One of the things I looked forward to doing as I stepped off the airplane coming back to the States was catching the final movie for the Harry Potter series. I made it a priority to watch it in theaters as soon as possible. How does one bid farewell to a childhood series? Well, time for a review/discussion! Joining me in this post is the lovely Arwen, whom I’m sure many of you have missed on this blog. Rest assured, you’ll see much more of her on DBJ in the upcoming weeks ahead because LOTR recaps will be coming back soon. Read on only if you’ve watched the movie or if you’re not afraid of reading a post that’s filled with spoilers on what happened in Deathly Hallows Part 2.
endodo: Did you know that I wasn’t allowed to read Harry Potter books until middle school or something? But yes, I couldn’t read the books or watch the movies until then. My parents thought it was about witches and demons, which was why I was forbidden to have anything to do with that “awful Rowling author” for a while. That was years ago. Just a small personal tidbit for me to share to break the ice.
Arwen: I seem to have this same experience..My dad even hid all our Harry Potter books for a period of time because he was so against it. But still I read them and developed this huge obsession in middle school for the books/movies. With the end of all that recently, one feels a bit of nostalgia and like it’s hard to really let go of because of its essential part in our childhood.
endodo: True that, yo. (Though I was more of a Lord of the Rings fan back in the day, if anything. Harry Potter was more of a high school fascination for me.) I’m glad we watched it in theaters together, because for the most part, I did enjoy the experience of watching it on the big screens as opposed to waiting for it to come out on DVD later this year. Let’s start from the beginning shall we? I was a tad surprised that the movie started right where it left off in Part I of the finale. Usually there’s a small recap for those who *might* be watching the movie(s) for the first time, but I was pleasantly surprised at how we were thrust right into the story as if no time lapse had ever occurred in the first place. And I was pretty much dying with excitement (aka squealing-but-trying-to-contain-my-squeals) once the music started.
Arwen: Alas, I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t appreciate the brilliance and amazingness of LOTR until the end of high school [though I think I’ve more than compensated for my ignorance since then]. But back on topic, this last Harry Potter movie has had a lot of buildup, and everyone pretty much expected a lot out of it. Considering this has been the anticipation of the past twenty-ish years, I also felt a lot of excitement as it began. True to form, it didn’t disappoint then. There came those moments when I would get goosebumps from the sheer awesome-sauce. However, I still have a few bones to pick.
endodo: I thought that Part I was quite well-done in that it stayed consistent (more or less) with the original script and it had me practically begging for Part II by the time it was over. This time around, I felt the same way, except like you, I feel like there’s a few aspects of the film that I’m unsatisfied with too.. Everything was so quickly paced and I was kept constantly on my toes. However, this can be both a blessing and a curse. I don’t mind action and am rather a fan of it, but because this IS the final Harry Potter movie, I expected certain scenes to have more impact than others, particularly the final forty minutes of the movie. But we didn’t get that did we? All was well until Snape’s death and it was all downhill from there. At least for me.
Arwen: I agree with you. The ending scenes had made a very deep impression when I first read them in books. I had quite high expectations for the film’s portrayal of them, considering how important they had been. However, I found that those scenes that meant most to me fell horribly short of what I had imagined them to. They seemed to flicker by so fast and I was left thinking, “Wait..did that..No, that didn’t just happen. HOW COULD THEY RUIN THAT?” It’s amazing how something that lasted a few short minutes could cause excitement, disillusionment, then anger all lasting for a split second. Many critical parts were completely anticlimactic.
endodo: Seriously. I can’t seem to think of anything else to talk about except for the ending scenes because it was what I came away with. For example, Voldemort’s death should have been the most climatic part of the movie, but it was the total opposite experience for me. I thought it was the most anticlimatic, disappointing scene in the movie, among others. This was what the purpose of the whole series boiled down to, no? The destruction of Voldemort and Harry’s victory/rebirth. I don’t deny that the showdown between those two and the war between the Death Eaters vs. Dumbledore’s Army were visually breathtaking, but there was no tension, no element of suspense as I watched it. I didn’t feel swept up with the story at all, and rather felt disconnected from the plot thereafter.
