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.

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!

Please Comment Below and Subscribe!

Harry Potter 7 pt1 – A Letdown with High Hopes

SPOILERS!!!!  You have been warned…

This is it. It all ends here. Part of your childhood and mine ends this Friday. We must say goodbye to the Boy Who Lived – the boy who taught us to believe in ourselves, to be courageous in the face of overwhelming odds, and to understand the power of love. I am not sure I can fully explain the depth of my passion and my appreciation for J.K. Rowling and her amazing fantasy which has captured my heart and the hearts of millions around the world. But I shall try. I shall try 🙂 LUMOS!!!

Leading up to this review, I was really nervous because i thought I might have to give as sub-5 rating to a Potter film. Seriously. My first viewing of HP 7.1 at the midnight showing in Oakhurst, CA left me sorely disappointed. It wasn’t bad but I had been expecting a 10. Instead I gave it a 4 that night. Seriously.

Luckily I decided that one viewing wasn’t enough to give a fair review. So, I watched it again….yesterday. Yup. Took my time on that one. Yet it paid off. No, I can’t say I discovered my original opinion to be incorrect. However I did made a break-through which helped me understand why I felt how I did. So with that I enter into the review I have been waiting years to write.

First, what I liked.

This was BY FAR the best film of the series VISUALLY. It was gorgeous to look at. I loved the color choices of deep blues and greens for the dark Ministry, the bold whites of the snowy hills of Dean, the amber cloth for the intimacy of the trio’s tent. The canted angles, the effects for both spells and disapparations, the snake! Oh my goodness! That whole scene with the Fake Bathilda was fantastic! The way the light in the kid’s room played around – Masterful!

A few more notes on the visuals. I liked how David Yates figured out that it isn’t about showing us what happened verbatim to book. In particular, I refer to the trio’s disapparation from the Ministry of Magic which ends in the woods. Yates makes the right call there in showing us how it would have seemed from Harry’s perspective, not how it plays out in the book. Thus we, the audience, follow the action as well as see it from our hero’s POV.

I also love the cinematography which had several nice devices that connected the film. After the apparition from the Ministry and the one to Shell Cottage at the end, the first shot was straight down and then panned up to show those who had made it.  I thought it was a nice visual connection between major events of the story. The other that I noticed was the revolving shot, used at both the Seven Potters scene and the first run-in with the Snatchers. It was just a beautiful display of technical prowess on the filmmakers side, and it represented magic to fans and cinematographers alike.

I will say it again, this film LOOKED AMAZING!!! I also loved some of the changes they made, such as Hedwig’s death. I was nervous when I heard a rumor that it doesn’t go down the way it does in the books but Yates gave us something far better. Same with the locket. I know others have said it so I will be suffice to say that he got it absolutely right. And finally, though it was a gutsy call, the animated version of the Three Brothers story was a nice touch on a beautiful film. Good calls that paid off well for the film.

Now…having said that, I have to get to why this film fell short for me.

It all comes down to something I discovered in my second viewing.  My issue from the beginning has been with the pacing of Deathly Hallows pt.1.  It seemed to be a series of vignettes rather than one complete and connected story. In some places that really worked such as the opening scene with the trio taking quiet, private moments to reflect and prepare for what they must go through. However, it diminishes the emotional impact of the story and left me with a disconnected, uninspiring ending.  It killed the mojo, you might say, of the film.


I think I know what has caused this.  It is the struggle of all adaptations from book to film to visually capture the essence of the work on screen.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt.1 takes this fight and goes a bit too far.  It visually represents that which we already know is coming.  At this point, most of the viewers are fully caught up on the story so instead of being surprised by each and every twist and turn of the movie, we simply check off each item on our list as the film gets there.  Obviously I don’t mean this literally, but mentally we are simply fulfilling our expectations rather than exceeding them.  Thus, the film seems to lack that which I was hoping for – something spectacular and new – something magical.

