Published: Friday, 22 July 2011 04:12 | Written by SciFi Vision
By Jamie Ruby
This weekend marked the end of an era for a lot of fans. The Harry Potter film series, based on J.K. Rowling's novels, came to an end with the last installment - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - last Friday, July 15. The movie was sold out across the country Thursday night, most places weeks in advance as many fans waited to see the conclusion.
The midnight opening of the film broke records as it did for largest opening day. On Friday alone, which was the biggest Friday opening in the history of Hollywood, the movie grossed an estimated $92.1 million, beating out the current opening day record of The Twilight Saga: New Moon with $72.7 million. The midnight screenings accounted for close to half of the revenues at $43.5 million! This also beat out The Twilight Saga: Eclipse midnight record of $30 million. As a bigger record still, the film broke weekend grossing records by bringing in $169.2 million, beating out The Dark Knight which previously held the record at $158.4 million.
Alyson Rhodes as Luna
Going to movie openings for Potter fans is quite an event. They dress up as characters, make new friends, and talk about their love for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, or in some cases, his enemies. Dark wizards are also popular as cosplay ("costume play") characters, and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is the topic of many conversations. Many readers were disappointed at the ending the anti-hero received in book seven.
One of these movie openings was at Loews Waterfront Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which opened twenty screens to the movie at the midnight opening. The place was packed with people of all ages, all waiting for the movie to start. As expected, a lot of the attendees were dressed as Harry Potter characters. Many of the costumes were spot on, including Allison Rhodes, who dressed as Luna Lovegood in her lion head hat. There was also Johnathan Potosky who was dressed as snatcher Scabior and was instantly recognizable. There was even a Voldemort (Sean Boyle). There were quite a few Bellatrix Lestranges walking around, including Allison Edwards, whose costume shared quite a likeness to the original.
Allison Edwards as Bellatrix, Sean Boyle as Voldemort, Jonathan Potosky as Scabior
Excitement filled the lobby leading up to midnight as fans gathered. Some fans were waiting to see the action scenes, such as Mike Nelsen, who was dressed as Sirius Black in Azakaban, who was looking forward to seeing "the way they choose to animate the largest magical battles of the series and sort of the grand scale of it all."
Justin Wendzicki, dressed as the late Fred Weasley, was looking forward to the battle at Hogwarts.
Fans Allison Edwards and Caitlin Antel were waiting to see the standoff between Molly Weasley (Julie Waters) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).
I myself was looking forward to quite a few different things, one being how the movie would be different from the book. I, like a lot of fans, keep the books and movies as separate entities in my mind, and I like both for different reasons. If you compare them too much, you might be disappointed by a lot of the changes made in this film.
Being one of my favorite characters, I was also specifically looking forward to seeing Snape's flashbacks as Harry would discover the truth about his nemesis. One specific scene that stuck out to me in the book was the "Snape-shaped hole" the character made when he broke through the castle and flew away. Though not quite as comical as I originally envisioned it in my mind, it was a powerful scene on film.
Deathly Hallows Part Two starts off where the previous movie left off, with the trio of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) looking for the remaining Horcruxes and Hallows.
Most people who are not fans or haven't seen all of the Potter series can probably still follow the basic story for the most part, but should at least see Deathly Hallows Part One first.The movie does recap a bit about what's going on, but not a great deal. It jumps into the action pretty fast.
The first order of business is getting Hufflepuff's cup from Bellatrix's vault, which is a great sequence. Hermione uses a strand of Bellatrix's hair (which fell on her in the previous film) for Polyjuice for herself, Ron uses some kind of disguise, and Harry & Griphook (Warwick Davis) hide under the invisibility cloak as they all enter Gringotts. Helena-Bonham Carter was great in this scene as Hermione as Bellatrix, completely out of character as she struggled to be rude.
The scene that follows of the trio escaping through the roof on a dragon is only the first big action sequence in the film. The movie is "riddled" (pardon the pun) with other great moments as well, culminating in the final battle where Harry must confront Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) on his own.
