Friday, July 22, 2011
Film review: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
I never read the Harry Potter books which makes me either the most ideal or least ideal choice for reviewing HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2. Actually, not true. I read the first book in my AP junior English class waaaay back in 2001. And I thoroughly enjoyed the book, mind you... Just never got around to continuing the series. Anyways...
Kind of regardless of whether or not I liked the movie, I wanted to say that what the Harry Potter crew accomplished is astounding and groundbreaking. They took a giant story and turned it into 8, great, timeless films that, essentially, told an epic in real time. (More after the jump)
Usually when I review movies, I talk about the cast... and though I was never totally sold on the acting ability of the three, main, "child" stars, I think that it is amazing that they retained most of the cast for the stretch. I mean, can you imagine this being your childhood? Can you imagine your childhood... your awkward years (Harry Potter 3-5) on film for the world to see? Can you imagine the world growing up with you like that? And more so, as we grew up with these characters, we've come to care about them as friends... invested in their exploits. Love them, even. So, as we bid adieu to a fine series of films, we say goodbye to old friends that we watched grow up.
For the most part, the "kids" in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did great. They played their parts beautifully. I mean, at this point, they are the characters. But the "adults" stole the show. Really, the scenes I will remember are the ones with the adult cast. Every moment Alan Rickman's Snape was on screen, he was captivating. His scene that revealed his character's history was the most touching and memorable moment from the entire series. (Gary Oldman's Sirius Black had long been my favorite actor and character up until this film.) Rickman's moments... his tears were so devastating and heartbreaking that I felt the wrong dead guy (James Potter) showed up when Harry activated the resurrection stone. And who didn't get a charge watching Maggie Smith's Professor McGonagall take the lead? I always felt as though she was underused in the series, so it was awesome seeing her unleashed for a scene or two. Ralph Fiennes's Voldemort was so delightfully evil. If the hero (Daniel Radcliffe) is partially defined by the villain, Harry owes Voldemort a big-ass coke.
The direction and pacing worked well. Though I can think of two slow points (The beginning and Harry's "purgatory scene"), the story never stopped. It was unrelenting. I wished the battle was a bit more focused and in the focus. I know that we needed to concentrate on the trio's (Harry, Ron, Hermione) quests, but seeing more of the destruction and devastation and death that plagued the rest of Hogwarts would have been good reminders of just how high the stakes are. And, really, it would have been powerful to see the death of some of the characters that we've come to love instead of just seeing their bodies later.
I loved the film, truth be told... but something will always bother me. The darkest spot in the Harry Potter film series has always been Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley. I don't know if it's that she was never given any material to work with (although whenever she spoke, it was dull and boring), but her casting... her character never worked... And though the movies did right in concentrating on the trio (Harry, Ron, Hermione), the movies never committed to the Harry/Ginny relationship. I never read the books, but even I know that's an important story to tell. You tell that story as it should be or you don't at all. As it was, whenever they had their moments together, it felt forced and half-assed. And maybe they wanted to do that story, but Bonnie Wright's limited range prevented that... Not to mention, they have no chemistry. I remember watching and having an Ann Veal (from Arrested Development) "Her?" moment whenever he had to look at her lovingly. A stronger Harry/Ginny relationship would have strengthened Harry as a character... Granted, they had 8 films to do that, but that dimension of Harry as a man would have gone a long way. He wouldn't just be a young adult wizard with a destiny... He'd be a kid in love. He needed that tether to the real world. I mean, sure he had his friends, but Ron and Hermione had each other. Harry had no real family to lose, since they were all dead. If we felt that Harry would lose Ginny, the sacrifice would have meant more.
Also, Molly Weasley's "Not my daughter, you bitch," line would have been much more powerful had we cared about Ginny. It was a good line but kind of a throwaway. Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix LeStrange was MUCH more interesting than Ginny. Thankfully, Julie Walter's Molly Weasley (who has been a great mother to us all at this point), made us care and gave that moment meaning.
But, fuck it, the movie is breaking box office records.
In summary... it was a perfect end, and it is my current favorite summer movie. It was final. It was epic. It was what a good ending is supposed to be. It was exhilarating. It was like a game of chess. We had seven films worth of setting up the endgame. This chapter was the epic, satisfying finish.
8.5 out of 10 George Lucas Tears