So Long, Harry Potter

Ten years ago, it was easy to be skeptical of the Harry Potter movie franchise.  The prepubescent leading characters were completely new to the world of filming despite being amongst some of the UK’s greatest actors and actresses like Alan Rickman, Jason Isaacs, and Maggie Smith.  Not only were they wet behind the ears but sadly, how could one expect this large group of very young actors to imbue the strong characters they would need to become?  There were even some that considered the franchise “easy money” – expecting effortless blockbusters given the books’ world-wide phenomena.

The first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, began production in 2000.  It was a time when many presumed in the upcoming decade of producing these movies, the young audience who fell in love with the books would move on and lose interest in the films.  Indeed, those people could not envision the global impact Harry Potter has had on the world, from children to adults alike.  Harry Potter has proved time after time that even a children’s story can prove as timeless on film as on print.

Before I delve deeper into the actual review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I should explain my position on Harry Potter first.  I was made to listen to the first book in fifth grade on audio tapes and scoffed at the teacher and the story.  Up through college I enjoyed teasing my friends who went to the book store at midnight to collect the final books during their release.  But being the open-minded girl that I am, I decided to give Harry Potter a shot the week before my freshman year of college at Ohio State.  Not only did I finish the seven book series in that week and the following first few days of school, I didn’t do anything for my first few classes of my college career as I sat in awe and admiration of Harry Potter.  Judge if you will folks, but being on both ends of the spectrum has given me perspective on the lovers and the haters, the haters most likely being ignorant like I was.

Now, after my seemingly ramblings of the creation of Harry Potter, however much owed given the final conclusion, I’ll dive in with my review of the final part of one of the biggest things to happen in the world of entertainment.

The movie begins where the first left off, obviously, giving us a recap of the final few moments of Part 1.  Given my thorough knowledge of the series, I knew what I expected to see after those first minutes.  Everyone now knows that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are out on a quest to seek Voldemort’s horcruxes, as well as learn the truth and origins of the deathly hallows.  But how can the movie show the story the way I want to see it, as well as maintaining the pivotal plot points?  Events that seemed to take pages and pages and pages to describe, seemed to whiz past like a bullet.  Although remaining justly accurate to the book, it was strange to see such colossal scenes you’d envisioned in your head to be over so quickly.  However, I knew it was only in an effort to build suspense for the terror that was to come.

Anticipating only the best not only the actors themselves, but also from technical standpoints like special effects and cinematography, I was not let down.  The actors delivered in a startling way, establishing that this story wasn’t about possibly getting hurt but about you and everyone around you dying.  There wasn’t nearly as much humor in the second part of The Deathly Hallows as previous films have allowed, but I believe that audiences will appreciate the gravity of the story at this point.  The stakes for the characters are far above what we have seen and the heartbreaking results weren’t shied away from.  Many characters who have purposely remained two-dimensional throughout the series revealed the best and worst of themselves.  The actors, particularly some of the older cast, portrayed fear and vulnerability in the most beautiful way, especially from characters who had yet to show that this side of them even existed.

The second half of the film allowed for the audience to truly take in the severity of the story.  In the previous movies there had been scattered a handful of serious injuries, a few heartrending deaths, and a couple of sweet yet sometimes comical love stories.  It was over when you saw regular classmates of Harry’s, teachers, friends, all fighting and eventually lying dead among the rubble of what was once Hogwarts.  The story didn’t allow one to be relieved with the “yeah, they’re fighting Voldemort but they’re all still going to live, right?  The kids always get out alive…”  This reprieve of feelings was not offered, for author JK Rowlings and director David Yates wouldn’t let you off that easy.  You were going to feel what they all felt, whether you liked it or not.

Aside from the performances of the brilliant cast, young and old, the movie itself was visually stunning.  The landscape and scenery was beautiful of course but the cinematic art of how the actors were exposed, the camera choices capturing death and destruction around Harry, and the war itself against Voldemort was breathtaking.  The once light and enjoyable score played during the beginning of The Sorcerer’s Stone as well as throughout the series, was now used to lay dark undertones to the fatal scenes.  Everything we once loved, believed, and understood throughout the films was spun around to give you the heart wrenching twists you didn’t want to believe would happen.

Harry Potter fan or not, the movie presents some of the best performances given by every person involved in making the film.  I would recommend this movie to anyone however, I would suggest brushing up on your Potter knowledge as things get complicated, particularly when packing as much information into the movie as they did.  I was anxious that the build-up to this final part of the series wouldn’t surrender the accomplishment I wanted it to but happily, it satisfied every aspect I expected to be done.


1 Response to “So Long, Harry Potter”

  1. Brian White

    Great review Brianna! Very insightful!

    I just wish my enthusiasm for this franchise was half as yours. I’m not sure why it is I can’t seem to immerse myself into these movies. Maybe one day when I have a Blu-ray marathon my feelings will be swayed, but for now, I guess I will chalk it up to a generation difference and the simple fact that I never read the books so I don’t know what I’m missing.