If the Harry Potter series are children’s books then I’m the biggest kid of all; on my 25th birthday I received possibly the greatest gift ever received by anyone: advanced preview screening tickets to the new, and final, Harry Potter film.
Anyone who dismisses the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as merely a money fuelled, lets-make-lots-of-loud-noises, light-hearted family fun film has definitely not seen the Deathly Hallows part 2. The most vivid of scenes involves Voldemort walking bare-foot through a room of bodies, awash with their own blood, that would make an abattoir look like a school playground, which I found relatively disturbing so I’m not sure how a 7 year old girl would feel (although I’m probably on the same emotional level as a 7 year old girl).
From a ‘die-hard Harry fan’ point of view, the film delivered the right amount of surprises, mainly deviating from the books where it would add dramatic or entertainment value, while honoring the written word of Jo Rowling. I had only one gripe, but not wanting to spoil it for any of you, I will not be explicit – the moment was slightly anti-climatic compared to the book, but certainly did not deter from enjoyment value.
The cinema itself, The Empire in Leicester Square, had been closed especially for this screening, which added to the sense of occasion, and Warner Bros gave a small speech before hand to an eager audience of journalists and families alike. The screen I was in was more suited to theatre, with its elaborate décor and plush chairs, and we were even handed Harry Potter booklets along with our 3D glasses (I was fully geeked out by now).
I would definitely recommend watching it in 3D to anyone (and at some cinemas you can actually get 3D glasses that resemble Harrys – no, I didn’t…) not because they’ve added gratuitous, jumpy scenes to take advantage of the 3D effect, but because you really feel you’re living the madness with them. The film is gripping enough, but in 3D you’ll find yourself hiding behind chairs or crying into your neighbours shoulder. I cried. A lot. I didn’t have the forethought to take tissues so it was a jacket sleeve jobby for me, but take heed, this last outing of Potter will play havoc on your tear ducts.
The three protagonists are easily at their best in this film; I admit, they’re not the best screen actors but their chemistry is undeniable and the passion each has for their respective characters is bountiful. Dan Radcliffe plays the heroic martyr exceptionally well; the scene where he makes his way to the Forbidden Forest to meet Voldemort is quite emotional (time to grab the hankies), and the fight scene between him and he-who-must-not-be-named is fast-paced, fierce and unforgettable. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson lack romantic chemistry in my opinion, and their long-awaited kiss is more of a feel-good factor added within an epic scene, but you still think ‘it’s about time’ due to the empathy these characters induce in their audience.
Ralph Fiennes plays the villain Voldemort with precision, and Matt Lewis is the unlikely hero as Neville (and being Northern, I couldn’t help but feel a faint sense of pride every time he spoke), but the star for me, and it might go without saying, was Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange: the sadistic, mentally unhinged, right-hand woman of Voldemort. This woman is genuinely terrifying, but what’s impressive is how she is just as believable as a nervous, sweet, young girl, evident when Helena has to play Bellatrix who is actually Hermione who has the voice of Emma Watson – confusing. It’s a fantastic scene; the trio has to break into Gringotts bank to enter Bellatrix’s vault, hence why Hermione is disguised as Bellatrix. Bonham-Carter mimics the mannerisms of Watson to a tee, even with her facial movements (ever noticed Watson’s eyebrows? They have a mind of their own) and her presence along side Radcliffe and Grint appears completely natural, indeed, like she has acted along side them for 11 years.
11 years. I felt emotionally drained when I left the cinema. I effectively grew up with Harry, knowing him since the first book was published in 1997, and here I am as a fully-grown adult in 2011 and the pre-adolescent inside me is absolutely devastated it’s all over. Harry, Hermione and Ron have moved onto pastures new – apparently to a place of terribly blown-dry hair and thick, brown tights. The haunting music, at it’s best in this last film, and the cries of ‘Stupefy!’ will never be heard again. The warmth of the Great Hall in Hogwarts, the inexplicably long Quidditch scenes, and the incessantly annoying yet loveable half giant Hagrid: all gone.
Well, until the DVD comes out.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released in cinemas on Friday 15th July.