Professor Albus Dumbledore: Harry, you wonderful boy. You brave, brave man.
The best thing about it: I felt like I didn’t just watch a movie… I experienced an event. I met my deadline and was able to see it at midnight, surrounded by passionate fans dressed up like everyone from Bellatrix (lots of them) to Hagrid (yay!) to a Golden Snitch (creative!), and they were just bursting at the seams. The fans’ excitement made my experience so much richer as a result. I’ve been to midnight premieres of all the Star Wars movies, the Lord of the Rings movies, and on and on. But I’d never seen anything like this. Harry Potter fans very well may top them all. It’s like I got a contact high, and all of a sudden, I too was cheering when the Warner Brothers logo appeared on the screen and clapping and screaming any time one of our heroes did or said something awesome. I’m going to share more on my thoughts (and include pictures!) of the overall movie-going experience in my The Harry Potter Project: The Wrap Up tomorrow, but suffice it to say, I finally got a taste of Pottermania… and it was delicious.
What could have made it better: Before any Harry Potter fans get upset with what I’m about to say, let me preface it with this: I liked the final battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort. I did. It wasn’t as epic or grand in scale as Voldemort and Dumbledore’s battle, and I was a little bit bummed by that at first until I thought about it more. Dumbledore had over a hundred years of experience, and while Harry is amazingly talented, it was mostly still raw and untapped. So it was more like an arm wrestling match than it was some big spectacle of marvelous wizardly magic. It actually makes much more sense for Harry vs. Voldemort to be a power struggle, so given more time to dwell on the matter, I actually appreciate the restraint. My issue is this: Voldemort’s death was a wee bit anticlimactic. It’s what we’ve all been waiting to see for the past whole 5 days (okay, maybe some of you have been waiting slightly longer), and I wanted to lose my mind and tear the place down. I get it, all the Horcruxes had been destroyed, so he lost his power and just kind of faded away… it made sense. But I didn’t quite get the satisfaction I craved. I wanted one moment there in the end where I could cheer wildly. After the Bellatrix and Nagini kills, my audience was ready to go absolutely bonkers once Voldemort met his fate. But because of the (very beautiful) artistic way that he just kind of disappeared, there wasn’t that one big opportunity to jump out of your seat, pump your fists up in the air, and high five the random dude dressed like Lucius Malfoy sitting next to you.
Random thoughts: That first shot of the Dementors floating still in the sky, as if they were just stalking their prey, was fantastically eerie and the absolute perfect shot to set the tone and open this story. I was so impressed by this little 3 second shot that I turned to the friend sitting next to me and whispered, “remind me to include that shot in my review.” Well, the friend forgot to remind me, but thankfully I remembered. What a crap friend. Ron or Hermione woulda reminded me.
I have always been completely neutral about Professor McGonagall. As a matter of fact, I knew so little about her that I just had to look up her name. She was just “Maggie Smith” in my head. But she was so ridiculously awesome in this one. From her battle with Snape, to getting Harry’s back, to her cute excitement about finally being able to do that knights coming alive thing magic spell, she singlehandedly stole the show for a small portion of the finale.
I have to say it: the Deathly Hallows themselves seemed pointless. If you remember, I was wildly excited about the idea of someone collecting all three and becoming the Master of Death. I mean, come on, the final chapter of the story is named The Deathly Hallows, so I just assumed that they were going to be a game changer. But in the end, The Cloak of Invisibility didn’t even get mentioned again and Harry was so unimpressed by the Resurrection Stone, he just dropped it on the ground. It was all about the Elder Wand. So why not just call it Harry Potter and the Elder Wand?
Snape is good! Snape is good!!!! SNAPE IS GOOOOOOOOOD!!! (Imagine me doing a happy dance here, cause that’s how I felt.)
Without a doubt, the Snape tears in the water fountain thingy memory/flashback was my favorite part of the movie. The reveal and backstory were just glorious. It’s like that one scene tied it all together for me, and at the same time, finally lifted the veil on one of cinema’s all-time most mysterious characters (I have now officially given Snape this title). I know everyone else in the audience knew this reveal was coming, but for me, that’s the moment when I most wanted to cheer out loud.
