Reeltime posts are not regular reviews but real-time commentary posted whilst watching the film. You can follow live or read the archived post at the end.
It all ends here. Reeltime Harry Potter concludes on 29 October 2017 at 8pm GMT.
Starting right where we ended.
Welcome back to the final instalment of the first cycle of Reeltime.
We’ve covered a decade of films in just under three and a half months.
Reminding us first of the casualties – there must be many more to come.
Snape placed a fake sword in Bellatrix’s safe? I’m guessing it’ll take more than that to prove his allegiance…
More wand swapping: “The wand chooses the wizard Mr Potter. That has always been clear to those of us who follow Wand Law.”
More wizarding law! Although I suspect this is more on the level of Charlie’s Bird Law than Magical Contract Law.
“I’m afraid you really don’t stand a chance.”
“Never tell me the odds!”
Time for another heist! Is this film going to follow the structure of the last one identically?
Oooh… Gringotts looks just like I remember from Orlando.
When does the Escape from Gringotts ride start?
Oh, right now.
Was this designed with a theme park ride in mind? A rickety minecart seems like a terrible way to travel into a vault at a bank that must be rolling in cash.
Dragons seem a lot less intimidating by this stage…
Oh right, now they think that’s stupid.
“That’s unfortunate.” Ron’s understatement has levelled up.
Okay no, dragons still kind of a big deal.
If Voldemort knows the kids are hunting Horcruxes then presumably an ambush is in order whilst they still can’t kill him?
Another obligatory topless Radcliffe sequence.
“Hermione! When have any of our plans ever actually worked?” He has a point.
So we’re introducing Dumbledore’s brother as a new character in the final film?
At least he’s questioning why everyone implicitly trusts Dumbledore when he keeps so many secrets from everyone else.
Not that Harry’s considering this for a moment.
“My brother sacrificed many things, Mr Potter, on his journey to find power. Including Ariana.” That sounds more like the Dumbledore I’ve seen through these films.
Neville! Looking rugged, but really rocking that cardigan.
“We have a new weather report. Lightning has struck!” Their subtle codes are uncrackable.
I’ll admit I still have absolutely no idea what Snape’s gameplan is here.
So they’ve gone with the cunning plan of waltzing through the front door? So actually they could have done this at any time, given that the Order is apparently weaker now than it’s ever been.
More proper dueling, although it highlights how rubbish those early wizard duels were. Oh, it’s sadly truncated with the old through-the-window escape.
Were the pupils all cheering for being taken to the dungeons?! This lot cheer for the weirdest things.
Animated statue warriors. A classic defensive gambit.
Why is Harry still not paying attention to Luna?! Although admittedly pointing out that you need to find a dead person to speak with in Hogwarts hardly narrows things down.
Time for a war, I guess.
Pretty dark fireworks. Direworks.
Conversing with ghosts in between makes for weird pacing.
“It is the quality of ones convictions that determines success, not the number of followers.” Yes Lupin. But numbers don’t exactly hurt in a war either, do they?
These two suddenly look about 35.
I’m glad they burst out laughing immediately after this as if they know just how ridiculous this scene is.
Go Neville! This is going to be his film, isn’t it?
You can’t die yet, Neville!
Neville and Luna… I really wish that had been set up properly. They’re great characters but I really can’t see this.
Still too early for Draco’s Redemption, isn’t it?
Snake fire. When did they learn all these cool spells? I don’t remember any of this being covered in Hogwarts.
Saving Draco. Is this just a chance for Harry to flex his mercy muscles?
Oh the snake is the last Horcrux. Couldn’t Harry just talk it into killing itself?
At last they really have built up towards the scale of Lord of the Rings. Not quite as coherently choreographed.
Snape must have more in mind than just misleading Voldemort about the wand.
Oh, this is a Wizard’s Boots thing. Snape has to die for Voldemort to control the wand.
Given everything Harry has said about Snape, why is he trying to save him now? To show Harry is “good”? Because even pragmatically at this point he could kill Snape and have the Elder Wand bind to him, which seems in everyone’s best interest.
There’s certainly been a lot of destruction. What’s the bodycount?
This after-the-fact death count continues to be underwhelming. Characters like these deserve better send-offs. At least they die together.
