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For many in our generation, the end of the Harry Potter series marks the end of a more significant era: our childhoods.  I first encountered the wizarding world when I was 10 years old.  My brother brought The Chamber of Secrets home from the library (a remarkably rare occurrence for him at the time) back when it was in paperback and the cover looked like something I could have drawn.  He read it cover to cover (an even rarer event) and recommended it to me. This book had to be good.

I read Book 2 in an ecstatic blur, and immediately backtracked to read the series’ first installment.  I was hooked.  I didn’t know how to pronounce Hermione, I didn’t yet realize that “Diagon Ally” spells diagonally—but I knew that I loved the characters and the world they inhabited.

Over the past decade or so, I’ve gone to great lengths to sate my thirst for Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s daring antics.  Last spring I flew to Edinburgh from Granada, Spain (where I was studying abroad) to see the first part of the seventh movie in English.  I couldn’t allow the bad Spanish telenovela voices redubbing the English accents to ruin the magic.  In Edinburgh, I took the Harry Potter tour, and visited the locations and landmarks most vital to J.K. Rowling’s vision.  I even had a wand fight in the very graveyard that inspired the many pivotal Harry-versus-Voldemort scenes.

And my graduation trip at the end of senior year?  Lacey McLean (CMC ’12) and I will be on our way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, a trip we’ve been plotting since its opening.  I can think of no better way to celebrate the end of four years of academic struggle and perseverance than by honoring the boy wizard who epitomizes triumph over evil—after, of course, the thesis fountain party.  But that’s another magical tale.

In light of my complex but wonderful history with Harry Potter, summarizing my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is difficult.  While I love almost anything HP-related, I don’t think anything could live up to my imagination’s version of the final chapter.  With her linguistic facility and foresight, J.K. Rowling is a true literary master.  What other author can throw us for so many unexpected twists and turns, make us cry (and then laugh) every 200 pages, and spin the most seemingly insignificant detail into pivotal plot point four books later?

While the movie was an acceptable end to the franchise, I have some serious gripes.  Here are my top 5 reasons for disliking the last movie in the series.

1.  It was too dark.  Not emotionally, but I-actually-can’t-see-because-of-these-stupid-3-D-glasses dark.  With the dark lenses and the film’s already dim ambience, 3-D made HP almost impossible to see.  Bright colors aren’t used till the epilogue scene for plot-related reasons, but these other factors impacted my vision and enjoyment.  Critics at Rotten Tomatoes dubbed the film “visually dazzling.” How on earth they were able to see well enough to decide this is beyond me.



2.  My beef with 3-D.  I tend to dislike 3-D movies and try to avoid them, but in this case I had no other options… and, as usual, I hated it.  If there’s ever a series you don’t need to pull stunts like 3-D with to make it more magical, it’s Harry Potter.  Don’t give the audience headaches and nausea, give them a good film!

3.  The time anachronisms.  When I discovered Harry was born in 1980, I was devastated.  I felt tricked: I’d thought my favorite wizard had been growing up in lockstep with me, but he was actually 10 years older.  I was crushed.  If you’re going to pull these kinds of stunts on me, J.K., at least give your characters the right wardrobes!  These kids looked much too fashionable for the early 90’s.  I remember those days– denim jackets, skorts, and all– and it wasn’t pretty.



4.  Gaping plot holes.  I realize it’s hard to weave every single detail of a book into a film version, but what happened to literary loyalty? Make the movie 20 minutes longer and actually tell the story. The Albus-Aberforth-Ariana relationship and family back story, and the subsequent doubting of Dumbledore’s motivations?  Nearly nonexistent.  The Pensieve scene with young Snape and Lily?  Visually enticing, but nowhere near as emotionally powerful as the book’s rendition; a quick trip through fantasyland just doesn’t cut it.  And James Potter, Harry’s own flesh-and-blood, looks nothing like Daniel Radcliffe.  In fact, Harry’s dad doesn’t even have a speaking role– major let-down, in my opinion.  The director had the time and the budget to nail this final installment in the series; he should have been able to get these crucial bits right.



5.  Extraneous inclusions.  I’m talking about you, Luna and Neville love story.  If you’re going to skip critical plot points due to time constraints, don’t include sappy garbage that wasn’t even in the book.

I sadly admit I left the theater dissatisfied for the first time in Harry Potter history.  Perhaps I was expecting too much after reading review after glowing review.  But despite my complaints about this film, I still love Harry… and I always will.  You can bet that some of the beer served in my apartment this year will be Butterbeer, because even though the characters have grown up, moved on, and started families of their own, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye.

