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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The second part of the two-part finale to the Harry Potter franchise released in 2011.

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  • Jul 17, 2011

                Okay. I’m going to start with the pre-Potter party details. I bought two tickets to the midnight showing a month in advance. I then went out to buy a Gryffindor tie and scarf the week of and dressed up on Thursday. I even decked out the office with Harry Potter galore, buying themed food, drinks, and decorations. I am a rabid fan. So did I have stratospheric expectations for the final film? No, just exceedingly high expectations. Well, sadly, the film was nothing but exceedingly disappointing.

                To say I was underwhelmed is an understatement. With each passing scene, I could not stop shaking my head at the utter failure to capitalize on the many opportunities to truly deliver on the tagline, “It all ends.” I can certainly understand sacrificing minor details and accuracies for the sake of time and efficiency of story-telling—it would be neither here nor there to be distraught over the exclusion of, say, the extrapolated history between Dumbledore and Grindewald (albeit, I personally would have loved to see even just a clip of a young Dumbledore and Grindewald holding hands or looking into one another’s eyes with endearment). However, what Yates decided to do was completely ignore the grandiosity of scale and epic climax. How many moments of comic relief do we really need throughout the film? Especially when they’re far from humorous or tasteful? I cannot express the sheer feeling of embarrassment I felt when Professor McGonagall said excitedly, “I always wanted to use that spell!” I’m sorry? When has the stern, steadfast, and resolute McGonagall ever diminish to that of a peppy teenager? Moreover, she has never outwardly expressed fear of Snape while he was Headmaster, so for her to be seen with her head down as he is threatening the students and staff in the Great Hall is laughable. Not only were these such poor characterization choices, they weakened the gravity of the entire plot. Another example of character failing was Neville’s reaction to seeing Harry. Nothing but a calmness that would give anyone the impression that Harry had not been gone for months, rumored to be on the run, or else, dead.

                These are just a few of the offensively many characterization flaws wrought throughout the film, but perhaps the most heinous interpretations (throughout all of Yates’ films) are those of Voldemort and Dumbledore. These two characters are the most powerful and awed wizards of all time. The books have never failed to demonstrate with absolute detail and clarity the immensity of their status as such. In essence, both are akin to God and the devil, elevated to a higher sphere without the anthropomorphism. Yet, we are led to believe that both are somehow more human than they really are. The entire point and appeal of their characters is that they’re so powerful and fantastic. But what do we see in the films? Returning back to speaking specifically about this film, we have a progressively weakening Voldemort. If the film were faithful to the book, it would have shown that destroying horcruxes has no direct effect on Voldemort, but we are shown that it does, consequently crippling his power. In fact, it weakens him so much that we are treated to a 10-minute final battle where he is actually dueling Harry. Not only is the idea infinitely absurd, it downright betrays the very nature of Voldemort’s character. There is not a universe that exists in which Harry could possibly duel Voldemort!

                This brings me now to the action sequences in the film. If I thought Yates committed a deafening crime in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by excluding the final battle in the castle leading up to Dumbledore’s demise, then I was in for a surprise because the lackluster execution of the final dueling and battling scenes swept it from memory. I was shocked that they remembered to include the brief duel between McGonagall and Snape. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even get that right either.

Professor McGonagall moved faster than Harry could have believed. Her wand slashed through the air and for a split second Harry thought that Snape must crumple, unconscious, but the swiftness of his Shield Charm was such that McGonagall was thrown off balance. She brandished her wand at a torch on the wall and it flew out of its bracket…the descending flames, which became a ring of fire that filled the corridor and flew like a lasso at Snape.

Then it was no longer fire, but a great black serpent that McGonagall blasted to smoke, which re-formed and solidified in seconds to become a swarm of pursuing daggers. Snape avoided them only by forcing the suit of armor in front of him, and with echoing clangs the daggers sank, one after another, into its breast.

                Why is it that, when presented with an abundance of detail, Yates constantly ignores gold and offers rusted copper? Did the animators just get lazy? Doubtful. So, instead, we get consecutive fire spells from McGonagall at Snape until he finally retreats.

                One awesome duel averted. Shall we do the same to the final battle with Voldemort? Why, of course. In place of the aforementioned battle between Harry and Voldemort, we could have had McGonagall, Kingsley, and Slughorn dueling Voldemort at the same time, just as it is in the book because, as I said, to believe that Harry alone could duel Voldemort is preposterous. Three of the highest skilled wizards and witches against Voldermort—the spell-casting would have been spectacular. But why enjoy that when we could just watch Harry feebly attempt to thwart Voldemort by dodging, shielding, and being owned?

