Movie Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2
Saturday, July 16th, 2011 at 1:17 pm
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Directed by David Yates
Staring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes
Warner Brothers Pictures
Release date: July 15, 2011
If there was ever a review-proof movie, it would be this — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Honestly, if you haven’t checked out the Harry Potter film series yet, you’re probably not going to start with the final movie. By the same token, if you’re a devoted Harry fanatic, it isn’t like you are going to skip the finale. So as a film reviewer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a great chance to cut loose. I’m willing to bet that few subjects have been written about more than Harry Potter in the 21st century, so there’s not much I can add to the discourse at this point. I can say whatever I want here, and it’s not going to change your decision about whether you’re going to see this movie or not. So, does the Harry Potter film franchise go out with a whimper, or does it go out with the best bang since the big one?
This is of course the finale to a film series that has been going on for almost a decade. It’s the final showdown between everyone’s favorite boy magician, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), and his arch-nemesis, the evil Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes). Since the final book has so much going on, the filmmakers decided to split the film adaptation into two parts. The first part dealt with Harry and his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine (Emma Watson) searching for Horcruxes, items that contain pieces of Voldemort’s soul that keep him alive. This part deals with the gang finding and destroying the final Horcruxes, returning to Hogwarts school, and facing down an army of darkness.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 lives up to much of the hype surrounding it and is a fitting end to the series. The film has a good pace and hardly ever slows down from the start, as was pretty much expected. Of all the Harry Potter movies, this has the most action. The creators made the right choice in splitting up the last book into two movies, as there is no way that they could have fit everything in and still had a satisfying ending to the saga. As it stands, there is still plenty from the books that didn’t make it into the film. There are many moments that are skipped or glossed over that I wish had been expanded, but this mostly comes from my familiarity of the books. There were just a lot of things here and there that I had been hoping to see but where changed or left out, and I think most of these changes were to the detriment of the story.
No one can doubt the acting in the Harry Potter films. From top to bottom the cast has always been the strength that has elevated the work. The creators of the first films knew what they were doing when they plucked a small group of young actors and made them into stars, and they have proven throughout eight movies that they were worthy of taking on these roles. It’s sad to say, but Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint will always be known as the kids who played Harry Potter and friends. I believe that they will go on to success beyond the Potter films, but the reality is that when we see them in another role, we will always think of them as these characters.
However, there are plenty of other actors who have lent their skills to this franchise over the last decade. The older actors all get a time to shine in this movie, particularly Alan Rickman, as Professor Snape, who finally gets his moment of heroism. Michael Gambon is great in his small scene in the film, as is Gary Oldman. The scene stealer continues to be Ralph Fiennes as Voldermort. He is every bit as creepy and terrifying as he needs to be and lends the sense of menace that is needed to sell Voldermort as a legitimate threat.
I did have some problems with it, and certainly didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. The biggest problem I had with this movie is the result of the sum total of a hundred lost subplots and a thousand lost pages from the books. It is hard to separate my feelings about the movies from my feelings about the books. Having read the books, I can’t help but color how I feel about the movies, and as with most novel-to-film adaptations, the novels always come out the winners. And so it is with Harry Potter. There is a wealth of character interactions that never made it to the screen due to needing to keep the previous films to a reasonable length. All of those lost scenes come to a head in this film, as so many moments in the book relied on the reader’s connection to the vast cast of characters — characters that have never been as fleshed out in the films as they were in the books. There are key emotional moments in the film that I think rely on the viewer having read the books, and the way those moments are filmed never expresses the same emotional impact as they are carried across in the film.
The sad thing is, as much as this is an action-packed movie, I felt myself becoming bored for large sections of the movie. I blame a lot of this on the sound design of the movie. I’m not sure if it was just the theater I was in, or just how the creators mixed the audio, but the music is pushed to the forefront at times when I wanted to be surrounded by the sounds of the battle. This could work if the score enhanced what was going on in the scene, but the score is largely flat and uninteresting. I was disappointed that the battle scenes that I had pictured in my mind that did not live up to what was captured on film.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a decent film, I just don’t think it’s my favorite movie in the series. There aren’t enough character moments and the action felt a bit flat in my opinion. It is still a decent enough movie and is a great send-off to the series. I think my opinion of it will improve when I can watch it as a whole with the first part and the other films in the series. The acting elevates the action, as it has done throughout the entire series. It’s kind of sad to think that there won’t be any more Harry Potter films coming out, but I’m willing to bet many fans of the series have already gotten over that since there also won’t be any more books coming out.
I’m giving this a 3 out of 5. By the time you read this, you have probably already seen this movie, or already have plans to, so don’t let any score dissuade you from seeing it. You’ve seen all the other movies already, so you’re not going to miss this one. If you haven’t watched any of the movies yet, don’t be afraid to go back and watch them. All in all, they are a great set of films and shouldn’t be missed.