March 24, 2018
I admittedly have a bad habit when it comes to fanedits: I love watching them but I feel little motivation in reviewing them due to my tendency to get long winded in my breakdown in what does and doesn’t work. However, given how this edit aims to do something so drastic,as well as being a massive fan of What If scenarios in my favorite stories (specifically Dragon Ball), I felt that there was a lot more to chew on here.
Harry Potter and the Boy Who Never Lived Part 1 is a technical marvel. RollWave went to great lengths to remove Harry Potter from the story of Voldemort’s return, and while some of it is done rather cheaply by merely cropping Daniel Radcliffe out of the frame, there are many other times where masking tools are used that effectively erase Harry while not outright gutting the scene altogether and, as he said in his commentary, greatly strengthens the other characters throughout the movie. The commentary also discusses how the audio has been reworked to remove Harry, further showing just how much effort went for the whole project.
That said, while I appreciate edit on a technical aspect, Narrative is a different story. In the first 10 or 15 minutes, I was confused as to how I should approach this edit. If it’s meant for new viewers, why do none of the characters get properly introduced to the point where people might confuse Hermione as just another member of the Weasley family until her surname gets stated later? If it’s for hardcore potter fans who know the story in and out, why does it include the Sorting Hat Song as an introduction to Hogwarts and how it works outside of fanservice that eats up time? Why doe Mad Eye get introduced twice, one somewhat neutral and the other dark and ominous? Does Umbridge show up near the end because Crouch Sr. has just been killed? If Goblet of Fire is the crux of your narrative with a bit of Dumbledore’s Army from Order of the Phoenix included, why then also include Voldemort’s resurrection if the latter never culminates with the former two in any meaningful way (i.e., why is there set up but no payoff)?
That last bit is really damning, too, since at least Deathly Hallows Part 1 had a somewhat climactic feel, with Dobby sacrificing himself to save Harry and Voldemort obtaining the Elder Wand. Here, though, aside from being a bad story dcision to give away all your cards about how Voldemort’s revival is different from the canon, the return is completely disconnected from anything outside the kids *eventually* reacting to the Ministry kidnappings, and Cedric Diggory dies because Hogwarts has no sense of safety when it comes to what’s supposed to be a tournament meant to build bonds of friendship between three different schools (I know that Hogwarts is the target of many “why would anyone ever go to this school” jokes based on all the dangers it houses, but this is just the grossest of negligence on the teacher’s parts).
Even the stuff about the narrative that I liked involving Ron and Hermione’s subplots (Quidditch and classes still happening independent of the tournament, the two of them falling for different people, etc) not only takes up a minor part of the runtime, but it also doesn’t do the narratives any great favors, simultaneously making Ron look like a user of women and Hermione a waif who can’t decide between Ron and Viktor (then again, I don’t know if the footage would have alloqwed for Ron to have gotten his girlfriend, and then have that spur Hermione into pursuing Viktor). The passage of time also feels a little unclear, since the first two tournament challenges seem to take place before Winter, and yet the last occurs when spring starts? There’s part of the commentary that also hurts the viewing experience, since the first time watching Ron go to Slughorn under the affects of love potion (which I don’t think Ron should've done since he’s intoxicated and just wants whoever vexed him, but okay), and I thought that his violent reaction to the serum was just a result of the antidote reacting with an improper version of the love potion, Slughorn said could be dangerous if made wrong. However, RollWave then said that Slughorn just gave Ron the wrong antidote, and he never gets called out on this, further confirming just how awful Hogwarts’ staff truly is.
Still, I overall liked Ron and Hermione’s new stories here (clothing and hairstyle continuity notwithstanding), and there are points where I can imagine where things should have gone had the footage had existed. For example, Mad Eye’s harassing of Crouch and interfering of the Tournament by offering Nevile, and by proxy, Ron, gillyweed would have driven him out of the school and replaced by Umbridge, which, since she’s imposing Ministry rule on the Beauxbatons and Drumstrangs, would help strengthen those bonds of friendship they supposedly built over the year. That really is the greatest flaw of the edit: ambition kneecapped due to the lack of footage. How different would Hermione and Snape’s be if he overcame his prejudice of non-magic parents, in addition to finding a witch who seems so much like the one he lost? Why didn’t Lucius Malfoy stow Riddle’s diary into Ginny’s book bag during her first year? Why is Lockheart suddenly legitimate?
There’s also small things that bug me due to the lack of footage. Aside from the fact that Ron should stick to one girlfriend, basic storytelling tenants tell me that Cedric should have been the one in competition with Ron in Quidditch, not whoever it actually was. Would have established him as a hard worker, taking on both Quidditch and doing the tournament. Also, if we’re free to alter canon here, I would’ve made him Snape’s nephew or something. Why? Because it would have given more credence to Voldemort’s revival. In this edit, it makes no sense that Voldemort’s followers wouldn’t immediately sought out to revive him. By making Cedric related to Snape, you then can use the “Lily’s love protected you from me, but since I was revived by your [relative’s] blood I can properly come after you” plot point from the original book. As far as changing things for an adaptation, it's not that out there.
As a product, this edit is kind of a mess, but as a thought exercise, it certainly succeeds at making me think outside the box.