Now that twelve years of reading and watching is over, I’m loathe to remove the “Harry Potter” link in the site navigation. Thankfully, the Harry Potter documentary will be my rationale for keeping it up there (forever, muhaha).
The books have always held a very special place in my heart. I’ve gone through various phases of obsession during those years, including some fan site editing, costumes, and a giant sorting hat sitting in my house. The Potterphiles are a great community of people and have created some amazing offshoots of culture (Wrock, for example).
As movie-goers, we’ve enjoyed/endured many directors, composers, and creatives manipulating our vision of the characters and settings. I vividly recall predicting that they’d never complete the saga in movie form as I sat in the theaters for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. I also remember rebuffing skepticism at the characters being too old to play their roles. All of this meant nothing as the films rolled out with box office steam and increased quality. By the time Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released, I was a skeptic no more and fully embraced the world that David Heyman and co. had created from Jo Rowling’s masterpiece. We could tell how the directors and producers wanted to be worthy of our adoration and our loyalty.
Specifically, I remember being a little meh about Chris Columbus‘ and Alfonso Cuaron’s versions of the first three adaptations, but I actually think the stories were more juvenile at that point and I was not. And honestly, Mike Newell and David Yates certainly had a lot already created to build on.
Newell’s Goblet of Fire was my first experience with truly loving the franchise in film form. The others certainly gave us that wonderful fix we needed to make it to the next book, but I loved his truly British take on discipline and school life. The kids were really coming into their own as well and becoming fine little actors.
Yates was tasked with taking these hormone-driven adolescents into darker territory and was also the first one with which I had a real beef. My issues with Order of the Phoenix and beyond were the action sequences, which became a blur of good/evil color-coordinated smoke and gun-like laser fighting. For much of the audience, this was probably exactly what was needed since apparating and dueling weren’t exactly movie-friendly as they were written. But overall, these complaints were trivial and I was satisfied with the overall quality of the adaptations going into Deathly Hallows Part 1.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was Yates’ firm handling on our hearts in Deathly Hallows Part 2. The incorporation of familiar scenes from past movies, the whimsical, magical references to remind us that we are still in a fantasy world (see the pixies in the Room of Requirement). And most of all, the film that, arguably, included every line, every scene, every emotion that I so wanted to be included in this final installment. Because after all, we don’t get another chance to see it. It’s also breaking major records and to say it will have legs is an understatement.
Let me tell you, we are NOT let down. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you as this won’t be a review that needs the background of the plot. This film was made for fans of the book. After it was over, I was left with a serene sense of completion that I wasn’t expecting. It was relieving.
The young adult actors (omg, they aren’t kids anymore) are understated and mature in delivery, with Daniel Radcliffe giving us ten years’ worth of angst and now, acting experience. Ralph Fiennes is very strong, as expected. We get a fantastic performance from Alan Rickman, who’s role is so so so key in this film, and who has been very restricted until now. I can barely remember what he looked like due to my eyes “multitasking.” I joked on Twitter that I’d need to go in wearing a hoodie and sunglasses and I wasn’t wrong. Be prepared to struggle to hold back the sobs during quiet scenes where you can hear a pin drop. Unless you’re one of those non-criers, and then I just envy you.
Other things I worried about that were completely unfounded included the emotional connection between Prof. McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and Harry (fulfilled), accuracy in the ending sequence (mostly fulfilled), and Neville’s (Matthew Lewis) dark horse heroism (AMG, so fullfilled!).
Overall, I’m not able to review this with any kind of objectivity, but rather a keen emotional connection that desires a worthy end to the series that had defined childhoods (or in my case, my 20s). I was not disappointed. I doubt you will be as well. Thank you, Jo Rowling. Thank you, David Heyman. Thank you, Steve Kloves. Thank you to everyone who brought these books and films to us mere Muggles and opened our eyes to a fantasy world that became real to all of us.