Let me give some examples.  The scene which I was most looking forward to most in part 1 was the break-in at the Ministry of Magic. While I thought the “During” was fantastic, I was really disappointed that they didn’t make it the planned out heist it was in the book.  The trio spent weeks preparing themselves for the task, yet in the film they just get the idea and make a dash for it without much preparation.  While I understand the need to cut down on the time, and think the choice works for comprehension, the scene becomes a “well why not” rather than something crafted and connected to HP & Crew’s ultimate journey.

Another example:  The Ending. I’ll just jump right into it. The reason the ending doesn’t work falls to the expected and the actual. As Pirates 2 taught us, if you are going to split a story you need to have what I shall call a Strong Emotional Question Mark. Here’s what I mean: you need two elements to drive me, the audience, to see the second film. First you need a strong emotional moment, such as the death of “witty Jack” or the understanding that Luke must face his Father and the Emperor. Or….say….the death of a beloved character in tragic fashion and emotional turmoil in the protagonist’s mind?

The ending of Part 1 didn’t work because of the SECOND MAJOR FLAW with the film: Yates totally missed the major conflict of the book.  Since Alfonso Cuarón, Potter directors have sought to tell Harry’s story rather than follow the books verbatim.  The focus is on Harry and his mind, his struggles.  Having said that, David Yates simply misses what the major battle in Harry’s mind is for the first half of the final book.  Harry is not nearly as focused on beating Voldemort as he is on the internal struggle of:


When I heard that the split was to be after the escape from Malfoy Manor and the death of Dobby, I was ecstatic. It is the perfect splitting point because it is the turning point of the book and a major character point for Harry.  Dealing with the death of his beloved childhood friend, struggling with the leadership role he has been thrust into, still reeling from the harrowing escape, Harry is MOST torn up by his indecision over whether to fly out to get the Elder wand from Dumbledore before Voldy gets it or whether to stay the course and continue to seek and destroy Horcruxes.  THAT is what his mind is running through in that moment.

Instead, we get a super sad moment at which we all cried and then a scene which made little sense (btw- Mugglecast got it right when they criticized the tomb as “designed by Ikea”. It just looks stupid.) There wasn’t any connection between the two.  I wrote immediately after seeing it a second time that “I am scared and curious about what happens now that Voldy has the wand. But is Harry?”  Because we don’t see him wrestle with this, we have no clue whether he cares about it at all.  And then the transition from the emotional high(er) point of Voldemort getting the wand to the credits was dreadful, which causes everyone I watch it with to say, “so that’s it?” Seriously.  They build it up to be huge, climactic point and then let it drop completely. We get a tangent graph of emotion that really doesn’t work at all towards inspiring me to see Part 2. It had the emotions but didn’t execute.

Dobby = UP. Drop. Voldy & Wand = Up. Drop.

It becomes a case of “then they…..then they…..then they…..” It’s like a bad “What I did on my Summer Vacation” report. They spend time on scenes that they don’t really need to (the chase, the fight in the cafe, finding Mundungus) and cut several important or at least interesting bits (Resolution with the Dursley’s, Wormtail’s death). Ultimately the vignette style of the film really doesn’t work and leaves me sorely wanting. But enough about that.

I wanted to take just a moment to talk acting.  I know there have been lots of comments on just about every actors work in this film so I will keep it brief.

Dan – Uggh. Dan. Buddy. You have come a long way from the little kid that you were back in Sorcerer’s Stone. You have grown quite a bit and have become quite the theatre man. But when you are in the movie biz it isn’t about the 90% of your body that matters. It is the 10% which makes up your face that must be mastered for the camera. I love him and know he loves the role but I can never see it in his EYES! Ron leaves, his wand snaps, Ron comes back – at no point do his eyes sell to me that he cares. To be honest that puts him one step above line reading, which is really sad.  However I must give him his due for the scene with Dobby. That was by far the best acting he has ever done in the films.  His sorrow poured out of every orifice (but particularly his eyes), comes through the lens, and delves into my soul. I hope he can take that moment of total emersion and learn to channel that for any film acting he does in the future.

