Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Reviews
Easily the most action packed of the movies and in reality its just the final act of a very long movie. Watch part 1 before seeing part 2 just to make sure you have the set up all fresh in your heads.
From Rickman to Fiennes to Carter to Smith to everyone inbetween everyone shines, not just the big names Radcliffe, Grint and Watson who once again prove that casting directors sometimes get things right. If anything the casting of the Harry Potter franchise get a lifetime achievement award. Spot on across the board.
Deathly Hallows Part 2 was what we all wanted. From beginning to end we were given a ride that is for the fans of this series. If you are not, not sure whats wrong with you but move along. This is not a movie someone can just pick up and go along with, there is no emotional ties unless you have invested the time and energy into the entire series and than the payoff is magnificent.
The Harry Potter films should go down in history as a masterpiece of storytelling.
With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, we already had a fair idea of where we were heading, if not by the end of Part 1, then by the ending of Half-Blood Prince. Coming in somewhere between the dizzying heights of Alfonso Cuarón and Mike Newell and the disappointing lows of Chris Columbus, David Yates' instalments have had a lot going for them on a thematic or tonal level, but have also been hobbled by too much plot and a lack of weight in some of the main developments. Considering where the series began, the film is a triumph; considering where it could have ended up, the joy is much more muted.
Much like The Return of the King, much of Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is concerned with the characters' relationship with death. Even moreso than in the previous instalment, the characters find themselves in an endgame, where they are fighting against a seemingly inevitable outcome. Voldemort has never been as chillingly scary as Sauron, but in this film his desperation and panic over dying makes him more threatening. There are still times when Ralph Fiennes over-eggs it, but a lot of Voldemort's childlike fears of death and mortality are finally brought to the fore.
How precisely the film deals with death is quite a conflicted matter. As in the previous instalment, there is the seeming need for a lot of characters to be killed off simply as a means of ending their character arcs. Bellatrix Lestrange's demise is dealt with far too quickly to be satisfying, while more lovable characters like Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks don't get the screen time they deserve to make the appearance of their dead bodies carry meaning. Having invested so much in many of these characters, dispatching them so fleetingly - even in a war - is a bit of a kick in the teeth.
To put it bluntly, Deathly Hallows - Part 2 attempts to strike the same kind of balance that Jackson sought in The Return of the King, but is only partially successful in doing so. On the one hand, it acknowledges the need to show the scale of the war and the extent of the atrocities taking place; it's happy, in other words, to give us the Potter equivalent of the Battle of the Pellanor Fields. On the other hand, it seeks to be reflective and introspective, bringing the conflict down to the level of Harry's conscience and his final connection to Voldemort.
Given Yates' dodgy track record with action set pieces, it's no surprise that the Battle of Hogwarts' treatment of death is the weaker of the two approaches. The special effects are all fine - you won't find the same wretched over-abundance of CGI that you'd find in the Star Wars prequels. But while Jackson's battles had pacing and structure, with clearly defined yet unpredictable movements, the Battle for Hogwarts moves in fits and starts and isn't all that memorable. Yates tries to include as many of the little moments from the books as he can, but he struggles to link them all together. If the Battle of the Pellanor Fields is like a Wagner opera - big, bold, brash and often breathtaking - this is more like a high school violin recital: still impressive in places, but timid by comparison.
In its more candidly introspective moments, however, the film takes flight and we find ourselves bonding with Harry a lot more than we would if he was solely in the heat of battle. Both the dream sequence in Kings Cross Station and the all-too brief sequence with the Resurrection Stone give the film the space it needs to breathe, reminding us of the emotional baggage which Harry carries and why he is fighting in the first place. It's to the credit of Yates and his colleagues that such scenes are allowed to take up so much time, when in a standalone or franchise-launching blockbuster, they would be lying on the cutting room floor.
The visual bleakness which Yates strove for in Part 1 is reinforced strongly here. The entire Kings Cross Station sequence borrows heavily from 2001: A Space Odyssey, using white light in a way that is intrusive but also comforting in the context of the action that surrounds it. The whole colour palette is more washed out, with the blues and blacks of the Hogwarts uniforms appearing dusty and battered even before the battle has started. This at least gives a semblance of tonal consistency, linking the battles and quiet moments together quite well.
The other big highlight of the film is the revelations regarding Snape. This is one aspect of the series in which what might be called 'the long tease' has worked: we have been held in suspense successfully for seven films, still unsure as to who Snape really is or where his loyalties lie. The revelations are powerful and moving in their own right, but Yates plays a clever trick by letting them unfold as memories. By using visual images, such as the flower unfolding in Lily's hand, he avoids it just being another exposition dump, and allows Alan Rickman the space he needs for Snape's death to matter.
Much of the film, of course, is still concerned with the hunt for the horcruxes, which give the first part a sense of structure and progress that it desperately needed. There's a very nice sequence right at the beginning where Hermione has to pretend to be Belatrix in order to enter her vault at Gringotts and take Helga Hufflepuff's cup (a suspected horcrux). Helena Bonham Carter demonstrates her acting chops in this scene, not just playing another version of the character but adopting Emma Watson's mannerisms and vocal tics perfectly. The scene is slightly spoiled by Harry's use of the imperius curse, but we can let that slide.
