I know what you're thinking, there are already an infinite amount of Harry Potter reviews floating throughout the internets, and if you consider yourself a Potterite, or Potterphile (?) you've already had your fill. Why should I read your review? What can you possibly have to add to a discussion about the epic conclusion to the series that defined my childhood and adolescence?
The answer is this: nothing. I have nothing new or insightful to add about the conclusion of this boy wizard's journey to manhood, or his inevitable triumph over the forces of pale-faced, nose-less wizardry. To be perfectly honest with you all, and myself, I'm just glad that the journey is finally over, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking.
It's time for full disclosure. I was born in 1979. I'm too old to have grown-up with this magical boy and his merry band of wizardlings, and I'm too young to have children that have been raised on his adventures. I read the first book eleven or twelve years ago, and I liked it quite a bit. Not enough, apparently, to read any of the other books (despite the nearly endless nagging and disbelieving stares) but enough to see every movie, from the second one forward, opening weekend.
I'm a sucker for what Joseph Campbell calls "The Hero's Journey," the ancient template upon which all great mythologies and adventures, from Homer to Star Wars and Harry Potter, are set against. Kurt Vonnegut once summed up this template thus: "The hero gets into trouble, the hero gets out of trouble." Awesome. Anyway, the chances that I wouldn't at least TRY to get into a multi-part story about a young man accepting and fulfilling his destiny while riding on dragons and casting magic spells was impossible. I eat that shit up, always have and always will, but the problem with the Harry Potter series is that I never quite felt like I was getting past the "trying to like this" phase in our relationship.
I've tried, truly I have, for more than ten years, and the conclusion that I've reached is that the Harry Potter films are probably excellent (or at least adequate) companion pieces to the books upon which they are based, but as a cinematic entity, taken by itself, it just really doesn't do it for me. I have seen each film in the Star Wars trilogy (the real trilogy) at least 10,000 times, I've sat delightedly through day long LOTR Extended Edition trilogy marathons on more than one occasion, I've seen both of Christopher Nolan's batman films a half dozen times each. If there's an adventure that I connect with, that's what I do, try and live it over and over again until it is burned into the back of my eyeballs.
I have seen each of the Harry Potter films once.
Because I have only seen each film once, something unfortunate has always happened to me during the gap between release dates. I forget nearly everything and everyone from the previous movie. I sit in the theater enjoying the moments of adventure and spending the rest of the film scratching my head, trying to remember what role that familiar looking British actor or actress has played in the series, what their significance is to the story as a whole, and trying to piece together exactly what the hell is going on between Harry and the pale red headed girl, or the Asian girl, or isn't he supposed to end up with Hermione? I then walk out of the theater and listen to my Potterphile friends discuss the book's transition to the screen while I ask them annoying questions like, "If Slitherin is just a class full of evil wizards, why are they allowed at the school?"
Well, no more!
Tonight I went to the 11:50 pm showing at the Alamo South and dined on delicious fried cheese, spinach and artichoke dip, spicy mac n' cheese and the best Philly Cheesesteak in Austin (I am aware that eating that much food after 10:00 pm, or any time of day, is not a good idea.) I don't understand much of what unfolded on the screen: some old British man that I don't recall having seen before lectures the gang about magic wands, they go to a bank and steal a sword, ride a dragon who promptly disappears, Dumbledore has a brother whose name is Apple Fart (I'm almost certain) who tries to tell some story about Dumbledore that probably would have been interesting, but Harry doesn't want to hear it so I guess we'll never know. Then the gang goes to Hogwarts where the autistic girl tells them where to find the next Horcrux and the hidden library/storage room from Raiders of the Lost Ark burns down. A lot of other things happen, some of which are very exciting, none of which I fully understand. Lots of characters who I vaguely remember from earlier in the series die unceremoniously off screen. At least the series' most interesting character, Severus Snape, played by the always more-awesome-than-anyone-else-in-the-movie Alan Rickman goes out with a pretty great send off.
Is Snape Harry's father? I was really expecting that to be revealed during the flashbacks, and maybe it was, or maybe I'm COMPLETELY off base here, that is extremely possible.
I know many of you take your Harry Potter very seriously, and may feel like I am trashing this series, which is so far from the truth. I love what this saga has done for our society, it has turned millions and millions of people into raving fanboys and girls, and that in itself is a magical thing to behold, and it got Americans reading, which is always wonderful.
Perhaps the day will come when I'm ready to pick up these books and dive in, then I can re-watch the films and see everything that I missed the first time through. In the meantime, I just feel relieved that it's over, that I don't have to feel like I'm in the dark once every eighteen months anymore. I know that this has been quite an emotional weekend for a lot you kiddos (of all ages) out there, and I hope that you found this to be the satisfying conclusion that all of you deserved.