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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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142 Comments

Noavatar-thumb

doggone!! I live in Chicago and I missed it!! I should have known, Chicago
is always the great test market for everything—-did they ask for any last minute suggestions?? It sounds really fantastic!! Can’t wait for July!!!

Posted by wanda1 on April 03, 2011, 11:20 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb

Why why does Hermoine get given the idea to ride on the dragon ? Can they simply not resist the apparent addiction on boosting Hermoine’s role ?
They continue to dumb down the films and-as has been said so many times
neither the producers or WB , care one one-hundreth of a per cent about the characters in Potter as did Jackson and crew in the LOTR.

Appalling !

Posted by Beazle on April 03, 2011, 11:29 AM report to moderator
Snape_icon3_thumb
319 Points

This is all I wanted to know. The Prince’s Tale has been done justice I am now at peace. Lol Although now I don’t have only Nagini to blame for Snape’s death….where did Voldemort learn Sectumsempra though?

Posted by Seviately ^HISS^ on April 03, 2011, 11:34 AM report to moderator
Harry_-_the_forest_again_thumb
149 Points

Beazle please !! Stop with the Hermione raging ! Sheesh !

This film is going to be fantastic !! It captures all of the important elements and the crucial scenes and lines are all there ! What more can we want ??? Extended Prince’s Tale is such a bonus treat ! Yay !!!

Posted by Hinkypunkmum on April 03, 2011, 11:42 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb

No I will not- if you think my complaints are too much-listen to Melissa on the podcast- she is horrified about the stupid changes. It is going to be dreadful-once again-they do not trust either the source material or the fans.

Melissa- you are 100% correct-and if the posters don’t want to know the truth about this awful travesty of a movie- than perhaps they are indeed too young to be worth worrying about and deserve the contempt with which WB have long treated these films and the fans of the book.

Posted by Beazle on April 03, 2011, 11:57 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
10592 Points

Where was Ginny?

Posted by Kristine *ROAR* on April 03, 2011, 12:01 PM report to moderator
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6352 Points

My favorite chapter in the entire series is “The Prince’s Tale”. Snape was such a courageous man, but only Dumbledore knew the truth about him. I’m SO EXCITED to hear this part was done so well for the film.

Posted by KB Prez [ROAR!] on April 03, 2011, 12:08 PM report to moderator
Harrycloseup_thumb
98 Points

Beazle, just don’t watch the movie! THE MOVIES ARE NOT THE BOOKS!! and besides, LOTR is very different from HP because New Line Cinema needed that series!! Plus the producers did an amazing job on the movies!! So if you’re bothered, just don’t go watch!! I just can’t believe that people are freaking out because Hermione said let’s jump on the dragon!? COME ON MELLISA!

Posted by HarryLoony on April 03, 2011, 12:11 PM report to moderator
Monty-python-black-knight-with-one-arm-off-794357_thumb
104 Points

Beazle:
" neither the producers or WB , care one one-hundreth of a per cent about the characters in Potter as did Jackson and crew in the LOTR.

Appalling !"
This made me laugh. I wonder if HP fans actually read any Tolkien when they say stuff like this. Peter Jackson changed a LOT of stuff when he made “Lord of the Rings” into movies! Guess what? The Elves didn’t fight at Helm’s Deep in the books. Jackson cut out a lot of stuff and there were tons that was different but they ended up good movies.

I always take it as a good sign whenever Melissa is disappointed from hearing details from a test screening because she always ends up liking the finished film. A lot of it is because the details of the report aren’t quite right In screening of DH Pt 1, she was annoyed when they said a Death Eater tries to Avada Kadavra Harry and kills Hedwig instead. Melissa goes “Aargh! That’s not how it was in the books!” Then you see the movie and it’s clear the Death Eater deliberately aimed at Hedwig.

Posted by Fastbak on April 03, 2011, 12:13 PM report to moderator
Monty-python-black-knight-with-one-arm-off-794357_thumb
104 Points

Beazle:
" neither the producers or WB , care one one-hundreth of a per cent about the characters in Potter as did Jackson and crew in the LOTR.

Appalling !"
This made me laugh. I wonder if HP fans actually read any Tolkien when they say stuff like this. Peter Jackson changed a LOT of stuff when he made “Lord of the Rings” into movies! Guess what? The Elves didn’t fight at Helm’s Deep in the books. Jackson cut out a lot of stuff and there were tons that was different but they ended up good movies.

I always take it as a good sign whenever Melissa is disappointed from hearing details from a test screening because she always ends up liking the finished film. A lot of it is because the details of the report aren’t quite right In screening of DH Pt 1, she was annoyed when they said a Death Eater tries to Avada Kadavra Harry and kills Hedwig instead. Melissa goes “Aargh! That’s not how it was in the books!” Then you see the movie and it’s clear the Death Eater deliberately aimed at Hedwig.

Posted by Fastbak on April 03, 2011, 12:13 PM report to moderator
Severus_snape__poster__thumb
792 Points

Squeeee!!!! YES!! They didn’t ruin The Prince’s Tale!! YESSSSS!! Awwww, that just made my day! XD I’m so happy!!

Are we gonna see…Snape…cry? =O

Books_chapterart_dh_24_thumb
39 Points

Fastbak
I think Beazle is making the point that Jackson actually cares about the characters and didn’t do anything that’s out of character.
Do you remember is 6 when Harry was written to just stand and watch Dumbledore die? Yeah, that’s massively out of character for him. The book Harry would’ve been up in front of DD, defending him. That’s why Jo wrote him to be bound by a spell.
Kloves, WB, Yates, they just don’t care about the characters.

Posted by Malfoyx14 on April 03, 2011, 12:29 PM report to moderator
Books_chapterart_dh_24_thumb
39 Points

HarryLoony
Yeah, why are people freaking about that? They should be freaking about the complete change in the final showdown!! That whole scene is gonna suck horribly. So, Voldy’s gonna chase Harry through the castle, Harry’s gonna knock them off a tower forcing Voldy to fly them both through the castle whilst singing “A Whole New World” and then the showdown comes and there’s no dialogue. NO FREAKIN DIALOGUE!! That is so messed up!!

Posted by Malfoyx14 on April 03, 2011, 12:34 PM report to moderator
Harrycloseup_thumb
98 Points

Malfoyx14

So you decided to deem the movie (worst ever) and the series (worst ever) based on A ROUGH CUT!? And the producers don’t really care about the movies just because they made a character do something that according to YOU won’t even think about doing?! You know the characters that deep while Jo doesn’t!? and she sees the scripts and approves them !? and you didn’t even see the finished work!? I really trust yours and Beazle’s judgment!!

Posted by HarryLoony on April 03, 2011, 12:50 PM report to moderator
Daniel-radcliff-how-to-succeed1-240x300_normal_thumb
683 Points

cant waittttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt a second

Posted by HalfbloodPrince08 on April 03, 2011, 12:58 PM report to moderator
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