First: This year, due to the nature of my now responsible "I need to be an adult" job, I was unable to go see the movie at midnight (*sigh*). I was serendipitously transferred (much like Harry) back into a state of reminiscing - waiting all day at school (like I did for the first movie) in anxiety and then rushing to the theater the second I could get out of the building. Of course this time I had access to Facebook and reviews from friends. Cynical as I am, when I saw reviews from a few people who had seen the movie at midnight and enjoyed it, I actually got worried. Generally, these individuals are the kind who are bugged if the movie is not exactly the same as the book, whereas I am a huge fan of movies being adapted so that they are good movies, not good 'copy-paste' attempts.
Fortunately for me, this is a movie that is both beautiful and true enough to the book that both sides should be satisfied.
I do laugh a bit when I have looked at reviews where filmmakers complained about how the movie feels unfinished or slow. Well. . . that's how it should have been. The movie isn't finished. We've only seen half of a whole. And it should have been slow, because for the first time - we have a movie dedicated not to action and clear cut adventure - but a movie dedicated to building relationships and and overall feeling of being lost and confused about what needs to be done. Which is, essentially, exactly what the first half of the book is about. Many readers cheekily called the first part of the book Harry Potter and the Extended Camping Trip. If viewers leave that movie feeling as though they lost or have been through a long, confusing adventure - well. . . that's probably exactly what the filmmakers wanted.
My greatest excitement for this movie came in realizing that, for the first time, I felt like Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson were equally yoked as actors. They were all given good things to do, and they all did them well. In the past, Watson has read lines rather awkwardly, or Grint's character has been reduced to the stupid sidekick. But this time - they were a team. It was really great to see how much they had matured and grown into these parts with such confidence. They managed to carry a movie that was incredibly difficult to pace and, at times, laborious in how lost it was. They were great.
I appreciated how this movie didn't pander to the latecomers. In the past, some of the movies would spend so much time on exposition that a viewer could have seen the film cold and more or less understood what was going on. It was wasted time. This isn't James Bond - it's more or less a 20+ hour long movie that ultimately tells the same story. This movie is not for newcomers. If you hadn't seen the others, you'd be hopelessly lost and bored.
The animation: The animation was glorious. The way they handled the Tale of the Three Brothers was fantastic. Dobby and Kreacher were unbelievable. They made Gollum look like a cartoon - which is saying something, because Gollum looks pretty great. But Dobby and Kreacher were seamless and beautiful. Bravo.
The film was funny. It was sad. Ultimately, though, what made me love this movie so much - and what made it, in some ways, blow the other films out of the water - was that its core was a film that had heart. There was such love for the characters. Such care for what happens to them. The movie was handled with such obvious adoration for J.K. Rowling's creation and the fans that worship every word she's written that it would be impossible for me not to respect the accomplishment. You can see why they were so keen on splitting the film in two. It isn't for more money (though that's nice.) It's because the story is too good to do it the injustice of cramming it all into one film.
Was the film perfect? No. There were a few lost opportunities. (Did they ever explain the origin of the mirror? I also wish that they'd have left the conversation between Harry and Ron after the locket is destroyed.) But, on the whole, the film was wonderful.
How great is it to look back on the last ten years and know that I've been at every Harry Potter movie on opening day/night? To know that I've grown up with this series and now have the privilege of seeing it get another send off is fantastic. To loosely quote James Hook. . . "What would the world be like without Harry Potter?!"