ground. They did what they could with what they had, and did it pretty well. But I think it's almost clear that they knew their last movie had to be one big bang. When you do realize what part 2 entails though, it almost doesn't matter what happens in this one - you know it's gonna make up for any sort of disappointment you had. That said, the dividing point here is really strong, providing one hell of a cliffhanger.
COMPARING THE BOOK
This is actually gonna be super short, because frankly, there's just not a whole lot of difference going on here. Perhaps the biggest thing to be cut out of the book is the constant reading of articles and books. A LOT of it delves into Dumbledore's past. It provides us with the same sort of history on Dumbledore here as the history of Voldemort in 'Half-Blood Prince'. The difference is that it's a bit more difficult to sort of the truth from the lies, as Rita Skeeter has really dug her claws into the subject. Of course, we know from 'Goblet of Fire' that she can't be trusted with the truth, but there's enough cross-referencing here that Harry may just believe what she has to say.
The only big thing I was disappointed with that wasn't shown was a memorial for Harry's parents in Godric's Hollow - Harry's birthplace. Truth be told, for the movie, seeing the headstones was probably enough. But the idea of Harry finding a giant statue of his parents with him as a baby strikes me as a would-be-powerfully-emotional sight. But maybe that's just me.
As mentioned before, it's a little sad, but the first part of the book drags quite a bit. To give you some ides, 'Part 1' takes place between chapter 1 and approximately 24. 'Part 2' covers chapters 24-36. Chapter 24 kinda blends between them in a way, but it's not hard to tell that for those 24 chapters, despite a few action sequences, is a bit of a drag.
Anyway, I've got nothing else much to say about it. Being that these two movies are long, and dividing one book, it's not as easy to pull out a list of what they missed.
THE MOVIE PART 2
Well, it took me a while, but I managed to make it through all seven 'Harry Potter' books and all eight 'Harry Potter' movies. I'm happiest to say that Part 2 of 'The Deathly Hallows' actually covers what really makes Book 7 worth it, the Battle of Hogwarts!
The film starts off where the previous chapter left us. Again, fair warning for SPOILERS AHEAD! Our favorite House Efl, Dobby has been killed in action, which sets the stage for just how dark things get for this chapter, 'cause there's plenty more deaths to come. Harry, Ron and Hermione have found refuge for the time being at Shell Cottage, hosted by Ron's older brother Bill, and his now wife, Fleur Delacour (the Beauxbatons champion from 'Goblet of Fire'). Along with them are the Gringotts goblin, Griphook, and the wandmaker, Mr. Ollivander. One by one the two are asked questions by Harry. Griphook, about the vault at Gringotts that likely contains a horcrux, and Ollivander about the Elder wand - one of the three Deathly Hallows, which Voldemort now possesses.
After a pretty awesome action sequence, taking place at Gringotts, the trio arrive on the outskirts of Hogwarts, with the fourth horcrux in hand. Only needing to find one more, and knowing it's somewhere at Hogwarts, the trio proceed through Hogsmeade while the Death Eaters search for them, tipped off by an alarm. The trio is rescued by Albus Dumbledore's brother, Aberfoth Dumbledore. There's a little peak into Dumbledore's past here, as he's revealed to be a not-so-perfect man. Unfortunately this delve into Dumbledore's past has NOTHING on how the book does it, and that's likely the biggest difference one will find here. Soon enough, they manage to get into Hogwarts though. Once Harry's identity is revealed as he faces Snape eye to eye (after his killing of Dumbledore), the cue for the Battle of Hogwarts starts.
I think the biggest question on people's minds about 'The Deathly Hallows' would probably have to do with questioning splitting the film into two parts. After all, the 'Lord of the Rings' books were HUGE and they were still just three films. Well, it's sad that it sort of became a trend, but for these movies it certainly works to some advantage. Despite the fact that 'Part 1' drags here and there, it does still provide a good setup, and covers just what the book does. 'Part 2' is clearly meant to be one, gigantic climactic scene. This trend would soon be followed by the last chapters of series like 'Twilight' and 'The Hunger Games', and even 'The Hobbit' managed to be made into three films instead of what could have been one long one, or two average-length ones.
The Battle of Hogwarts is really well-executed on the big screen, as we definitely sense the danger surrounding our heroes. Almost everyone is there, too, as the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix show up to help, along with the Weasley family, and an assortment of familiar faces from Hogwarts. You can watch this and pretty much feel every emotion get triggered. There are sad moments, moments that make you wanna cheer, funny moments that are actually kinda dark, hell, it even gets a little bit scary here and there (at least for the right audience). My only real problems with the execution of it are minute details and nitpicks. It's otherwise well-adapted, and... I'll just say it, the movie actually tackles a few things better (in my opinion) than the book...
