Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Pt 2), a Review

I'm shrugging off routine here and throwing caution to the wind.  SPOILERS imminent.  
Call me old and crotchety, but there seemed to be a lot of rambunctious tweens at the cinema last night, eager to watch the Boy Who Lived face down He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and let victory triumph over evil.  Costumed characters ran amok and I couldn't help but question why it is I find these midnight shows appealing.  Nevertheless, apart from the expected sudden applause and the preternatural (and completely uncalled for) sobbing*, I had a good enough time watching the final Potter film.

The words that immediately come to mind are ruthless and expeditious.  Where Part 1 served as exposition, Part 2 gives the viewer mere minutes of set-up before one is thrown into the action.  We're reminded of Voldy baby stealing dead ole' Dumbledore's wand (a grave robber!  my word, someone ought to teach that Riddle boy some manners) and Harry & the Gang are trying to seek and destroy those cursed horcruxes.  The filmmakers give the audience little breathing room, and I daresay 90% of the film was action-filled and intense.  

Acting is genuinely sublime all around, though I particularly enjoyed Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), Alan Rickman (Snape), and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry).  Truly I'm struggling to think of a bad performance.  Throughout all eight of the movies these actors have grown with each other, and their synergy is a large part of why these films are so successful.

I can also attest that this was definitely the most visually stunning of the films.  It is the only one with a 3-d counterpart, and although I chose not to watch it this way, it was nevertheless quite beautiful.  Spells and enchantments of all colors.  Gringotts' vaults and the dragon within.  I didn't realize just how dark and bleak everything was until Harry used the pensieve, and then again when he went to King's Cross.  Other than these two scenes, everything has a grim feel to it, and rightly it should.

As I mentioned earlier, there was entirely too much crying for my liking.  I'm not joking when I say that the girl behind me started sobbing and sniffling when the WB logo came up at the very beginning of the movie, and she pretty much continued the rest of the way.  Sure, when Sev died, that was sad, yes, but would I call it Sad-Enough-To-Cry-In-Public sad?  No.  And then seeing Fred & George for the first time, when they're both still alive, she cried again....  Grumble.  Anyway, death, evil, and violence rule the screen here, and because of this there is a lot of sad & terrible things that happen.  I admit, Severus's death was one of the more horrible death scenes I can remember, but I watched it wincing and stoic.

The final showdown between Harry & Voldemort was breathtaking.  I rather enjoyed their in-flight fight.  Heck, the battle for Hogwarts was pretty awesome all around.  The school's grounds make for an excellent battlefield, and its spaces were utilized brilliantly.

If there's any wrong in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) it's that it doesn't capture all of the subtlety and character development Rowling does in her books, but this is a flaw any book-turned-movie will have.  There's only so much one can transpose.  

There is so much that I could talk about when it comes to Harry Potter, and particularly when it comes to The Deathly Hallows.  How each character is so rich and detailed.  How Rowling deals with life lessons and serious themes.  How I always stood by Severus and puzzled out the events 'ere they were told.  How heartbreaking it is that Hedwig died so innocently and randomly (the same as many victims of the Battle).  How truly loathsome Voldemort is, and yet pitiable, too.  So much that I must cut myself off now or I may wax gibbous and never shut up.

On the whole, I wholeheartedly enjoyed this movie.  It was the perfect conclusion to the epic series, and I think it captured the heart and spirit of what makes the books so darned good, and that's that friendship and love are far superior to immortality and prejudice.  If you've somehow made it through your life without reading these books, then I'm sure my pleading won't get you over the hump, but you are robbing yourself of a wonderful journey.  And, if you've not watched any of the film adaptations**, again, you cheat yourself, but especially more so now that Part 2 is out.  It was a legendary film series capped with a satisfying and beautiful ending.  I will miss these movies, but I don't see them going away for a long, long time.


ibeeeg said...

LOL...seriously Logan you have me laughing! What was with the audience last night? While we live in separate states, I swear I would have thought you were in my theatre watching the movie right with me because my audience was the same as yours. Although, mine also cheered an awful lot for my taste.

I so agree with you - "I wholeheartedly enjoyed this movie". It was the perfect conclusion. I will miss these movies too; it is bittersweet. I now have a strong desire to read through the entire series right now!!!

Bill said...

I'm somewhat thankful my schedule prevented me from going to the opening night like I've done for many of the previous films. I just don't think sharing the theater with teenyboppers sounds fun. So call me old! :P

Mischief Managed!

Jonboy said...

Glad you liked it as well Logan. What a phenomenal ending to the series. I thought it was easily the best movie of them all. Alan Rickman just stole the whole show in the pensieve scenes. Many more thoughts as you said, but wow...

contemplatrix said...

saw it with a packed house at 1020 am this morning...mostly adults (college aged and up) it was dead quiet as the film began. when the film was sad there were tears, some sniffles, no all-out sobs. and Maggie Smith and Grint elicited laughter, well-warranted.

it was good. I was happy to see Neville and Snape get their moments and Radcliffe was fantastic!

great observation on the differences between the two parts, pt 2 was very much action oriented, very moving-along-now. The films really do seem oriented toward the Readers of the series, especially this last 2-parter, for the nuances, like you said. My tears for Snape were inseparable from the build-up in the books.

I enjoyed the lighting and the grim, and how when transitioning to the white screen they allowed time for adjustment/blinking. and that dragon in the vaults--perfect!

enjoyed your thoughts on the film.


logankstewart said...

@ibeeeg: Yeah, there was cheering and applause, too. Annoying, but that's okay. I think I could re-read these right now, too, but I'll wait a while, methinks.

@Bill: You old timer! ;)

@Jonathan: Aye, I knew you'd like it. Such great stuff.

@L: The dragon was pretty cool, agreed. Cooler than the ones from Goblet of Fire, I thought.

Kristopher A. Denby said...

I gotta say I thought that this finale was perhaps the best HP film to date. I actually think I rather enjoyed these last two films more than the book itself. And it moved me emotionally, which is something most films fail at.

Now I'm going to go on completely ignoring that post up above about Wise Man's Fear. I still haven't read it, and I don't want to be spoiled one iota.

The Sound and Fury of Kristopher A. Denby

logankstewart said...

@Kris: I'm inclined to agree, dude, though it could be it's still new and shiny and that's why I'm so fond of it. As for being better than the book... now that's some heavy compliment!

Take care. Hope all's going well for you.

Shelley said...

Oh, dear. I fear I was one of the criers! But I think I was pretty subdued, and I also waited a couple of weeks to see it and there were less than 20 people in the theater so hopefully I didn't bug anyone.
I agree it was excellent and the acting was superb!

logankstewart said...

@Shellie: Ha, crying's okay, but the sobbing aloud, that's just a bit too much for me. ;)

Thanks for stopping by!