Hehe..I knew taking a picture of this huge subway ad in Bangkok would come in handy. I just find it cool that that is how Harry Potter is written in Thai. Anyway, don’t worry, you can read this review of the first half of the last film of the last book in the series. I specifically made sure I didn’t put any spoilers for those who haven’t read the book and therefore don’t know how the story will unfold. I will stick to the film aspects, and leave the plot untouched. I highly suggest you re-read the book again before you watch the movie.
Watching this movie made me very melancholy. We got to watch it Tuesday evening, November 16, a good 3 days before it debuts (4 days from the U.S. showing if you consider the 1 day advance we have) because it’s our Monster Movie Premiere. It doesn’t help that David Yates, who’s been at the helm since Order Of The Phoenix, really has a visual style that’s drearily dreamlike, each frame bathed in some grainy unearthly lighting, like how we envision dreams would look like. So gone are the slick, well-lit movies by Chris Columbus, and we are left to say goodbye to Harry, Ron and Hermione in in a world of muted greyed shades, adding to the longing for a series, the ending of which we have all been bracing ourselves for.
This last movie is unique, because it has been sliced into 2 halves, therefore giving this episode the unique luxury of really indulging in the characters more than the plot. In all of the earlier entries, the main complaint of fanboys were the stunted way the films condensed the substantial books. Plot-wise, most of the books have been bonsai-ed to fit a more comfortable playing time, mostly to take advantage of more showings per day (which means more profit for the studio) and to appeal more to younger kids (who’d get restless in 3-plus hour epics). So for fans, you’d relish the richer, but slower pace of the movie, each scene lingering in the moment, as if caressing the characters lovingly, as opposed to the runaway pace of say, the first 4 installments. For non-fans, you might fight it a little slower for your taste, especially if you’re used to the earlier films that were lighter, faster, roller coaster rides. I’ve heard comments saying it’s the best film so far, and an equal amount saying it’s a bit dragging in many parts.
I felt lumps in my throat at many points in the movie, even in parts that aren’t even sad. I’m such a potterhead that just seeing the 3 leads as full adults got me all choked up. Acting-wise, the biggest revelation was Emma Watson. She showed a depth she previously only hinted at. Dare I say it, that in my opinion, she’s so good that she became a less efficient actress to play Hermione. Hermione, even the older version, was still pretty much a hot mess, her admirable fortitude and knowledge equally balanced by her neurotic compulsions. But having grown so, Emma Watson has become too deep, that she lost her imbalance, if there even is such a thing. It’s as if she can’t play a mess anymore. She was that impressive. I won’t mention the scenes, but certain parts of the movie had me wanting to applaud her performance.
I don’t know if I like the idea of having 2 parts for HP7. Inasmuch as I relish the lingering, more torturous pace, it felt a bit like prolonging the agony. Although I know exactly how the series ends, I still can’t stand the suspense of seeing it on the big screen. It’s almost as if I’m looking for some sort of closure. And making us wait for 8 more months for the 2nd half seems a bit indulgent for my sensitivities. It’s almost as if I wanted to scream, “Let’s get this over with!” It’s like pulling a band-aid fast as opposed to peeling it off slow.
When the final book came out, it was over. The years I spent invested in the world of Harry Potter were over. But I always found comfort in the fact that there still awaited the unshown films. Somehow, the end was given a reprieve for a couple of more years. And finally, November 2010, the time to say goodbye has come – goodbye to Hogwarts and the world of wizards, witches and goblins. You dread it, but at the same time you relish the incumbent relief. Then when the exact moment comes for you to say the word, it comes out as “Good…” and “Bye” has to wait until July 2011.