Friday, July 15, 2011

Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Ostensibly, a movie review is supposed to provide some input to its readers about whether or not to go see a particular movie. Considering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the finale to a ten-year film franchise, I think I can safely say that most everybody has already decided whether they're going to watch this film or not. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it's doubtful that any review would be able to persuade you to or dissuade you from seeing this film at this point.

Harry Potter currently holds a 97% "fresh" rating on Even had it only received half of that percentage, the likelihood would be that everybody who had planned on seeing it would still go. It might be an economic fallacy, but the truth of the matter is we're not going to go to seven films out of an eight-film series and then miss the conclusion. Sunk costs be damned.

You're either a longtime fan of both the novels and films, eagerly awaiting the epic conclusion to this classic hero's journey tale ...

... or you could not care less about Harry Potter, have no idea why so many people have/are going crazy for it, and in any case would not start watching an eight-film series with the very last one.

Then again, you could be forced to go see it by your friend/significant other/spouse/family.

The good news is that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 absolutely deserves that 97% "fresh" rating. Director David Yates (the director of the previous three highly acclaimed films) has succeeded yet again. Harry Potter's adventure reaches its thrilling climax and brings a satisfying end to a story that is beloved worldwide in this film.

How far we've come ...
Deathly Hallows Part 2 picks up right where Part 1 left off, with Voldemort seizing the infamous Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb. Harry, Ron and Hermione are still grieving the loss of Dobby the Elf, who had moments ago saved them from a dreadful fate at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange and the Malfoys. Harry and his friends have destroyed roughly half of the horcruxes - all seven of them must be eradicated in order for them to have any chance of defeating the Dark Lord.

If you have no idea who or what I'm talking about, the likelihood is that the film will not be able to enlighten you any better. Yate's films have historically sacrificed exposition in favor of weaving a compelling tale for fans of the series - who at this point no longer need any introduction to the story's numerous characters, plotlines or goals. Deathly Hallows Part 2 does not waver from this strategy; there is simply too much source material to go through to explain every detail to newcomers.

Snape commands you ... watch the movie!
That's not to say the plot is not there; but if you have not seen any of the previous films or read the books - you will definitely have trouble understanding what's happening. It's especially difficult to follow if you have not seen Deathly Hallows Part 1. Do yourself a favor and rent/borrow/stream/netflix it if you haven't done so yet. And you'll be glad to know that where Part 1 dragged a bit in certain parts, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is filled to the brim with action. The visual effects and  the choreography of these combat sequences is as stunning as ever, and fill a large portion of the film's 2 hours. Climactic battles are then interlaced with poignant glimpses of many of the films' characters preparing themselves for the end.

The acting has never been so good as in this last film. Alan Rickman as Severus Snape delivers a particularly moving performance. Many props also go to Helena Bonham Carter (who plays Bellatrix Lestrange) for a well-acted and fun scene near the beginning of the film. The cast's three central characters - Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson respectively) have really matured as actors. Gone are the awkward speeches and intonations from the earlier films; all three have really emerged as capable thespians, and fully immersive in their iconic roles.

Voldemort: "Say 'ello to my lil' friend."
All in all, this is a film that is easy to enjoy. It'll be confusing if you haven't read the books, for sure - but for fans of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 serves as an epic conclusion to its predecessor films. The only negative thing I can say is that leaving the theater will strike you with a sense of nostalgic melancholy, knowing that this absolutely marvelous story has finally drawn to a close.

Recommended For:
+ Harry Potter Fans
+ Harry Potter (Film) Fans
+ Fans of Fantasy films
+ Action film fans (if you like your action coming in the magical variety).

Not Recommended For:
- People who haven't read the books or seen the previous films
- People who haven't seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
- People who hate Harry Potter
- People in relationships with other people who hate Harry Potter

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