Friday, August 12, 2011
Friday Review: The End of Harry Potter
Let me preface this movie review of The Deathly Hallows Part 2 by saying that I'm not a Potterhead (die-hard Harry Potter fan) who cried or felt as if something was now missing in my life at the end of the final movie. I haven’t read all of the books. I can’t tell you the title of many of them, or even recall who starred as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in every film. Gasp, shriek! Well, maybe I can on the D.A.D.A. professors, but not in order. Nevertheless, I did go see all of the movies because they were entertaining and well done.
Not only did J.K. Rowling create a fantastic series that captivated children and adults alike, she also knew how to end it.
In the movie, the dark and ominous opening scenes—with a perfect soundtrack—set the tone flawlessly. The audience is quickly reminded that “he who shall not be named” now has the all-powerful Elder wand, then segues to a glimpse of Snape as the headmaster of Hogwarts with Dementors looming over the school.
The magical world is locked in the ever-tightening iron fist of evil, while Harry and his steadfast friends race against time to destroy Voldemort. The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is filled with intense scenes, powerful action, and fantastic special effects packaged in cinematography that is somber yet stunning. The pacing worked so well that the movie never lagged and gave the audience appropriate breathers focused on the characters to balance gripping action sequences. It was also deeply satisfying on multiple levels, especially when I learned all that I had longed to know, and suspected, about Severus Snape.
A few liberties were taken with the film that deviate from the book, as to be expected, but loyal readers won’t be disappointed. My one complaint: how Harry makes it from the white train station (don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet) to duke it out with Voldemort is too vague for my taste. The timing of how it unfolded still nags me a bit.
Ultimately, the movie was so much more than the final installment of a fantastic franchise. It was an event that delivered.
I think a few key elements made this a successful ending of a series.
1. We were consistently reminded of the big stakes. The pressure for the hero and his companions didn’t let up. It only escalated.
2. I hate films or books where characters are faced with insurmountable odds and the author or director has a fantastic build up that goes nowhere. I read one extremely popular YA series (which shall not be named) where none of the main characters died in the “big face-off” in the last book or even got so much as a scratch during the battle that never quite happened. Oh, it was so disappointing. The movies have added far more action and I hope that the last film adaptation deviates dramatically to give the audience a credible fight scene. But I digress. In The Deathly Hallows Pt2, each life lost on the good side was a sacrifice that validated what was at stake. And each death on the other side was deserved.
3. We were taken on an unforgettable journey. I might not recall the films in between, but I will always remember Harry’s struggle to find the horcruxes, the impressive battle scene at Hogwarts, and the dramatic showdown.
4. Deep, dark secrets are actually revealed. Nothing worse than wondering, what about X, Y, or Z?
5. An epilogue that truly allows fans to say good-bye.
What have you enjoyed or hated about the way a book or film series ended?