Severus and Lily is almost certainly the relationship I’d have wanted in that era too.
“You’ve kept him so he can die at the proper moment. You’ve been raising him like a pig for slaughter.” Is that a surprise? That’s Dumbledore all over. It’s a shame they’re going to bottle Harry’s actual sacrifice and not kill him off…
This is powerful but I wish there were more time to delve into Snape’s side of the story instead of this rapid flashback within a flashback.
So Harry actually has part of Voldemort’s soul bonded with him. Does that make him a Horcrux? It certainly explains the pained look every time he destroyed the Horcruxes. I just assumed weakening Voldemort was also weakening himself.
I suppose for a generation, this sequence with Harry coming to grips with his own mortality was their first exploration of death.
Well that was sudden.
Voldefetus. Well that’s hideously unexpected.
…and apparently unexplained.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” There’s the writer talking.
Harry is still grappling with the nature of reality as well. Everything’s inside your head from your perspective, Harry. Particularly when you’re that unobservant.
And… you’re back in the room.
Dead? How dead?
Continuing strong choices from Draco.
Oh it’s speech time!
Hang on, why didn’t Neville kill the snake? It was right there!
Right, the actual duel now that we’re done with this fake death stuff.
Bellatrix gets a better death than most characters in this film.
Oooh, a Reichenbach Fall…
Definitely Neville’s film.
These new particle effects are fantastic.
The wand cares about disarming rather than killing? That actually makes reasonable sense. We are still going to destroy it though, right? Good.
Is… is that it?
Oh, of course. Epilogue time.
Still not buying this. I should probably let it go once they have kids…
Albus Severus Potter. Totally rolls off the tongue.
Some seriously unconvincing ageing effects here.
Aaand carefully cropping Ginny out of the final shot.
Well that was a suitably epic final film, though I’ll admit I found the ending somewhat underwhelming. I know the epilogue is straight out of the books but it doesn’t really add anything.
The action set pieces had really ramped up over the course of the series. I think these last two films had the epic sensibilities to rival Lord of the Rings (if not the scale). That said, the weight of the fights was devalued by the fact we rarely saw deaths until afterwards. It’s telling that the villains were treated less ignominiously than the heroes for the most part.
I’m surprised to find my feelings about many of the characters did not change substantially over the series. That’s not to say that they didn’t have arcs but, rather, they were well enough set up that the their trajectory could be discerned within the first few stories.
Snape is obviously exceptional and his pairing with Alan Rickman was a gift that makes his loss feel all the more weighty. I do wish we had been able to see his backstory with a little more clarity. With the sacrifice he made to protect Draco, it was rather underwhelming to see the Malfoy’s simply scuttling away over a bridge and no real development for Draco over the entire arc. The Malfoys in general were just gradually ruined as characters.
With a series put together over a decade and a recurring cast growing up before us, this was an audacious undertaking and a serious achievement. I think only the three-phase Marvel Cinematic Universe over the past decade has been a bigger controlled production to navigate.
Incidentally, is there a school of thought that Harry is Snape and Lily’s secret lovechild? I thought that’s the direction we were headed, which would equally explain Harry’s parseltongue and the Sorting Hat’s Slytherin inclination. It also turns Snape’s “your father was a swine!” outburst into an expression of guilt. Perhaps just wishful thinking on my part.
Having discussed character arcs, Harry is the other exception. His growth was pretty minimal – he accepted responsibility and confronted his own death. But then bravery (or foolishness) was a character trait from the start. Mostly he just continued being ineffectual. Even at the end it was really Neville that ended the final battle.
I’m supposed to have a favourite film, aren’t I? I think it’s still The Prisoner of Azkaban. At the time it was that Alfonso Cuaron pushed the series forward in terms of filmmaking, but I think it also tells the best self-contained story before the overarching Voldeplot takes over.
So, this has been a fun experiment. It’s a slightly exhausting way to watch a movie but I hope you’ve all enjoyed this first cycle of Reeltime. Feel free to offer feedback on what you liked or disliked so that I can improve the commentary in future.
And now I’m off to read some fan theories explaining how the prophecies are really all about Neville because, really, if he can pull off that cardigan then what can’t he do? Well, Luna, probably. He got as far as sitting near her by the end…
Reeltime will return…