[EDITOR'S NOTE: Fearless Sarah D. Bunting of Tomatonation.com is making it her mission to watch every single film nominated for an Oscar before the Academy Awards Ceremony on February 26, 2012. She is calling this journey her Oscars Death Race. For more on how the Oscars Death Race began, click here. And you can follow Sarah through this quixotic journey here.]
I haven't had much to do with the Harry Potter series; maybe one of these days I'll get around to reading the books, but to date, I've seen the films nominated for Oscars during the Death Races, and that's about it. …Wait, I saw the first film on a plane and liked it fine.
So, I don't have the same relationship to the story — or to bidding it farewell — that you might if you've read all the books and seen all the filmed installments, but the last chapter functions pretty well as both story and goodbye. The last hour lags a little, but I could live with that, because of how much it had to wrap up and put away (but the ultimate fight scene between Harry and Voldemort, played with the usual gusto by Ralph Fiennes, seemed like stalling after a while; in the end, it's two guys pointing very emphatically at each other).
But the pacing overall picked up a good deal from Deathly Hallows Part 1, and the effects looked great too — they seem to have matured along with the hero. The ride on the dragon and subsequent crash into the water, and the paintings on the walls of Hogwards scrambling to get the hell out of Dodge, looked like legends, one scary, one funny.
I make jokes about Harry Potter and the Compleat Roster of British Actors, but 1) it's not really a joke, and 2) Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Ciaran Hinds, and the rest make the HP tales seem important, but not self-important. A well-turned final chapter in a cultural moment.
No real idea about the movie's chances in the effects categories, although it could win Makeup.
Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity.com, and has written for Seventeen, New York Magazine, MSNBC.com, Salon, Yahoo!, and others. She's the chief cook and bottle-washer at TomatoNation.com. For more on how the Oscars Death Race began, click here.