Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) Review

Directed by David Yates

For the longest time, I was indifferent to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. Then, as it continued to grow in popularity, I started to be opposed to everything Harry Potter simply because I did not know what all the fuss was over having never read one of the books or seen one of the movies. After some time, my indifference that had turned to hate slowly developed into curiosity. Last fall, my curiosity finally got the best of me. I decided to see why everyone was so obsessed about what was going on in Hogwarts. Now I know.

This film franchise has brought on an imagination and creative touch not seen since the Star Wars franchise. It sets up a wonderfully magical world that enhances the wild adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. After viewing the first film, I was hooked. Every chance I had to watch a movie, I was going back to Hogwarts to see what kind of trouble the three friends could get into now. I worked my way through the first six films in time to catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in theatres last November. Needless to say, Part 2 became one of my most anticipated films of 2011. After seeing it, it did not disappoint as it gave a very fitting end to the Harry Potter saga.

For those that have not seen the first six Harry Potter movies, I will try not to give anything away. However, it is going to be almost impossible to understand what the plot points even mean if you don't know anything about the Harry Potter world.

The first thing I noticed about Part 2 was that it did not feel like a sequel at all. There was no backtracking to bring everyone up to speed on what had been going on; no rehashing of previous events. The last image of Part 1 becomes the first image of Part 2, and the movie is off on its wild ride. It is a true continuation really making the two parts feel like a four and a half hour complete story. So the first thing we see is Voldemort finding the elder wand, which is one-third of the Deathly Hallows. Now Voldemort feels powerful enough to destroy Harry. In the meantime, Harry and his friends are once again in hiding from all of Volemort's agents that are out to find him. However, Harry is continuing his hunt for the final horcruxes to destroy Voldemort. All this leads Harry back to Hogwarts, and eventually into the final battle everyone has been waiting for against Voldemort.

As with all the Harry Potter films, the visual effects are outstanding. However, what really starts to stand out in the final few films, Part 2 included, is how talented the three young leads are. When Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson first started their journeys in J.K. Rowling's magical world, they were just 12, 13, and 11 years old respectfully. Now, 10 years later, the cute little kids that started it all are now 22, 23, and 21 years old and have become three extremely talented actors. This is shown as they are able to hold their own on screen with industry heavyweights like Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, and Michael Gambon. This leads to the next thing that makes these films amazing. There is so much talent involved with these films, it is almost laughable. When you have minor side characters played by the likes of Oscar winners Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent, you have a stacked cast. At times, it got to the point where it was harder to name a British actor that was not involved in the Harry Potter franchise than one that was. All this talent involved helped make the Harry Potter saga that much more exciting.

It is hard to evaluate a film like this without thinking of it as the culmination of the previous 7 installments. On its own, it is a solid film. One complaint I have is something I find myself saying more and more often: it could have been longer. At times as the end of the story was unfolding, it felt somewhat rushed which was unusual for this franchise. All the other films did such a good job explaining every aspect of the Harry Potter world that you could understand everything that was happening whether you read all the books or never heard of Harry Potter before. At times in Part 2, this is not the case as it tries to explain complicated and intricate plot points through rushed and slightly confusing flashbacks. It is the one film out of the eight that I needed to talk to someone who had read the books to get some clarification on what actually happened with some of the closing plot points.

Like I said though, it is impossible to look at this film as its own entity similar to Return of the King or even Return of the Jedi. It has to also be considered as the closing chapter to a franchise that has been a decade in the making and has become one of the most successful franchises of films of all time. One thing I point to that sets this franchise apart from many others is the continuity of the series. So many franchises are simply disconnected new adventures of the main group of characters in the franchise. Although this is the case to an extent in the Harry Potter films, it also shows an incredible amount of continuity and forethought. Nothing is done randomly. From the first film to the last, everything is connected. There are events that take place in the first, second, third, fourth installments that become significant plot points in the conclusion of the story. This makes Harry Potter one of the most fascinating and exciting franchises I have seen from start to finish.

Although this film may not be the best of the series, it brings about the perfect ending to an amazing franchise that has become a part of our culture. It has skyrocketed the three main starts to a legendary status reached by very few. Don't be surprised if you find this film on the list of Oscar Best Picture nominees at the end of the year. If you are one like me and resisted Harry Potter because it seemed silly, childish, or just too much of a craze to be worth your time, it is time to introduce yourself to the landmark world of Harry Potter.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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