Musings on the final Harry Potter movie

Well, the 8+ months wait was finally over. Yep, that’s how far apart the two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are and it was a bit frustrating after I saw Part I that I had to wait that long to see the conclusion.

I did my write-up about Part I in lieu of a straight-on review, so I’m going to do the same here. At the end of that post, I said that the best thing HP 7.1 did was make fans like me anticipate the FINAL movie all the more. On top of that, my friend Ted who’ve read all the books told me, “…nothing really happened much in the first half from the book and then on the second half, all hell broke loose.” So suffice to say, my expectation for HP 7.2 is quite up there… as in ‘It’s gonna be epic!!!’

Well, did it live up to my expectation?

Initially, I’d have said, ‘Not really.’ But I guess that’s because with an expectation THAT high, I’m bound to be disappointed. Now that it’s been a few days since I’ve seen it, here’s what I thought of the movie:

**SPOILER ALERT (some plot points might be discussed in this post)**

  • As in Part I, this movie opened with Severus Snape who is a crucial figure in the finale. Going in, I expected to see more of his compelling back story and in a way, the filmmaker delivered. As someone who didn’t read the books, I think it answered a lot of the questions about his complicated relationship with Harry.

    Alan Rickman is phenomenal as always, no wonder he is my favorite character in the whole HP supporting cast up until the very end. His inimitable voice and delivery is what I find fascinating about Rickman, though there was a part in this movie where it actually sounded a bit too over-the-top that I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched it. My gripe is with his short screen time, I suppose if I had read the books I’d know about it, but I really was bummed to see the character’s demise in the first half hour. Yes he still appeared in flashback but it just wasn’t the same.
  • The hunt for Voldemort‘s horcruxes continues for Harry, Hermione and Ron (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint). The first part was quite action-packed as the three broke into Gringott’s vault in disguise. Helena Bonham Carter did an excellent job showing a more nervous side of Bellatrix Lestrange (as it’s actually Hermione disguised as her), her character is obviously more fun to watch when she’s deranged but it’s still a funny scene nonetheless. I forgot that Ciaran Hinds is in this as Dumbledore’s brother, but his character is pretty forgettable. Not exactly his fault but that’s just the way it was written.
  • Back in Hogwarts, I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad thinking what’s about to take place here. This poster and pretty much all the promo of the final movie promises that Hogwarts will burn! The events leading up to it are comprised of a few key scenes. The confrontation between Harry and Snape was an emotional one… “How dare you stand where he stood. Tell them how it happened that night. How you looked him in the eye, a man who trusted you, and killed him.” Harry told Snape, which led to a fight between him and Minerva (Maggie Smith). We all remembered that scene of Dumbledore falling to his death and that got me teared up a bit.
  • One of the highlights of the movie was when Minerva commanded the Stone Army to come to life to guard Hogwarts. “I’ve always wanted to use that spell,” She said giddily to Molly Weasly (Ron’s mom), and it was pretty darn cool to see her use it, too.

    Props for David Yates and the SFX folks for the cool effects in creating the shield around Hogwarts, overall the special effects is first rate. I saw it in 2D as I just don’t think most 3D movies are worthwhile. (By the way, if you’re up for it, take this Hogwarts house quiz).
  • The enemy gets stronger and inches closer and closer… Voldemort’s army moved in on Hogwarts from all sides, which is supposed to be all intense and scary but I was largely unmoved by it for some reason.

    I think the biggest beef I have with this final act is that the arch nemesis, the biggest, most bad-ass beast of all… the bald, nose-less, squinty-eyed Voldemort, in the end he didn’t seem all that intimidating to me. I mean, he seemed lot scarier throughout all the HP movies, even in the beginning when he was merely a tiny, deformed thing. I can’t explain it really and I’m not really criticizing Ralph Fiennes‘ performance or anything, but I just never felt the ‘shudder effect’ whenever he appeared like it used to… ok, perhaps one time when he said ‘Harry Potter… the boy who lived, come to die,’  as he summoned Harry to come closer. I kind of shuddered a little.
  • Btw, perhaps someone who’ve read the book can explain it to me. In the parts where Harry was supposedly dead in the forest, now why on earth would Voldemort ask someone else to check out if he was dead or not. I mean, if you’ve been trying to kill someone for a long time, searched long and hard for that person with all your might, wouldn’t you rather go over there yourself and make absolutely certain that the subject is actually dead?? Maybe there is a logical explanation to that (other than for plot device for Malfoy’s mom to find out if Draco is dead or not), but as of right now I’m scratching my head.
  • Ok, allow me to digress a bit. The ‘nyeaaaaaaaaaa’ squeals that were ubiquitous in every clip/trailer of HP 7.2 wasn’t that prevalent in the actual movie, thank goodness. Ironically, I actually was mildly disappointed that the V-man didn’t yell that when Harry yanked him to the bottom of the castle in their final battle 🙂
  • Speaking of the final face off between Voldemort and Harry, which is what every HP fan has been waiting for. One can’t help but feel the enormity of the circumstances, I mean, THIS IS IT, Harry finally has to fend for himself against the big evil dude. But at the same time, I wasn’t exactly transfixed by it if you will.

