Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Harry Potter, thanks for the memories

By Sarah Sluis

In the decade since Harry Potter first came out, I've aged from 16 to 26. There were a couple of movies lagging toward the end (including the penultimate Potter, Deathly Hallows Part I) that had me questioning my loyalty to the series. Maybe I had just outgrown it.

Rest assured, Harry Potter fans. The final film will not disappoint. Clocking in at a swift 131 minutes, the story propels swiftly the finish. Action scenes, which can be a little harder to visualize on the page, adapt to the screen in perfect form. After seven films, the eighth still manages to innovate on the existing Potter shorthand. As the series has evolved, it seemed as though we would be stuck with whatever the original set designers came up with. Instead, we get a Gringotts bank like you've never seen it before. Small changes, like the layout of the Gryffindor common room, help keep everything fresh.

Seeing Harry Potter and the evil Lord Voldemort duel for the final time adds excitement and finality to the series. Unlike earlier films, which had to omit or adapt the charming, meandering scenes that made the book so great, the final film is mostly business. The attack on Hogwarts castle is even more memorable than in the book, especially with the epic-level crowds of wizards fighting for control.

As the advance tickets sales and midnight screenings that characterized the series suggest, Harry Potter is one of those movies that demands to be seen with an audience. There are very few films that prompt audiences to clap and whoop not only after the movie, but during (I won't say when). So much of the laughter and involvement was from seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione evolve over the decade. In flashback scenes, Harry looks so young! It's like flipping through a family photo album.


Deathly Hallows Part I
finished with just under $1 billion worldwide. Surely, the final film will attain the $1 billion mark. I hardly believe that will be the end for the series, which is something like the Star Wars of a generation. DVDs will be bought. Books will be re-read. Action figures will be purchased. The series will live on as a theme park experience.

In fact, I couldn't help but watch the Gringotts scene and think that the creators must have consulted roller coaster creators when staging the set piece (which includes a water soaking, a traditional roller coaster addendum). The just-opened, wildly successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction in Universal Studios has plans (indeed, a mandate) to expand and incorporate material from the final films. What better way to cap the Harry Potter experience than to take a ride through Gringotts yourself?

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