Yes, I cried.
Quite a bit at one point.
And while the scenes were touching and poignant and emotional and all that good stuff, a large part of it was a sense of mourning that this was it. No more books and now, no more movies either. The posters and billboards plastered everywhere are clear: “It All Ends.” Truth in advertising for once. And for once, I’m devastated that it’s actually true. I went through this emotional rollercoaster after reading the final book as well and it’s certainly not a new thing for me. When I truly commit myself to a franchise (especially books) I go through major withdrawals when it is finished.
Here’s the thing about Harry Potter and the genius of JK Rowling…yes, you know that it is a global phenomenon and that you are far from unique in your passion for Harry and Hogwarts, but it feels as though it has been written just for you and you alone. I can think of no greater praise for an author.
Below are some thoughts that I’ve jotted down after seeing the final film.
If you haven’t read the books or seen the last movie and plan to, you know what I’m about to say: spoilers, spoilers, spoilers!!
- Certain characters have really gotten ignored in the movies. I’ve already lamented the underuse of Fleur and Bill in my review of Part 1 but this movie really brought home how little we’ve seen of Lupin and Tonks in the two-part finale. In Part 1 they tried to tell Harry that they had gotten married but before Tonks could get a word out they were brushed aside for the “Seven Harry’s” scene. A funny and awesome scene but those who haven’t read the books had no idea that they had made a huge commitment despite enormous adversity. In Part 2 they cut out all of Lupin’s visits to Harry. Both the one at Grimmauld Place where Lupin tells Harry they are expecting a baby and has his freak out AND the one at Shell Cottage when Lupin happily announces that they have a son and asks Harry to be the Godfather. Without these scenes their deaths during the first battle of Hogwarts is lessened emotionally. Not the end of the world but sad nonetheless.
- In that same vein…I’m not sure why they felt the need to replace the Creevey brothers with a new character named Nigel. Nigel’s death took the place of Colin’s but it wasn’t nearly as gut-wrenching as in the book.
- I also would have liked to have seen Fred’s death as he fought alongside Percy, the brother who had turned his back on them for years. A little bit of slow-motion and some sad music as the wall explodes and Fred collapses while Harry looks at the people dying all around him would have reduced me to sobbing mess. It probably would have been a little cliché as well but I don’t care.
- It was an interesting choice to have the younger students running around during the battle instead of being escorted out before the fighting began. I actually didn’t mind this choice. I thought it added to the chaos and horror of the battle.
- Ciaran Hinds was a wonderful addition as Aberforth Dumbledore. I especially loved when they showed him leading a charge in the fight.
- Certain locations become as beloved as characters – Hogsmead, the Burrow, Grimmauld Place. So I was a little disappointed that Snape’s big moment took place at a boat dock instead of at the Shrieking Shack.
- Speaking of Snape. He is so central to the story and yet we see so little of him. Alan Rickman takes full advantage of every moment he is given which makes it all the more tragic that we don’t see more of the story from his perspective. The same goes for Neville in many ways. I would have liked for them to go in to how it could have just as easily been Neville who became The Chose One and how, ultimately, it was Voldemort who chose Harry over Neville.
- The Gringott’s dragon was brilliant! Half blind and practically albino from decades upon decades of being trapped underground. It was a heart wrenching to see the scars and open wounds from the chains and to see it cower at the threat of being punished. I practically cheered out loud when the dragon was freed as part of the Big Three’s escape plan. Maybe I’ve been desensitized by violence in the movies, but I find it more difficult to watch animals (even CGI ones) being hurt than people. There’s probably something profoundly wrong with me for feeling that way, but meh.
- There was a ton of battling going on in this movie but I kind of wanted more. I missed the part when Harry runs into Hagrid inside the castle and it leads him to figure out where the Diadem is. The more Hagrid the merrier and it was a bummer to have to wait until Harry’s “death” to see some Robbie Coltrane. I was also disappointed that they left out the centaurs and Grawp joining in on the battle. Especially Grawp. We barely saw poor Professor’s Sprout and Trelawny. Thank GOD they left in Mrs. Weasley’s battle with Bellatrix and the “bitch” line! I don’t know why but of everything else I was sooo worried they would take that out! Thank you Mr. Yates for not letting me down!
- In the book, the moment when Mrs. Weasley kills Bellatrix leads us to the final duel between Harry and Voldemort…in the middle of the school surrounded by fellow wizard warriors NOT by themselves in an abandoned courtyard. I did like the part where they flew around together and sort of apparated into one. That was pretty cool.
- Call me sentimental but I love the part when Harry uses the Resurrection Stone to surround himself with loved ones as he’s about to die.
- I don’t think we could have asked for a better actor to play Voldemort than Ralph Fiennes. Like Rickman, he doesn’t waste a single syllable when he speaks. Every second is a bit of evil to be savored. I’ve gotten a real kick out of watching him slither these past 6 years.
- In the book Dumbledore spends a good chunk of his time in King’s Cross with Harry explaining his past actions and what led him to change his ways, abandoning and eventually defeating his former BFF Grindelwald. It humanizes Dumbledore and gives him a chance to defend himself against all of the horrible things that were said about him after his death. I honestly don’t think that Dumbledore cares about what anyone thinks about him, with the exception of Harry. He also clarifies what we’ve suspected since Hermione told us the story of the Deathly Hallows – that Harry’s invisibility cloak is THE cloak. Readers of the book know all of this but non-readers have been left in the dark. I could tell exactly who the non-readers were in our theatre by their reaction to the baby Voldemort under the King’s Cross bench. I missed at least 3 lines of dialogue while they acted grossed out by it.
- I don’t remember Harry snapping the Elder Wand in two. If I remember correctly, he puts it back in Dumbledore’s tomb. That was a little weird and caused several members of our theatre audience to yell at the screen.
- The epilogue was done beautifully. My only complaint here is the absence of Teddy and Victoire.
As I mentioned on facebook, I saw this movie simultaneously in D-Box and 3D. The 3D was a complete waste. I dislike post-production 3D to begin with and this just goes to show you that, even when they take a long time to “do it right” it isn’t worth it. The darkness of the movie only further hinders the 3D conversion and anytime there was white on the screen there was an obvious “screen door” effect where I could see the texture of the movie screen material. Very distracting. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie again without the 3D. That, and our theatre was too cheap to get the awesome Harry Potter-shaped 3D glasses. Lame.
The D-Box is awesome. I didn’t find it as effective as I did during Super 8 but I chalk that up to them vibrating our seats every time a wand was flicked. Sometimes right before or after the wand action so it didn’t synch up quite right. It was the most fun during the cart ride under Gringott’s and the part where Harry and Voldemort are flying around together.
Again, I feel like I’m speaking more critically of it then I really mean to. The truth is that I’m ecstatic that they ended the franchise with the best film yet. The movies can’t have everything the books do and I know and accept this. The fact that they’ve made a brilliant movie that lives up to the hype is a major accomplishment. I’ve seen most of the films on opening night with Hayden and we both agreed that this was a seriously grand finale (although I think Hayden and Melanie would have liked to use the Resurrection Stone to bring back Richard Harris for all of the films).
Bravo Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson for doing good by three beloved characters. Bravo Alan Rickman and all of the veteran actors who have contributed the genius of their craft over the past decade. Bravo Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates for directing 8 wonderful films. And BRAVO JK Rowling for creating a brilliant and fleshed out magical world and allowing us to visit it.
Five out of Five Sci-Fives! Yeah!