Saturday, July 16, 2011
My review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a 2011 film written by Steve Kloves and directed by David Yates. It is based upon the novel of the same title by J.K. Rowling. it stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Matthew Lewis, Dame Maggie Smith, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Gary Oldman, Timothy Spall, and Bonnie Wright. It was released on July 15, 2011.
This is Part 2 of the split-in-half Deathly Hallows novel, and the ABSOLUTE FINAL installment in the Harry Potter series. Yep, it's over. Done. Finished. No more. The End.
When we last left HP, the trio of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) were on the hunt to find the remaining Horcruxes so Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) may be defeated once and for all. The moments that lead up to the final battle are almost a time warp back to all the adventures the trio had in years prior. Many of the spells they learned along the way (whether or not they were permitted to do so) became crucial here. I won't give anything else away, because the whole plot is spoiler-filled.
Since director David Yates took over the series with Order of the Phoenix, I have been impressed with the approach of each following movie. Order of the Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows all went through massive story and dialogue changes to fit the story on screen. But the filmmakers managed to handle those changes as well as any I've seen. No matter the revolving door of directors, the respect for the source material remained.
It's been a while since I've read the Deathly Hallows novel, and I almost forgot how dark that book was. It is a mostly cold and bleak novel, and the films reflected that without completely falling into endless despair.
The acting was about as good as you'll see in any movie. That's not hyperbole, I mean it. I strongly believe Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint all can continue to have bright acting careers if that is what they desire. They're each good enough that they don't have to spend the rest of their lives forever defined by one role. That also goes for Bonnie Wright (Ginny), Tom Felton (Draco), Matthew Lewis (Neville), We got to see their characters grow up on screen, and now I hope the world lets them grow up in real life. Let Emma be Emma, let Rupert be Rupert.....and for goodness sake, let Daniel be Daniel! Please!
And as for the others? Fiennes, Rickman, Gambon, Walters, Smith, Isaacs, McCrory, Oldman, Bonham-Carter, Spall, and many others? Actors and actresses already distinguished, already famous, already successful, and yet here comes the Harry Potter series to introduce all of them to a new generation. More than anything else, the Harry Potter series is a triumph of near-perfect casting. It's hard to have a movie where so many distinguished get their moment to shine without the film getting bogged down. But they do shine, every one of them. And the film is better because it has all of them in it. We got to witness something special.
If I absolutely had to dig and find a flaw, I would note the same flaw the book has. The epilogue in the movie (and the book) seems throwaway. It doesn't really note anything we couldn't have figured out on our own. But honestly, it's a minor quibble. I'd put this finale right up there with the standard-setting fantasy send-off that was The Return of the King (which I do believe won the Best Picture Oscar for 2003). The Academy will do what it will. At the very least, I hope Deathly Hallows Part 2 is nominated. It's that good!
This film is, to be honest, a triumph of everything. You have a strong screenplay, strong acting, special effects that help display the vision but never suffocate the film, the respect for J.K. Rowling's vision, and the heart to carry it all. You have this because of a cast and crew that actually gave a damn about what they created. It's easy to tell when artists put their heart and soul into something, and when they're just going though the motions. When someone really cares about what they're putting on screen, it shows. And it definitely shows here. I truly believe this film (and the ones before it) deserves to rest on the shelf of all-time greatest fantasy movies (right alongside The Return of the King).
It's really over. It's hard to say that. I was a late-comer to the series (shortly after the release of the Half-Blood Prince novel in 2005), but I've been hooked since I turned the pages of The Sorcerer's Stone for the first time. It's hard to say goodbye to something so awesome. I feel lucky for getting to witness at least half of the magic (pun intended) in real-time. This film is glorious. It is a fitting end to one of the most successful film franchises of all time. We'll never see anything like it again. Don't miss it!
EDIT: I watched it in 2D.