How old was I when the first Harry Potter book came out? I could look it up, but I think I’ll just noncommittally answer “not very old at all.” It had been a birthday gift from my father; I was initially unimpressed. What child in the single digits is excited to tear away the sunday comics-wrapping paper and find a book? I pouted as he began to read it to me, but by the time Harry had his showdown with Professor Quirrell in the basement of Hogwarts, something had clicked. I wasn’t so disappointed when that second book popped up under the Christmas tree.
And so on. J.K. Rowling began to expand her universe through the third book, and from then on the films were inevitable. I saw every one of them in the theater, thoroughly enjoying some and expressing passable satisfaction toward others, and now, finally, after all the years of writing and casting and filming, we’ve reached our destination. “It All Ends” the promotional posters proclaim.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, presumably due to it’s length and dramatic content, was split into two parts to be released roughly six months from one another. This second half, as anyone who has read the book knows, is encompassed mostly by the epic climax, a return to Hogwarts, the school that served as the magical playground in which Harry and his friends had their adventures. Maybe the near demolition of the school by the film’s Death Eaters (servants of Voldemort, the series’ principle villain) is symbolic of innocence lost, the end of childhood and the close of an era. Or, maybe it’s just an excuse to show CGI clips of familiar sets being blasted to smithereens. Either way, Harry Potter the Final Chapter certainly delivers the epic “punch” promised by all of the dramatic staring and minor key orchestral music in the trailers.
So, the all important cliche’ has been established. Fans of the book will enjoy this film. There are a few vital changes to the letter of the story, but the spirit remains in absolute tact, just the way Rowling intended, only more cinematically friendly. For non-readers though, Harry Potter and the Return of the Jedi might come off as being a bit schizophrenic. Characters from previous installments (and at times characters entirely new to the series) are introduced with unceremonious bluntness. Often, as in the case of ex-headmaster Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth, they are dismissed with a wave of a hand and a few muttered explanatory sentences although they were treated to pages and pages of exposition in the book. Harry Potter Full Sequence director David Yates hasn’t mastered the craft of “slimming” the way say Scott Pilgrim VS. The World director Edgar Wright has. (In Scott Pilgrim, entire character arcs from the comic are summed up as if by magic through two minute fight scenes and a couple of one-liners.) But, to be fair, the pack of indignant fans ready to tear an unfaithful Harry Potter director limb from limb is far larger than the one who will take up torches and pitchforks against the guy who fucked up their favorite indie comic. So, Harry Potter and the Revenge of Kitty Galore gets a free pass, as have many of the previous installments. New viewers are simply expected to bring a friend who is familiar with the story.
And, well, there’s not much more to be said beyond that. This is the end beautiful friend, this is the end. Unless Rowling decides to pen another novel, the time has finally come to put Harry Potter to bed. Not one of the Potter films (and of course none of the books) failed to meet my expectations, and at the risk of turning this into a review of the entire series, Harry Potter VS. Jason rises to the challenge of besting it’s rivals, from Twilight to Lord of the Rings. The only dark spot, the only thing I would think of taking out, is that damn epilogue. Sweet lord, it was even creepier on film than it had been on paper. I’m not sure what inspired Rowling to include it in the seventh book. It reads like the sort of sickeningly sappy fan-literature one finds on Fictionpress or Deviantart, and it clashed hideously with the rest of Harry Potter and the Infinite Sadness. Personally, I preferred to pretend that it wasn’t happening and spent the last two minutes fantasizing about watching the Dark Knight Rises Trailer (which premiered before the movie) on Youtube again and again and again. Other than that, the Harry Potter series remains one of the best of it’s kind, and-minus the epilogue-I can recommend all seven books and all eight films to anyone who has ever thought of picking them up with a clear conscience. So I do.
Thanks to Will Kosh for the review.