Why does the Gryffindor Sword disappear and reappear randomly? And how come only a goblin can tell if it’s the true Gryffindor Sword or not? And most importantly, which would win in a Sword Tournament Final Four: the Gryffindor Sword, Excalibur, Rhindon, or the Sword of Omens? Sorry, my money’s on Lion-O.
I only half-cheered along with the crowd when Ron’s mom killed Bellatrix. Quite honestly, while it was fun to see sweet as pie Mrs. Weasley take out such a powerful villain, to me, it kind of betrayed the aura that is Bellatrix. She’s too badass to die at the hands of such a soft character. And again, like Sirius and Dumbledore’s deaths before her, it happened so quick. Judging from all the Bellatrix’s I saw in the audience, I’m not the only one with a thing for the brunette baddie. If it had to be a catfight, I would have preferred that Hermione take her out.
On the other hand, I whooped and hollered with the best of them when dorky cute Neville killed Voldemort’s slithering bestie.
Speaking of Neville, I haven’t once mentioned his name in this entire project, but now that it’s all said and done, I’m realizing what a wonderful character arc he’s undergone. I brushed him off as a throwaway supporting character in the beginning, someone just there to represent the token “nerd” in school. Little did I know he’d come into play in such a major way in the endgame. Revenge of the Nerds, indeed.
I loved how every single character that I’ve met over the past week had their individual moment to shine. I’ve mentioned by name some series-long characters in this review that I’ve never written about before. That’s how you wrap a story up: go back to the characters. They’re the reason fans fell in love with this story in the first place. Sure, the magic’s cool and all, but we fall in love with people, not potions. It reminded me of the Lost finale. Maybe not all the answers I wanted were given, but every character I loved made an appearance and an impact in the end.
So Harry Potter defeats Lord Voldemort in an epic battle. It’s what the entire series has been building towards. Every character in the movie has been scared to death for years now, and many of them had given up hope. The Dark Lord’s death pretty much just saved the universe. And Harry walks back into Hogwarts and… everybody’s just chillin’. Not even a, “What’s up, Har Dawg?”. No standing O. Just another Tuesday night at Hogwarts. What the?! No hero’s welcome?? Put the dude on your shoulders, throw a parade, have the Hogwarts glee club break out into an a cappella “We Are The Champions”, something!!
I gotta say, the 3D aspect was just ho hum. But I did score some pretty sweet Harry Potter spectacles out of the deal.
Confession time: I totally got caught up in the moment when Ron and Hermione finally did the deed, and I may or may not have cheered like a little schoolgirl.
I’ve been upset about the lack of Hagrid for a few movies now, and there still wasn’t nearly enough of my beloved gentle giant here. But I loved the role he played in being the one to carry Harry’s (supposedly) dead body back to Hogwarts. Even though I knew Harry had to still be living, it just felt so perfectly fatherly of Hagrid to care for Harry in that way.
While the 19 years later epilogue was all cute and made the story come full circle (old Draco: best Malfoy moment, ever, period), I left the theater a little perplexed. What’s Harry doing now? I figured he would take over the Dumbledore role and become Headmaster. He’s The Chosen One, so he’s gotta be doing something big and important, right? Right?! I mean, is Harry an assistant manager at Home Depot now, or what??
Hottie alert (Lifetime Achievement Award): Emma Watson
The Verdict: Now this is the nonstop, 100 miles per hour, thrilling conclusion that I was looking forward to all week. I didn’t know if they were going to be able to pull it off, but amazingly, they were able to answer most (but not all) of my essential questions, pack in lots of action, allow each character to have their moment, throw in a bunch of humor, maintain its dark mature tone, racket up the romance, and end it all with a rousing battle between good and evil. All series, I’ve been complaining about the movies dragging in places and being overly long, but my one complaint in this one is the complete opposite: I wish it could’ve gone a little longer. I mentioned in my Goblet of Fire review that if this series ever found the perfect balance of epic, cerebral storytelling and thrilling action-packed fun, it would be truly special. With Deathly Hollows: Part 2, they finally did it… and the results were pure magic. 9/10
Coming up next: The Harry Potter Project: The Wrap Up
(Overall thoughts on the series, I’ll rank the movies, make a Top 10 List of favorite Harry Potter characters, share my thoughts on Harry Potter fans, and more fun surprises!)