    Perhaps I’m all ‘spelled-out’ as in tired of seeing all those spell effects, I don’t know. There is quite a lot going on at the same time this scene is happening. Ron and Hermione are busy trying to kill, unsuccessfully I might add, the elusive Nagini, Voldemort’s pet snake which is also his horcrux. But Neville gets to show his heroic side, yay! Man look at how he (Matthew Lewis) has grown, no longer is he the dorky kid on the block 🙂

  • Glad to see Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) back, even in the form of a dream sequence in a Heaven-like setting. The scene seems rather long and overly sentimental for my taste however, and so was the scenes of Harry with all his dead family/relatives (though again, it’s nice to see Gary Oldman in it). I’m gonna give that a pass however, as this being the last movie, I guess they’re allowed to get a bit melodramatic.
  • Ok, lastly I just want to comment on Hermione’s character. I feel like she’s not as strong in this as she has been in previous movies. What I mean by that is that, the prettier and less bookish she gets, she seems to lose her assertiveness as well. She hesitated killing a horcrux until Ron encourages her, which I find a bit uncharacteristic of her usually brave self. I realize that she’s obviously anxious about what they are going through, but she appears a whole lot more melancholy with Harry, embracing him every five minutes it seems. That part doesn’t bother me, but I do feel it’s a bit jarring to see the ‘evolution’ of Hermione in this movie, which this Guardian article covered in details.

    “There’s almost a direct correlation with actress Emma Watson‘s growing prettiness through the course of the films and Hermione’s decreased bookishness and pragmatism.”
    The article said, and even went so far as saying that “When it comes to film, something about a smart, fearless woman who doesn’t care about her looks makes Hollywood leery; even if, in this instance, she commands a loyal and loving built-in audience before the film begins.”

    Now, whether that assessment is entirely accurate or not, I do see her point of view and I did miss the spunkier Hermione.

It’s definitely a challenging task of visualizing J.K. Rowling’s vision in the books (as in with most other literary adaptation). Dan from Top 10 Films assessment that splitting the movies into two serves a purely commercial reason than anything else, and perhaps it might’ve been better to keep it as one long film. It’s hard to say if that would’ve made it a better finale, but one thing for sure, it’d perhaps be more engaging and coherent as some people won’t feel ‘disconnected’ if they didn’t have time to see Part I right before seeing the second one. Making one long film would also force the filmmaker to be more efficient/prudent in choosing what scenes to include, which is quite a formidable task.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dan also in regards to the veteran supporting cast easily outshining the main ones. Don’t get me wrong, I think those three did a tremendous job (as do the other young cast like Tom Felton as Draco), but obviously they’re not as experienced as the more mature actors. I’ve dedicated a post a while ago to highlight my Top Ten Favorites HP cast, and having seen ALL of them now, I still stand by that list 😀

In conclusion, despite some quibbles and falling a bit short of the ‘epic’ quality I was hoping for, I still think it’s a worthy effort to close such a beloved franchise. Unlike most fans though, I’m not at all emotional that it’s the end of HP franchise (at least in cinematic form). I’m glad I’ve watched them all and they have been entertaining, but there are other films that I’m anticipating so yeah, I’m ready to move on 😀

Well, those of you who have seen this final Harry Potter movie. What did you think? Was it as epic as you had hoped?

26 thoughts on “Musings on the final Harry Potter movie

  1. With regard to the Death Eaters “checking” to see if Harry was dead, I think that it probably is referring all the way back to the very first one, and the whole point of Harry being Harry. Remember that Voldemort attempted to kill him then, and he lived. So naturally, you would want to check on him the second time around.

