The long awaited moment has arrived. Last night, Courtney and I sat down and enjoyed the pre-release screening of Harry Potter 7, Part 2.
I feel like I need to give this review justice. After all, this is one of the truly rare times where I actually saw the movie first; there’s an expectation of validity then. I hope not to disappoint.
To be perfectly fair, I have only rarely liked the Harry Potter films when they first came out. I always end up loving them later on, but to say that I like them immediately would be a lie. I always go in with such high expectations of seeing the books come to life, and I’m always at least a little disappointed that they don’t always play out the same.
HP7, Part 2 is no exception, although I did like it more than any of the others with the exception of HP7, Part 1.
Emotionally, this is the richest of the films. You will cry, especially if you’ve loved and grown with these films. In particular, the journey through Snape’s memories builds a passion and yearning for reconciliation with Snape like few movies do. I’d rival that sequence against the much beloved shadow puppets scene from HP7, Part 1. When Snape finally does die and his memories have faded, you find yourself mourning any time you thought ill of him.
The portrayal of death in this film is distant. You see it happen, but no one you know ever dies (with the obvious exception of Snape and Voldemort) right in front of you. Rather, you see aftermath of death in the bodies lying in corridors, the weeping people in the Great Hall, and the demands of Voldemort for Harry to come out. Fred’s death is particularly potent as is Remus and Tonks’s.
Humor is scattered appropriately through the film, and the resulting roller coaster of grief, joy, sadness, fear, excitement, curiosity, and anticipation creates a smooth flow through out the film. I distinctly remember at one point thinking in my mind that the film took its foot off the gas pedal in the wrong parts allowing it to slow, but looking back, I’m glad; any faster and any more consistent, and I would have been exhausted emotionally. Instead, when the end finally does come, you are both ready, willing, and happy to see it come. Happy for the ride, grateful for the end.
I simply cannot express my utter disappointment at the battle between Molly and Bellatrix. I offer that only so that you don’t experience the crushing sadness I did at the wimpiness of that moment. It was bad enough that that alone took away the perfect rating I was going to give this film. As a friend said, “You can forgive many things in a film, but that?” And I agree.
Similarly, I found some of the changes from the book to the film unpalatable. Ginny and Harry never have that jaw-dropping, whoop-it-up kiss that you long for. After the disappointment of not seeing that in HP6, it was a little depressing to not see it now. That is, however, more than made up with an appropriately beautiful scene between Ron and Hermione that literally had the theater bursting from their seats with the roar of approval.
I also disapproved of the treatment giving to conversations about Horcruxes and Hallows in the movies. The manner in which these are treated is distinctly different from the books, and I don’t think it improved the story.
Same with the final treatment of wands, particularly Harry’s broken wand and the Elder wand.
3.5 out of 4.
I know many want this to be a solid 4, but I’m sorry. It’s not. The scene with Molly ended any chance of that. All that being said, this is still one of the best of the Harry Potter movies. The emotional depth, roller coaster up and down, and power of the film will set this as a classic where many of the others will only be “good.” When you pair this with HP7, Part 1, this film can only be described as a masterpiece to rival the joy, the wonder, and the epic standing last seen in LotR: Return of the King.
It’s been a journey of momentous proportions, and I’ve enjoyed the ride. I fought reading the books for many years because I didn’t want to be part of the crowd. I’m glad I caved. I had the moment of mourning last night where I realized it was finally over. The anticipation, the waiting, the yearning for the next book, the next film.
And then I realized that Katherine turns seven soon enough…. Another year or two, and I’ll be introducing her to the world of Harry Potter. Reading and seeing something new is always a treasure. But sharing that with someone else is far better.