One of the parts of the battle that I loved was McGonagall animating and releasing the stone statues to defend the school, especially when she tells Neville to essentially help blowup the school.
Another action scene that was great was when the protective spells surrounding the school grounds that were stopping Scabior (Nick Moran) and the other Death Eaters from entering Hogwarts wore off after Neville (Matthew Lewis) had been taunting them. The effects on the bridge were as fantastic as the moment.
And of course, one of the parts of the battle that I and most fans were looking forward to was Neville killing Nagini, though I have to say, his speech to Voldemort leading up to it was just as great.
Lastly, Molly Weasley killing Bellatrix was also a great moment, though it could have been longer and a bit more involved.
The non-action scenes were gripping as well, especially those involving Alan Rickman. I was happy that they finally gave Rickman more screen time (though he should have gotten even more). Fans are used to seeing him play a no-nonsense Snape, but in this installment of the series, his portayal of grief stricken betrayal and anger at both of his masters, as well as his pure anguish at losing his love, had as much if not more impact than the words on the page. I know I was shedding tears as Snape told Lily's son to look at him because he wanted to see a part of her one last time.
However, I am slightly confused as to why they chose to have Harry capture Snape's tears as opposed to his memories. If someone watching the movie had not seen previous films or read the books, I don't know if they would have understood that they were the memories. Though I do think seeing him cry probably made the scene much more powerful.
Speaking of Rickman, another scene that stood out to me, showing his acting brillance, was in a scene with Maggie Smith, who plays Professor McGonagall. Knowing Snape is a danger to Potter, McGonagall starts a duel with Snape, but you can see in both professors' eyes how much it is pains them to fight each other.
The other actors in Deathly Hallows Part Two were brilliant as well. It's evident how much the trio has learned in their years growing up with their characters. Tom Felton also did a fantastic job, and it was interesting to see him play the character in a new light, unsure of his allegiances.
The script was great, even if there were some differences to the book, as expected. Breaking the book into two films, however, allowed there to be less cut, but given the length of the story, there was still a good bit missing. I feel that some fans may not like some of the decisions about scenes being changed or added, but I still think it was an immensly enjoyable eighth film, though I do have to admit, some of the changes seemed to be changes made for the sake of making actions or special effects.
The one thing that I continue to wish they had explained in better detail earlier on in the films is Harry's piece of mirror that allows him to communicate with Aberforth Dumbledore (Ciarán Hinds). There is more in this movie, but there was never any explanation given of how he came to be in possession of the mirror, or how it was connected to his godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman).
The other big chunk of backstory that was barely touched upon was Albus Dumbledore's (Michael Gambon) past. Aberforth explained only a bit about their sister Ariana (Hebe Beardsall), and nothing about Dumbledore's friendship and later duel with Grindelwald. Though it's not really necessary to most of the overall storyline, I still would have liked to have seen it.
I was very surprised that there was also nothing in either Deathly Hallows films about Wormtail's (Timothy Spall) death because of his life debt to Harry. Viewers are left knowing nothing of his fate.
The movie also did not talk much about Snape as headmaster.There was not really much of anything said about the Carrows either, other than they were forcing the older students to perform the Cruciatus Curse on the first years.
I also did not like the fact that Teddy Lupin was not in the film. One of the only times he is mentioned is when Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) talks to Harry after being killed. We never really got anything about Teddy in the previous film either, only when Tonks (Natalia Tena) started to mention that she was pregnant. Obviously a good amount of time passes while Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on their Horcrux hunt, but it's not said how much.
George, Ron, Fred, and Hermione
The other thing they changed in a big way was Ron and Hermione's kiss. It takes place in not only a different environment, but in different context. In the film it is right after the two of them destroy Hufflepuff's cup. I'm not sure if I would say it didn't work, simply because it was so different. If I hadn't read the book I might feel differently. I actually found it slightly comical the way they kissed in the middle of all the danger going on around them in the film, though it definitely in my opinion did not stand up to the build up. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was expecting something more, especially after the kiss "Horcrux Harry and Hermione" shared in the last film.