Unlike the last film, however, the search for the horcruxes seems less essential as Part 2 rolls forward. This is partially deliberate, since the horcruxes in themselves are a plot device rather than an end point, but it's also an admission on the part of the filmmakers that people are only really interested in Harry and Voldemort's confrontation. The progress from one horcrux to another is still entertaining, particularly Harry's self-sacrifice to Voldemort in the woods. But being the last film in the series, we still grow impatient for things to get to the point.
Having finally reached that point, the film has some difficult decisions to make. The final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort has to do a lot of things to pass muster. It has to be visually impressive, giving casual fans who aren't encrossed in the mythology an indication of its significance. It has to capture the different attitudes of the characters towards death, contrasting Voldemort's self-hatred and fear with Harry's more philosophical approach. And it has to last long enough to make it seem like a big deal, but short enough to so that it doesn't drag, as happened with the 'climactic' lightsabre duel in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
Given the expectations of both fans of the books and people who have followed the films, it's inevitable that there would be some degree of disappointment. But the final showdown comes up short in all three parts, albeit by not quite enough to completely derail it. It's less visually impressive than the duel at the end of Goblet of Fire, and a little less threatening in places. The subtext is there if you look for it, but Yates is often too absorbed in trying to make wands a threatening weapon to bring it out in the build-up. And while it is better directed than George Lucas' lightsabre battles, it's ultimately too static and straightforward, giving the impression that it goes on longer than it does.
To an extent, the final duel sums up the film, taking characters which we have followed and seen develop, and putting them in situations which are somewhat underwhelming in terms of how they use said characters. Before the oh-so-controversial epilogue - a whole lot of fuss about nothing - we get one last example of this, where Harry decides to destroy the Elder Wand. This is more decisive and logical than the book (in which he simply buries it), but the film misses out on the chance to explore this dilemma in more detail, just as Harry's relationship with power was explored in Half-Blood Prince. We're not expecting moral quanderies along the lines of Genesis of the Daleks or even The Empire Strikes Back, but even a little something would have been nice.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is a partially successful means to bring the curtain down on one of cinema's most enduring sagas. The cast are generally good as always, and David Yates deserves some credit for having so much introspection in amongst the bombast of battle. It's a flawed beast, like all the Potter films, letting us down in many of the key moments and being lazy when it really can't afford to do so. But as a means to say goodbye to a beloved character, it's not without merit.
Nope, it's just as good as I remember it.
Old and new alike, even the smallest of characters gets their time to shine, as wizards, giants and all manner of magical creatures clash together in fiery engagement. And as for the deciding dual between Harry and Voldemort, let me tell you it couldn't have been any more perfect.
Truth be told, I was really taken aback. I just never expected it to be this amazing. Especially not after being so let down by the previous two installments. But gone now is sigh-inducing teen angst, and back is the magic I thought to be forever lost.
Emotionally omnipotent and breathtaking in the action, it's a battle of wills you won't soon forget. So as a last word to the captain of this great vessel, I just like to say the following: All is forgiven now Mr. Yates, for finally getting everything right. You started out good, became weak in the middle, but then eventually pulled out every ace in your pockets. And what a phenomenal redemption at that!
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Question: Any Harry Potter fans out there? I know dumb question but I have to start with something. I just got back from the final installment in J.K. Rowling's magical tale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and it far exceeded my expectations. Well done!
About twelve years ago I started reading the Harry Potter books and found them fascinating, entertaining and wildly imaginative. It was a world that I so wanted to visit again and again. Ten years ago the first of eight movies was in the theater. I was blown away with the leap from book to silver screen. The first movie captured everything and more from the casting, special effects and the telling of the story of the boy who lived.
The next six movies all did a fantastic job translating the tale but usually with a lot of details removed. That didn't ruin any of the movies but I was happy to know the deeper meaning of each film; and since this series of books landed on the best sellers lists again and again I knew I wasn't the only one privy to the extra information.
If I had reviewed the first seven movies they probably would have averaged 8 out of 10 for me. Each one helping us delve deeper into the wizardly world of Harry Potter. Every character, spell or creature compelled us to follow the path to the next movie (book). So today when my son and I went to see the final chapter I was a little sad to see it come to an end. However, let me say, they saved the best for last! WOW!!
I am not going to go into much detail like my other reviews, but I have to say that the final movie captured what I deeply adored about this tale: That love is the greatest power and what gives you the courage to face your fears. Many might not realize that this is what Harry Potter is about - they might think this is about good vs. evil, or learning to find your potential or just really cool magic. And, yes, those are a part of this wonderfully bewitching story but I always saw something more.
To me Harry Potter was always about something greater: Love. The love of a friend, the love of a family member and even a love from a far allows everyone to find the courage to live even when faced with the what looks like insurmountable odds. And with that kind of love sacrifice is an easy choice to insure this world is a better place.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 finally revealed many things that were never answered or answered differently in the previous films. The storytelling was perfect. I remember when I finished the book I lingered there realizing I just finished one of the best messages I had ever read, and the same thing happened when I finished this movie. In fact, I started this review not twenty minutes after it ended. I couldn't write it down quickly enough.
