So, after one whole decade, the long wait is finally over. I finally saw the much awaited finale of the Harry Potter franchise. Its a bittersweet moment for me because I’ve gotten used to looking forward to a new movie every year or every other year, and now, it’s finally done. In preparation for the finale, I rewatched five of the last Potter movies ( I was strapped for time) to make sure that I didn’t forget anything. I was truly excited about the movie when I entered the cinema, even uttering the words “excited na ako (I’m soo excited),” multiple times before the movie finally started, to the great annoyance of my brother (although he didn’t say anything). Perhaps, my sin was that I expected too much out of the film, so I did not enjoy it as much as I should have. Being a fangirl, believe me, I wanted to love it as much as I loved the literature but still, in the end, no dice.
It wasn’t a bad movie per se. It was just that the filmmakers chose to focus on the wrong parts of the movie, which resulted in a diminished impact of the scenes that were truly significant in the film’s totality. Rather than work on the scenes that would have the most impact on the fans, it chose the parts that are dialogue heavy and dragging, leaving the audience waiting for something to happen for too long, so when something finally does, it doesn’t quite satisfy.
The movie starts off where the last one left off, Harry and his friends are hiding out at Bill and Fleur’s cottage, after having buried Dobby the Elf, who perished while saving the gang from the Malfoy family mansion. While there, they enlist the support of Griphook the Goblin in breaking into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault, which they suspect of containing more of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, items in which the Dark Lord keeps a portion of his soul. In order to kill Voldemort, Harry is still left with several more Horcruxes to find and destroy, not an easy feat as only a few weapons have the ability to destroy the magical items. After they escape the bank, they find themselves returning to Hogwarts just as Voldemort discovers his missing Horcruxes and lays siege to the castle with his army of Death Eaters.
While so far, I have liked the Harry Potter films directed by David Yates, in this installment, I find myself questioning the wisdom of his decision to downplay the flashbacks of Dumbledore’s youth when he was a young wizard struggling to make a name for himself, his uncanny bromance with his neighbor and friend Gellert Grindelwald, who was last seen in the movie as the thief who held the Elder Wand as he stole into the night, the accident that led to his sister’s death and his estrangement with his brother Abeforth. While I understand that this part was not given as much focus as the book because of the gay underpinings involved in the relationship of Albus and Gellert, this was one of the most interesting parts of the book that should have been explained since they already showed Gellert in the first part of the Deathly Hallows. I suppose they could still have found a way to explore the friendship and the falling out of two of the most powerful wizards in the world, and their different choices in life to provide an insight into Albus’ transformation from the power hungry wizard he was then to the kind of leader he became.
The Gringott’s attack, much to my chagrin, started and ended abruptly when it should in fact, have been one of the more exciting scenes, injecting an air of adventure into an otherwise dark and brooding film.
I was also a bit disappointed that the evolution of the characters in the book were not given full attention. Neville for example, while he had his moment in the film, was more hard core in the book and took the cudgels of leadership when Harry was away looking for the Horcruxes. The Neville in the film, while he became rebellious, was still rather goofy and unsure of himself.
During the final battle, which was admittedly a dramatic sequence, the deaths of the characters were not given a nice set up, dramatic scoring, or even slow motion treatment, like perhaps the battle scene in The Lord of the Rings wherein audiences will immediately feel the impact of the loss. I felt that this was an injustice to the characters who have given their lives to the cause, most especially those whom audiences have grown up with. The battle, instead focused on the chaos caused by students running around Hogwarts instead of fighting the hordes of Death Eaters upon them. The original scene in the book established the strength and courage of the young wizards at that point of the story, it was a given that all who stayed behind were willing to fight. Why then was there a commotion? It made no sense. Basically, the battle which took up a major portion of the book was presented in a few minutes instead of being the centerpiece of the movie, which was kind of a letdown.
The extended moments of reflection and pussyfooting in the face of imminent attack was also among the weak points of the movie for me. However, this is not to say that the Potter finale was an entire dud.
Credit should go to the special effects team and and the musical scorers of the movie for translating into the big screen the battle as it was in the book. The CGI was seamless and the set was amazing. The scoring as the Hogwarts professors set out for battle was one for the books as the impact of the moment still leaves me teary eyed.
The cast should also give themselves a big pat on the back. When Daniel Radcliffe started in the role of Harry Potter 10 years ago, I truly doubted that he would last the entire franchise due to his weak acting. It’s nice to be proven wrong at this juncture as the boy has now evolved into a certified thespian. His supporting cast also deserves accolades for successfully bringing to life the characters that have been beloved by many through the books. My favorite scene perhaps in the entire movie belonged to Snape, his montage of memories is a testament to his great acting skill. I felt though that even the montage was rushed, but it was still very touching and emotional, a high point in the film, for sure.
While I should not be judging the movie based on my recollection of the book, I am pretty sure that I will eventually come around when I see it again minus the hype. I remember that when I first saw Prisoner of Azkaban, I thought it wasn’t quite up to snuff, but when I saw it again recently, it was quite alright.
In its entirety, I should say that the Harry Potter franchise still ended on a strong note, albeit not at all what I had expected. It’s a great series worth collecting, both the literary work and its film versions — entertaining, touching, inspiring — filled with magic that lifts up the spirit and brings to mind endless possibilities. Thank you, Harry Potter for over a decade filled with magic.