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"Deathly Hallows: Part 2" Test Screening Held Today in Chicago; Leaky's Full Report Here (Updated)

DH Film
Posted by: Edward
April 02, 2011, 07:48 PM

A working cut of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film was test screened for an audience of approximately 400 this afternoon in Chicago, Illinois.  Leaky was in attendance and will be updating this post with full details, recaps, and information about this early cut of the last Potter film.  

Please note at the request of WB, we have taken out most of the big spoilers. There are still some small spoilers here but it is mostly what you know from the book, and our own opinion of what we saw on screen.

Update 2: Leaky's full text report on the working cut of the film is now available to read.  Enjoy!
This afternoon, I was lucky enough to be among 400 other movie fans to attend a test screening of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" in Chicago, Illinois.  Rumors had been circuiting around the internet about this screening, but confirmation that it was Harry Potter didn't come until just before the film started.  Since this was a working cut of the film, many effects and scenes were not finished.  At least 50% of the special effects were still in the CGI rendering stage, and green screens were visible throughout the film.  Also, a number of specific shots were title cards on the screen as placeholders for the full, finished shot or effect.
The film itself focuses on the battle to defeat Voldemort.  Three quarters of the film takes place at Hogwarts during the final battle for the school.  Hogwarts is torn down around us with the violence brought by the thousands of Death Eaters, army of spiders, giants, and dementors.  Even without all of the special effects complete, you can already tell how grand and cinematic the final product will feel.  The second half of the "Deathly Hallows" film is an action-packed adventure where good and evil come together for the final showdown.  The way Harry moves through the film, discovering what he needs to know in order to ultimately destroy Lord Voldemort is paced perfectly, even if the journey he takes is not what was outlined in the book.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint continue their high caliber of performances as Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the first part of the film, but Alan Rickman (Snape) and Maggie Smith (McGonagall) really do steal the show.  Snape gets to become a fully emotional character in this film, as evidenced via the phenomenal Prince's Tale memory sequence, slipped into the ranging and bloody battle for Hogwarts.  Snape is a heartbroken shell of a man when Lily is killed, and we see every level of those emotions in Rickman's performance.  The Prince's Tale scene is one of the best moments in the entire series, and stays with you long after you leave the theater.
The look of the film suits its mood and the kind of action which takes place; the battles are raw and dark, the lighter or tender moments are warm, and the glow of the Epilogue seems radiant after an hour of nearly non-stop battles, death, and destruction.
Following a short montage of Voldemort taking the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave, the film opens with Hogwarts Headmaster Snape observing as students are marched, in lock step, across a courtyard in the castle.  We are then taken to Shell Cottage where Harry, following the burial of Dobby, speaks with Griphook and Mr. Ollivander.  Warwick Davis does extremely well as Griphook and gets to truly flesh out the conniving goblin part of this role.  The film moves quickly onto the Gringotts heist scene, where we see excellent work by Helena Bonham Carter who picks up on Emma Watson's nervous sighs and mannerisms as she pretends to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix.
After the Gringotts heist, setting off alarms as they apparate into Hogsmeade, the Trio are beckoned inside by Aberforth.  Ciaran Hinds gives an excellent performance as Aberforth Dumbledore, and even manages to resemble and emulate Michael Gambon's Albus Dumbledore.  Hinds' scene at the Hog's Head is chilling as he delivers a monologue to Harry, trying to convince him of Albus' uncaring actions towards Harry.  All the while, the portrait of Ariana sits over Harry's head, observing the scene before being sent off to retrieve Neville and reveal the passageway into Hogwarts.
While Harry searches for the Grey Lady, with some sage advice from a surprisingly forceful Luna, McGonagall and the other teachers secure the school.  Smith does a top job here, commanding the Knights of Hogwarts to defend the school... a spell she almost giddily admits to being one "[she] always wanted to do..."  A forcefield of protection domes the school, which, we later find out, has the power to disintegrate Death Eaters on contact. 
For the last hour of the film we are taken along a series of interconnected journeys and battles that are mixed in with flashbacks and mind connections between Harry and Voldemort.  It is truly impressive to see how so many different characters and sequences are tied together.  Nothing in the last hour felt either sloppy or pieced together.  It flowed so well it was as if you were panning around the castle seeing elements of everything happening at once.  There are flashes of Percy Weasley, Trelawney, Sprout, and other familiar faces fighting alongside the Order.  The entire last act truly feels as epic and thrilling as you'd want it to be.   A particular highlight is when Aberforth casts a mega patronus over the castle and grounds to repel a swarm of Dementors that are about to envelop the castle.
In a change from the book, a number of shots were added to the memory scene showing Snape at Godric's Hollow, discovering the dead bodies of Lily and James.  Snape falls to the floor upon seeing Lily's body, and then cradles her in his arms, sobbing, as the year-old Harry Potter looks on from his crib.  Rickman's scenes with Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) also hit the mark, showing the backstory of Dumbledore's search for the horcruxes and Snape's love for Lily.  Young Snape, Lily, and Petunia have been cast perfectly as well... even young James Potter seems to have been captured the way Snape's character remembers him from the book.
In Snape's death, Rickman gives a chilling performance along with Ralph Fiennes, who goes on a Death Eater killing spree as he learns the last bits of his soul are being systematically destroyed. 
As mentioned above, the Prince's Tale memory is the emotional high point for the entire film series.  It flows beautifully among the battle going on around Harry, and allows for a quick breath and dose of reality for Harry.  Lasting for about six minutes, the sequence was set to the temporary score of "Dumbledore's Farewell" from "Half-Blood Prince" which worked beautifully in this edit, even though it is sure to be changed for theatrical release. 
In the category of 'applause and cheers moments' falls Bellatrix's duel with Mrs. Weasley.  "Not my daughter, you bitch" is delivered exactly how one would imagine it, and their fight atop a raised platform in the Great Hall is a momentary show stopper.  This is juxtaposed with the heartbreaking moments when we realize that Fred, Tonks, and Remus have all been killed.
J. K. Rowling's source material is used nearly verbatim in the forest scenes. The film maintains the illusion that Harry is dead until he leaps from Hagrid's arms in the Hogwarts courtyard. 

