Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
As a lover of film, I've really enjoyed watching the parade of great British actors come in and out of Harry's work as various professors or bad guys or parents of Harry's classmates. It seems like nearly everyone of them makes an appearance in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2, whether their characters are dead or alive, but I didn't really care because I love seeing them. Although I will admit it's bizarre spotting a fleeting glimpse of Emma Thompson's Prof. Sybil Trelawney in one sequence in this film and realize she never utters a word. And she's not the only prominent actor whose appearance here is reduced to a single line or no lines at all.
There's no real need to recap the plot of THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2. If you saw the last film, it's more of the same. Harry, Hermione and Ron are still chasing down the remaining Horcruxes. Lord Voldemort (the fantastic Ralph Fiennes) launches an assault on Hogwarts that results in some phenomenal destruction. And secrets involving Harry, the late Prof. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, seen a great deal in flashback here), Prof. Snape (possibly my favorite Potter-verse character, played by Alan Rickman), and many others are revealed. The amount of pure information unleashed on the audience in this two-hour-plus film is exhausting, and while I'm sure it will please the fans of the books, as a means of moving the story forward, it feels like maybe the filmmakers are pushing too hard. The film's most emotionally devastating moments are slower, quiet events, in particular, the absolutely perfect epilogue set many years after the end of the great war between Potter and Voldemort.
I was patient with the plot-heavy THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 because I'd assumed PART 2 would be the magnificent payoff of a full-blown battle to end all battles, and there is certainly more destruction per capita than any of the other HARRY POTTER films, but it still left me feeling a bit underwhelmed, with some exceptions. This is the most I've felt Fiennes' Voldemort is an actual character, for no other reason than he gets a great deal of screen time for once. I sometimes enjoy when the villain is more an unseen force than a physical, menacing body to fight off. But Fiennes is so strong as the character, he needs to be seen. And any time he and Harry lock in actual combat, I was mesmerized. I also enjoyed watching Hogwarts' destruction; there's a real sense of loss witnessing that, although I don't think the film deals with how much death was caused during the war, save one startling shot of the corpses of a couple of well-known characters next to each other.
I don't mean to imply that I didn't like THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2. It moves really well, and I enjoyed the tremendous number of flashbacks that give us much-needed puzzle-solving moments about many of the characters. I think I was most startled by one featuring Dumbledore revealing the true nature of his interest in Harry since he was a baby. I don't want to talk too much about story, but I was surprised how many characters from years past make their way into this film; sometimes I felt like constant writer Steve Kloves and returning director David Yates were using a crowbar to get people into this movie, but I didn't care because I missed Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, and others. I also dug the new characters brought in for this ride, including Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth (Ciaran Hinds), and the ghostly Helena Ravenclaw (Kelly Macdonald).
I'm not sure how much I can add to this review, except to say that this is not my favorite of the series (that honor still belongs to THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN); it probably lies somewhere in the middle of the ranking. I still am getting no real development from the characters of Hermione and Ron (Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, respectively). They are without a doubt faithful companions, but there's zero growth for them in this chapter. The only thing I truly loathed about THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2 was the miserable 3D experience. Seriously, 85 percent of this film is set in extreme darkness. I can't believe the filmmakers or the studio would curse us with darkening the screen further with 3D glasses. Seriously bad call. If you care about this series, avoid the 3D screenings at all cost.
I'm guessing most die-hard Potter fans are going to cheer, weep and feel their hearts fill with joy as the movie version of these adventures wraps up with a "pop" rather than a "bang." Maybe that's the way this uniquely British storytelling ought to conclude, but the American in me wanted just a little more kick out of THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2. The films is stunningly shot (at least the stuff you can make out behind the dim 3D), the music is loaded with threatening vibes, and the acting is superb. That's a pretty strong set of pluses to put against my mild disappointment at the turns the story takes and what the filmmakers chose to emphasize. Still, a mild recommendation, but I really would like to see it in 2D to really gauge my feelings on it.
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