Arwen: Yes, a lot of it was underdone, I daresay. Besides those scenes that failed to produce the proper effect, I also felt like there was much less attention paid to character. I almost felt like other than Harry and Snape [to some extent], the other characters were pretty much all just background. When it ended, I barely cared that it was the end because of that. As you said, it was very disconnected and fragmented in a way. The whole movie didn’t have much flow, and toward the end, it seemed like the makers really rushed through those parts. It almost ruined the movie for me altogether.
endodo: Exactly. I wanted them to slow down and further accentuate the final moments. I started feeling that way right around when Harry was looking into Snape’s memories from the past. In the book, that was one of the most unforgettable moments because it was when we all realized that Snape was good all along, and that unlike Voldemort and his followers, he had a heart. He loved Lily Potter and it was this love that gave him a sense of purpose and in the end, a sort of righteousness. I know the movie and book are entirely two different versions of the Harry Potter story, but this was one of the moments where I honestly wanted the screenwriters to follow the darn original dialogue. And I was more than disappointed — no, bitter actually — that they didn’t follow through on that.
Arwen: Yep, the Snape scene was one of the most impressionable to me, and I think they botched it completely. I didn’t feel Snape’s agony or the depth of his love for Lily. This was partially the fault of the actor, Alan Rickman. I may offend many a lover of his, but I never thought he was a very believable Snape. He delivered his lines with such monotone and lack of emotion that it was hard to empathize with him as I did when I read it in the book. Then the scene itself with the memories was so fragmented that it was a little hard to follow. I also thought they didn’t show enough of the memories and shortened the ones they did keep. Because of that, it was difficult to get the full impact of what it meant for Snape to love Lily. The movie portrayal was a thin shadow of what it could have been.
endodo: But though that scene was still flawed and it could’ve been portrayed better, I still sobbed through it. It definitely wasn’t due to the acting, because like you said, Alan Rickman was rather wooden and it was difficult to grasp his love for Lily by his expressionless demeanor. I suppose one could argue that the Snape in the movie has always been portrayed as a cold, unemotional character and that he was acting in character during his death. However, that scene was emotional for me not because of what I saw on the screen, but because I was thinking back to what I had read in the books that made me cry like a baby. We probably wouldn’t even be bringing this up if the rest of the movie hadn’t ended in dissatisfaction. (By the way, it’s interesting that my brother watched the movie and had a totally different experience from mine. He didn’t seem to be quite as picky and he said that the audience was quite receptive as in they were emotionally engaged in every scene, voicing their cries or cheers whenever it was appropriate. I think watching it with a lot of people present in the audience is all together a difference experience than watching it with a handful of people, which was the case for both Arwen and myself.)
Arwen: Well, most people loved it, I think, if for nothing else than the end of a much beloved series. I think I teared up for the same reason that you cried. Haha. Only because of the memory from the book. But where to start with the ending that was so disappointing for us? I suppose, firstly because it deviated so much from the book. I really don’t understand why a lot of the crucial scenes were done out of sight of the crowd. Hardly anyone was privileged to watch Neville chop off the snake’s head, for example. And why the potato didn’t everyone get to see Voldemort die?? Please tell me that. That’s just kind of important, yeah? In the book, Harry also explained the whole elder wand connection thing and why it showed allegiance to him instead of Voldemort in front of everyone. But in the movie, it was only to Ron and Hermione. Sucks for everyone else who presumably had no idea what was going on, or what had even happened in the end, being inside during these pivotal moments.
