Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and the Intensity of a Midnight Experience

A girl near me loudly burst into tears when Harry symbolically and deliberately broke a wand. I mean HOW CUTE is this whole thing??

It’s technically possible that you were unaware that the final chapter of the enormously popular Harry Potter films was released last Friday. You might be off saving lives in third world countries or stuck in debt ceiling negotiations or something else important and impactful. But for the rest of us, it’s a hot topic of conversation, whether or not you’re into the Hogwarts Crew. If you’re on Twitter, you probably witnessed an emotional surge of tweets bemoaning the end of an era that’s been quite important to some, followed by the predictable aftershocks of “I couldn’t care less” tweets.*

With or without your support, J.K. Rowling’s adorable cash cow has managed to break every record in the book. Kids are back into reading, movies are imaginative again, everyone’s making money all over the place, what’s not to love?

Hundreds of muggles came out for Movieland’s midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, as they did at other movie theaters all over the world. I was there, letting it all sink in. Various Snapes, Sexy Hermiones, and even some stag patronuses (you have some Christmas reindeer antlers, you figure…why not?) — everyone was there, being all stoked/teary-eyed in the face of their pet series’s grand culmination. General Manager Sean McIntosh told me that they’d sold out all of the 12 theaters they had at their disposal, two in 3D, and that the complex had never seen anything like it. I myself wanted more of a chance to observe the gleeful horde, but Movieland was quite efficient in their crowd-management, and their giant sorting hat put us all into our respective theaters lickety-split.

Having been woefully behind in our HP studies, my moviegoing companion and I had devoted the evening prior to catching ourselves up via a combination of Wikipedia and DVD. I’d read the books several years before, but couldn’t remember much about the last couple massive tomes besides a snake and a lot of kissing.

Turns out, guys, those movies got really good over the years! They, like the books on which they’re based, become more complicated and less cutesy the older Harry gets. He’s a teen now, and he’s moody, but he’s also more aware of the world around him…and better able to handle the challenges it presents. You’ll absolutely need to watch at least the last film (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1) to grok what’s going on in this one, but it’s worth it. The David Yates-directed dual-installment films are well done, to say the least. I think the reason the middle few failed to grab my attention was that as the books got steadily thicker, the films stayed the same length. As a result, the middle movies felt rushed and some of the best details were dropped.

With the luxury of four-plus hours of screentime to devote to the last book, the HP franchise was able to give some of the most enthusiastic fans since Beatlemania the details they deserve. So Harry finally takes on Voldemort with no horcruxes left unturned…or unmentioned.

Things take their natural turn, reaching several satisfying conclusions and delighting my fellow moviegoers intensely. I’ve figured out that the best way to see a movie is to go to a midnight screening, even if you don’t feel too strongly about the film itself. Emotions are higher, everyone’s more excited**…it’s like seeing a live show, and you get to hear fan behind you whispering things like, “Yo, they ain’t shown HAGRID yet!” Even their apologetic laughter during the awkward epilogue was cute. I doubt even the most die-hard fan could find too many excuses for how comical mid-thirties Harry looked. Put 21-year-olds in blazers and trench coats and they look just like us, I guess.

All in all, I recommend the entire series. There’s nothing exactly like Harry Potter, and even if you were long past childhood when that first one hit the bookstores, I bet you’ll find something about it that you like.

*You might remember these from “the Oscars,” “the Super Bowl,” “Lost,” “anything anyone’s excited about,” and, most recently, the “Women’s World Cup.” A curious cultural phenomenon that exists purely to make other people feel bad about themselves, as far as I can tell.

**Although I will say, if you want to see some excited 19 year olds, show them a new Twilight trailer that features that werewolf dude’s abs. Poor Daniel Radcliffe didn’t get nearly as much gasping applause when he took his shirt off. C’est la vie, Harry. Ginny Weasley likes you just the way you are.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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