This movie makes me sad. It’s a reminder that Harry Potter is over. There was something special about eagerly anticipating the midnight releases of the books and movies, but now that fun is gone. I managed to recapture a bit of the magic when I visited the theme park at Universal Studios, but there was one thing missing from that trip– my friends. This was our fandom, and I think they’d all agree that we had some fun times obsessing over this little series.
So how does it all end? Both with a bang and a bit of a whimper.
The epic Battle of Hogwarts was amazingly done, and even though I know what the outcome will be I am still on the edge of my seat whenever I watch Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The action is still thrilling, the deaths just as heartbreaking, and the surprises completely satisfying. The only part of the climax that didn’t live up to the book is Molly Weasley’s now infamous “Not my daughter, you bitch!” line directed at Bellatrix Lestrange. This felt weak compared to how it’s delivered in the book. But other than that, everything is near perfection.
Now to that whimper… I was never a fan of the book’s epilogue. It felt a little too saccharine and nice. I didn’t need to see Harry and his friends as adults. I knew in my heart that they were still friends, that they had families of their own, and kids who were thriving. Seeing this was completely unnecessary. For me it was closure that was unneeded, but there are those out there who loved it. If this scene were cut from the movies, they’d be just as upset as I was at all the cuts I cared about. The epilogue as it is presented on screen is distracting. The actors are just too young to convincingly appear middle-aged, no matter how many makeup wrinkles you give them. Still, even I will admit that the final shot of Harry, Ron, and Hermione seeing their children off on the Hogwarts Express can bring a tear to my eye on the right day. It may not be my favorite moment from the films, but it does sum up the series well. This is a story about friendship, and in the end we’re left with three best friends who have been through everything together.
And in that way, this movie also makes me happy. When I was struggling to fit in and find friends in college, one of the first things my roommates and I bonded over was Harry Potter. Yeah, there were a lot of other things we had in common, but I’m perfectly happy saying that I made some of my best friends because of a boy wizard. People have made friends in a lot stranger ways, I’m sure. When I watch the movies I am reminded of them, and that always brings a smile to my face even knowing that we’re currently separated by multiple time zones.
While I will always love the books more, these movies do a great job of capturing the magic of the original series. Every time I watch them I immediately want to start over with Sorcerer’s Stone. Not many film series make me feel that way.
So here it is, the end of an era. It was hard to believe I spent a decade of my life watching these films. The trio of stars have gone from pre-pubescent youngsters to fully fledged adults before our eyes. This final film wraps up Harry’s journey so well. It is an exciting conclusion to what has been a series that seemed to only get better as it went on.
When we left Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), he is still searching for Voldermort’s (Ralph Fiennes) horcruxes in the hope of destroying them so Voldemort can become mortal once again and be destroyed forever. At his side are his faithful sidekicks, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). Before they can complete their quest, Voldemort attacks Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, meaning Harry will have to fast track his plans if he hopes to end this war for good and not lose his beloved school, and many of its inhabitants, in the process.
There is so much I can write about this film, but it is really summed up with one word: quality. The whole series has had a level of sustained quality throughout that I have not seen in any other movie series. I will defend Star Wars to the ends of the earth, but even that cannot match these adventures of the boy wizard Harry Potter. For starters, there are eight films in this series, compared to six in Star Wars (the upcoming release of Episode 7 will change that, but right now there’s only six), and even I will admit that there is a drop in quality for the prequels. I still love them, but they are not as good as the originals.
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 wraps up everything so well. There is even a short epilogue, and even though it is distracting seeing these clearly early twenties actors made to look middle aged, it ends Harry’s story so nicely. Part of me would love to see his adventures continue, but this series is just so well done and everything so wrapped up, I would hate to see it tainted by an unnecessary sequel. If there were more stories to be told in this world, I’d prefer a prequel of the first time Voldemort rose to power. That could be interesting to see Harry’s parents when they were young and how they battled Voldemort the first time.
Since this is the final Potter film, I can’t end it without mentioning some of the amazing actors that contributed to this series. Helena Bonham Carter is amazing as the evil Bellatrix Lestrange, she is clearly having so much fun in the role. It is a shame she didn’t turn up properly until Goblet of Fire. Another one I have to mention is Alan Rickman as the fearful professor Snape. He begins the series as an average scary teacher, but ends it as a duplicitous hero. I loved him in the role, he was so good at being the feared teacher, but also is able to believably show Harry how much he loved his mother, Lily Potter. I really enjoyed his performance throughout the entire series. There are so many more to mention, Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon are great. I was particularly impressed with Gambon, who came on in the third movie to replace Richard Harris who had passed away after the second movie was made. It is always difficult stepping into another actor’s shoes, but he does a good job. I really think Harris would have struggled with some of the physicality that would come in the later novels when Dumbledore and Voldemort throw down. Gambon is able to perform the physical scenes well, but also come across as a caring mentor when he needs too.
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 wraps up Harry’s adventure really well. It is an exciting conclusion to one of the best film series ever made.