Goodbye, Harry

Here it is. The review of the last Harry Potter film to be released.  Part of my childhood ended Sunday, and I am glad to say that it was exactly what I needed it to be. So, without further delay, my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2.

Warning!
This Review will have MASSIVE Spoilers so if you don’t want the film ruined, please scroll to the end.  After the last photo I will post my Summary Wrap-up as well as my Rating Scores.
You have been Warned…

I Loved it!  I was so worried when I finished my review of Part 1 that I would be disappointed, but the film lived up to everything I was hoping for and even exceeded expectations in some regards!  Also, this was the first film I had ever seen in 3D IMAX and it was a real treat to see that on such a large screen.  I truly felt immersed into the film.  One of the best movie going experiences ever for me.

For this review I want to break it down into a few sections, dealing with the issues I had with Part 1 first, discussing the changes and plot next, visuals and sound after that, and then finish on the very few issues I had with this one. Thus:

  • Issues with Part 1 Revisited
  • Changes and General Storytelling Analysis
  • Visual and Audio Stylings and Devices
  • Issues with Part 2
  • Final Summary and Scores

So with that I jump right into it!

1.  Issues with Part 1 Revisited

In case you haven’t already, please check out my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1. As we shall recall, my issues with the first film fell mostly to the PACE and the ACTING, as well as my frustration that Yates had “totally missed the major conflict of the book”.  Part 2 really seemed to hear me on that because they really stepped it all up 10 notches!

The pace was fantastic.  Only after the movie was over and the credits rolled did I realize I had been sitting for 2 hours.  It seemed to be perfectly spaced and I loved the connectivity of each scene.  It all seemed to flow together into one big sequence which works so well.  I will get into it more later, but I loved how the film/story was made in such a way that fans can see and follow it without any extraneous explanation of trivial elements, while still seeming accessible to Muggles who haven’t followed the series at all.  I also loved how it managed to surprise me at parts (more on this in the “Changes” section), preserving the magical quality I felt was lost in the previous movie. Truly a major improvement over the disconnected vignettes of Part 1, Part 2 conveyed the final chronicles of Harry Potter’s story in a well-constructed, beautiful manner that left me very content.

The second major issue I had with Part 1 was with the Acting, and Part 2 took that and blew it out of the water!!!  Every single person stepped it up about 8 notches and gave by far the best performances of the series. A few in particular stood out to me:

Best Actress goes to Helena Bonham Carter

HBC is BLEEPING scary!!! Not just because of the roles she plays for Tim Burton but because of how ridiculously she matches Emma Watson’s Hermione.  Seriously.  I am not the only one who originally thought that Watson’s face was digitally put onto Carter’s body.  She performs in what I would gladly call an Oscar-worthy performance – both as the creepy and insane Bellatrix LeStrange and as the Polyjuiced, yet timid Hermione breaking into Gringotts. However she does not get the best performance of the film.  That honor goes to….

Best Acting goes to Alan Rickman as “Snape”

By far the best performance came from the character who fans have lost there hatred for and come to love – Snape – played by Alan Rickman.  Such sorrow and pain I have never seen in a character.  I almost believe that Rickman decided to try to embody the word “Anguish” in order to play this immensely deep role.  Rarely have I ever felt, not just seen, such somber determination in a character and Rickman I feel was the only man who could possibly do justice to Potter’s nemesis and unbeknownst defender. Sorting Hat’s off to you, sir!  Job well done!

One final standout performance before I get to the trio’s was that of Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort.  As you will recall, I was not a big fan of his portrayal in Part 1.  I said that, “He comes off as too human, which makes hating him a little difficult.”  While I stand by that statement for the first installment, I was surprised to find that this was the very quality that made him so great in Part 2.  Here is my reasoning: At the beginning of book/movie 7, Voldemort has 7 parts of his soul, his humanity, absent from his person.  Thus he should be practically a snake as he has little human existence about him.  However, as the Horcruxes get destroyed one could say that either the parts of his soul return to him or that he simply becomes more mortal as his extra tethers to life are severed.  Ergo, he becomes more human towards his final hour.  Fienne’s Voldemort was beautifully human after he had “killed” Harry and it was a joy to watch his Hubris lead to his climactic end.

Now for the Trio.  I will keep it brief though I could go on and on about it. Rupert Grint was magnificent. His humor was perfectly on character and his courage was wonderful. It will be hard to imagine Ronald Weasley without seeing Grint’s face anymore.

