Saturday, 16 July 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - a sound but lacklustre end to the epic series

Well I can tell you I was all sorts of mad excited about this final film - it marked the end of generational movement, courtesy of J.K. Rowling (who I am so in awe of, I often have an inane urge to hit her simply because her story crafting is nothing short of genius).

I have to admit that it fell short for me - not terribly so, just a yard from the finishing line and that moment of euphoric glory - I felt as if the movie had fundamentally missed something and while it totally kicked ass in terms of spectacle etc, it didn't pay ultimate service to the story and/or characters and us as an audience that have invested time in absorbing these cinematic treats for so many years. I am absolutely thrilled that another movie blogger who I admire in bucket-loads, The Incredible Suit, pretty much validates my thoughts.

The old argument of book vs film is always going to sound stale at this point but the argument of story vs spectacle is always relevant - without paying service to the former, the latter is a weak and somewhat 'airy', not securely grounded in the real truth and heart of the narrative - and subsequently the character revelation and growth is stunted. Lemme break it down...

Part 1 really, really did it's job. Part 2 didn't capitalise on that quite well enough - Yates decided to forego any 'explain-y' moments, having done a fair share of that in Part 1 but then Part 2 all became a mad rush of frenetic goings on that missed real, core material. I would have preferred if the film went on for another half an hour and did the ending PROPERLY - Peter Jackson wasn't afraid to do that with LOTR and after 8 HP friggin movies, I don't think it would have gone amiss to pause and/or explain:
- that some of Harry's blood was in Voldemort when he took it from him in Goblet of Fire and so some of Lily's 'love-protection' was in him, making it nigh impossible to kill Harry if Voldemort still lives.
I'm pissed because I didn't have any Purpose!
- that the Elder Wand had some deep history that included Dumbledore, Grindelwald and the Dumbledore familia - why introduce Aberforth and Arianna if we weren't going to hear THAT back story?
- SNAPE's noblest moment - all that was breezed over and though the most poignant, wasn't given time or tact to echo and resonate and have us sniffling for a good five minutes - Snape deserved our tears to fall for longer than that! It was supposed to have turned Harry's world upside down, stripped everything away. Instead, Harry walks down some stairs, exchanges a few lines of dialogue with Hermione and blah...we're moving on.
- the Hallows vs the Horcruxes - off shoot of the Elder Wand back story - the main dynamic and the reason that Harry ultimately becomes the 'master of death'.
OTHER concerns with the directing:
 - More dialogue and reactions please! Was Yates afraid to use this basic device to actually do its job in giving weight to the narrative? The much awaited 'kiss' scene was stupid and rushed and of course we saw none of it because it was one wide shot (anyone else notice that Yates' choice of shot means we never actually 'see' anything?) and half of Ron's head was in the way.

Let's not extend our embarrassment by talking in this pivotal moment
Not only that, after they break apart, it's an 'Emma and Rupert' moment where they both give a 'thank god we got that done' smirk. Was Yates ducking out of close ups or OTS and eye to eye contact? And then the stupid, 'holding hands, sheepish smile' reveal to Harry at the end - are we 10 year olds?

Additionally, when Fred dies, we could have suspended that moment because that was the death that really knocked the wind from Harry because the Weasleys are his surrogate family. And the deaths of Tonks and Remus were just...?...emotional impact, we wanted it hitting us hard in the chests.  After Fred's death, George is obviously changed, he becomes more serious etc - the whole idea that after the end of the battle, people have come out of it scarred wasn't brought home at all.

Hang on, no one will witness me defeat you in a battle of wit and swiftness of spell casting!

Other issues with the general plot was the final battle sequence - why oh why, were Harry and Voldemort battling out in the courtyard alone? The original scene where they circle each other in the Great Hall and Harry delivers his dialogue, egging the Dark Lord on and subsequently revealing to us the master plotting that J.K has given us (what I term 'ooh aah' moments - NEVER forego those!) was forsaken for some stupid sequence with flashing colours and so the fact that the wand is not Voldemort's to master is conveniently revealed at the end when Harry tells the others and then there is NO impact. That last sequence in the book is also one of the most revealing in terms of characterisation for Voldemort as well - the way he reacts to Harry's observations speaks reams. But no, it wouldn't do to give too much weight to characters it seems. Also, the BEST part of the all was the fact the final spell was a second- BAM! moment - one shouting 'Avada Kedavra', the other 'Expelliarmus' (Harry's fave spell that saves him and wins the battle even though Mad Eye told him not to use it- poetic irony, people, come on!) Why 'mess' with what the story has perfectly lined up for you? I just don't understand some of that madness - all the revelations and the climactic moment were wrapped up in one - why not just serve that up for us?

Considering Yates had two films to do this right, I'm surprised it wasn't aligned well enough and we didn't see the creatures of the forest outside Hogwarts come to battle and protect the school, Ginny wasn't given her briefly much needed moment to show that she is bad ass, we didn't reference the prophecy which would have made Neville's importance all the more significant and the Dumbledore tale wasn't expanded on.

I thought I was supposed to have a 'role'?
 It's not all doom and gloom though -it was shot brilliantly, Professor McGonagall kicked ass, the battle for Hogwarts was cool and you are utterly absorbed into the world and its conflicts.

Then of course, there was the end and I'm a little worried that Yates didn't see fit to cast older actors in the end sequence because what he had came off as just silly, leaching the gravitas of that timeless end line 'The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.'

I look forward to the extended version on DVD and then watching Part 1 and 2 together - somehow I think that will work better.

VERDICT: 6.6/10

How I rate the films in order:

1. Order of the Phoenix
2. Deathly Hallows Part 1
3. Prisoner of Azkaban
4. Philosopher's Stone
5. Deathly Hallows Part 2
6. Chamber of Secrets
7. Goblet of Fire
8. Half Blood Prince


  1. The issues I had with this movie were mainly with the storyline and direction. I don't think enough attention was given to the hallows (particularly the invisibility cloak) - had I not read the books, I don't think I would have understood that Harry was the true owner of all the hallows, because they barely mentioned that harry already owned the cloak.

  2. Agreed - there is a lot of absolutely meaty and delectable parts of the story that weren't given due time/emphasis etc. I think for those who haven't read the books, they would have got a very 'shaved' down version of events - a real shame.