  • Fake

    Just wanted to comment on a few points in this article. For the sake of continuity, I will do so in list form.

    1. The film seemed dark to you because you saw it in 3D.  The film was converted to 3D post-process, rather than being shot with true 3D cameras.  This is common among lesser 3D films today where the addition of 3D was more of an after-thought, but the digital filters applied to the film dampens its brightness, resulting in a common complaint of the resulting films seeming too dark.  This raises the larger question: Why did you see it in 3D?  if it was so important to you, why did you see this film in a format that you “tend to dislike” and “try to avoid”?

    2.  This just bugged me.  If Harry Potter was born in 1980, the final two films would have taken place in 1997 or 1998, which is definately not the early 90’s. 

    3.  The director’s choice not to include certain details from the book or to interpret them in a certain way which you did not like does not produce “gaping plot holes.”  A plot hole appears when a gap or inconsistency within the plot goes against the flow of logic or otherwise conflicts with other events within the plot.  For example, in the Star Wars series, Anakin builds C3PO in the prequel trilogy, but doesn’t even seem to recognize him in the original trilogy.  That doesn’t make sense.  That’s a plot hole.  A lack of “literary loyalty” may turn off fans, but it certainly doesn’t render the plot of the movie illogical.

    4.  According to Harry Potter canon, butterbeer is non-alcoholic, so it probably won’t be this year’s hot party drink.  Maybe as mixer…

    This comment is petty, nitpicky, and unneessary.  Just like this article.

    • Real

      Well, Fake, I agree with you on one point: you comment is petty, nit-picky, and unnecessary.  Aside from that, you’re wrong.

      The author of the article noted that there were “no other options” but 3D viewings.  Presumably, this means that theaters in the area were only showing 3D.  I found the same problem and had to actively seek out a non-3D theater (even in Los Angeles).  Forcing viewers to see the movie in 3D when the addition of 3D was hamhanded and ill-considered is, it seems, precisely the author’s complaint.

      Noted: your definition of “early 90s” is definItely more in line with common understandings.  The author’s point about anachronistic attire still fits, though.

      Thanks for defining “plot hole,” though your inclusion of logical inconsistencies as part of the definition is false.  Plot holes are exactly that: holes.  Holes = the absence of information.  Inconsistencies are a different beast altogether and arise from excessive or conflicting information, not an absence of it.  The author of the article seemed to appreciate her reader’s intelligence enough that defining these common terms was superfluous.  The directorial choices mentioned are certainly plot holes, because they leave out information necessary to understand the motives of the characters and the development of the backstory.

      As for butterbeer: yes, it’s nonalcoholic.  The author was also making a joke.  It’s worth noting, as well, that there was no hint of a reference to alcohol.  You made the leap to think that any beverage served at the apartments must be alcoholic.  Particularly in the context of a joke, the leap was a sad one.

      Maren: Thanks for writing this!  I agree with everything you wrote, and I appreciate there’s someone else out there who isn’t afraid to criticize this disappointing finale.

      • Real

        *your

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  • Helga Hufflepuff

    great article! a concise and appropriate review, written by someone obviously knows their HP

    PS Can I join in on this butterbeer? I’ll bring the treacle fudge

  • cedric diggory rycroft

    the wizarding world of harry potter is AWESOME.  aravind and i went a few weeks ago.  the main ride is amazing but make sure u go in the Single Rider line, it’s way faster and u get to hang out with your friends while u wait anyway.  the regular line took like 2 hours

  • Michelle Brody

    Maren – great article, except I disagree on the 90s thing. I don’t think that part matters since Harry Potter is timeless. And when you were reading the books, did you imagine him in 90s clothing? No, it just so happens that we found out his date of birth in the course of reading. Thanks, Nicholas Flamel!

    Fake – while they might not be plot holes according to the technical definition, I don’t think we got enough backstory in this film alone to let it stand on its own. Like Maren, I think HP7 part 1 was actually a good movie (i.e. I like watching it not just because it’s Harry Potter), but I don’t know if I’ll say the same for this one, because they changed such significant plot points. 

    Full disclosure: Haven’t yet experienced the full effect, since I saw it dubbed in Hindi and without 3D. Actually being able to understand the dialogue may or may not influence my opinion.

    Also, Maren, can I be invited to this party? Here’s my contribution: http://www.buzzfeed.com/fjelstud/20-alcoholic-beverages-inspired-by-the-harry-potte

  • Dave Ulrich

    i could have directed this movie better