Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

Overall Score: 7.75/10

And so now, the journey ends. Matched in equal measure with whimpers and bangs, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 concludes in a manner equal to that of the film series itself - just fine. Never reaching beyond into that upper echelon of greatness, nor being bogged down by the sorrow filled world of rubbish. They are compliments to the novels that gave birth to them, and little more. Solid compliments, don't get me wrong. They are in every phrasing exactly what fans could want. Unfortunately because of this, they often find themselves wanting.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 picks up right where Part 1 left off (I know - shocker), as Harry, Hermione, and Ron plan their next move while Voldemort comes to the realization that his greatest secret has been unveiled. The game of chess is in full motion, and now is the time for everyone to move into position before the end is truly at hand.

Perhaps the most joyous aspect - for me anyways - to return to this installment of the series was a delectably thick slice of dark humor which had faded in Part 1 of the films. A sense of light hearted cheese mixed into tragedy which was always one of my favorite ingredients of the series. So, with a sense of urgency the film glides (or jerks) us from scene to scene, working its way to the epic finale of epicness (to steal a tagline from Scott Pilgrim).

A finale which I believe fully captures the scale of Rowling's novel, but also drags in with it some of the lesser aspects of the book. That is - the deaths. So many colorful and lovable characters fall in this battle and yet, they are merely sideshow pieces. Shuffled off to the side and and only presented to us in the aftermath, which I have always found as heartbreaking as the loss of the characters themselves. In favor of a few cheap gags, and an increased battle presence of Neville (something I fully support), we lose out on those solemn farewells and are thrust into the cries "wait, they died? When? How? COME ONNNNN!" Not to mention the problematic 'wait, who was that?' in the quick cuts to show the bodies before just as quickly moving away.

However, lamenting that one part would deprive us from the overall scale of the final battle - which is quite awe inspiring. A beautiful array of neon colors flashing throughout the dark scenery just illuminates the tension and intensity of the event. With many of our favorite characters returning in a collage of background characters running, screaming, and fighting for their life. We recognize their faces, remember the scenes of theirs brought a smile to our face, and continue on to the next.

Which brings me to something I struggled with. The entire time Deathly Hallows Part 2 was playing, I couldn't shake this uncanny feeling that I'd been through this before. I did try, oh did I ever try, but no matter how hard I did, it just wouldn't fade. The memory of Matrix Revolutions. A big battle leading up to an over the top final battle with an obscure switch up of an ending, none of which really makes all that much sense. Granted, DH P2 is beyond compare a better film (in part because it has the novel accompaniment to fill in the gaps), but I couldn't help but leave both thinking the same thing - "there should have been more." More exposition, more time to say farewell to the characters, more time dove into the final battle. Forgive my greediness, but one cannot help what they want.

Of course, getting what you want and liking what you get are two entirely different things. And I did quite love what I got. The tragic tale of Snape (Alan Rickman + super makeup for the win), the lovable presence of Minerva and all the Hogwart's staff, the coming of age of our main characters, and Ralph Fiennes absorbing all the scenery with each twitch and panic. There's such an assortment of wonder and beauty to behold in this adaptation. An exuberance of cheer and loss blended with an enduring dedication to hope.

Which I believe is a testament to the unsung hero of the Harry Potter films - Steve Kloves. Kloves burst onto the writing scene with his 2000 film Wonder Boys, and has been riding high on the Potter bandwagon since. Tasked with the ungodly difficulty of bringing Rowling's vision to life, Kloves has survived the series four directors (the film for which he didn't do a screenplay was Order of the Phoenix - Yates first entry as director). Though of course a great amount of respect must go to the directors themselves. Yates, not the most talented of the bunch, found a way to please newcomers and fans alike with his darkened style. He knew his place and knew what fans wanted. The dark tones and nature of Alfonso Curaon's Prisoner of Azkaban and the character dedicated sentiment that was Mike Newell's Goblet of Fire.

It is never easy saying goodbye to something that has been with you as long as this, but like all things one must travel onward and like the characters themselves - look to the future.

Film Credits:
Directed By: David Yates
Written By: Steve Kloves
Novel By: J.K. Rowling

6 better thoughts:

Nikhat said...

Yes exactly! I felt horrible for the dead characters, and I also felt that there had to be something else. I also felt that the epilogue, if it really was necessary, should have been funny. Just a few minutes more, and the film could have been so much better.

Castor said...

I totally, wholeheartedly agree Ryan. This should have been 20-30 minutes longer. It just went by so fast! It really just came and went. I wanted to be pushed to the verge of tears, it to be more emotional! Oh well, it was still the only HP movie I loved.

Looking forward to seeing it back to back with Part 1 someday.

Pseudo 6-Man said...

As much as I loved the film (and I loved it a lot) I'm with you on the death scenes. If I hadn't read the books then I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have even realized that Fred died.

Simon said...

Joseph Fiennes? Silly Univarn.

Univarn said...

@Nikhat Since they split the films into two parts, I don't see why they couldn't have bumped it up to the 2 1/2 range.

@Castor The only film you love, eh? I suppose hat sounds about right. Which I think is a strong distinction from me and the novels. Several of them I really love, while most of these I enjoy quite a lot.

@Pseudo I was going to make that exact same point about Fred but I didn't want to give away too much. They really undercut themselves on that one.

@Simon Fixed - thank you for your astute catch, Simon. If I had money I would have to hire you as an editor...

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