The final battle between Harry and Voldemort spans the last fifteen minutes of the film, which is intercut with Ron and Hermione's attempts to kill Nagini.  They do not deprive Neville of his moment, however, who stands up to Voldemort and gives a rallying cry to keep fighting for Harry even after it is thought Harry is dead.  Neville steps in to kill the snake seconds before it is set to pounce on Hermione and Ron.
Harry and Voldemort's final duel is as wide-ranging and epic as the rest of the film's action. 
Following the screening I was able to speak with David Heyman who commented that they may tweak some elements for the sake of clarity, such as the succession of the Elder Wand occurred in the story.  These alterations, Heyman said, could happen in a flashback or memory sequence.
The working cut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" showed the talents of the filmmakers and actors involved in the creation of this film, even without every element being 100% complete.  I can only imagine how much more amazing the finished cut will be when it premieres in theaters this July.

Update: A special episode of PotterCast is now available on iTunes and via this link talking, in detail, about this early cut of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film.

Here is a preliminary bullet-point list of the main points from the screening [Please note that WB has requested that we remove the major spoilers from this article, so our point-by-point summation has been removed. Please see our slightly spoilery review above.]

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31 Points

A few words about Harry’s (or, well, in that case, non-) reaction while/after Dumbledores death in HBP. I can understand that they put it the way how it ended up in the movie – the situation from the book seemed for me not really realizable, as it would have meant, that Harry was standing around the whole time like a stick. It works in the book, yes, because Rowling describs how Harry feels, but in the film – and here I’m sure – it would have been hard to know for the audience what Harry felt while standing transfixed like a stone. And I think they handled that pretty well with making Harry believe that Snape would rescue Dumbledore, so Harry obviously thought everything was going to be fine.

