Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
It’s difficult to believe that it has been eight months since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 opened in cinemas across the country. When it ended, I was disappointed that I would have to wait so long to find out what would happen to Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and especially Lord Voldemort ne Tom Riddle (Ralph Fiennes). Would everyone die in a cataclysmic battle? (I secretly hoped so.) Being the impatient person that I am, I contacted my very knowledgeable nephew and my sister for the inside scoop. My sister remained fairly mum on the subject, but my nephew, who has read all of the books and seen all of the films, gave me a laundry list of who died, and it was surprisingly extensive. Because he didn’t have hours to talk, I went online to the harrypotter.wikia.com, and read all of the background information on Snape, Riddle, Potter’s parents, and a bunch of the villains, such as Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs). (They are my favorites.) And then, I bought all of the previous films on DVD and had a Potter marathon, watching one right after another. It was particularly revealing to do this. I recommend it.
Unlike a lot of people queuing outside of the cinemas as we speak, I haven’t read the J.K. Rowling books, and I don’t plan on doing that anytime soon. I’m really not that interested. I didn’t start watching the Potter films until the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), and at that time I was totally confused as to what was going on. Who was this guy? Why was he doing that? What the hell is this all about? That sort of thing. The first Potter film that I gave 4 stars to was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) and then Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), also earned four stars. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) is the first and only Potter film to earn five stars from me, and I’m super picky about dishing those out. I’m still not a Harry Potter fanatic – although I do own two wands – but I do come away from the whole experience thinking it wasn’t a waste of my time. (I’ve spent a hell of a lot less time on Potter than most people have, and I could never beat anyone in a trivia competition.)
And now this brings me to Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Was it worth the wait? Remember, I’m not your average Potter fan. I’m someone who really resisted the series and then watched it because it was job related, and then sort of got interested in it. But unlike the fan base, I’m not having any kind of emotional upheaval now that this is the very last film. It’s over, so be it. So, back to my question: Was it worth the wait? Um, well, I’m not really sure. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and then watched Deathly Hallows: Part 2 immediately afterwards. Nevermind that that will take about 5 hours of your life. Just slap an intermission in the middle. They do that sort of thing with William Shakespeare; surely they can do this with Potter. (Kenneth Branagh’s full version of Hamlet is 242 minutes long and had an intermission. I lived through that; I think I could handle a super long Deathly Hallows flick.) I say this, because in eight months, you forget a lot of stuff, and, there really isn’t a huge shift in what’s taking place between films. In Part 1, Potter and friends are trying to find the Horcruxes, which contain parts of Voldemort’s soul, and in this part they are … looking for Horcruxes. It isn’t a rocket science plot. Once they find those objects, they must destroy them, so that they can eventually kill Voldemort. (The Horcruxes allow him to be immortal. As each one is destroyed, apparently it weakens him.) In Part 1, by my count, they destroyed four; in Part 2, they find three, actually four, more, and then, of course, there is the big showdown between Potter and Voldemort. And, at the end, a sort of “what happens” to Potter and his pals 19 years down the road. At this point, I will reveal no details.
I liked Part 2, especially Professor Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) bringing those stone knights to life, but there were things about it that bugged me. First off, let me say that I’m an enormous Lord of the Rings fanatic. HUGE fan. That trilogy, no doubt, has had an enormous influence on Rowling, and I can always see those references when I watch the films. For instance, the battle scene in Part 2 – with the baddies running down the hillside, screaming, towards the castle – that part made me think Return of the King, only with less panache. Hell, she even has giant spiders and ogres in the mix. You shouldn’t be thinking of one fantasy film while watching another one. (Watching Part 2 had me jonesing for the recently released Lord of the Rings extended edition on Blu-ray, but I digress …) What I really think put the damper on my experience of Part 2, was that it wasn’t enough that Potter was a chosen savior and that Voldemort was his “dark side,” but ****SPOILER *** she had to take things into predictable land and have him die and resurrect. Why the Christians had such a problem with these books is beyond me. Potter is Jesus! So predictable and boring. (I think if you dig a bit deeper, Potter has a bit of Moses about him, too. A boy raised by people who weren’t his parents. He leads everyone out of bondage. Stretching? Hmmm.) Also, *** MORE SPOILERS *** and this is a nitpicky thing, I was really irritated that the albino dragon, which had been shackled in a mine for who knows how long and was clearly in pain … never had his metal chains removed by Potter and friends. Hermione even commented on how cruel it was that he was being treated this way. Would it have killed her to use a spell and free the poor bastard? I also thought that the way, they dealt with Snape’s background was a bit too fast, and confusing, especially to those of us who haven’t read the books. For instance, Potter wonders why his mother and Snape both had a patronus that was a deer – hers was a doe/Snape’s was a buck. For a second, I thought “is Snape Potter’s father?” And then I thought how cool is that? My excitement was deflated post-screening by someone who actually knew what was what. Snape is such a great character, I really felt like his background needed more time and development. And he should have been Potter’s dad.
Aside from the soul shattering reveal above, I didn’t like Part 2 as much as I did Part 1. The score by Alexandre Desplat is very good, but it can’t rival the one he did for Part 1. (“Lily’s Theme” is a highlight but it can’t touch “Obliviate,” a song I could listen to forever.) The screenplay by Steve Kloves doesn’t have as many memorable moments, either. In Part 1, you have the humorous sequence during which Hermione, Harry and Ron alter their appearance to enter the Ministry of Magic (I think that’s where they were going). And then there are the emotional moments involving Dobby, Harry’s angsty moments in the forest, and, my favorite part, the animated story of the Deathly Hallows. It’s an infinitely more satisfying film, so much so that I saw it at a press screening, saw it again with family, and then watched it again on disc. Part 1 is my favorite of all the Potter films, and I would include it in my Top 35 favorite films. It was the first time that I really sat up and said, “Wow, maybe I really should give this series a chance,” and it put director David Yates on my radar.
Part 2 wraps everything up, and fans will be delighted and satisfied. Of that, I’m sure. I still say that if you go to see this film, watch Part 1 first. I made the mistake of not doing that, and it probably decreased my overall satisfaction. I will, no doubt, see Part 2 again, and I will buy it when it comes out on DVD. For those crying their eyes out that Potter is done, and that this film concludes an era … I predict that Rowling will give in to fans and start writing another series of Potter-related books. After the film, I was talking to a couple of die-hards, and they think that Rowling should either go back and explore Harry’s childhood (blech) or write books about his and his friends’ offspring (blech again). What I would like to see is someone, not necessarily Rowling, explore Snape’s background or Tom Riddle’s. For me, they are the only really interesting characters in the books. Who doesn’t want to watch a good old tragedy unfold? I know I do. FYI: The 3-D is completely unnecessary. Don’t shell out the extra money unless you want a pair of Harry Potter-inspired glasses.
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5