Now I don't think you should see this movie if you hadn't seen all the earlier movies. Sure you can skip reading the series but I ask: why would you? (My son is reading the books now and halfway through the movie he whispered to me "Mom, this is a 10 out of 10!" I smiled thinking the same thing.) Harry and the gang gave us a thrill ride and I want to thank them for a great time.
The special effects were spectacular, the acting was spot-on and the emotions it evoked brought tears to my eyes, several grins and even a huge chuckle but finally a cathartic sigh. It was a relief to know that the filmmakers took the time, respect and care to tell us this perfect tale - a tale of love. That is the greatest magic of them all, don't you agree?
My favorite thing: One character, who will remain nameless now, whose sacrifice was heartbreaking for me but probably one of the greatest form of love I saw on film.
My least favorite thing: not one thing!
Length: 130 minutes
Review: 10 out of 10
The "Twilight" phenomenon, for lack of a better term, also applies to this series of films. That they all were a commercial success is more a nod towards rabid fanaticism then one towards stellar filmmaking (although I will admit that this last film had some wonderfully seamless CGI).
I believe part of the issue here is that the books were so well loved - to the point where there are fans who know every bit character and would be disappointed if even the smallest of characters didn't receive his time in front of the lens. While this over the top fandom is nice (and certainly didn't hurt the bottom line of the film franchise), it hampered all of the films. Far too often a character would do what amounted to a walk on - often regardless of the pacing or situation of the film - just to satisfy the book freaks. For a couple of examples: Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix. She makes a nice appearance in Hallows part I, but then isn't really involved in part II at all (does she even have a speaking line at all, or do anything except cackle before being blown to bits? - and for this Carter gets major billing right below the 3 stars - wow!). Further, Maggie Smith is mere window dressing throughout all of the films until this last (as if to say - see, aren't we cool, we've got Maggie Smith in our films). But low and behold, Dame Smith finally gets to do something in part II - which is yet another reason why this one rises above the rest. It is full Maggie when she animates the guard gargoyles to protect Hogwart and then turns to an associate and admits with that so proper, yet with a gleam in her eye tone, "I've always wanted to do that spell".
In speaking about Part II in particular; as I've noted, the CGI is wonderful, the acting shows depth, as the main characters, especially Harry, have grown into the roles quite nicely. Alan Rickman is the usual perfect Snape, and Ralph Fiennes does a nice job of voice emoting through the mask of "you know who". I thought the pacing was good for the most part, though once again a bit too much attention was lavished on bit players (a tighter narrative for the whole series could have been achieved with the judicious exclusion of several characters). Personally, I rather enjoyed the White Train Station sequence (where Harry may or may not be dead). I just wish the White Room at the station had black curtains - and so would Jack Bruce, I'm sure. The conversation between Dumbledore and Harry contains a nice bit of metaphysics - Harry asks Dumbledore if this is all in his mind and Dumbledore replies, "of course it is - which doesn't mean that it isn't also happening in real life".
Really, my only major complaint in this final chapter is tag ending, which is totally superfluous and adds nothing to the story other than a happy ending (yet another bit of pandering to the perceived audience, I'm sure). The film would have been far better served to have concluded with the three friends (perhaps echoing the triangle that was the driving force for the entire series) standing on the bridge to the ruined Hogwart and, with backs turned from it, looking with determination towards the future.
Harry Potter is the end of an era.
Twilight is the end of an error.
Picking up where the first film left off, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 shifts into high gear and never stops, like a 130 minute adrenaline rush. One by one, plot points are resolved, leading up to a climactic battle as epic and amazing as anything in The Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars.
At the centre of the film is Harry's transformation into a selfless adult. He must make the ultimate choice, and only a man as brave as Harry Potter could go through with what he must do to bring peace to the world. He's not alone, however. His army - the entire school of Hogwarts - fights alongside him. Many lose their lives in the battle, and the film is not afraid to show the dire consequences of battle, or the painful repercussions of real sacrifice to achieve victory. There is no glory without pain.
The greatest thing about this series has been the impeccable casting. Everyone, from Maggie Smith to Rupert Grint to Michael Gambon to Alan Rickman, put so much work into creating their respective roles that you can't imagine anyone else in them. They get the essence from the books and run with it in their own way. How audiences have responded to these actors is one of the main factors to the series' success.
Every scene, every frame is expertly staged. The scenes, when edited together, create an epic scope of the world. The dialogue is written with care and attention to timing. It is powerful and weighty. Things are explained clearly, so that by the film's credits, the audience has received the closure they've been waiting a decade for.
It is sad to see this series end. It has been a great joy as a film fan to await the release of a new Harry Potter film every couple of years. Having said that, these films will be around for many decades to come, and I have no doubt will stand the test of time throughout many generations. This is the kind of rare story that touches upon so many universal themes and universal characters that it becomes its own kind of enthralling.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, David Yates, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, and everyone else involved in the making of this series should be forever proud of their achievement.
Nate's Grade: B+