Anyway, I’m so excited about this finale one. What I’ve read from the viewers of the testscreening (so jealous!) sounds like a pretty awesome and perfect movie/ending for the series. Sadly, July 15 is still so far away. ;)

Posted by Quid Agis on April 03, 2011, 03:11 PM report to moderator
1122 Points

yep.. bringing a towel to the cinema.. ^^,

Posted by ykaitot on April 03, 2011, 03:29 PM report to moderator
363 Points

OH I just cannot wait to see it!

Posted by Brigid on April 03, 2011, 03:40 PM report to moderator
10268 Points

Hoards of Death Eaters, really? Somebody has been saving them up? I think you mean ‘hordes.’

My main reaction to all this is great relief that the film apparently does full justice to the Prince’s Tale. I expect that I’m not going to like the dragged-out Harry/Voldy duel very much. It sounds like only true believers who have already read the books multiple times are going to come away understanding what all the hoo-ha about the Elder Wand was all about.

Oh, and there was mention of McGonagall animating the suits of armor, but nothing about her rampaging army of desks. It may have been only a throwaway line, but I was quite fond of that image and will be sorry not to see it onscreen.

Posted by WeenyOwl {The Human Deluminator} on April 03, 2011, 03:48 PM report to moderator
104 Points

beazle: "My complaint-as was Melissa’s was not based at all on so called “book purity” which is irrelevant when one speaks of a film. What the complaint really concerns is the lack of respect for the source material (come on, Harry and Volde wrestling off a cliff ala Holmes and Moriarty or Raiders III !) and the implicit lack of respect for the core audience by as one of the podcasters said “Turning an adult book into a little kids movie”

And don’t get me going on Lord of The Rings, the producers of which and the cast and crew, formed a close alliance throughout the making, with the “one ringers” fan group / website (Leaky equivalent) leading up to the big night when they shared their 12 Oscars at THEIR party and not the posh Vanity Fair party !

Thats what I call love of the core fan base. And then, the crafted beautiful extended length versions of their films -mainly for the core fan base.

So, please, please- don’t embarrass yourself by trying to say WB care even the slightest about us compared to Jackson and crew."

Okay what are you actually complaining about? Faithfulness to the books or whether you get invited to a party?

Posted by Fastbak on April 03, 2011, 04:12 PM report to moderator
4208 Points

I am so glad that Alan Rickman finally gets a chance to cut loose. He is an amazing actor and played Snape so well so far! I am delighted that we get to see Maggie Smith in battle. I hope they leave Trelawney and her crystal balls in the fight scene too.

Posted by Fresca ROAR on April 03, 2011, 04:26 PM report to moderator
4852 Points

Ok. There is NO WAY I am reading this! I must restrain myself….must restrain myself…..must….not….read……

Posted by #1 Witch ROAR! on April 03, 2011, 04:35 PM report to moderator
2408 Points

That PotterCast was so funny. How angry Melissa got actually calmed me a little but because it was just so funny listening to her groan and squirm, it actually made me feel better in a weird way. I just really hope I enjoy this movie and it brings me full circle to how I felt about the 1st one. Just as long as I feel the film series ended well I’ll be ok. I always saw them as adaptations anyway.

I was over the moon the way the book series ended. I just hope they can do the same for their film series

Posted by KiwiMcI on April 03, 2011, 04:41 PM report to moderator
2408 Points

@Fastbak “Okay what are you actually complaining about? Faithfulness to the books or whether you get invited to a party?” hahahaha hilarious, I’m with you!

Posted by KiwiMcI on April 03, 2011, 04:45 PM report to moderator
104 Points

“is it just me, or is no one talking about THE KISS? was it that bad?”

