My Ten Cents On: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The final chapter of Harry Potter has at long last hit screenings, and it has driven fans the world over stark raving mad. Watching snippets of the World Premiere of the movie in London, I saw thousands of people crying and welling up with emotion as they lined up to watch the end of an epic phenomenon that spanned seven books, eight movies, and millions of spin-off novelties from actual Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavored Beans to rule books on Quidditch. I finally found the time to catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and its high time I shared my thoughts on it.

I’m not going to review the films as a part one and a part two, because frankly, neither movie is any good individually. Both feel relatively incomplete, since the plot outline is strewn across both movies, with the exposition and rising action comprising the whole Part 1 and the climax and resolution in Part 2. I’ll still mention the splitting once in a while, but I’ll only mention it where it becomes relevant in other apects of the film outside of the plot.

I couldn’t berate the movie like that. Especially since it caps off a franchise that has meant so much to so many. Besides, even without that incomplete feeling each movie has, there’s already enough to gripe about. Did Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows live up to the franchise that preceded it? Let’s dive right into it, and find out. SPOILER ALERT: Since I will be reviewing Harry Potter and will be touching on the story, I feel the need to be able to defend myself explicitly and will be drawing upon events from the novel translated into the movie.

+ Marketing

Okay, this will be one of the times when I’ll mention the movie split. It was utterly brilliant marketing to split the movie in two. Rather than making the huge profit that is expected out of a Harry Potter movie, they basically doubled it without adding much value. By having two separate premieres, they ensured that every single Potter fan would pay them twice the price of one movie in order to watch the screen adaptation of Rowling’s final book in the series.

Often times, people forget that show business is in fact that, a business, and as far as business goes, this was an ingenious move. It was a great showing of shrewd business tactics, and I do respect that. Do I like it? Maybe not so much. Does it detract from the movie experience? Yes, definitely, seeing as how each movie feels like a long half-movie. But I have to give credit where its due, and maybe its just the BS Management major in me, but again, I do respect it.

+ Acting

Originally, I used to laud the movie for its adult cast, hiring a who’s who of British acting royalty with the likes of Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, Alan Rickman as Professor Snape and Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, as well as brief but pretty memorable performances by Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockheart, Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney and John Hurt as Ollivander. So that’s a given, the adult cast is awesome as always, except for George Harris who plays Kingsley Shacklebolt, who I found really lacking for a guy playing  one of the strongest Aurors, what is basically a warrior wizard, in the Ministry of Magic.

I want to give props now to the students of Hogwarts. The production was immensely lucky in that when they found these kids who looked like they came right out of the novel, and they were even luckier that now, a decade later, they've grown to become decent actors, despite some of them not aging that well.I have to give major props to Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom, because he delivered his lines with a presence that even Daniel Radcliffe as the chosen one, Harry Potter, didn't bring to the screen. Lewis was the breakout performance of the movie in my honest opinion, largely due to the fact that this was also his character's breakout from being a scared, timid character, to the hero that was actually within him the whole time. It was a tough role to transition into, especially for someone who's acting experience practically is that one character, and did he deliver in this performance. The rest of the cast too showed off their experience in acting up against a green screen as they really look like they're reacting to this CG environment and this made the whole experience feel a bit more authentic and allowed me to just sink into the environment that much easier.+ The Deathly Hallows animationThis looks like something out of Tim Burton... Good Tim Burton

The brief moment where Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna‘s father, recounted the tale of the Deathly Hallows, the movie shifted into animation the likes of which weren’t unlike Tim Burton’s style of animation, and I have to say, it was the best part of the entire first half. The style was interesting, and the movement was vibrant, it offered a great and fun rest from the dark, dreary, slow-motion filled world of reality. If I could find myself a copy of this one segment, I’d be happy. I honestly think it would have made a great short film in its own right if that story was expanded upon a bit.

– Story

This movie really showed the flaws in JK Rowling’s writing. the exposition and rising action were needlessly boring (Part 1) and the climax and resolution felt strangely distant and failed to draw me in emotionally (Part 2). So here’s where the spoilers come in, so if you haven’t read the book, you should probably skip ahead.

Rowling hates killing of her characters, so as a result, many characters in this movie dies off-screen, Scrimgeour, Mad-Eye Moody, Fred Weasley, Tonks, and Lupin. I know she says its because she loved them so much that she couldn’t show them being killed, but in my opinion, if you don’t show them dying, you’re dishonoring their memory. When these people, who we got to know over the years, died just like that, it made for a pretty week dramatic sequence. I mean, they showed the dead bodies of Fred, Tonks and Lupin for all but a minute, with sad guitar playing, and poof on to the next scene. It totally felt like it weakened the character’s legacies rather than honored them. Look at how Snape died, it was horrible, unglorious and very-well executed, so we remember it, and I actually felt something for the character. It would have been nice to feel the same way for some of the others too.

