Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ReviewAugust 10, 2011
I’ve been a casual fan of the series; catching the first few on DVD long after they released, seeing one or two of them in theaters, and buying a few on Blu-Ray. I believe I’ve now seen them all, however one of them may have escaped my sight (or, quite possibly, my memory). The last few movies have been known for being a little more mature than the earliest movies, and the films have been building into a dramatic climax between Harry and Voldemort for around a decade. Nothing can deliver on that kind of hype (am I right, Duke Nukem?) but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 does a damn good job.
The film starts off where Part 1 ended- Harry and crew are desperately trying to find and destroy all of Voldemort’s Horcruxes- items in which Lord Voldemort has embedded pieces of his soul to try and attain immortality. To understand the rest, well, you’d probably better watch the first 7 films. It’s a bit hard to wrap up that much exposition and fit in a satisfying conclusion to our tale in one movie, so they don’t really try; it’s assumed that you have a prior knowledge of at least some of the series entries.
The crew, accompanied by the goblin Griphook (Warwick Davis) make their way to Gringotts Bank in a dangerous heist attempt on one of the locked-away Horcruxes. For this little stunt to work, Hermione (Emma Watson) drinks some Polyjuice to disguise herself as Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter). There’s an awesome roller coaster scene here, as well as a huge fire-breathing dragon. This sequence, and it’s CGI work, are spectacular.
Back at Hogwarts, the school is controlled by Voldemort’s troops, and the students and teachers plot to rise up and make a last stand against “He Who Must Not Be Named”.
In the second half, the stunt and CGI teams work their asses off with truly amazing action sequences, such as a dire escape from a huge wall of fire, Voldemort’s attack on the school, and a sequence in which the school’s stone statues are brought to life by Professor McGonagall as a last line of defense.
Although the graphics and set pieces set a high standard, the story manages to stand toe-to-toe with it. Harry’s true destiny is revealed, and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) does a great job acting out his character’s serpentine character arc; you never truly know whose side he’s on until the film’s final moments.
The film’s only true faults are that it feels a bit rushed at points. The film is the shortest of them all at 125 minutes, which may seem like a good amount, but given the amount of material that needs to be wrapped up here, it could have easily done well with an extra 20 minutes. Character arcs, character deaths and final confrontations, including Harry’s last stand against Voldemort, all seem a bit rushed. The film’s team seem to try too hard to give every one of the films’ many ancillary characters their bit of closure, when they should be focusing on the main players. This is a film that would do very well to have a Blu-Ray with deleted scenes added back into the film.
The film’s ending mirrors that of the book- a leap forward 19 years in time, where the main characters have great ageing effects applied to them; it was a very neat sequence that brings the story full circle.
This may very well be the best the Harry Potter franchise has to offer. With a great script and direction, as well as amazing cinematography and CGI effects, everything comes together to make this final installment something very special. It’s a great final note to one of the longest running franchises in cinema history.