There was much excitement when the latest Harry Potter trailer debuted last night. For one thing, it’s given us our clearest look yet at the film’s climactic Battle for Hogwarts. For another, it’s blooming exciting in its own right. Here are just a few of the high points that we spotted for discussion – please be aware that spoilers, inevitably, follow. If you haven’t read the book or don’t want to know what’s coming, read no further.
You might think it odd to open with a shot of a tiara (has Royal Wedding fever overtaken even the Potter-verse?!) but this is no ordinary tiara. It is, of course, the diadem of Ravenclaw. Rowena Ravenclaw was one of the founders of Hogwarts (and head, unsurprisingly, of Ravenclaw House), and this was her favoured headgear - which makes us think that she was a bit of a princess, as witches go. But of course that's not why it's here! Discovered ages ago by Tom Riddle / Lord Voldemort, her diadem became one of the horcruxes in which he concealed a part of his soul and thus protected himself from death. Harry has to find it and destroy it to kill Voldemort, but can he do so before He Who Must Not Be Named returns to claim it for his own?
You might think that this looks out of keeping with the rest of the trailer, and you'd be right. This is a flashback scene, and those two girls are the younger incarnations of Petunia and Lily Evans - better know by their married names of Petunia Dursley and Lily Potter. Yes, that's Harry's mum and his aunt, standing on a hillside in the sun doing magic with daisies. Well, Lily is; Petunia, not so much. And whose eyes are using to see this idyllic scene? Why, those of Severus Snape, until now best known for snarling.
Here we pick up with Harry more-or-less where we left him: outside the seaside home of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacourt, beside the grave of Dobby the House-Elf. If the film stays true to the book, expect Harry to spend quite a bit of time in this spot early in the film as he plans his next move with Ron, Hermione and Griphook the Goblin...
Speaking of shells, here's a sight to warm the cockles of your heart: werewolf Fenrir Greyback taking a hex to the chest. We're not 100% sure if this is part of the Battle of Hogwarts or part of an earlier scene where Voldemort rather loses his cool for a moment, but either way we can't say we're too upset about it.
Remember what we said about Voldemort losing his cool, after he's told that Harry and company have escaped from Malfoy Manor? Well, we're pretty sure that this shows the result: note Draco cowering in the background and a whole lot of injured / stunned / dead minions on the floor. The message here is: when the all-powerful, batshit-crazy, giant-snake-loving dark wizard receives bad news, find an elsewhere to be.
Here's a snippet from Harry, Ron and Hermione's raid on Gringott's Bank, with the help of Griphook the Goblin (originally embodied by Verne Troyer and voiced by Warwick Davis in the first film; now 100% Davis). Why do we say Hermione when that's clearly Helena Bonham-Carter? Polyjuice potion, that's why, which has transformed Hermione into the nutjob witch. If you look closely you can see a most un-Bellatrix expression on her face, which is to say that she looks slightly concerned rather than mildly demented.
OK, so clever use of polyjuice potion has landed our heroes in the Bank - but how to escape when the alarm is raised? Why, it couldn't be simpler! Harry just took inspiration from his school motto: Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus. Or, in English, never tickle a sleeping dragon. You just release the guard-dragon (wizarding banks have a better class of watchdog) from its chains and ride it to safety. Because when gigantic, half-mad albino dragons decide they want to leave, ain't nobody going to mess.
Remember before when we mentioned that we were seeing a memory of Lily Potter through Snape's eyes? Well, turns out that there's a connection between the two - which explains this shot of His Sinisterness visiting the ruined Potter house in Godric's Hollow, which you might remember from the last film. And really, if you can't even remember the most recent film, you might want to get one of those brain trainer thingies.
The nice thing about being a wizard, apart from the flying and the many household applications for spells and the hanging out with interesting beasties and the ability to hex people who really get on your goat (these wizards have it good, don't they?), is that you can call on unconventional reinforcements anytime that you're really under threat. Let's say, for example, that your school of School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is under threat from a Dark Lord and his army, and that you can only rely on a small number of people to protect you. Why, just call on the suits of armour, gargoyles and statues scattered about the building to come to life and throw their weight into the fight! It can't hurt, and it might just help.
This gives you a tiny taste of the Battle of Hogwarts: Kinglsey Shacklebolt, Harry and Hermione face off against their foes with backs to the already-ruined Great Hall of Hogwarts. Note the piles of rubble to either side and the blown-out windows behind them. Expect things to get nasty, and set designers to get positively upset at destroying such gorgeous and long-standing structures.
