Posted on 1/23/12 07:59 PM
My 49th review, and I did see the final Potter on opening day, but have been too busy to do a write-up until now. Though, I suppose, that's a good thing, as it allowed me time to reflect before putting my opinion out there, (some reviews I'm seen for this read like twelve year olds hopped up on Monster... and blogging). I suppose that can happen with big emotional conclusions, but curiously, my opinion has not changed since I saw it almost a week ago, (or two, or whenever this actually gets posted).
I know I already gave some context as to my position on the Potter universe in my review of Part one, but I'll go back over it briefly. I was a fan of the books back when they were released, (enough to pick-up the last two when they hit shelves at midnight). The films in my view have ranged a great deal from terrific, (The Prisoner of Azkaban), to plain bad, (The Goblet of Fire). I had kind of gotten tired of the film adaptations when Deathly Hallows Part 1 came out last year. But it did a really terrific job taking advantage of the two-part split to both fit more plot from the book in than any previous film did, and actually make it all come together in a legitimately dramatic whole. So, ever since, I have been majorly anticipating the follow-up much more than any other entry in the series, as it had the chance to the same thing, only with the added advantage of being... well an epic, earth-shattering climactic ending. Did it deliver?
It hardly seems worthwhile to summarize the plot, as this film really has none by itself. The three protagonists are still hunting Voldemort's horcruxes, and to do this, they must return to Hogwarts, give their position away intentionally right away, (before finding the last few horcruxes!), and effectively cause Voldemort to bring an army to attack Hogwarts,
(real smart Harry).
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The film starts out with some interestingly slow scenes, involving Harry and the gang planning to infiltrate Gringotts, (the wizard bank), to find a horcrux locked away inside. This is all fine, but the actual Gringotts sequence is one of the most poorly handled in the series.
First off, there are all these obvious and cheesy cliche's:
-A goblin under the Imperius curse, (which in this film, makes people seem wasted), happily wandering in to the line of sight of a dragon and getting burned to a crisp.
-Hermione falling to the floor of the cavern, breaking her fall just long enough to get a clear shot of her cleavage and then hitting the floor.
-A character uttering a line like "I never said I'd get you out!"
Everything about this scene just felt off, and there was no tension or arc at all to it. It seems as though they just tried to get it out of the way as quickly as possible to spend more time on the final battle. Anyways, this all sort of took me out of it early on, so I was less open to what came after that point.
I can't really go into much more detail, (I don't want to write a whole review on that scene). So now I'll talk about some of the things this film does right...
There's much better action in this film than any of the previous ones. I thought Part One was the first to adequately convey the intensity that should come with wand-dueling, and this one certainly takes it to the next level, simply because there's more going on to show. But for the most part, that's what this Part is: lots of wands flashing around and different structures crumbling. Once things get started, there's not really much plot to accompany it, a lot of things just... happen.
The other thing done really well is the memory sequence three quarters in, (which I absolutely won't go into detail about). But without giving anything away, it is an extraordinarily acted and quite emotional scene.
Throughout the battle I felt there were a lot of missed opportunities, (moments from the book that could've been just as effective on screen). Now I know the issue with all these movies is how much you actually can fit in... but this is the shortest of the films. Being the last one, why not go all-out? A fair few of the characters could've gotten a much more fitting send-off, had they had the benefit of just two minutes. But in the end, the climax is reduced almost entirely to Harry and Voldemort doing their wand-connection thing for the fifth time, (the conclusion of which I think everyone saw coming), rather than those moments that could've been much more shocking and emotionally wrenching, (like Dobby in part one). I could go on about problems, but I won't.
The aforementioned climax has been heavily cinematized, (stretched out) to be more theatrical, much in the way the Dragon battle in the Goblet of Fire was expanded upon for dramatic purposes. I actually don't mind this, because it was a little too short in the novel, (even this version made Harry into a world-class duelist overnight). The highlights of the battle, (much like in the book), are the moments where Minerva Mcgonnagal and Neville finally get their chance to shine, (Maggie Smith has been so under-used over the course of the series).
And finally the performances:
The standouts are clear right off the bat. Alan Rickman is absolutely spell-binding, (sorry) as Snape. Maggie Smith is wonderful as Professor Mcgonnagal. And Raph Fienes is something close to brilliant as Voldemort, (he really plays a lot of levels in this one.
But in the midst of all the supporting performances, the leads take a hit. Daniel Radcliffe is still good. But Emma Watson is given practically nothing to do as Hermione this time around. And apart from scoring a few laughs here and there, Rupert Grint is just in the background too. I loved all the quiet interactions they had together in Part One, and here they don't really get to do anything as a unit, as they always have previously.
Overall, I was expecting a mind-blowing finale to the series. What most of the previous films suffered from was a feeling of incompleteness, which I thought had been finally overcome with part one. But unfortunately, it's back here. There are plenty of plot elements that show up and then don't get developed, and other times the characters all know something that hasn't been revealed in the film, they essentially rely on the audience having read the book to fill in the blanks.
I still enjoyed this final film, but overall it feels a bit rushed, and in some ways plain generic. The film does what it does well enough, but it could've done a whole lot more within a reasonable enough running time. 7.5/10