IT ALL ENDS

Well, it was supposed to.  So, I just got back from the theatre about fifteen minutes ago after viewing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2 in 3D.  And, well, this is what I thought:

THE GOOD

I’ll try my best to do this chronologically, which has me start with Gringotts Wizarding Bank.  I thought the visuals in this scene were brilliant and exciting, coming in stark contrast to the scenes that had preceded it.  I was particularly fond of the rotating rail-car that Harry and the group used to access Bellatrix’s vault.  I thought the dark and wet cavern they travelled through was well designed.  Finally, I thought the vault looked good, as did the multiplying gold trinkets and cups.

After this scene…well, we skip like half the film, and I pick up enjoyable moments in the fortification of Hogwarts and the main battle scene. 

First, I enjoyed the reunion of Harry with McGonagall in the hall.  I felt that, like many characters in this film and throughout the entire series, she was underrepresented.  She’s one of my favorite characters and, while there was considerable emotional depth whenever she came onscreen, there could have been more had she more dialogue.  Listening to her welcome Harry back to school, telling off Filch, or explaining to Flitwick that Voldemort would kill him regardless of the name he used conveyed more emotion than most other characters throughout the entire film.

Second, I enjoyed McGonagall enchanting the statues of the castle to life.  While the CGI wasn’t absolutely perfect, it was certainly fun to see a stone soldier leap from a pedestal and land on one knee.  Furthermore, the visual of the soldiers standing at attention, guarding the bridge to Hogwarts was well done. 

Third, and likely the best scene from the film, was Molly Weasley’s battle against Bellatrix Lestrange.  Beginning with Molly’s best line (EVER) “Not my daughter, bitch!” at Bellatrix’s provocation, they duel upon a set of bleachers with Molly killing Bellatrix about fifteen seconds after the duel began.  Bellatrix’s death, however, was a bit off.  Instead of leaving a corpse like a normal dying creature, she explodes into a cloud of shards. 

Fourth, Neville Longbottom slicing apart Nagini the snake.  Simply an epic image, standing out in the minds of those who’d seen the previous films as being in stark contrast to the Neville who tripped over his own robes and was paralyzed by Hermione when trying to stand against her. 

After the main battle, there are two endings.  The main ending in which Harry destroys the Elder Wand and then the epilogue.  I enjoyed the main ending as it finally redeemed Harry’s character for me.  Often he would complain of his fate as the boy who lived and simultaneously steal attention from everyone else on Earth.  However, in this one moment, Harry destroys the Elder Wand, leaving behind a guarantee of greatness and/or excitement.  As for the epilogue, I felt that it was unnecessary both in the book and the film.  In the film though, it left the realm of unnecessary and entered that of confusing.  I’ll get to that in the next section, however.  What I liked in this scene, was the conversation between Harry and his son, probably the most understandable example of emotion throughout the film and certainly the most welcome in my mind.

In general, I felt that the actors did well.  I recognize that most, it not all, of my issues with this film lie in the writing.  So I applaud the actors on ending the series well.  I feel that they did excellently, save for a few whom I’ll point out in the next section.

THE BAD

As a fan of the novels, this could be quite long, but I’ll try to keep it short. 

My first issue was with the dragon guarding the vault at Gringotts.  While others have told me that this is the better rendering of a dragon done in any of the Potter films, the image left me feeling off.  I kept finding issues with the animation that may or may not have truly existed.  This left me with the thought that, at some points, I think the dragon had too much detail. 

Now, I’ve decided to depart from chronologically naming individual issues to sweeping generalities. 

The romance between Ron and Hermione was rushed and therefore comical.  After having ignored it for much of the first film, the second attempted to rush the romance between Hermione and Ron, creating and hour and a half of poorly timed kisses, much hand-holding, and lost screen time in hugs.  The most noticeable of these was the long kiss between Ron and Hermione in the Chamber of Secrets after a wave of water flows over them.  It just randomly occurs, then it cuts to Voldemort screaming over his just-destroyed horcrux.  The follow-up of screaming to the kiss just made the scene hilarious.

