Last night’s midnight screening of the final instalment in the vast, lumbering Harry Potter franchise was attended chiefly by teenagers. An unsurprising fact, given that for the last few films at least, the movie series has been given a very teenage makeover. Whenever possible, the directors have tended to get Hero, Redhead Sidekick and Token Clever Girl out of their scholarly robes and into middle-aged approximations of teenage clothes. Hoodies! Denim jackets! Hoodies worn underneath denim jackets! These people are COOL TEENAGERS! As anyone who remembers Mr Weasley’s utter bafflement at Muggle clothing in one of the earlier books (Chamber of Secrets? Shoot me, I know) will have noticed, this makes no sense. Unless, hypothetically, the films are more concerned with being cool and marketable than representative of the Rowling universe. Hypothetically speaking, that might explain it. In that hypothetical scenario.
Let me say that in all fairness, HP7.2 is not a bad film. Except for the franchise-wide attempt to Muggle up Harry and his amigos to the point where they lack any engagement with the quirky wizardly details that made the Potter world so interesting, it’s pretty good in places. The Gringotts sequence isn’t bad at all, and the Malfoy arc is handled fairly well. Okay, some genuinely significant subplots are dropped, such as Dumbledore’s family history, and we can say goodbye to his ex-boyfriend Grindelwald (too controversh for the super cool teenage audience perhaps). But hey, these things happen. It’s not like they interfered with anything major, right? It’s not like they’d remove something that’s necessary for the film to make sense, like for example something crucial to the actual movie title, right? Right?
Yes, you’ve guessed it, spoiler-hounds. The Deathy Hallows – for you non-fans, the magical items that, when combined, give the user power over death itself – have mysteriously disappeared from the Harry Potter film franchise. Oh, there are some vague gestures, yes, there was that cool animated sequence in HP7.1, but here, when they are most crucial, when they combine and finally make sense, they’re totally absent. To get even nerdier than before for a second, I was frankly pissed off that the famous Hallows symbol (displayed here) makes no sense whatsoever in movie canon, because the ring that made Dumbledore’s hand all gross and diseased looking is not the Resurrection Stone. Inexplicably, and totally unnecessarily, the Stone is a totally new thing with no connection whatsoever to the Gaunt ring or anything else that we’ve seen before. So the ring in the middle of the symbol is just… a ring?
But more importantly, when Harry dies (SPOILERLOLZ), there are two explanations in the book for his resurrection. One is explicit – Dumbledore tells him in the Heavenly Railway Station – and the other is implicit but obvious because duh it’s in the book title. Dumbledore’s explanation is that the blood Voldemort took from Harry in the Goblet of Fire makes him unable to kill Harry. I wasn’t really down with that, but whatevs, because the second explanation was way cooler: Harry, as the possessor of all three Hallows, is the Master of Death. When Voldemort tries to kill him in the Forbidden Forest, he has the cloak and ring with him, two of the three awesome things that give you the power of not dying. The only missing component is the wand Voldemort actually uses to kill him – the wand of which Harry is the true master. Hence, the Hallows are united and Harry cheats death. He cheats the shit out of it. For real. Hence the NAME of the GODDAMN BOOK.
But in the movie? No cloak. The stone has been abandoned early. And Dumbledore doesn’t even give that half-assed explanation about the blood, so we literally have no idea why Harry comes back from the dead, except that he’d quite like to, and oh yeah, he’s Jesus.
Scene-for-scene, it’s not a bad movie. There are definitely terrifying scenes, par example the bit where Voldemort walks in bare, bloodied feet through strewn bodies in Malfoy Manor. But in the overall Harry Potter schema, it’s a mess. It explains nothing, and in fact raises new demands for explanation – how can Ron speak Parseltongue? Why does Voldemort explode into scraps of heated plastic and vault merrily through the air? Why is the movie called Deathly Hallows when they’re almost totally insignificant? The stone is rightfully lost in the Forest, but instead of putting the Elder Wand to rest with Dumbledore, Harry decides he’ll just crack that shit in half and throw it off a bridge because, you know, he’s a cool teenager. The last we see of the cloak is in Gringotts or something. Come on, Warner Brothers. Read a fucking book once in a while.
The epilogue, I have nothing to say about.
That epilogue always sucked.