I will be posting an overall commentary on the phenomenon that is Harry Potter sometime in the coming week, so forgive me if this review does not cover some of the threads that are woven throughout the multiple movies over the last decade and the books over the past two. I will also not address the movie’s use of magic, and how I think we should respond to it, for that issue has been present since the very beginning of Harry Potter’s existence and will be discussed in the next post. As much as possible, this will be a review of the latest movie, Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows, pt. 2. But really, it’s almost impossible to disconnect this movie from the whole story, because, as the giant billboards and movie posters and trailers have reminded us, “It All Ends” here.
The movie begins with a mere 30 second recap of the final scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1, spends a grand total of ten minutes providing dialogue between characters, and then explodes into nearly 120 minutes of virtually nonstop action and intricate story telling that would be nearly incomprehensible to someone who is unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter. In other words, if this review had points, point one would read: “Don’t see this movie without seeing the others” and I mean all the others, not just part one.
As a fan of the movies and the books (in that order), I was delighted to see the ways in which everything tied together, and I trust that others were as well. The filmmakers were wise in splitting book seven into two movies. Not only because part two poised to be one of the highest grossing films of all time, but it gave everyone watching the one thing we have desired since the fourth film, more story telling. Now, there was stil a lot cut from the story, but, along with part 1, this movie was by far the most complete retelling of the original material since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (movie/book two).
From beginning to end, the Deathly Hallows pt. 2, is dark and rather violent. morso than the other films. This is understandable considering the nature of the conclusion and the way in which things tie together. But, with that in mind, I must remind my readers that this is not a family film. I would not take my 7-year-old to see it (If I had a 7-year-old), but I also wouldn’t let said fictional 7-year-old read the seventh book either. Both book and movie were produced for those who find themselves to be similar in age to our three heroes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione. And considering this fact, the movie is a welcomed refreshment to the types of films that are produced for those who are between 17 and 20.
It is nearly devoid of all sexual content (minus a few kisses and one very brief low-cut top) and contains very little language that we Yankees (Americans) would deem foul (though there is some). Yet it tells a wonderful story in which the bad guy is really bad and the good guys are actually good. Self-sacrifice, loyalty, and love take center stage among the themes of the movie and there is none of that out-played, dried-up “just look inside yourself” nonsense that is so often rammed down our throats. In short, if you are not offended by the violence in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, you will not find much to offend you in this film either.
Enough of the general stuff. Let me tell you some specifics that I liked (and didn’t like) about the movie, then I’ll close out and give you my official recommendation.
First, the acting is top notch, and not just from the best of the best of British actors (who nearly all make an appearance). Nearly everyone does a great job, emoting sincerely and helping us forget that we’re watching one of the nerdiest movies ever (which is not a bad thing). The kids have all grown up well, especially Daniel Radcilffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint (Who play our three main characters). And anyone, no matter how experienced, who can stand toe-to-toe with Ralph Finnes, Alan RIckman, and Helena Bonham Carter deserves some measure of respect for their acting abilities.
The Deathly Hallows does a great job of taking a massive amount of information strung across eight films and tying things up in a way that someone who has only seen the movies can understand. There are several “winks” to those of us who have read the books, but they are small and don’t leave any big unanswered questions for movie only fans. A perfect example is the way in which Professor Snape’s story is explained. Without giving too much away, the sometimes ally, sometimes enemy of Harry Potter has a long and complicated past that stretches far beyond the timeline of our story, and they successfully gave the audience a good amount of that story in a relatively short time. And, as always, Alan Rickman deserves an Oscar.
As for the look of the film, it fits so perfectly with part 1 that I am hoping they will create a seamless version that you can watch in one shot. The director, David Yates, really fell upon a great look for the last few movies and has perfected it well. There is something beautiful about a movie that is so rich in color, yet incredibly dark. I’m not sure how they did it, but it works brilliantly. Everything from skin tone to special effects just works, especially the wand battles, which remind me of what the more recent (read: terrible) Star Wars lightsaber duels should have looked like.
Honestly, I could go on with what I liked about the movie, but I actually want you see it, so I’ll refrain. I could also nitpick about things that I didn’t like about the film when compared to the book, but no one wants to hear that either. So, as I think back on my experience, the one thing that bugged me which has nothing to do with the book, is something that always bugs me in movies. ANd that is this: making someone look old almost never works the way it was intended. Just be prepared for the end of the movie when some of the cast is made to look old; remember that it’s a movie and they can’t actually make people older. If you can look past that, you’ll do fine.
With that, My official recommendation is that unless you are a small child, you should see this movie (as long as you’ve seen the others). It is highly entertaining, full of emotion, well acted and generally excellent. Enjoy.
And like I said at the beginning, I will be posting a more in depth blog commenting on Harry Potter as a whole, so check back later to find out how I think we should approach this story as a whole and what we can learn from thinking biblically about an unnecessarily controversial modern fairy tale.