Emma Watson made me cry (well almost).  She is by far the best of the trio and her emotions ARE her sleeve.  She was brilliant in the role and I am sad to see an end to the girl that won all of our hearts.

And finally, Dan.  I must say the thing I was most worried about going into this film was whether Radcliffe could manage the intensely powerful, entirely internal emotions that occur in this final installment.  And much to my joy, he pulled it off!!!  You could feel his hard-set determination and his selflessness all throughout the film and he really did do justice to the Boy Who Lived. He still needs to work on really selling it with his eyes and his eyebrows, but on the whole it was a massive improvement on his previous work. Great job Dan. Be proud of your work and thank you so much for 10 amazing years of Potter.  Thank You!

And the final element, the “Hallows vs Horcruxes” issue, I feel might have a different explanation. While I still felt that the internal struggle inside Harry was entirely neglected, I think that is because internal struggles are a bleep to put on screen.  Thus, when watching Part 2, I let go of my expectations for that conflict and instead let the film be what is was. Through that zen-like letting go did I find how great the film really was.

2. Changes and General Storytelling Analysis

I said it before and I will say it again: the pacing was fantastic! I thought it flowed very well from start to finish.  It was only at those two points that I find issue. The “reminder scene” at the beginning was unnecessary and went as far as to throw off the pacing for me for the actual first scene.  It had no entrance, explanation (in context), or connection to the tone that followed.  And, because 86% of opening weekend movie-goers had just marathoned the ENTIRE series pre-screening, it was entirely unnecessary.  They should have just started with the fade-through-clouds WB logo with the music swell and leave it at that.

The only other issue I had with the story-telling (and I swear I had loads more positives about it than issues) was that the very end was beautiful and tragic – with the Hogwarts express trudging away into the fog and the final shot of the trio staring off into the future.  It was a truly beautiful moment with the music swelling, the fade out…..the music still swelling…..still black…..then music dies.  At the time I didn’t mind it because I was reveling in that last fading image of the trio who had made my life so wonderful.  However, after the film my dad pointed out an interesting thought: in all that blackness with music going they had not put up a “The End” slide.  Interesting move. Again at the time I didn’t mind the gap and after having thought about it, I applaud them not calling this “The End”.  We are not at the end friends, but rather the beginning of a new adventure. However it was a bit of an odd moment. Still pondering this one.

Other than those to items I was floored by how well the story worked!  It started off with a nice slow ramp from Shell Cottage, then thrust us into the action at Gringotts and kept the upbeat tone the whole way through.  It had some nice relief moments (room of requirement, the lull in the fight) and some good comic relief along the way to let up on the tension just enough for us to breath and get ready for the next crazy fight.

The changes made to the story, I thought, were well done and well chosen, and they made the story easier to follow in such a short time.  Obviously, I was sad to see the Dumbledore Subplot go; however I can see that it is extraneous to the major plot. Same with the treasure in the vault not burning – it doesn’t matter in the ultimate plot.

As a matter of fact I did like Harry’s confrontation of Snape in the Great Hall and the Severus-McGonagall fight because it broke me out of “Analysis Mode”.  Up to that point I had been seeing things for how they lined up with the book.  That scene threw me off that game and reminded me to enjoy the film for what it is, not what I think it should be. For that I thought the scene worked well, but also it was an improvement in that it gave Harry a chance to fully vocalize his feelings toward Snape before the final reveal of his motives. It worked on the story level and was powerful emotionally – I loved it!

Yates did a fantastic job of cutting through the fat of the story and giving us only the meat of it (even though we like that fat…a lot).  He presented Part 2 in a logical and accurate, yet surprising and magical manner that kept me enthralled throughout the entire 125 minutes. Fantastically presented – I, a devoted fan, could not be any happier with how he told the story.

3. Visual and Audio Stylings and Devices

In case you haven’t gotten it yet, I thought the story was told magnificently! David Yates made the film very well and in a style which played to the fans particularly.  I loved how he let things go – such as the Goblin Lore with Griphook – and allowed for things that extend beyond just the books – such as Matthew Lewis getting to voice his Real Life passion in his moment of glory speech.  The visual style was phenomenal.  I particularly liked the flying fight between Voldemort and Harry for the shot where their faces merge, symbolizing the incredible magical link between them.  And the “King’s Cross” afterlife scene, while not what I pictured it as, was beautiful and elegant.  And finally, Voldemort’s death was, as I wrote immediately following, “graceful yet gutturally satisfying”.