                Speaking of things we could have enjoyed: the music.  In an interview with Film Music Magazine, Desplat stated that scoring Part 2 is "a great challenge" and that he has "a lot of expectations to fulfill and a great deal of work" ahead of him. So he at least acknowledged the amount of consideration and care expected of him. Though, regretfully, it was worse than his previous score. Not only was the score sparse, it was uninspiring and, at times, sounded quite lazy. The only redeeming facet was the reprise of John Williams’ music, and how incredibly wonderful those few moments were. I actually feel sorry that Desplat’s score had to be punctuated (and thoroughly out-shone) by Williams’ mastery. Oh, if only the past five films could be re-scored. Some might say that Williams’ aesthetic is not appropriate for the later films because of their darker tone and storylines. I would tell those folks to listen to his scores for Minority Report, A.I., War of the Worlds, Memoirs of a Geisha, and, oh yes, Schindler’s List, just to name a few, and tell me again that he would not have written superb music apt for the later films.

                The only praise I can give this film is its treatment of Snape’s memories in the pensieve. This sequence was perhaps the only portion of the film that was almost entirely inclusive of the book’s material to which I attribute its success on screen. If only the same could be said for the rest of the film—imagine how brilliant it would be.

                Part I did well to ramp up tension and drama. Part II did well to waste that tension and drama. The characterization flops, weak music, and pathetic deliverance of action all contributed to the cinematic carcass. Needless to say, the film leaves so, so much to be desired. It certainly ranks as one of the most over-hyped and supremely disappointing films and finales of all time. And I know J.K. Rowling is wishing she could use Avada Kedavra on a certain director. 

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July 25, 2011
It's interesting that you infer that Rowling is or was disappointed with the film and the director. On her website she sites Yates and "Deathly Hallows" as being the high marks of the film series.
July 26, 2011
If a director helped make millions of profit for me, I sure as heck wouldn't criticize or chastise her or him for it, =]
July 26, 2011
She was already the richest woman in Europe. She could buy Yates, so I don't think that's it.
July 21, 2011
What a great review. I agree with all your points, especially the poor director and music. I felt very cheated with this movie.
July 21, 2011
Thanks for reading! Perhaps the video games will be more satisfying? =]
July 19, 2011
Oooooh, that's disappointing to hear. Great review, though!
July 19, 2011
July 18, 2011
wow, maybe I should just wait for it to come on netflix.
July 18, 2011
Neither do I. My qualms with the film are not that it excluded things from the book, but rather it could have been an infinitely better film if it had relied more on the book's material. I never said my favorite scenes were left out. And you're right, the special effects and acting (by the real adults) were spot on. But, I think we've seen how these two aspects alone can't salvage a film from certain disappointment.
July 17, 2011
Great review!! I feel your disappointment there. I think as with any other director, Yates had the issue of time constraints, budget and the limitations established by the other films in the series (as with mood and tone); and as with any other book adaptation, it is all left to the visualization of the scripter and the writer. Comic book movies are often watered down to appease the general audience. It appears that this series was the same.

Scripting a movie is very different from scripting a book. In a movie, you have to establish your central focus, then devices and what you need to express to get to the crux of the story. Yates did a good job in maintaining focus...which was Harry and his friends. In a book, you can be as descriptive as you can and allow the reader to interpret it as they wish. Movies tend to express through action and pictures while books are driven by imagination. But I hear yah, I always thought this was a mixed series.

I had my own issues with it, I gave it a 4/5 but I just put it into that "I wasn't its target audience" and I accpeted the movie for what it was intended. For me, this was the best in the series, but not even close to my favorite films list.  Now if I was to direct this movie, then doubtless it wouldn't be for teens and young'll be so much darker and it may be rated R. Ok, I am rambling....LOL
July 17, 2011
Thanks! The failings I mentioned in my review have little relevance to the preservation of focus in the film. Improving upon them would not be a hindrance to the focus of the protagonists and, in fact, would actually enhance the quality of film altogether.
July 17, 2011
Yeah, I know. I am pretty sure while it would've made the movie more complex and more exciting, some viewers (those who didn't read the books) would've gotten lost since the last two movies are a part of the series, and to show a more careful hand can be a risky change in tone and mood. The thing is, they should've done that approach from the very first movie; I know the movie had issues, it is just that I think Yates did the best he could do to follow the groundwork in the other movies. I dunno if I said that right. How many directors has this series had? I have no idea myself....

Oh, don't get me wrong, Tu, I agree with you 100 %, but sometimes, we get what we get....I do need to write that article why oftentimes adaptations don't work. LOL!
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Tu Nguyen ()
Member Since: Aug 27, 2010
Last Login: Nov 30, 2012 05:23 PM UTC
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a 2011 epic fantasy film directed by David Yates and the second of two films based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the eighth and final installment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman, David Barron and Rowling. The story continues to follow Harry Potter on a quest to find and destroy Lord Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, alongside Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The supporting cast features Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith.

Principal photography began on 19 February 2009 and was completed on 12 June 2010, with the final day of reshoots taking place on 21 December 2010 marking the series' closure of ten years of filming. Part 2 was released in both 2D and 3D cinemas worldwide on 15 July 2011. It was also screened in IMAX cinemas from the same date.

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Director: David Yates
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Release Date: July 15, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Steve Kloves
Runtime: 130 minutes
Studio: Heyday Films, Warner Bros. Pictures
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