The latest and the last in a series of films that shaped the cultural scenery of many a kid in the past decade, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, is a satisfactory and emotional end to a long journey of magic and the art of growing up.
Naming generations with clever names like the ‘Obama-generation’, ‘Generation x’, ‘the Millenials’ has become a trend in its own right. The ‘Harry Potter’ generation, born in the late 80’s, early 90’s period grew up with the book series, hitting ages similtaneously with the main characters, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Considered a fantasy franchise, the core of the story still lies in the coming-of-age tale of the three main characters. With the Deathly Hallows we see the culmination of that journey, and a glimpse into their future.
Having really dug the Pt. 1 of this divided film, I was hoping Pt. 2 would crank it all up to another level. Pt. 2 delivered on some occasion, but not with every aspect of the film. Whilst the emotion was tuned to a hundred, revealing the true nature of all the characters, rewarding some and punishing others, the action and excitement was lacking. Although filled with gruesome scenes and great drama, the final battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort felt more underwhelming than it did in the books. From a filmmaker’s point of view I can see how a wand battle isn’t where you want to end things, but as the films have always stayed remarkably true to the actual writing, not many changes were made in the Hogwarts showdown.
The film continues where the previous left off, Dobby’s death and an imminent takeover of Hogwarts. Snape’s grip over the school has left its mark on the previously lively and glorious hub of magic and turned it into a ordered, rigid, dark compound of oppressed students. A force de résistance lives on in the hidden corners, led by the unlikely hero yet to prove his honour, Neville Longbottom (played by Matthew Lewis). When Mr. Potter (Radcliffe) returns, the final battle ensues. Ron (Grint and Hermione (Watson) hook up. Horcruxes get destroyed. People die, favourite people. Final battle happens. Harry dies. No wait! He lives. The boy lives. Voldemort dies. Snape cries into a bottle. Gets redemption. Harry and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) have ugly kids and name them after former principals (Albus Severus Potter). Everyone is happy (expect maybe the Weasley’s, their body count was kind of big).
Ah, don’t blame me for spoilers. I mean, who really thought that there was going to be a Voldemort victory. The world of fantasy is happy and great and brilliant and everyone succeeds! (Although HP does have a quite dark side to it, to such an extent that I wouldn’t call it a kids franchise anymore) I don’t know how people who haven’t read the books keep up; or how much they enjoy the films without them. I actually found the book to be much more impactful than this escapade, especially when it came to Snape’s faith. His story of redemption, faithfulness to the good cause, the mercy he showed Dumbledore and the love he had for Harry’s mother was for me the best character reveal in the whole series, but felt a bit cheesy in the film. I didn’t feel that his story came out the way it should’ve.
And the film made Dumbledore seem like a complete dick.
Although I’ve read all the books a few times when I was younger, and seen all the films mostly the premiere day, I never bought into the fanatics of it all. Although consistently good, the film franchise doesn’t really compare to the books and their influence on kids. If nothing, the series inspired a generation of kids to read, which is a total win in itself.
It’s going to be interesting to see whether this gets recognized by the awards season. Lord of the Rings broke the stigma on the Oscars and fantasy, but the level it was made was entirely its own and unfortunately Harry Potter is nowhere near. Britain will probably acknowledge its biggest production ever, and hopefully give a nod to Alan Rickman as well. A fan favourite, Rickman has carried the show since the beginning, being by far the best thing about the first three films and delivering the most layered performance of this latest installation. Lord Voldemort never turned out to be the scary guy he was in the books, since his evil was more about the idea of him, rather than his corporeal self. Fiennes’ is great though, but has been a lot more dominant in other roles (see Schindler’s List and Red Dragon f.e.). Snape then, for a long time served the purpose of the actual villain, the ominous presence in Harry’s life that was more than just a shadow and a thought.
The main weakness in the film then, is its Harry-centricity. I mean he was never the most interesting character of the bunch (nor was Radcliffe the best actor). There were a lot of great characters that we didn’t get to say goodbye to, most prominently Remus Lupin, who’s death was only marked by a few second shot of him and his wife lying on the floor dead amongst other bodies, cries and devestation. Harry’s relationship to him was huge, he ended up as auror due to his example, another end result that got left out. The last book was so meaty, that even when broken down to two films, 5 hours of action fantasy, some of the very best details and storylines had to be cut. An unfortunate matter, that underlies the difference of storytelling in books and film.
Produced down to a t, visually incredible Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.2 is just fine, and for fans a great farewell to the series. A cutthrough of the best British talent, and a satisfactory end to a long, long journey it’s about time that Harry Potter got his happy ending. The films were surely be missed, but not more so than the literature that sparked a high in reading and fantasy.
And please, see it in 2D. 3D is for muggles.
You Will Like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 If…
– you liked the previous 78 films.
7.5 / 10
(If I’d be giving a Pt.1 + Pt.2 grade, this’d go up a point.)