Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)

There's not much I could add amidst the chorus of people who have already chimed in with their thoughts on the final Harry Potter film. as a culmination of the world J.K. Rowling conceived more than two decades ago, it's impossible to go into this film without prior baggage. In general, if you've been a fan of the last seven films, this eight installment should be plenty satisfying. If you were pretty ambivalent with the series so far, this film probably won't change your mind. With that said, what did I think?

It was a gorgeous film and I doubt anyone would say any different. From the war torn halls of Hogwarts to the fields that lay in Snape's memories, some of the set pieces were just magnificent. The visual effects, too, where something to behold. The dragon, the wand fights, the stone soldiers, all of it rendered perfectly so as to feel almost natural and organic, never distracting.

I'll get to the star of the film in a few, but I just want to say that Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman were two of the stand outs for me. Due to health reasons, Smith wasn't able to be in more of the latter films as she probably should've been, but she was front and center in this last one giving me my first tearjerker moment when she greeted Harry after fighting off Snape. And even though I wished Snape's narrative had been written more deliberately in previous films, Rickman expertly handled all of the emotions required from the character. And it was heartbreaking, every single moment. (Random confession: I totally thought the big twist would be that Snape was actually Harry's father!)

Speaking of the boy wizard, I personally think that Daniel Radcliffe has never been better than in this film. I'm not calling for him to be suddenly Oscar-nominated, but inasmuch as this was Harry's greatest moment, it was also his and he owned every single scene. The whole sequence after he learns everything about Snape and makes his way to the woods to confront Voldemort and essentially his destiny is such a beautiful moment because Radcliffe had to somehow express anger, disappointment, resignation, courage, fear, resolved, and sadness all at once and he does so wonderfully.

Of course the film wasn't flawless. The story of the Malfoys felt a bit undercooked to me and perhaps it's the same way in the books, but the way that family teetered on the edge of this war with only having one another for real support is so fascinating to me and I just wished they were given a lot more to do. The epilogue was absolutely distracting and in my opinion, utterly unnecessary. After all of the growing up the series had to do, why did we need a childlike "happily ever after" ending? Maybe I was just annoyed at the horrendous and uneven aging makeup the cast was given or the fact that Harry inexplicably ended up with Ginny in the end. Seriously? Did you see their kiss in this film? I'd probably have more chemistry kissing some stranger off the street. But neither here nor there since I know it's part of the books, but the film series has been quite liberal at how they adapt the novels, why not man up and end the film in its own unique way rather than going by the book? B/B+

If you want to read my conversation with my friend Aki on Deathly Hallows, click here.


  1. Yea! I finally get to read reactions now!

    I think some of the issues you discuss in this stem from a problem that all directors have to face when they're taking a book to the screen. Books are complex entities, and tomes of 500+ pages that need to be skinnied down into 2 and a half hours or less (give or take the credits) have to leave out a lot of stuff. It's always about subtracted the extraneous (though often wonderful) moments and trying to keep it to the moments needed for the plot structure. Added onto that, unless the director decides to have an audible internal monologue, the insights we get into why characters are doing things are a lot less clear.

    So... things like Ginnie/Harry (and I'm sorry, Bonnie is a lovely young actress, but this part never fit her after year one) are given more emphasis in the book, but did come out rather flat in the film. The Malfoys? Film both added and deleted stuff, including some interesting pieces of ambiguity (one of my favorites is Narcissa lies to say Harry is dead in order to thank him for giving her word of Draco, but at the same time scratches him with her fingernails... thanks for making playing dead that much harder, Narcissa). And then there's Dumbledore's kid sister, who I'd almost rather was left out in the film rather than alluded to so vaguely (whooooole big, complex, gray-toned story there). Same thing with Snape, who comes off as both more and less of a good guy in the books than in the films, as well as the epilogue, which is, I grant you, highly controvertial but I did appreciate the visual reference back to Harry's dream of a family in the Mirror of Erised, so I wasn't as horribly against it.

    Now... read the books so we can go into all the differences!

  2. @Meltha - Thanks for your thoughts! Much appreciated! And I will read the books! I swear.


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