JT Film Review

122 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Harry Potter and the Death Hallows Part 2

4.5/5 stars

Director – David Yates

Cast – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Cirian Hinds, John Hurt, Bonnie Wright, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, Jason Isaacs, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton

——————–

– follows Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

– followed by fan dejection

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Let’s take a moment to review the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the concluding chapter to the series, and as such we can not help but take into account what has come before.

The Potter series was launched in 2001 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone, depending which side of the pond you are on.) It continued throughout the decade, attracting more amazing actors (the call sheet reads like a role call of important British actors of the last two decades), and increasing critical acclaim. There are precious few other franchises that can boast such great respect, such box office numbers, such a great cast, and such a large fan base. There are no others that can do that with EIGHT movies. There is certainly a case to be made that Harry Potter is the greatest film franchise of its sort. The characters have becoming pop icons, and, more importantly, have grown significantly throughout the series. After a decade of films, with which many of us have grown up, the final movie is upon us…

…which brings us back to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which of course is the grand finale. It is a very good movie, and one that certainly ends the series on a good note. (It is also the best reviewed movie of the series so far according to Rotten Tomatoes.) In fact it might be my favorite of the series as well, although I do enjoy the underplayed and muted quality of the fifth one, The Order of the Phoenix.

Story-wise, Harry Potter and friends have collected and destroyed half of the “Horcruxes”, items into which ultimate bad guy Voldermort has deposited parts of his soul. They narrow their search to Hogwarts Castle, during which Voldermort essentially lays siege to it. While the walls are crumbling down the Order of the Phoenix, the school’s staff, and students try desperately to mount an adequate defense.

People die here, completing the 180 degree turn the series has made since the first, ever-so-innocent Chris Columbus films. Actually, to do it justice I should say people  drop left, right, and centre. One of the movie’s biggest successes is how it deals with these deaths. We are not shown most of them dying, but only realize they have fallen when we see a lineup of bodies in a makeshift morgue. This under-dramatizes it all wonderfully, and it packs a greater punch because of that. When we are shown a death it surprises us, coming utterly out of the blue (at least to those of us who haven’t read all of the books.) Again, this packs a great punch.

One thing which I will criticize the movie for (and really any of David Yate’s Potter movies) is its random lack of attention to detail in some places. Seemingly important plot points are sometimes rushed over, and it feels like we are being pushed at top speed through the pre-Hogwarts scenes so that we can see the big battle and big revelations that come from it. In fact the first third of the movie feels like that. One sequence in particular, where our heroes break into the vaults of Gringott’s Bank, feels tacked on, rushed, and absolutely inconsequential. It might fit in better if we view Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 as one move, but still, more needed to be explained. They end up stealing a dragon from the bank (as you do) and riding it to Hogwarts, only to randomly abandon it and jump into a lake. Why they do this is never really explained, though it felt like it was because to arrive at Hogwarts with a dragon would present story problems. (Though who among us wouldn’t want to see a Vodlemort vs. Dragon fight, eh?)

The previous films have taken such good care of the characters that I was surprised that the ending felt so rushed as well. The example that is often quoted is that they didn’t want an ending like Return of the King, which is often criticized by other for having “too many endings”. Personally, I would have wanted more resolution. Instead of the movie ending a couple minutes after the big climax, I wanted to see what happens after in the characters lives (and I don’t mean a short “19 years later” epilogue”.) Maybe we could have been shown a glimpse of Hogwarts School being rebuilt? Of the mourning the characters surely must have to go through, what with so many deaths of important characters? It was all over much too quickly.

However most of the movie hits the nail right on the head, especially when the battle starts (which takes up most of the final two thirds of the movie). In Deathly Hallows Part 1 the action was cut much too quickly and was over too quickly to understand what happened half of the time. Here though it is carried out well, not cut too fast, but not too slowly either. (In fact we even see in a few of the dialogue scenes that director David Yates has figured out how to move his camera for good effect, something which he annoyingly seemed to resist in the last two Potter movies.)

When it comes to standout scenes I of course have to mention the “Snape flashback” scene, which fully explains many secrets about our favorite love-to-hate-him character, and does it to great effect. He really becomes, in hindsight, one of the great tragic figures of the series. Another scene I would mention is the “Resurection Stone” scene, in which Potter asks the ghostly figures of his parents and dead friends to stay with him as he goes off to what is surely certain death. It is probably one of the best scenes in the whole series; it is played with real delicacy and a deft touch.

So, Harry Potter has run its course. It has all ended, as the posters have been teasing us. That seems such a strange thing to write. It must feel for most of us who grew up with Harry and his story that a favorite TV show has been cancelled.  I know that’s how it is for me.

And now… we wait for the DVD…

OVERALL

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a great ending to one of the great movie franchises. It is emotionally rich, has very involving action set pieces, and by the end is very satisfying. The cast and crew who have stuck with this series is to be commended; they have created a series that is good in an artisitic sense and in a crowd-pleasing sense. Definitely highly recommended.

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TRAILER

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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July 16, 2011 - Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Fantasy, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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