Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

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"We can end this "

July 17, 2011

Long distances traveled, dwarfs and mild peril came my way on Friday. No I'm not talking about the final Harry Potter film but my journey to get to the theater to see it. Once at the cinema they had lost our booking and bumped us to a late night showing. Prior to the film I got to sit down to the most expensive burger of my life (£8.99 not including sides or drinks) which also had the honor of being the worst tasting also. To say I was in a bad mood before the screening would be a slight understatement. Why am I telling you this? I thought it best to give you an idea of the mindset I was in which always influences your enjoyment of something. Did Potter have any chance of entertaining me after this?

Lets begin with a little background. I love the Harry Potter films. Many of my friends hate the franchise and brand them as childish nonsense but that never put me off. I may not have been the original intended audience for the story but the Potter universe was so rich and had much to offer adults as well as children. Over the years the story became darker and more adult, just a look at the tag line for this film "Only One Can Live".

I had read each of the books before the corresponding film was released.so I always knew where the story was going. Many times I have read a novel only to be disappointed with a movie adaptation of said book because of changes made to storyline and characters. Never has this been a problem with the Potter films. The tone has always been perfect, character and story changes worked well or made sense due to the limitations on screen. Sure there have been things I've missed from the books but there have also been things that were better.

Over time I will get to reviewing the other films in the franchise (the books as well) but as this one is is actually the second part of movie 7 it best I give my thoughts on the last flick. I must say I was never the biggest fan of the final two books in then Harry Potter cannon but I had higher hopes for the film versions.

I wasn't impressed with the decision to separate the final book into two films, it seemed like a cash grab as the book really didn't seem to have enough content to warrant it. Deathly Hallows Part One was my first disappointment with the series. It lacked a true narrative structure, everything was set up for a grand finale. The entire film took place outside Hogwarts and lacked any form of a conclusion. I knew thats what I was in for but it really was a hollow experience.

Moving on to this film, we pick up the action at the exact point the last ended. Being the concluding part of the last story we spend very little time on set up and get straight into the action. Hogwarts takes Centre stage for the final showdown between good and evil. Voldermort vs. Harry.

I was expecting to come away either loving this or hating it. Conclusions are a funny thing in a franchise and rarely live up to expectations. As the credits started all I could think was, meh. Sure everything wrapped up nicely and the action was well executed but it was hard to put my finger on what exactly was missing.Then it hit me, the first half of the film.

The splinting of the film in half has really hurt what could have been a thrilling climax. I had seen the last film multiple times (I was working as a projectionist at the time) I had read the book and yet at times it was a struggle to know exactly what was going on. I'd like to know what it was like for those who have never read the books.

Deathly Hallows Part Two had all the story elements of a Michael Bay movie. Go to a location, blow shit up, repeat. This type of thing is fine at the end of a story but stretched out for 2 hours makes your brain shut down.

I'm sure if you watch both parts back to back it will flow better but I really fail to understand what we gained with the split. A couple of cuts to the opening tale and we could have got a tight film that I would have looked forward to revisiting. As it stands I don't relish the though of sitting through these final films again (over 4 hours combined).

The action that we do see is brilliantly crafted and exciting, it's devastating to watch Hogwarts torn to shreds as its been as much a character in the films as our main trio. A lot of the fighting takes place off screen as we follow Harry and chums running around behind the battles. Not really the filmmakers fault as thats the way it goes down in the books but they find ways to make changes that were jarring.

The last film ended on a somber note with a character death that sent children reeling. I thought it was expertly handled and wondered how they intended to do the other major deaths in the final battle.Aside from one (wont say who, don't want to spoil it) I was severely shocked that we never got to see them play out. Reading the books I knew who had died but ask those who haven't and they'd struggle to tell you who from watching the film alone. In fact the reaction to a minor characters death is done so poorly by the time the film ends your still not sure who it was that upset one of our major players so much. Maybe some scenes were deleted but I really doubt they'll ever be reinstated.

As the filmmakers had mentioned they were making changes to the final battle I was hopeing to see more of the familiar faces that were excluded in the book. The difference during the final Voldemort vs. Harry confrontation were great and gave everything a little bit more epic scope. A lot more McGonagall was another welcome addition.

Unfortunately I never felt a true farewell to some of the bigger characters (The novels fault once again), Hagrid only has two minutes of screen time. There were a couple of minor plot holes that had been set up in the last film but I assume once again this was from deleted scenes (Lupin and Tonks' baby?).

Acting wise we get much of the same. Our three leads stay in their same roles throughout this series. Emma Watson (Hermione) remains the most competent actor really selling the emotional scenes the only one I can confidently say will have a movie career long after this franchise. The ginger kid was funny (I know its Rupert Grint ). But Daniel Radcliffe remains the weakest of the three, over the years I have cringed at his delivery of lines and here its no exception, yet I can see a change. He was trying his best and left me more impressed than previous outings. He Remains the weakest of the bunch but he gets the award for most improved at least.

The adults are at no fault here as always we get the best of British. Alan Rickman steals the show. Finally Snapes true nature is revealed and it really does transform everything we've seen of him in every film. That alone will have many rewatching the older films with a new outlook on what has been transpiring. Ralph Finnes also gets to shine as Voldermort with a far meatier role than before. I really enjoyed the fragile state he had been reduced to helping him become a more layered villain than he had been shown previously.

The music is always great and suits the dramatic beats and action scenes perfectly but there is one thing I really miss. Much like the modern James Bond outings the main theme is reduced to a couple of playings. I really enjoy hearing it during each movie,it lets me know its a Potter film (it didn't even play over the WB logo). It made sense the film has a different tone but I missed it.

A note on the 3D used in this Potter film. If you have the chance to watch the 2D version. The 3D really adds noting other than a couple of raised subtitles. This is one of those terrible post conversion jobs. Being a dark film some scenes are hard to make out. I walked out of the theater with bloodshot eyes and a minor headache. Usually I'm fine with 3D films but this was terrible.

I had had a terrible day and wasn't in the mood for a film and yet I still found things to enjoy.Its just a shame that after so many years for the first time in the franchise I came away thinking that the book had the edge on the film. Its a great ending for Harry and packs an emotional punch (many left the cinema crying) with the fact that this is the last time we will see them on screen. I have a feeling I'll like this far more once it hits DVD. If you take anything from this review watch Part One again the day before you go to see this, skip the 3D screenings.

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