    1. Oh yeah, the checking thing makes total sense. My issue is WHY did he ask someone else to check on Harry instead of doing that himself?? Or am I missing something here?

        1. Ahah, I suppose. I like that word, minion, I always chuckle at that. Well, big V ends up being lied to, so serves him right for being lazy.

  2. I wouldn’t call it “epic”, per se, but I’d say that it was everything that I asked it to be- a satisfying conclusion to a really crazily long series of movies. Basically, i didn’t want them to get to the finish line and drop the ball, and I don’t think they did that at all. Ranking all of ’em, I’d probably put this one at #3 in the series (favorites: Order of the Phoenix, Prisoner of Azkaban).

    The Snape backstory was awesome and I kind of wish we’d gotten more of it. I mean, it was a sloppy thing to throw it together like that and it’s a little too convenient for explaining a ton of things… but it’s important (for me) to remember that these are still children’s books. You can get away with sloppy/convenient plot stuff in a kids’ book.

    The stone army thing got a ton of applause in my theater.

    1. I suppose it’s mildly satisfying, I enjoy some parts but was underwhelmed by others (especially the scenes between Voldemort & Harry). I still don’t know if I can rank my faves, but ‘Azkaban’ and ‘Goblet of Fire’ might make my top 3.

      I just love Snape! If they had made a spinoff of just his character I’d definitely watch it 🙂

      Yeah, the stone army is definitely a major highlight for me, it’s just sooo cool to watch. That whole Hogwarts scene is awesome.

  3. This is a fun summary of HP. I still have yet to see it. Not a “must see harry potter” fan. I’ll see it eventually. I like how you just spell out the differences between your expectations and reality. Thanks for this nice review. Glad you liked it..but I, too, am glad the saga is over. I will also be glad when twilight is too!

    1. Oh you haven’t seen this? I hope you saw the spoiler warning! 🙂

      I’m not the biggest HP fan but I was anticipating this and had a high expectation for it, perhaps too high for my own good. Well for sure this franchise is still eons better than Twilight!

  4. I remember reading that guardian article. Not sure i totally agree with it, but its hard to argue against it.

    And as i’ve said in other comments i liked the last film, but i did find it confusing s to how Harry came back to life

    1. It’s an opinion piece so of course people will agree/disagree about it but I think it’s a fair commentary and I do notice what she’s talking about.

      As for Harry coming back to life, I don’t think he ever died to begin with. Must be the protection from his family? I think those who read the books might understand it more.

      1. From what someone on anomalous material said, harry did die, but because Voldemort had some of Harrys blood in him from Goblet of Fire Voldemort kind of bring him back to life accidentally

        1. I just went over there to check on the comments, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus explanation. In any case, Volde’s death is kinda uneventful I think, and I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that.

  5. Excellent look at this, Ruth. My wife pored over the novels as they came out and was a bit underwhelmed since she was so deep into Rowling’s text (and what was only touched upon in film). I, on the other hand, came to this purely from the film end. Now that the movie series is complete, I intend on pursuing (and hopefully re-discovering) it from the beginning through the books — see how I cleverly planned this out to extend it all the whole experience ;-).

    Still, I have to say concerning this last installment that my most enjoyably hated character in the entire series was Bellatrix Lestrange! Kudos to Helena Bonham Carter for making her so. [spoiler] From a solely vengeful angle, her’s was the death I most savored in the final film (hmm… pretty good for a kid’s novel). And that it was delivered from Fred’s mom made it doubly so.[/spoiler] There, I got that out of my system.

    Nevertheless, the series was a great journey. And what a magnificent cast (Snape and Alan Rickman deserved all the praise they’re getting). The last installment is likely my second most favorite, with Prisoner of Azkaban at the top (and oh did I wish Alfonso Cuarón would have done more of these films — the man doesn’t work enough for my taste).

    As always, great post! Thanks for this.

    1. Hi Michael, I’m curious to see the perspective from the books’ fan like your wife. I kind of guessed that they might not sing praises for this finale. But I’m like you, and I’ve only caught on the HP fever last year before Part I came out. I don’t know if I want to read the books now though.

      Oh Bellatrix is awesome, a great villain to hate ahah. Yeah, the death scene is indeed one of the best parts, go Molly go! 🙂

      Can’t say enough good things about Snape, though the rest of the supporting cast are brilliant. I think Dan mentioned about Cuaron as well, it’d be interesting to see his take but of course that’ll never happen.

      Thanks for stopping by, Michael.

  6. Well I’ve actually only seen two of the potter films. I think I need to just marathon the whole series at some point and see what the fuss is about. There’s a tremendous amount of hype for this last one.

    1. Hey it’s never too late to catch up on ’em, Markus. I’ve just discovered HP a year ago myself, we did a marathon in like 2 months before Part I came out, it was fun as we didn’t have to wait for the next one for a long time like people who watch ’em in the cinema, y’know, the loyal fans 🙂

      A bit of shameless plug… I posted this right after I watched the HP movies:

  7. Ted S.

    I haven’t seen it yet, I wanted to go see it at the IMAX theater but it’s in 3D so I’m gonna have to find a 2D theater. I don’t remember much about the book, but I know what happened to all of the characters. I need to see this on the big screen since I’ve never seen any of the Potter films in theater.

    1. I think it looks good on 2D but I know how you feel about those IMAX screens 🙂 I’m curious what you think about this as you’ve read all the books, Ted. Btw, this is the 2nd HP movie I saw in the theater as I jumped into the franchise late.

  8. – I think the movie reaches its climax too early (about 2/3 of the way through between the run through the courtyard battle to the Pensieve and Hermione saying “I’lll go with you”) hence the Voldemort/Harry Potter battle is a bit of a let down.

    – I agree Voldemort wasn’t as intimidating this time around, most likely because Fiennes chose to give him some humanity as the horcruxes were destroyed.

    – And I don’t really agree with the Guardian article or your point of view that Hermione is less brainy as the series progressed. In this movie, everyone took a back seat to Daniel Radcliffe so I can’t really blame any of the other actors for having less dialogue and screen time. Even as recently as Part 1, she was still the brain of the organization.

    1. Yeah, I think you’re right Castor, it’s a pity because that’s the moment we’ve all been anticipating. I came away thinking Vold was kinda weak which I’m sure wasn’t the case in the book.

      Giving him some humanity?? Well he is not human anymore when he’s no longer Tom Riddle… in any case, his giggling in the scene with Neville came across annoying instead of intimidating.

      I didn’t say Hermione is less brainy, just not as assertive/confident. She comes across kinda wimpy, and there’s not a smidgen of chemistry between her and Ron. I think some people mentioned in the comments of your review that they’re in the Harry/Hermione camp, I suppose that’d be too predictable but at the same time they at least have a bit more chemistry together.

      1. Ahaha we are all Harry/Hermione shippers on AM 🙂 In the movies, they have so much more chemistry together than Harry/Ginny or Ron/Hermione.

        As for your Voldemort question, I guess that’s because Harry is obviously dangerous to him and he didn’t want to go near him and fall to some trap. Why risk it when you have hundreds of minions ahah

        1. I’m not crazy about Ginny at all, I’d rather see Harry with Cho Chang… their kiss was actually more romantic. Ah well.

          Ok, I’ll buy that. Funny, Sam mentioned the same thing about having those minions, though Voldie’s not that smart as Mrs. Malfoy lied to him and he didn’t know, ahah.

  9. Excellent write-up Ruth. Thinking about the young cast for a minute. Tom Felton who played Draco turned out to be the best of the young actors. It is a shame then that in the final film he is nothing but a sniveling coward, whose is given no stage to shine as a villain. I’m sure, although I read the book two years ago now, that Draco is given a much better denouement than in the film. I know we could go on about the book v film conversion but I realy think they messed up the Draco part of the story. There was redemption there but it doesn’t come through in the film – we only see that after 7 years of hate and near-death experiences at school that 20 years later they are amicable friends. Seems odd to me.

    1. Thank you Dan. Oh I totally agree with you about the Draco part. Even as a non-reader of HP books, I feel like there should be more to it to make the transformation from arch nemesis if you will, to suddenly them becoming all chummy. Interesting that they focus so much more on Neville than on Draco this time, no offense to Neville as I like seeing a different side to him but I’d rather see more of Harry/Draco storyline.

  10. I still haven’t seen this one. I am almost thinking it will not be until blu ray now. But just in case I didn’t read too much into your words Ruth. I hope you forgive me.

    Thanks for the DM’s last night made me happy


  11. Pingback: On Harry Potter (A review, with some other thoughts thrown in) « Banana Oil

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