It is is over. It is done. I have seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. And I have shut the door on the very last Harry Potter summer.
Spoiler notice: I have tried not to spoil key movie scenes but the book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has been out since 2007. I assume that people generally know what happens. If you don't and you are concerned about spoilers I propose you do not read further.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the only midnight screening I've done. Ever. When, on release day, I informed my husband that we would need to arrive at the theatre two hours before the screening, he laughed at me. I insisted. After we picked up our tickets and walked into the main hallway of the cineplex, he laughed again -- but at himself. It was slightly organized chaos. While I attempted to figure out which of these many lines of teenagers was our line he looked around in amazement at the number of people who were there and in costume.
Yes. He's a Muggle.
He did not laugh after we picked up our special Harry Potter edition Real D 3-D glasses and walked into the theatre when he realized it was not going to be easy to find two seats together. We spent the next two hours listening to a very excited crowd get ramped up for the movie. Every so often they would break out into song or someone would yell out "1 hour!" and then "45 minutes" up to the last few minutes when they counted them down until finally it was 12:01.
And nothing happened! It took them close to another 5 minutes to start the commercials and while that does not seem long it's certainly far too long to a theatre full of very, very eager Harry Potter fans. But the moment the opening shot of Dumbledore's grave and Voldemort came on screen there was a cheer so loud it made the seats rumble. It happened again during the title screen. And again, at key moments during the movie (Neville Longbottom!).
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A note to parents: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is not a children's movie. I would argue that they stopped being children's movies a number of releases ago but it bears repeating, this is not a children's movie. It's a war/action movie and in war there is death and destruction. It is dark. There is violence, although I will say it's not nearly as violent as it could have been or as the book was. I think the potentially scariest and disturbing scene for young ones (and not so young ones) is when we see Voldemort's soul. It is raw and frightening. I am not saying don't take children to this movie. You know your children best and there were a few very young children at the midnight screening I attended. I'm just saying, especially for those unfamiliar with the books, it's not a children's movie.
For readers of the book, you will be mostly satisfied, assuming you are not expecting it to follow the book to the letter. There are a lot of changes. Sometimes it's location. A key scene with Severus Snape happens not in the Shrieking Shack but in the Hogwarts boathouse. Sometimes it's in timing. Neville's big moment (yay!) happens a bit later and in a different place than it does in the book. The final showdown does not happen in the Great Hall but outside and some scenes don't appear at all, such as the one in the Ravenclaw common room.
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Other battles are just... not the same. Some have been extended, others added and still others (*cough* Fred's *cough*) you only get quick glimpses of. If you consider the constraints of time and special effects, I find it hard to complain about most of the changes because the moments I really wanted to see? They happen.
In the past the great moments by females in this franchise have been provided by Hermione. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 she takes a backseat to Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall and Julie Walters as Molly Weasley. We not only get to see Professor McGonagall do some serious dueling, (do not mess with Minerva, people -- she's got skills), but we see her softer side. We see her greet Harry like family and we also get to see her eyes sparkle with child-like enthusiasm in a rather amusing little scene as Hogwarts readies for battle.
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The big question for fans of the book leading into this movie was whether or not Mrs Weasley would get her scene. After that was confirmed via a glimpse of it in the trailers the question was whether or not she'd get to say "The Line." Let me tell you, I don't think there was a single person in that theatre that did not cheer when that moment came. Mrs. Molly Weasley, the stay-at-home mother who was so frequently shown as a bit of a tottering worry-wart -- Kicked. Some. Ass.
It wasn't all cheering -- there were tears as well. It is war. People die. Beloved characters die. Those of us who had read the books physically and audibly braced ourselves for those scenes. For people like my husband, who has not read the books, he could tell when something was about happen by the crowd's reaction. During an intermission between battles as you see the results of war and throughout the theatre the only sound to be heard were quiet sobs and sniffles.
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I could finagle and point out things that they didn't do or things they changed but my only serious complaint is that there is a scene that is not in the book and, in my opinion, is not true to character. I don't think I'll be alone in this either. In the scene Ron and Hermione allow Harry to do something alone. Ron and Hermione never would have done that. Never ever. It's simply not who they are. While I think I understand (kind of) why, within the storytelling of the movie, the movie's creators thought it worked, it was completely and totally wrong for the characters. In keeping with the characters though, we do finally get to see Ron and Hermione cross that line from friends to something more.
The epilogue, set 19 years in the future, was just... ok. The biggest problem with it is that while true in spirit to the epilogue in the book, the aging of the characters just seemed off. That said, there's a very touching moment with Albus Severus Potter in which he is reassured that yes, everything really will be alright. All is well.
And then, that was it. It was over. We dried our eyes and left the theatre. There was nothing left to do but simply say, and I do believe that Sirius would approve, "Mischief managed."
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