by: Coop Cooper
I have a vested interest in the “Harry Potter” films – not only because “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was one of my first movie reviews – but because I’ve read every book and seen every film since. Throughout all those years I anticipated the end of the wildly successful franchise, and now the moment has arrived. This film marks the conclusion of Harry Potter and the end of a worldwide phenomenon.
As Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) mourns the loss of his fallen friends, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) celebrates his acquisition of the Elder Wand, the most powerful and deadly wand in the world. In order to stop him, Harry and his travelling companions return to Hogwarts in an attempt to destroy the last of the magical “horcruxes,” items that give Voldemort his power. At Hogwarts, Voldemort’s Death Eaters prepare to lay siege to the school, forcing Harry and his allies into a final showdown that will lead Harry to his ultimate destiny.
Given the successful track record of the books and movie adaptations of the Harry Potter franchise the quality of this film was assured. My only fear was that it might not pull off those memorable moments the book expressed so well. Only the most nitpicky Potter fans might take issue with how some characters seemed left out of the wrap-up or how the ending did not strike the same tone as the book. While it didn’t get every nuance perfectly right, I thought it concluded well enough to satisfy the majority of Potter aficionados.
The film the suffered primarily from the one problem that vexed all “Harry Potter” films… there wasn’t enough time to tie up all the loose ends. Many of the characters who received so much focus in the other films got lost in the editing process or were quickly dismissed. Some of the deaths happen so fast, the audience doesn’t have a chance to register the loss. Of all the secondary characters, only Severus Snape and Neville Longbottom are allowed satisfying and lengthy character arcs by the film’s conclusion.
Additionally, the camera could have lingered on a few of the character’s faces in the “19 years later” ending of the film. I’m sure the audience would have appreciated a few extra moments to soak in the future lives of the aged survivors. In terms of tone, the ending also had more of a bittersweet flavor than the book. It didn’t feel exactly like the extended payoff given to the dedicated readers but it was powerful none the less.
Emotional punch is where the film finds its greatest strength. The intense moments in the story build quietly and deliberately to give the audience time to measure the weight of what is coming. It slows the pace and takes screen time away from secondary character development, but it works. The actors carry the finality of each scene on their faces, almost as if they are anticipating the end of it all and are already mourning it. That is something special in cinema you don’t see too often.
The film has a somber feel to it, even in jubilant moments. I’m sure many Potter fans will feel the same sense of loss I did as the final credits rolled. I do hope J.K. Rowling has something new up her sleeve and I hope she reveals it soon. Harry Potter or not, it would be a shame if she let her talent stagnate while so many eager fans await the arrival of her next book series.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars