Pottermania has gripped the teenage world once more. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, the latest film based on the books by JK Rowling and the penultimate part of the saga, was released a couple of weeks ago with all the usual fanfare, and within a matter of hours of its opening in Dubai, my Facebook home page was littered with a million posts all along the lines of "OMG HP was so epic"!
Though I find the books highly readable, I don't think that any of the movies have done true justice to them, big budget and clever computer effects or not. That doesn't mean I haven't been trying to make time to get to the cinema and see the thing. Surprisingly, I thought, we managed to get tickets quite easily; I had expected more of a queue and the cinema to be bursting with people, but our row happened to be devoid of other people. This was probably because it was just us "sad outcasts", as a classmate laughingly put it, who hadn't rushed to the cinema to grab tickets as soon as the film was released.
Armed with towering stacks of popcorn, nachos and jumbo-sized packs of Maltesers, we made our way to our seats rather precariously. (Apologies to the rather surprised-looking man in the aisle seat we spilt popcorn on.) Since we had waited for this film for so long, I for one was almost bouncing up and down in my seat, tipping out nachos everywhere, as the movie began with the characteristic dark, foreboding opening credits and music we've come to expect.
It's strange how suddenly the three heroes of the film seem to have grown up; it makes you realise how much older you are since the first Harry Potter movie was released, which doesn't seem too long ago. Somehow I still pictured Daniel Radcliffe as the thin, shy-faced child he was in The Philosopher's Stone. Rupert Grint has developed his own distinctive style of humour and acting, while Emma Watson has gone from a bushy-haired bookworm to a strikingly pretty young woman.
The Weasley twins were gloriously entertaining in the few scenes they featured in, although the focus was clearly on the young wizard protagonist and his relationship with Ron and Hermione. The first couple of Harry Potter movies would not have been out of place as birthday treats for small children, but the makers have clearly expected their audience to mature with the heroes and heroine. While Harry makes plain where his affections lie at the beginning of The Deathly Hallows, with a long, fervent kiss shared with Ginny Weasley, there is also a scene with Hermione in the middle of the film, which sets the cat among the pigeons somewhat. You can't help sympathising with the sometimes-pathetic but always-droll Ron, with his crush on Hermione soured by his jealousy of Harry, whom he often believes is preferred by Hermione over himself. We couldn't help sighing "Aww" in unison every time Ron put his arm around Hermione, much to the annoyance of the people sitting in the row in front of us.
The film lasts a fairly long two and a half hours, which might have started to become a little tedious if you weren't made to leap wildly out of your seat every few minutes when a predictably loud but still frightening bang occurred after a moment or two of relative calm.
Maybe it's just me who likes everything to have a fairy-tale ending, where the evil man is killed and the prince and the princess live happily ever after, but it infuriates me that part one's ending was so unresolved, with Harry only having succeeded in a small part of his quest to overcome the noseless Lord Voldemort. The plot resumes again with the film's sequel - and final part of the series - which is released next year. In the meantime though, at least I can update my Facebook status and join the ranks of all the "normal people".
The writer is a 15-year-old student in Dubai.