On Friday night/Saturday morning, we went to the half-past midnight showing of the final Harry Potter movie. These are my thoughts and reactions, chock full o' spoilers and gratuitous italics...

* The beginning was surprisingly abrupt; we went from endless previews to the closing shot from DH1 with pretty much no warning. But I liked it.

* Shell Cottage is so ridiculously beautiful! I'd almost want to live there, but it would be pretty remote if one couldn't apparate...

* The early scenes in the movie did feel kind of rushed, though.

* Helena Bonham-Carter did such fabulous Hermione expressions!

* Since they didn't show that the multiplying objects in the Lestranges' vault were burning the kids, it was a little random that Hermione was handing out dittany after they jumped off the dragon and came back to the lake shore. It sort of looked like they were using Purell ;)

* I loved that they had Harry seeing Voldemort's discovery that they'd stolen the cup horcrux while he was underwater. It was really pretty.

* I also kind of loved the caterwauling charm. That's caterwauling, all right!

* I really liked Aberforth, but I was bummed that they cut out the whole argument with the Death Eaters about the stag vs. goat patronuses. It wasn't terribly necessary to the story, but it was funny...

* I was also disappointed that they simplified the situation with Ariana to Albus simply neglecting her. I see why they cut out the Grindlewald storyline, but it was unfortunate because it made Dumbledore so much more flawed and imperfect and human.

* Neville was awesome, but why, oh why, did they have him running around in that Mr. Rogers sweater for the entire movie? And wasn't he supposed to have long hair at that point?

* Professor McGonagall! I know she wasn't actually in the first half of DH, but I missed her so much during the last movie, and there hasn't been enough of her in the last few, so I was thrilled that she finally had a decent amount of screen time in this movie! I was a little disappointed that they didn't use her line "We teachers are rather good at magic" when Harry doubted if they could hold the Death Eaters off, because she does a fabulous sardonic, but the scene with the suits of armor was great!

* On the other hand, the fact that they just locked up all the Slytherins instead of evacuating them and the younger students from the other houses? Um, no. That's not the Hogwarts way and McGonagall would not have done it.

* Luna is so fantastic. The actress could not have been more perfectly cast. ♥ And of course she'd be kind to Helena Ravenclaw's ghost. I like that little addition, which is very much in character.

* I've said more than once that I understand the need to cut out certain scenes from the books, but it bothers me when they add made-up scenes that weren't in the original story. However, I liked that they showed Ron and Hermione going into the Chamber of Secrets. Of course, they didn't actually make it up - it did happen in the book; it just wasn't shown. But it was a nice and creepy scene, and I thought it worked as a moment for the R/H kiss, since they'd entirely cut out the house-elf storyline...

* I have no problem with the deletion of Percy's apology, or Percy in general. It was sad that they didn't include the scene where Fred died, but the moment when Ron came back and found the family over his body was also pretty damn heartbreaking. I'm tearing up again just thinking about it.

* The bleak, battle-scarred Hogwarts was still so beautiful. It looked like the most gorgeous pictures I've ever seen on the abandonedplaces community. I don't mean to diminish the awful, crushing losses sustained in that battle, just to say that the cinematographers did an amazing job at making even the bleakest moments of the movie as visually beautiful as the happier moments (not that there were many of those).

* The scene with Snape and Voldemort was fantastic. OMG, Alan Rickman is amazing.

* I loved the pensieve flashbacks, especially the one with wee Snape and Lily lying on the riverbank. So beautiful.

* I've never entirely warmed up to Michael Gambon's Dumbledore, though that's mostly not his fault. Richard Harris was so completely and exactly the way I've always pictured Dumbledore in my mind. Also, I don't think the writing and directing for Gambon has been as good (please see exhibit Goblet of Fire, where he shook Harry and doubted his word about not putting his name in the goblet - there's just no way Dumbledore would have done that.) But the scenes with Snape from the pensieve were probably my favorite performances of Gambon's.

* Especially when Snape cast his doe patronus, Dumbledore asked "After all these years?" and Snape answered "Always." It made me just as teary on-screen as it always has in print.

* Speaking of scenes that made me teary, when Harry was heading into the forest to die and Lily, James, Sirius and Lupin came to him? Oh, it was beautiful. None of the movies has ever had enough Sirius for me, but the brief moment we got was so lovely.

* Though the reference to Lupin & Tonks' son growing up without his parents was a little strange since it was the first time he was ever mentioned in either movie...

* It was also strange that they didn't have Harry actually say "yes" to Narcissa. I get that they were suggesting a slight nod, but since Harry was supposed to be dead, the whispered "yes" seems safer than movement, and I would just have liked it better.

* I wish the scene where Neville approached Voldemort hadn't been filled with laughs. Neville had become a real threat by then, a real thorn in the Carrows' sides, and I wish they'd given him the badass credit he was due. Also, I was disappointed that they cut out the scene with his grandmother, whom I love.

* But at least they did have him kill Nagini. I was starting to get worried for a few moments there.

* I feel like I should have something to say about the final duel and Voldemort's death, but I appear to have waited too long to write this review, and whatever thoughts I had at the time are escaping me.

* When I saw that they were doing the epilogue, which I wasn't sure about, I hoped they'd make Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron actually look older. They did a pretty good job with it, but I couldn't help laughing through the entire scene, especially at Ron's beer gut ;)

* I was annoyed that they cut Ginny out of the closing shot. I know it was always about the three of them growing up, but at that point, Harry and Ginny have been married for longer than the kids all went to school together; I think she's just as important a member of the group by then! Also, though this is an issue with the book rather than the movie, did Ginny get to name any of their kids? That's never seemed quite right to me.

*When I first heard that the final movie would be in 3D, I was annoyed. I think 3D occasionally has its uses, but it's being massively overused lately, probably just because the technology is there and theaters can charge more for 3D movies. Though I'm not a fan because it's tough on my motion sickness, I don't mind it if it actually helps to further the story. In most cases, though, I don't think it does. I maintain that it wasn't necessary for DH2, but I wasn't actually bothered by it, which was a pleasant surprise. They didn't use it excessively, and it was well-shot enough that it didn't make me nauseous, and that's always a plus. (I know you can see it in 2D, and I will in the future, but the 3D version was the only post-midnight option at the theater midway between where we and our friends live, so I decided to give it a try.)

The friends with whom we saw the movie had seen all the previous movies, but haven't read the books. I was interested in their take, because I wondered how much of the hallows storyline would be clear without the background from the books. They said the part about the Resurrection stone was unclear - particularly where Dumbledore got it, because it seemed as though he'd had it all along. I explained as best I could considering that it was nearly 3 AM at that point, and the lack of sleep caught up with me almost immediately once we left the theater. All four of us were loopy by then and laughing like crazy in the parking lot; probably no one would have believed that we were stone-cold sober, though we were.

Overall, I loved it. Yes, I can and do nitpick about certain aspects, but honestly, that's part of the fun for a geek like me, and it would be impossible to make a perfect movie out of any of these books (though Prisoner of Azkaban is pretty damn close). As you've probably gathered by now, I'm extremely picky about movie adaptations of books I love. I mostly don't even watch them. But all in all (with the exception of GoF), I think they've done a fabulous job with the Harry Potter movies. They captured the feel of the characters and Hogwarts and the wizarding world, and that's far more important than the details. I know I'll enjoy re-watching the movies over the years nearly as much as I'll enjoy re-reading the books.
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