The film also happened to have so many convenient plot devices, namely all the exposition, the Deathly Hallows, Horcruxes, Snape‘s tear, and Dumbledore‘s final speech, it all just felt so forced, it actually felt like I was watching a movie of people being told a story instead of watching that story itself. Helena Ravenclaw had a speech, Abeforth Dumbledore had a speech, Voldemort had so many speeches, even Bellatrix Lestrange had a speech. There was a whole lot of talking, and in comparison with some of the other books, a whole less of people actually doing things.

The speeches added to a real lack of subtlety and room for thought. By explaining every little thing, I felt that the series, which had aged with the times to become more dark and adult-like, started treating me like a little kid again holding my hand through the entire story. I wish that more was left to interpretation instead of explained out there. I mean, show Snape‘s patronus being that of a doe, the patronus of Lily Potter, and that’s it. Don’t explain for the next 5 minutes that Snape‘s still in love with Lily and that love followed down to Harry, we could get that, we understand, we don’t need to be led around by the hand like fans of another book series I don’t need to mention *cough* sparkle sparkle *cough*. Which brings me to my next point.

– The Twilight Effect

"I wanna sparkle too."

Apart from “inspiring” people taking Teen Wolf, a high school comedy in the 80’s starring Michael J. Fox, and turning it into a Twilight TV show ripoff, it also had effects on other movies and shows. Ever since that damned movie came out, so many films are trying that whole, lets make our characters pale and lose a lot of color in our sets, lets shoot more scenes in the cheap, boring location of a forest in the middle of nowhere and make everyone emo about the smallest things. Beginning to sound familiar?

In all fairness, Harry has a LOT more to be emo about than Bella. But if you listen to his whining in the last two films, the deaths of his family and close friends seemed second to “you’re not listening to me, I’m not the center of attention waaah!” Or lets not forget Ron‘s: “Hermione likes Harry more than me,” schtick. Yes, I know it was the Horcrux playing mind games but couldn’t it have been like, Ron insulting Harry‘s parents’ memories and someone calling Hermione a mudblood or something that we’ve established is emotionally devastating to the characters instead of the sudden phoney teen angst that suddenly washed over them?

And also, I know the movie’s supposed to be dark, but Skeleton Jack and Sweeney Todd had more color than Daniel Radcliffe, he’s Edward Cullen-like now people. The problem was, unlike those Tim Burton movies, we’ve seen colorful and bright Harry Potter movies, and the HUGE change is a bit off-putting. You’re already shooting in a forest and in dreary stone cottages in the English and Scottish countrysides, its raining, overcast, and you still make the color a crappy dull grey. Overkill much? Oh also, on a side note, 3-D only works with a good amount of color, without color, its not worth any price of admission. Dear film executives, we know Twilight is popular, but Harry Potter is more popular, you don’t need to make it look like Twilight! But… who am I to accuse you guys, I guess it was good business sense, and given the amount of money Harry Potter earned, you may have been right.

– The slow-mo’s

I finally figured out how what is essentially a 3 1/2 hour movie could take so long, while having remarkably little going on. They have so many slow-motion shots. So many. Everything in the movie was going slowly. Plot developed slowly, the movement was slow, the pacing was slow, and to top it all off, most of the action was slowed down, intentionally. Jeez, I guess they decided to slow things down so that they could make the movie longer without adding anything to the budget. I know there were some decent action scenes, but by being interspersed so frequently with slowness, it just made the whole thing feel slow for me.

My Cent’s Worth: 4.5/10
3/10 in 3-D

I hope you don’t think I’m a hater, because I’m not. I am a fan of the series, and I grew up with these characters, this is why I believe I have more right than typical haters to criticize this movie. I’m not bashing it because I feel that Potter-mania is crazy, I’m just looking at it for the movie that it is, and the position that its in, as the final adventure in the story of Harry Potter, and given those things, I wouldn’t be a good reviewer if I were to just follow the bandwagon and love this movie because its Harry Potter, and not because of what’s in it. I’m still gonna get my kids to read this book as they grow, and if you mention to me any titles such as “The Boy Who Lived” or “The Half-Blood Prince” or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” ten, twenty years from now, I’ll still know who you’re talking about. But for this epic adventure, I would have just liked for a more epic conclusion, that’s all.

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Posted on August 4, 2011, in Film Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Rowling killed Fred… :(

  2. You raise interesting points, especially the “no room for thought” idea, and the parts ARE larger than the whole, but I enjoyed the movie(s).

    • Its one of those things that you could love even for all its faults. I can’t say they were good movies, but I can always say that I enjoyed them and that, no matter what, it made an impact on the world like very few things have.

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