Harry Potter and the Mediocre Ending

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.