COMPARING THE BOOK
As far as this particular book comparison goes, I hope my audience can hear me out on what I have to say. In the end, of course, the books are much better than the film series. But that IS pretty standard in that a book can tell you more without having to show. A movie should show, without having to tell. 'Part 2' poses a great example where you feel kinda ripped off when you're reading about it. Ron and Hermione get the idea to head to the Chamber of Secrets in order to acquire a basilisk fang from the one Harry killed in Year 2. The movie shows this happen, along with them destroying a the Hufflepuff cup horcrux, and their big passionate kiss when it's over. In the book, the kiss comes a bit more randomly after the event, which takes place "off-page" (seriously, is that a term?) and that's about it.
Another example is in the movie, it shows that Neville and Seamus rig a bridge to explode as an extra measure to keep Death Eaters out. In the movie, the Death Eaters make it past a magic barrier, start crossing the bridge, chasing Neville, and the bridge explodes bit by bit behind Neville as he dives for safety, nearly falling to his death. In the book, it... just doesn't happen. It's one of those neat things the movie added in order to pump up Neville's character more, as the book did it in other ways, including a moment where it's said that the big prophecy involving Harry could have been about him.
The one thing I found the book completely triumphed on over the movie was the death of Fred Weasley. He's a fairly major secondary character in the movies just as well as he is in the books, along with his twin brother George. In the book, there's an explosion that takes him out as he's fighting alongside his redeemed older brother, Percy (a character the movies really just left in the dust). This occurs just as Fred makes a crack about Percy finally getting a sense of humor, and because of that, it gets emotional. Fred was always a joker, so for him to get killed so abruptly as he's cracking a joke, really tugs at the heart strings. In the movie, he's just kinda found on a table during a time Voldemort allows Hogwarts the opportunity to see to their dead and wounded. This is mostly so Harry can see the damage he's caused so he will surrender for the "greater good". In the book, if I remember correctly, the death happens right in front of Harry as well. It could have been such an impactful scene, because he really was one of the more likable characters through all the stories.
The pensieve scene is one that WILL bother people, I'm sure, but I found it to work in the movie despite it's differences from the book. It's a very long story, and we could be here all day, reliving what is seen in the pensieve and how it connects to everything, but no. One can find a whole big article about that history somewhere else on the internet. The scene essentially reconstructs past events from Snape's perspective as well learn that Snape isn't actually a horrible person, and he wasn't given a choice in the matter of killing Dumbledore. Meanwhile we see just how much he loved Lilly Potter, Harry's mother, and the lengths that he has gone to over the years to protect Harry. In the book, it's far more straightforward and covers things a bit more clearly. In the movie, it covers things a bit more rapidly, but seemingly more dramatically as well. In the end, this is one of those "which do you prefer" scenes.
Last but not least, let's get to Neville's last stand. This is one where a LOT of people got annoyed at the movie for doing it how they did it. For me, it actually works better in the movie. With that said though, it's not like the book's original portrayal is anything to sneeze at. Long story short, Neville ends up being the one to kill Nagini with the sword of Gryffindor. In the book, he does this as a sort of badass and vicious "don't mess with me" act right in front of Voldemort. Kind of a big deal, and understandable that people like it this way. In the movie, Nagini is about to win a fight against Ron and Hermione. As she poses to strike, Neville does a sort of superhero entrance and slo-mo slays that snake, saving Ron and Hermione's lives. This is a scene that is meant to show off one thing - Neville has gone from forgetful loser to brave warrior, and in any case, the story holds him in such high regard, he could rival Harry. So, again, it's what you prefer. Do you like Neville, the guy who stands up to Voldemort in a more powerful and fearless way than anyone before, or do you like Neville, the guy who stood up to Voldemort with speech anyway, and rescues his friends while simultaneously destroying the last horcux?
Anyway, it's time to close this off and put the 'Harry Potter' stuff behind me for a while. It has been a fun summer, re-reading, re-watching and comparing. These books still totally hold up, and are sure to go down in history as one of the best book series of all time (hell, it's already there, let's face it). The movies, on the other hand, may have aged just a bit. As fun as the series is to watch as it's own entity, one cannot deny there's a lot of stuff lacking from the books that would have been neat to see on the big screen. Or at least to make the story more coherent, as things can get confusing by the end. But don't let it stop you from enjoying them. In the end, there is a bit of an emotional moment where you realize that in the span it took to make these movies, we watched these kids grow up right before our eyes. For them, it must have been kinda like leaving their high school friends, but with a few years added onto it.
If you have not read any of these books yet, they are among my highest recommendations as one of the few series I ever truly got into as a reader. Don't concern yourself with them being "kids books" either. They manage to get plenty dark, and the original ideas and concepts of the wizarding world provide a beautiful escape from reality.
HORCRUXES: A QUICK-REFERENCE