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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter Postscript: A Hopeless Fan, a Reluctant Aficionado, and a Series Virgin See Boy Wizard: Part 8

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 9:58 AM

click to enlarge ERICSKIFF

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 came out Friday at midnight. "It all ends," said the posters -- a sentiment taken way too seriously by fans who feel they have nothing more to look forward to once the closing credits roll. (Except Pottermore.)

Three SF Weekly employees -- yours truly, reporter Joe Eskenazi and advertising coordinator Will Sue -- attended a Saturday afternoon showing at Oakland's Grand Lake Theater. While I was more than willing to sacrifice sleep for the midnight showing, don a Gryffindor scarf and feel like death the next morning (to do otherwise would only postpone the inevitable feeling that comes with the Harry Potter franchise ending anyway), my colleagues insisted they had to be well-rested for the task of dishing on the flick.

Spoiler alert: Snarky commentary on specific plot points ahead. Read on at your own risk.

An ardent Harry Potter fan since fifth grade who was gifted a Time-Turner from SkyMall (yes, they have customers), I always have high hopes for the films. But this installment felt especially important since it's the one we Muggles will be riding off into the sunset with. I was looking forward to, among many things, Harry and Ginny not being awkward for once (didn't happen), the Ron and Hermione kiss (satisfactory, sans Rupert Grint's head blocking the entire thing), and the final moments in which we realize Harry's fate (we'll get to that).

Will, a complete Harry Potter virgin, came into the movie with the goal of not falling asleep. He failed.

Joe's Harry Potter fandom falls somewhere in the middle. He calls himself a "reluctant aficionado" who still feels a tinge of annoyance whenever he sees an adult reading the books in public, despite the fact that he has read and enjoyed them, too. But only in private.

With expectations that ranged from high to none, this HP trio sprung for the cheaper 2D tickets, settled into our chairs with smuggled contraband drinks -- not unlike Butterbeer -- and tried to keep our comments to a minimum.

It all begins.

Opening sequence, in which the theater nearly forgets to dim the lights due to the film's abrupt start, where Part 1 left off:

Taylor: Squee!

Joe: Any notion of disturbing children by drinking beer in the theater will be mitigated by the fact that they'll be disturbed enough when half the cast is soon killed.

Soon after escaping Gringotts Wizarding Bank, jumping off a dragon and surfacing from icy water, the onscreen trio discuss returning to Hogwarts to hunt for Horcruxes. Harry says: "Hermione, when have any of our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose!":

Taylor: *joins audience in knowing laughter*

Will: Harry Potter inside jokes ... not funny.

Bracing for Voldemort's attack, Professor McGonagall and the rest of the Hogwarts faculty cast a pink, protective barrier into the dark sky to shield the school:

Joe: This looks like a Pepto-Bismol commercial. ... "The one that coats."

Ron and Hermione kiss in the Chamber of Secrets, shortly after destroying the Hufflepuff cup/Horcrux with a basilisk fang:

Taylor: Squee!

Will: Why did they just stab a cup with a dinosaur tooth?

In the Forbidden Forest, Harry prepares himself for death by using the Resurrection Stone to speak to the deceased, including his parents. Afterward, he lets the stone fall to the forest floor, never to be used again:

Joe: The Resurrection Stone looks like the Dungeons & Dragons dice.

Taylor: Meaning you know what that looks like.

Will: *asleep*

Harry enters some sort of white limbo, where Dumbledore gets him up to speed and presents him with the option of going onwards or back to Hogwarts:

Taylor: The best line in the series is hopefully coming up...

Joe: It's stunning how Dumbledore is looking more like Gandalf in every film.

Dumbledore: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

Taylor: Squee!

Will: *asleep*

Who's that dead over there? Is that Fred Weasley? Is that Lavender Brown?:

Joe: The deaths of several characters resemble the explosions of confetti now ubiquitous when a home team wins a sporting championship.

Nearing the end, an elated audience claps in unison on two occasions. One, when Neville Longbottom kills Nagini, Voldemort's snake and Horcrux, with the Sword of Gryffindor. Also, when Molly Weasley, mom extraordinaire, kills Bellatrix Lestrange -- but not before calling her a bitch:

Will: *smirking* Dumbledorks.

Again casting off the responsibility that comes with possessing all three Deathly Hallows and being the Master of Death, Harry snaps the Elder Wand in half so that no one else will ever fall prey to its allure again:

Will: He just destroyed the strongest wand in the world by breaking it like a twig? Is that all it takes?

Voldemort dies:

Will: He should have probably chosen to make his Horcrux a pebble laying by the side of the road.

Taylor: It was one of his character flaws. He was more concerned with conquering valuable objects.

Joe: Why didn't Voldemort make a Horcrux out of a fingernail clipping and flush it down the toilet? Who would find that?

The epilogue, set 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, shows an "aged" Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Draco:

Taylor: Ginny is obviously older because she has a suburban mom haircut. This is really bad, but it was in the book, too.

Joe: What -- no one got fat?

Camera cuts to Ron.

Everyone: Oh.

It all ends.

By the end, Will had rightly come away with the fact that Hogwarts students "roll in crews," like Gryffindor and the "Slyths," and wrongly believed that Harry was collecting Horcruxes in order to get the Elder Wand.

Could I have done without the epilogue and the cheesetastic scene where Snape sobs over a dead Lily Potter? Sure. But, if we're being honest, I can never be a true critic when it comes to Harry Potter. I'll be the one forcing my kids to watch these movies after they've become my generation's Wizard of Oz.

Joe gave the movie a B+, because what's a movie review without at least one arbitrary grade? He said it was well acted and a real spectacle, proving that you can find an old Shakespearean actor at every UK intersection.

"Hogwarts castle is decidedly not ADA accessible," he added.

Mischief managed.

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Taylor Friedman

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