Penultimate Potter Flick Passable

For the last decade audiences have watched a handful of children grow up on the silver screen as students in a surreal school of sorcery.

Matthew Lewis is Neville Longbottom, one of the bravest Gryffindors around. (WB/2011)

Now as the reach adulthood their considerable talents blossom, and none here more fully that of Matthew Lewis fulfilling the role of Neville Longbottom. He, not Harry, is the hero of this installment sealing the evil Voldemort’s demise with the destruction of the final piece before the showdown. Where I saw the film audiences cheered Neville on when he drew the sword from the hat, and there was every right. This guy will be one to watch.

These movies saw a somewhat shaky start with the release of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” in 2001. Each successive movie has only upped the ante, with the only exception being “The Goblet of Fire” not being quite up to the artsy snuff of Alfonso Cuarón’s “The Prisoner of Azkaban”. The three films proceeding this week’s premiere, “The Order of the Phoenix”, “The Half Blood Prince”, and “The Deathly Hallows, Part 1”, are some of my favorite movies. All three hold special places in my book as action flicks that sweep you into the film such as The Bourne Series and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.

However, part two of the epic finale is woefully lackluster to its previous half. The raw emotions that electrified its predecessor is absent. It seems the principle cast has grown weary of their roles or maybe we are meant to believe the trio of travelers are exhausted from their journey. There are more than enough supporting cast members to take up the slack, but unlike Lewis most of them are ignored. I found that troubling author J.K. Rowling wrote the battle of Hogwarts as a hugely team effort, but we don’t see that.

Lewis with a remberall which is a device that warns the user of forgetting. He grew up to be a good looking guy, didn't he? (WB/2001)

Indeed all of my complaints stem from this movie rather radically departing from the book. Most of the critical scenes have been rewritten, and most for the worst. Everything has turned to be focused on Daniel Radcliffe who plays the boy wizard and surprisingly he doesn’t deliver leaving the movie to fall on the shoulders of the interplay between Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) who perform admirably.

Backing the trio in addition to Neville is Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith). There are flashes of Tonks, Lupin, Kingsley, Arthur Weasley and his twin sons Fred and George, but nothing lingering which is unfortunate.

We don’t get to see Percy reunite with his family and Molly’s duel with Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) is painfully reduced. Many of these scenes were written so visually it seems mind-boggling that they were not transferred to the screen verbatim. The only piece that is exactly like the book is the sequence from Snape’s memories which bounce actors around so much it is noticeable that the makeup artist didn’t mask Alan Rickman’s crows feet while portraying a younger Snape or the multiple actors and actresses who’ve been hired to play Harry’s parents over the years.

Radcliffe’s solid, but not stellar, performance does include the single best line in the film, but it’s not my place to spoil it. Also, the epilogue was very artfully rendered especially with the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”-like digital aging. The exchange between Potter and his younger son is sweet and a fitting end for the series. I give this movie a B- to Part 1’s A+.

*Yay! I finally have I use for the word penultimate! My anthropology professor would be proud.


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