Friday, July 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

The end is nigh! Oh what will Warner Brothers do now? I'm sure that as much as WB has been anticipating the finale to one of the most profitable film series ever, they are also dreading the fact that they won't be able to pull the lever on the cash register for this series any longer. The funny thing is once the last book ended, author J.K. Rowling assured the public that there would be no more Potter to tell. Now that some time has passed and the films are coming to a close she has been gradually changing her tune from a never to a....maybe. Which must have given the execs at Warner Brothers a big Corporate grin because it means that maybe we haven't seen the last of Harry Potter, or at least his universe. Personally I wouldn't mind seeing some of the other characters get a stand-alone flick or maybe some prequels, but I would just as soon go forward and find another pond to jump into. What about the Wizarding World in the U.S.? Take note Warner Brothers! But enough of my yammering about the future, let's focus on the present and my review.
I have really enjoyed this series especially the last two or three, they have, in my mind, been able to convey the tone of the last few books and in some cases exceed them. That would certainly be true for this last film. I really enjoyed part 1 where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are forced to go on the run, looking for Horocruxes, as Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes) grows ever stronger. They had to fend for themselves living in isolation in a tent like refugees moving from place to place in order to stay hidden. It was truly excellent filmmaking and I was sure that wouldn't be able to keep it up into the final chapter. Thankfully, they were able to do that and more. The pacing was extraordinary as we followed the kids from one harrowing journey after another from Gringotts Bank to Hogwarts where the final showdown takes place. It did feel a little Return of the Jedi-ish, without the space battle of course. I got a kick out of watching shy Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) come out of his shell and become a reluctant hero worthy of Indiana Jones, when you see the scene you'll know what I mean. Ralph Fiennes also brought an interesting new wrinkle for Voldermort as you get to see him for the first time as a vulnerable man clinging on to the little bit of life he has left. I was also really glad they finally gave Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) some much needed screen time, I feel like she usually gets the short end of the stick in these movies but she got some great lines and even some action pieces in this one. Daniel Radcliffe has continued to shine and take command of this series and there is no doubt that this kid has vastly improved his skills from the slightly wooden of the first two films to the reflective and honest portrayal in this last film. It was great to see Ron and Hermione get some much needed screen time and the flashback sequences for Snape (Alan Rickman) were some of the best of the series. Just those scenes alone proved why the talented actor would take on what would seem to be a tiny and insignificant role because, as you discover watching those scenes, it turns out to be one of the most intriguing of the series.  But I promise I won't go into detail here.
The action scenes were intense and they did a great job with the 3D. They were clear and concise and you could really feel the carnage as Hogwarts gets ripped to shreds. Both Tamar and I were more than impressed, lately the 3D flicks I've seen have been mediocre to terrible, so it was nice to see them use it properly. It wasn't in your face every second but they utilized the technology more for depth and scope rather than bells and whistles and in my mind made it much more exciting. Now if I had any problems with the story it was mostly some nitpicky things where they introduced characters oh so briefly and they disappeared just as quickly without much explanation either way. In some cases, at least for those of us who read the books, it was fine, but if you hadn't read the books you were probably scratching your head a bit more than usual. Here are a few names that you may either be scratching your head at who the hell they are or if you are like me agree that these folk needed a bit more screen time if you were going to introduce them at all. Bill Weasley, Ariana Dumbledore, Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), Tonks (Natalia Tena) and Aberforth Dumbledore (Ciaran Hinds). The premise surrounding the Dumbledore brother's sister Ariana was always intriguing in the book and I had forgotten what had actually happened, but they don't give you much to go on in the film either which sort of felt like a waste. Why give us these nuggets if you aren't going to at least explain some of it. And of course Remus and Tonks get sidestepped again, yes I understand the book did this as well but it was one thing I was hoping they were going to correct for the film. They were probably in it for about two minutes and then --SPOILER ALERT--- they were worm food. I felt there was something more for Lupin to do and it felt like Rowling didn't know what that was and now it looks like we'll never know.  It's one of those things where I wish screenwriter Steve Kloves had put his foot down with J.K. and said that too many of these deaths occur off camera and people are going to feel cheated. The flip side of that argument is that it's just life and people die. Deal with it. True enough but I can't help but feel a little disappointed.
As for the final sequence, with the kids all grown up and sending their kids off to Hogwarts, I actually felt it played well. Yes you could look at it as the super happy ending but if you watch that great scene with a world weary Harry comforting his young son about his trepidation of being chosen into the Slytherin house. It gives weight to a certain person's sacrifice and it validates the kind of man that Harry has finally grown into. So all you haters can relax. I have truly enjoyed this series and I personally hope they leave it alone for future endeavors, it's pretty perfect the way it is.
Grade: 4 Buckets

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