Movie Review – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Over the past 10 years, we have been treated with a cinematic delight based off of a world-wide book series called Harry Potter.  In 10 years we have had 8 films based off the series.  In total, there is an estimated $7.2 Billion generated world-wide from this series.  Like all good things, there is an end to be met with this series.  It is rare to find a series of films that has grown with the audience over time.  Each film has gotten progressively grown up and dives deeper into the Potter stories.  It doesn’t compromise and turn them into kid fares, but rather the movies grew with their audience.  We watch a young Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson grow and mature before our eyes.  The young cast started out in a whimsical setting of Hogwarts where we were introduced to the world of wizards and witches.  With each movie, that bright luster starts to fade and the magic becomes darker and the character are no longer kids.

The final chapter in the series ends where it all began over a decade ago.  There is a lot invested in the final film of the series.  All the characters, all the stories, and all the buildup to the end is laid out for us in Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows.  I have been a fan of the series since the beginning and seeing this general progression in the series tone and subject matter is fascinating.  I have watch the characters grow older, the tone grow darker and that slow push to the final confrontation is what we have all been waiting for.  So does the final act of the series live up to the build up that audiences have been waiting a decade to see?  If you read the book series, then you already know what to expect.  For fans of the film, it is about having a solid closure to the series.  Overused phrase up ahead…lets make magic!

Plot Synopsis:

The final battle takes place between the denizens of Hogwarts and the army of Lord Voldemort.  Harry, Hermione and Ron must make their way back to Hogwarts and seek out the final horcrux in order to stop Voldemort from achieving his goal.  Voldemort is set to descend upon the school to squash the last bit of resistance that stands in his way between destroying Harry Potter and control the magic world.

Characters:

Having watched the main characters go from essentially teens to adults over the course of 10 years, their involvement with the series and their characters is touching.  They have lived and breathed their characters, understand their nuances better than the author and to evolve with the growth of their characters is nothing short of incredible.  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have breathed life into the characters that have touched numerous lives throughout their publication life and film run.  The final culmination in this movie had me engaged in their ultimate outcome.  It should be noted that the casting from the very beginning is what would make or break the movie.  To not change actors in any of the movies is a risky gamble and we have to be invested in with these actors from the go.  In this final movie, I sympathize and care about their lives.  They have endured hardships and you can see it in their eyes and see it on their faces that through it all, they stuck together.

But while most of the attention is on the three main actors, I have loved getting to see the side characters that inhabit this vast story.  Hagrid, Dumbledore, Snape, Neville, and Voldemort have all made their mark on the series.  A relative cavalcade of British acting talent has permeated every character and made for one of the most enjoyable series out there.  It is sad to see that some of their story lines come to an end in the final movie, but each actor has given their all for the series.

There is one final character I want to mention and that is Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort.  The titular villain in the Potter universe is amazing and often times overlooked by others as they don’t realize that this character has only been around in human form since The Goblet of Fire.  He has given the man who was only mentioned in whispers a voice and life.  I enjoyed watching him being a villain, one that doesn’t have any care of human life and whose only goal is to take the lunch money and life of a teenager.

Story/Direction:

Now I haven’t read the books or at least the final one, so my general insight into what they included or excluded from the movies is moot.  I am looking at this in terms of the progression of the story and what the ending was able to convey.  While I didn’t fully enjoy part one, it mainly lost me in its sense of pacing.  The time spent in the woods really just killed a lot of the momentum the early parts of the movie built up.  So coming into the final part meant that once they were out of the woods, the pacing needed to be tight and the story moved along to their final showdown.  Acts 1 and 2 of part 2 were some of the best parts of the movie.  There was a constant sense of dread and fear that they would be caught and that the battle at Hogwarts moved with frenetic urgency.  They knew what needed to be accomplished and they got the point across quickly.  The build up to the assault on Hogwarts and eventual attack was incredible to watch.  They laid everything out on the table and you are getting characters whom you grew up watching in the movies, meet their demise.

