Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ruminations on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

            So this is one of the toughest reviews I’ve had to write.  Normally, after I watch a movie or beat a game or whatever, I organize my thoughts for a while, maybe a day or two, and then just sit down and write them out.  It’s been almost a week since I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and it’s still hard to figure out how to write this.  The biggest problem is that there’s really no swaying either party.  If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’re going to see this.  If you’re not, you’re not.  There’s nothing like, “Well, I liked the first movie, I guess maybe I’ll see this one”.  If you’ve gone through 7 movies, you’re sure as hell not going to stop before the 8th.
            I’m a rather mid-level Potter fan myself.  The first time I read the books wasn’t on the wave of popularity, but a classmate in the 5th grade who had done a book report-type thing on the first book.  So I picked it up from the library and read it on the vacation afterwards.  Now, for the future books and the movies, I’ve always been all over the place.  I’m definitely not one of those people who was in the bookstore at midnight in my wizard robes to get the latest book.  I tended to read them, the later ones in particular, a while after they were released.  Some of the movies I saw in theater, some of them I waited for the rental.  There’s something about Deathly Hallows Part 2 that has to be seen in theaters, though.  It’s an epic conclusion.  The first movie came out 10 years ago.  I’m never going to pretend there haven’t been longer-running franchises, but Harry Potter was one of those that always had a set conclusion, and yet started before we even knew how it ended.  It’s crazy to think that I was watching Sorcerer’s Stone before I even knew what some of the books were going to be called.
            Oh yeah, I’m supposed to talk about the movie somewhere in here.  Again, what exactly can I say?  It’s a fine adaptation of the book.  There, that’s it.  Oh, fine, I guess I’ll do a little more.  I guess first I should talk about the splitting of the last book into two parts.  On the one hand, it’s set a very bad precedent.  Now the last Twilight book and The Hobbit are being split into two parts, and we all know this isn’t going to be the last.  On the other hand, there was a very good reason for doing this.  Part 1 was a very darkly paced movie that had some of the most soul-tearing parts of the franchise (that entire section where Ron was gone?  I despaired.  There are Best Picture winners where I haven’t gotten that emotional at any point).  Part 2 is…still a pretty dark movie when you get down to it.  But it’s also a huge action climax.  What feels like the entire last half of the movie is dedicated to the Battle of Hogwarts (that capitalization is required for it), and it deserves it.  But it still has to slow down for some of the deaths and some downright heart-breaking sequences.  And it works.  I never felt like the movie’s pacing was off.  It makes you root for the heroes when the action is going on, it makes you want to cry when you see one of the characters killed off.  You’re always given an emotion to feel, and I always felt it.  And I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.
            On the note of deaths, I think the movie handled some of the stuff that the book didn’t handle well better.  Some of the random deaths are…well, still random and pointless.  It also dropped details involving them, and that actually helps them.  In the books, it almost tried too hard to generate drama with two of the deaths.  In the movie, it effortlessly creates a moment where you see they died, and the imagery of it is just heartbreaking.  It’s hard to talk about something like this in vague terms, but it’s one of the film’s strongest moments.  The final battle against Voldemort and the moments after it are a lot less anticlimactic.  I thought it was more suitably epic and emotional.  The epilogue scene…is still pointless.  The movie at least feels a lot less ham-handed about the way it does it.  It’s probably a scene that should’ve been saved for post-credits, but whatever.
            So what do I say in the end about Deathly Hallows Part 2?  It’s an worthy ending to an epic franchise.  It’s a summer blockbuster.  It tugs at your emotional heartstrings.  It immerses you in a fantasy world that you’re sad to leave.  It’s a movie that was worth the 7 movies it took to get here.  Yeah, I think that’s a good summary.


  1. Excellent review Adam. I never realized you were such a terrific writer.

  2. Of course he is! :D Great review as always, Adam, though I can see your indecision with writing this.