SPOILER ALERT for Harry Potter. Although if you haven't read it yet, it's probably a conscious choice.
As we have previously stated on this blog, of all the geeky things we adore in this life, Harry Potter will always and forever be our first love. Yet, as both of us have had endless problems and quibbles with the film adaptations of the books, neither of us were very emotionally invested in the release of the final movie. "It All Ends" came for us four years ago, when the seventh book was released. So I think it took us both by surprise when--as the release date drew near--we both became rather nostalgic, emotional, and filled with a tad bit of regret that circumstances prevented us from attending the midnight premiere. Circumstances also prevented us from seeing it together, but as we are clones, it came as no surprise that once we exchanged phone calls and emails we had essentially the same thoughts. First and foremost: After seven movies, seven tries, they finally finally FINALLY got it right. Our major problem with the previous seven movies has been less with what they leave in and leave out (though it is always a disappointment to see what gets cut), and more with the fact that they have never felt like true adaptations. An adaptation is supposed to capture the spirit of the original work, and with a couple of exceptions, the movies never felt quite right, never felt like they captured that spirit. Characters always seemed really out of sync with their literary counterparts, and choices of setting and pace always brought something down. But this time...they captured that spirit perfectly. The beauty of this movie was in the little details, and for once they got those little details down pat. There were parts that were line for line, word for word from the book, like the section with Ollivander and Griphook...especially the part when Ollivander said "the wand chooses the wizard" in exactly the same way he did ten years ago. Brilliant. What really did it this time, though, was the characters, and the acting. Whereas Part One was all about the Trio, and us getting to evaluate their acting chops for good or for ill (and that is a post for another day), this movie was all about the minor characters. Characters that fascinate us and that we love with all our hearts, but for the sake of time have been shunted to the sidelines for most of the other movies. Not this time, though. We got Professor McGonagall's shining moment, as she demonstrates how deeply she cares about Harry ("It's good to see you"), her dry wit ("Mr. Finnegan has a certain affinity for pyrotechnics"), and even a bit of a silly side ("I've always wanted to try that spell!"). We got Neville, who has come such a long way from the timid boy standing up to the Trio in the first movie (him going up against the Snatchers was one of my favorite scenes by far). We got one last glimpse of Dumbledore, who--as in HBP--finally feels like the character he's supposed to be. And of course, we get Snape. One of the biggest downfalls of the "Half-Blood Prince" film was that it completely erased any hint of the complexity of Snape's character. Here is the most complicated and interesting character created by J.K. Rowling, and the moviemakers are diminishing him to a simple villain. Not so in this film. Alan Rickman embraced this performance like he'd never done before, and we were rewarded so beautifully for it. The scene where he's crying over Lily's body was easily the most heartbreaking scene of the film. Obviously, we have a few quibbles, as we do with all the films. Neville's inspirational speech at the end seemed a bit much, and the main death scene didn't pack nearly the emotional punch it was supposed to. We're supposed to be sobbing as we see that Fred and Remus and Tonks have died, but for some reason that scene...didn't do it, at all. And to be perfectly honest, I don't understand how movie critics are giving it such good ratings, because as a movie itself, it doesn't flow at all--it's one giant climax, let's be real. But that was what this film needed to be. It was what we, as fans, needed. And it was brilliant for it. So, overall, this was a good way to say goodbye to our tumultuous relationship with these films. And yes, it was a bit sad to come away and realize that that was the last time we would ever see a new Harry Potter film, be on the receiving end of a new Harry Potter anything. But in that respect, perhaps it is time to invoke J.K. Rowling herself: "The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." And we know we will be coming home to Hogwarts for months and years to come.