If you’re looking for yet more praise for the final installment of the “most successful movie franchise in the history of the Box Office”, you’d be better off visiting The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or The Los Angeles Times or pretty much any mainstream channel that has so much of an opinion (and don’t we all?) on the latest Harry Potter movie.
Because you’re not going to find any of it here – not a lick. You see, what all those reviews have in common are vivid descriptions of the awe-inducing special effects, the vastly improved quality of acting, the humorous side of a time rife with darkness as an evil what’s-his-name wizard tries to kill his teenage nemesis on his way to establishing complete dominance, yada yada yada. But here’s the problem, and it’s a considerable problem: nobody seems to have the read the bloody book!
Why are there so many snatchers in the Battle of Hogwarts? Where are Bane and the centaurs and Kreacher and the house-elves? How the heck does Draco apparate right into the Castle, when anybody who’s familiar with Bathilda Bagshot’s A History of Magic knows that you simply can’t apparate or disapparate inside Hogwarts? So how are the Death Eaters able to do it (upon discovering that the Boy Who Lived lives on), and more importantly, why are they disapparating? Why does Voldemort slit Snape’s throat before letting Nagini finish him off (I mean, this is Lord fucking Voldemort – he doesn’t just wound the people he wants dead) and why is Dumbledore priding himself on the fact that he can turn a phrase (“help will always be given to those at Hogwarts who deserve it”)? Why does Voldemort back up on the ledge with a mortified look on his face as Harry corners him and why do they cuddle as they fall? Why do they fall at all? Why is Neville making a bloody speech when he’s supposed to be pulling the Sword of Gryffindor from the depths of the Sorting Hat? And why does he not kill Nagini as he’s supposed to, right as Harry, pretending to be dead, jumps down from Hagrid’s arms, right as the Death Eaters break ranks taking cover from the centaurs’ attack? In short, WHY DON’T THE CHARACTERS JUST DO WHAT THEY’RE BLOODY SUPPOSED TO?
It doesn’t end here. Crabbe has somehow miraculously turned into Blaise Zabini, who makes an appearance as Draco squares off against Harry in the Room of Requirement. And for some odd reason Bellatrix must die in style, breaking down and evaporating having been hit by Mrs. Weasley’s Killing Curse (yep, the same Killing Curse that leaves the bodies of Lupin and Tonks and Fred quite intact, thank you very much).
Voldemort also meets the same fate, disintegrating into a gazillion pieces and then being taken up by the atmosphere. The final battle that culminates in that conclusion is equally as disappointing. Whereas in the book, Harry fights Voldemort in front of a crowd of his people, explaining the Elder Wand’s journey and Snape’s role as a double agent for the Order, the movie puts him and his prophesy-bound archenemy in a desolate courtyard, in a scene devoid of dialogue, to finish Voldemort off with nobody to witness it. What a travesty.
But that’s not the end of it! Beyond what the movie does and does not do, there are numerous opportunities that it simply passes on. There is absolutely no character development of Ginny Weasley and and no mention of Lupin’s son and Harry’s godson, Teddy. And if they wanted to show some snogging action (and oh boy, they did), why not show Teddy and Victoire getting it on? And if they wanted to throw in humor, why not show James telling his mother that he can’t just walk into Herbology and give Professor Longbottom love? And where in the world is the tension between Slughorn and McGonagall, when she threatens him with a duel if he doesn’t pick the right side? Where are the Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws rising from their seats to face Parkinson as she calls on her peers to surrender Harry? Oh, what rich moments of drama to squander!
You can say that director David Yates has produced his interpretation of the text and so it’s quite alright if the movie deviates from Rowling’s work. You can say that, but no, it’s not quite alright. When I go to see a movie based on a book, I expect to see the author’s intentions conveyed as accurately as possible, because that’s what made the book so incredibly amazing in the first place. I can’t give two shits as to what the director’s re-imagining of the original looks like because that’s not what I fell in love with and came to see!
Essentially, this movie is a distaster and a sell-out. In order to make it accessible to a wider audience (in other words, for idiots who’ve never read the books), the movie takes on a tone that the text would never recognize. For instance, when on the big screen McGonagall brings the school statues to life to protect Hogwarts, she can’t help but find the situation curiously humorous and turning into a giggly teenage girl offers in an aside, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell.” Excuse me? This happens to be the Battle of fucking Hogwarts and you’re Minerva fucking McGonagall. You keep your shit together. This was not in the book because Rowling is writing about death and destruction and not about the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes AND SO IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY!
In a similar vein, the reason Alan Rickman has to stupidly remark, “You have your mother’s eyes,” is so that posers and dimwits in the audience may understand the context of the only line that needed uttering: “Look at me.” Oh. My. God.
You can say that I’m being unnecessarily unreasonable and a stickler for details, and frankly, you’d be right. But you see I cannot for the life of me understand how ANYONE can call themselves oh-just-the-biggest-fan, as we well know each of us is (innit?), and not take offense at the butchered final product that the world seems to have blindly and happily embraced. The movie is a desecration of the text, an audacious high-seas piracy of the original form and content. How “true fans” of the series can ignore such blatant disregard for the details is beyond me.
You can also say that putting in all those details would have taken up too much time, and you’d be wrong. I can’t imagine how it would take any longer to have a crowd in the background watching Harry kill off Voldemort. And Yates could easily have cut out the bromantic rollercoaster ride that Voldemort and Harry take before crashing in some obscure and deserted courtyard for the all-important final duel. So yes, those details could quite readily have been accommodated, no problem. They simply chose to do it this way!
And am I the only one who cares? Not at all. People lost their shit when at the end of the first part of the seventh movie, the epitaph, “Here Lies Dobby, a Free Elf,” did not appear on his tombstone. We care for the details because we are loyal to the text and not only to its “overall message” or “essence”, whatever that means. Do the diehards care that Voldemort, right as he is about to kill Harry in the Forest, does not, in the movie, tilt his head to a side, “like a curious child, wondering what would happen if he proceeded”? You bet your ass they do!
It doesn’t matter in the end. This movie has done a number at the Box Office and has left stupid audiences oo-ing and aah-ing. It will go down as a “fitting end” to a most lucrative franchise, having made everyone real fucking happy. Personally, however, I’m extremely bitter and immensely disappointed. To my mind, Yates has gotten away with murder and no, I don’t give a shit as to what Rotten Tomatoes thinks of the catastrophe or this indictment.