Next, major characters were either completely ignored or had single-line cameos in this film when they should have delivered pieces of instrumental or at least memorable dialogue.  Case in point, Lupin and Tonks.  I hardly remember seeing Tonks in the first Deathly Hollows film and, in this one, the only times I saw her were walking, stretching her hand to meet Lupin’s, and then as a corpse.  Now, this seems like a fan-based issue, but it also to do with the characters being alienating if one considers this a stand-alone film as well.   

Beyond ignored characters, many of the deaths were undervalued.  Now, in any major battle, the casualties will prevent much grief being spared to individuals.  That said, certain deaths should have stood out more.  Fred’s death was undervalued because it’s forgotten almost immediately after the eight seconds of wailing on-screen.  Lupin and Tonk’s deaths are undervalued because they’re not mourned by anybody, merely noticed by Harry.  In a strange twist of fate, the most notable deaths seemed to be Goyle’s and the head goblin of Gringotts, both of whom perished in large fires.

To my few qualms with the acting, it mostly comes up with Voldemort.  I’m not sure if the blame lies with the actor or the writers, but virtually all of the actions that took place in this film felt awkward.  Everything from witticisms to movements felt forced and out of character for what is supposed to be The Dark Lord.

Finally, the epilogue.  I remember having issues with this when I first read the book and thinking, before the movie had began, that I’d detest it here as well.  Yet, as I wrote above, it contained one of my favorite moments.  That said, it had more than it’s fair share of issues.  First, if this had been a single film, the epilogue would have been completely pointless, extending simple characters far beyond that which they should go.  Taken as a series, it makes a bit more sense.  However, it was largely unexplained as to whom the children were, Teddy Lupin being left up to the novel fan to recognize at all.  Beyond that, whether you’ve read the novel or not, the scene feels forced, like the film could have ended just before the scene began.

THE UGLY

(This is where the fan of the novels notes the inconsistencies in a calm and eloquent manner.)

WHAT HAPPENED TO NEVILLE MCBADASS?!?!  In the final novel, Neville Longbottom is supposed to assume leadership of Dumbledore’s Army, basically become the unsung hero defender of Hogwarts, and essentially look like a young Mad-Eye Moody by the end.  Instead, we have a slightly taller version of the bumbling Neville we’ve always known, who has really only taken the helm of leadership because nobody else would.  It was less the alternate boy who lived and more of a temporary stand-in for Harry while he was out.

I’m still pissed about the crummy death sequences.  Lupin and Tonks, Fred, even the Creevey kid were more or less ignored.  I recognize that a lot of people died in the seventh book, but Hedwig and Dobby were mourned for minutes, not seconds.  I feel that the other major and minor characters deserve at least some semblance of this.

The epilogue.  Like I said before, it was bad in the book because it left you too happy.  Or it tried to do so.  Here, it left you with a bunch of faces you wouldn’t recognize if you weren’t looking for them, and portrayed the adult original cast rather cheaply.  After almost two decades, the only real changes are that Ginny has a terrible haircut and that Ron is fat. 

Now, the point I’ve been waiting for, creative license.  Specifically, Harry jumping off the bridge while hugging Voldemort.  Everybody who has seen any of the trailers knows exactly what I’m talking about.  What the hell was that?  “Let’s finish this like we started it, together.”  It’s a great action line, but seriously, if the movie ended with them both falling to their deaths, I’d have laughed my way out of the theatre.  Instead however, Voldemort flies around a bit, their faces become one, and they land to finish the fight.  It was a pointlessly added scene that upset me the first time I saw it in the trailers and it upsets me now because it was funny when it shouldn’t have been.

There are countless other inconsistencies I could be upset about, but I’ll try to end it here.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As a film, and only as a film, it was pretty good.  In fact, while this is news to nobody, it’s a must-see of the summer.  But then again, people often don’t have good taste.  However, taste is a nonissue here.  The movie is a spectacle worth viewing and is likely to entertain many.

Stricter fans of the novels will obviously have their qualms with this film as they had with its predecessors.  Beyond the norm though, they may have more issues with this one than some of the others. 

In the end, the very end, as this is where it all ends, it ended well.  I think they (the actors, writers, producers, etc.) did a good job and left me satisfied with the way this eight-part series concluded.

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