Harry Potter and the Vast Ocean of Money

Well, finally. It’s taken seven books, eight films and ten years to turn Harry Potter into a slightly paunchy thirty-something who you can just tell subscribes to The Guardian and thinks Eric Clapton is pretty damn fabulous. That “19 years later” coda was weird and smug in the book and it’s also weird on screen, due to the excellent ageing makeup which gives Rupert Grint a beer gut (which, frankly, you would expect) and Bonnie Wright a fat arse (which is horrifying, and gives her something to work to avoid, like Christina Ricci growing up to be Rosie O’Donnell in Now and Then).

Despite the US$7 billion (and rising) in box office returns, is this the greatest film series of all time? Despite the uneven quality of most of the films, yes. I think in future years people will judge the HP films superior to LotR, not because LotR is a better story and an overall better quality set of films, but because of the scope of HP. As I’ve mentioned before, keeping together the core cast and watching them grow up over a decade is pretty fantastic.

As the capstone to an eight-film series this had great moments and disappointing moments. The great include a flashback sequence starring Alan Rickman which reveals the true nature of the villainous Snape, cementing his place as one of the most interesting HP characters and possibly earning Rickman an Oscar nomination, which isn’t bad for a sequence which is only a few minutes long. Judi Dench did it in six minutes (in Shakespeare in Love), why not him?

It’s also a relief to get a bit of action after the turgid Pt.1, which was mostly the fault of the source material, but emphasised the fact that these films haven’t really been a lot of fun since Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately the Battle of Hogwarts sequence skimped a bit on some of the many Crowning Moments of Awesome it had to contain – when Neville cuts off the head of Voldemort’s snake in the book, it makes you proud for this tragically retarded dentally-challenged son of the North. In the film, it’s over in a flash.

I can appreciate that the deaths of many of the core cast are perfunctory because that’s what it’s like in war, but I think David Thewlis and whichever Weasley twin wot snuffed it deserved better, considering the sadgasm for that fucking Jar-Jar-Gollum wannabee Dobby which served as the climax for Pt.1. Also Molly Weasley’s “Not my daughter, you bitch!” could have been slightly more awesome, despite the fact that whatever spell she uses to ice Helena Bonham-Carter amusingly shrivels her into a Tim-Burtonesque doll. Basically, everyone who dies in this film goes out like a punk, except for Snape.

Other points which occur to my fractured and overeducated brain:

There’s a brief diversion from blowing up people with spells to shoehorn in an explanation about who Dumbledore’s brother and why he’s been keeping an eye on Harry. Didn’t care.

The Elder Wand MacGuffin explanation is just as fudged and pointless as in the book, but at least they didn’t linger on the whole “Gotta find ’em all!” aspect of the previous film. What was it, a total of seven horcruxes and three deathly hallows? Enough, get on with the killin’s.

It was amusing to see Warwick Davis (from Willow) get smeared as Griphook the elf, and then turn up a few minutes later as Professor Flitwick.

Would it have been a bit awkward on set if Helena Bonham-Carter and Emma Thompson bumped into each other? Considering, y’know, the whole Kenneth Branagh affair.

I feel sorry that Dudley Dursley didn’t get a better send-off in Pt.1… there’s a deleted scene on the DVD where he actually talks to Harry, but in the final film there’s just a long shot of him, which looks like they used a body double.

Speaking of substitutions, it’s notable that Draco’s minion Crabbe is replaced in the film with Blaise Zabini (I had to look that one up, thankfully). We also didn’t get the moment in the coda when Draco and Harry nod at each other significantly, as if to say “I’ll see you round the back of Platform 9 3/4 in five delicious minutes, you yummy Aryan, you!”

Young Albus Snape Potter is afraid he’ll be put in Slytherin House (and with the initials A.S.P., how could he not?). Harry comforts him by saying “Then Slytherin will have gained an excellent student” – to which I mentally added, “who will one day kill us all”. Come on, you know if J. K. Rowling ever runs out of money, it’ll happen.

This film might not be doing so well if it wasn’t pure escapism and if most people weren’t having such an unusually stressful time right now. Just sayin’.


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