A very brief review of the final Harry Potter film

I’m going to start with the obligatory SPOILER alert here.  If you haven’t seen the final Harry Potter film (or read the book), then be advised I’ll be discussing a couple of plot points.  Also, a confession — I haven’t read the last book.  I read all the rest, and just kind of lost steam by the end.  Now, of course, I will.

I mostly liked the film, which I think mostly kicked ass.  I saw it with the Better Half and my father, and we opted for the 3D experience.  Some of the scenes were quite spectacular this way (eg. the scenes with attacking dragons or rampaging fireballs), but I don’t think it would significantly alter one’s enjoyment to see it in regular 2D.

Snape’s demise is a particularly well-done scene.  It’s far more horrifying to hear the snake striking repeatedly than it would have been to see it.  It gave me the fantods, as was the intended effect.  I was also glad to learn the whole story of his character, and was glad to see him turn out to have been as secretly courageous and good as I’d always hoped.  One beef I had — if Lupin gets to show up in the group of spirits comforting Harry before the scene in the forest, why not poor Snape?  I would have really enjoyed seeing Harry (and his mother) thank him for his sacrifice, and having the two characters finally interact after his true nature was made known.  Given how genuinely heroic Snape finally turns out to be, I feel like the character deserves a greater reward than being some kid’s middle namesake.  Perhaps there’s more in the book?

A Potterphile friend here in the office has told me that several of my complaints with the film are not in the book.  For example, if the central trio of characters is telling everyone they’re looking for horcruxes, why don’t they tell everyone at the end to kill the damn snake?  Why is it just Hermione and Ron running away, with Neville showing up with the sword just in time?  And why is the final, climactic battle between Harry and Voldemort fought with nobody to see it?  Why, afterward, is Harry just kind of wandering around among the survivors?  He’s just killed the evil wizard who has been ruthlessly slaughtering people and wrecking the whole of wizard society!  Is nobody going congratulate him, shake his hand, maybe give him a rousing cheer or two?  No?  And if Harry dropped the resurrection stone in the forest, how did he come back to life?  I am given to understand that all of these massive plot weaknesses are not there in the book, but if that’s the case then why did they alter the plot in the transition that makes it both less understandable and less enjoyable to watch?

That said, it was very affecting to see characters I have come to love behaving with heroism.  I loved seeing Professor McGonagall defending Hogwarts.   I had a lump in my throat for much of the scenes at the school, and was very sorry for the death of Fred Weasley in particular.  It was a stirring and exciting conclusion to the series.

What wasn’t stirring or exciting?  That ending.  Eddie Izzard used to joke that he liked to end his shows with a “meh” from the audience, and that’s exactly how this movie ends.  Harry et al all grown up and transformed into soccer quidditch moms and dads.  Snore.  For the most successful literary franchise of my lifetime, I was expecting a bit more there at the end.

So, what did you think?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

One Comment

  1. The epilogue is what seems to have left the worst taste in everyone’s mouths, and that was as true for the book as it seems to be for the movie (I’ve not seen the movie yet but recall the story from the book). There’s a moment when Harry and Draco sort of nod at each other in distant regard, which I sort of liked, but aside from that, yeah, it was a strangely flat way to end such a roller-coaster of an adventure.

    The book really played up the Harry-as-Jesus metaphor, which I found off-putting and even distracting because I wanted the Harry Potter mythology to be its own story instead of one I’d already read before — I wanted and only partly got a story of redemption and victory realized through bravery and friendship. Ultimately, though, the hero dies in fulfillment of a prophecy and is then resurrected so that he can redeem the world from the clutches of evil, all through the grace of a subtle and invisible but immensely higher power that is ultimately beyond the grasp of the living to comprehend. I’ve, um, heard that story before, somewhere else.

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