Let me summarize that I very much enjoyed myself. Though I didn't walk out of the theatre falling over myself with alskjflk I loved it joy, I don't have much to say that's negative, because it would just be rehashings of my same old dull saw, that I found the last book something of a goofy mess. I think this film did very, very well with its source material, and that nearly every falling-short moment is a factor of the book's limitations. Let me focus on the good stuff first and I'll close with the negatives for anyone who wants to hang on that long.
My favorite parts turned out to be the beginning and the end. I loved the cold open, and the scene between Harry and Griphook was intense. I know we're all about the Alan Rickman performances in this series but today I'd give an award to Warwick Davis first.
Speaking of which, every performance was wonderful in this. I have loved watching, in particular, Dan Radcliffe make this journey through these movies along with fictional Harry.
I guess Wormtail did die at the end of last film? I didn't realize he was actually offed then, but since he became Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film I suppose he must have been.
Did Ron polyjuice or just magic himself up some long hair and beard in that Raid On Gringotts sequence? My god, he looked dishy. I actually looked away from Dan and from Helena Bonham Carter for a while, and that's saying something.
Wasn't the dragon a great effect? I kept looking at the pink skin of the thing, how fleshy it looked. Animation's getting more remarkable every day.
Kelly Macdonald! Ciaran Hinds! Oh, I love those two. Good use of aged makeup on Hinds, too. I remember when Ciaran Hinds was a Regency Role leading man hottie, I do. Wasn't all that long ago. Time to watch Persuasion one more time. And Gosford Park. Yes, AGAIN.
Hee, slightly-CGI'd Snape in his younger years. It was fulfilling getting to see all the moments of Snape's behind-the-scenes heroism. Snape saying very little in response to Dumbledore's question about whether he's developing feelings for young Harry, just flicking out that Patronus and leaving it at that, made my heart happy. It looked less like, "I loved Lily but I don't actually like the brat," and more like, "I remain devoted to her line forever."
The inclusion of Harry and Hermione's connection about his horcrux status--"I think I know, I think you've known"--was such a nice choice. I'm not sure the emotion in it measured up during the scene (your best friend's going off to die now, Hermione) but nonetheless I liked having that acknowledgement there.
Watching Neville kick ass was satisfying. I had no problems with the slaying of Nagini/destruction of the final Horcrux occuring as it did, but it looked as if Voldemort just fizzled out after that act, as if the destruction of the last Horcrux automatically killed Voldemort. And that robs Harry of his own credit at that last moment, which saddens me. In the text Harry won because he came to understand the loyalty of the Elder wand, and chose his confrontation spells with Voldemort purposely. So that was about the only film choice with which I disagreed. (Except, yeah, I didn't care for the send-the-Slytherins-to-their-room either. But even in the book the Slytherins were never redeemed, so. Fanon has done a much better job of it.)
I was pleased that in the aftermath Harry and Ginny don't go running joyfully to each other--it's not a time for adolescent kisses. Her brother's dead, and it's a time for her to grieve with her family, as they show.
MALFOYS R DOIN IT 4 THEMSELVES. I love how their "We are so outta here, Jack" makes them nearly heroes, on the relative scale. And how the moment that we didn't hear between Narcissa and Harry likely had a plan outlined in those whispers. Voldemort marching up to the castle in those early morning hours happens for just one primary reason and Narcissa knows it and Voldemort doesn't: it's the exchange of hostages, so to speak. They go there to get Draco out, because that's her price for helping Harry. Once it's done, that's why Harry makes his move. I'm not saying Narcissa manipulated Voldemort into going, but that really is, narratively, why it exists. (Who will gif AWKWARD HUG for me out of that Voldemort-Draco hug, once the DVD is out? You will make me so happy.) Lucius, I love you masterful, I love you scruffy, I love you defeated. You just do it so sexily.
The epilogue ended up my favorite part. Look, I have never been an epilogue-hater in terms of its place in the story, not at all. I think it makes a perfect narrative conclusion. As an active fanfic writer I just felt sad that JKR killed 19 years of room in which I could have played in her canon without violating anything, that was my only beef. But I loved the epilogue so much here. Harry as a father, this Harry's relationship with his children, particularly Albus, just ran away with my emotions. WOOBIE ERUPTION.
And Draco at the train station, oh, god, bless Yates/Kloves/EVERYONE. Draco acknowledges Harry with a smile. Maybe it's all we got and all we were ever going to get, but it was the director's choice to include it and it's still HUGE. A Draco who has a wife and a child and is allowed to mill about with others who are sending their children off to Hogwarts is certainly a defined creature; a Draco who will do all this and SMILE at Harry in passing has practically achieved good-guy status at the end of everything. He can smile without sneering, he can smile at Harry in particular, and it's the kind of smile that knows it would get a smile in return. They are not only at peace with their lives but with each other. Yeah. HUGE.
It did look like those two took up all the time of the makeup folk for that scene, though, so that the ladies got told, "Shoot, we're out of time. Eh, just dowdy up your hair a bit and try to act mature."
Had I been making the choice I would have allowed a moment's encounter between Albus and Scorpius, something to show the parallels of Harry and Draco's encounter, this time ending amiably. I really wanted them to pass each other in the train corridor, size each other up with a look, and then have a comfortable nod of "'S up?" as they go by. Oh, well. Still, I got that smile, and I'm not unhappy.
Now, for the harsh honesty: I thought the film did a great job with source material that had for the most part left me wincing in embarrassment. I wasn't wincing while watching this film, though my mouth had a wry twist at how difficult it was to hide some of the clunkers in the narrative. Snape's backstory comes at such a poor time, this huge infodump (mindbogglingly complex, too) interrupting the action that has actually had a decent chance to build, and Voldemort marching on Hogwarts with an army just seems the absurd culmination of a storyline that never made much sense to me. Who would actually have followed Voldemort in this way? Why was Voldemort escalated to look like he wanted to rule the world when his origins painted him instead as someone who just wanted immortality? So much retconning to build him up to this "I will march with my army" villain that just never fit. I was nearly laughing when the DEs arrive with not!dead Harry at the gates in the morning; it seemed so comical.
Harry's vision of the afterlife must have been a bitch to contemplate filming, in the middle of all that action and dark confrontation. Suddenly we're in clean sterile white Heaven Waystation, another jarring interlude that made me feel more like snickering than anything.
But enough of that. This is a time to be happy for everything that did work. Overall I thought Part 1 was a better film than Part 2, even if Part 1 is all setup. My favorite films of the series remain 3, 4, and 5. And my little Harry/Draco 'shipper heart emerges unscathed. Three cheers and a tiger for me.