I seriously could go on for days about how it amazing it looked and how well the plot was handled, but I will make these last notes and leave it there:

  • Fantastic choice to end on the original “Hedwig’s Theme” (;_;) – Beautiful. Thank you.
  • Incredible use of sound – both silence and noise – to set mood.  Particularly the use of breath and breathing were nice as symbols of Harry’s impending doom and the frailty of life in general
  • Score was perfect – Desplat brought us the magical world in a magical way
  • Special effects for the fights (ie – the spells) were fantastic. It struck me as amazing occasionally that a scene was probably done entirely in computer
  • The aging of the cast at the end was incredible! Blew my mind how they must have done that!
  • Best looking and sounding film of the series by miles!

4. Issues with Part 2

The issues I had with Part 2 are exactly three-fold and all I have already mentioned, so I will be brief. The first is simple and criticized often by me – Daniel’s acting.  It was Better. It could have been Best. He did finally start to show some emotion but I still don’t believe him when I look in his eyes at every single second. Keep on working on those eyes and (recent revelation) your eyeBROWS, and I look forward your next film project The Woman in Black. Again thank you for bringing Harry to life for us. I think we can expect great things from you, Mr. Radcliffe. Great things!

My second issue was with the very beginning of the film. As I said the “refresher scene” was unnecessary, clunky, and gave the beginning a very rough start.  It didn’t have the confidence or poise of the start of Part 1 which I will again praise as excellent.  Start right into it as you did the first movie – Logo followed by action.

Finally, the end, which I am still not sure about.  While I am sure that the exclusion of a “The End” slide was a good choice, I can’t help but feel the oddness will return when I am staring at a black screen with powerful music going and I don’t have the hardcore emotional catharsis stirring my heart as I did watching it for the first time.  I might comment on this again later after I have seen the film again.

5. Final Summary and Scores

10/10 – Masterful & Cathartic

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was exactly what I hoped it would be. It accurately and magically captured the essence of the story and reminded us all why this series has become the defining point of an entire generation. It was elegant and eloquent. It was morose and somber yet filled me with joy – a bittersweet wonder.  I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again, it does NOT all end here.  No from here we, the devoted fans, go out and we take this story, this love, this passion wherever we go.  Whenever times get hard we have more that just the camaraderie of the fans to help us through. We have incredible role models to guide us:

  • the Selfless Potions Master who risked everything for love
  • the Wisdom of a School Headmaster who taught us best of all that everyone makes mistakes
  • the Heart of Service from a Friend who stays with you no matter what
  • the Power of Learning and how Knowledge really is power
  • the Boy who Laid Down his Life for Love and Friendship, who never backed down from what must be done, and who taught us that life without love is meaningless

The world has not lost this magic.  It lives, beating in the hearts of one billion young men and women, all of whom now carry something that cannot be forgotten – Hope.  We know that the world will get tough, that times will be hard and all will seem lost.  And we know how much we may have to sacrifice.  But most importantly, we know that will a little faith and a little trust and a little love, nothing can stand in our way.

Thank you Jo for uniting us, for showing us truth, bravery and love, and for giving us the kid we all want to be. Thank you for giving us 14 years of Magic.  We are Potter’s men and women, through and through. And Dumbledore’s Army, YOUR Army, looks forward to continuing to grow up with Harry and to preserving his legacy of courage, selflessness, and love for generations to come.  Thank you, Jo. Thank you.

****************************************

Wow.  I can honestly say that I have never been so close to crying writing a review.  If you don’t know me, I never cry, ever. God just made me that way. But I can say that when things move me this much, to the point of tears, I listen because I know God is up to something.  I will continue to document my passion for the Harry Potter series and will keep up commentary on his films and books in the future.

But in the more near future, I am just tickled PINK to announce that I WILL be able to review the Dark Knight Rises trailer!  It will be up on the Art of the Trailer soon. Thank you for stopping by, please check out my other reviews and ramblings, and please let me know what you think of this review in the comments below.  Thank you and God bless!

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Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

4 thoughts on “Goodbye, Harry”

  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet so maybe you already answered this question in the actual review section which I haven’t read, but I’m wondering if you think that this movie would make Part 1 better if they were watched in tandem.

  2. I didn’t address that, but I don’t think it would. The way Part 2 begins is far to stand alone for it to really enhance Part 1. The pacing is so entirely different that it wouldn’t flow at all. I wish it would, because then I could give the first film an explanation of why it wasn’t so good, but unfortunately the two halves stand alone on their own merits.

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