The changes that bother me the most deal with the ending. Much of the ending seemed to be more about special effects than about the characters. This is probably the one thing I had the most trouble with in the movie. Even though the effects are spectacular, there is too much in the way of action because it doesn't leave room for emotions. Most of the deaths were just glossed over, shown in quick glimses. Fred (James Phelps) as well as Lupin and Tonks deserved more. The only part we really got of that was the Weasley's crying over Fred. The only person who actually got screen time during his death (though well deserved) was Snape.
There were a lot of overall changes during the final battle. It was only touched upon on how Harry was able to beat Voldemort, and why the Elder wand didn't kill Harry. But more than that, the one change that I really couldn't understand was after the battle. Harry does not use the Elder Wand to fix his own broken one, nor does he return it to Dumbledore's grave. He breaks it and throws it into the lake. Did it make for a better scene cinematically? Maybe. Did it make sense to fans? Not really. That was a key moment in the book in my opinion, showing Harry's character and that he does not want, nor feel the need, to be the master of Death.
The other scene I wanted to mention - not for the fact that it was different, it was actually pretty similar - is the epilogue. Honestly, I'm not sure I would have liked the epilogue even if it had been done different, but I was really underwhelmed by it (as I was when I read the book, but for different reasons). I understand that they wanted to use the same actors to play the characters nineteen years later, but the makeup effects left a lot to be desired. The older Ron looked laughable in my opinion with his fake gut. Out of the three of them I would say Harry looked the best as Hermione to me looked pretty much the same at first glance, except she had her hair up.
I know many fans will disagree with this, but I actually realized I would have preferred if the epilogue had gotten a voice over. It might have made more of an impact, especially if they had included the last line "The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well." I thought it made a fitting end to the books.
Even with all the differences that were bound to be there, I still really loved the movie. It was a great end to the saga, even if it was bittersweet.
Brittany Moore, Beatrice King, Christina Abrosino
The fans I talked to after seeing the film seemed to agree. The commonality among almost everyone was that they loved the film, but they were sad for the film series to be over, after having grown up with the wizard for so long.
Some fans, such as Steve Untch and Alyson Rhodes, however, actually feel that the end to the book series had more of an impact on them then the end of the movies. Rhodes says, "The end of the movies didn't have the same finality, the literal "end of the story" [feel] as finishing the book."
Front: Christina Hornack, Katie Hilinski, Fluffy, Ravenclaw Student Back: David H, Dan Devine, Jess Rogers, Kristina Rogers, Steve Untch
A few fans, such as Edwards, Hilinski, Hornack, and Nelsen also lamented the fact that they won't be cosplaying as Harry Potter characters again any time soon, though as Hilinski points out, "I don't think the Harry Potter fandom is over yet. We already have a theme park. Now we just need a convention so we can wear costumes and talk about Harry Potter for years to come!" Potosky also adds "These films are truly magical and I think will stand the test of time. People are going to quote it, reference it, and share it for generations. I'm glad I was able to experience these great films in [the] theater, and read the fantastic stories Ms. Rowling created."
Sean Barrett, Bellatrix, Michael Nelsen, Jillian Vitko, Tracy Harmon, Michael Stanek
Many fans will continue on with the fandom, waiting for the official opening of Pottermore, J.K. Rowling's newest Harry Potter project, a website, which according to a press release will build "an exciting online experience." It has also been announced that Rowling has written extensive new material specifically for the site.
The ending for others, such as Elise Antel and Jillian Vitko, make them love the story again and will inspire many to read the books and watch the films again.
Regardless of what form it takes, whether it be theme parks, conventions, or even just reading fanfiction, it is certain to me that the story of Harry Potter is far from over, even if we have to make it up ourselves. As Rowling said at the London premiere earlier in the month, "The stories we love best do live with us forever," and "Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."