I've obviously got to write something about the final Harry Potter movie here, but it's a hard time to focus these days. Every spare second I have I'm plowing through George R. R. Martin's A Dance of Dragons (I'm on page 738! Only thirteen thousand more pages to go!) and that's where my head is when I'm not completely unable to think due to A/C problems like I spent the second half of yesterday dealing with. NI haven't even written a review of Miranda July's The Future yet, for god's sake! So behind, so behind. Summer just kills my ability to function. Point being, I have no idea what I'm about to write but let's just wing it. This will be very exciting for all parties! Here are five thoughts as they come to me on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Spoilers ahoy.
1. Okay I did do a smidge of preparation for this - EW's got a full-length recap of the movie up and I read though that. And it reminded me of one thing I'd forgotten - Harry Potter's supposed to be completely starkers in that post-Avada Kedavra "afterworld" meeting with Dumbledore at the white-light train station. Cheated! I'd totally forgotten that. I mean sure it was always a little weird, naked Harry hanging out with his elderly homosexual friend. But it was IMPORTANT. That's an even bigger slight then the lack of centaurs and house elves at the Battle of Hogwarts, or the absence of Luna and Neville in the post-script, I says.
2. Even though I started crying about a quarter of the way into the movie and was a blubbering mess by the final reel, I think they missed the mark a little bit with this movie as a whole. There were huge pieces I loved and little pieces I loved but somehow it never really clicked together as a full movie, I guess? It was more a series of periods and exclamation points, with a couple of questions marks tossed in for good/bad measure. Everybody was good, the film looked and sounded gorgeous, but the script could've maybe used some work. It felt a little bit rushed like they turned their eyes to the side of the soundstage and could see the guy swinging the keys ready to close up and they were ready for supper anyway so let's get this thing done already! One of the biggest problems for me is probably how insulated everything felt at this point - I don't think they got across the danger that the entire world was facing here. Everybody was holed up at Hogwarts and we hardly saw a single Muggle - they did give us a sense of this in Half-Blood Prince with the Millenium Bridge collapse, but a reminder was needed, I think. (Maybe I just wish there'd been more Fiona Shaw.)
3. That said, the Snape flashback sequence got me right in the gut. Rickman's youth-ening CG botox job was a little bit distracting - Trent Reznor got stung by a bunch of bees! - but they really managed to slam a lot of emotional bang-for-their-buck into that succinctly-edited sequence; Rickman has always been a stand-out of course but I found myself surprised by just how much I appreciated every second we got with him this time. The way he could draw out a syllable will never be equaled.
4. Also welcome was finally getting to hang out with Ralph Fiennes for awhile. Voldemort makes some abysmally dumb decisions (granted they're written off as a by-product of his soul being murdered piece by piece, and until you've had your soul murdered piece by piece you shouldn't judge, but still - you're really not gonna check Harry's pulse yourself there, V-man?) but Ralph squeezes every ounce of sibilant villainy there is to be had from the slit-nosed cretin. Bonus points go to Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, who kept bouncing around behind him reminding me of those straight-jacketed monsters that hung out with the Gentleman in the "Hush" episode of Buffy. Her impersonation of Emma Watson's Hermione in the Gringotts bank-robbery scene was kinda mind-blowing.
5. Alright, I made it to five! I guess all that's left is to slather on some of the hearty gratitude we fans feels towards JK Rowling for imagining this world up and to David Yates and the other directors and all the immensely talented craftspeople who created the world over the course of eight films. At a certain point in the film that Twilight-belittling quote of Stephen King's popped into my head:
"Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
Snipe if you will, the studios and the publishers and the toy companies have made more money than they'll ever know what to do with, sure, but I do think that the fictional tale of Harry Potter has in its own little way made the world a better place. Personally, when I reflect on it as I did watching it unfold its final grace notes, it made me want to be a better person, to be a better friend. I know I'm not the only one.