The Potter posters have an air of the apocalypse: it all ends, they proclaim from enormous billboard spreads. The franchise is a still-rolling juggernaut, albeit one that has slowed since the first book was published in 1997; still, almost fifteen years in the limelight is not bad going for the bespectacled, be-scarred boy wizard. The latest film, (somewhat cumbersomely titled “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II“) has passed the $1bn mark and is storming up the highest-grossing-of-all-time chart, where it will no doubt snatch the Avatar’s crown with not so much as an ‘Alohomora’.
I was 11 when my mother bought us a JK Rowling book for Christmas. It was laid aside, not to be read for another year, and it was only then that we realised that it was the second in a series. We had never heard of Harry Potter, or his Chamber of Secrets. Skip ahead to Prisoner of Azkaban, and suddenly Harry was ablaze in the book charts, and upon the bonfires of those who worried that all these magic stories would inspire a wave of devil-worshipping children. What it did commendably kindle amongst kids was a sudden desire to read. So now that it’s over (and I’m rapidly approaching my third decade) there is definitely a part of me that’s sad to see it go. Having said that, it went in the noisiest, most action-filled, eyeball-popping techno-graphics fest I’ve seen in a while. The 3D effects seemed to draw viewers into the screen, and created some stunning landscapes and architectural vistas. The sight of hundreds of Death Eaters firing a barrage of green lights from their wands upon the besieged Hogwarts was, in fact, magical. And the actors weren’t half bad either. Ralph Fiennes was deliciously evil (I spent some time wondering how long it takes them to eradicate his nose each day in the makeup trailers), Maggie Smith made me want to cheer, and the three leads performed admirably: they’ve come a long way since Philosopher’s Stone.
We interrupt this review for a ten minute break, whilst I rant about the fact that there are ten minute breaks in the cinemas here in Zurich. We don’t have these in the UK, as a rule. And whilst I can see the appeal of being able to nip out to the loo, or top up your popcorn supplies, there’s nothing like a mid-film pitstop to massacre atmosphere. Everyone shuffles out, leaving you staring at a blank screen and wondering why everything looks so weird. Oh, that’s right: you’re wearing a pair of 3D specs on top of your own glasses…
Then, inevitably there are stragglers still trailing in when the film’s rolling again, and of course it happens to be during the one part of the film where a bit of emotion is allowed to seep through the wand-duelling, troll-fighting and general mayhem, meaning that a lot of Alan Rickman’s dialogue is drowned by people struggling to reunite bottoms with seats (in the dark, whilst wearing 3D glasses) And don’t they know it’s a crime to obscure those wonderfully dulcet tones…?
Ooh, lights down: back to the film review.
In conclusion, the visuals were brilliant, the story well-paced, and the steady stream of cameos from just about every British actor/actress under the sun made watching the film feel like a ‘Who’s Who’ of UK cinema. And then there’s the enjoyably cringy final scene, at which you could only laugh as Radcliffe, Watson and Grint try to play middle aged wizards. The film did its franchise proud.
So, no more Potter, then? Will it, in fact, all end here??
Of course not. The JK juggernaut rumbles on with the unveiling of Pottermore, an interactive web experience which promises to share a whole lot of tasty tidbits that didn’t make the books (although if Order of the Phoenix had been any longer, I wouldn’t have been able to lift it), and no doubt will ensure Pottermania is around for a while to come: another victory for The Boy Who Lived.
And long may he do so.