Friday marks the beginning of the end for the Harry Potter film series, with the official release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 -- a flick my HP-loving twin daughters, age eighteen, have been anticipating for more than half their lives. But they managed to get a jump on the phenomenon, scoring a pair of coveted passes for a preview screening last night. The setting was marked by tension, excitement and high security of the sort they'd never experienced at a movie before. But they forgot about the minor hassles as soon as the movie began unspooling.
The screening took place at Colorado Mills, and upon their arrival, my daughters, Lora and Ellie, were given the search- and metal-detector treatment as giant security guards looked on, all to make certain they didn't have a high-tech video recorder on their person. Then, after taking their seats, the audience members were ordered to turn off their cell phones and warned that if staffers saw one out during the film, the user would be immediately expelled.
Shortly thereafter, one young woman dared to fish out her phone -- and approximately a microsecond later, a guard spotted her and barked across the venue at her to put it away. And this was before the movie started.
Finally, following an on-screen warning under the Warner Bros. logo that any copying of the images to come was against the law, the film finally got under way -- and for my daughters, it took a while to cast its spell. They'd both re-read the second half of Deathly Hallows in anticipation of the big event, and they felt the initial twenty minutes or so compressed several chapters in a way that would be fairly incomprehensible to anyone who hadn't just boned up -- and as fans of the book, they were frustrated at some of the story elements that were tweaked or sacrificed in the name of speed.
But then the magic took over, and they were suitably enthralled by the battle of Hogwarts and the final faceoff between Harry and evil Lord Voldemort. Obviously, they knew everything that was going to happen, but they were emotionally bowled over anyhow. Ellie reports crying four times and indignantly hushing an attendee who insisted on gabbing during one of the poignant scenes. And while the concluding sequence, featuring (spoiler) the surviving characters years in the future struck them as the teensiest bit cheesy -- they say Bonnie Wright, the twenty-year-old actress who plays Ginny Weasley, was aged mainly by what they refer to as "mom hair" -- they left the theater... well, not happy, exactly, but satisfied that a saga that's dominated their youth had been done right.
Oh, yeah: They've had tickets for a midnight show for weeks now -- and they can't wait to see the movie again.
More from our News archive: "In Values of Harry Potter: Lessons for Muggles, Ari Armstrong deconstructs muggles and magic."
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