This is the only installment of the Harry Potter movie franchise that I felt was an excellent movie in its own right. I’ll be honest, the last book of the Potter series was completely unmemorable for me, aside from a vague recollection that it was boring, incongruous with the rest of the series, and badly written. Hence I went into the movie expecting not to enjoy it, with little idea of what was going to happen.
The movie is very well paced, a wonderful contrast to the first part of HP7, but then again they had to contend with that horribly pointless and boring part in the book where Harry does nothing but sit in the wilderness, so that was expected. They were very skillful in not making allusions to events in previous books that would be incomprehensible to a viewer who had not read them, or even seen the movies (I don’t remember any of the previous movies either since they were quite mediocre). There are a couple of subtle allusions but they are all either explained, or unimportant to the plot. They did a wonderful job of transforming a part of the book that I thought was corny and unoriginal into an action packed and moving film that flowed beautifully, with few wasted seconds. The Battle of Hogwarts sequence was my personal favorite.
They also minimized the uninspiring nature of our protagonist. Honestly, Harry Potter is one of the most uninteresting, insipid, all around fail protagonists in literature. Here’s a guy who has no discernible skills (OK fine he can straddle a broom and point it in the right direction) and does terribly in all his classes. His only achievement is making friends with a girl who does all the work and research for him, and a boy who has an army of kind relatives with diverse talents and skills. He shows a modicum of courage, but is mostly pushed into it. The scene where they really could not longer hide how terribly inadequate Harry is, is when Voldemort is crowing that he’s triumphed over Harry Potter. Harry is carried by Hagrid and pretending to be dead. Then, at a dramatic moment, he leaps up and runs away, firing off an utterly ineffectual pot shot at an enemy. Here’s a guy with a small repertoire of common, grade school spells, up against one of the brightest (when he was at school, not so much now), craftiest and evil wizards of all time, and apparently he can hold his own. It’s ludicrous.
But then again Voldemort was never all that smart. Otherwise why would he bring the last receptacle of his soul with him and keep it beside him during one of the most pitched battles of all time, where everyone is trying to kill him? These are things that do not make sense. But you know what, it was a good movie. The book has many shortcomings, not the movie. They even managed to make the epilogue, which read as if it were written by a middle-schooler, into a satisfying conclusion for the series. Plus they have Alan Rickman as Snape. To say that he owns the character is not quite accurate. He is more Snape than the Snape in the books. He is a better Snape than the Snape in the books. He is the best character in the series.
I am very glad the movie series ended on a high note; it deserved to. I loved the Potter novels up to and including #6 regardless of their faults; for the humor, for the imagination, for the setting, for the pluckiness of all the characters. I loved that it made people want to read, because I believe that if you don’t read for pleasure, your soul dies a little.