Movies: Harry Potter and The Protracted Ending Pt 8

Color returns to the imagery when we rejoin Potter and friends but the palette is funereal and not just because they're graveside; the entire franchise now feels weighted down by its immense size (8 films, 19 hours and 38 minutes, the zeitgeist, billions upon billions earned), just as Potter himself carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. You know the plot by now: The Boy Who Lived must find and destroy Voldemort's seven Horcruxes (pieces of his soul) to defeat him for good. If you haven't read the books, you'll be as horrified as Harry to discover where one of the last pieces is hiding. 


With the boringly repetitive find-destroy (repeat 7 times) structure of the last two pictures mostly out of the way, Harry Potter 8 manages to be the quickest of all of the Potter pictures, clocking in at a little over two hours instead of pushing past two and half. Not that it's always fast. The franchise still loves its lengthy expository reveals and Alan Rickman's fan-beloved embodiment of Severus Snape still has a voice that's amusingly trapped in molasses. In fact, in one key sequence Rickman stretches a threat to the student body to nearly comical lengths with pauses between each and every word. Sometimes he stops between syllables!

Apart from Potter, Rickman's Snape is this film's key character, and his sad fate is well handled by Director David Yates who was entrusted with the last half of the franchise (this is his fourth consecutive Potter picture). Yates's preferred rhythms are not unlike Rickman's line readings; he favors the theatrically elongated. While his leisurely style undersells the potentially funny bits (I weep for what could have been in the Helena Bonham Carter pretending to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix sequence) it proves just the right style, otherwise, for a final chapter. There's plentiful time to enjoy the impressive visuals and production design, the best of which are found in Minerva's (Maggie Smith) preparations for battle including a glowing milky bubble that seems to flow over Hogwarts and is then mirrored rather subtlely in the Dark Lord's teeming black-clad hordes who are themselves flowing over the lands surrounding the school.

Goodbyes The slow beats between dramatic punches also give you plentiful time to say your silent goodbyes as the parade of familiar wizards pass by for the final time. Each of them are given at least one snappy heroic bit to perform as their curtain call, Neville Longbottom especially. 

It sometimes feels like the divide between Potterheads and those who are much less enamored of the movies is as wide as the gap between Houses Gryffindor and Slytherin. But let's not make the same mistake as the Potter franchise and dismiss whole swaths of people like that snap-judging Sorting Hat. For whether you are Potterhead, an occasional fan, largely indifferent or even dismissive of the series, you will feel this era passing. It's been a behemoth but it does actually end here. 


  1. rovex says

    Well this already broke the midnight record with $43.2m, looks like the opening day record will go easily a well.

  2. dms says

    I loved the books and am a fan of the movies. I guess I always identified with the boy who lived. He is an outsider even among outsiders who proves himself to be a hero. The thing that makes him different, makes him special. And while the unfolding stories could be at times, a tad tedious, this film does capture all the themes and the world wonderfully. It’s bittersweet to close the book on these characters. I’ll miss them.

  3. Den says

    Thanks Robert for the news about Winnie. The little bear must be over 100 by now, but to come out at such a grand age is still a great thing to do :)

  4. daws says

    Saw it last night and loved it. I thought the performances were powerful (Harry and Snape were awesome and this was the most menacing and actually frightening Voldemort we’ve seen yet), great action sequences, and the ending was so perfect. I was ballin’ my eyes out. So sad that it’s over.

  5. Jimmy says

    Saw it last night and it was magnificent. I recommend not watching it in 3-D; such an effect is superfluous and too dark visually. The movie could easily have been fifteen minutes longer (of Maggie Smith alone), but one always has to let go of things in the book that don’t make it to the screen.

  6. Rovex says

    $92.1M opening day. Biggest ever by $20M. Its just broken most of twilights undeserved records.

  7. says

    I am certainly one of those in my 20’s that grew up with this series of books and subsequently films. I think you debunk your entire review by saying that you don’t enjoy the series in your second paragraph. As I could probably not look at this film with an accurate critical eye, neither could you. It would simply be nice if at any point during your griping you could have mentioned the kind of catharsis one derives from having something so dear to them taken from the page and put perfectly on film, a catharsis you’d be having if you’d read the books with the kind of hunger that most of the people in a midnight theater have done. Was it flawless? No. Nothing is. Was it exactly what it was meant to be (7 “boring” horcruxes and all)? Yes.
    What’s next? The impossibility of Star Wars? The Too much blood on Elm Street? Or the lack of heart in Saw XIV? Sagas have a following for a reason and if you’re admittedly not one of those people, your review is moot.

  8. says

    This movie was beautiful. This review stinks. I haven’t enjoyed a Potter movie so much since Goblet of Fire. What made me sad was the Epilogue as it means that we’ve really come to the end of the journey. I loved it and plan to see it again tomorrow.



  9. EdA says

    I saw it this evening (as it happens, a nearly full house in Nairobi, where it opened on Friday as elsewhere) and enjoyed. My own major complaint, apart from some of the implausibility in various places, was that the cut of Rupert Grint shirtless was much too short.

  10. Shubham Acharya says

    i didn’t know why he didn’t liked it….it’s the best potter movie…and a likely best picture contender…It is loved by critics and a huge commercial success…