With all of that destruction, there will also come death. Here we see several red-headed figures bent over one of their own. If you've read the books, you know who that is. We're not even going to joke at this point.
Here we see Tonks and Lupin, reaching out to each other as the battle begins (we're guessing). In the book, they are married and sprogged up by this point: Harry is godfather to their son, Teddy Lupin. Thankfully, they leave the babe behind when they come to throw their weight behind Harry and co. in defence of the school. It's likely that the film will at least reference Teddy's birth - there was that truncated line early in the last film where Tonks said words to the effect, "I have great news everyone!" - before being rudely interrupted by Mad-Eye Moody. But whether we'll see much of these two remains to be, well, seen.
If you ever really want to start an argument, go ahead and suggest to a Potter fan that this bit, an addition to the film that doesn't appear to be quite based on anything in the book, is a tribute to Twilight: New Moon's cliff-jumping scenes. Go ahead: we dare ya.
Seriously, though, making the Harry / Voldemort face-off more physical, more wide-ranging and a little more long-lasting than the book will probably serve the film well, so this makes sense to us.
You'd be forgiven for having forgotten, but following Dumbledore's death and Voldemort's seizure of the Ministry of Magic Severus Snape became Headmaster at Hogwarts. This point, however, sees him "doing a bunk", as Professor McGonagall puts it, when it becomes clear that the other teachers are determined to take him down and help Harry to defeat Voldemort. We have to say, though, that disappearing with a swirl of one's cloak is a pretty stylish way to go, even by wizard standards.
Now the Room of Requirement can be many things to many people: by nature it changes to suit your need. Still, you may remember that in Half-Blood Prince it looked rather like a huge junk room, wherein Ginny Weasley hid the Half-Blood Prince's potions manual even from Harry (and stole a kiss from Harry while she was about it) and where Draco Malfoy found a Vanishing Cabinet that allowed passage between the school and its twin cabinet in a shop off Diagon Alley. In Deathly Hallows Part 2 it will once again resemble an enormous junk room, since that's the place where things are hidden and where Harry must look for the Diadem of Ravenclaw. But this time Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle are lying in wait for Harry and friends when Crabbe, never the brightest, unleashes "Fiendfyre" on the room. Voracious, unquenchable and prone to take the shapes of scary beasties, this is not the sort of blaze you want to deal with.
An aerial shot of the Hogwarts courtyard, which has been specially expanded in this film just to give everyone more room to fight. It's funny, isn't it: Hogwarts has been so consistent in its geographical inconsistency that it seems weird when rooms don't change around between films. And if you enjoy this scene in the film, raise a glass to Stuart Craig, who's the production designer who's made the films look so amazing; John Richardson, the special effects supervisor who made everything explode, collapse or disappear on cue, and Greg Powell, the stunt coordinator who tried to make sure it all happened safely. The behind-the-scenes types never get enough love.
About a week after Empire visited the set of this film (well, on one of our visits), this happened: the bridge across the valley below Hogwarts went up in flames and down in pieces. As The Rock would say, "Boom!"
We defy you not to cheer a little inside at this bit. That's Mrs Weasley, the calm, motherly presence at the heart of the redheaded Weasley family, finally deciding she's had enough of this nonsense and getting her fierce on. If you've read the book, you know exactly who that wand is pointed at and you know exactly what Mrs Weasley just said. Altogether now: "Not my daughter you bitch!"
Bellatrix looking a bit worried? First time for everything (apart from when she was actually Hermione). But then, she is duelling backwards on a table, and we happen to know that Helena Bonham-Carter actually fell off when she was filming this, so she's probably right to be concerned.
To be perfectly honest, this could come from one of a number of scenes. But it does show Ginny Weasley and her dad Arthur running forward (so perhaps a family casualty?) and gives you a glimpse of Neville looking heroic, which we thought we'd share because the formerly plump, formerly bit-comical also-ran of Gryffindor House emerges as a hero in this film, so hoorah for him. We won't get too specific, but if you're a giant snake, you'd be well advised to avoid Neville.
Here's a shot from the attack on Hogwarts, and we're guessing this comes earlier when Voldemort and the Death Eaters (which would be a cool name for a band, come to think of it) are battering the protective shields around Hogwarts in an attempt to get inside. We're guessing, in fact, that this shortly precedes the shots we've already seen of the protective dome over the School burning off. But July 15 may prove us wrong, and that's OK. We're rather looking forward to finding out, actually.
Fancy watching the trailer again? Head over here to enjoy it again!