endodo: And in addition to what you said, I can’t believe the fighting scene lasted longer than it should’ve. It seemed to be past dawn and early morning when Voldemort and his Death Eaters came back from the Forbidden Forest to Hogwarts, carrying Harry’s supposedly dead body. But didn’t Harry meet Voldemort during midnight for a mere minute or two before he was promptly killed off and pronounced dead? Why the heck did it take hours for them to bring the body back? I only bring this up because it should still be the dead of night when Harry is “killed” and Voldemort thinks he is triumphant. My point is, it was supposed to be dark when Voldemort returns Harry back but it isn’t. And Harry was supposed to slip away in his invisibility cloak while Neville stands up against to Voldemort before showing himself. It would’ve been so much more meaningful and awesome if Harry had disappeared for a bit before revealing himself. And Voldemort wouldn’t have seen it because according to the book, it was still perfectly dark at the time. Therefore there was no suspense, no point in his “death” when it was so obvious that he was just going pop out from Hagrid’s arms. Oh, and let’s also not forget that we basically skip past the deaths of Remus, Tonks, and Fred. We get a fleeting glance at their dead bodies before the focus shifts back to Voldemort and Harry. Ugh. Just thinking about how things should’ve went in the movie is making my blood boil.
Arwen: I think you pretty much just said everything I was already thinking. When Harry finally vanquished Voldemort, there was no triumph and no suspense. Considering how we always knew that it was going to happen, I think the moviemakers could have at least given us that much. At least to follow the book, which made it seem..dare I say it, more awesome? If Voldemort was just going to randomly disappear without an explanation or even really much of a climactic fight..Eh..I just thought of that other scene were Harry pops out of nowhere when he was supposed to be hidden. When Snape gathers all the students in the great hall and then tells all the students to report to him if Harry’s found..and Harry just steps out and reveals himself. What was that?? He didn’t do that because he didn’t want Snape to find him in the book [OBVIOUSLY]. Snape wanted to know where Harry was because he wanted to reveal to him everything that he had to reveal. In the movie, when Harry comes out, it’s just kind of contradictory because then Snape just flies off. That was..maddening, to say the least.
endodo: OMG that scene was so hilarious when it shouldn’t have been. I think I rolled my eyes too. Voldemort just dies. Just like that. With no one watching. Then it’s an awkward transition from when Harry explains the Elder Wand to his best friends to nineteen years later, where we end. Where everyone looks the same except Ginny looks like an old lady. I think I was pretty frustrated by the time when Harry explains to his son, Albus Severus Potter, about who he was named after and that the Sorting Hat would take his feelings into account. I mean, that scene seemed to just pop out of nowhere because his older brother James hadn’t taunted him in the first place. I don’t know, that whole scene seemed pointless after the disappointment of Voldemort’s death. By the time the ending credits rolled around, I was almost waiting for there to be more because I couldn’t believe that what should have been the crucial, highlighted moments of the entire series was handled so clumsily.
Arwen: Yes, the transitions were abrupt and gave us no time to fully grasp what was going on before it moved to the next scene. It gave the sensation that it was all kind of random and didn’t tie up the loose ends very well. Up until the Snape-memory-scene, it was so well-done and thrilling. And then it all kind of just disintegrated before my eyes. I walked out of the theatre feeling cheated.
endodo: My sentiments exactly. Why don’t we also briefly talk about the good moments in the movie, besides Snape’s death. Or is there nothing else to add?
Arwen: Haha I don’t know. Like I said, to a certain point, I had no complaints, but the ending kind of just pushed all that out of my mind now. I did appreciate the action scenes because they drew out lots of excitement and such. I especially liked the part where Professor McGonagall rallied everyone to defend the castle. That was just awesome-sauce to watch.
endodo: Did I feel totally satisfied with the finale and the way the characters said goodbye to us? Definitely not. But am I sad that is over? Yes, oh yes. It doesn’t quite deliver for me, but at the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride if I discount the ending scenes. It was never about the actors, the directing, the visuals, the epicness… No, I watched this movie and all its predecessors because I fell in love with Hogwarts many years ago. As a fan of the books, saying goodbye is a bittersweet moment.
Arwen: It is indeed. There is tremendous value in the fact that we have grown up with this series, even with the actors of the main characters. It’s been fun and emotional to follow them through their journey and see their relationships deepen and develop. Of course it’s sad that it’s now over. But as Daniel Radcliffe says, “I don’t think this story ends tonight… because every person will carry this story through their lives.”
Photos time! Here are the posters from the movie and some other pics created by fans that were sent to me:
Photo credits: Various users on tumblr