I have to commend David Yates for taking the helm of the final 4 movies and keeping the pace tight and the action very stylish.  Out of the previous directors that have directed the series, he has done the best in terms of creating the dark tone of the movie and capturing the essence of the films.  He has tackled the final book of the series in two parts and while the first part was a bit lackluster towards the end, this movie at least kept a consistent pace.  While the third act was a bit down, I did feel that the ultimate showdown was satisfying.  Not great mind you, but this giant build up to the showdown between Harry and Voldemort was a bit, well bland.  I won’t spoil the fight, but you know how it turns out.  I just felt the demise was a bit of a fizzle considering the other deaths that have taken place in the movie.

One last thing, the epilogue….laugh inducing.  I am sorry but just the final shots of the movie were funny and it wasn’t supposed to be funny.  It just looked like teens dressing up in older, adult clothes.  Like High School kids putting on a production of Grapes of Wrath and playing adults.

Visuals/Score:

Magic is no longer this invisible effect that we see.  The visuals have a life of their own and a spectacle in their own right.  Every flick of the wand produces a weighty sound and dazzling visual.  The act of blocking a spell even looks pretty sweet and the clashes of power streams has impact.  The visuals have always been this mix of realism and fantasy.  You have to take these spells and produce a visual key for us to understand that they are working.  The protective shield on Hogwarts looked gorgeous and the act of creating the shield was unique.  The dark setting of the movie is illuminated by the opposing spells, but all the action was a bit too much.  I found it difficult at times to discern who was getting hit and who was doing the “shooting”.  It doesn’t detract from the action pieces, but made it hard to follow at times.

The battles were incredible to watch though.  A giant, no holds barred spell casting battle was incredible to watch unfold on the screen and finally showcased the different styles of spells and how each faction uses their gift.  David Yates did a fantastic job with the visuals, making a unique battle from the pages of the book into a buffet of effects eye candy.

The score is familiar, as it should be really.  I mean we open up with that all too familiar Harry Potter theme and the score keeps pace with the action in a rush of orchestral movements.  The dialogue scenes and the exposition of Snapes role in Harry’s life is beautiful and moving, even managed to elicit a sniffle here and there.

Overview:

To look back over the 10 years worth of movies and the rich history of the series, it is sad to see it end.  While each movie has gotten progressively better and become mature in its presentation of the material, the ending of the series with Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows is fitting.  While the first part of the two-part movie was disappointing, I had to look at it from the perspective of sacrificing the first part in order to get us to the second part and the final closing moments of the movie.  It was a smart move breaking apart the final book into two movies.  While most people will see it as a cash grab by Warner Bros. there was a smart move to be had.  David Yates was able to use the first part of the Deathly Hallows to set up the story for the final confrontation.  Yes the movie could have been trimmed down and we could have done away with the time spent in the woods, but we wouldn’t have gotten all the setup for the last Horcrux and the motive to get our heroes back to Hogwarts.

I thoroughly enjoyed Part 2, if not for the action, but for the way it tied up all the stories and characters into the place where it all started.  Snapes whole story line was turned on its head and presented to the audience in a convincing and meaningful way.  Ron and Hermione finally end up doing what we wanted them to do for so long.  Harry finally gains the closure he needed with the final battle. I could have done without the very last scene of the movie is it kind of pulled me out of the moment of the film, but it was more fan service than anything else, which you can’t begrudge the film makers from wanting to appease the fans.

Overall I found myself pleased with what I have seen and think that the final chapter was a spectacular achievement in cinematic feats.  To take a series of novels, invest 10 years with child actors and banking on their growth throughout the movie as actors is incredible.  Everything hinged on the first movie being correct from the start.  We as an audience needed to sympathize with the characters and actors, believe in the story, and remain faithful through it all.  If you didn’t realize it, we all gave up our time over a decade to follow and grow up with these characters through each incarnation of the book to film.

Rating: 4/5

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

3 Responses to Movie Review – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

  1. Frank Bishop says:

    I have never been a big fan of the Harry Potter books or movies. I tried to get into them, but it wasn’t just my cup of tea. No ill will to the writer or her works, it just isn’t my thing.

    That being said, my fiancee loves the books and movies. We went to see Hp 7.2 and we both enjoyed it immensely. I liked it because it was mostly fighting. In my book, when wizards start throwing around spells and random awesome shit starts happening, I get interested. I would say this was the best Potter movie of the three or four I saw.

  2. Pingback: The 84th Annual Academy Awards « Another Plot Device

  3. Pingback: Movie of the Day – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 | Another Plot Device

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