Let's start with the things I like. I loved the fact that so much was set at Hogwarts. That was actually my main gripe about the Deathly Hallows book. McGonagall was brilliant, especially the conversation with Flitwick about the power of Voldemort's name - that was such a fitting complement to the scene at the very beginning of Sorcerer's Stone. Actually, the whole movie had a lot of really neat parallels to the earlier movies and in particularly the first one.
I also loved what they did visually with Snape's character throughout, but especially Snape watching over the school at the beginning of the movie. He reminded me of nothing so much as a madonna or perhaps a mother superior of an abbey. He was wizened, his face softened to almost feminine degrees. There was a moment or two that reminded me the crying stained-glass window in HP4, after the Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson.
Snape's death scene was beyond brilliant. As was the pensieve sequence. As was Aberforth finally showing up in battle - that one actually brought on tears. As was, well, pretty much everything involving Neville. And Hermione's taking on that dragon at Gringotts (which my muse, for some reason, has named Ancalagon, and come up with a story-germ involving). I loved the moment where Luna stood up to Harry, I loved the way they played the Grey Lady, I really loved the bit about Hogwarts arming and the way Voldemort grew increasingly more human as he lost bits of his soul - he looked normal for a second just before he died. And probably my favorite moment was with Dumbledore after Harry's "death." I know, some people hated it - but for me it had such a clean feeling to it, such a moment of pure reflection and Harry offered a true choice for the first time in a long time. It really worked for my inner philosopher.
So why am I not on cloud nine? There are a few reasons. The biggest one, I think, is that when Harry went into the forest, his motivation wasn't really clear. The movie seemed to play with two and never really commit him to either one. On the one hand, Harry sees how his friends are suffering for him, something he has said repeatedly that he doesn't want them to have to do. On the other hand, though, Harry has also been made aware that it is crucial not only that he die but that Voldemort be the one that kill him. He has a moment where he realizes this, and so his going to the forest has the opportunity to be a Kantian act of duty. But the fact that he is surrounded by so many dead and injured and that Voldemort has basically charged him with their suffering, makes it seem less like a sort of leap of faith based on his deep trust of Dumbledore so much as a calculation that this will save the most people. I did not feel swept away in any motive.
Second, and related, Harry didn't seem to have much emotional connection with anyone. Ron and Hermione are swept up together, as they should be at this point. But Dan Radcliffe and Bonnie Wright (the actress who plays Ginny Weasley) really don't have much chemistry. Ginny doesn't really shine much, which was a real disappointment. Also the people who accompany him in the forest at the end... well, why was Lupin there? I know, as a fan of the book, but even that didn't emotionally resonate. I'm sure the movie audience was confused on that connection, and what this mention of a baby was all about.
Finally, there's the ending. The epilogue still feels like a tack-on. Sweet but heavy-handed and definitely not in keeping with the theme. Harry's happy-after feels rather like not what the movie's arc was all about. My perfect ending? He destroys the elderwand, pan out to repair work on the castle, and roll credits.
So while it has so many great scenes, for me, really, there just isn't the emotional cohesion I need and expect.
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