I am not so much a Potter fan as a Potter Movie fan. I have seen all eight movies but read none of the books. I know precious little of the lore, characters and back-story except what the Leavesden Potter factory has put on the screen, fractured, incomplete and confusing though that often is.
Unlike the true fans and the young cast, I had no growing up to do; Potter is not ‘my generation.’ Yet, saddled with the poor title as it is, I have this movie on my lengthening list of best loved…
The Potters have steadily improved since bean-counter Chris Columbus put the first two on-screen. Perhaps they have grown up, to meet me coming the other way. Undoubtedly Alfonso Cueron and David Yates have intensified and darkened the series, until this final instalment plays out its’ themes of love, loss, betrayal, redemption and the eternal conflict of good and evil on an epic scale.
Yates wraps the series with spectacular action, emotional drama and scenes of exceptional peril. Long, whilst missing out a lot of key plot and background information, it’s difficult to know just how they could have crammed any more of JK Rowling’s seventh volume onto the screen without a Deathly Hallows Part III. However, the epilogue (which I’m told follows the book) is an oddly stilted anti-climax.
Ralph Fiennes brings arch-villain Voldemort to a suitably brittle end, practically the whole cast of bit players put in one-line cameos, Gambon and Rickman steal the show (despite both being dead at the time), Dame Smith and Walters inject some comedy and weight to otherwise ephemeral CGI action.
For all the CGI marvels – an excellent dragon and some fly-through demolition of Hogwarts – much of the action is all too Potter the Computer Game for my taste. I rather prefer the smoky, inky, hallucinogenic montage of Snape’s memories, and the artful, sinister CGI snake familiar, Nagini. The more criticised slower passages – Harry and Dumbledore in a ghostly afterlife version of King’s Cross – provide the light in an otherwise very (optically) dark movie.
The honours in what is effectively a war-movie-cum-Western, surely go to the three principals, Radcliffe, Watson and Grint (a fine firm of solicitors if acting careers fail). We have watched them grow up on screen and for their various acting faults, carry the weight of this saga; exceptional, if unlikely action heroes at the last, as actors and characters passing the great final exam. Long may the magic live on. RC