Here’s what’s been said about the Ron/Hermione kiss:

“The kissing scene between Ron and Hermione was sweet and fantastic!”
“The kiss was great. They just kind of mauled each other. // The kiss was great. They kind of swallow.” // “Ron and Hermione’s was good. They stopped, looked around and mauled each other.”
“The kiss with Ron and Hermione was sweet until Nagini starts chasing them.”
The kiss of Ron / Hermione …. they were with everything … it was not Harry, but the moment they decide to reveal their relationship to all a little later was very cute and appropriate.
How is the destruction of the Cup in the Chamber of Secrets? Pretty cool. Hermione stabs it with the fang and a flood of water washes over Ron and Hermione and then they KISS! // The kiss is hot but not as ‘epic’ as she personally hoped // about her favorite scene/audience reaction My favorite was the Prince’s Tale. Everyone was really engaged with the film. We all cheered when Ron & Hermione kissed, Bellatrix , Voldemort died. Everyone loved it.
“We follow Ron and Hermione into the Chamber of Secrets as they use the basilisk fang to destroy the Hufflepuff cup, after which they finally kiss. The theater cheered quite loudly.”
How was the Ron/Hermione kiss?
Kinda out of no where.. They just go for it lol. me:f**k yeah!
any cute ron/hermione moments besides the kiss? yes! they have like a couple hand holding/hugging scenes!
Meeting up with Harry post CoS
Harry sees them holding hands and Ron and Hermione look shyly at each other and Harry. Nothing is said.
Ron and Hermione kiss in the chamber of secrets after Hermione destroys the cup. Water rushes in and they smooch. They hold hands for the rest of the movie. Hermione gives Ron sappy looks throughout.
Is the camera angle bad for the kiss? Like do they just lean in or do they gold eachother.grip eacH other. Is it bad like the hbp kiss?
Actually, I think the camera angle was really good. full body, looking up.
They just grab each other and kiss. not like the hbp kiss. (ME—>THANK THE F**K GOD FOR THAT)
Not really RHr but apparantly the same music in the final scene of the first film will be played during the epilogue.Here come the floodworks.

Posted by Fastbak on April 03, 2011, 05:01 PM report to moderator

HarryLoony wrote-


Can you please let the others enjoy the remainder of our time with our series without complaints!? PLEASE!! "

NO- What is a public forum for other than the dissemination of sometimes conflicting views ? Often those views will coincide; but here, just like Melissa, I feel the changes are appalling and insulting.

Posted by Beazle on April 03, 2011, 05:33 PM report to moderator
1921 Points

Maybe finally someone from HP will win an Oscar. Judging from what’s been written here—and on mugglenet—Alan Rickman is terrific (well, of course he is!). I’d love to see him get a Best Supporting Actor nod for all the great work he’s done on the series.

Posted by izziewitch on April 03, 2011, 05:38 PM report to moderator
39 Points

Did I say it’s the worst movie? Um, I don’t think so. I said that SCENE sounds stupid! They are changing it way too much and Jo wrote it PERFECTLY. And in 6, Jo wrote Harry to have been bodybound so he couldn’t help Dumbledore. So you’re saying that Harry would just stand there and watch Dumbledore get murdered? Huh? Obviously Jo wrote it the way it was written for a reason. Because if you actually read the books, you’d see that Harry is sometimes irrational and very protective of the people he loves. That’s way he refused to many times to let Ron and Hermione come find the horcruxes with him; that’s why he broke up with Ginny. He would not have just stood there and allowed DD to be killed.

Posted by Malfoyx14 on April 03, 2011, 05:51 PM report to moderator
39 Points

I agree with you. It’s like they’re spitting on the book, saying, “This part would be SOOO much better if we add all this to it!”
They’re insulting Jo’s writing by completely cutting the dialogue between Harry and Voldy at the end and adding in chase scenes and flying and casting spells. _

Posted by Malfoyx14 on April 03, 2011, 05:57 PM report to moderator
1189 Points

Omwg, I am freaking out! This sounds amazing! only 103 days left!!

Posted by HalfBloodPrincesss (Jenna Evans) on April 03, 2011, 06:08 PM report to moderator
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