Rupert Grint. The first time I watched it I was mad at the director, writer and editor because they made him a form of comic relief, robbing him of the depth of character Jo had given him. However on my second screening I got it – that’s just Ron. He is the ever doting friend who cheers us all up. And when his moment comes to shine (the fight with Harry) he rocks my socks off! I got goosebumps at how deeply angry he was! You could tell he was all in it and I came to appreciate his humor for what is was – his very nature. Great job, Rupert!

Emma Watson steals the show by far! Every line is delivered perfectly and in every scene you can see the depth of Hermione’s character through her performance. Her sorrow goes deep in, her joy muted beautifully by her anxiety and stress. I think her shining moment was at the grave of Harry’s parents with her little hesitation before laying her head on his shoulder. Such a real moment! Sorting Hats off to you, Emma!

One final note – I am not a fan of this Voldemort. Ralph Fiennes is a great actor but Voldemort is described as “part snake” and I see none of that from his character.  He comes off as too human, which makes hating him a little difficult. His cruelty is muted (see – taking Lucius’s wand) and his anger is more comical than terrifying. I just wish he were more…villian-like:


So with that I will make one last critic and then I will rap it up.  I know it is a contested issue so again I will try to keep it brief but I must address it:  The Awkward Dance.

In case you don’t know what I mean, there is a scene between Harry and Hermione which seems to have divided fans. It is just after Ron leaves and Hermione is in a slump. She and Harry sit in the tent one night listening to a song on the radio, and Harry decides to try to cheer her up. So he goes over, gets her up, and starts to dance with her. What is so controversial about this is some (like me) think this is too flirtatious, too romantic for the pair.  Here is why I think it doesn’t work: from the perspective of a filmmaker and a film reviewer, I have seen this scene many times:

  • Boy and Girl sitting alone, both a little sad.
  • One decides to cheer the other up, so they start to dance slowly.
  • Other joins in laughing.
  • Pace quickens and they laugh some more.
  • Finally they end up slow-dancing very close to each other, followed by the make-up and make-out bit.

That is exactly how the scene between Harry and Hermione plays out, which leads the audience to believe it will follow the natural progression of that sequence – them kissing and/or having sex…which is really awkward because we all know they don’t end up together.  I can see what they were going for (and this might have been made less had Dan’s face showed his true and pure intentions) but ultimately it just doesn’t work.

So to recap — the Visuals are phenomenal and right where they should be, the Pacing is vignette-esque and not the spectacular thing which we want it to be, the Acting is best from the supporting cast but lacking from the Leads. I went in expecting to be blown away by a spectacular display of cinematic magic that would capture my imagination as the book did, but ultimately felt it was only just…passible. Decent. Meh.


I truly wish I could give it a better review, because it deserves to be great, but I just can’t say that it was magical. Sorry. I am still excited about Part 2 (thus the “High Hopes”) and know it will deliver the catharsis we all need. Though I won’t be there opening night, I know we can expect great thing from you, Mr. Yates. Great things 😉


This past week a book arrived in the mail for me, one that I ordered as soon as I had found it – Dear Mr. Potter: Letters of Love, Loss, & Magic. It was created by fans like us, trying to do exactly what I am trying here.  We all want to express, to record our love for this series so that our kids someday might begin to understand this incredible global phenomenon and how it has touched each of us. The forward of that book ends thus: “You have created a generation, Jo. Let this book serve as proof.” I couldn’t agree more. We are the Potter Generation, and I am proud to claim that title.  I look forward to not an end, but a beginning of some new, grand adventure. Let this review stand as proof to that. Stay thirsty for adventure, fellow members of Dumbledore’s Army, and let us send Harry out with the bang he so rightly deserves – with wands held high, happy thoughts in our heads, screaming “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” one last time.


Thanks for checking out my review!  Please let me know what you think in the comments, feel free to debate and share your story there, and join me again for my analysis of the trailer for Part 2.

Thank you so much and I’ll see you on the other side of July 15.

Mischief Managed!

Please Comment Below and Subscribe!