I have to say, this was probably the most contemplative Harry Potter film yet. I actually expected it to be explosive – literally and figuratively – and… it wasn’t. I am a tad disappointed, but in a way, this film was perfect. It allowed me to dwell on the moments instead of making it happen so fast and then BANG! everything ends. So because I was able to dwell on the moments, to fully relish the series’ end, to fully come to terms with the fact that I will never see these characters onscreen again in the same way – that made this film perfect.
Skip this post if you don’t wish to be spoiled. I don’t plan on doing a complete recount of the entire movie like I did with Part 1, but if I do… well – I warned you there would be spoilers.
The film actually progresses incredibly fast. Though the first film covers chapter 1-23 (literally half of the book), and the second film is to cover chapters 24-36, it really skips a lot, and yet packs in all the necessary information you need. Honestly, I even think that the film probably had 20 pages worth of dialogue for a 2-hour film.
Snape has never been more featured in a film than ever before. Alan Rickman finally gets his due as he lords over Hogwarts, watching from his window as all the students march into the school. One of his specialties is that he enunciates very clearly, and he uses that to his advantage as he scares all of his students. It’s actually kind of fun, and it makes the scene a little funnier than intended. His best scene is in the boat house, when he’s about to die. It was emotional for me because I knew what was about to happen, and yet what struck me even more was when Voldemort was going to kill him, and the entire time a Gryffindor scarf was hanging behind Snape. Talk about symbolism of true allegiance! His death still shocked me, as I somehow did not envision it that way, and Harry’s act of kindness towards the teacher he loathed made me blubber in tears. The entire theater was sniffling after this scene ended.
As for Maggie Smith, who plays McGonagall, she is just awesome. She gets to have an action scene fighting with Alan Rickman, and then she gets to order the troops around. After she sets a spell that gets all the concrete knights to come to life, she excitedly tells Molly Weasley, “I’ve been wanting to perform that spell for ages!” One of her best lines: “His name is Voldemort. You should start using it now, Filius, as he’s going to kill you either way.”
I think in this film, the other characters really get their due, which I’m really happy about. Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) added the perfect dose of comedy to the series. He wakes up groggily in the midst of all the battles; he is like a little kid when the werewolves are blocked from entering Hogwarts, and he yells “Ha! What are you gonna do about it now!?”; he yells to Harry that he needs to confess to Luna before he dies but then at the end of all the fighting he just sits there next to her, awkwardly. I don’t remember Neville ever wanting to confess to Luna, so I think this is just a story point that the screenwriter took some liberty with to satisfy fans. And the best part? He slides in to slice the snake’s head off. Hell. Yeah.
I can’t tell you how many times the theater (including me) clapped at each milestone battle sequence. Like Molly Weasley’s best line: “Not my daughter. You BITCH!” And she slams curse after curse at Bellatrix before finally getting her frozen and then blast into pieces.
Speaking of Bellatrix, I must say Helena Bonham Carter gives one of her finest performances to date. When she plays Hermione-turned-into-Bellatrix, Carter manages to convey the right amount of confusion and fear that makes you believe she’s really Emma Watson, and yet not. She stumbles in her clothing; she makes her eyes go wide as though she’s trying to convince you “Yes, I’m Bellatrix!”; she trips over her heels. I was so looking forward to that scene and it came out just as funny as I hoped it would be.
I wish there were more moments with Lupin and Tonks, and the Order members in general, but I understand that it was impossible. One glaring error – both Weasley Twins had their ears. What happened to George getting his ear sliced off? Huh? Huh?!
And then of course, the kiss. The Ron and Hermione one. Man, that was one satisfying moment! Instead of kissing in front of Harry, they actually showed the two of them entering the Chamber of Secrets and destroying the Hufflepuff horcrux. A huge wave of water with Voldemort’s face enveloped them, but it dissipated as well. Thinking that they were just so lucky to be alive, they looked at each other and then kissed passionately. I read that it took them 6 takes to get it right, whereas Daniel Radcliffe’s kisses with other characters took way more than that. Well, well, well – even if it was nervewracking for Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, they seemed to get it.
I think I really enjoyed this film, and yet I wasn’t satisfied. I think part of the reason was because of the soundtrack. The music was not soaring and triumphant; it was ponderous and perfect for slo-mo. The music didn’t reflect the destruction that was going on for me.
However, one of the most hilarious things about this film for me was that for every serious, frightening, terrorizing moment – it kept getting punctuated by humor. Almost every shot with Neville created some comedy; one particular moment was when he was blasted backwards by Voldemort and the battle resumed. There’s a close up of him waking up groggily, and for him he’s just confused, but behind them there’s all this chaos going on. Another moment was when Ginny runs into the Room of Requirement and she says, “Harry…” Ron tries to wave, but she completely ignores him. Ron: “6 months I haven’t seen her. I’m only her brother, she acts like I’m not bloody here.” Ron gets good lines too. But there was a constant tugging back and forth of emotions for me. Maybe it’s because I was so excited to watch it, but I didn’t know what emotion I was supposed to feel in each scene. It’s as if the director wanted me to laugh when I wanted to feel scared, and I felt scared when I should have felt hopeful.
As for the epilogue, 19 years later, the entire theater whooped in anticipation. While the make up was better than the leaked photos, it was still kind of funny. Everyone laughed, just waiting to see how everyone would look like. I think Tom Felton’s aging makeup worked best. Bonnie Wright definitely looked older, but it was the hair and clothes. She looked like she was playing dress-up. Ron was padded up so he looked like a version of his father, and Harry looked more or less the same. Hermione looked exactly the same. What was the weirdest of it all was that they’re not any taller or look anymore mature. You know it’s the same actors and so you know they’re only in their 20s. And then they have these kids who are playing their children – and these kids are pretty tall too. I feel like the actors haven’t reached that age of maturity yet where they can pull off the “loving parents” act on their kids, no matter how much they hug and kiss their kids’ foreheads.
Little tidbit: the actress who plays Draco’s wife in the end is Tom Felton’s real life girlfriend.
Good bye Harry Potter. It’s going to be hard.