Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Written by: Steve Kloves

Directed by: David Yates

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes

Rating: 8/10

Many years ago, about a decade now, I decided that difficult as it may be I was going to use the medium of film to experience the story of Harry Potter. I decided against reading the books despite the many temptations over the years. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the culmination of my decade of patience and I was proud of myself for having achieved this small feat. 

As a non-reader of the book I feel I have definitely missed out on some of the more intricate plotting that is glossed over in the films for the sake of brevity. I can feel that some of the characterisation is lacking, as well as a lot of background information that enriches the plot. That being said, these films do a remarkable job at telling the story of Harry, his friends and the magical world he inhabits.

The final chapter of the story is about as hyped as a film could be. A decade of fretting about "he who must not be named" finally pays off as Hogwarts finally faces the Death-Eaters in an epic battle of both wits and magic.

The films opens with the truly breathtaking image of the dreaded Dementors hovering around Hogwarts, now a very different place than the benevolent, warm home to young wizards we’ve come to know and love. This opening shot, dark and beautiful, sets the tone for what is to come. The ensuing film is visually grandiose and emotionally dark enough to ensure that the audience can feel genuinely fearful for the lives of the characters. Anyone could die, it’s a cruel story and Voldemort is a seriously dangerous presence.

The first act of he film sees Harry, Ron and Hermione on an exhilarating chase through a Dickensian goblin bank in search of one of Voldemorts horcruxes (objects where Voldemort has hidden part of his soul in the hope that he will remain immortal). This part of the film is fun and lively but it feel a little redundant as we patiently wait for the real battle to begin. As soon as Harry, Hermione and Ron get back to Hogwarts and are reunited with their friends things start to seriously pick up. Battles are fought, families are torn apart, young lives are lost and secrets are revealed. From this point on, the film becomes everything a fan could have hoped for!

There are some pretty serious plot points that are lost on non-readers like me, as they are washed over in the hope that you’re having so much fun you’ll turn a blind eye. Good strategy and it totally worked! On me at least. I was having way too much fun on the edge of my seat to care that I didn’t quite understand why certain things were happening. It’s cheating of the highest order but at this stage in the story the need for further magical gobbledegook and funny new words is not a priority for me. I’d rather go along for the ride and not have to worry too much about exposition. Anyway, this instalment is strictly about the characters, their relationships and the culmination of everything that has come before and how it has fit together to bring us to this point. This final part of the story is about resolving the story in a meaningful way and giving us an end point for the characters who have so richly (and subtly) evolved throughout the series. At this point, I must mention Neville Longbottom who is a character I dismissed as comic fodder but who surprised me by stepping up to the plate and becoming a true hero in his own right. This is a character who has evolved slowly over the course of series and who has sneaked into our hearts by proving again and again, much like Ron that being born with super wizard skills isn’t everything, it’s overcoming the obstacle of mediocrity that counts.

Having said that, I would be remiss in leaving out the wonderful Malfoy family. I was surprised at where the story took them, but delighted with the non-judgmental sense of understanding and (almost) pity for them as they play their part in the story. Lucius, Narcissus and Draco have long been one of my favourite elements of the Harry Potter universe (not least because of Narcissus’ wonderful hair and costumes) and for me, their story in the final film was immensely satisfying, brave and lacking in sentimentality.

The final act sees some wonderful twists and developments concerning a character that is close to my heart (no spoilers here) and a fresh perspective breathes new life to a character many people may have written off. HP readers will know what I’m referring to but I won’t discuss it any further here for fear of spoiling anything. But I will say this: the plot development in question is the single most wonderful thing the series has ever done and it made every flaw in the series worthwhile, for me at least and opened my eyes to the vastness the story and the clever plotting that has been so subtly interwoven from the very start.

The cultural impact of the Harry Potter books is undeniable and although the films have never quite been masterpieces (except perhaps The Prisoner of Azkaban), they have still consistently made for entertaining blockbusters, always reliable as solid films, if not always perfect. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is not perfect. Yet again, David Yates proves himself to be a mediocre director with a great eye for visuals. The 3D is pointless, I would definitely recommend the 2D version and there are some hugely significant emotional moments in the film that felt much flatter than they should have. However, the film is a triumphant conclusion to the story and a fantastically thrilling summer blockbuster. Prepare to shed a tear or two because things get quite emotional in the second half…

Goodbye for now Harry, Ron, Hermione, Albus, Severus, Draco, Voldemort, et al, I look forward to getting to know you in more depth when I begin the journey all over again in book form!

 - Charlene Lydon

1 comment:

  1. This was the best movie ever! the story and the drama and everything in it was incredible. wow thats all i have to say again, this is a movie that will blow your socks off!